Past or present, no one has had a career like Colt Cabana. Not only a popular and world-traveling professional wrestler, Chicago-based Colt Cabana has also found success as a podcaster, entrepreneur, actor, comedian, author and documentary filmmaker.
While many wrestlers feel that they have “made it” when getting signed by WWE, Cabana has been far more successful in the 10 years since leaving the company in 2009. Beyond hosting his weekly “The Art Of Wrestling” podcast and continuing to tour the world as a wrestler and comic more weekends than not, Cabana appears weekly as an announcer (and sometimes-wrestler) for popular wrestling company Ring Of Honor. Summer 2019 also brings his seventh appearance at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which runs from August 2 through 26.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Colt Cabana about his past, present and future. To put it simply, this interview will remind you that anything is possible – including a long-term career as an entertainer and/or athlete – when you work hard, say “yes” to new opportunities, and don’t take “no” for an answer.
Jewish Journal: You’ve been successful as a wrestler, entrepreneur, podcaster, actor, comic and author; maybe I’m leaving out a title or two. Is there a way you like to be described career-wise?
Colt Cabana: I think above everything I’m a pro-wrestler. I do a lot of stuff adjacent to the in-ring stuff, but it’s only possible to do that stuff because of my in-ring work. I’m a performer. I have hustle and I want to keep a roof over my head, but I just love performing and I feel the most comfortable when I’m in my spandex in the middle of a wrestling ring.
JJ: When did you first realize that you were going to be fine in your career without a traditional day job?
CC: That’s a loaded question. I was working as a teacher’s assistant in Deerfield, Illinois when I thought I made enough money as a wrestler to quit that gig. At the time, I made about 6K a year as a wrestler. My career was only going on an upwards trajectory at that point. I was 23. I knew I was going to wrestle full-time until I wasn’t able to make a living wrestling anymore.
Sometimes I told myself in my own head, that at 30 if I hadn’t done anything “of worth” in the wrestling world, that I would go to National Lewis University and get a teaching certificate. Still going strong and I’ll be 40 next year.
JJ: You’re sort of a “gateway wrestler” in that lapsed fans and people who wouldn’t normally watch wrestling may get roped in by watching you. Do you remember when you first realized that it paid to be original and not a traditional character?
CC: There was a period in my career where I was a wrestler just like everybody else. THEN there was a period where I kind of started to be a little silly and started using my sense of humor in matches. There was a stretch of about a year or so where I would read online that wrestling fans really started especially enjoy my performances. It’s at that point where I realized how important it was to be the wrestler that stands out at the show.
To be the wrestler that people remember and an impression is made. And that’s how I’ve grown over the past 20 years. I’m by NO means an overnight sensation, but I’ve gradually stood out to individual fans for so long, on so many shows, that I’ve cultivated an audience.
JJ: This summer you’ll be off to Scotland like you’ve been the past few summers. How do your shows at Edinburgh compare to that of the comedy shows you do in the States?
CC: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is like nothing else in the world. There’s over 4,000 shows every single day in the middle of this town in Scotland for 25 straight days. In America, there’s shows here and there, but the comedy and theatre, it takes over the town. If in Edinburgh during the Fringe and NOT seeing a show, then it’s odd.
JJ: If you had it your way, would you be touring as a comic the way you currently do as a wrestler? Being on the road more weekends than not for one-nighters?
CC: If I had it my way, I’d be doing it the way I’m doing it. I’d like to wrestle as long as I possibly can. Other means of comedy are just done because I’m unable to wrestle 365 days a year. My preferred method of comedy to the masses is through my wrestling style and matches.
JJ: Edinburgh aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?
CC: A lot of wrestling. I travel and work with Ring Of Honor, which is on weekly television, along with traveling all over the world as a performer. It never stops.
JJ: Since this is for the Jewish Journal, I feel compelled to ask: What was the theme of your bar mitzvah?
CC: Six Flags, Great America. I’ll be honest, I wanted it to be wrestling, but at 13 in 1993, the WWF wasn’t very cool and I didn’t want to be made fun of. If I had to do it all over again, I’d stay true to myself and do wrestling.
JJ: Finally, Colt, any last words for the kids?
CC: Do your homework! Shalom.