In keeping with the Culture Currency ethos, I sporadically sit down with people I know to ask introspective questions. Their initial reactions are audio recorded and transcribed; uncut and unfiltered. Enjoy.
Tell us your name.
My wrestling name is Chris Hero. My real name is Chris Spradlin; it’s a very strong and powerful name: the Mighty Spradlin’s.
Chris, what are you known for?
I’m known for professional wrestling. Specifically in professional wrestling, I’m known for having wrestled for quite a while now. I’m one of the veterans in the locker room. I’m known for hitting people, whether it be with my elbows or my feet. So I think that’s a basic version of it.
[December 8, 2013: Death By Elbow]
[March 21, 2015: Surprised Hero at a Jersey All Pro Wrestling show]
If professional wrestling is what you do for a living, what do you do for living?
I will say that I find pro wrestling incredibly fulfilling – just getting to travel so much and meet so many fantastic people. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have a bunch of friends scattered all over the globe. That is because of wrestling. We don’t sit around and talk about wrestling all the time – it’s not like that. But I have developed some relationships with some really awesome people and I’m able to make my own schedule. Like these trips, for instance, I was able to come to Chicago a night early and then I go to New York in the morning and then I’m staying an extra day Monday so I can see friends in Philadelphia. I don’t even have a show in Philadelphia; I can just go visit them. So, friends are very awesome. I don’t have a lot of family – I have a mom. That’s basically all I have family-wise. So friends are pretty awesome. I love basketball. I love music. I love laughing. So I watch a lot of stuff that makes me laugh.
When and how did we meet?
Umm… did we meet at The Squared Circle? Yes! Uhh, I was in town for shows – or I was passing through [stops mid-sentence to talk Pro Wrestling NOAH/Sky Perfect TV business with Colt Cabana]... We met at The Squared Circle, which is a wrestling-themed eatery. I was passing through for some shows and it was organized that I had a little like meet and greet that night. I got to eat for free. I got to commiserate with some fans and sell some merchandise. It was a fun little thing! I think you mentioned – I forget exactly how it came up – but you mentioned Ultra Mantis Black, I believe, and I was like, “Oh, okay, cool – a little Ultra Mantis Black!”
[December 10, 2013: The night we met.]
What is it like to be friends with you?
What is it like to be friends with me?
Ha – I can’t answer that for you.
Um, you know what – I don’t know… I would hope that it’s a fulfilling thing. You know, like I said, I surrounded myself with some really awesome people and I like to think I’m a pretty considerate person and I have a lot of people that I care for, so I hope that shows. And I think it’s entertaining because my life, for the past 17 and a half years, I’ve interacted with some of the weirdest and most unusual and creative and just craziest types of people that you can imagine so I have a lot of interesting stories. Then I’m also really good at laughing at myself because I’ve gotten into my own share of ridiculousness and I’m always down to make fun of myself and laugh at things. I think it would be a pretty amusing, decent relationship – I hope at least!
[January 15, 2016: Chris is a generous friend!]
What’s a goal you have that would surprise people?
I think maybe this isn’t a goal, but one thing that I think is really cool is when somebody gets called to host Saturday Night Live. Like I said, I like laughing and I grew up on Saturday Night Live and it’s really funny and interesting and I think it’s cool when people come from like the sports world and are able to show their real personality. There have been some really cool things on there. There are some people like Alec Baldwin and John Goodman that have been on you know a thousand times or whatever but then you also have just random people show up and kill it. It’s always fun. You know, I like seeing improv. I like seeing people work on their routines and stuff stand up wise too, so... I don’t know if that’s a goal per se, but I don’t think anybody would have ever guessed that.
What old rejections are still holding you back today?
Still holding me back… umm… [long pause] I mean, I think being in pro wrestling and being on the stage, you have constant attention so one would assume that those types of people – whether they’re actors or singers or in a band – you would think that they have traditionally more self-confidence than most because you’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s that guy – of course!” But, you know, I don’t think that’s always true. And what I’m saying is it’s not that I have a huge lack of self-confidence, but I’m very self-aware. I just, you know, I’ve matured over the years, and like I said, I’ve been wrestling almost 18 years but in many ways I’m still the 14 or 15-year-old kid that went from 8th grade with 70 kids to freshman year, which is already weird, to a school with 600 people in my grade so it’s still you know, trying to get comfortable to his surroundings and put himself in new situations so I think that’s something that I’ve done pretty well at over the years. But that doesn’t make it any less scary when you’re in a new place with new faces and new people. We still have those moments where we’re like, “Did I do something stupid? Did I say something stupid? Am I walking weird? What do I say? What do I do with my hands?” You know? I don’t know if that answers your question, but there it is.
[October 31, 2015: Chris & Cabana appearing fairly confident]
What do you not want people to know about you?
Hmmm… ummm… so, I think I’m known pretty much among my friends and acquaintances that I’m a really positive person and I always put a positive spin on things and you know, people come to me a lot with their problems – either to vent or to get my perspective on it – and you know, I’m always very optimistic, but you know, I’m like… I’m like anybody else, you know? I have sad times, you know. Not like crushingly desperate sad times but I feel like in order to feel good, you have to know what it’s like to feel bad so you can kind of – if everything is good to you, you become numb to it and you can’t really gauge it. I’ve had sadness in life. I’ve lost some friends. But because of those times and those moments, I’m able to appreciate things even more, I think.
What do you need to spend more or less time doing moving forward?
I think time management! Uhhh, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. When I say that I mean I’m a huge procrastinator! But the thing is I always get my stuff done. Sometimes it’d be nice to get things done a little bit more timely so that you’re not rushing around last minute. That would be something I could stand to improve on. That would be cool. That’s what comes to mind right now.
Managing my time and managing my energy so that, you know, I have something left. Because I’m an only child I’m perfectly fine off to my own devices, but I’m also very social. So I like staying up and talking to people and having dinners and then when dinner is done you talk for another 90-minutes sitting at your table drinking refills of water. So, I like that but then I go home and then I unwind and I have another hour and a half to myself. So, I mean, I used to have people crash at my place all the time for different shows and whatnot, so, I appreciate and I adore that energy but I also like to have my own time. So, sometimes time management and energy management could be a little bit better.
What makes you feel afraid?
When I get a voicemail from my mom. My mother had a minor stroke last year while I was in Japan and she forgot I was in Japan. She didn’t know how to contact me and she finally wrote me on Facebook when she got out of the hospital, but she didn’t know how to get a hold of me. So when I came back, I landed in the States after having spoken – I mean, as soon as I got the Facebook message, I contacted her, talked to her, and tried to figure out what was going on but then days later when I got back in the States, I had like 35 voicemails from my mom. She was very confused – and she’s okay – it was, she didn’t lose any function, it’s just like a scary thing.
And then recently I landed from being in Toronto and I had two voicemails from my mom and one is like, ‘Oh hey, sweetie,’ whatever, but two is like, ‘Why are you leaving another voicemail?’ So I tried to listen to them but they wouldn’t play, so I’m like, ‘What the fuck, what’s going on?’ So I called my mom and I’m like, “Hey!” She’s like, “Hey sweetie!” I’m like, “You left a couple of voicemails, is everything OK? I can’t listen to them.” And she’s like, “Oh! Shoot! Are you still eating a lot of hard boiled eggs?” And I was like, “Uhhh… not really,” And she’s like, “Aw, darn! Well, I just wanted to tell you I found a new way to peel hard boiled eggs and I thought I’d let you know.” So I was like, “Okay!” So that was, you know, necessity to leave two voicemails on that so it’s just the juxtaposition of you know, being terrified that something happened to my mom whom I love very dearly and am very close to. But uh, yeah… hard-boiled eggs.
[December 24, 2015: Chris & his mom]
When was the last time you did something courageous for yourself?
Courageous… ummm… hmmm… [20 seconds of pondering this question]
If you’ve got nothing, we can move on…
I mean, I feel like I’m good about trying new things and trying to learn new things and I mean, that’s not easy. Because when you’ve done something for a decade and a half and you’re comfortable with it and you have a skill at it, when you try something new and you have negative skill at it, that’s always a confusing feeling because you’re not used to that type of rejection or that type of like, ‘Fuck, why can’t I get this? Ah!’ But I try to be aware of that type of feeling and you know, you like learning new things, you know?
I don’t know if I’ve really learned anything new lately but that’s something that I try to work on. And to not be afraid. I mean, this is years ago now since I moved to Florida, but when I lived in Pennsylvania, I volunteered for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and I lived outside of Reading, PA, which the graduation rate was under fifty percent. We had tons of kids and kids that came from single parent households and had exceptions with living with relatives or whatever the situation is but you know, there was not enough Bigs to match all the Littles so you have an overlap of you know, hundreds of kids. So eventually instead of matching with someone one to one, I just started going to the group meetings, which was all the leftover kids. So, I did that for a solid year and a half maybe. Then it was answering a lot of bizarre questions about stuff that I do. And you have like to take what they say and not be offended by it but you also want to try to teach them and help them in their lives. That’s something that I feel like I should get back into because it’s just an interesting feeling.
What was the last mistake you made that you’re sure you’ll make again?
[Interjection from AAW Owner, Danny Daniels: That time he got herpes.]
Well no, you can’t make that again!
You make that mistake one time and then you live with it!
[Danny: Yeah, I don’t know a lot about it.]
Umm… I’m going to guess that my last mistake that I’m going to do again will probably be something that involved procrastination or not making sure I have the right merchandise or the right amount of it and losing out on money because I didn’t plan ahead because I waited an extra day to order something and then it’s not going to get there in time so you lose out on the possibility of more money and a lot of… I’d say I’m a pretty proactive person but I definitely have times where I get home from a weekend of traveling and then I hibernate for a couple of days instead of getting my stuff done when I need to so then I’m scrambling around last minute to make sure everything is done and that is when I lose my sleep and then that’s when I lose energy and then that kind of stuff just happens.
Last question, and this is just in life and not with just wrestling, how do you want people to remember you?
I want people to remember me as a generous [interrupted by a business conversation with Danny about flights, cash money, future bookings, and goodbyes to our respective compadres]. I want to be remembered as a benevolent, generous person because I mean…but it’s kind of selfish because I appreciate when people do nice things for me but when I do nice things for other people, it also makes me feel good. So it’s just kind of a win-win. So I love being able to provide or steer somebody in a direction or you know, anything that’s happened to me or whatever that I can use to [interrupted with more goodbyes]…
But also, I would also like to be remembered as an artist, because pro wrestling is most definitely an art in a different way. It’s living, breathing art that is right in front of your face and it’s never, you know, it’s like, no one can ever paint the same painting twice. It can look almost exactly the same but it’s not the same process, so, that’s the same thing with wrestling. There are no two matches that are ever exactly the same. There are never two crowds that have ever, ever, ever, been to a wrestling show. Ever. It’s always different. It’s living and breathing and I would like to be remembered as someone who took that art and pushed it forward and in a different direction in a way that made people enjoy it more and it forced people to be more creative than they would have been beforehand. Sound good?
I love it.
Not very courageous but it was fun.
Chris Hero can be admired and supported on…
Instagram & Twitter: @thechrishero
Merch Store: www.prowrestlingtees.com/chrishero
by Caitlin Lipinski (@caitxedge)