Ahead of his Limitless Wrestling World Championship defence against JD Drake at Limitless Wrestling’s The Games We Play show on May 7th, Daniel Garcia sat down with Inside The Ropes’ Liam Alexander-Stewart to discuss a range of topics including: the challenges of independent wrestling in 2021, the pressure faced by independent performers to sign contracts and facing off against WWE Legend Hurricane Helm in 2017.
Despite being just 22-years of age, Daniel Garcia has already made an impact on the wrestling world appearing for both AEW and NXT in the last 12-months as well as taking on a who’s who of independent talent including the current NXT UK Champion WALTER and the new X-Division Champion Josh Alexander.
How’s it going, everybody? My name is Liam Alexander-Stewart with Inside the Ropes, and today I’m going to be sitting down with one of the rising stars of the North American independence circuit. He’s the current C4 Champion, E.S.W. Heavyweight Champion and Limitless Wrestling World Champion. And at just 22 years old. He is undeniably the future of American wrestling it’s none other than Daniel Garcia. Daniel how are you doing today?
I’m doing well, very well. I feel blessed thank you for having me.
We’re going to talk about a whole lot of things today. We’re going to recap your career, some of the big names you faced, your big upcoming match next week against JD Drake. And talk a little bit about your time doing shows WWE/AEW and what the future holds for Daniel Garcia during 2021 and onwards. I I mentioned there one of the hottest properties in the North American independent scene right now. Everyone’s full of praise. You seem to be working everywhere. Let’s go back a little bit. So 2017. You have a look, you’re having some matches and then suddenly 2018, everything seems to kick up a gear. You know, you had your 205 Live appearance in the WWE against against Drew Gulak. You’re working up and down the country, over the past four years now, how have you found honing your craft on the independent circuit? Is there been any one in particular that you’ve worked with on the scene that really put their arm around you and helped you find the ropes and has one anyone in particular that you remember that’s kind of really helped drive you on?
Yes. So essentially I started in 2017. That’s when I started training. I started to have matches very early in and throughout my training, probably earlier than I should have. So I was kind of putting some stuff together in 2017 trying to get my name out there, that type of stuff. Eventually 2018 comes and I start putting it all together. I start getting booked by SMASH Wrestling which is a big promotion in Canada. At the time they were bringing in all the top names from America, from Canada, from the UK, even from Japan. They were bringing in the top people in the world and I was blessed with the opportunity to work there very frequently. And I got to wrestle there people like Stu Grayson, Tyson Dukes, some of the people who are the best in the world very early on in my career. And I feel like that’s something that helped me be able to kind of get a head start on a lot of people in professional wrestling. I was kind of baptized by fire and thrown in the deep end with the sharks right away. So I credit people like Brandon Thurston, who’s my head trainer, Pepper Parks, The Blade from AEW, who was also another one of my trainers. And Tyson Dukes is three people who really helped me very early on my wrestling career and still continue to help me every single day.
Yeah, you have had the joy and I think is one of the things with the Independent Circuit, that a lot of people always speak quite highly of is some of the names you can work with early on. And one of my favourite things, whenever I’m talking to somebody that’s currently, you know, busting their ass on the the circuit is to have a look at some of their matches early on, because you always get some interesting ones that pop up. And I noticed I think it was in ESW you worked to tag team match facing Hurricane Helms. Do you have any memories of that match? And working with Helms?
That had to be one of the most random matches of all time. It was me a dude named Rob Sweet, who I’ve never tagged with before, that never tagged with again versus Randy P who was teaming with The Hurricane. At the time Randy P was already in a tag team. He was like a tag champion and for some reason he wasn’t tagging with his tag champion partner… he was tagging with The Hurricane and we were wrestling at a fair in Salamanca, New York. So it’s like an Indian reservation, Native American reservation type of town. So we were wrestling there on like a free fair show. There’s no admission anybody can come see it. And it was the most random match in my life. But Hurricane Helms was great to work with. He is a very big man in person. You don’t you don’t see that on TV, but he’s a huge man and he’s super creative and super down to earth and fun to work with. I really enjoyed my time working with him for the brief time that it was.
Yeah, I think that is one of the joys of sort of working on the independents. You do get those really sort of random matches where, you know, the dice just landed a certain way. It we would be a miss if we didn’t talk about your upcoming match next week on May 7th against JD Drake. You’re the Limitless Wrestling World Champion. You know, an incredible lineage of names. On that belt, you’ve got MJF, Anthony Greene now August Gray, and the man you defeated for the title, Christian Casanova, the belt clearly spells big things for the man who hold that title but in order to reap the rewards. Next Friday you need to successfully defeated JD Drake to hold onto that title. Just how tough a fight are you expecting from Drake. And do you think that come the end of the night, you’ll be able to come out on the other side still Limitless Wrestling World Champion.
Of course, I believe that I’m going to be able to come out still champion. I wouldn’t be wrestling if I didn’t think I was going to be able to win every single match. But I’m expecting an extremely tough fight with J.D. Drake. He’s a veteran. He’s wrestled a who’s who of talent. He’s wrestled in Evolve. I was a big fan of JD Drake when I first started becoming a wrestler, and I’m still a big fan of his today. He’s somebody who deserves everything he’s getting recently with AEW. He deserves every opportunity that he has ever had because he’s a great wrestler. But I’m going to show to him that although you can be a great wrestler, just like a lot of these guys, the things that separate really great wrestlers from the best wrestlers, it all comes down to executing the little things. And I believe that I execute all the little things just a little bit better than J.D. Drake does. And that’s why I think I’m going to come with the win and remain Limitless Wrestling Champion.
With Drake being a bigger guy, one of the best powerhouses in the circuit just now I was looking at the experience you might have had during your time travelling the independent scene facing off against the powerhouse style style. And I noticed that WxW Ambition 11 in Canada, you went toe to toe with the reigning NXT UK United Kingdom Champion WALTER. Just how tough was he as an opponent, do you think, going toe to toe with someone like WALTER has helped prep you for this title defence against JD Drake?
Like, I truly believe that wrestling is all about wrestling people of different styles and learning from those experiences. And we’re at a time now in wrestling where once somebody starts to get a little bit of notoriety, they get signed right away. So a lot of people my age don’t get the opportunity to wrestle people who have a lot more experience than they do. And I believe that that’s almost stunting the growth, the growth of a lot of independent wrestlers. And that’s why a lot of people look at independent wrestling is not as good as it used to be just because we don’t have that opportunity to wrestle people that are that much better than us. But like I said earlier, I was very blessed in my career to wrestle people who are some of the best in the world. And Walter is one of those people, Walter. He hits hard. He hits extremely hard. I was extremely sore after that match that was essentially like, you know, how to WrestleMania weekend every year. That was like a SummerSlam weekend. So I was wrestling like six matches in three days. Yeah. You know, that was like my second round match of the tournament.
And I had to go to a show right after that. But wrestling WALTER was great. He’s somebody who I truly believe is one of the if not the best wrestler in the world today. I really admire his style and I really admire his views on professional wrestling. And so to be able to go in the ring with somebody who you look up to that much, it always means a lot. And it’s always going to be a great learning experience. Match was short it wasn’t extremely long but it was a flurry. You know, I came out guns blazing. I knew that. I knew that my best shot at beating him was going to be coming out fast and strong. But he overwhelmed me and he got the win. But I’m lot different than I was then, I’m a lot more prepared for this style of match than I was at that point in time in my career. And I think JD Drake was beaten by Walter as well in Evolve. Yeah. So I guess the battle of people who got whacked by Walter now who can adapt more. And I believe that I adapted more these past couple years that JD Drake has.
I want to touch on something you mentioned there when you were talking about sort of with everyone getting signed up and becoming increasingly harder to face off against people with that much more experience. It was something I wanted to touch upon because we have seen sort of a shift, in independent sort of scene where, as you mentioned there, because there are so many big companies that are now noticing this talent between that and obviously we’ve had the pandemic this last year. How much do you think these sort of things have affected your ability to develop? Because we’ve still seen you turn into this fantastic performer is that just down to sort of hard work and sticking to it or how have you managed to make it work? Despite that?
I believe it’s very hard for independent wrestlers to develop right now just because we don’t have people that we can wrestle to give us that learning experience. When Johnny Gargano and Tomaso Ciampa and Chris Hero and Tony Nese, those people were on the Indies, they were able to get that good because they were able to wrestle people from the generation before them to make them that good. And we don’t have that right now. So a lot of guys like me, Lee Moriarty, Wheeler Yuta, AJ Gray, Kevin Blackwood, you see us hustling and really grinding it out in taking every opportunity that we can in order to improve. And I believe that although it might stunt our growth a little bit, I think it will help make us more independent and it might help us be able to find who we are as performers a little bit quicker than the past generation has.
We still have obviously some guys left. We have Chris Dickinson, JD Drake, Josh Alexander. We have people who can still take independent bookings and really help us develop and grow his talent. Including the likes of Speedball Mike Bailey. It’s just not as easy as it used to be.
Yeah, definitely. And I think you mentioned sort of a long list there of incredible talent that we’re seeing come through. And, you know, you faced off against pretty much all of them. And we’ve seen you face off against them is there anyone that stands out yourself, excluded, obviously, that you can kind of see leading this next generation of sort of independent talent that’s kind of crafting their own path.
Yeah, excluding myself, obviously. I believe that the person that really leading this charge and leading this package, Moriarty when I see Lee Moriarty, I wrestled him several times. He’s like my greatest rival on the independent circuit right now. He’s somebody whenever I’m standing in the ring and I see him come out to face me, I’m almost in awe of the way he just puts everything together. It’s not just about his execution of moves, which is obviously great. It’s everything about him. It’s the total package is the entrance theme. It’s the mask. It’s the little poses he does its the cadence. It’s the things he says in his matches. To me, that’s what makes a great professional wrestler and he is able to put everything together extremely well and extremely unique. And I’ve never seen a wrestler like Lee Moriarty in my life ever. I can truly say that I’ve never seen another wrestler like Lee Moriarty. And I believe that he is the person who, besides me, is leading the pack of the next generation of wrestlers.
You mentioned Josh Alexander, I believe you defeated Josh Alexander for the C4 Championship. Obviously, we’ve seen Josh Alexander recently have some success and IMPACT, he just picked up the X Division title. Is that a path you would consider going down in the future, maybe going along to IMPACT? Possibly hooking back up with Alexander if the opportunity arose?
Wrestling Josh Alexander, it was great. He’s somebody who I looked up to for a very long time. I would watch him when he would come to my local promotion when I was younger in the crowd. And he’s another person. He hits extremely hard and wrestling him was a great learning experience. He showed me what you have to do in order to get that next level in professional wrestling, how you need to kind of tread the deep waters when you’re twenty minutes into a match, twenty five minutes into a match, and how you can keep pushing forward when you’re in those deep waters in wrestling. Josh Alexander definitely gave me that learning experience.
We talked about your 205 Live appearance, you appeared on NXT earlier this year taking on Tyler Rust. But we’ve also seen you in AEW on Dark a couple of times in tag team action. How were you experiences backstage there? And to sort of to summarize, what is the future for ‘Red Death’? What are your plans? What are your goals and what are you aiming for?
My experiences at AEW and NXT, they were great. I believe that whenever I’m in the ring anywhere, whether it be at Limitless Wrestling, at C4 wrestling or whether it be on USA Network for NXT or on TNT for AEW. Whenever I’m in a ring, I feel like I belong there. There’s never a locker room that I’m in, that I feel like I don’t deserve to be there. And it was the same case with WWE and also AEW when I’m in that locker room, getting changed next to the biggest wrestlers in the world, I feel like I belong there and I feel like I deserve to be there. Same thing when I’m in the ring there. I didn’t feel like I was out of place. I didn’t feel like it was very far fetched for me to be there. It felt very natural in there. Like my soul and my spirit were calm in those moments which I think is rare for a lot of people. I think you see a lot of people go to those places and kind of get eaten up by the stars and the lights and but that’s not me. When I’m in a ring, I feel natural. That’s where I feel the most natural. It doesn’t matter where that ring is.
In 2021, in the future. I don’t like to set extremely specific goals for myself, like, oh, I’m going to sign here and win this title fight. My goal is more general and this has been my goal since I became a professional wrestler. You could ask people at Grapplers Anonymous where I started training two minutes from my house, my first day of training. I said, I want to be the best wrestler in the world. And that is always going to be my number one goal. And I’m going to keep wrestling until I reach that goal.
You know, the way things are going at such a young age and what you’ve achieved already, you’re on the perfect path there. Is there anything you want the people at home to check out? Anything to plug? Obviously, we’ve got your Limitless Championship defence on the 7th of May. You vs. JD Drake. But anything else you want to plug?
Keep supporting independent wrestling, do not give up on the scene. Keep supporting us in the best ways you can. We are the backbone and the culture setters of professional wrestling and don’t put so much pressure on people to sign contracts because you’re going to miss them once they’re not on the independents. So those are the only things I want to plug. Just us, support us and keep doing what you do and you guys are doing great. And please just continue to watch, buy merch, like everything and retweet everything. Like, that’s all I really want you guys to do and enjoy us while you have us is what I want to leave it on.
Thank you very much to Daniel Garcia for taking the time out to speak to us, you can see ‘Red Death‘ defend his Limitless Wrestling World Championship against former EVOLVE Tag Team Champion JD Drake on Limitless Wrestling’s May 7th event – The Games We Play which fans can watch via independentwrestling.tv
You can check out Inside The Ropes recent interviews here, including our recent chat with Cinta de Oro, FKA Sin Cara!