I'm not oblivious to the uneasy, distressing feeling that what we do inspires in a large portion of the population. It's grisly, shocking, and sordid at first blush. Certainly, to some, that horrific aspect is the crux of its appeal...like the 'extreme' spectrums of many forms of entertainment, the rejection of mainstream acceptability and the embracing of taboos draws in people seeking a rebellious outlet. Unquestionably, that was part of what sparked my interest as a misfit teen growing up in rural Iowa. Like many of my other erstwhile interests, a love of deathmatch wrestling was a nonverbal cue to the world I grew up in that I rejected their values...that they ought not to expect me at Church, I wouldn't be in the stands for the Homecoming game, and I had no intention of taking over the farm. But it quickly grew beyond a simple shock-value interest...as I got in deeper, I began to distinguish levels of art within the genre. While there were performers who seemed devoid of skill who attained notoriety simply by doing horrific things, there was another set of creative and athletic wrestlers-- performing concurrently with and undistinguished from the chuds in title (because "deathmatch" is a catch-all term for a BROAD spectrum of wrestling sub genres)-- who did mind-blowing stunts in the course of thrilling matches. These guys became my heroes, and my interest and passion for the sport grew exponentially. Examples that come to mind are Honma, Yamakawa, W*INGER, Kasai, Tanaka, and Hayabusa. I was less enamored with (and remain so) their American counterparts, on the whole... but guys like Nate Webb, JC Bailey, and Dysfunction all impressed me with their creativity in those early days, pioneering what would become the "American Hybrid Style," and influencing me and my contemporaries a great deal. I watched every deathmatch I could, to be knowledgeable of the scene, but I drew a clear distinction between the guys who bled because it was all they could offer, and those who did it to elevate the genre.
It took me many years to get to a point where I felt my offerings in the ring were objectively "good," and unfortunately I was put in front of a crowd WAY before I was ready. This led to the first 3-4 years of my career being nigh-unwatchable, and I try to repress it when considering my wrestling legacy. DJ Hyde was helpful to this end by recklessly inflicting catastrophic brain damage to me early on, so much of this time is just a hazy swirl, anyway. I wouldn't presume to rank myself anywhere close to the Honma's and Kasai's of the world, but after 12 years of pain and sacrifice, I take a very special pride in having carved out a niche in this bizarre underground world of barbed wire and blood, and in knowing that I can be mentioned in the same breath as some of my idols as a figure of note in the ultraviolent legacy.
The uninitiated see what we do as ugly, brutal, and disturbing...assumptions are made as to not only the demented nature of the wrestlers, but of the bloodthirsty sadists who must surely comprise our fan base. Who is enticed by this barbarism? Who are these ghouls cheering for their fellow man to be mutilated? I can imagine that perspective, so I get the horror. But I propose an alternate interpretation: MOST of our fans do NOT want to see us get hurt (not severely, anyway)...MOST want to see us PERSEVERE. They don't come to cheer on injury and hope for tragic mishaps...they come to see men endure pain that they couldn't imagine and fight through it. They come to see a story played out in the most real and visceral way possible...real wounds, real risk, real sacrifice...but with a promised story of triumph and resilience; the beauty of the predetermined nature of pro wrestling. It's the closest thrill possible to true gladiatorial combat, but unlike in reality, the good guy will always ultimately push past the pain, grit his teeth, and fight back from the brink to succeed against impossible odds. The fans have never given me the impression that they wanted to see me injured...they want to see me battle my way through the kind of violence that terrifies most of them and briefly transcend the limitations of reality and embody the kind of character that only exists in fiction. The blood and the gore may be a bit much for many, but for those who get it, they're simply the sacrifice of a storyteller zealously dedicated to his craft. Some people would say that my scars mark me out as a freak, but I contend that--not unlike tattoos--they represent the path I've chosen to walk and they inspire dialogues which allow me to share my passion with others. Plus...some people are disfigured by their scars, but I accessorize with mine, and I look GOOD. #IMPROVEDEATHMATCHWRESTLING
Yesterday afternoon at world-renowned sporting facility, Markland's Little Acres, after trying my hand at off-roading (it's not for me), I made an ann...
The first of what will no doubt be many self indulgent farewells...
June 11, 2017
Alright, listen up…Sami Callahan, as much as I enjoyed your MySpace-styled bedroom threats against me, I’m not going to dignify your paltry attempts a...
8/18/09 (CZWrestling.com Article)
August 18, 2009
Attention: Fans, Comrades, and People Who Force the Inclusion of an Inconvenient Third Category: