WORDS BY ROSS PFUND
Plenty of wrestlers get the crowd chanting their names, but it’s a little less common for referees—unless you’re Clark Feldman. We recently caught up with one of Minnesota’s favorite refs to talk training, managing the chaos of a match, and the legalities of bringing super-powered hammers into the ring.
What inspired you to become a referee?
I started training at The Academy: School of Professional Wrestling right when it first opened in 2016. I initially started training to wrestle, and then at the six-month mark, I noticed I was constantly getting injured—simple injuries added up, and I was falling behind. I asked the coaches, “I like being involved in wrestling, but it’s pretty obvious the wrestling portion isn’t for me. What else is there I can do?” They said, “We’re getting ready to have practice matches, let’s try having you be a referee.”
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Communication is key—being able to relay things to the guys and girls in the ring. If someone gets hurt, I’m the first line of defense, letting everyone in the match know: “Hey, they’re hurt, let’s get them out of here or call the match.”
What’s your favorite match you’ve ever reffed?
This changes every time I’m interviewed; for now, I’m going with the Mall of America four-way with Rylie Jackson, Lince Dorado, Brandon Gore and Devon Monroe. That was a banger. I was in the first [Academy] class with Rylie; Brandon and Devon came shortly after that. Seeing us go from these humble beginnings to—I’ll say it, we made history—tugged at my heartstrings afterward.
What’s the most illegal thing you’ve ever seen in the ring?
As much as I love the guy, I gotta say Super Atomic Thunderfrog’s hammer. The deal there is, I haven’t been able to lift the thing. Nobody else besides Froggy has been able to lift it, so I’m kinda stuck. If I DQ him for not getting the hammer out of the ring, he’s going to just leave it there, and then it’s going to be impossible to tear down the ring [after the show].
Is the loophole here that he’s not hitting any person with the hammer?
That’s correct. It’s sending a shockwave into the ring, but it’s not making contact with someone, so you can argue that technically, he didn’t hit anyone with an object.
What aspirations do you have for the future?
It’d be cool to referee a televised match, and the bucket list for me would be going to work in Japan. In the more immediate future, continuing to do my part to help grow F1rst Wrestling and the other companies I work for.
We know refs don’t get entrance music, but if you did, what would yours be?
That’s where referee James Durden and I realized we’re ref bros for life—we would go with ‘If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough,’ by Roger Alan Wade.
Catch Clark in the ring at Wrestlepalooza on January 13 at First Avenue, or on social media as @refereeclark. He hosts Twitch streams on Tuesday and Thursday nights.