Exclusive: SK chats with MMA star turned pro wrestler Stephan Bonnar
Sportskeeda recently spoke with MMA legend turned pro wrestler Stephan Bonnar, who will be competing for PCW Ultra this Friday.
SK: Has your transition from MMA to pro wrestling gone as smoothly as you were expecting?
SB: I mean yeah, I can’t complain. Since I stepped foot in a pro wrestling gym I’ve done House of Glory, a big show up in New York City, IWS up in Montreal, and Impact where I ran that angle that ended with a match with me and Moose against Lashley and King Mo in a steel cage.
Then I’ve got PCW where I’ve got my debut this Friday, so my goal was to stick to solid indie shows and that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been talking to the guys at MLW, so yeah, it’s going good.
SK: What are your thoughts on PCW Ultra?
SB: So far, I’ve really just been exposed to good promotions, and it’s right up there. Them and HOG are probably the two best indie promotions that I’ve had the chance to be a part of. There’s definitely more that I want to get on, but they have a lot of similarities.
They have a loyal fanbase full of local people who have pride for that show. You have the PCW chants when stuff starts going on there, and they blow the roof off of the place. You start to get to know the fans and build a relationship.
SK: What has your training regime for pro wrestling been like compared to MMA?
SB: It’s not even close to how miserable it is training for an MMA fight. When you do MMA it’s an obvious kind of fun, but when you have to get ready for a fight, you literally go through hell every day and you have trouble getting out of bed. That’s really hard.
So, for pro wrestling it’s been more of a hobby. I go in there once or twice a week, and I’m trying to learn maybe one or two more moves a day.
I’m in that fun stage where it’s kinda new, I’m learning a lot, and I feel the same way I did in my early MMA career when I felt that I was getting better every day. The thing I’ve had the most trouble with is during my fights, I have tunnel vision and the crowd kind of goes away.
Keeping the crowd entertained is a big part of pro wrestling, and it’s something that’s totally different. That’s the biggest adjustment from MMA.
SK: Do you feel any pressure because there are more eyes on you because of your background?
SB: It’s never gonna be as bad as MMA. Mixed martial arts has more armchair quarterbacks, a lot of sports do, but MMA is loaded with them. So many fans come up to you and say you should’ve done this or that, and there’s a real pressure in MMA. If you lose, your paycheck gets cut in half.
There’s so much riding on it. In pro wrestling, whether I win or I lose, I make the exact same thing. That takes so much pressure off. Even if there are more eyes on me scrutinizing me more, it’s not nearly as bad as the pressure I felt in MMA. I can handle it. Just like when I do stand-up comedy - if you tell a joke that doesn’t go well, the worst thing that happens is nobody laughs.
SK: Do you feel healthier than ever in pro wrestling?
SB: My body, honestly, feels the best it has in so long. My main problem, in terms of MMA, is that it was taking a toll on me. Every day my knees would swell up and it’d be ice baths and cortisone injections. In pro wrestling, you take bumps and falls, and it’s like taking breakfalls in judo. It’s very similar, and that’s pretty much the extent of it. I feel good.
SK: What do you believe the next 18-24 months have in store for Stephan Bonnar?
SB: I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing, plugging away at pro wrestling. Hopefully, we talk again next year and I’m a little further along, and maybe I’m being compared to someone like Matt Riddle.
Really, when it comes to pro wrestling, if there are any guys I look up to, it’s Matt Riddle. I called his last MMA fight for Titan, and he told me he was getting into pro wrestling a couple years ago. He’s really inspired me, so, hats off to him.
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