Philip Overby is many things. He's a self-published author and the Godfather of Splatter Elf, who has a new book out right now
! He's also the co-host of the always wonderful and informative Grim Tidings Podcast
, an engaging interview-style program where he and fellow host Rob Matheny speak to authors, editors, agents, publishers and all plethora of folks in the fantasy and sci-fi industry, especially those purveyors of all things Grimdark.
But do you know what doesn't get spoken about enough? Philip's former career as professional wrestler, "Phil the Drill."
Phil is doing the rounds right now promoting his new Splatter Elf book, One Goblin Army
, but when I knew I had a chance to ask him a few questions, I insisted they be about wrestling. You can read about Philip's writerly pursuits and One Goblin Army elsewhere, but no where else will you get the inside scoop on the life of a small-time professional wrestler!
So how does one get into pro-wrestling? Did you start off in a backyard? Did you go to some kind of semi-reputable school?
I did actually start doing backyard stuff with some friends and my brother. It was fun beating up my brother, but we were really rough on each other. I think I shaved a few years off my life doing the backyard wrestling. It's mostly important to not do anything too stupid. Later on I worked with some local wrestling promotions to get training. Again, I'd recommend finding a reputable school whenever getting into wrestling. Not just for safety but people running a school for a long time usually have good reputations for teaching all types of skills you need.
Why did you get into wrestling? Were you an athlete or a theatre nerd in high school?
Probably like most people that I loved it growing up. I saw a window to get into it and I jumped at it. I never really expected for anything to happen. Yeah, I did church plays when I was really young and always liked being a character.
Mr. The Drill in all his glory.
Tell us about your first match.
No one's first match is ever great really, but I won. I think I did like twenty DDTs with no psychology whatsover and I was wearing a what looked like pajama pants and an AC/DC shirt. I looked like a typical dumbass with no gear on. In retrospect, I should have gotten gear from the beginning, but like a lot of dudes that get into wrestling as a hobby, I just rocked up in whatever shit I had. Later I learned my lesson, but in the beginning I looked like a doofus.
I know you worked mostly heel
(ie, he played the villain character). Tell me about making people hate you. I know you're dying to tell a story about kids spitting on you.
I don't really know how to describe my early character, but the closest thing to a current wrestler would be maybe Joey Ryan's sleazeball vibe. I was heavily inspired by the more flamboyant characters like Gorgeous George and Adrian Adonis. Now that I'm more aware of him, if you watch videos of Jimmy Del Ray from the Heavenly Bodies, it was very much like that. I was always dancing really sleazy and of course my body was not great, so it made people hate me more.
For reference, this is Joey Ryan. Phil willingly compares himself to this guy.
One show we did, I was a lumberjack in the main event and I kept feeling something wet hitting my back. There were kids spitting on me. They remembered me from my match earlier in the night and decided to welcome me back to ringside. I had people threaten to fight me in the parking lot and one time a kid pushed me off the turnbuckle when I was about to do a move. Since these shows had shitty security, nothing happened.
I was strict with kayfabe at shows. Meaning if I was a heel, I was a heel. One kid asked me for an autograph once and I said "If you give me twenty dollars." He offered to give me some necklace he had and I said "I don't want that." As a person, it still makes me feel bad. But as a character, it made sense.
What was your finishing move?
The move I used the most in the beginning was the Drill Bit, which was Victoria's Widow's Peak move. Later on I developed some other movies such as Secret Tiger Death Crank, which was just a headlock and the Reverse Frog Splash, which was just a frog splash that I did backwards.
BTW, this is the Widow's Peak. I really hope Phil got some decent training so he didn't kill anyone with this.
What was the worst/weirdest/dumbest character/wrestler/gimmick you encountered?
My character was pretty weird as it went through different phases. I was teamed up with Crazy Charlie and we were called Beauty and the Beast. We were probably the strangest pairing in terms of characters, but our chemistry worked well because we loved to antagonize people. Often we wouldn't even care about the moves in the match, but would be more concerned with what were were going to yell at people. One time we won the tag team championships for a promotion and did like a ten minute celebration. People were really annoyed.
What was favourite match/best moment?
I did a No DQ type of match before I left to come to Japan. This was when I had turned babyface at one promotion. I had kind of the Damien Sandow/Heath Slater vibe in that I was entertaining and got beat so often that I actually got over that way. After the match, the fans were chanting my name and it was a cool send-off. Winning championships is always fun as well because it means the promotion thinks you're good enough to represent them in some capacity.
How long did you wrestle? Why did you hang up the boots?
I wrestled when I was older, so I only worked for maybe five or six years off and on. Mostly I just quit wrestling because I moved away from the U.S. Wrestling in Japan would have been a dream come true, but my body was already beat to shit by then. Wrestling in Japan isn't a good idea if you're already beat to shit.
Do you follow wrestling in Japan? Ever attend any big Tokyo Dome/Sumo Hall shows?
I used to go to Wrestle Kingdom every year at the Tokyo Dome when I first moved to Japan. I think I went three or four years in a row. It became a tradition. Then I started to do so many other things, I didn't have time to go anymore. I'd still love to go to shows every so often, but it's been a few years now. Some of the best wrestling I've ever seen live was at the Tokyo Dome. Kota Ibushi vs. Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) still stands out as the most amazing match I've seen live. I've seen New Japan, DDT, NOAH, and ZERO-1 live. New Japan was always my go-to promotion.
Do you still follow American wrestling? What pisses you off the most about wrestling today?
I still follow it but I wouldn't say I watch it regularly anymore. I actually think NXT is must watch TV for wrestling fans. I've seen some incredible matches and storylines on that program. Wrestling is one of those things I stopped nit-picking. It's like reading books or watching movies or whatever. Some of it really stands out as amazing and some just isn't for me. I seek out the wrestling that appeals to me and I skip the things I don't like. I haven't watched Lucha Underground, but it sounds like a cool way to present wrestling that makes it stand out. I also like the trainwreck appeal of what Matt Hardy's doing right now with matches like the Final Deletion. His character Broken Matt Hardy is unique and weird, just the type of character that made wrestling fun when I was a kid.
Any chance we'll ever see wrestling-themed fiction from you?
I actually wrote a story not long ago that features a monster wrestler. It hasn't found a home yet, but it could be appearing somewhere soon-ish. I've also wanted to just write a straight-up wrestling story one of these days, but I wouldn't want it to be a typical story. It would have to be weird. And bloody. Maybe even be based in Japan?
Who is your all time favourite wrestler?
I have so many favorites, but if you ask me right now, today I'd say Shinsuke Nakamura. To me he's the perfect blend of entertaining and brutal. He's got that quality about him that makes you excited to see his matches. If I go back and look at a wrestler I've enjoyed consistently since I was young, I'd say The Rock because, like Nakamura, he was good at everything.
Gotta agree with Phil on this one, not many guys could pull this off.
Grinner, the goblin with the fancy teeth, wants his damn money and he's not going to let some bastard wizard run away with it. Katzia of Clovenhoof, the part-time monster hunter and full-time sword enthusiast, is kidnapped in order to help capture the ever-elusive monster Tundertum. In the chaotic, grotesque art project that is the city of Phlegm, Grinner and Katzia encounter mercenaries, warlocks, a cursed accountant with maggoty powers, and other dangers all while seeking out the one weapon that can stop the rampaging Tundertum: the blood-drinking chainsaw known as Manglesaw.
This story is for mature audiences due to naughty language, blood, guts, and other fun stuff!