Behind The Mask: Chris Pagillo

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Hello Chris, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show today, as we’ll finally get a chance to talk to you about the two characters that you’ve already built for this awesome game that we all love. Most people know you as the Italian Bombada, so obviously they know you made that character, but many may or may not know that you also created the Witch’s Apprentice which is a character made for another important part of our community. It was a noble thing to do, that’s for sure!

Chris: Thank you Justin for having me. I’m a big fan of the Behind the Mask series. I’m happy to finally getting the chance to be on here.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? How did you find this game, and at what point did you start getting heavily into the game like you are now? Many have seen you at conventions working hand in hand with the SRG family, so obviously there is a very strong bond between you and them.

Chris: I got into the game near the beginning. It all started one day when I entered work and a coworker had the game. He went to me and said “Hey Chris, you remember Steve Resk? Well he created this wrestling card game. Want to play?” I played one game and was hooked. I fell in love with it. I immediately messaged Steve and asked where could I get it and play it? He sold me a box set and the rest is history. I would travel with Steve every Tuesday to this store in Long Island called Legendary Realms to play. There I re-met John Polverino, I met him many years ago from Raw Deal but never got to know him. I also met Dosmo, Dan Paige, John “Loudmouth Leo” Schnurr, Jenn aka Ms Tierious. We all became a close group, better yet, a family. I look at each of them as brothers and sisters, and yes, even Calace too.

When it comes to your characters, we might as well start with your namesake in The Italian Bombada. Where did the horse head idea come from, as well as the overall look for the character?

Chris: Well the Italian Bombada moniker started back 20 years ago when I used to do backyard wrestling with my friends. We all came up with our own personas and I was obsessed with ECW and The F.B.I. so I made a persona that would fit in with them.

The look of The Italian Bombada is another story. My day job is as a Peace Officer at a horse racing track. So I made the back story of the Italian Bombada for the SuperShow that he was a disgraced former horse trainer who was kicked out of racing for injecting his horses and himself with steroids. So the horse head is to represent him pass of working on the horse track.

Bombada definitely seems like a submission specialist considering the breakdown of your characters skills. With him having technique and grapple as his next two best stats, I feel it’s easy to say that Italian Bombada is all about grappling. Was that the overall mindset you had when setting up his stats, or was there other reasons why you had chosen to have your stats line up the way you did?

Chris: That’s exactly what I had in mind. Back to my backyard wrestling days, I always loved putting people in submissions. In wrestling now, my favorite wrestlers are ground based, submission grapplers. So I wanted to create someone that shows my love for all things submission and grappling.

For most characters, the gimmick is the most important part of a character, and with The Italian Bombada that is no different. Was the current gimmick that’s printed on the card the one you came up with, or did you have a different gimmick in mind originally? I’d say it could be quite strong, but really that depends on how often your opponent helps you with their dice rolls. Also how do you think the gimmick stacks up compared to others in the game considering how many new characters have come out over the last year or two?

Chris: The final gimmick for The Italian Bombada is not the gimmick I pitched. With working with Steve we came up with this. The first gimmick I pitched was whenever your opponent rolled submission to take ANY submission from either your deck or discard. Obviously, that got turned down for being too powerful. So I then pitched any submission from deck. With play testing, and I wording I used for The Winners Circle finish, that was too powerful to allow me to fetch that card so we then came up with the gimmick he has now of only lead or follow up submission cards.

With how it stacks up, I see it still as a strong gimmick with the new submissions that are always coming out that you want to play. Compared to other gimmicks, however, I get salty when it comes to High Water. I wish I had for Bombada what he has for his. I still remember when Steve told me about High Water and his pitch. The guy who created him ask specifically for Italian Bombada gimmick but for strikes.

It’s time for the finish! Well at least some chatting about your finishers created for Bombada. The most wicked finish of the bunch seems to be “The Winner’s Circle,” as it’s a finish that cannot be stopped if the situation is right that is. What was your thought process when creating each of the finishes, and were they created the way you had intended all along, or did it change during the creation process?

Chris: My finishers are a fun story. They originally were going to be the slogan of the old Triad stable in WCW of DDP, Kanyon, and Bam Bam Bigalow. The moves were going to be called the Badabing, The Badabang, and The Badaboom. Then we changed them all to horse racing terms. You have my strike being a Clothesline named The Finish Line. You have my submission being the Rings of Saturn named The Winner’s Circle. Then you get to my grapple finish. It’s a move called the Overdrive. I pitched it with the name Photo Finish. Steve, then have the idea of naming it Bombada-Bing. I loved it and we went with it.

Now with the moves themselves. The Finish Line was made exactly how I wanted. I wanted a finish that would help me replenish my submissions from my discard so I can fetch them with my gimmick if my opponent kicked out. I couldn’t of been happier with how that worked out.

The submission of The Winner’s Circle changed during play testing. I originally wanted bonuses on it but Steve said if I want bonuses then I can’t have it unstoppable. I saw his point and took away the bonuses. But, Steve then came up with the idea of the -2 to submission on the first 2 breakout rolls so I have an advantage against fellow 10 submission competitors since I can’t get the unstoppable language against them.

Now onto my grapple. This card, when I created it, seemed good in my head. But, it’s far from it. I messed up big time in its creation. Bury my opponents submissions does nothing for me. That’s why I created the card Impact Bomb to replace this card as my finisher.

When deciding to play Bombada, what sort of cards do you recommend people play in a deck? Are there any lesser known strategies that you’d like to share?

Chris: I build with Submissions first. I’m a big fan of the new Go Behind card. It works perfectly with my gimmick. I try to avoid and cards that put cards on top of the deck. You hit that card and next turn your opponent rolls submission and now that card is shuffled in the deck. So avoid using those.

Let’s move on to your other character The Witch’s Apprentice! With the character being made for someone else, did you have them pick the way that they looked on the card art, or did you make the decision yourself? If so, what was the overall thought process for the look of the character?

Chris: When it came to The Witch’s Apprentice, I knew I couldn’t do her justice by myself. I sort out help. I hit up the people that know Shelby Steven’s personally. I asked for help from Kirk Polka, Shane Strickland, Jacob Maynard, Greg Shockley and Michael Bailey. I knew if I was going to create her, I needed to have their input in this. We all worked together on the look and feel. They gave ideas for what the moves should do, I went out and found the images for the cards. It was a great relationship we all had working together on it.

With the character being a disciple of The Wiccan Witch herself, I can see some similarities when it comes to the breakdown of the stats. Was that your mindset while creating the character, or did it just sort of workout that way?

Chris: That’s what we wanted. She is supposed to be the apprentice to Sage so we figured she’d want to be similar to her. We didn’t want an exact copy. She needed her own different stats are certain parts.

The gimmick for the character can be quite strong, especially with a lot of cards out to trigger it, much like Marty Scurll’s snap gimmick. Was this the gimmick you wanted to use all along, or were there other versions before this that had different thought up gimmicks?

Chris: We all passed around a bunch of different gimmicks. This one just felt right, especially with the promo she did for CAC where she choked Shane Strickland. So we took that into consideration and when the building process was happening there was only 1 card with power in the name and choke only triggered on 4 or 5 non finish cards. So it wasn’t that strong then, only became it over time due to new cards.

When it comes to finishes, The Witch’s Apprentice has some pretty strong ones to say the least! “My Most Powerful Spell” looks like it’s not only strong, but also very useful in a utility way. What was your thought process when creating the her finishes?

Chris: Each one has a unique story. Let’s start with her strike finish, Spell 656. There is a story behind this card. I won the right to create the competitor by winning the Rumble at the Rumble CAC tournament. I won that tournament by defeating John Polverino in the finals. On crowd meter 0, third turn, I hit him with a school boy. I rolled a 10. Due to the card text it was a 7. Should of been an easy kickout but John rolled a 6, 5, 6. I was in shock and decided to immortalize that in the card. That’s why the card cant be stopped if School Boy is in the discard pile.

With My Most Powerful Spell, we wanted something that people had to be worried about. For every card with power or choke in play, 2 of her stats get plus 1. So you have to worry about that. Then, you have the spotlight ability. When it’s in your discard pile and you roll 5 or 6 for you 3rd breakout roll, bury it and reroll. That was put there to avoid my own 6-5-6 moment.

With the finish submission it was easy. I like finishers that copy the gimmick so that’s exactly why we did that. Simply put the gimmick on a card.

Alright, it’s deck building time! When creating a deck for The Witch’s Apprentice, are there any certain cards in particular that you’d want to run, and I’m not just talking about cards that trigger the gimmick only because of the name?

Chris: For cards outside of the gimmick triggers, I’d say Making an Impact to get back School Boy to re-hit it. Also cards that make your opponent bury or discard from hand to aid the gimmick choices.

In your experience creating your two characters, how has the process been working with the SRG Boss? Has he changed a lot of what you’ve come up with?

Chris: Working with Steve on creating a competitor is a great experience. He is extremely easy to deal with and explains things to you why they might be too powerful and helps you work out a real easy solution to them.

With creating a character being quite an expensive endeavor, do you feel as if it is well worth the price asked?

Chris: I only bought the Italian Bombada and I would buy another one. To see yourself immortalized for all of eternity in a game is something I thought I would never get to happen.

Do you have plans to create other characters in the future, and if so, would you like to share any information about them at this time?

photo credit: Noel Torres Jr.

Chris: I do. I plan on creating Shaggy Shark. When I came out in the Shark costume at Grand Gathering it was such a hit that I have to have it on a card. After the new year I plan on the starting stages of having him made with the hopeful release for Grand Gathering 2. I’m also working on an Impact trio card so that there will be more trios in the game. Also, making Jacqué Eé because every horse needs a jockey.

Do you have any advice that you’d like to share with members of the community who may decide to create a character in the future?

Chris: Do it. It’s the best experience you can ever do.

Last but not least, do you have anything else you’d like to talk about, or shout out before we finish here? The floor is yours sir, and I appreciate you wanting to join me for this interview.

Chris: Thank you again for having me. I just want to say that I absolutely love this community. This game and community and helped me so much. I was a quiet guy who didn’t do much. This community has made me feel welcomed. That’s something I thought I’d never have anywhere. I owe so much to each and every person. You are all the best. The craziest thing happened to be at the Fall River Con in Massachusetts. Not only did I have Evil Ex say it, but I had another player come to me and say they were extremely happy I was there. That I was their favorite person in the community because I make them laugh with my horse head and how I interact with people. What other card game and community has people more happy to meet someone than caring about winning? Find one other besides this one. You are the reason I love this game. We all have our cardfabe feuds and all but we all genuinely like each other. I love this community.