OREGON, Ill. (WMBD) — If you’re a pro wrestling fan, then the name Rikishi is one you’ve heard countless times.

On Saturday, the WWE legend will appear in Oregon, Illinois for the ZOWA Live: Back It Up event.

ZOWA is based in central Illinois, many of the wrestlers being from LaSalle County.

Rikishi joined Matt Sheehan for an interview to look ahead at Saturday’s event.

You can see Rikishi Saturday, August 21, at Northside BBQ in Oregon, IL. The address is 117 N 4th St, Oregon, IL 61061.

Sheehan: What can the fans expect from you this weekend?

“As always, Rikishi is going to back it up. I’m going to bring some of that attitude era back in the day, what they remember me from. Giving that infamous “stink face” and that’s if somebody steps out of line, my friend,” Rikishi said. “But I’m looking forward for ZOWA Live. I want to thank them for bringing Bik Kishi there to Oregon, Illinois. The fans, I encourage you guys to come on through because we’re going to have a good life.”

Sheehan: How does it feel that pro wrestling is back in full swing?

“It’s a great feeling. To be able to perform in front of a live crowd, it’s a different kind of energy you feed off of. When you have fans right there in front of your face booing you, cheering you on. For the past year and a half, it was very difficult because now you’re in an empty arena trying to perform and yell at a person and you’re not getting that feedback as if you were in a live arena. It feels really good,” Rikishi said. “Once Wrestlemania hit where WWE had their huge event, I’m sure a lot of the independent companies around the world were very very happy. Now for a professional wrestler, I get to go and perform in front of a live crowd and do what we love.”

Sheehan: I gotta get your reaction to John Cena vs. Roman Reigns at Summerslam Saturday.

“It’s good to see John Cena back in the loop. He’s a big name and brings a lot of attention to Summerslam, everyone knows Roman Reigns has been crushing it the last 12 years. Ever since he started. This is very difficult, I’m caught in between,” Rikishi said. “John Cena is a very good friend of mine, I have nothing but respect for John Cena. I also appreciate what he’s done for the business. But I also know my family member, Roman Reigns. My sons the Usos that are also involved. If you ask me, friend over blood, I gotta go blood.”

Sheehan: You’ve been doing a lot more in-ring training now than in-ring performing. Walk me through how that’s been to you.

“We opened up an academy in Los Angeles called Knox Pro Wrestling Academy,” Rikishi said. “There’s a lot of kids out there that are wanting to learn professional wrestling but aren’t getting the proper training.”

Rikishi said his academy is able to mold them into better professional wrestlers.

“Once they take that bump in the ring and hit that 3-quarter playwood. It’s like “oh, this is not a video game,” Rikishi laughed. “Your body has to survive when you’re on the road 200 days out of the year. For you to have longevity in this industry, you have to perfect your craft and learn the fundamentals.”

Rikishi’s family has been in the wrestling industry for over 75 years. It started with his family, and now Rikishi has sons and younger cousins who are at the top of the wrestling industry now.

One of Rikishi’s family members is WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Rikishi said he’s always been a superstar, and that he’s very proud of him for carrying on the family legacy.

“I’m also proud of my sons, the twins, Jimmy and Jey,” Rikishi said. “The family is happy to see those three are out there to keep on the family legacy. We just pray they stay safe, stay healthy, and come home to their families.”

Rikishi says he’s happy to see new faces to be getting new opportunities.

“I say this to the kids, be patient and work harder. Be patient and work harder. When that opportunity comes, and it might just come one time, you better be ready,” Rikishi said. “The whole world is trying to get a shot at WWE. They all gotta work hard to take that spot. When it comes to storylines, I think they need to be simpler. So for wrestling fans who have never watched before, it’s easy for that person to understand.”

Rikishi said the “Attitude Era” was the best era of professional wrestling.

“It was so easy for the fans to be attached to that era. From the first match to the main event, everything was entertaining,” Rikishi said.

Rikishi said his “Mount Rushmore of WWE” right now is Roman Reigns, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon.

Sheehan: Do you have one crazy story or memory you can share with me today from the WWE?

“At one time, it was 1994, we were all working non-stop. It was me, Godfather, Undertaker, Yokozuna, Goddwin, and Uncle Fuji. Pretty much the whole BSK (Bone Street Krew),” Rikishi said. All of a sudden the schedule switched. It was double shots. We’d do a show at 1:00 o’clock then a show at 7:00 o’clock. I probably came *this* close to quitting the business. It was such a grueling schedule. I wasn’t ready for that.”

Rikishi said usually you just wrestle once a night.

“That really tested my heart and mind. Do I want to go through with this? I want to thank God that I had good friends and family beside me,” Rikishi said. “I kept seeing them push through and I was just tagging along pushing with them.”

Pro wrestlers are oftentimes on the road most days of the year. They’re missing holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Rikishi said that’s extremely difficult to do.

“Hopefully a kid out there can hear me out, that if you decide to come into this industry, make sure you’re fully prepared,” Rikishi said. “The only thing everybody sees is what’s on TV. But behind the scenes, some people can break.”

Rikishi wants all up-and-coming wrestlers to know they are “worth it,” and says to keep going.

While it’s unsure right now if he’ll appear soon in WWE, he says it will always be he and his family’s home.

“I do miss the fans so much. But I do not miss the traveling and the butt-whooping we take in there,” Rikishi laughed.

Rikishi will also be in Skokie, Illinois August 22. At 2:00 p.m. he will be at the Village Inn Pizzeria, located at 8050 Lincoln Avenue, to sign autographs before the show and during intermission.