PCO has been in the wrestling business for more than thirty years. From WWF to WCW, Impact Wrestling, Quebec wrestling scene, he thought one day his time was over. As a wrestler, as a commentator, and as a trainer. When the wrestling business suddenly realised a few years ago the giant had so many things to say yet, PCO was ready to resurrect. He created a Monster that would shape his new state of mind. He just decided to be himself.
When Ring of Honor decided to sign him by then of 2018, they understood PCO could make something huge, for himself, for the company, for the business. And in December 2019, the magic happened. At 51 years old, for the first time in his long career, the former 3-time WWF Tag Team Champion won his first World Championship. Maybe the biggest step in this resurrection process.
SteelChair Magazine had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with ROH World Heavyweight Champion PCO about Ring of Honor, being World Champion, the Villain Enterprises. But PCO also told us a magnificent lesson of life, so we let him talk because if he inspired us, he will inspire you. If PCO says he is not human, he, in fact, is a great human being.
You had just an incredible year 2019 with Ring Of Honor. It is like a complete resurrection for you. When you look back at this year 2019, how do you feel about it?
A complete resurrection, and the best year of my career because I became ROH World Tag Team Champion, ROH World Six-Men Tag Team Champion, NWA Tag Team Champion. I won the Crockett Cup with Brody King. I challenged Matt Taven for the World Title, and eventually, I won the ROH World Heavyweight Title at the biggest show of the year, Final Battle, in Baltimore on December 15. 2019 was a dream year for me. It’s crazy. I think I have one defeat only against Matt Taven over the year. When I had to wrestle RUSH for the title, RUSH was undefeated in Ring of Honor since he came to North America a year or a year and a half ago, as well.
This year was very rewarding for me and my career because, since I was 14 years old, I’ve wanted to become the next Hulk Hogan in pro-wrestling, drawing major crowds, getting the crowd hysterical. My next step now is, as the World Champion, I want to be the biggest thing that has ever happened in pro-wrestling, bigger than Hogan, bigger than The Rock, bigger than Stone Cold. I want to make a major impact on the industry. My goal is not only to have an impact on the wrestling fans but everyone, in every walk of life. I want everyone to know who PCO is, even someone who has never heard of wrestling before.
During the Hulkamania or the Austin 3:16 or The Rock Era, when I was going shopping or walking to the gym, there was always someone with one of their t-shirts because they were bigger than wrestling itself. Even if you were not watching wrestling, you knew who Hulk Hogan was, who Steve Austin was, who The Rock was. They were the big thing, everybody was talking about them, and that’s my goal now.
I have always wanted to do that, but since I became World Champion, everything has been going very well and being good for me, especially now in Canada, where I have a big buzz. I do major TV shows. Last night, I did an online show from midnight to 7 AM for a major TV station. We had 80, 000 viewers, during the night, just by the website. The TV show itself did 400, 000 viewers. I do major news and media in Canada, which helps me become more popular. All that helps translate PCO not just into the wrestling world, but in sports, actuality and all kinds because it’s part of the whole news. So that’s what I want to create also all over the world, not only in Canada or in the United States.
Why did you choose Ring of Honor? I imagine that after the match against WALTER at Joey Janela’s ‘Spring Break’, you had a few offers. Ring of Honor is not the major player in the business, but one of them. Other companies were born in between. You have worked for many companies before in the USA. So why choose ROH?
I think to go to a big company, be the Champion, be something big. It’s already done. It’s already there. I think to become Champion with the company itself and being the Champion and then help the company make it as big as WWE. I think that’s a very challenging goal. I had talks with three companies before I decided to sign with Ring of Honor, they flew me to Baltimore, they showed me what Sinclair broadcast group was like, 217 TV stations, the businesses that they own, the money that they were ready to inject into Ring Of Honor. When they did the 17th-anniversary show in Las Vegas, they showed they have been going around for 17 years.
Maybe before they didn’t want to be underwater, didn’t want to compete with the number one company in the world but I felt that, when I had my meeting with them, I felt that we really wanted to go big, to become like something like WWE, and in my dream, when I wanted to become Hulk Hogan, I wanted to help pop the territory, take it and make it explode. That’s why I decided to go with Ring Of Honor. Also, they showed me their facilities, their dojos, the way they take care of the new prospects and new talents, the entire system, the TV Stations. It’s theirs. They don’t have to pay to get on TV. They have a solid fan base. We can grow really big from there. It’s very challenging and a very great opportunity. I really believe that Ring of Honor is going to surprise a lot of people in 2020.
You came to ROH with this character that you created, PCO, the perfect creation that is, in fact, a kind of Frankenstein. For me, Frankenstein perfectly fits the idea of resurrecting. How would you describe this character?
It’s true on both sides of the story. I was resurrected for my match against WALTER. It was called the resurrection of PCO, and the character was resurrected as well, got back to life with electricity, and Destro asked the creator or so. Both storylines were merging together, and that just made sense. The timing was just perfect for it. During my whole career, I have been trying to find the perfect character because a character really needs to fit your personality and transcend who you are in life but at a larger scale, an exaggerated way.
All my career, I’ve tried to find the perfect character for myself, but this time, it’s the character who found me. I was training with Destro, we were testing my back, and I was walking away from him just the way I was walking. He said, “stop, you are Frankenstein. You walk like him. You move like him.” I’ve always heard the name of Frankenstein, but I’ve never watched any movies. I wasn’t a big fan of that movie, but everybody knows that name.
I don’t think it was a really appealing character like I don’t think it would make me look nice, but if it fits me that well, I just got to embrace it and go with it and I’m so happy that I did because it really changed the whole course of my career. It’s been very fun and very crazy.
My daughter is 11 years old now, and she came to the TV show last night. She said, “Daddy, I’ve never seen you smile as much as you have been smiling for the last 3 years.” Kids tell you things like that when you don’t expect it. You don’t think that they can take care that much or observe that much. That made me really happy.
We can feel you can completely lose yourself into this character and make it something completely crazy. Dr. Frankenstein is sewing a body, with some pieces of a body. It’s the same for you, you can add any kind of layers to it to make it even more crazy, use facial or body expressions.
The character is willing to put his own body on the line in order to get my opponent. If I have to sacrifice my body to get my opponent, even if it’s going to hurt me, I know I’m going to hurt him, but I don’t care if it hurts. That’s the mentality of the character. Everything is on the line as long as we win. We give it all, we put it all in there, there’s no taking chance, we’re taking risks, we won all out.
I was a real fan of Jean-Pierre Lafitte character when I was younger. It was an era of characters but you were already a very bad man at that time (laughs)…
What I liked in this character is the fact he was letting me show my injury. It was important to me. I lost the sight in my right eye when I was 12. I was able to show I could turn something negative into something positive. WWE made of Lafitte more a cartoonish character than a serious one. But I am pretty proud of what I did with this character.
What is the current atmosphere in the ROH roster? You’re 52, with guys and girls that could be your sons or daughters. How do you feel in the middle of them?
I’m 52 and a half, but in my head, I’m 12. I’ve always been a kid. I grew up with life. I learned how to be responsible, pay my bills, and take care of my daughter. I only have one, she’s 11, with her mother we have 18 years difference. I was always kind of very ahead of my time during my career. I have always had ideas that people couldn’t see why it would work because it was not the right timing. But now my ideas, everything that I have in mind, it fits perfectly with the time where we are with wrestling and all the changes.
They treat me as I am their age, and I treat them as if I was 35. For me, there’s no age difference with the roster. People forget my age because through what I do, as far as the videos that we do, me and Destro, what I do, the way I perform in the ring. Also, they don’t show any kind of over-respect. They are treating me as if I was a rookie almost. There is no special tissue, like something special with that. I’m just one of the boys. My experience doesn’t count because my experience was before their time. The thing has changed so much that the only place where my experience count will be when I’m doing an interview with a journalist, when I know I’ve done something really hot on TV, like last night. When something is out, it’s out right now. If you’re on a hot streak, you don’t take some time off. You just keep on going.
One thing that I’ve learned that is some universal principle of success is to be humble, always be humble. I’m the same guy before I was the World Champion, and I will be the same after being World Champion. I will be the same guy after my movie will come out because there’s a crew filming me for the last two years. They’re making a movie documentary, so they’ve been following me. Even before I find my contract with Ring of Honor, you can follow me from Toronto to Baltimore. They’re asking me questions before and after a championship match, talking to wrestlers. They are around me. They’re talking to executives at Ring of Honor, people from the wrestling business, journalists, they will talk to my family eventually. We have like a two-hour movie going on theatres. For me, it’s always to be humble, to be sincere, and to say how I feel at the moment, to be honest, but also authentic. Being successful but giving more than you receive.
When we become a star, sometimes we become popular, we start doing things that the stars usually do, but you should do and we lose the focus. For me, becoming a World Champion was in my mind for so long. I tried, I tried, I tried, but I had to find the formula, what it takes to become a World Champion. It takes more than just a dollar. What it takes was a question that I was asking myself for so many years. Whether it’s wrestling, Olympics, a gold medal, or any Championships, football, soccer, the amount of efforts and sacrifices, the disciplines, also to take outside the box or to stand out of the group, to be creative, imagine the incredible amount of efforts it represents. But, in the meantime, that’s what we call passion. You do it because you love it, you’re creative because you love it, you pull all the hours and all the time because you are really passionate about your job. Maybe it happens at a later age of my life, but I’ve got so much more wisdom, and I think I could appreciate it more.
When you get something big like that at 20, 25 or 28 years old, you don’t totally understand everything that it involves, all the responsibilities of being the World Champion, also dealing with the status and its impact. It’s something that I’m proud I have done at 51 years old because, in the meantime, it creates a hell of a story too. I mean, nobody has ever done a comeback like that. To be in the best years of my career at that age becomes almost a miracle, and it inspires a lot of people. That’s the message that I received, that inspired me, and that drives me a lot. For sure, I want to give back to the people. I want other people to be inspired and to succeed.
One thing has changed, it’s your style. You’re moving like a cruiserweight. You have become a high-flyer.
I’ve always liked that style. Which adds to the legend and everything else is the fact I prove, and I had to prove myself, every time I go to the gym, I can still improve on certain aspects of the game. In the next 5-6 months, you will see a guy who, in his fifties, keeps improving, the style, the high-flying, the fluidity, everything else. Even the way I walk like a monster. I’m still evolving a lot in my style. It’s not about how many years I’m going to do this, how much time I will reach my goals. It’s about reaching goals. It’s about what I told you. It’s about selling out their events, having the best buy rates on PPV, getting great feedback. Just being so big and immense. The movie coming up about my life and the book I want to write about my life are all about the principles that made me so successful. What I did to have so much success at an old age, I want to give it back.
It seems like in wrestling 40 is the new 20. Many wrestlers are better now than they were when younger because they are more aware of what is good for themselves and their body. I think of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, among many others.
In hockey, 40 is considered old. At 36, a hockey player is finished. Wrestling is also a sport where it’s so hard, and you cannot expect everybody to be at their best at 25, 28, 30, or 32 years old. Mike Tyson was one of the greatest champions at 21 years old, but he totally lost control of life, because of money and girls. I think once you find what makes you happy every day, the job that you love, something that you like to do, everything else will come along the way. The job is not going to make you happy, but you’re going to make yourself happy.
When I was young, I was thinking, when I will be WWF Tag Team Champion, I’m going to be so happy in my life, joyful, and all that. I was miserable because I didn’t like the way I was pushed. I didn’t like the way it was happening and the way we won. I never liked anything because I was not a bad thing, but I didn’t have any wisdom there. I was always miserable, even the day I was accumulating a little bit of success. When I went to become World Champion, I knew that I wouldn’t be so miserable. The fact that I was reaching that goal, to become the world champion, I knew I had to become a better person all around, work on myself, do personal development in order to become a World Champion.
You don’t become what you want. You become what you are. I really had to work hard on that. That’s why I have respect for a lot of Champions because it needs a lot of work on yourself, mentally and physically. Sometimes success is so scary, a lot of people crack under the pressure. Mentally they got this voice in mind saying, no it’s too big for you, you won’t be able to do it, what are you thinking, who do you think you are. You have to be really strong mentally and have tremendous confidence in yourself to be able to pull it off.
I could have become World Champion younger, but now I can enjoy the moment as much as I have been enjoying every moment of my life. For me, it’s not just about winning a title. It’s about cherishing every single moment of my life, spend time with my daughter. By cherishing every moment, you have a better concentration during your match. If you’re concentrated in whatever you do in your life, it helps increase your concentration and everything you do, and your work and your passion as well. Then you can cherish every moment. Becoming World Champion is then something special, something rewarding because you were cherishing every single moment of your life for the last few years. It makes you being joyful and happy. Having fun and enjoying everything.
When I was young, I was not paying attention to these little moments of life because I was thinking the only thing that matters for PCO is what I give in the ring. But when I was getting in the ring, I couldn’t be happy because I was not happy anywhere else. It was a lie saying that just being in the ring is where anything counts. Now, my whole life is important, and when I get it the ring, I’m so in the moment that people can feel my energy. Of my electricity comes out of my happiness. I feel like the crowd fuels it, and it’s definitely a big part of why I’m so popular. People are feeling these high vibrations. It’s magnetic for the crowd.
If I became so focused on this World title, it’s because I get more TV time, more newspaper time, more magazine times. Everything for me that is not inspirational, I’m trying to avoid that, so that’s why I’m trying to give also interview that will serve the public, not just telling the story about some things that don’t mean anything. That’s what fuels me, that’s what drives me, that’s what works for me. That’s what I’m trying to give to other people.
Tell me about the alchemy between you and the other members of the Villain Enterprises, Flip, Brody, and Marty.
We are very close. We are good friends. I’ve known Brody for a long time. I met Marty when he was breaking in the UK in 2007. I was always nice to him and everything. When I was having big huge indie runs in 2018, he called me up a few times on the phone. He asked me, do you want to come with us? When Ring of Honor called me in the end, and I decided to come with them, Flip joined us. Flip is a guy that makes me laugh all the time. We all four have fun together, but in the meantime, we are all about business. We all want what’s best for business. That’s why I think the name of Villain Enterprise works because we treat wrestling as a business. Our chemistry is really solid between all of us.
When you look at the current roster, of the guys you have never competed against, who are you interested in wrestling?
I don’t want to mention names. I think the roster is full of great talents. But I know at the perfect time, with the perfect opponent, on the perfect location, and the perfect feud, we will be doing crazy ratings, matches, and buy rates. Things are going to happen organically. I just trust the process of life that everything will merge at the right moment, even if I don’t know who it’s going to be. I know that I will need chemistry to be sure something big is going to happen. I can’t predict with who because there are so many great talents.
Do you feel like Ring of Honor is a place where you can end your career and definitely put the exclamation point on your career?
I really don’t know how things will be going. I am a great fan of ROH, I really like that company, I think can have a great future with the company, even later. Everybody was telling Marty was going to AEW, and he’s still with Ring of Honor. I feel like we never know in life. I don’t want to predict things. My goal is to finish and to stay with Ring of Honor. I can’t talk for themselves, right now both parties are happy, and that’s all that counts. I have a lot of respect for ROH, from the President, the vice-president, the bookers, the Creatives, everybody. We are a huge family. They’re unbelievable. Hopefully, I’m going to end up there, but as I told you, I will spend a lot of time on my movie and writing books. Maybe we’ll work together on those projects, who knows? PCO is not over. He’s just starting!
If you had the chance to meet this young guy you were, this young Carl now, what kind of advice would you give him?
I could tell him anything, but I don’t think he would believe me. When you’re young, you think you know everything, and you’re better than everybody. It’s just a phase you have to go through. I think life is a learning experience. I wouldn’t change anything of my life because it brought me where I am today.
Follow PCO on @PCOisNotHuman. All photos are courtesy of RING OF HONOR/ Zia Hiltey