Yalli Sapphire Interview
Posted: Jan 31st 2017 By: www.indywrestlinglife.com
Where are you located?
I’m located in Kansas City, MO.
What promotions have you worked for?
Great Plains Wrestling, United Wrestling Entertainment, Kansas City Xtreme Wrestling, Steel Rage Pro Wrestling, Native American Wrestling, and Body Progression Wrestling.
How long have you been a referee?
I started training in December of 2014 and debuted in March of 2015.
Where did you learn how to become a referee?
I trained for 6 months at the Xtreme Wrestling Center in Kansas City, MO. Afterwards, I learned on the go by asking more experienced workers to critique my matches.
Why did you become a referee?
I always wanted to be a wrestler, but I had a hard time picking up weight. As I got older, I didn’t want to get injured nor accidentally injure someone else. I kind of gave up on that dream, but I wasn’t happy with just being a wrestling fan. So when a wrestling school opened up in my hometown, I decided to try out as a referee. I figured it was the next best thing to being a wrestler. If I liked, it great. If not, then at least I wouldn’t have to live with any regrets.
What is the referee’s role in the match?
For the most part a referee is there to enforce the rules. We give wrestlers to the count of 5 to break any illegal holds or actions they are inflicting on their opponent. If they ignore our counts, we disqualify them. If they use weapons or low blow their opponent, that’s an automatic DQ. Regardless of what’s suppose to happen, referees bring a sense of legitimacy to a match. We also help sell a match through our facial expressions and body language in the ring.
What are the various ways of communicating with the talent during the match?
I’ll often talk to the wrestlers throughout the match when I check on them. Other times I’ll give them the iggy and grab their hand. If they squeeze back, then I know they’re okay. If a wrestler is partially or fully deaf, I’ll communicate by having them read my lips or simply tapping by them.
Tell us about the first time that you refereed a match.
To make a long story short, I wasn’t booked to work but I brought my ref gear just in case. About 15 minutes before the show started a referee came up to me and said, “Hey I got you a match! You’re gonna be working the women’s match.” I was so nervous that I was shaking like a chihuahua! I remember walking through the curtain and hearing people say, “Omg that’s a girl ref” and “She’s gonna get hurt”. All that just made my heart beat harder, but I felt at ease once I stepped into the ring. The match was between Lady Pride and Skylar Slice at GPW and it couldn’t have gone smoother. It felt like a quick match, but it made me hungrier to learn and get back in the ring.
What was the most memorable match ever refereed?
It was a hardcore title match between the champion Jon Cross and Mr. Nasty at SRPW. Both of those guys are phenomenal wrestlers to work with and fully understand ring psychology. They had of way of telling a story and pulling everyone in, myself included. That match brought out the best in me and reminded me of why I loved indy wrestling so much.
Have you ever been injured during a match? If so what happened?
I’ve had a few bruises here and there, but nothing serious.
How many matches have you refereed in your career?
A little over 250.
How do wrestlers communicate to you when they’ve been seriously injured?
They usually tell me when I go to check on them after a high risk maneuver. I can also tell that something is wrong, if a guy is looking at the ceiling like a deer in headlights. The last thing I want is for someone to get hurt, so I try to communicate with them throughout the match.
How do you handle that a wrestler is injured so badly that the wrestler can no longer continue?
Most of the time they power through to finish the match sooner, but if it’s too severe I throw up the X. From there, I communicate with the wrestler and try to help out as much as possible.
What do you wish the public would know about your role as a referee?
As a trained referee, I do my best to call a match right down the middle. However, I can’t call what I don’t see. There are no instant replays in wrestling, so when the final bell rings, it’s over.
What advice would you give someone who would be interested in becoming a referee?
Watch as many Tommy Young videos as you can! In my opinion, he’s the best referee of all time and a great example to learn from. I would also say focus on your cardio! There are times when I’m the only referee at a show and it’s not so bad when there’s only 5 or 6 matches. But when there’s more than 8 matches, with no promos, and a short intermission, it can be a real nightmare. Having good cardio and staying hydrated definitely helps!
What do your family and friends think of you being a pro wrestling referee?
Most of my family and friends aren’t into wrestling, so they think I’m crazy for wanting to be involved with it. I’ve tried explaining my passion for wrestling to them, but it’s still hard for them to understand. Luckily, I have friends in the business and some are like family.
What would you like the wrestlers to know about your role as a referee?
Even though I’m a referee, I want the match to go just as well as they do. They can make my job easier by talking to me about different spots before the match. It also prevents me from getting in the way or being off on ring positioning.
Have you ever been in a confrontation with an overzealous fan who doesn’t realize that the whole thing is scripted?
Yes! Sometimes fans will walk with me to the curtain or pull me aside after a show, to tell me about some guy that cheated. It took some getting use to, but I love how dedicated and loyal the fans are to their favorite wrestlers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about what you do?
I started watching wrestling when I was 9 years old and have been hooked on it since then. No matter what, I will always be a fan at heart. There are times when I envy the fans perspective because I wanna cheer and chant “this is awesome”. But I can’t! However, I love being a referee. I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep in life, but I feel at home when I’m in a wrestling ring. I wouldn’t trade this awesome, insane, and crazy life for anything!
Have there been any instances during the match with the wrestlers turned it into a shoot, and what did you do?
Not really. I’ve seen a few tempers flare, but for the most part they stick to doing their job.
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