For Eric Koenreich a.k.a. ‘Erick Stevens’, WrestleMania Weekend in Tampa was set to be his farewell to the industry following a year-long return.
With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down so many sports and entertainment events, most are bracing for the reality that WrestleMania Weekend cannot move forward and for Koenreich, it would be an abrupt halt to his send-off.
After moving away from the industry in 2010, he resurfaced in May of last year appearing on Beyond Wrestling’s weekly ‘Uncharted Waters’ series for a match with Chris Dickinson. Since May, the 38-year old has loaded up his schedule appearing for promotions including AIW, Black Label Pro, St. Louis Anarchy, and becoming a member of ‘Team Filthy’ on MLW’s Fusion program on beIN Sports.
We caught up with Koenreich to get his unique perspective on this tumultuous time for independent wrestlers as they face the prospect of losing out on their most lucrative week of the year and not knowing when their next show and paycheque will be coming.
Has there ever been a situation in your career comparable to what is going on now with the COVID-19 crisis where a large-scale issue has directly affected your bookings?
Nothing like it. Ever. Obviously, weather is usually a big factor for us but even a hellacious storm or airplane trouble might only cost us one or two bookings. The scale of this situation is absolutely unprecedented. This is the biggest week/weekend of the year for independent wrestling. Many performers were slated to make in a few days what they usually make in a couple of months and now not only are those opportunities in jeopardy but at so are other future bookings.
What is your attitude regarding going ahead with shows versus your own health concerns at the moment?
My situation is a bit unique as this was going to be my last weekend ever as a wrestler, so I definitely feel an urge to perform no matter what. But at the end of the day, we all have to make the best decision for ourselves. If one of my fellow performers didn’t feel comfortable I’d understand completely.
How important is WrestleMania Week when it comes to bookings and the impact of potentially losing some or all those shows for you personally?
Once again, my situation is unique. I have the luxury of not depending on the weekend for my income. It would have been some decent money for me, make no mistake – But it’s not my full-time job. For me, the impact would be more emotional than anything. The weekend was supposed to be the crescendo of my comeback, one I waited nine years for. This last year was my down payment on my finale and it’s going to hurt to not get that. But my bills aren’t riding on it, which is something some of my friends can’t say. I feel for them.
Where can you direct people to show their support for you beyond attending shows for the immediate future?
I also sell cookies! http://www.kookiesandkreamsarasota.com
You can follow Erick Stevens @familyfooddude and on Monday the performer said his farewell in a video message.
— Eric (@familyfooddude) March 17, 2020