Filed under: Wrestling
March 2nd 2013. Chicago, Illinois. Ring of Honor 11th Anniversary.
My usual pre-match warm-up has remained pretty consistent since I began my professional wrestling journey. Loosening up of the hip, knee, elbow and shoulder joints while “shrimping” on my back, throwing up triangle chokes to an invisible adversary. Squats and pushups, knock on wood, touch something blue. This event was no different in terms of my physical preparation, however my mental readiness for this particular match would require some reflection.
The day after my 26th birthday I reminisce to when I was eighteen years old having my first professional wrestling match. My life has been consumed by the pursuit of making a career out of wrestling. All of the matches, aches and pains, working through injuries and the thousands of miles driven to do so. Sleeping in my car, eating peanut butter packs retained from whatever local diner I had recently visited. Wrestling for an opportunity to gain experience and get noticed as opposed to getting paid is just the harsh reality for an Indie wrestler starting from the ground floor. It’s all of these things that make the journey and the struggle worthwhile. How could anything seem worth it or interesting if I had simply had all of the tools to walk right onto the American independent scene and be a top contender. It’s the process that develops and molds a person, wrestling guys who are better than you in front of crowds that have no idea who you are. True improvement only begins after finding comfort in the uncomfortable.
I’ve had a lot of people in my corner since day one and a lot of help though too. My initial trainers, Michelle Starr, Scotty Mac and Aaron idol helped bring forth the fundamentals in my game. Those first few years of wrestling were crucial in making sure I was safe in doing all the right things. Aaron Idol’s ability to break down every little aspect of a match and take the time to constantly work with me, making sure I had the tools to work the appropriate match anywhere on the card regardless of my opponent. He installed a confidence in me that would serve as a catalyst for me to finally crack through my shell in 2009 seeking new frontiers. Davey Richards would help me in breaking out on the American independents by constantly driving and pushing me beyond my threshold of what I perceived possible for myself. I would get my foot in the door at Ring of Honor, a goal I had set for myself since day 1 of the “In-Pain Asylum” wrestling school in Surrey, BC.
And here I am moments away from what is at the time the biggest match of my career. Bigger, more important matches will surely come but for now everything I’ve worked so damn hard for the last seven plus years comes down to this very moment. I am ready. The music hits, my tag team partner Bobby Fish stands next to me. We nod in synchronicity and walk through the curtain. When I walk back through that very curtain I will be carrying one of the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship belts.
I’ve wrestled the Briscoe Brothers numerous times, both in tag matches with several different partners and in singles matches. They are true professionals to say the very least and their talent is unparalleled. For eleven years their names have been synonymous with everything ROH is and stands for. Eight time World Tag Team Champs, Dem Boys. It is a true honor and learning experience every time I step foot in the ring with them and this match was no different. I have to thank Jay and Mark for not only paving the road for guys like me, but making ROH what it is today and helping provide the stage for guys like me to perform on. A true blessing and honor to win the tag titles from them and it is a crowning career moment that I will forever remember and be thankful for.
So for now Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly collectively known as reDRagon are on top of the independent wrestling tag team division. My motto is tried and true, hard work always pays off.
March 22 and 23 I will be returning to Reseda, California for PWG All Star Weekend 9! Should be a tremendous couple of shows and a great weekend. I always love wrestling for Guerrilla as the crowd is always nuclear hot and in to see some crazy wrestling. Everybody there works their ass off and it causes everyone to step up their game and try to steal the show. The cards are absolutely stacked so check it out if you get the chance.
March 30th ROH returns to Ashville, North Carolina for a huge event and of course “Wrestlemania” weekend ROH will be in New York City at the Hammerstein ballroom for Supercard of Honor live on iPPV April 5th. ReDRagon will be putting the titles on the line VS The American Wolves in a rematch that will surely be epic. Finally on April 6th in NYC, ROH will be taping TV at the Grand Ballroom in the Manhattan center. Check these events out if you’re in the area and be sure keep supporting wrestling at all levels and in all areas!
Well it has certainly been a while since I last updated my blog. For that matter it’s been a substantial amount of time since I’ve done any writing all together. Lack of inspiration, motivation and willingness to put in the time are all contributing factors, perhaps even sheer laziness. My neglect in devoting any time to the written word truly stems from giving in to the resistance of everyday tasks and deeds. These inspire me to put off any sort of creative effort into anything that isn’t work, training, wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu. I have since read a book that has lit a proverbial fire under my ass in terms of recognizing what keeps me from finding a creative output and grinding through to actually create. “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield although at times preachy, still helped deliver the message of what it takes to bypass one’s inner struggles at developing creatively. The next book I read will hopefully help me deal with the inner struggles of the “run-on sentence”.
Wrestling as of late has been treating me really well. The last time I wrote about wrestling was during the infamous “Iowa incident” and had left a bitter, self-loathing taste in my mouth. Since July I have been busy however, working for various companies and producing a lot of matches I’m very proud of. Matches with Adam Cole, Davey Richards, BJ Whitmer and Eddie Edwards to name a few I can at least look back with a fond memory (until I critically observe them on tape that is). My most recent endeavor in Ring of Honor has been that of forming a new tag-team with my former rival Bobby Fish. ReDRagon. We began to gel instantly as a unit and I’m finding my personality and character growing and thriving, which it desperately needed. Our debut match was against the American Wolves at Final Battle and although we came up short we showed the World we have what it takes to be amongst the elite in Tag-team wrestling. This Saturday is the ROH 11th Anniversary iPPV in Chicago and we will challenge the Briscoe Brothers for the ROH tag-team titles. Be sure to check out the show either live or on iPPV as it’s sure to be a tremendous event.
Training has been new and fun the last 6 months or so too. Weight lifting has gone from power lifting, to cross fit, back to body building, back to taking a hiatus at a twice per week full body routine. My full time attention as of late has been focusing on Jiu-Jitsu. Back in October I won Gold in the Chicago S-7 no gi 205lbs division. Considering I weighed in at 192lbs I gave those other heavy hoggies a run for their money. I felt motivated after that event and began to finally enjoy and have fun at BJJ class. Previously training in Jiu-Jitsu felt like a grind and a necessity, it took an awakening of finding enjoyment and fun through the sport to make me take it more seriously. I’m certainly glad I did. I’m also once again playing Hockey once a week and training in Rugby once a week with games on the weekend, when I’m not booked that is. Usually I’ll fly home on Sunday and be able to make it to a Sunday game on time. Ironic considering the club’s name is “Sunday Morning Rugby Club” they play the majority of their games on Saturday. Anyways, I’ve discovered a great group of guys amongst the team and their clubhouse headquarters are always a great time full of cheap beer and cheap laughs.
Before finishing I have to give a shout out to King Fale of New Japan Pro-Wrestling who has recently returned to Japan after spending 9 months in St. Louis on his traditional Japanese excursion. He is a native of Tonga and grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. Rewarded a rugby scholarship he went to Japan, played pro-rugby for a few years before joining NJPW and getting fully trained under their dojo system. He is the one that discovered the Sunday Morning club and introduced me to the guys. Having played rugby throughout high school and college I was on board. Anyways a true pleasure having gained Fale as a friend, training partner, colleague and team mate. I highly recommend you follow him on Twitter (@KINGFALE) and mention something about #ALIENS. Thanks man!
Well as sloppy and incoherent as this initial blog may have been at least I finally broke some ground and got off my ass, only to sit down my ass and actually type. Going to make this a regular thing hence forth so stop on by and leave a comment. Hoping to keep up to date with various workouts, submissions I’ve been working on, pro-wrestling dates and matches and meals I’ve concocted and tried. Thanks for your time. K
Workout of the week.
Monday night post kickboxing workout, explosive legs and shoulders. It’s basically the same sort of format with supersets. This workout is designed for maximizing your shoulder’s push potential and adding an explosive leg dynamic.
Warm up: 5 minute round jump rope. A few failed attempts at criss-crossing your arms is acceptable.
1. Snatches. 65 lb kettle bell for 6 reps each arm for the initial set. For the next 4 sets barbell snatches at 135lbs. 3-4 reps each set. Squat wide with overhand grip and explode throwing the weight over your head and catching it with arms strait up.
Superset 1. Squat to high jump. 6 reps for the initial set at a moderate height. Next 4 sets alternate between 3 reps maximum high jump and 6-8 reps of squat jumps for distance down a large open space.
Now, complete superset 5 times at minimal rest before moving to next exercise.
2. Hanging cleans. 135 lb barbell for the initial set at 5 reps. Next 4 sets increase weight to allow you to do no more than 3 full out reps. In my case it was no more than 5lbs per side. Hanging at your waist, with overhand grip thrust hips forward catching weight in clean position, explosively press the weight overhead.
Superset 2. Machine upright rows. 15 reps at decent weight, I don’t understand those damn machine settings.
Superset 2b. Jumping lunges. 10 reps. Final set blast out 20 or more.
Complete superset 5 times yadda yadda.
3. Shoulder shrugs. Heavy dumbells or load up one of those shrug levers with plates. 12-15 reps all sets.
Superset 3. Swiss ball hamstring curls. Lying on your back with swiss ball under heels and ass in air. Pull the ball in as you explode onto your shoulders from the mat. 15 reps each set.
Superset total is 5.
Finish off on the bosu ball alternate lateral jumps while passing a medicine ball for 3 sets of 10.
Stretch out and the next day, which for me is today, shoulders and legs are destroyed, 3 classes of MMA tonight were rough to get through, but that’s how it goes.
It is now 2 days since this workout, traps and quads are still a wreck.
Okay this meal is a sautéed BBQ salmon filet (6-8 oz.) with roasted garlic and red onions. Served with a salad of 1 cup steamed broccoli, 1 cup of cut steamed green beans and low fat mozzarella cheese. 55 grams of protein with 16 carbs and 7 grams of fibre.
I guess I should reflect on this past weekend with it being such an important one for me professionally. Wrestlemania weekend in Atlanta, GA, Ring of Honor held two of their biggest events on iPPV with “ROH takes center stage.” Adam Cole and I wrestled Jay and Mark Briscoe on night one in an awesome encounter which saw the Briscoes finish off Cole with the Doomsday device. Night 2 (or day 2 I should say) would pit Adam and I against Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli in another top notch performance, however I would fall victim to Claudio’s pop up European/a double boot to the face. Adam and I are really proud of the fact that we could both stand ourselves up in honor after each bout and walk ourselves to the back despite the loss.
On Sunday Tony and I got an early start to our 10 hour drive back to St. Louis. Tony always has these adventurous routes that he likes to take, so we ventured through the scenic highway through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. “See a little piece of Heaven you might not get to see otherwise” Tony matter-of-factly puts it. That’s also his excuse when he gets lost, so take it as it is.
I was extremely glad we took this route because we stopped in Memphis, TN at the Lorraine Motel. The motel is the famous site of where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. It has since been turned into a civil rights museum. Very surreal to be at a site of such an American historical significance. It being the day before the anniversary also added to the moment. We then ventured to Sun Studios of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash fame. Only to be completed by Tony taking a wrong turn on a 1 way street, and he couldn’t give a sweet Christ who he offended. “Well I’ll be damned.”
This weekend is another pack one which starts on Friday as I wrestle Davey Vega at the St. Louis Anarchy show. Saturday I’ll fly to Philly for WXW’s United States tour for the highly anticipated re-re-match of Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole vs Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scrull. We tore it up in England and Germany, so we’re stoked to bring it to the US. Later that night I’ll compete in CZW’s Best of the Best tournament and my opening round contest will be myself vs Johnny Gargano AND Adam Cole in a 3 way dance. Versus Adam Cole you say? Interesting to see how this will play out.
On Sunday in New Jersey it’s another afternoon show with CZW versus Sami Callihan who is a tremendous fighter. And that night WXW to face Marty Scrull in an anticipated singles match.
Should be a wicked weekend of wrestling fun. I’ll have earned my cheat meal come Sunday night. I’ll post it if there’s some mad destruction, don’t judge me! Also, a massage will be in need come Monday, 5-7 matches in 3 days!
Filed under: Wrestling
All the breath is extracted from my lungs as I land directly on my head. I struggle to catch my breath and the lactic acid makes my legs feel like they weigh a thousand pounds. A sudden contemplation comes on like a sting in the back of my neck. I shun the desire to quit out of my head before it even has the chance to mature into an actual thought. I’ve never quit anything before in my life. “Get up, get up!” I tell myself, there isn’t much time. I can see Ricochet climbing the turnbuckle, fight or flight. I rush only to be met with another kick to the head and I tumble once again, in the match and in the EVOLVE rankings.
The following is 100% true. I remember first meeting Bobby Fish at the Harley Race/Pro-Wrestling NOAH camp in Eldon, Missouri in September 2008. He was the American representative for NOAH. I remember during a striking/”heat” drill I timed myself to slide into the ring as he did so that I could prove to the Japanese guys that I belonged amongst them. They were the reason I saved up that summer to make the camp, they were the reason I became a wrestler. I immediately blasted Fish with a stiff forearm to the neck. A thunderous crack echoed to the silence and awkwardness that swept over the other campers. Bobby retaliated and would proceed to kick my ass for the remainder of the drill. Elbows to my jaw and kicks to my chest would drop me to my knees and my ego to its very foundation. I learned a valuable lesson that day. It was time to re-build.
It was now January 2010. The rumbling of an anxious crowd’s energy transcends to behind the curtain. It is the first show of a brand new revolutionary wrestling company. It’s time for the first match in EVOLVE history and I walk to the ring accompanied by butterflies and Tony Kozina. I know I’m ready and I stand across the ring from a fighter who has one goal in mind: To knock me out. I battle with Bobby Fish and am declared the victor. To this day I still consider this the most important match thus far in my career. I remember being interviewed after the match by Lenny Leonard, which would later be cut from the DVD release. “Bobby Fish is an amazing competitor and anytime he wants a rematch, I’m down.”
Since EVOLVE 5 I’ve taken necessary precautions to avoid another loss in an EVOLVE ring. Another win can set me back on track towards supremacy in this company, a loss will leave my EVOLVE future in question. 6 am HIIT cardio sessions, 12 pm kickboxing class and sparring, 6 pm weight lifting and stretching, 7:30 pm Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu class. It is no secret that I am more prepared for this match than any other EVOLVE match I’ve had the honour of competing in.
It is now November 2010. EVOLVE 6 is a mere days away and Bobby Fish will get his rematch with Kyle O’Reilly. Despite having show stealing matches, Fish has found himself with a losing record of 0-4. He is hungry and in desperate need of a win. Desperate times call for desperate measures, this makes Bobby Fish is an extremely dangerous man. He has a family that he needs to feed and I am potentially the man that stands in his way. His back is up against the wall and like a rabid dog he will be forced to bite. However, There is no open space behind my back. After a successful start in EVOLVE I have lost my last few fights pitting me in a losing streak of my own. We both stand, backs against the wall, facing each other in a narrow corridor. Nose to nose, eye to eye, fist to jaw, foot to chest, elbow to neck, back to mat, 1 to 3.
Bobby, if you’re reading this… I hope you feel a mutual respect for me and for the sport that we both have an undying passion and love for. I hope you have been training hard for this match and you make sure to get a good rest on Friday night. I want the absolute best of Bobby Fish because I know this will be nothing short of an epic contest to determine who EVOLVE’s best fighter is. I use that term with confidence because I know as well as you that is exactly what we will both bring to the table come Saturday night. The fight. I will give you the fight of my life and I have no regret to inform you that it will end with my hand being raised. Kyle O’Reilly 3-2.
Filed under: Wrestling
It’s been four long months since I last stepped into an EVOLVE ring. I stepped in knowing I was in for the fight of my life. I stepped in without the accompaniment of my mentor and my trainer. However, as I stepped in with confidence, resilience and the desire to compete only to step out in bitter defeat. TJP took me to the limit, as I did to him, only for myself to tap out. There shouldn’t be any shame in tapping out due to pain, “live to fight another day, avoid permanent damage.” Familiar phrases commentators and fighters alike often quote. I can’t help but feel a sense of shame and disappointment. I was supposed to rise, not too fall, follow a path of undefeated supremacy amongst EVOLVE’s elite. I remember driving home from Rahway, looking into a blackened eye in the rear view mirror. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise I thought. Put my ego in check and bring me back to the foundation level of improvement and learning. I’ve studied the footage, trained harder and mentally prepared to continue in my personal quest of evolution.
They say the process of evolution began in the Ocean. Picture the wrestling business in general as the Ocean and the EVOLVE locker room as dry land. The Ocean is teeming with life and dry land is relatively uninhabited. Eventually a creature from the sea would venture onto dry land, the conditions are harsh, volatile and met with an enormous gravitational pull. After crawling a few inches onto land, the creature would return to the Ocean where it could live in ease amongst its peers. Eventually the creature would return continuously, developing lungs and feet, adapting to the extreme foreign environment. It’s odd and unlikely that a being would venture into such alien conditions unless compelled to do so by a situation of crises. A body of water receding over time may have forced animals to evolve, such as wrestling continues to grow stagnant and factory over time. It is now a time for the evolutionary process to be sped up at an incredible rate never before witnessed. The evolution of a sport, a style and an art. I can see and feel myself evolving, refusing to wait in the Ocean and drown amongst the breaking waves. I refuse to sink, I choose to swim. Not only will I venture onto land, develop and grow, I will climb the highest mountain that the earth has created. A challenging feat to say the very least, but the passion and desire is undying, willing me towards the base of a steady incline. No team of Sherpa’s or oxygen will be needed, I am alone now.
Which brings me to EVOLVE V. Or 5. Roman numerals make everything more epic, like the Rocky films. But yeah, EVOLVE 5, September 11th, Rahway, NJ. Ricochet. An unlikely pairing and a clash of styles. Ricochet is the ultimate testament to evolution in the world of pro-wrestling. He moves with precision and can fly through the air like a bird of prey. I recall my jaw dropping as I witnessed his performance against Johnny Gargano, it was as if the law of physics was non-existent causing Sir Isaac Newton to piss in disbelief. How does one keep a man like Ricochet grounded? To prevent his offensive attack I must counter his inane ability to take to the air. I’ll have to find a way to keep my head up, keeping my eyes above the ring’s equator yet keep my chin tucked in to avoid the knockout from his unexpected kicks. I envision myself separating Ricochet’s head from his shoulders with a lariat only to reunite said shoulders to the mat for a satisfying 3 seconds. I visualize Ricochet’s kick rattled ankle and knee grinding and crunching within my arms as I squeeze and twist his joint until the sound of tapping is heard over a horrified crowd. Visualization is key in the success of any sport, I mull over the outcome in my mind. It could end a number of ways, yet the same name will be announced as the victor. Kyle O’Reilly. 3-1.
For more theories of evolution and overcoming the egoic mind, please read “A new Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.
Filed under: Wrestling
I sit alone against a locker. The music blazes from my headphones, like a war drum signifying the inevitable approach of battle. My heart racing, sweat beading, I envision what needs to be done. Mental preparation is as equally important as physical and I practice both with high regard. It is March 13th, 2010. I am less than an hour away from my match at EVOLVE 2. I am less than an hour away from proving why I am here…
It’s 6am and I finish tying my laces. The pitter-patter of my soles on the concrete is all I hear as I sprint up a large rain-soaked hill. As soon as I found out that I was signed to fight TJP at the second EVOLVE show I knew I needed speed. TJP is one of the quickest, most accurate strikers in the professional wrestling world. I recalled watching him battle Sawa on the debut show. Youtube also has a plethora of footage for one to study up on his opponents; I have no intention of taking this challenge lightly. I remind myself what it takes as I walk down, only to turn around and sprint back up.
With shedding a few pounds and working on agility drills, I am confident I can hang with him as far as stand up goes. TJ also has a demolishing ground game, with submissions that can be applied suddenly without remorse. I picture him as a snake, ready to strike from any direction. Along with my constantly growing knowledge of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the seemingly forgotten art of catch wrestling is being added to my arsenal with a weekly class. Catch wrestling is what today’s professional wrestling evolved from. Shooters and pioneers of the sport were masters in this deadly art, it only seemed fitting that I equipped myself with these tools.
I sit alone against a locker. Remembering what I’ve done over the last 2 months to prepare for this match. The time grows closer and I can picture the result. I picture myself connecting with a head kick and following up with a brainbuster, pinning to the mat, TJ’s unconscious body…
It is January 16th, 2010. Around 8:15 pm. I can hardly believe what just happened. I had competed in the first ever EVOLVE match and gained a hard-fought victory. Not short of getting my ass kicked by Bobby Fish. Bobby is an insane competitor and the fight could easily have gone the other way. To this day I’m not quite sure what gave me the edge, sometimes things happen so fast that the slightest miscalculation can give the other an advantage, no matter how in control one may seem. All I remember is getting buckle bombed to shit, then barely ducking his spinning head kick I was able to nail the winning combination. Once the adrenaline wore off it was obviously apparent it wasn’t a one sided victory. I couldn’t enjoy my food for the better part of four days due to excruciating jaw pain, courtesy Bobby Fish’s brutal forearms to my face. However on the plus I use this victory as a stepping-stone, momentum is on my side. I am confident.
I sit alone against a locker. Enters Tony Kozina, a mentor, a trainer, and a friend. I am brought back to reality and I stand to his welcome preparing to continue warming up, unleashing a fury on the Thai Pads he carries.
“Sit down.” Tony says, seriously. “Okay, we’re going to stick to the game plan, alright. Just like how we train every day, nothing is changing.”
“Yeah man.. What’s up?” I sense his concern.
“TJP is injured, you’re wrestling Hallowicked now”
I take a deep breathe at this unexpected change of events.
“You got this man, stand, let’s keep warming up” Tony is encouraging and his confidence in me doesn’t fray. I know that the way I train, the way I wrestle, I am constantly prepared for any and all challengers.
The first thing I notice about Hallowicked is his size. He’s big, and mean and he looks ready to chew me up and spit me out, although that could just be the pointy teeth on his Lucha mask. I stare at him from across the ring, and I hear the bell. Toe to toe the war rages on. It ends with me standing on top. To his credit, Hallowicked was just as unprepared for me as I was for him. He had another 4-way tag match later in the night and completely tore the house down. He truly is a wicked competitor, pun intended.
As I’m walking to the back I am happy that I accomplished what I needed to do. Becoming 2-0 in EVOLVE has been no easy feat. Neither will be becoming 17-0 but one match at a time. As stoked as I am, I can’t help but feel slightly unsatisfied. I know I have what it takes to be the best, and to get there it has to start by beating the best, TJP. I know I’ll get my shot, I will continue to evolve. I sit alone against a locker.
Filed under: Wrestling
Hey this is the match I drove 16 hours for… Personally I’m not a fan of it, but everybody is their own worst critic I guess. Lots of nitpicking nonetheless and there is always an area to improve on… anyways take a gander! Don’t let me lariat you in the face is good advice. K
Friday, November 27, 2009
I finish loading up my car, my gear bag, and my backpack. A road atlas, my laptop and a booklet of every CD I own. It is a warm afternoon; fresh out of the gym I reside comfortably in sweatpants and a loose t-shirt. Perfect road trip attire, seatbelt rests uncomfortably across my shoulder, I sit alone in my car, reflecting for a moment. Sixteen hours to Philadelphia, Dragon gate USA, the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m used to tackling the road with companions, fellow wrestlers, to share the cost and split the driving. This is my first solo journey of such an epic proportion, I feel like I’m departing into the woods without food or water, to not return to my village until I see a vision of our forefathers. Only not like that at all. Needless to say I’m excited, this is something I feel I need to do alone. I drive confidently onto I-44 west merging onto I-55 north and finally onto Interstate-70 east, towards Indianapolis. Listening to: Come as you are, Nirvana
Almost two hours in. I look into my rearview mirror; a beautiful orange and red sunset merges into the dark abyss of nightfall. I try to snap a picture as I almost swerve over the median. I am full of energy and valiantly sing alone full heartedly to every song that passes through my speakers. Stomach grumbles and I pull over for Subway and to fuel my car with gas. First pit stop, so exciting! Listening to: I go blind, 54 40
One thing about a solo road trip, or even a substantial amount of time alone with one’s thoughts creates an environment of self-reflection and an array of various thoughts. I begin thinking about my entire existence, the solar and planetary alignment, and the smell of freshly cut grass. Another deep sip from my gallon jug of water and a sharp pain emerges from my lower abdomen. I gotta pee, NOW. I have no idea when the next exit is, but it can’t be long. I hate pulling over on the side of the highway to take a leak, 18 wheel semi trucks scare me, especially when passing at ridiculous speeds within several feet when I have my dick in my hands. I’ll wait, painfully, until the next exit. I find a ‘Pilot’ which is possibly the best gas station chain ever. They have everything one could ever want for the road; the best protein bars and energy drink selection, and most importantly a washroom. OH, by the way, how come whenever I ask an American where the “washroom” is they look at me funny. “You mean the bathroom?” they obnoxiously reply. Listen fucker, I don’t see a bath in there, I see some wet floor, a broken stall carved with profanities, and some stinky urinals, no bath. I wash myself after I pee, hence ‘washroom’. Back on the road, 100 miles from Indy. Listening to: All about you, Tupac
It’s actually only 8:17 pm. I’ve switched over to the Eastern Time zone. Lost an hour, where the hell did it go? “Where is my mind?” I ask myself. Here I am, driving by myself to Philadelphia. Why do I do these things? Why have I gotten myself into this unknown situation? This entire journey from September onward has been a struggle. Why did I leave my job, family and friends for a steering wheel and headlights on the highway? This is the life I’ve always wanted I tell myself. Listening to: Where is my mind, Pixies
I pull into a gas station to stretch my legs. Emerging from my car I yawn and arch my back, rotating my head and rubbing my eyes. I walk into the gas station to walk and look around. A young man no older than 18 exits with his family as I enter the store, he looks younger than 18. I only assume his age at seeing his skinny arms emerging from a camouflage t-shirt, complete with camo pants and army boots. His shaved head glistens in the moonlight as his family enter their vehicle and drive off. Thanksgiving weekend brings one family together despite war ripping other families apart. Doe’s it strike you as odd that a boy, is unable to legally drink a beer in the country he is defending, yet will be encouraged to take a gun and die for the sins of his own government? ‘Soldier boy made of clay, now an empty shell’. I fully understand and am aware that joining the National Guard is a very admirable and respectable thing to do. For hundreds of years, boys younger than the legal age have volunteered to fight overseas. I am not an expert on the subject, but I consider those wars to be just. The war in Iraq has been based off of lies and innocent civilians and soldiers continue to die every day, he is another poor man fighting a rich man’s war. I sigh and continue entering the store. Suddenly I feel fortunate and free, I guess its people like him that through time have provided us with a sense of freedom. How free are we really? Listening to: Disposable heroes, Metallica
I am entering the city limit of Columbus, Ohio. A beautiful city skyline emerges from the side of the road, and I admire the city lights, turning my attention away from my appetite. I am friggen’ hungry. I suddenly witness a glorious sight to behold, like a mirage seen in a desert, teasing a watery oasis to the weary traveler. An exit sign that states what restaurants are to be found at the next exit, claims a Tim Horton’s is at the next exit. Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s. Mother of god and all that is holy, I haven’t seen that glorious calligraphy red logo in 3 months. I cut off a tractor-trailer and make a speedy escape for the exit, a smile on my face is extravagant and I began to laugh out loud to myself. I can already taste the delicious ham and Swiss sandwich, maple dip doughnut (bad boy) and the sweetest of coffesta’s, that’s 2 parts coffee, 1 part fiesta. Pulling into the parking lot and a skidding stop I hop out of my car and jolt to the front do….. OH FUCK ME! It’s closed. Tim Horton’s is closed at 11:20 pm in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Where doe’s one begin with how much is wrong with that sentence. First and foremost I thought Timmy Ho’s was exclusive to Canada, and furthermore why the shit is it not 24 hours. I tug on the door to be sure, locked. The Mexican janitor lady inside is moping and looks at me shaking her head. I give her the middle finger and get back in my car, horrifically disappointed. Listening to: Monster Hospital, Metric
I find a Ruby Tuesday restaurant and make last call for food. Although I’m still saddened about the Tim Horton’s fiasco, Ruby Tuesday is still delicious. I order the Bison Burger with broccoli and I get the salad bar. Mmm, satisfying. I pay and leave, extremely full and eager to get back on the road and gain more ground. Listening to: Jealous again, The Black crowes
As I am about to merge back onto the highway I see another sign for Tim Horton’s, a gut instinct drives me to the location. The lights are on. It’s open! I’m instantly so happy again! But I’m full I remind myself, a large coffesta it must be. Pulling into the drive thru lane, I place my order and hear an unfamiliar voice that is usually depicted with the Tim Horton’s image. I arrive at the window, smiling ear to ear, $ 1.65 for an extra large ‘festa is a helluva deal by the way. $ 2.19 for a venti at Starbucks is getting old really fast. A large black woman hands me the coffee, and I ask her to take my picture. The coffee smells soo good. Listening to: Kids, MGMT
‘Festa finished, I’m delightedly wired. Listening to: Sex and Candy, Marcy playground
I begin to wish I had a road trip companion. Just to take a break from driving, I’m getting really bored and the highway begins to blur in between substantially long blinks. Traveling with Tony has proven to be a much enjoyed experience. But overall just having someone to trade shifts with and keep you awake makes a huge difference.
A One-Act Play
TONY and KYLE up early for the start of a long weekend of wrestling and driving. Knoxville, Tennessee and Crystal River, Florida. Both are tired from a late night prior and not much is being said. Both characters are in a rental car, TONY driving.
TONY: Well shit, I need a ‘festa if we’re gunna get this party going.
KYLE: Yeah, stop at that Starbuckle’s.
Both lazily mumble and walk into Starbucks for coffee. Rainy outside. Tony walks into line followed by Kyle. Tony rubbing his eyes, Kyle yawning.
TONY: I’ll have a Grande coffee please.
BARISTA: That’ll be $2.02, room for cream?
Tony, blushing, nods casually. Takes his coffee as Kyle steps up in line.
KYLE: I’ll have a grande ‘festa.
BARISTA: Pardon me?
KYLE: Er.. I’ll have a coffest.. a COFFEE.
Tony hardly containing his laughter walks to the sugar stand. Kyle pays and joins him. Tony now laughing and jumping up and down, subtly.
KYLE: Jesus Christmas, I don’t even know what I’m saying.
TONY: You asked for a FESTA! More laughing. Ah man, she was hotter than hell, I almost puked when I saw her.
Kyle confused look on his face, looks back at the barista. Definitely Tony’s type.
KYLE: We’re only a half hour into this bullshit and we’re already losing our minds.
End of act 1
I chuckle to myself at the random shenanigans of being on the road with Tony Kozina. Listening to: Anemia, Tool
After stopping for another energy drink and a violent long awaited urination session, I seem to have caught my second wind. I begin to wish a camera were documenting me for a self-reality show. The effort I am putting into my head movements and singing and steering wheel dancing is getting to the point of insanity. I am starting to believe I am some sort of hummingbird. I begin to wonder where some of these songs came from that are on my Ipod, hooked up to my stereo. And furthermore, how do I know the lyrics? Listening to: Like a prayer, Madonna
Pennsylvania turnpike, tolled highway. It begins to snow; my window has been wide open for the majority of the trip. I find the fresh air revitalizing and it seems to waft away the offensive smell my body has created sitting in this car for the better part of 10 hours. The snow falls silently across the highway and peacefully creates a sense of calm. It is almost hypnotizing. I begin to realize that it might be wise that I find a place to crash for the night. Something about snow makes me want to curl up in a warm blanket and dream about a cure for diabetes. Listening to: Call it off, Tegan and Sara
I pull off at an exit and see an array of hotels and motels. I stop at a gas station and ask for the WASHroom. I am informed it is out of order and I grow angry again. I walk outside and take a refreshing leak on the side of the gas station. Pissing in the snow might be the most relaxing experience imaginable; I guess at this point anything is ridiculously relaxing. Out of my choice of hotels I naturally decide on “The Budget Inn” something about the name captured my attention. After spending 6 minutes trying to find the entrance and Indian man finally comes out and angrily tells me to get inside. Why are you angry Indian man? Don’t you understand that your accent makes your anger incredibly comical? I purchase a room at the backbreaking cost of $50. Ouch I says. Room 106. Listening to: Interstate love song, Stone temple pilots
Finally curled up in a cold, rock hard bed. The name ‘Budget inn’ now rings clear, but why was it anything but a budget? If I ran the Budget inn, I’d pay YOU to stay there. Why are there two beds in my room? I’m finding it hard to fall asleep, but eventually I am succumbed to the comfort of a pillow and blanket. Listening to: Snow falling softly and a rackety old heater.
A wakeup call, which I requested, rings loudly in my ear from the phone beside the bed. I punch the phone across the room.
I wake up on my own accord. Looking around and realizing that I need to get moving. A quick shower, brushing of my teeth and an enjoyable bounce on the bed and I’m out the door. It’s friggen’ freezing outside. I fill the car with gas and pay at the register. This gentleman, maybe about mid 30’s asks the clerk for rolling papers. She informs him that they don’t have any. I see a vein bulge on this guys forehead and he storms out of the gas station. As I’m leaving I see him in his car with his wife and toddler in the backseat. He’s yelling, and swearing loudly, speeding off. This angered me greatly. Calm down buddy, you have your daughter in the backseat and your wife in the front. Treat them with respect and calm the hell down; it’s not the end of the world. Suddenly I realize how angry and worked up I am about this guy and take a deep breathe, maybe I should take my own advice. Listening to: Jesus of Suburbia, Green Day
To find the Denny’s. First one must exit the tolled highway and pay $5.15 to do so. Left turn and a right turn. Enter a new state. Follow the unmarked taxi to the intersection of 7th an seventh with a cloaked man on the street corner, wink at him thrice, he’ll point to a window 10 stories up, suspended by nothing, floating there, one must enter the window while humming the intro to “golden girls” and thou will find themselves at Denny’s, tip well. This bullshit Denny’s took forever to find and tasted horrible, my morning is not going well thus far. Listening to: A day in the life, Beatles
I finally see the familiar skyline of the city of brotherly love. Philadelphia, I have returned. I head to the Sheraton by the airport to meet up with Davey and head to the show. Listening to: Feeling this, Blink 182
I pull in once again to the famed ECW arena, in South Philly. It is grungy and dark, moist and weathered. I love it. I walk up the back steps and enter the backstage area. Butterflies in my stomach migrate to life and the greatest anticipation overwhelms me. I introduce myself to my opponent, as well as the other wrestlers on the card, I am hesitant to walk up to the Japanese talent and introduce myself, they are intimidating. Of course I do regardless. Listening to: Champagne supernova, Oasis
I am dressed in full gear, jumping up and down, shadowboxing, and stretching dynamically. I do a jiu-jitsu warm-up exercise, which simulates attacking for a triangle choke while lying on my back, the cement is cold on my back, yet soothing. An agent runs down the ‘Paul Heyman’ stairs, which I have dubbed as such. He asks for my music. Why am I always so unprepared? I run to my bag and grab a random CD, not entirely sure what is on it. I tell him to play the last track on the CD, thinking that it is Nirvana’s ‘You know you’re right’. I go back to warming up. I am more nervous than I have ever been before wrestling, yet extremely confident and prepared. I did not drive 16 hours to choke.
A familiar beat begins to roar over the loud speakers. Soon a flute and bagpipe combo chimes in. A smile emerges on my face; my former theme song has made its return. A song that over the last 3 years I have grown to immensely sick of that when turning heel I was so thankful to finally change my entrance music. I was wrong about the CD. The crowd begins to cheer and clap along with the beat, exactly as they did in ECCW. I have never been so happy to hear this song, and I know that this is my new home, my wrestling domain, and my creed. Listening to: I’m shipping up to Boston, Dropkick Murpheys
Panting and sweating I exit the ring heading backstage. The crowd is deafening and patting me on the back. I hear one cat say “YEAH, now THAT is how you do a FUCKING brainbuster!” I am pleased with my match as well as the fans and especially the promoter, who congratulates me as I enter back through the curtain. 5 minutes. 16 hours for 5 minutes in the ring. A fair trade off I decide, a trip well worth it. I am over in Philly, and I’ll be back for more. Listening to: Chants of “Dragon gate, Dragon gate!” 600 wrestling fans
We return to the hotel after an exhausting evening and a visit to the delicious Oregon diner. I had an omelet, of course. My legs are in excruciating pain, cramps from the road and wear and tear from the ring. I curl up fully clothed on the bed and shut my eyes. Listening to: The TV news talking about Tiger Wood’s car accident. Some jackoff (does anybody know what happened by the way, I don’t have cable and haven’t kept up with it?)
Davey is shaking me to wake up, I have to drive him and the young bucks to the airport, and get a start on the final leg of my journey. We grab a quick breakfast and are blessed with terrible service, yet again. Why do we keep going back to Denny’s? After dropping them off at the airport I take my car back on I-70 west and towards the Pennsylvania turnpike. Listening to: The Trooper, Iron Maiden
5: 59 am
I stop for gas at a service station along the turnpike. These 3 Iranian men working the back counter explain that it will be 5 minutes before I can purchase gas. I am not in the mood to wonder why, as I watch them begin to cash out and changeover for the next day. Isn’t this supposed to be done before midnight? After 23 minutes of agonizing impatience on my behalf they finally are up and running. THE most inefficient work ethic and processing of customer service I have ever dealt with. Plethoras of other people are lined up behind me just as pissed off. I pay fill up my tank and continue. I’m so irritable on this trip eh? Listening to: Innocent, Our Lady Peace
My eyes are growing obscenely heavy and I begin to nod. 13 miles until the next service station. I will have to wait a few minutes, I struggle to stay awake and put on some loud hot licks to keep me up. Listening to: Hawt Lixx, Daggermouth
I awake in the front seat of my car. Such a satisfying snooze and I even have slumber lumber to prove to myself how relaxed I actually got. I wait a couple minutes then stand up to stretch out. Walking into the service centre and am blown away at how packed it is. Families everywhere, kids running and screaming, the elderly saying their “How dos you dos”. I realize that thanksgiving weekend has a plethora of people out on the road to visit there loved one’s. I am swamped with holiday traffic for the rest of my trip. I grumpily wait in line 12 minutes and grab a coffesta and back on the road. Getting impatient, I just wanna get home to my bed. Listening to: Goodbye yellow brick road, Elton John
My sleep-deprived state has driven me into completely the wrong direction. I missed my exit some 100 miles back. And reflecting now upon this incident, it came out a lot easier in type. I first started noticing the wrong signs then realized I was in gridlock traffic to enter another tolled highway which I was forced to enter and then pay to exit and back track a huge distance while trying to look at my Atlas to realize what’s going on. Listening to: Fuck, Shits, Ass, more swear words, Kyle Greenwood
Finally back on track when I notice a disgusting image. In the blue sky over head I see the largest mass amount of chemtrails I have seen in my life. Now most people just disregard these as simple contrails left from a jet liner. Contrails aren’t sprayed in a criss-cross fashion; they also don’t expand and become thicker and denser. I fully believe this is a government project in which some sort of experiment is going on. There are tons of theories on chemtrails and I wont get into it now, but I fully suggest you Google ‘Chemtrails’ and see and decide for yourself. I really am going insane right? I look in the mirror and nod at myself and do a silly face. Why did I just do that? Listening to: Endgame, Megadeth
Seeing the chemtrails got me in a weird mind space and I begin to think of government cover-ups. I recall a billboard that I saw while driving through Georgia on my way back from Florida the previous weekend. A huge billboard along the highway demands “Wake up America!” alongside a picture of the smoking twin towers of September 11th. “Profiling could have prevented this terrorist attack”
What?! Did I actually just read that? “Profiling could have prevented this terrorist attack” This statement basically blames Americans for not being racist enough and puts the blood on their hands for September 11th on them. Disgusting. Only in the South I reckon’. Listening to: These Days, Nico
I think about what I was fortunate enough to witness last night. Dragon kid and Shingo vs Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino was probably the best tag team match I have ever seen. It was badass, these guys ripped shit up for 20 minutes of non stop action. It was literally mind blowing, and makes me realize that Dragon Gate truly is the premier wrestling promotion in Japan. The fact that they have been successful enough to cross overseas and open up an offshoot promotion in the US says a lot about their success. I’m glad and honored to be apart of such a prestigious organization. Listening to: Hey you, Pink Floyd
I pull into a rest stop alongside a large amount of family vehicles. I get out of my car and begin cartwheeling for about 1-2 minutes. I get back into my car and drive off watching the confused looks on people’s faces in my rear view mirror. Feeling random and looking for a rush to keep me awake. Listening to: Can’t stop, Red hot chili peppers
Super hungry I pull into a “Waffle House” to eat and hopefully have myself some waffles and ‘festa. This place is disgusting and looks like a gas station bathroom. The food was greasy and undercooked, imagine if the “W” on the sign outside was burnt out and you have my opinion of “Waffle house”. Listening to: Officer, Slightly stooped
I finally pull back into my apartment complex relieved that this journey has finally come to an end. Much like this blog it has drawn on far too long. I sit on my car for a minute, proud of myself. Not a lot of people would be willing to do what I just did, or so I assume. I wrestled for Dragon gate USA and I am damn proud of that fact. Nobody can take that away from me, and nobody can say that I never work hard for something or that I am undeserving. I’m glad I made it on my own. Listening to: Sometimes you can’t make it on your own, U2
My alarm rings and I get ready for work. Really wish I had the day off today, I could have used the sleep in. I drive to my boss’s house, which he requested for some “extra help” around the yard. I arrive to find out I’m digging him a pool. Who installs an in-ground fucking pool in December?! Turns out I’m quite the digger, but that’s discrimination, my people prefer to be called degroes. I honestly think I may have been a World War 1 soldier in a past life, because I’m busting out badass trenches like nobody’s business. I am now a pool boy extraordinaire. I return home and turn on my computer to begin this very blog, I instantly crash and stumble to bed. Sleepy boy.
At the end of it all I am fully satisfied with how the trip turned out. To be honest, it was easy; I did and will do it again. I don’t have many bookings until the New Year. I’ll be in Chicago December 5th for ROH but then a much-deserved break. Looking forward to the holiday season’s sights and sounds and smells. 8 energy drinks, 7 large coffees, 1772 miles, 5 minutes. Evolving soon. K
South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A historic Bingo Hall, bear witness to some of the most influential moments in wrestling history. I pace back and forth as I listen to a restless crowd heckle and yell, it is dark and cold. My neck rotates and I begin to throw knees and shadowbox in a ritualistic pre-match fashion. Agents, writers and personnel from ‘HDnet’ scatter through the small hallway in which I await, I step over thick electrical cords and cables connected to the extravagant lighting and entrance system stage. I look to my left, as I pour water from my one-gallon jug over my head, a set of stairs lead up to a balcony that overlooks the arena. The same set of stairs Paul Heyman delivered his famous speech prior to the very first ECW pay per view.
“Tonight we have a chance to say, yeah you’re right. We’re too extreme, we’re too wild, we’re too out of control, and we’re too full of our own shit. Or we have a chance to say hey, fuck you you’re wrong, fuck you we’re right, because you have all made it to the dance, ‘cause believe me, this is the dance!”
A generic music begins playing and the voice of Adam Pearce brings me back to reality of where I am and what I’m about to do. “O’reilly, you’re up!” No more time to be nervous, I bend over and punch each of my shins, and stand up slapping myself in the face. It’s go time. Pushing the black curtain aside I step up onto the platform and enter the infamous ECW arena towards rabid, bloodthirsty fans, towards my destiny. I’ve never felt so far from Bridgeview Hall, Surrey BC, in my life.
It’s brisk outside of the car as the highway engulfed by a wintering forest captures my imagination. Driving in my car, Tony, Davey and myself are nearing Philadelphia. I am tired and a lingering anticipation rumbles in my stomach. I have no idea what to expect and what is awaiting me. As we near closer, the skyscrapers overtake the view, and is by far what looks to be the largest city I’ve encountered so far on my quest. Although Chicago is technically the larger city, something about Philly seems so intimidating and vast. Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States, it’s where the declaration of independence was created and signed. I think a lot to myself about history and the way things have come to be, about the culture and vibe a certain area or city gives off, always excites me. Here I am in the ‘city of brotherly love.’ Something I’ve never literally known, I suddenly have a longing for home, I text my sister, that I miss and love her, and where I am. She tells me she’s proud. Sisterly love seems more wholesome.
We exit off the highway into the downtown south side of Philadelphia, the sides of the streets are littered with cars and apartments crammed together. Cars are parked literally in the middle of the street and newspapers flutter through the wind resembling man’s imitation for leaves and the natural occurrence of fall. The city is old, and weathered, beaten down, begging for sympathy. Passing through four way stop intersections, people show little disregard for others, as well as their own safety. All driving etiquette is thrown out the window and cars honk and speed through stop signs to deliver people to their apparent important destinations; everyone is late for something I reckon. We join the club and almost run over Spike Lee, or at least a chapie with a similar appearance to the famed director. I am on edge as I basically expect gunshots to start blazing; Philadelphia is home to the largest percentage of gunshot murders in the US. I now full heartedly understand why Will Smith’s momma made him move with his aunty and uncle in Belair. “When a couple of guys who were up to no good, started makin’ trouble in my neighborhood”.
Crossing some train tracks and turning the corner we pass the front doors of the ECW arena, a small white building on the corner of Swanson and Ritner, underneath interstate 95. A barbed wire fence is the behind the building and we drive past a gate into the parking area. A giant semi production truck labeled HDnet is parked back end towards the back entrance. Let the excitement begin. As I exit the backseat of my own car, I bash my kneecap on the seat extender so hard I think I’m about to explode with profanity. Biting my lip I encourage my composure and walk it off, it’s extremely cold outside and I realize now how significant my geographical location is. North east coast of the US, the Atlantic breeze rolls over the town as my breath turns to a visible fog. I grab my bags and walk towards the door, time to go to work.
Philadelphia truly is a fascinating city. Full of diners I noticed, as well as liquor and gun stores. We must have eaten at the ‘Oregon diner’ at least 8 times over the course of two days spent in Philly. Extremely convenient as it is a mere 4 blocks away from the venue. Breakfast food is so my favorite thing ever, however the service in Philly is not. Maybe it’s the way people are raised out here or just the low morality of constant lack of civility, but every waitress I encountered here was rude and crude, with the exception of one dear lady, who on the first evening there, kept calling me ‘babe’ and ‘sugar.’ Old enough to be my mother, she resembles my couch. A weathered, messy face with wrinkles and a full-hearted smile. She brings more coffee every 30 seconds. I suddenly realize that possibly the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies lost the world series to the New York Yankees the night before may be in connection to the conspiracy of the local rude awakening? Will investigate further.
The air outside is cold and stabs at my exposed neck and ears. A smell of pungent garbage mixed with exhaust fumes interrogate my senses, as I bear witness to a homeless man pushing his shopping cart full of treasure. I suddenly realize how insignificant I am as a sole human being, in this large city full of millions of people. People with different priorities, different goals and problems. I’ve made what I perceive as a sacrifice to move to another country, work an under the table job, drive 16 hours for a single chance at glory. How petty is this in comparison to others who are struggling to breathe or get out of bed in the morning? Robin very wisely told me that there is larger complete mass of ants on this planet than there is of humans. So even as a whole the human race is insignificant to natures will, which through millions of years has outlasted and out produced the entire existence of man. In the past 100 years alone, humans have done more unchangeable damage to the planet than good. Wars against our own species cause more death and cost more money every year in an endless malicious cycle that warrants no distinct positive outcome. When I was walking into my apartment the other day an orange peel was being demolished by a colony of ants, working united and together, serving a purpose to provide sustenance to their population. Once the peel has been used and the ants have enough ‘product’ to dispense amongst the colony, labor and production will cease for the time being. A simple, natural mentality, yet a possible dictatorship of hierarchy. I guess the political system of ants is somewhat of a socialist belief system. Basically what this all comes down to is that regardless of where I am or who I am, I feel as small as an ant and the world is made of fire.
Another thing I’ve come to appreciate through my travels is architecture. Sometimes buildings and structures that are created constantly boggle my mind. The effort and forethought put into designing is very admirable, weather it is a hundred year old cathedral beautifully engraved with statues and artwork, or a modern skyscraper that depicts nature is some fashion. I’ve never been one to get excited about people, such as famous wrestlers or promotions. I enjoy seeing buildings and places of historical significance. Hence my excitement over the ECW arena. ECW was a small wrestling company that had big dreams. Over the years they created their own unique style and foundation for what would later become a global phenomenon. Out of this small, damp, dark and dusty bingo hall, ECW was born and they would run regular shows here to the most blood thirsty and hellacious fans ever witnessed. The first ECW pay per view was filmed here. As I look around the building I see various landmarks. There is the balcony that Tommy Dreamer got choke slammed off through 4 tables. Over there is the ledge that Rey Mysterio jumped off onto psychosis with a Frankensteiner on a chair. I remember first getting into ECW as an early teenager and ordering bootlegged tapes off the internet. The first ECW tape I ever owned was ‘House party ‘98’. The main event featured The Sandman vs. Sabu in a ‘stairway to hell match’. They bled all over the place through barbed wire, ladders and tables and chairs, it was brutal and gory and I pooped a solid gold egg in excitement. I had never seen anything so cutthroat and revolutionary. The massive wave of fans seemed to go on forever as the rowdiness never ceased as they constantly chanted “E C DUB, E C DUB, E C DUB”. I can honestly say I never thought I would have the privilege of performing the sport I love inside that famed arena. It was a cool feeling knowing that I was about too, however very anti-climatic. It just wasn’t the same place as on all those old tapes, it looked smaller, darker and it didn’t smell as bad as I thought and hoped it would. Needless to say I am proud of the fact that I wrestled there anyways.
I hop onto the ring apron and wipe me feet, scanning the sea of faces surrounding the squared circle, the ROH wrestling ring. I leap over the ropes with an effortless spring and look across the ring from myself. In the opposite corner my opponent, Chris Hero, 6’5” 225lbs. A significantly larger human being that myself, known as “that young knockout kid” Chris has been elbowing people in the face until knockout to gain victory. I’m intense and viciously prepared to fight nonstop, I will not be knocked out I tell myself as I crack my iron jaw with the heel of my right palm. We shake hands and begin, as I dart towards him to use my speed and explosiveness to overcome his strength. We wrestle and he tosses me down with ease, I return the favor by arm dragging him down to the mat. He throws a quick elbow at my face, which I dug and throw my own roundhouse kick to his chest. “THWAK!” the sound echoes as the crowd “Ooooo’s”. I immediately launch another full speed roundhouse to his head as he ducks and exits the ring to catch his breath. I quickly follow and chase him back into the ring, as I begin to enter myself, his lackey grabs my foot from behind causing a quick distraction, Hero runs full speed with his boot at my face knocking me off the ring back first strait onto the concrete floor. The wind has instantly been taken from my sails and I’m struggling to inhale. He begins a relentless beat down complete with elbows to my jaw and sentons to my torso. He goes to finish me by hitting the ropes full speed, I counter his attack by kicking him in the quads like a lumberjack hacks at a large tree before “timbeerrrrrr”. I clinch his neck and begin throwing Muay Thai knees at his face connecting with 4 of them before opening up and simultaneously hitting a rock solid chest kick right into a leg sweep which knocks the big guy down. The crowd approves my efforts and the momentum begins. I nail my leaping enziguiri head kick to his face, a running elbow smash, a leaping yakuza kick to his jaw and a running up the ropes tornado DDT. 1…2… big kickout! I can’t believe he isn’t finished! I signal for the end as I lock in a hooking suplex, he spins out quickly, but I counter his counter by spinning behind him and going for an O’Connor roll, he hangs onto the ropes as I back roll onto my feet and white. All I see is white. I am limp and lifeless. I don’t remember anymore. I am backstage now with an icepack on my head. I was knocked the fuck out and I have no idea where it came from, yet there is a bruise the shape of Chris Hero’s elbow on my jaw and on the back of my head.
Okay maybe that was a little exaggerated. Chris and I worked a solid 7 minute match and he put me away with his finishing rolling elbow strike which I sold like a champ, and then a follow up elbow to the back of my head. However I really did see white, he’s not called “that young knockout kid” for nothing. All in all a solid weekend, well worth the trip. 16 hours coming home I reflect on things, thinking about why I’m here and what I’m doing. When I say back to the drawing board that simply means I need to push myself harder, I’m not giving up on anything yet. Keep your jaw tucked in, I remind myself. K