Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger are the reigning NWA World tag team champions. They have wrestled as a team since they
joined up in ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling.) This interview was conducted before the live NWA: TNA PPV show on October
29, 2003. Before they speak as a duo, some background on each of them.
Alan Wojcik: Was wrestling part of your childhood and if so who were some of your favorite wrestles?
Simon Diamond: I started watching around 8 years old. My favorites were “Superstar” Billy Graham, Bob Backland
and the Valiant brothers. When Rollins Cablevision came on in Delaware I was introduced to Georgia Championship Wrestling
and their stars like Ric Flair and my favorite Tully Blanchard.
AW: What position did you play in baseball and what was it like to be drafted by the San Diego Padres?
SD: I was a catcher. Being drafted was totally crazy. I thought I was going to be called on the first day of the draft.
Back then I think the amateur draft was three days; I got called on the second day. I had about a dozen teams come to my school
and do things that included agility tests, sprints, throwing drills and psychological evaluations. I would be pulled out of
class almost every day. It was hectic but I liked it. I think I was in over me head and didn’t comprehend what was going
on (Johnny Swinger passes gas) and Swinger farted that’s rude man. He’s gonna get to you in a minute or two. Back
to the amateur draft, I finally got the call from San Diego. The Padres made me a 34th round selection. The next day their
regional scout John Sutton came to see me with a Padres contract negotiator. I had a set number in my mind for a singing bonus
and they came with one that was below my expectations. I knew this was not going to work out for me.
AW: Was it your choice to go to Virginia Commonwealth University or did the Padres want you in their minor league system
SD: The Padres wanted me with their instructional league team. But sending me there I face up with the majority of the
pitchers that throw 94 and have no control, so I would have become a human backstop. I had several scholarship offers on the
table to consider and my parents are big on education. I chose VCU because of their coach Tony Guzzo who was a phenomenal
coach with catchers. He now coaches at Old Dominion. During the fall he used to give instructional clinics to school like
Florida State, Arizona State and Southern California.
AW: Many people know you had shoulder problems in college. Did it lead you to wrestling school with Jim Ketner or did something
SD: I was a kid with ADHD that needed some kind of physical activity to keep me busy. I tried to come back in baseball
but I wasn’t as good as I was before the surgery. I tried coaching but it didn’t fulfill me. When I worked for
Pepsi I met a fellow employee who was also an indy wrestler named Charlie Hiltner. He was being trained by Jim and to me about
the tryouts that occurred. That’s how that happened.
AW: What was training like with Jim Ketner and what was ECWA like at that time?
SD: It was hard. Training was a graduated thing. You had to work your way up from the bottom. From mat wrestling to punching
and kicking to certain takeovers to promos. You needed to graduate up before you can begin the next level. Many times the
class would be broken up by where you were in training regimen. Jim was tough on us but I was lucky my whole baseball life
I had coaches that were strong advocates of discipline. ECWA at that time was a small company that ran in Delaware that ran
in Boys’ clubs and YCMA only. Jim had a vision of what he wanted ECWA to be and I saw it grow under his control. He
is one of the best wrestling minds I have ever met. He cares about the people that work for him as performers as well as people.
That is a nice feather in his cap and why he can get guys to do things they won’t do for other promoters. I came up
with lots of guys you see today like Devon Storm (Crowbar,) Steve Corino, Billy Kidman, Christian, Edge and Matt Hardy.
AW: When did you become Lance Diamond and at that time how much of (real name deleted) was Lance Diamond?
SD: Jim came up with the name. He said my approach to wrestling was refreshing because I brought a notebook to class. One
day Jim referred to me as a guy who was a Diamond in the rough. So the Diamond stuck. One day someone said I looked like a
Lance. So I became Lance Diamond. How much of him was me? I think our in-ring characters are either a hidden personality or
a multiplication of ourselves. In my case it’s my personality to the tenth degree. When I am my most obnoxious self,
that’s probably what you see in the ring. I am sure my sister can attest to this (laughs.)
AW: What was it like to be that young in the business and teaming with Steve Corino and winning the ECWA tag titles?
SD: I had been teaming with Devon when he got injured. Jim asked me what I thought we should do. I thought why not bring
Corino in, I thought he was ready. Steve and I logged many miles on his truck when he was working as Wa Wa and I was working
for Pepsi. We also worked for Dennis Carluzzo and we became the NWA North American tag champions for him. Lots of good memories
from back then.
AW: You were with ECWA when they began what is considered the premier tournament in the country the Super 8. What was it
like to be there at the beginning and winning the 1998 tournament?
SD: I returned to college in 1993 or 94. One day between classes I was talking to Jim about a video I had of the Super
J Cup. I thought we needed to bring a tournament like this to the states. In true Jim Ketner fashion he took it and ran with
it. The first year it was kept local. The next year he added some outside guys and by year three and four it was the biggest
and most prestigious tournament in the country. I take lots of pride in saying I helped with the origin of it but Jim deserves
all the credit with running it.
AW: Was wrestling part of your childhood and who were some of your favorite wrestlers?
SD: Yes and no, those are his answers now back to me (laughs.)
Johnny Swinger: That sums it up (laughs.) Wasn’t there a tag team where one guy did all the talking and the other
guy nodded a lot? I think it was the Rock n Roll Express. Anyways, I grew up in lovely, scenic and tropical Buffalo, NY. Wrestling
was my childhood. I never did anything else. I played organized sports but I wasn’t as good as Simon Diamond was.
SD: He was a right fielder.
JS: I was doing Macho Man promos standing out there.” OOH Yeah!!! The ball would go over my head or sometimes smack
me right in the head.
SD: I wished we played together as kids. I would have been yelling at you and the coach all the time. Get him out of there;
he’s going to cost us the game!
AW: What led you to training for wrestling and who were you trained by?
JS: My uncle was a wrestler but he was jerk. Everything he did in life and his career I learned to do the opposite. I found
a wrestling school in Toronto, Canada, which was about a 90 minutes from home. Financially it was good for me to live at home
and work a part time job. The school produced Edge, Christian, Joe E. Legend (Legend while working for TNA) and Trish Stratus.
I was happy there and got a good education. I began in 1993 and wrestling was different than today like Simon said earlier.
We were trained differently. I wasn’t expecting what I got. It was harder than the way guys are trained today. Their
mind sets are different. Too many people are training themselves or dressing in amateur wrestling shoes and jeans. Too many
of them are getting hurt. I feel older and I am only 28. As we keep going forward it is difficult to see the business this
way. When I grew up I wanted to be a wrestler but everything is different. You have to love this business or you won’t
make it. Money is great even though I have worked for free and now I am at the high part of the cycle. It’s like being
in the mob; you are done when you are dead.
SD: Hotel California.
AW: Who gave you the name Johnny Swinger and how much of (real name deleted) is Johnny Swinger?
JS: My original name was Johnny Paradise. The way I came up with the name was pretty funny. When I began in 1993, I needed
a name. I was fascinated with the WWF character of Johnny Polo which was played by Raven. He is around my height and build
and had a great character, so I took Johnny. I wanted my initials to be J.P., so I needed something with the letter P. I was
driving and I passed a tanning salon that was called “Paradise Tanning.” That’s was my name that I used
for about two years. Apparently there was another indy guy with the same name that had been around a few years longer than
me. So I needed to change it so not to seem like a copycat. I went to work for a guy in Detroit who told me if I would change
my name to Johnny Hollywood Swinger I could use this Kool and the Gang song “Hollywood Swinging.” In 1993 that
was big because everyone used AC/DC’s “Back in Black” or some Van Halen song. I had a song that fit my character.
When I began to do WCW TV I needed to drop the Hollywood because of the Hollywood Blondes (Steve Austin & Brian Pillman)
so I became Johnny Swinger for about four or five years. When I joined ECW, Johnny somehow got clipped and I became Swinger.
That was cool to have one name like Cher, Raven and both Stings (the wrestler and singer/songwriter.) When ECW closed people
began to call me Johnny Swinger again. I would do anything to drop the Johnny but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Now it is time to talk ECW and let both men answer the questions, if they choose to that is.
AW: What led each of you to ECW and what were your initial impressions of Paul Heyman?
SD: I was contacted by Rob Feinstein in I think it was 1996, right before I had my shoulder surgery. Paul E. was looking
to bring in local guys that he hadn’t seen before. I knew Rob from my beginning days in Philly. I called Paul and thanked
him but told him I had my shoulder surgery lined up. He told me to call him once I was healed and ready to wrestle. Around
the time I got finished the WWF dojo opened, the one that produced Kurt Angle, Edge and Christian. I began to do jobs for
the WWF through Jim Cornette who I knew through Dennis Carluzzo. The dojo thing never happened for some reason. My girlfriend
Dawn Marie, who I met on the indy circuit, was working for ECW and Tommy Dreamer was asking about me. I went to a show on
Staten Island and met Paul and Tommy. Everyone was very nice. I had a tryout 2 weeks later on May 4, 1998 against Nova.
JS: After spending 4 years in WCW, yes I said 4 years. Most people can’t believe me when I say that even though they
never put me on television. I was making good money but I was miserable. I was so miserable that my then girlfriend now wife
couldn’t stand to be around me. She came up with the idea of me quitting WCW and taking a chance with ECW because we
knew of some guys that had success there that hadn’t in the WCW or WWF. I took her advice and quit my guaranteed money
job to work for a tenth of my salary. To this day it was the best move I made for my career. Many people say bad things about
Paul. Yes he owes me money; he owes lots of money to lots of guys. The bottom line is he gave me a chance to prove to myself
that I could be more than a jobber in WCW. I believed that was all I could do in this business that how low I was mentally.
ECW was the most fun I had in the business until right now here with TNA. It is similar but I am making more here in TNA.
Paul is an enigma. He changed things for the better and the worse. The good far outweighs the bad. Vince wouldn’t have
him up there working if he was bad for business. There will never be another ECW, it was so cutting edge.
AW: When did Lance Diamond become Simon Diamond? Is it true that Paul’s motivation for the name changed had to do
with Dean Malenko?
SD: Philadelphia Arena in 1999, Paul came up to me with an idea. Tommy Dreamer had remarked that I was a great mat wrestler.
I used to study Dean’s tapes in my early days in the business. He is the best mat wrestler ever in the sport. Tommy
saw similarities and I took it as a compliment. Tommy said what’s Dean Malenko’s real name? I told him I think
its Simon. You are going to be Simon Diamond. We’ll have you say, “Simon says take out this guy or that guy.”
Paul told me to get a Rick Rude style robe. The whole thing led to lots of Simon says promos and it came in handy with the
Misfits later on.
AW: Was it Paul’s idea to team you together and then mix you with the Sideshow Freaks?
SD: I would like to take credit for it. Early May 2000, we are in Atlanta, Georgia. Make sure your readers notice how I
remember all these dates and places.
JS: I can remember times and dates (laughs.)
SD: Tommy comes over to me and says you have two choices tonight. One you can wrestle Swinger in a singles match or you
can team and wrestle two of Dusty Rhodes’ students. Now that August was the ECW tag title tournament, which all of us
knew about and I wanted to be in it. Plus if we wrestle each other it just a match with two heels who have no issue, if we
team up we can get Dusty to critique our match. It was a no-brainer. Paul was giving me a contract because I was in touch
with someone in WCW. Paul told me that he wanted to team me with Corino and then add CW Anderson and then Swinger in kind
of a new Horseman. That’s how it all started. We wrestled Jorge Estrada and Sean Evans.
AW: Before that Simon got in the ring with the former WWE women’s champion Jazz. What was it like to wrestle Jazz?
SD: That was no joke. She is as tough as nails. We had some decent matches and she is very talented. She is twice as nice
outside the ring.
JS: Just for the record Jazz is the only female victim of the Problem Solver. That’s an interesting fact.
SD Yes that is an interesting fact.
AW: As Simon brought up you were part of the ECW tag team title tournament. In round one you wrestled Chris Chetti and
JS: One of our finest matches in ECW. We had some great matches with them. Danny Doring and Roadkill were good to work
but they weren’t showstoppers. Nova and Chetti were our best opponents. The money match would have been us against Tajiri
and Mikey Whipwreck but the company went under before that could happen.
SD: We made it to the finals against Mikey/Tajiri and Jerry Lynn and Tommy Dreamer. We all know the finisher of the match,
Mikey hitting me with the Whippersnapper off the top rope. That was our biggest night in ECW with a sellout crowd in New York
AW: You were on the last ECW show “Guilty As Charged 2001.” Did either of you see any signs that the company
was going under and if so what were they?
JS: That was the prefect case of denial.
SD: It’s like when you are in bad relationship and you sit there one day when your girlfriend comes home and days
honey its over and you say what’s wrong (laughs.) We didn’t want to believe it was ending despite the effort to
keep it going. Being the company that was run by one person and it was tough for him and Paul fell victim to it. There were
signs like shows being cancelled and checks bouncing. We thought a TV deal would be reached to save us all.
AW: Is it true that the two of you and Dawn Marie were close to signing with WCW before the WWE bought them?
JS: You wanna answer this one?
SD: You can answer it.
AW: You can no comment and I’ll move on.
JS: I had some contacts still in the company. I left as nobody and became as somebody with Simon helped matters. We had
a strong television presence. There was interest but there was never a formal offer made. We didn’t know ECW was over
until Paul showed up on Raw. There was about two months between the last PPV and the end that we were in a limbo of sorts.
WCW wanted me for a one shot but it didn’t turn into anything. I think they knew Vince was going to buy the group so
they didn’t hire anyone but EZ Money which was about two weeks before they were bought.
SD: Dawn and I were contacted to meet with Johnny Ace in Baltimore. We met with him and I was going to have a tryout match
with Kid Kash somewhere in South Carolina, but my dad became ill so that took precedent. When I called them again they wanted
a release from Paul. Of course to do that would be a risky move. While I was contemplating it WCW’s bottom fell through
so things never came to fruition as they say.
AW: What were your feelings when the WWE brought Dawn Marie in to be a WWE Diva? Was there any talk of you also joining
the WWE and maybe being paired with her?
SD: I was ecstatic when she got the opportunity to go there but there was never any talk of the two of us joining her.
AW: The two of you debuted in NWA: TNA in July of 2002. What brought you here and what did you think of a weekly PPV show?
JS: The idea of the weekly PPV, I was skeptical of it. Well after a year I am impressed they are still here and I hear
that the number of viewers is growing. That is good for the industry and the workers. The WWE with the exception of maybe
five guys need this place to be successful. They have a great crew that works together to make this keep going. I feel good
about being here. We might not be direct competition to Vince but we are alternative to watching the WWE. You might not be
able to buy a million dollar house but you can pay the bills and do what you enjoy which is being a wrestler. As far as how
we got here in July, we had a dark match with the WWE where we worked against each other.
SD: You had a bloody nose and I had a bloody lip.
JS: It was one of the stiffer matches I have been in. Everyone was happy with the match but we had been there a million
times and heard the same thing, “We liked it and we’ll let you know.” I waited two days and I made some
calls to TNA. I had worked with many of the staff in WCW. They offered us a tryout match as a team. We worked Elix Skipper
and Monty Brown. It was fun but hard to come off the street and work with two guys that we never worked with plus they weren’t
a full time team like us.
SD: We dispelled that label with our big feud with AMW.
JS: We came back a few months later for a one shot with the New Church. It was a good match but nothing to blow peoples
minds. There was a while I think seven moths where we were off TV. They wanted me to come in a solo character even though
they didn’t have a character laid out for me. I then found out they made a call to Simon and we were going to work America’s
Most Wanted (James Storm and Chris Harris.)
They are great and very helpful. They are unselfish and got us where we are in TNA. That match bought us another week.
We came back and tore it up with another great match. Most guys have to come in and earn a spot unless you are a name coming
in from the WWE. We have been in a great program with those guys and hope to start it up again soon.
AW: For the readers that might not be weekly viewers, what led you to being paired up with Glen Gilberti?
JS: I think the storyline was Glen was going to bring in a new team each week to take on AMW. But we had the great initial
match so we were brought back the next week. What cemented us as a trio was an in-ring promo in our street clothes and we
looked good visually.
SD: All of us have dark features and dark hair.
JS: We complimented each other and didn’t just look like three guys off the street. We look like stars when we come
out for on intro. We are fictitious stars and I think we have great act.
AW: On August 27, 2003 you became the NWA World tag team champions by defeating AMW. Any memories from that night?
SD: That crazy tower of death move where I saw stars (laughs.) Storm got a stinger in that match. As a team it was our
biggest moment and maybe individually as well. It was a sense of accomplishment in that we came in and we won a place in the
company. It was like walking onto an NFL team. It was like being Rudy, walking onto Notre Dame.
JS: I knew you would bring up Notre Dame.
SD: But Rudy didn’t win a national title. That was 1975 and they were 8 and 3, Coach Devine’s first year. He
won a national title in 1997 and should have won in 1980 if it wasn’t for Hershel Walker and Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
AW: Simon, you are not only an NWA World tag team champion but you hold the MLW Global tag team titles with CW Anderson.
What led you to work for MLW and what were your first impressions of Court Bauer?
SD: I got a call from Court and he brought me into a meeting with CW and Corino. He wanted to make us the Extreme Horseman,
which was something Steve created in Dusty Rhodes’ promotion TCW. Court told me his business plan and he is smart in
AW: Was it their idea to have Steve as the singles wrestler while you paired with CW and what did you think of being pared
SD: I always liked CW’s work in the ring, he is outstanding. I am not sure whose idea it was but Steve was a former
ECW World champion so it made sense to team me with CW.
AW: Did you like bringing Barry Windham and the former Justin Credible, PJ Walker at the Wargames show in Ft. Lauderdale?
SD: I grew up idolizing the Horseman and the Wargames match itself. Not only did I get to wrestle in that match but I got
to be in it with a Horseman, which was a moment you want to savor.
AW: Any concerns after the Jacksonville show was postponed and what do you know about the future of MLW?
SD: It’s going to happen. The wrestling business is down even if we don’t want to believe it. Life like economics
is cyclical. It’s impossible to stay up for so long. What do you think?
JS: It’s a cliché but wrestling does go in cycles. I think we have a little while to go along. Wrestling will never
stop. We are young guys and when the next boom hits we will be in the middle of it. I think it might be in the next two years.
TNA is going strong and Vince has been there for fifty years and he’ll be there for fifty more.
SD: The best advice we ever received was from the Honky Tonk Man, Wayne Ferris. His website is famous for his controversial
views on the business. He told us the greatest attribute you can have in wrestling is patience and perseverance. Because you
never know what is going to happen, eventually things are going to change. Three years ago would we have thought we would
be sitting here with no WCW or ECW? No way. If you can persevere and stay around you can be part of that future.
My thanks to Simon and Johnny for their time. Thanks to Simon’s webmistress Rafaela with research. Also thanks to
Jody David and Tim Welch of NWA: TNA for their hospitality during my trip back to Nashville. Be sure to check out Simon’s
website, www.simondiamondonline.com and www.extremehorsemen.com For more on NWA: TNA log onto www.nwatna.com and MLW has a