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Ring of Honor star Frankie Kazarian has logged many miles as a professional wrestler. From the California independent circuit to TNA and Ring of Honor, with a foray in WWE, he’s excelled and impressed at every point in his career.
Kazarian isn’t the biggest or most athletic wrestler to climb between the ropes. Nor is he the highest of high-flyers. But the man knows his way around the ring. And 17 years in the squared circle has left him a little wiser for the experience. It shows in his words and his choices. (Just listen to his recent interview with Turnbuckle Weekly if you don’t believe me.)
Here are 14 things you didn’t know about Kazarian.
1. Frankie Kazarian was born Frank Gerdelman in August of 1977 in Palm Springs, California. He grew up in Yucca Valley, California, a town 120 miles east of Los Angeles, and played football in high school. Gerdelman followed professional wrestling as a child, idolizing The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels and Ricky Steamboat.
2. Gerdelman saved his money as a teenager and attended “Killer” Kowalski’s wrestling school as an 18-year-old in the mid-1990s. His first match came one month into his eight-month training program.
3. Gerdelman started his career on the independent circuit in 1998, finding his way to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) five years later. After a quick turn in WWE in 2005, he returned to the independent circuit and then TNA a short time later. Kazarian moved over to Ring of Honor last year.
4. Kazarian blames himself for his short stay in WWE in 2005. As he put it in a 2008 interview, “It really hit me that wrestling is a business … As an athlete and as a man, I don’t think I was mature enough to be in that environment.”
5. Gerdelman has wrestled under many ring names besides Frankie Kazarian, including Kazarian, Kaz, Frankie, Frankie Gerbian and Suicide.
6. Kazarian liked the Suicide character he played in TNA between 2005 and 2010. But he felt the character, re-purposed from the TNA video game, could have been done more justice by someone with a more athletic, high-flying skill set.
7. Kazarian uses the song “You’re The Best,” by Joe Esposito, as his entrance music on the independent circuit. The now-recognizable song was first used in the tournament montage at the end of The Karate Kid.
8. Kazarian has held many individual championship titles across many promotions. A sampling includes the California Wrestling Coalition (CWC) Heavyweight Championship, the Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) Heavyweight Championship, the TNA X Division Championship and the Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) Lightweight Championship.
9. Kazarian has been a part of multiple successful tag teams, including Evolution with Nova, Shazarian with Michael Shane and Bad Influence with Chris Daniels. He has held the CWC, EWF, TNA and UPW tag team championships, among others.
10. Kazarian and Daniels appear in a comic book entitled Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics! The project grew out of a friendship the pair struck up with famous comic book writers Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani at San Diego Comic Con.
11. Kazarian is a huge fan of heavy metal. He will often blast Metallica, Megadeath or Black Sabbath to prepare for a match. The first concert he ever attended featured Metallica, along with Suicidal Tendencies and others, at the amphitheater in San Bernardino in 1994.
12. Kazarian closely follows NFL football, playing fantasy football with fellow wrestlers and following the on-field action backstage when tapings conflict with games. He is a lifelong fan of the Raiders and Rams, teams once based in Los Angeles that now reside in Oakland and St. Louis respectively. He tends to root against the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots.
13. Kazarian would like to see pro wrestlers unionized under the protections of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), the union that represents performers and contributors to movies, television and radio. He also believes it will never happen, partly because wrestling promotions couldn’t handle the expense and partly because wrestlers fear being black-balled.
14. Kazarian is married to ex-professional wrestler Traci Brooks. The couple has a one-year-old son.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.