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Philadelphia native Stevie Richards ready to return to hometown Dec. 28

Stevie Richards lives for the here and now. He doesn't look too far back and he doesn't look too far ahead.

He focuses on what he can control right now. It's that type of discipline that gets him through everyday.

Right now, Richards is focused on staying in shape, technology and his next wrestling booking. Those are the things he controls, so those are the things he's put his mind to. Anything in the past or anything in the future doesn't get Richards to excited or too down. He remains focused on the task at hand.

"People psych themselves out of forward momentum in their life whether it be financially, physically, emotionally or mentally. They look so far ahead that the goal seems so out of reach," Richards said during a phone interview with

He stays in shape with the help of DDP Yoga, the latest technology he's enthralled by is the Xbox One and Playstation 4 and his next wrestling booking his Dec. 28., which is back in his hometown of Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena, formerly known as the ECW Arena, at 2300 S. Swanson St. for Extreme Rising's "Unfinished Business."

Although Richards usually worries about the things only he can control, he is worried about something that appears to be out of his hands this coming Saturday — his opponent.

Richards will defend the Extreme Rising championship Saturday against an opponent that has yet to be named. It is being saved as a surprise.

"That makes it a little bit different when the opponent hasn't been named," Richards said. "But for each and every show, whether I'm the world champion or not, I'm going to work just as hard and prepare."

"I don't know who I'm going to be wrestling so that makes it a little more stressful, but it can't be any different than any other pressure I put on myself for any show," he added.

As a member of the original incarnation of ECW, Richards has been in more harrowing situations than the one he will face Dec. 28.

Richards isn't just an ECW original, he is the original as he took part in the first match in the promotion's history way back when it was still called Eastern Championship Wrestling, not Extreme Championship Wrestling.

It didn't take Richards long to get to that point. It wasn't long before that first match in ECW that he was still living life in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.

Richards was born Michael Manna and attended Central High School for three years before transferring to Frankford, which is where he graduated. He then attended Community College of Philadelphia where he took up pre-education.

Despite not being much of an athlete growing up, Richards decided to take a shot at professional wrestling. He was so much of fan that he wanted to actually be apart of it himself.

"I never do anything halfway in my life," Richards said. "I loved it so much that I wanted to be apart of it. I thought it was a great life as far as entertaining and being an athlete. I wasn't an athlete when I was young, but I knew I had to work hard everyday and train. That's where my work ethic started in order to get and be at that level."

Richards said he was trained by a number of people, which gave him a varied skill set. Among the people who taught him how to work in the ring was Sandman, who was not known for his technical mat wrestling, and Jimmy Jannetty.

"I wasn't experienced enough to know what kind of training I was even getting," Richards said. "I understood it years later, but at the time I took it all in. At the time, I had no idea what I was learning at all."

He credits everything he knows about wrestling from the psychology stand point to one man — Scott Levy, better known as Raven.

"He's the one that taught me essentially everything I know about the mental and psychological part of this business," Richards said. "The thing people never really ask in life today much less in wrestling is the 'Why?' and the 'Why not?' It's great to know, 'This is why I should do this.' Then you look at it like, 'Well, maybe we shouldn't do this move or maybe we shouldn't put this in the match."

"The 'Why not?' is what really makes it more of a quality match," he added. "That's what Raven taught me. Not, 'Here's what you should do.' When I would do something in the ring and he would go, 'Why would you do that?' I would go, 'I have no idea.' He would say, 'Then why in the hell did you do it then?' That's how I learned."

Richards used his brain outside of the ring as well, as proper decision-making contributed to him still being able to wrestle for a living after 23 years in the business and at the age of 42.

"The choices I made from day one, which is the reason why I'm still in the shape I'm in and can still compete at a high level, is because I made really proper choices in my life. Get a good night's sleep. Don't drink. Don't do drugs. Don't really be stupid and make bad choices like a lot of athletes seem to make all the time."

ECW was about living fast and to the extreme. It helped and hurt the promotion at the same time. Extreme Rising is attempting to re-capture some of the same spirit that embodied the original ECW.

Richards witnessed that spirit first-hand. He was apart of what made the spirit what it was. However, he believes that in this day and age, the extreme style of wrestling should be done to a lesser degree than it was nearly 20 years ago.

"People became desensitized to the extreme stuff. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know if we should even have 'extreme' in the name of the promotion because people get the wrong idea," Richards said. "The greatest strength in the promotion right now could also be its biggest albatross because you're expecting something. You're expecting '95, '96, '97 ECW. And you get a little bit of that, which is great."

"That's why I believe me being the champion is great because I bridge the gap," he added. "I'm not trying to sound cocky or anything, but I really do. I have the time put in with the ECW originals. I was the first one back in 1992 in the first ECW match when it was Eastern. But I'm still effective in a way where I can work with younger guys. So I feel I can bring those two generations together and made a pretty good choice as champion."

Richards being chosen as champion of the promotion was one of the few things Extreme Rising did right during its first incarnation.

A number of hurdles forced the promotion to cancel multiple events during WrestleMania weekend this past year.

WrestleMania weekend isn't just a big day in the life of a WWE wrestler, but for every wrestler, as there a number of promotions running shows hoping to capitalize on thousands of wrestling fans being in one city at the same time. Richards was one of those wrestlers hoping to earn a sizeable payday during that weekend.

"I wasn't too happy about it," he said. "It's probably financially the biggest weekend of the year for any wrestler with that being WrestleMania week and all the shows and all the conventions."

"I was booked for many other things outside of the actual Extreme Rising shows that were scheduled so I missed out on an entire week of activities and money," he added. "I'm not too happy about it, but what can you do? I don't live in the past. I just look forward to it. Now if it happens again, what's the saying? Shame on you the first time, shame on me the second time."

After taking a hiatus, Extreme Rising will return on Dec. 28 with a number of things on the agenda to accomplish. Chief among them is putting on a good show and turning a profit. Also, earning the trust of those in and out of the wrestling business.

"It's pretty understandable if some of the fans don't trust the promotion right now," Richards said. "I know some of the wrestlers don't as well. The only thing that the new management can do is to basically show that you can be trusted."

Like anything else in his life, however, Richards is not going to stress about things that are beyond his control. That's how he lives his life. Things that occurred in the past are just that, in the past.

Things that could come up in the future haven't happened yet. So why worry about them? All Richards wants to worry about is what he can control here and now and not much else.

"I'm not going to worry about it," he said. "I know I'm going to be there Dec. 28, I know I'm going to be in the best shape of my life and I know I'm going to be prepared to face whoever and hopefully I can put on the best match on the show."

"When you experience things over and over again, like anything else you're not going to say that this is the worst thing that's ever happened to you in your life," he added. "When you go through things, good and bad, you obviously have a better perspective. I really surrendered a long time ago to the fact that I'm not going to sweat as much as possible over things I can't control."