“My reaction was mainly shock. You don’t usually get chances like that 9 months into your career. It was a dream match of mine”.
Fans of Absolute Intense Wrestling and Alpha-1 need no introduction to this wrestler. Actually with the 2016 he has had, no one really needs an introduction. But just in case your Smart Mark Video shopping cart was a bit empty last year, allow me to formally introduce Dominic Garrini.
Dominic Garrini is one of the most legit wrestlers in the business. Recognized by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation as one of the top ten Blue Belts, Dominic has competed in over 200 matches. A two year pro wrestler, Dominic has worked with some impressive names in his short career. Having wrestled the likes of Tracy Williams, BJ Whitmer and Zack Sabre Jr.- Dominic has shown that he can hang with the very best in independent wrestling today.
Dominic came off as very humble, down to earth and extremely passionate about his craft. He has a lot of respect for those who have helped him along the way. Some of the topics covered were his background in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, his training at the AIW academy, his big profile matches and his future goals in wrestling.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Dominic. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Dominic Garrini. From Canton, Ohio. Started in pro wrestling in 2015 debuted in March of 2016. Trained at the AIW Training Center by Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae.
Outside of wrestling, what are your hobbies/interests?
The main one if you’ve watched me wrestle is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve been training in the art since 2009. Before pro wrestling I was one of the more active competitors from the Midwest area. I had accumulated over 200 competition matches over 3 years. I had also achieved a top 10 ranking in the world by the IBJJF (Biggest governing body in jiu jitsu) as a Blue Belt. I’m currently a purple belt. Other than that I have just normal interests but mainly stuff like Cleveland sports, Nicktoons from when I was a kid and true crime stuff.
Wow! I feel sorry for the person who decides to make fun of you because you watch Nicktoons. Seeing as you did jiu jitsu before, were you always a fan of pro wrestling? If so, what is your earliest memory?
Earliest pro wrestling memory comes from my mom bringing home a VHS from the local store. It was Hulkamania 4 (a best of Hulk Hogan Collosseum Home Video). My mom after that said I was hooked. As I grew older I followed wrestling constantly and in about 2004 I started following independent wrestling. Entrenched myself in it and thought I was for sure going to be a pro wrestler. Then turning into a “cool” kid at high school got in the way. During my long time in jiu jitsu I started becoming a dedicated fan again in 2011. After suffering from burn-out competing in BJJ I decided to start training to be a pro wrestler.
You previously mentioned that you were trained by Johnny Gargano and Candice Le Rae. What was that experience like? What did you learn from each of them?
The experience was amazing. Johnny is truly a master of his craft and Candice is as well. The things Johnny was able to teach us about facials, move placement and pacing is unrivaled. Candice was like mom she was always looking out for us and giving advice as well as teaching all of us Lucha and different ways to do things. Johnny and Candice were two of the people as well as John Thorne (AIW Promoter) to embrace my jiu jitsu past and bring that into the ring.
Sounds like a great experience. Just out of curiosity, were you ever a victim of Candice Le Rae’s ballsplex?
No I was not (laughs)
I’m pretty sure you’re grateful you weren’t. So how did your BJJ help with your wrestling training? Did it give you a foundation for grappling and submission?
It gave me a foundation and a base. It allowed me to transition to mat wrestling much better. It alsongsvr me something that makes me entirely unique. It’s that feeling that I can catch something when you least expect it and end a match.
Is there a difference in the way you would apply a hold in BJJ compared to pro wrestling? Do BJJ instincts kick in and sometimes you forget it’s a work?
Some ways hooking them is different. I’ve never forgotten it’s a work (laughs). Sometimes I put stuff on a tad tight and have to scale back.
That’s what I always wondered about guys with fighting background. So you started wrestling for AIW last year. Your first singles match was at the JT Lightning Invitational against Tracy Williams. Any memories of that match? Did you make the impression you wanted to make?
It was a last second thing with Tyson Dux not being able to attend the tournament. I found out literally as doors opened that I would be replacing him. I had wanted to wrestle Tracy so it was awesome. We set out to give people something different and I think that match did that and helped establish me into what I’ve become at AIW. As well it gave me a mentor in Tracy who I still lean on to this day for advice.
What’s the best advice Tracy has given you thus far?
Be different. Don’t do things as a normal pro wrestler would.
Well your style definitely sets you apart. You also wrestled BJ Whitmer, who I assume is a locker room leader type figure in any dressing room. How much did you learn from working with him?
So much. BJ was an idol of mine growing up so the chance to work with him for 7 months was amazing. He just gave me ideas of pacing and selling so it was a great experience.
And of course, we have to talk about your match at Hell On Earth last year. You wrestled Zack Sabre Jr. What was your reaction like when you found out you were going to wrestle him? What are your thoughts on the match? Were you satisfied with your performance?
My reaction was mainly shock. You don’t usually get chances like that 9 months into your career. It was a dream match of mine. Zack was super open and wanted to have a good showing so overall I was happy with it. I learned a ton from the experience.
Is there anything in particular you’d like to mention from the experience? What was your biggest takeaway from that match?
Just the way to pace a match with grappling. And how to build it.
So with that match under your belt, I’m pretty sure it has opened up a lot of doors for you. What are the promotions that are on your radar? Which companies would you like to work for. You wrestled for EVOLVE earlier this year. I think you will.make a great addition to CatchPoint.
Evolve has been a huge goal of mine and I’d love to join Catch Point. As well I’d like to get to places like Beyond Wrestling and WXW and their Ambition tournament yearly. And otherwise I’d just like to go anywhere they’ll have me.
I can definitely see you finding your place in those promotions. Who are some of your dream opponents?
Matt Riddle, Chad Gable, Samoa Joe, Chris Dickinson, Timothy Thatcher, Mike Bailey, Josh Alexander and so many others.
That is an awesome list. All those guys I can see you meshing pretty well with. Just a random question, who do you think would win between you and Matt Riddle in an MMA fight?
Riddle, he’s more well rounded and has had the chance to train with better competition.
Such a humble response. I really hope we get to see you in AMBITION one day. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to a ‘shoot’ fight between you two. What advice would you give to aspiring pro wrestlers. Would you suggest training in some form of martial arts in addition to pro wrestling? Does it add to one’s development as a wrestler?
For aspiring pro wrestlers I’d just say you’re owed nothing. This is a grind and never stop grinding. I’d always say it helps to train in the martial arts. It increases confidence and is a great cardio boost. And you never know what skills it can help develop in the ring.
Really sound advice. Finally, what can we expect from Dominic Garrini for the rest of 2017?
You can expect me to go out and put on a show wherever I am.
Any upcoming dates you’d like to plug?
9/15 AIW Cold as Ice I’m taking on former UFC fighter Tom Lawlor.
9/22 I will be in Virginia for Nova Pro: Nova Project 3
9/23 Black Label Pro in Crown Point Indiana
9/24 Alpha-1 Wrestling in Hamilton On Canada
Well Dominic, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I appreciate it a lot. Is there anything else you’d like to plug? Closing comments?
Once again, thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you. I wish you all the best in your career as well as personal life.