MIKEY TENDERFOOT has been a major pain to the Alliance of Defiance since splitting from the
group, namely his former friend ROD STEEL. Once the biased referee for the AOD, Tenderfoot left the group after AOD member
Agent Steele lost a Florida Unified title match to then champion Billy Fives at Rage in the Cage 5. Tenderfoot first burst
onto the scene in the infamous eight-man match involving the ALLIANCE OF DEFIANCE vs THE SHANES and THE STRONG BROTHERS at last Novembers 'Independent Armageddon!' What
many fans might not know, Mikey has been wrestling since 2000 under the name of SEIJIN
AKKI. This interview is a full profile on Mikey from Seijins origins to why he is now Mikey Tenderfoot to his true feelings
on Rod Steel. Tenderfoot sat for this interview hours before his I QUIT match with Rod Steel at Reign In Blood II, IPWs fifth
anniversary show on August 16, 2003.
Alan Wojcik: During Superfan
Mark Zouts interview he spoke of the two of you being at an IPW show without each others knowledge. He says that show made
him want to be a wrestler. Did the same thing happen to you at that IPW show and how did you come to train at the Florida
Mikey Tenderfoot: I was
on the internet and went to a message board for Florida indies and posted a question on where could I find a school to train. I was
14 at the time. (Former IPW star) Jeff Peterson instant messaged me about a school in St. Petersburg
to check out, the promotion IPW Hardcore runs it. I went to the IPW site. The 1st show was in July of 1999 in the
St. Pete Amory. I loved it from the 1st match. Thats where I met Mark. I saved up my money from working at a pizza
place and in April of 2000 I began training at what was then called the IPW Chaotic Camp.
AW: Who was doing the
training and what was the training program the students followed?
MT: Based on the training
I see now, it was old school. I was trained by Navy Seal AKA Rastaman. He was trained by Jimmy Del Ray and Seal was very strict
and disciplined. Practice was very tight. We did cardio and learning moves, making them into running spots and turning those
spots into a match. It was hot as hell with no AC, just a fan to circulate the hot air around the place. So we would come
out soaked in sweat. The ODD Jeff Bradley was also an instructor. He was ridiculously
stiff and he had fun beating our asses. I liked the way the school was run.
AW: Who from your training
class is wrestling today?
MT: Agent Steele, Mark
Zout, Pat McGroin had just begun training and Rod Steel.
AW: What were your initial
impressions of Rod Steel? Was he the Rod the fans see at IPW shows?
MT: Rod started two weeks
after me. I was getting the hang of things by then. He was very reserved, nervous and kind of shy which might come to a shock
to many people. In June of 2000 IPW ran a benefit show for Jeff Peterson who was fighting cancer. We began talking that night
when we were breaking down the ring and the friendship began.
AW: Before Mikey Tenderfoot
there was Seijin Akki. What led to the creation of Seijin Akki?
MT: When I was 13 I was
not into WWE and WCW. I began going onto the internet and reading about Japanese wrestling shows. I then began to trade tapes
with a wrestler named Marcus Jordon who lived in Maryland. He now has his own
promotion called Urban Empire Wrestling, which I will be working for soon. I loved it from the first viewing. The J-Crown
(sic) of 1996 was my first tape. Ultimo Dragon and Shinjiro Otani amazed me with their stuff. I wanted to do the Japanese
style and still do it in my matches. I went to an internet language site and found that Seijin Akki translates to Holy Demon.
I thought it was cool sounding. I approached (IPW owner) Ron Niemi with the idea and he liked it. Since I looked so young
I donned the mask to create the character.
AW: Who was your first
match against and what do you remember of it?
MT: Funny enough Rod Steel
and I worked on September
23, 2000 at the famed VWF in St Pete. It was an interesting
match. We were both really nervous and he started forgetting spots during the match so he kept hitting me with his finisher
the sky high. He must have hit me with it five times from every way he could possibly think of. At the time I had separated
some vertebrae and it was pretty uncomfortable. It was great to get in front of a crowd and perform. We have had some good
chemistry ever since.
AW: Early in your career
you got to wrestle former IPW cruiserweight champion Jet Jaguar.
MT: Jet is one of the
craziest people I know inside the ring. I was very nervous because he was my idol. I came to IPW shows to see 911 Inc. which
was Jet, Mike Sullivan, the Shane Brothers and the late Jeff Peterson. The first time I worked him for the title, we got nose
to nose and he said to me I like salads with croutons (laughs.) Needless to say that loosened me up. Also in the match was
IPW commissioner Eddie Edwards at the time he was refereeing. Both of them helped me get through the match and it was one
of the best matches I had in my rookie year.
AW: Another competitor
was Al Bino now known as Naphtali.
MT: Naph and I worked
he circuit and I was his traveling partner for a while when I went to work on small shows to gain experience. He also had
a hand in my training, which I am grateful for. We worked 15-20 times together in about a 5 month span. His style was very
different at the time and it was great experience.
AW: One of your matches
with Naphtali was three way dance with the third person being Scoot Andrews. What was it like to wrestle a veteran like Andrews?
MT: That was also one
of my best matches from my rookie year. Lots of fun. We had the crowd going and had the spots hitting. While I was pinning
Naphtali, Scoot decided to kick me in the crotch and I had to powder out of the ring because I thought I was going to throw
up right there in the ringside area. I was wrestling that match with stomach virus and a 101 degree fever. Other than that
the match went great. The post match stuff with Dagon Briggs was fun and learning from Scoot was great.
AW: For those that might
not have followed wrestling in 2001, IPW had well publicized feud with NWA Florida. Where did the allegiance of Seijin Akki
lie during that feud?
MT: I did my own thing
during that feud. I had some tiffs with Lex Lovett who was gunning for the IPW title. I feuded more with Rod who was an NWA
guy than the entire NWA since I didnt really give a sh#$ about the NWA at the time.
AW: You then became the
IPW light-heavyweight now cruiserweight champion in May of 2001 by beating Scoot Andrews for the title in a three way match
that also included Jason Reign. You werent even a year in the business and you won a title.
MT: I was stunned, it
came out of nowhere. I found out three or four days before the show and I became very nervous because I knew of Jason from
him doing the super 8 tournament. I was really disappointed in the match because neither Scoot nor I had ever worked Reign
and I had only wrestled Scoot the one time so we were off during the match. Everything of mine was off until the finish. It
was a learning experience and winning the title is something I will always remember.
AW: I believe that same
night the Turncoat Rod Steel attacked you. Why do you think Rod attacked you?
MT: Rod at that point
never got his hand on the title. I think he saw his former friend getting a title he felt he deserved. He hit me with the
booty call which he had just come up with and the feud grew from there.
AW: During your title
reign you wrestled a diverse group of wrestlers. You wrestled former WWE cruiserweight champion Jaime Noble, then working
for WCW. What was it like to wrestle him during an elimination match at Rage In the Cage 3?
MT: Funny story about
that match. A fellow IPW student drove with me to Orlando to get the cage for the
cage match. The match was supposed be Noble and I. I got a call at that it was now a
three way with Adam Booker and we were going to be the first match on the show. The show was supposed to begin at 8 and we
NEVER began on time. I got to the back and Noble talked me through it. He had been doing those kinds of matches in WCW, so
he knew the format and came up with a good match. Booker and Noble were very open to everything I wanted to do and Jaime was
such a great worker to be in the ring with.
Mark Zout (walking by):
Lies its all LIES!!!
MT: I knew he was going
to get revenge on me.
AW: At Civil War 2001
you lost the title to some guy named Rod Steel. Wow he keeps coming up here.
MT: That bastard likes
to follow my tracks and keep tab on my every move. It was an off-night for me and Rod got me with the booty call. I never
did get my return shot though.
AW: During my research,
Seijin disappeared from the IPW show results. What happened to him I mean you?
MT: Ten days after I lost
the title, I was working in Orlando for SCCW. In one match I wrestled Sean Hill without the mask. I dont remember
what my name was. The second match I wrestled that night was Seijin against Mike Sullivan, another idol of mine. I knew Mike
was great worker since he had a hand in my training, helping me get polished up. I went for my signature move which was a
flip over the top rope and I over shot. To save me from landing in the crowd, Sullivan caught me. But when he caught me my
body was in front of him but my legs were behind him. When we landed it shattered my ankle. I watched the tape of this and
it was actually quite gruesome. I get up and start limping round. We did some more spots in the ring including a Chris Jericho
dropkick, the one that he hits from the second rope. I did it and my ankle gave out. I tore the ligaments on the inside of
my ankle. From that I did a clothesline and a baseball slide to the floor. Sullivan hit me with a hotshot and I told him I
couldnt go anymore. He hit me with a power bomb and pinned me. But I wasnt done because they were going with an angle where
Mike had broken Scoots arm. So Mike hit me with a Russian leg sweep using my good leg. I went right to my car, drove home
but didnt go to the hospital until the next day.
AW: At Traditionally Violent
you were sort of welcomed back by Mike Sullivan and Rod Steel.
MT: Rod and I had a small
reconciliation. He felt bad for me and all the past things. Sullivan came out and talked trash. Rod and I took Sullivan out.
While I did my soccer style airplane celebration, Rod clipped my ankle from behind and put me into a figure four leglock.
This was two months after major surgery which should have out me out for eight months. From that point I was not too trusting
AW: You fought Sullivan
in a last man standing match at Hostile Takeover.
MT: Sullivan is the consummate
professional. At the time I was getting deeper into Japanese wrestling tapes and Sullivan wanted to try some new stuff. So
I lent him some tapes and we got some great stuff together. We had three matches before that last man standing match.
Rod Steel pokes his nose
into the interview
AW: You got something
Rod Steel: I am on everyones
interview son Im a f$%King star. Remember kiddies dont drop an F bomb, cursing is bad.
Tenderfoot needed several
minutes to stop laughing.
MT: What a a$$hole! Anyhow,
doing that last man standing match was great. We did twenty five minutes and Im proud of that match. No matter what anyone
says Sullivan is one of the best and it is a shame he hasnt gotten a break.
AW: At IPW Reborn you
wrestled indy star Mike Quackenbush.
MF: I had met his girlfriend
online through the Death Valley Driver Video Review java chat. We had talked just as I was about to go work the Hass memorial
show in New Jersey. When I did that I was able to hook up with him. He was happy to come down
and wrestle me, being he is also a former IPW cruiserweight champion. He has a similar style as me but he also throws in lucha
moves. I was disappointed in the match even though we blew a couple of spots but I liked what we did and I would work him
any day of the week.
AW: You have also worked
with the former IPW Cruiserweight and NWA Florida X champion Justice. What is it like to be in the ring with someone that
is pretty much an enigma?
MT: Justice is my favorite
person to work with. He is the nicest guy you will ever meet. He is up for anything you want to do in the ring. I hope you
will see him go places real soon because his gimmick and style is so unique. Working justice is something I look forward to
no matter the situation. (Note: Justice will be wrestling an NWA: TNA dark match on September 17th.)
AW: What is it like to
wrestle your teacher, Navy Seal/Rastaman?
MT: Stiff. Very, very
stiff. We have an understanding that we can be stiff in the ring and hug each other afterwards. It is a good connection that
we have being he was my trainer. I have so much respect for the man. If we are wrestling in front of 10 people or 100 people
I will put all of my heart and effort into our match.
AW: You had a best of
three series with a former IPW star named Cynic. I read during one of the matches you broke two teeth, is this true??
MT: Cynic beat me in match
one with a move onto the ramp way called the darkness driver. Match two fell on the anniversary of my ankle injury. So I did
the move that led to the injury. I whipped it out. When I came down my body turned and a tooth on my right side caught the
edge of a chair which I proceeded to eat. My big front tooth came through my lip, which I have a scar to this day and if you
ever see the tape, you can see my tooth bounce off the chair and land 5 feet away. It was disturbing but I was happy because
it made the match seem more intense. Before match three my temporary had come out while eating pizza. So I worked without
the tooth in a match I count in my top five all time. We had Japanese psychology, pure All-Japan style. The crowd was totally
into it. It was one of the biggest rushes of my life.
AW: What led you to remove
the mask and become IPW referee Mikey Tenderfoot?
MT: Funny story about
that. At the time I was doing real heavy Japanese style matches with Justice and Cynic. I was becoming worn down with injuries
to my ankles, knees and various ligaments. I told Ron I wanted to take about two months off and he understood. On a show at
the LealmanDiscoverySchool, two IPW students, Pretty Fly and Kung Fu Fro were having a match and I asked
Ron if I could referee it since the students were nervous. I went without the mask since no one knew I was Seijin. Ron liked
my refereeing style and it started from there. The name Mikey Tenderfoot came up one night when we were hanging out at Diamond
Dolls. Ron was surprisingly very drunk and I asked him about the match he said, We can call you Mikey Tenderfoot, since Mike
is my real first name. Ron looked to (IPW booker) Aaron Royal and asked if the name was cool and he said no. We got to the
next show and on the booking card was the name Mikey Tenderfoot.We went with
it and down the line Ron didnt remember who came up with the gimmick until I told him that he did.
AW: When and where did
you join the Alliance of Defiance?
MT: At Independent Armageddon
I refereed a match between the AOD and the Shanes and the Strongs.Many people
at the time did not know Rod and I reconciled once again and had become roommates.During
the match Sedrick Strong had Mike Sullivan beat. I made a two count but when I was supposed to count three, I claimed at the
time I got some glass in my eye from the previous hardcore match. While I was blinded, Scoot came in and it Sedrick with the
Forces of Nature, I got the glass out of my eye and Sullivan was on top for the three count. Thats how I came to join the
AW: Was it easy to forgive
Rod Steel for all the past incidents?
MT: I always liked Rod
as a person but I was not a fan of his professional choices. Once we moved in together it was easier to forgive him. He promised
me lots of things. I was angered I never got a IPW cruiserweight title shot despite my victories over Cynic and Justice. Even
after my best of three win, Cynic got an IPW title run which made me very upset. It was easy to forgive Rod, foolishly.
AW: This question is from
many people that have seen matches where Rod defended the IPW World title while you refereed the match. Were the two of you
having as much fun as it looked like?
MT: We were having as
much fun times ten. It was so much fun to be without the mask for the first time. We were watching Ric Flair tapes at the
time so everything we did was over the top. Together we were a great pairing because we could work off each other. I loved
doing the refereeing gimmick.
AW: At the Aftermath you
were the referee during Rods title for title match with then NWA World champion Jeff Jarrett. Which makes me want to ask hows
the head from that guitar shot Jarrett laid on you?
MT: Jeff Jarrett. We picked
him up at the airport the day of the show and he was kind of out of it from having worked the previous night. Once he found
out who we were, he was open to anything. Hes very old school and knew of the ref gimmick. He was open to me doing my shtick
in the match. The guitar he brought wasnt like the breakaway ones he used in WCW; it was a real acoustic guitar.
MT: So when he hit me
with it I definitely felt it and had many bumps and cuts on my head. When he hit me with the chair I was legitimately gave
me a concussion. He was stiff but I liked him overall.
AW: At Valentines Vengeance
you were forced to substitute for Mike Sullivan as Scoot Andrews partner in Naturally Marevlouss Florida Unified tag team
title match with the Shane Brothers. What was it like to get back in the ring and what was it like to wrestle the Shane Brothers?
MT: With all the shenanigans
the AOD had been pulling, the IPW office felt Mike Sullivan didnt show because they thought he knew Naturally Marvelous would
lose the belts to the Shanes. So we devised a plan to tell the IPW office that Mike wasnt there and we had him stay home with
his wife. Commissioner Edwards decided to put me in the match because he felt the Shanes deserved the title shot no matter
what. Looking back on it, I would have done what Edwards did. So I got in there, I took my shirt off and did some flexing
which surprisingly did not intimidate the Shanes. I got my ass whooped and fell to the TKO. That started the troubles with
Billy Fives began.
AW: Did you have any input
in the ejection of Billy Fives and the addition of Agent Steel and Roderick Strong?
MT: During the match Billy
went to hit Mike Shane with a chair. Mike moved and put me in front of Billy. Billy had plenty of time to stop his momentum
but he followed through anyway, acting like it was a mistake. I was upset that we lost the belts and I passed the buck, putting
the blame on Billy. So out went Billy.
AW: Please dont hit me
for bringing this up. Unfortunately you were the referee of record when Rod Steel lost the IPW World title to Billy Fives.
Do you feel the AOD unjustly blamed you for Rod losing the title?
MT: I would like to add
that during that match despite all the constant interference in other title matches, there was not one AOD member interfering
in that particular match. (IPW Senior Referee) Star Stevens came in after I was knocked out. He raised my hand for the one
and two count and when the third count came I was still knocked out, so when he let go of my hand it naturally fell to the
mat. None of the AOD did anything to stop this from happening. Whether this was a plot to kick me out or something against
Rod, the AOD had some sort of game plan going into that incident.
AW: You were also the
referee of record at Rage in the Cage 5 when Agent Steele lost his Unified Florida Heavyweight title (IPW World & NWA
Florida titles) match to Billy Fives. Many say you saw the light or turned your back on the AOD. What is your version of what
MT: I will take credit
for that one.I felt the AOD was losing momentum as they began to lose titles
and they were blaming me for most of it.I did see the light at that point. My
body was fully healed and I was ready to get back into the ring. I knew the AOD would hold me down and not allow it. So yes
I thought it was the opportune time to turn on the AOD.
AW: What made you revert
back to Seijin Akki for your match in the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup tournament with Naphtali and do you have any memories
of Jeff you wish to share?
MT: I did it for a throwback.
I wanted to do it in IPW one more time. I prefer the un-masked stuff since I have more experience and charisma. I mostly did
it for Jeff. He was very close to me and he helped me break into the business. I owe him everything. It was fun to do it one
more time on a show of that big a cause. Its a shame he had so much talent and potential. I feel it is my duty to accomplish
what he couldnt in wrestling. It was the right time to do it.
AW: On night two you un-masked
in a match where you teamed with Danny Doring to take on Naturally Marvelous.Is
Seijin Akki gone and will fans ever see him again?
MT: I felt it was right
to do it that night. It was such a magical night. I wanted people to understand my past. They only knew me as the referee
not a legit competitor.I thought I would gain respect from the fans and it also
gave them the full story to my relationship with Rod Steel.To answer the other
part of your question Seijin is not gone; he will always be part of me. He is brought out to fight guys like Justice on other
Florida shows. Justice loved the character and requests I do it when I work him.
AW: For anyone that watches
IPW TV and IPW events knows you and Rod Steel have been beating each other from The Wrestleplex to Melbourne and all other points in between. What makes you decide how far it too far and is tonight the end with the I Quit
MT: I will take it as
far as it needs to go. Wins and losses mean nothing to me. I havent had a win against Rod since I became Mikey Tenderfoot.
It wasnt a concern because I wanted him to feel my ankle injury, the pain and betrayal I felt when the AOD and I split. I
wanted to earn the fans respect and for them to know I was a legitimate competitor. The perfect opponent to prove that point
with was Rod Steel. Tonight is the end of Rod Steel. I will not quit, I have never quit in any of our previous matches and
I will not begin tonight. If I have to go to hospital to do it I will, bottom line.
Note: Mikey ended up making
Rod say I quit by driving a piece of wood into his forehead.