Checking in with Tim Rivera, New York’s resident subway wrestler
Its been nearly two years since Kulture Hub interviewed New York comedian and filmmaker Tim Hann Rivera. At that time, he and his content were blowing up from his hilarious video “Subway Mania- Triple H vs Kane vs Stone Cold Steve Austin.” The video shows him and his partners dressed up as iconic retired wrestlers, and having a narrated, full-fledged title match in a subway car, surrounded by an astounded audience.
It didn’t take long for the video to become wildly popular. To date, the video has nearly 2 million views on Youtube, and the videos that follow have also seen great success.
However, two years ago seems like a lifetime ago considering everything we have gone through. So, we thought it was only right to catch up with the visionary behind the “Subway Mania” series. We wanted to find out what he’s been up to, how he was affected by Covid, and when we can expect some new content. He did not disappoint.
Tim Hann Rivera’s wrestling inspiration
Kulture Hub: I know in your last interview that you said none of you were wrestlers, or even aspiring wrestlers. Where did the idea come from? Were you and everyone featured wrestling fans growing up?
Tim Hann Rivera: Uh yeah, so I just had this idea, where one of my friends posed on a subway chair as The Rock. We had a real WCW replica championship belt and I thought it would be hilarious. But I always want to put a story behind it. So I said we should do a wrestling promo on the train and talk crap to one another.
Immediately people in the comments were asking “Where’s the match? When’s the match?” So we gave the people what they wanted. I got a lot of inspiration from the “Attitude era” where people were fighting in different locations, not just rings. So I decided I would do that with my stuff, but have it in the subway.
Hell yeah, I was a wrestling fan growing up. I really connected with the Attitude era, WCW, and ECW. It made me genuinely happy. I loved all of the different storylines in such a small space. I cared less about the fighting than I did about the storylines and the characters.Tim Hann Rivera
The epic title fights
KH: I think that what I appreciate most about the subway wrestling series is the nuance of the performances. The overreactions, the crowd hype, and the wrestlers’ mannerisms are all on point. In your eyes, what aspect of subway wrestling makes it so funny and successful?
THR: I think everything that you said is accurate. I think it’s also funny because, like, were not bodybuilders. You know what I mean? We’re average guys in the subway in underwear and tights. Imagine walking around New York and you really see someone dressed as Kane. We really left our houses like that.
That, and it’s just funny with the commentary, and it makes it even more funny that the matches were really, truthfully entertaining for people. There was a story behind it. I read comments from many people saying things like “I can’t believe how good this is”. Even though it is clearly a joke, people thought it was really good. Everyone played an important role in making that happen.
KH: I’ve seen that you have done some hype videos on Youtube for upcoming matches. Is there currently a new video in the works? Anything you are ready to reveal for our readers?
THR: I’m definitely trying to come up with a new subway video. I feel like now that things are opening up again, I would really love to have a big event in Harlem. We gonna have to make the “Subway Mania” title belt match as well. Right now “Mankind” is the champion so, he has to defend it!
Covid challenges to Subway Mania
KH: Briefly take us through some of the challenges your content creation went through as a result of the pandemic.
THR: Engagement with people. I like engaging with people while I’m making videos. A lot of my content depends on it. With the wrestling videos, I obviously need an engaged audience. In my other content, when I’m Jim the Gentrifier I need to engage with people and get their reactions.
It’s been especially tough with the masks because they hide people’s reactions. I think for everybody it’s taken a toll, but since things are opening up more, it’s time to get back to creating content.
Tim Hann Rivera’s other awesome content
KH: Let’s talk about some of your other Youtube content. Who is Jim the Gentrifier? What is the inspiration for that character and his misadventures?
THR: So, he’s a dude, who you will never know where he’s from, but he thinks he’s a New Yorker! He comes into the hood and he’s trying to change everything! He’s really trying to be cool with everybody, but he’s just being a d*ckhead and trying to change the culture.
He’s trying to be down, but it’s just not happening. I got the inspiration just from my neighborhood and the gentrification that’s going on. A lot of the people, and the businesses we had growing up aren’t there anymore. So, I tried to shed light on what it is, and what has been happening through comedy.
KH: Your Short Story “Chicklett” is an interesting change of pace from the content you usually make. What is it about, and what was your inspiration for the project?
THR: “Chicklett” is about two guys that are having a photo shoot, then one of them has an idea to go viral on the internet. He decides to take a chicken from the slaughterhouse and take photos and videos with the chicken in Harlem. When they go back to return the chicken, the slaughterhouse is closed, so they’re stuck with a live chicken, on a leash, that they don’t know what to do with. So we go around trying to find homes for the chicken.
I got the idea because at one point I actually wanted to have a chicken that I could take photos with. But then I thought “where am I gonna keep this damn chicken?” The character in the story didn’t think that far ahead though. After I was done filming it, I actually did have to say to myself, “okay what do I do with this chicken?” I ended up giving it to one of my friends who owns other chickens.
KH: I saw on your Instagram that “Chicklett” recently became award-winning. What did you win? How did it feel knowing that your content received the ultimate validation?
THR: That film won Best Screenplay from The Mott Haven Film Festival. I felt amazing. Its so cool when you have an idea, and you don’t know how your gonna bring that idea to life. But you get support from your crew and they help you bring it to life.
It was so amazing seeing people acknowledge and enjoy the final product. It made me feel like all the hard work really came through. I knew then that buying that chicken and keeping it in my house for two weeks was worth it. It [was] such an accomplishment.
KH: Have you considered adding more serious things to your repertoire?
THR: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like, I’m funny, and I know I can do funny things. But I also know I can direct and create serious stuff too. I feel like a Jack of all trades. I would love to take on different genres. If the idea is good, I know that my passion will allow me to do a great job at it.
KH: Any closing thoughts for our audience? Shout-outs? Promotions for upcoming projects? Anything that you want people to know?
THR: The grind never stops! I’m never gonna stop doing videos! I’m never gonna stop creating because that’s who I am. With my work, I’m always looking to evolve. I am always looking to push the envelope do things I haven’t done before, and that I have never seen others do before.
With everything that’s going on with the pandemic, I have new ideas, new things written. I just want to do so much, and I’m so excited to take on new challenges. I’m so excited to show people what I got in my bag.Tim Hann Rivera
There is much more in store for the Subway Mania/ Jim the Gentrifier/ Chicklett creator
Tim is an electric creator, with a great personality, and a vision. We hope that he finds success in whatever additional endeavors he pursues.