The Final Few Months
As it stands, it's been nearly 4 months since my very last match inside a pro wrestling ring. In these 4 months since leaving wrestling I've had neck surgery, consumed more chocolate chip cookies than I once thought possible, busted buttons off my jeans, got lazy, became motivated, lost all the weight I gained and more, and brought myself to a very happy place. It seemslike a lot right? But all that matters is where I've ended up. Which like I already said is to a "happy place".
Since posting my blog detailing my injuries and why I'd need to retire I feel like I didn't share much about those final shows and just how much they meant to me. So now that life has calmed a bit, I'm going to make an attempt.
AAW was my first stop on the road to retirement (I still hate that word). On the Friday evening at the awesome Bourbon Street venue Ethan Page and I stepped into the ring as a tag team one final time in the place that was the catalyst for much of our success. To be honest and I'm just going off memory. I didn't think it was a very good representation of our prior tag matches. Things just didn't click and I was just happy to get it over with. Nothing against my opponents; the match just left me disappointed. Post-match, Page spinning Dwayne'd me to set up for my final AAW match the next night in my personal favouritevenue: The Berwyn Eagles club.
That night Ethan Page and myself stepped into the ring to face off for the first and last time in Chicago. It was a smaller crowd (being a Vangaurd show) but it didn't matter to me. This was my favourite venue, a place where in a very short time I made so many fond memories. This night was much of the same. We had what I think was our best single’s match against one another. The fact that there wasn't a bigger crowd to witness it doesn't matter; I busted my ass injury or not to make sure I went out on a high note. I wrestled my best friend and went out looking up at the lights as Page became new AAW champion.
After the match I picked up the microphone to thank all the fans that came to see my last match for AAW. I never thought about what I'd say. I really don't remember what I said. But I'm sure I missed a few things. Thank you to the fans of AAW for accepting not just me, but Monster Mafia from the moment we arrived. All of our tag success can be attributed to the opportunities we got from management there, as well as the buzz created by the fans. Thanks to Danny Daniels for believing enough in me to give me a run with the AAW title (although short lived). A couple kids from Canada driving 9 hours one way isn't as cheap versus the travel for some of the local guys. I've always appreciated AAW taking the chance to give us a platform and in return I feel like I always delivered (or busted my ass trying). AAW is something special; it's been around a long time,and has a legacy that will carry on in Chicago for years to come. I was fortunate to be a part of it while I was.
Next stop was the mecca known as PWG. I loved the match, andit was everything PWG always is. Just a fucking blast. Not much else I can say. I felt lucky every time I got to wrestle there. Candice & Joey are two of the most awesome people in all of wrestling, and to be honest Candice is one of the best in wrestling male or female. After the match, I was genuinely surprised at the reaction I received from the fans. So many people at PWG all the way on the other side of the continent knew my story. I felt like they knew the sacrifices I made, and rather than judge me for walking away, they wanted to give me a hero’s goodbye. It was honestly touching coming from a crowd that hadn't had much time to get to know me. It's just another reason why The PWG crowd is as admired as the promotion itself. Special thanks to the Young Bucks. I would have never got my opportunity there if it wasn't for them.
The night after PWG, Page and myself flew back in time to wrestle at Toronto's own Superkickd promotion. I love Superkickd. I think the guys that run it are innovative and driven. They have something special and I'd bet it will grow immensely in the near future. But I shit the bed at this one. Sorry to the fans. Being hurt and tired may have caught up with me. Just a stage 5 stinker. Oh well.
The next and final day of the weekend was Destiny Pro Wrestling also in Toronto. These shows are awesome. The promoter is a badass, no bullshit dude. My kind of guy. They put on a great unique product with new out of province faces, big names and high production values. They spare no expense to immerse the paying customer in the best experience possible. It was an easy day for me as I got to step into a ring with Tyson Dux one final time. Something I was happy I'd get to do before I hung up the boots. I think I mentioned how run down I was and we did our best to put on a match that would be different than most on the card. As always it was a pleasure stepping into a ring with Tyson. In my career I never wavered in my respect for that man; he's tougher and more stubborn than me. Wrestling him was a painful reminder that some people with an injury like mine wouldn't walk away. They wouldn't allow it to even be a possibility. Tyson is one of those guys and I mean that with the best of intentions. He loves wrestling more than anything.
My next show was my second to last. Absolute Intense Wrestling's biggest show and my final Absolute title defenceagainst Ricky Shane Page. Everyone knows I wouldn't have had the name I built, or my headgear without AIW. I've said it enough times. Going into this defence after announcing my impending retirement, I knowingly pissed off and disappointed a lot of people. I initially showed up with the idea to swerve everyone. I mean, I was still competing at a high level, and my thought that the AIW fans would legitimately question whether this retirement was all an elaborate work to swerve everyone at Absolution wasn't out of the question. AIW is known for being a little whacky at times. So my idea was to base the match around selling a "legit" neck injury long enough to make it awkward all the while sneaking a pin when Ricky let his guard down. I couldn’t be happier to say it worked. Yes, I felt bad that with all who supported me in attendance, I may have worried them that they witnessed a legitimate injury. But that's the point of wrestling. After the pin I looked around and saw super fan Pat Lucey’s jaw dropped, no doubt thinking it was a work all along. As history goes, the match soon restarted and I lost in the end to my own spinning tombstone; something that could have rendered me paralyzed had Ricky not taken care of me. Something I trusted him to do. Ricky's the best and I'm glad after a decade he's finally getting his opportunity to show the world. AIW was my American home, I'm going to come back to check out a show soon. I mean Terry Fucking Funk! They're ridiculous!
The day following AIW I came back to Canada with my buddy Eddie Kingston. Iced that man at paintball, did a wrestling seminar and watched the Equalizer. It was a good day.
Then it was time for my very last professional wrestling match. From the beginning when I found out this was possible I told Ethan Page that the only match that would make sense was us versus the Gymrats at Alpha-1. This show was business as usual because honestly the fact that it was the last time I'd ever step in a ring never sunk in. In many ways, the fact that I'm now retired still hasn't sunk in. I haven't let myself emotionally deal with the loss. That's why I never gave anyone tears, that's why I never became upset or nervous in any way. It's unbelievable to me that it happened and is now in the past. But I have a great deal of trouble admitting that I'm done, that this part of my life, and doing the only thing I've ever been naturally good at is over.
Back to the match. I was busy selling a SHITLOAD of t-shirts (special thanks to Senor Bogart for the charitable donation of his time to my cause haha). I sold so many t-shirts at all these showsthat I never even kept one for myself. I had to turn people away (a foreign feeling for me but I imagine it's a typical Sunday in the world of the Young Bucks or Colt Cabana). When we went through the match I wanted it to be the best match of my life. I wanted to leave everything in the ring. I wanted to do what I think I always tried to; give the fans all I had. The Gymratsmusic was playing to go out and we still hadn't fully got the match together for some reason. My nerves were fine, all 4 of us could go out and call a match on the fly that would rival any match on any card. We know each other so well. The match went off without a hitch. The crowd welcomed me with such love that I still get goosebumps now just writing about it. To me this was my crowd. They watched me grow from Jay Fenix all the way to the Walking Weapon. I was a guy they'd put their money on to give them what they wanted to see. So I wanted to show them how grateful I was for the support by leaving everything in the ring. It was an electric atmosphere I don't think anyone will rival in Ontario this year. It was one hell of a match to go out on and I'm so thankful Alpha-1 did it for me.
But now here I sit. I've had my surgery. I've started rebuilding myself physically and I suppose this is my way to start rebuilding emotionally. A large part of my life was lost in an instant of that 1-2-3 on July 12 2015. To be honest, in the months following I've had a tough time. Almost all of my friends are in the wrestling business and being on the road hustling every weekend leaves little time for the retired guy on a couch somewhere. I miss the road. I miss a whole weekend in a car talking shit, listening to podcasts, bonding over the near-death sleep driving incidents and so on. It seems as if I have hadto talk myself out of coming back on a daily basis. Just looking out and seeing all my former coworkers excelling and doing things I always dreamed of but never was able to reach itches at me. As happy as I may be for all of them, I can't help but wonder what life may have been like for me had I never landed on my head. Why me?
But like I said I'm in a happy place. Life outside of wrestling has never been better. Likely because I've slowed down to appreciate it as well as the people in it. I'm working towards new goals, trying to make myself a better stronger person than I was the day before. Being a good father, being a role model for my son is what's most important to me now. So from now on I have to come to terms that I'm retired. But the sacrifices I made and the hardship I endured for my ten years in wrestling weren't for nothing. I will always be a professional wrestler.
I think I've earned that title.
Thanks you Alpha-1, AIW, AAW, PWG, Ethan Page, GymRats, Eddie Kingston, Young Bucks, Michael Elgin and most importantly the fans. You made it something unforgettable.