Indy Focus: Referee Dan Tanaka

Aug 15, 2011 - by Atlee Greene

Indy Focus: Referee Dan Tanaka

By Atlee Greene


Height: 5’7”
Weight: 150 lbs
Age: 30
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska

Trained by: TJ Richter at Squared Circle Academy in Providence, RI, and then it moved into the Rumble U in Woonsocket, RI. Eventually I wound up training with Bob Evans at Slamtech Wrestling University in Pawtucket, RI… I also attended seminars with J.J. Dillon, “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Les Thatcher, Dilirious, and Kevin Kelly.

NCW – Northeast Championship Wrestling (MA, RI, CT)
BEW – Big East Wrestling (MA)
NWA-NE – National Wrestling Aalliance -New England (RI, MA)
IIW – Impact Independent Wrestling (RI)
PWF-NE – Premiere Wrestling Federation – Northeast (CT, RI, MA)
WCWA – World Class Wrestling Association (MA)
HICW – High Impact Championship Wrestling (RI)
PWA- Pro Wrestling Alliance (MA, CT)
AWA – All-Star Wrestling Association (NH)
WFA – Wrestling Federation of America (NH, VT, MA)
KASW – Killer Kowalski’s All Star Wrestling (MA)
NECW – New England Championship Wrestling (MA, CT, NH)
EPW – Eastern Pro Wrestling (MA, CT, RI, NH)
ASWF – All Star Wrestling Federation (MA)
Triple W – World Women’s Wrestling (MA)
FCW – Full Contact Wrestling (RI)
NSW – North Shore Wrestling (MA)
SPW – Showcase Pro Wrestling (MA)
FRW – Front Row Wrestling (NH)
MWF – Millennium Wrestling Federation (MA, CT).
EWA – Eastern Wrestling Alliance (MA)
LPW – Lethal Pro Wrestling (MA)
AWWA – All-Star Women’s Wrestling Association (NH)
NWA-LS – National Wrestling Alliance-Liberty States (MA)


Q: When did you become a wrestling fan and how?

DT: I became a fan when I was a little kid, probably not much older than three years. My older brother and my dad watched WWF on TV regularly. I had no clue when it would be on so I just followed them when it happened. I became more of a super fan when I was about nine. I had a neighbor who had all the hasboro action figures, and a lot of stuff on tape. From there on I was watching Saturday and Sunday morning WWF programs, IWCCW on Saturdays as well…sometimes I’d catch GWF, but I don’t remember it very well.


Q: Where did you grow up?

DT: I grew up between Lancaster, MA and Leominster, MA. One small town, and then a small city!


Q: Who were your favorites growing up?

DT: “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Ulitimate Warrior, The Undertaker, The Road Warriors, Demolition, Kevin Nash, and even Waylon Mercy! I loved to hate “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Ric Flair, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning, Bobby Heenan, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Bret Hart even though everyone else cheered for him.


Q: Did you attend wrestling shows when you were a kid?

DT: Yes, my first live event was WWF at the Boston Garden in 1992. Main event was Hogan + IC Champion Piper vs. World Champion Ric Flair + Sid Justice. I was even taken to a WWF Prime Time Wrestling/Wrestling
Challenge/Superstars taping at the then Worcester Centrum Centre. I got to see the likes of Max Moon make his debut, and even got some of the stringers that shot out of his “pyro” hand guns. I think Razor Ramon made his debut there as well.

Q: What is your favorite wrestling match?

DT: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels Iron Man Match from WrestleMania 12.


Q: What is your favorite event?

DT: My favorites are easily the anniversary type events, such as WrestleMania for example.


Q: First impressions of the business when you were training?

DT: Unglamorous, with the building my first school training began. It was in Providence, RI with TJ Richter in what was the Squared Circle Academy. From how I understand it, Kyle Storm was running it, and made a deal with TJ Richter to run it from there on. No heating, no air conditioning, basically no plumbing. The people I met were pretty honest with their opinions on me though, and how to do things better, which I appreciate.


Q: How different was your training as a Ref compared to training as a wrestler?

DT: Well… I didn’t wrestle. I still did the same warm ups, and received the same discipline as anyone else would. I would pretty much be in the ring refereeing with anyone else doing the wrestling. Trainers would step in and correct me when I did wrong, give me advice on how to move about better…where to be and where not to be…with everything explained so I…and the other students will understand.


Q: Why did you decide to become a ref instead of a wrestler or a manager?

DT: I’m a rather small guy, and with health issues, I’ll never be on the athletic level needed to be a wrestler. I actually liked the idea of being a manager, but also wasn’t really feeling it during my initial
training. The referee training was really sticking, and I wound up
enjoying the work.

Q: How has life been on the Independent Scene?

DT:I’ve had both good and some not so good experiences but that’s life. You take the good and bad and learn from it all. Over all I’m satisfied, but always wanting more.


Q: Who are some of the notable names you have worked with?

DT: Scotty 2 Hotty, Ron Simmons, Jerry “The King: Lawler, Smash of Demolition, “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal, Abyss, Awesome Kong, Homicide, Trinity, April Hunter, Roxxi, Salvatore Sincere, Paul Bearer, Iron Sheik, “X-Pac” Sean Waltman Chris Candido, Lita, Sarah Del Ray, The Sheik Azzad, Malia Hosaka, Doug Williams and ROH World Champion at the time Eddie Edwards.

Q: Do you believe Kayfabe is dead?

DT:Just because wrestling isn’t the same as it was back in the day doesn’t mean kayfabe is dead. People are still buying the tickets, merchandise, pay-per-views, attending media marketing events, etc…


Q: Any TV/Media appearances:

DT: I did one with the Wrestling Spotlight talk show in Fall River, MA. Also appeared in the Boston Herald, Worcester Telegram Gazette, and Providence Journal.


Q: What are your future plans?

DT: Attend any camp/seminar where I see the benefits in improving myself, seek out new opportunities, and really…see where I’ll end up.


Q: Are there any states and countries that you would like to work in some day?

DT: I would love to referee in the mid-west, and southern states… As for the countries… Ireland, England, Australia, and of course Japan!


Q: In your opinion what is the state of Independent Wrestling in the United States or in New England?

DT: It’s that time where a couple of people decide to take a shot at being an owner/promoter/booker, or all three at the same time. Then we see them dwindle away to nothing after a few months or even after one event. I’m not talking down about anyone in particular…just generalizing. Hell, I once tried it before I even started refereeing. I only co-ran a few shows but I’m glad I stopped and focused on just working and getting booked.

I still see solid, high quality events coming from the long haul promotions though. There may be lower attendance of paying fans at times, but are still getting a great show, and good deals at the merchandise table. I’d have to say…things are looking good, and can only get better.

Q: When and where was the last show you worked on?

DT: July 22, 2011 with Northeast Championship Wrestling in Foxboro, MA.


– In Dan’s time away from the ring he is fully supportive of the National Lung Cancer Partnership. He ran their Free to Breathe 5K last year to help raise funds for research, and hopes to do again next year. He also hopes to one day run a wrestling event that will also raise funds to donate to their cause.

– The National Lung CancerPartnership can be found at and
free to breathe


– If you want to learn more about Dan Tanaka you can check him out @



– To contact Dan Tanaka for booking or interview inquiries, contact him at


If any Wrestlers, Refs, Mangers, Ring Announcers, and Promoters are interested in being interviewed, please contact me at

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