Behind The Mask: Ezekiel Zhong-Han Azib

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Ezekiel it’s a pleasure getting to speak with you, and I appreciate your time. Some people may or may not know, but you actually have 3 characters currently immortalized in the game we all love. Today we plan to talk about two of the three with META and Riggs Simmons. First of all, who was created first, and secondly, what was your thought process when coming up with those two characters?

Ezekiel: Sure & it’s a pleasure to be on here, especially since I’m residing on a different land mass and time zone. There’s actually more than the known 3 but yes, Riggs & Meta are my primary creations and my Pride & Joy. Riggs is my first created and Meta is actually my third. As for my thought process, I draw a lot from this universe to create what we have now in the SRG universe, so a lot of personal experience and what’s in pop culture.

First we’ll start with Riggs Simmons. Is there any certain reason why you chose the skills layout that you did? Any certain things that you wanted to run at the time that needed certain skills to be higher?

Ezekiel: So around the time I created Riggs, I was like months into training at Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW) and I realistically based it on my actual skill set. I was a martial artist growing up so strikes and grapples were high. I wasn’t the fastest and had no technique so those were low. My fight style was more beat down and go so I picked power over the methodical submission. I believe I made Riggs when I first heard of this game and its culture while browsing Kickstarter so I learned what was needed about the game while also creating Riggs.

How did you come up with the gimmick for Riggs Simmons? It’s quite an interesting gimmick, though it seems like there would be a lot of follow ups needed to really be able to use it often enough.

Ezekiel: Well when I studied the game, I learned a lot of it would be spent in the follow up phase, until you throw down the finish. When I started browsing the available cards at the time, a majority of the stop cards were leads and the follow ups were beefier attacks so with the right combo, I could cycle through and prep before I go into the finish.

When it came to naming your finishers for Riggs Simmons, along with the images used for those finishers, what went into your thought process? Is there any special meanings to any of them? Is there anything certain you wanted to do with the text of the cards as to what the finisher does?

Ezekiel: Even when naming Riggs himself, I was and am a roadie for SPW and wanted to represent that in him so Brütal Legend’s Eddie Riggs was my skeleton for him. I even had a custom denim vest with patches of various promotions one being the SRG universe. “Rigged to Strike” is my ‘All or Nothing’ playing it down is my match killer with baseline of two 10’s and two 9’s. “Girder Collapse” ties back to my follow up gimmick and learning patience in wrestling. The scoop slam was my most mastered grapple when I started so it became a signature with my personal touch of me following through and driving myself onto them. As a roadie the tear down is a more arduous task than setting up especially with the crowd sticking around for photos with the stars, but most rewarding after once we sit down for a meal together. When I started training with larger guys my go to finish was to pounce behind them, grab them by the neck and gradually wear them down, when I got better it became my submission.

When it comes to Riggs Simmons, it has been brought to my attention that there are actually two versions. Even though I believe they have the same text, the art is a bit different. Are you able to explain the change, or the process that you had to go through to get a second version of the card?

Ezekiel: I knew that’ll come up, so when I got into Supershow & Pro-Wrestling, I had a girlfriend who was prominently featured in the first edition and named the strike finisher after her. She agreed to it when it got to the build but when she dumped me, she decided to out the cards as well, so that “Girlfriend Edition” got discontinued and I had to scrub her off the character card. I also had to rename “Hail Kaitie” (based on Hail Mary) to “Rigged to Strike” in this rebranded Riggs’ “Solo Edition.” This also birthed my second & fourth characters but not worth mentioning currently.

With the way the game has grown over the past year or so, what are your thoughts on the fact that a character like Riggs Simmons isn’t available for purchase at the moment off of the website? I know you’ve sold them to some people, but a lot of newer players may not even realize he’s a character in the game unless they happen to come across it here on Powerbomb or hear about it otherwise. Would you be down for a possible alt art re-release sometime down the road?

Ezekiel: I say it sorta aligns with my wrestling career currently, now on the back burner with new guys having their turn to shine but still not that much forgotten. Biding my time, training until they decide it’s time for 3stars to become 5stars. As for here, he’s been my primary here in the LCW, even the current champion, and am open to matches online if requested or challenged. I am intending to discuss a re-release of the “Solo Edition” and am looking to work a tag team run with Meta, I just need a name (Currently it’s Cross/Over) and I have a something lined up after but that’s not worth the spoil.

If you had to redesign Riggs Simmons, as in changing a stat or two, or possibly his gimmick, what would you like to do with the character?

Ezekiel: As for a technical redesign, maybe switch around my mid stats to reflect my current performance. For the gimmick, given I’ve sacrificed a lot for pro-wrestling and it’s culture, maybe on my turn: discard a card to get an effect.

Now let’s move onto META, I honestly have to say that the character is truly one of a kind as far as I know, with not only being a flip character, but also a character with 6 total finishers, that are better for one side of the card or other. What were some of the difficulties in creating a character that flips and has that many finishers?

Ezekiel: Meta was created when I fully understood how the Supershow works. The inspiration came from the SRG universe itself and I wanted Meta to be a big thank you to everyone, from the creators, the players to even wrestling fans. A difficulty is to maximize usability of what can be put in without it being too overpowered in a single line of game play. So while there are certain finishers that favors one side or the other, a true master is able to fully utilize a flip strategy and plan finisher execution. I created Meta such that he’s accessible to newcomers, reliable to veterans and can be absolutely savage to masters of the game.

With META having two sides, what thoughts did you have when it came to putting together the character’s stats for both sides?

Ezekiel: So I love my comics and the most compelling characters that stick with me are those that are or have been good & evil. For face Meta I wanted him quick on his feet both defensive & offensive so agility & strike are the high stats and as most textbook heroes go for the non-lethal end, submission was next. As for heel Meta, I wanted him to be a methodical brute so maximum power followed by technique and an above decent grapple to boot.

Normally it’s hard to come up with a gimmick at first, but what was the process like coming up with a gimmick for both sides of the competitor? Also are you happy with how the character plays?

Ezekiel: For a two-sided competitor I didn’t want the gimmicks to be too similar that’s it’s just a palate swap, yet so different that it’s like a whole different competitor. I wanted Meta involved in the event of stalemate rolls or bumps as both players get to draw, both has the advantage depending on what they draw. Heel Meta was easy, he just says you can’t draw, for face Meta he gets a 50/50 do over to possibly roll better, to make a move, or accepts the draw and not risk his opponent moving. While Meta is allowed to turn evil, I would have preferred if he could flip good as well.

With 6 different finishers, it had to be rather difficult coming up with names and images to go with each of them. How did you choose the names and images? Also was it your idea to have each of the finishers attached to a different skill being rolled, or was it something that The Boss had an idea for?

Ezekiel: As I’ve mentioned above the SRG Universe itself inspired Meta and given it’s a card game with a dice element, I wanted to emphasize how great this addition of the dice is. So if players wanna keep it safe there’s the obvious 3 to choose but if you’re cunning to work a flip into the match, an unexpected flipped finisher can catch a master off-guard and steal a win. “Jiraishin” was from my favorite Japanese TV show growing up: Guyferd. The move translates to ‘Landmine Shock’ and much like an actual landmine once triggered there’s no undo. “Flip the Script” was a fun one when I thought it up, like a 2-headed coin it’s one where you can’t really roll badly, unless your opponent rolls really well. I wanted “Fractured Reality” to be the most unfair when played granting only 1 chance to escape, while experimenting after training I came up with the submission move which you now see: a kimura to the targeted arm, my back leg trapping the other, and my body weight on him preventing him from moving. “Breaking the Fourth,” much like Deadpool is to amputate or dismember the opponent in the event that it moves into the next level. “Overture Op” is meant to be a quick grab finisher, whether to end the level or the match. “Tap or Snap” is the more ‘regular’ of the 6 giving me more moves to work with when it goes into the next level. The first 3 are match enders while the next are match ‘progressers’. I gave The Boss what I would want done, he tells me how much it can be done to balance him out and not make it too crazy.

If you had a chance to redesign anything about META, whether it’s the stats, gimmick, finishes or whatever, what would you like to do with the character?

Ezekiel: As I’ve mentioned earlier, I would want him fully flippable, to make him able to change from face to heel and back when necessary in the match.

What was it like working with The Boss Steve Resk during the creation of your competitor sets? Was there anything that he made you change? Was everything quite smooth?

Ezekiel: He was great to work with, as I’ve said earlier: I provided the “what,” and he tweaked the “how” so they would play fair.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would want to make a character for the game in the future? Anything that people should know before jumping into the deep end?

Ezekiel: I say when coming up with the characters, if it looks and feels naturally put together you have something worth the effort. If available spend time on one of those games that lets you create and dress up your player, when the aesthetics are done right the rest will fall in place. Narrative can help initial build the stats, gimmicks & moves. When given the chance to discuss with the Boss, make full use of the time granted. And of course have fun while doing it, otherwise what’s the point?

Would you be willing to offer up a deck list for both Riggs and META that could give other players a better idea of how you like to play the characters that you’ve created?

Ezekiel: Meta is a very varied character to deck build and the same deck can play differently from player to player. I am willing to offer my iteration, but I highly recommend build yours before referring to it. As for Riggs, sure thing, I have my Spartan/Monk configuration which won me my first & current title reign as LCW champion.

If there is any other topics you’d like to talk about or anything you’d like to plug, go ahead and do it. The floor is yours man.

Ezekiel: So as some have known but most will now, I train & perform with SPW, we have a YouTube channel where you can view our content such as matches and promos. We do shows every 3 or 4 months if you’d want to check us out. I run Leo City Wrestling (LCW) the local Supershow chapter & card marketplace in Singapore. Wrestlefest is happening in Singapore on October 5th. While I have a Facebook presence for both characters, Meta’s Instagram is recently picking up speed and you may follow him @the1metaverse. And a future plan worth noting, I plan to come round stateside to train & perform (maybe even join your local leagues), currently ASWA (& OVW) in Louisville KY, looks promising but feel free to advocate your town for a stopover. If that is all, thank you again for having me, hope to see you all soon and as always #PlayItForward.

I’d like to once again thank Ezekiel for joining me during this interview, and I hope that everyone checking it out learns a thing or two, or at least enjoys seeing The Supershow from another players point of view. We will definitely be circling around sometime in the future to hear about Ezekiel’s other characters in the universe, so make sure to stay tuned!