Cruz discusses career highlights, PNW debut and more

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Chris Cruz
Photo / Chris Cruz
Photo / Chris Cruz

Texas has a long and glorious tradition of wrestling that shares much in common with their neighbors to the south, Mexico including Chris Cruz. On a dense playing field of exceptional talent every once in a while, someone stands out from the others. Perhaps they possess a spark that draws your attention, or they have a certain way of connecting with the audience. One thing is for certain Chris Cruz is one of those talents who stands out on a crowded playing field.

He has a unique gimmick as that of a nurse, however, he isn’t playing around. In his personal life, he is actually an ER nurse, working tirelessly as a real-life hero, saving lives and nursing people back to good health. After spending some time with Mr. Cruz, it is readily apparent he is as passionate about nursing as he is professional wrestling.

Chris recently made his debut in the Pacific Northwest. First making an appearance at Prestige Vendetta in Corvallis Oregon. He then traveled north to Everett Washington to make an appearance at Without A Cause Volume 7 That’s What I Call Music. Sometimes when you watch a performer on your computer or on television you can see how great they truly are. However, nothing compares to seeing someone in person at a live show. That is where the magic happens and last month Chris Cruz brought his own special brand of magic to the Pacific Northwest.

When I learned that Chris Cruz would be returning later in June to make another appearance at Without A Cause I reached out to see if he would be willing to take the time to answer some questions. He kindly agreed and I am pleased to present to you an interview with an outstanding wrestler and exceptional human being!

Philip: You have been doing this for a couple of years now. Tell us about your training. Who were your trainers, who were some of your fellow students, what was that experience like for you?

Photo / Chris Cruz

Chris Cruz: I began training actually when I was 14, as a matter of fact, I had my first match when I was 14. My original trainer was “Hot Sauce” Marco Rivierra. My brother and I were lucky enough to have had a wrestling promotion run in the small west Texas town of San Angelo TX. This was around 2006-07. After that, we infrequently wrestled due to education. Our parents always pushed education first, which I am grateful for to this day.  In 2016 I moved to the San Antonio TX area and found Hybrid School of wrestling ran by Chris Marval. Marval took me under his wing, and essentially, I was retrained and reformed. It furthered my wrestling education tenfold and I am very grateful for his consistent open-door policy for anyone willing to learn.

Philip: Tell us about your style and approach to what you do in the ring. What are your favorite/signature moves? Are there any moves you would like to add to your arsenal of moves?

Chris Cruz: I definitely have a lot of Lucha Libre influence, however being technically favorable is one of my goals as well. Which makes sense, once you find out growing up my favorite wrestlers were (and still are) Ultimo Dragon & Chris Jericho. My favorite signature move are the Sliced Bread/Asai DDT, any and all variations of headscissors and hurricanrana. I plan to master all of them, and of course my Heart Punch / Defibrillator Double Chop Combo, which helps me prepare my opponent for the Turnbuckle Bulldog to set up the Heart Attack Meteora finisher.

Philip: What have been your career highlights thus far?

Photo / Chris Cruz

Chris Cruz: I have the opportunity to participate in multiple EVOLVE tryouts/extra work, which was amazing. One that I’m very proud of is being a part of the very first Ring of Honor tryout camp in their brand-new dojo located up in the northeast last year. Some fellow students and I were also involved as extra work as well for Joey Ryan’s Penis party this past WrestleCon as well, which was a blast! Lastly, one of my personal favorites was leading my school to victory during a long-standing feud with a fellow wrestling school in Texas. I was the sole survivor in a 5 vs 5 elimination match and was able to bring Hybrid the victory.

Philip: You recently made your debut in the Pacific Northwest, first with Prestige and then over at Without A Cause. What do you think of our little scene up here? Is it different than in Texas? If so, in what ways?

Chris Cruz: It’s funny because I have been asked that same question from both sides. And the best answer that I can give is one that an old nursing professor would use consistently; It’s the same, but different. The locker-room at Prestige and WAC were phenomenal. I met some amazing professional people. It is nice to be surrounded by coworkers who want to make the product better. There were no egos, only professional wanting to make the product better. Which is refreshing. There are some amazing talented wrestlers that I met up here, Ricky Gibson, Eddie Pearl, just to name a couple. Here, and much like Texas as well, you can fee the intensity in the atmosphere at these shows. We are at a great tipping point in wrestling. People all around know this is the time now for every show, no matter how big or small, to give an elevated performance. There is a lot of space to fill for a new generation of wrestling, and I believe the northwest, just like the south, feel it as well. I definitely believe the northwest will be a great scene very, very soon. The crowds were so emotionally involved at both shows; it was an incredible experience that will continue.

Photo / Chris Cruz

Philip: It was announced you will be returning to Without A Cause in a month. This is great news! Any chance we might see you as a regular up here?

Chris Cruz: I certainly hope so! I had a great time up there, and the scenery is beautiful! On the drive to Prestige on Saturday, I asked what all this white stuff was falling in the air, I had thought they were feathers from birds. I felt so dumb, jaja, I had no idea pollen was so big! It was a beautiful sight, for me anyway, to see the pollen in the air in between pine trees. Like a scene from a movie is what it looked like to me. I kept texting my wife how lucky I am to live the life I do. And I love the crowds here. They were so emotionally involved and invested in every match, and I am very grateful to have been able to wrestle up here and connect with the crowd like I did.

Philip: What other parts of the country have you wrestled in and where are you hoping to have a chance to travel.

Chris Cruz: I was lucky last month as well to be able to work for WildKatz in New Orleans Louisiana. That was another incredible experience. I have had many tryouts and seminars I have attended in the North East, but I have yet to be a part of a show up there. That is one of my goals this year. There are many popular promotions up there that I am sure could use a nurse.

Philip: We used to be considered the ‘black hole’ of professional wrestling. Now we have a healthy scene growing here. What are people saying about us where you’re from? Are we building any reputation at all beyond our borders?

Chris Cruz
Photo / Chris Cruz

Chris Cruz: I have heard that term multiple times during my stay here in the North West. Unfortunately, I am not sure. I habitually watch wrestling of all sorts and do my best to keep up with the scene across the U.S., so I knew of DEFY, WAC, Prestige, and 321 Battle already. In terms of fans, I know many keep up with wrestlers and not so many companies unless it’s one very near there vicinity. I promise, however, that I am spreading the word about how fantastic it is up here. And bring in more eyes to the talented pool of wrestlers and amazing shows that go on up here.

Philip: Your gimmick very much mirrors your real life in terms of your profession. Tell us about your gimmick? How did you come to decide to be a nurse in the ring as well?

Chris Cruz: Well I am me, through and through for sure. It actually wasn’t too long after my wife and I had moved to the San Antonio area. There was a wrestler, who again for the life of me I cannot remember his name. (If you’re reading this, I’m sorry dude, reach out and I’ll give you a proper shout out!) However, he wrestled in the Amarillo/Lubbock TX area whose gimmick was that of a mad scientist and would come out with a lab coat and cut chemistry promos. But he wasn’t a chemist or researcher or anything, just a great character. So, I was speaking with my brother and Hotsauce about it. I said, “I feel like I can do the same but with nursing. I know the truest of its form and I bet I can project it properly because I know what I’m talking about. I have to be a ‘professional’ when speaking with patients anyway, its more or less still me.” My thought process was that I could pull off a wrestling nurse who is a hyperbole of an actual nurse, of who I actually am. And it worked. I have found that fans can easily identify me and if nothing else, I stick out. I mean who doesn’t love rip off Scrubs???

Philip: How often do you train, both in the gym and in the ring?

Chris Cruz
Photo / Chris Cruz

Chris Cruz: Every show day is an opportunity to train depending on when the ring is set up before the show. Prior to tearing my MCL. I had trained at hybrid for a solid eight months straight without wrestling at shows. After tearing my MCL I have not been able to get back onto a consistent in-ring training schedule. In the gym, I workout at least four times a week, leaving me room for total travel days on the days of shows. I currently have Snap Fitness membership, which is an awesome 24/7 access gym with multiple locations across the world, great for night shifters and people travel!!!

Philip: Nursing is one of the most in demand and underappreciated professions we have. Tell us about your work and what got you into the field of nursing.

Chris Cruz: Well I was actually a fairly sickly kid. I am grateful I do not have any chronic diseases; however, I visited the ER a handful of times growing up. And I always had a great experience with the doctors and nurses who took care of me. So that’s originally why I was drawn to it. In school, I always truly enjoyed human biology, anatomy, and physiology. During my junior and senior year in high school, I was able to join a class which allowed us to receive our nurse aide license at the end of our senior year. That class, Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) is the first place I was truly introduced to the nursing field experience, and I truly enjoyed it. I took a liking to emergency medicine because I liked the fast-paced and high-stress situations. It is honestly the place where you learn the most as a nurse. You work with very little information and make the best of what you can in very terrible situations. I never mention that I am a nurse to people I meet, so I don’t say this often at all, but; being able to say that there are a lot of people alive today because of what I did, is a pretty cool thing. Not only that, it has made me numb to minor irritations in my day to day life because I understand that things can be a million times worse.

Chris Cruz
Photo / Chris Cruz

Philip: Without breaking HIPPA, how many wrestlers do you see come through your ER? It seems like a high instance of injury gig!

Chris Cruz: Honestly, I don’t think I have ever seen any wrestlers in any ER that I have worked.

Philip: On the flip side. Tell us about your relationship with Professional Wrestling. What were your first memories? Were you an instant fan or did it develop over time? When did you decide to become a professional wrestler and what motivated you to start?

Chris Cruz: For whatever reason, the very first memory that comes to mind is one time in my bedroom when I was very young, I was watching RAW and it was the storyline where the Undertaker and his minions had kidnapped Stephanie McMahon and Stone Cold came out and opened up a six pack of whoop ass on the ministry of darkness. It is a very random memory, but for whatever reason, it’s the first one that always comes to mind. My brother and father and I used to always watch wrestling together. RAW and the old WCW Nitro. My father eventually stopped watching but my brother and I never stopped. I have been a fan for as long as I can remember, I can honestly say I don’t recall a time when my brother and I didn’t like wrestling. I was 14 and my brother 16 when we decided we wanted to become wrestlers. We were lucky enough to have a place in our small town that was willing to train us, so we took the opportunity with open arms. A dream we could chase together was our first motivation to pursue wrestling.

Philip: Who are three wrestlers you fanboy out over and why?

Chris Cruz: Chris Jericho- He has accomplished so much in his career and continues to surprise everyone. His skills which were born from Canada, altered in Mexico and mastered in Japan. He has done everything I feel like, that there is to do in wrestling. I have always idolized him since I was young. His mic skills, to me, are unmatched. The main reason I want to, at one point, win the Intercontinental title, is because of Chris Jericho.

Photo / Chris Cruz

Ultimo Dragon- Another wrestler whom I grew up watching and idolizing. He moved from Japan to train in Mexico. And continues to do shows, as a matter of fact, I just saw a flyer for a show in Canada just a few moments ago before typing this. He is an incredible athlete. Being able to mix Lucha Libre and Japanese style wrestling into a blend of perfection is incredible. I was lucky enough to meet him at this year’s WrestleCon. It was a dream-like moment for me. I couldn’t believe I was shaking his and speaking to him about wrestling. Definitely a highlight of my trip to New York.

Alex Shelley- He is someone who I grew up watching when I first began wrestling. I feel, unfortunately, that he was never given the break he deserved. He really is the technical messiah, and the matches he had with Chris Sabin as the motor city machine guns are ones that I study relentlessly. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest technical wrestlers ever. I haven’t had a chance to meet him, but the day I do, I’m sure I’ll talk his ear off attempting to soak up any bit of information and advice he can give. I respect him highly as well. Last I heard, he was still in the process of completing physical therapy. So good for him. Possibly a PT and RN tag team in the future should he decide to ever step back into the ring?

I draw a lot of my style and craft from all three of these men. They are all great performers and I feel each one excels in a different area compared to the other two, which is why I study all three to get the best possible knowledge.

Philip: Where would you like professional wrestling to take you? Rise to the top of the Indies? AEW? WWE? What would your ideal career look like?

Chris Cruz: I would love for it to take me as far as possible. Of course, long term goals would be WWE, but I simply want to be able to support my family via my lifelong dream. Whether it be a contract with WWE, AEW, NJPW, or any other large syndicated wrestling, I simply want to pursue my dream to the fullest extent.

Philip: Tell us about three talents you have worked with how haven’t gotten the attention you think they deserve.

Photo / Chris Cruz

Chris Cruz: I don’t believe Brandon Vice of San Antonio gets the respect he deserves. He works so hard behind the scenes to help the school run as well as for any show he is a part of. He is immensely talented, and I believe he just hasn’t been given the proper set of eyes yet. So, this should out for you Brandon… Also, I hate you. Brandon! (He’ll understand)

J. Serious of Austin, I don’t believe gets the recognition he deserves. He as well is so talented. He is so technically sound it blows my mind. Any match that he is in is a banger. He is one of those guys who can have a five-star match with anyone. I know his recognition within Texas, but I don’t feel enough. He deserves attention from outside Texas. I would love to see him up here and around other states because the world should know his talents.

Lastly, maybe cliché, however, my brother Adrian Cruz, I don’t feel is recognized enough. He as well does so much for Gulf Coast Wrestling Alliance. Helping to promote, set up for the shows, and on top of that help run the training school that GCWA has. He does so much, and I feel he gets very little back. Not speaking ill of GCWA at all, just stating how much Adrian does. He has a great mindset and psychological flow to the way he works. It’s like a movie producer in his head is doing nothing but watching wrestling, which is probably true of him. He could easily be the person to have that one match that excels him to the spotlight, he just needs that opportunity.

Philip: Many professional wrestlers I’ve spoken to don’t have a lot of downtime. If we were to catch Chris Cruz with some downtime, what would we find you doing?

Photo / Chris Cruz

Chris Cruz: Depends on your definition of down \time, jajajaja. If what I am doing does not involve wrestling, then I may be caught: playing with my Pomeranian (Ultimo Dragoncito) Tails Kenneth Cruz, or my Corgi Olliver Augustine Cruz, playing video games with my wife, visiting coffee shops, study health articles, yea I’m still a nerd, or if it’s a cheat day, eating Papa John’s Pizza and watching anime with my wife at home on our hair covered couch, jajaja.

Philip: Tell us something about yourself that maybe not a lot of people know about you, that you feel comfortable sharing.

Chris Cruz: This is actually a difficult question. I feel that I am a pretty open and honest person. I can’t even think of something quick on the spot that people may not know of me already. Hmmm. An interesting little fact I received my American citizenship and my RN license on the same week as my 22 birthday which I think is pretty cool.

Philip: Lastly, who have been your biggest supporters in this endeavor?

Chris Cruz: First and foremost, my wife Amy. Since day one, she has been nothing but supportive of me chasing my dreams. There is no doubt in my mind, that I could not be accomplishing what I have now without her. Amy if you are reading this, I love you and thank you. I would always love to pay my respects to Chris Marval and everyone from Hybrid School of Wrestling, Funaki, Rickie Garcia, Aaron Mercer, Brandon Vice, Kiki Vibez, and all of the other students. Their consistent support of me and their knowledge and advice has helped guide me to where I am getting to. And of course, my brother Adrian Cruz and my old friend mentor “HotSauce” Robert Zamarripa. Also, Ricardo Rodriguez. He was the first person whom I saw while growing up on TV. Then I met him in real life, he is one of the nicest, funniest people ever. I am grateful he took me under his wing. As well as a big thank you to all of the promoters that have taken a chance on me to prove my worth. The times are changing so I am very grateful to them all; Dylan Dunbar (Heavy Metal Wrestling), Kiefer Bartek (New Texas Pro), Rogelio Martinez (Lucha Brutal), Jeffrey Cerda (Sabotage Wrestling), Bobby Home (S.O.A.R.), Jeff Trevino (Gulf Coast Wrestling Alliance), Dan Martinez (Laredo Wrestling Alliance), William Quintana (Prestige) and of course Max Zaleski and Chris Ross of W.A.C. Everyone reading please go check all of these incredible people I have been fortunate enough to work with.

Photo / Chris Cruz

One needn’t be surprised to see Chris go far in this industry. He has the charisma and the talent to achieve his goals. I truly believe we are seeing the beginning of a career that is going to extend well beyond the borders of Texas and the Pacific Northwest.

He has already accomplished so much, becoming a United States Citizen, a Registered Nurse and one hell of a professional wrestler. None of these are small achievements for someone who has only lived twenty-five years. One can easily conclude when Chris Cruz sets his sights on something, he has a knack for making it happen.

Not only has he shown how hard he is willing to work, but he has also earned the respect of his trainers and his peers. In a profession with big personalities, egos, and wildly different opinions, it is a rare thing to encounter someone who has managed to maintain the respect of so many. But don’t take my word for it. Have a look for yourself…

Quotes:

Chris Cruz has proven to be a talented and dedicated individual. Determined, willing to sacrifice, and do what it takes to succeed in the wrestling business.” – Mark Aguilar, Personal Trainer at Hybrid School of Wrestling

Chris is not only a super nice guy, but he is also talented and very dedicated to wrestling. He loves nursing just as much he loves wrestling!” – Thunder Rosa, Professional Wrestler

“Chris is an amazing, humble, and respectful person. He’s always been eager to learn. He’s never been afraid to make mistakes. He asks questions when needed. He also knows when to listen. Him and his brother Adrian have a great circle of influence that have helped them tons. Chris and Adrian both are great underrated talents in Texas. I’m so happy to see showcasing their talents outside of Texas as well.” -“HotSauce” Marco Riviera, Professional Wrestling Trainer, and Chris Cruz’s first trainer

Chris is one of the absolute best people to be around in the business. It’s rare when you come across somebody in the business who is as good of a person is he is a wrestler. Chris is helpful, inquisitive, positive and immensely talented. His gimmick is so fun and unique, it’s one of my favorite on the indies right now. I can’t see how the sky isn’t the ceiling for him.” – Kiefer Bartek, Professional Wrestler

Wrestling Matches featuring Chris Cruz:

Chris Cruz vs. Kiefer Bartek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuo8T4wSmpY

TLHT Gino vs. Chris Cruz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-C8AThPXZw

Gregory James vs. Chris Cruz vs. Zac Taylor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRnRp_yWsN4

Chris Cruz vs. Prince Airnon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G-fzDj8qes

BOW Fatal Four Way Featuring Chris Cruz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C79xdExjSLk

Healthy Vibez (Feat. Chris Cruz) vs. The Horde https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XCysCFy-Cc

Chris Cruz vs. Adrian Cruz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJlqcHlkAcU

Chris Cruz vs. Benny Bravo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhFZWyJTnH0