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
Filed under: training
I excitedly and nervously lace the pair of wrestling shoes I borrowed from Dan. I had yet to have my own wrestling shoes yet, my gear is shiny and unworn. Sitting, reflecting on what this had all been built up to, I had always wanted to be a wrestler, this is where it begins. We’re all excited, it had been a strenuous and painful 6 months since first stepping foot into the slam academy. Our trainer and mentor sits us down and gives us some final words of wisdom before our big debut. Halloween Hell, October 25, 2005. My fellow professional wrestling trainees and myself are about to have our first match. Some of my best friends are here to watch me, some of my best friends I’m battling in the ring. At this moment it all feels like such a climatic and significant event in my life, my career. I realize now in the grand scheme of things, that it is not but a drop of sweat into the bucket that is filling drastically.
My outlook on professional wrestling has changed a lot in the now 4 years since I had my first match. My hopes and aspirations for instance. The ways I train my self, and the way I perform. I’ve had the privilege to be work both face and heel throughout my career, and have really been finding myself lately in ‘heel Kyle O’reilly’. It’s so much easier being a bad guy I find, for instance of comparison. Walk up to a random girl in a bar, it’s a lot easier to get slapped in the face then it is to take her home to bed. But I’ve never liked taking the easy route anyways; this entire journey has been about sacrifice, blood and sweat. Not to be confused with Jesus.
Professional wrestling is a sport, plain and simple. I don’t care what anyone says, but if you work hard, sweat and risk potential injury you’re pretty much in a professional sports mentality. When I was being trained, my mentor Aaron Idol repeated to us a quote that his trainer told him and his trainer before him etc. Originating back to the Hart family dungeon. “99% of wrestlers are just pretending to be wrestlers.” That quote will stick with me forever, or at least as long as I’m remaining in that other 1% of the wrestling population. What sets the other percentage apart is legitimacy. When you walk into the locker room and see ‘Back Alley goddamn Sally’ wearing ripped jean shorts, a ridiculous gut hidden by a mustard stained wife beater, clearly has no athletic background. Are people supposed to believe that this guy is going to kick my ass? Wrestling is all about perception and aura, but insulting the intelligence of the fans paying money is just in bad taste. Now don’t get me wrong I will always work my hardest regardless of the situation and do whatever the promoter wants, I’m just trying to get a point across.
To increase legitimacy one must be in peak physical condition and educated through combat. Now don’t get me wrong, some of the greatest professional wrestlers that ever lived, were nothing more than professional wrestlers. However, more of the greatest professional wrestlers were legitimate ass kickers. How can one expect to be a professional without first being an amateur? Lou Thesz, who many consider the greatest wrestler of all time, trained World War II soldiers for hand-to-hand combat. Karl Gotch, was known as “God of Pro Wrestling” due to his influence in shaping the Japanese professional wrestling style. He developed the most rigorous workout regimen world over known as ‘Combat conditioning’ and invented the German Suplex. He was also a Holocaust survivor. Stu Hart, the father of Bret Hart and Owen Hart, wrestled a tiger and a grizzly bear, shoot. Guys like Thesz, Gotch and Stu are the reasons pro wrestling came to be, because they were legit and believable. I guess the revolution of pro wrestling in the 21st century is to bring back that mentality.
With my pilgrimage into the MMA world I am simply bringing an aura to my character. The more of an actual threat I am, the more believable of a professional wrestler I am. If I am going to throw kicks, well then I sure as hell better be trained in kicking. You see so many guys these days with their taped up kick pads over running shoes trying to kick somebody without any precision or forethought for that matter. If I am going to be grappling with somebody fighting for position, then I had better be trained in amateur wrestling, or submissions and Jiu-jitsu etc. So my 4 nights a week at Absolute martial arts have been paying off. Still a tad reluctant with my elbow (which has healed well) so the second anyone gets close to an arm bar/shoulder lock /kimura on it I tap immediately. Not wanting to risk another two weeks of agony, however I find the need for me to tap a rarity. I’ve attacked with 2 crucifixes this past week! Getting better every day, although I’m nowhere near ready to take on a grizzly.
My style of weight training has also been drastically altered through my moving to St. Louis. Previously I had been stuck in this mindset of bodybuilding. Getting bigger muscles, 3 sets of 12, different muscle group daily, program changeup every 3 weeks. I am obviously not a body builder, what justifies training like one? I’m thoroughly confident the reason I tore my MCL in May was because I had been training like a body builder. Muscle hypertrophy without proper plyometric and endurance training leaves tendons and ligaments weakened. It’s just not practical to what I am doing in the ring, as an athlete. What we have been doing here is an advanced circuit, altering from a heavy strength set, to an explosive set, to an endurance set, continuous circuit in a split muscle group routine. Every week this will change to 2-3 full body circuit workouts. This style of training is so much more practical to wrestling in the sense that we’re constantly moving, exerting ridiculous strength maxing out one’s bodies potential. When someone’s life is in my hands in the ring I don’t want have to take a ‘rest before the next set’ I want to be able to fight through fatigue and keep on moving. For example:
Chest and back day:
Warm up jumping robe for three rounds of 5 minutes.
Heavy set dead lift. Warm up 4-6 reps of 135 lbs. (save your strength)
Heavy set flat barbell bench press. Warm up 4-6 reps of 135 lbs.
The next sets are to be done back-to-back, minimal rest.
Dead lift NFL bench press test (225 lbs.)
1. 225 lbs. 8 reps 1. Maximum reps. 10
2. 315 lbs. 6 reps 2. Maximum reps. 7 (getting tired)
3. 415 lbs. 2 reps 3. Maximum reps. 5 (lord help me)
4. 485 lbs. 1 rep 4. Maximum reps. 5 (ouch)
Okay time for explosiveness.
Medicine ball throwing pushups: with a partner or a wall, toss a medicine ball using your chest, then catch it, do a dropdown, pushup and up again and throw. 25 reps. Last 5 reps should be barely attainable whichever the rep range you decide to follow.
Right away into a dive-bomber barbell bent over back row. So basically a 135 lb Olympic barbell is set up, do a drop down with hands on the barbell, do almost a ‘dive bomber’ or ‘Hindu’ pushup with an exaggeration on arching your back contracting your erector spinae. Pop back up to your feet and do an explosive bent over barbell row, then back down and do it again. 8 reps. Do these exercises back to back for a total of 3 sets each.
If you are not completely drenched in sweat, and seeing the lord by this point then you are clearly a robot sent back through time to kill John Connor.
Wide grip lat pull downs and chest dips. On the pull downs start as heavy as you can muster and gradually decrease the weight as you need to, but make sure you do whatever it takes to get 50 reps. Same for dips, bodyweight only, take breaks when needed, but get to 50 reps.
Phew, great workout! So this would continue through out the week another 2 days with a 1-day break. Legs and arms day. And a shoulders day. Of course alternating exercises as the weeks progress, but the same formula. You’ll get tired as hell, but when it comes down to working in the ring, you wont be blown up. Full body workouts are quite ridiculous as well. I will be posting a leg workout and a full body workout in the near future.
There should be no shortcuts in the way one trains themselves for a sport. If you are a wrestler and you truly believe this is what you want and what you are, you should strongly believe that Pro wrestling is a sport. You should be making sure you are not a hazard and liable to seriously injure somebody. Feel passionate about what you are and what you want to become, take your training seriously and love every second of it.
As far as my personal life has been going since my departure, things on the job front are successful. I got in contact with a local landlord through my kickboxing class. Apparently being a landlord warrants a lot of stress that one needs to burn off through demolishing a kicking shield. I explained my background in construction and basic handymanism… It’s a word, look it up. So I have been renovating apartments for the last 3 weeks and enjoying myself greatly. Lunch breaks consist of going to the kickboxing gym for Muay Thai class. Working as a personal trainer is all fine and dandy pretending to be friendly and courteous and “Oh you just don’t like the taste of diet sody pops” alright then.. “What are you, 10?” Demolishing a kitchen and rebuilding it, working with tools and my bloody, dust-covered hands has no equal in manliness. I’m also learning a lot, as far as plumbing and electrical goes. Growing up with a father who is a literal ‘Rick of all trades has benefited me greatly. All through out my life, my dad was working on various projects from renovating our kitchen a record 4 times to building a canoe and 2 kayaks. He built the house I slept in as a baby, and the bed I slept in as a kid. I’ve always been so grateful for my Dad being the ultimate perfectionist handyman. I didn’t know any other kids on my block that made there own toys out of scrap wood and nails. Worst racing car ever, but still the point remains. Like battered and worn leather, Dad’s calloused hands pat me on the back as he proudly watches his son take an interest into his life’s work. Christmas, he designs a banana rack to make for my mom, or a shelf for holding our cookbooks. He helps me every step of the way building my confidence around the roaring blades of destruction that is carpentry machinery. Helping me nervously build a present for a previous girlfriend, or sending me in the right direction for building a wine box for Jessica’s graphic design project. Endless hours he spends in that garage, designing, working, getting covered with oil, or sawdust or metal shavings. I remember the first time, but certainly not the last time, a saw cut me. I must have been no older than 7, making a new toy. I was using his orange handled handsaw with a piece of wood shoved unsteadily into his familiar gray vise. I slipped and sliced my left pointer finger. Blood went everywhere, and I had never seen so much of it. I freaked out and began crying, Dad grabs me over his shoulder runs me upstairs and hands me off to mom, the nurse awaiting with a towel for pressure. Dad goes back downstairs and continues what he was working on, no time for incompetent kids. I still have the scar; I’d have my revenge.
A ONE ACT PLAY
Scene is at the Greenwood family garage, door is open. Kyle (7 I think) shoots a hockey ball against the cement barrier. Rick is working on a table saw, working on another masterpiece.
KYLE: Dad, I’m hungry!
RICK: okey kidd, just gimme another minute here.
Kyle now anxiously jumping around unaware of surroundings.
KYLE: Dad, I’m hungry! Fooooood, food food food food.
RICK: Yumpin Yiminee’s kidd, yeah yeah. AH!! Fuck!
Rick cutting off the tip of his pinky applying pressure to his disfigured digit and runs inside. Dialogue comes from offstage, as Kyle remains stage left, confused. Grandpa’s voice is thick Scottish accent.
RICK: Tommy! Tommy! You gotta take me to the clinic eh.
GRANDPA: Whaat did ee do then, Rrrick. Oh Jesus, Oh Christ.
Rick and Grandpa with cigarette in mouth, run back onstage, outside towards Grandpa’s car, Blue Mazda 626. Rick clutching at his hand with paper towels.
GRANDPA: Juss hang teet wee Kylie, Yer Dad’s cut he’s finga.
Car peels out leaving Kyle, for the first time in his life, home alone.
END OF ACT 1.
Dad still blames me to this day for ruining his pinky, says I was hungry. I love my Dad. His ability to always show calmness and reserve as always gained my admiration.
So I found the time to finally write a new blog with coming down with a sickness. I guess overtraining mixed with working in the rain is a leading factor. A few days rest combined with obscene amounts of Vitamin D-3 and vitamin C has helped me regain composure to think clearly. With the upcoming flu season I strongly advise anyone to purchase some vitamin D-3, in excessive amounts ranging from 4000 – 8000 iu’s a day, leaves little room for a virus to survive in your body. Also hydrating adequately and getting lots of rest is important as well. I’ve also found that gargling salt water has helped clean my throat and prevented the multiplication of germs. Anyways it’s somewhat depressing to be stuck inside on a beautiful day, Halloween to boot. Looking forward to feeling better tomorrow and be back to my determined self. For this week I’m heading to Philadelphia on Wednesday night for the Ring of Honor national TV tapings for HDnet. And on Saturday, Edison, New Jersey for a ROH house show. Looking forward to being on the road again. Don’t eat any tainted candy anybody. And remember, hard work needs to be rewarded, laziness needs to be punished.