The Bottom Rope: Inside the world of independent wrestling

The Bottom Rope: Inside the world of independent wrestling


okay [Applause] everyone needs a place like this a place to be the main attraction so Friday and Saturday nights across New Jersey Roman and spandex battled out in suburban VFW halls Church auditoriums and middle school decks this is wrestling’s independent circuit and it’s as far away from the packed arenas and bright lights of television wrestling as you can get national wrestling superstars is a collection of dreamers husbands and never worse it’s the state’s best-known in the promotion and on nights like these a few hundred fans will stall out 20 bucks to watch two or three hours of live entertainment once you catch the wrestling ball once you feel the pulls the crowd you’re home but the reality is this is wrestling’s bottom row the Indies are both the beginning and the end of a career and nearly everyone wishes they were somewhere else he’s mental dream of performing on wrestling’s biggest stage World Wrestling Entertainment but for now they’re here and for most this is where they’ll stack [Applause] [Music] money to Thursday I go to work nobody knows why I’m just the guy that works there but Friday and Saturday I’m Nikki oceans I’m gonna send her a ring there’s hundred people just focusing in on me it’s a feeling you can never imagine replicate or even try to replicate it’s that good in the field grandpa’s a kid I always tell me the ultimate warrior posters and all the wrestling figures and the plastic rings and that’s all I did was just dream about being a wrestler my entire life everyone want to be a fireman a cop oh I want to be an astronaut I just wanted to be a pro wrestler even pro wrestlers have to start somewhere and Shawn Redding was raised into wrestling his dad’s is the posters you see in your local store fronts by the time Shawn was 14 he was in the ring he’s already a 10-year veteran certain Fridays I would get taken out of school a little earlier my dad would come pick me up say he had to take me out and that’s what we would go I didn’t have a normal childhood because every weekend consisted of wrestling wrestling wrestling wrestling wrestling was my life I don’t want to make a living doing any wrestling would I like to make a living you know being on TV and traveling the world oh yeah everyone you know there’s a certain amount of guys that I think can hold their own with the WWE guys certainly a certain amount of guys that’ll be on the roster that I use just for basically to help enhance attendance if you know what I’m saying if you said Kenickie oceans working the WWE absolutely the man behind the operations is dapper Johnny Falco his real name is Joe but that’s his car still let us go twice a week he throws on a cheap button-down and plays the part of public announcer and Commissioner welcoming fans to the action inside his hazlit basement office is where the show is really made he scripts out the scenes his wrestlers will perform he fan cuts every ticket before a show he’ll go store to store placing flyers anywhere they’ll allow it called the organization’s printed number and it goes both to diapers home phone and this cell wrestling can I help you these nights that’ll go next to the bed and I notice a couple of shows coming up the phone’s always next to me laying to the bed and I’m picking up the phone 10 11 12 o’clock at night doing ticket orders and that’s what it’s all about because the people don’t know that it’s a private house or your office is in the basement so they don’t know that when they’re dialing the phone so I have to answer the phone does my wife like it dapper also books the wrestlers he has packages by the dozens with tapes of men hoping to break into the business he is the first call for guys with a few dreams and the last chance for former wrestling legends my buddy it was going with me I had not been to one of the Indy shows but he’d been to master square garden with me and the spectrum I can feel Duffy when it was Ella nope is still what is called an Albert if his even still there but uh we was joking with him like because we were was like the address and it was a church I’m like wow ain’t that something for going to being a main event in Madison Square Garden we’re now about 28,000 people – going into a church in a little town in Jersey that’s you know you have to ask the people even in there the end of City where’s that Marty Jannetty is the name on the flyer that draws fans in in the late 1980s he was on top of the wrestling world he was one half of the rockers and along with Shawn Michaels the pair burst into stardom in the World Wrestling Federation we was we was on the marquee many nights the main event as a rockers great feeling they like to pull up in Madison Square Garden I see you know your name running across the border rockers main event versus powers of pain or the brain buster for us we were in so what I was reading as you know the chair is on for the things we were doing in front of 500 elsewhere it’s like wow all this and then you get a paycheck to hit we were like this is heaven lately the amount of shows have been we’ve taken a lot more hits over the last year than we did over the last couple of years I got a saying these days I can have a show with oak Logan on it and I don’t have like all the gym money back but 10 years ago wrestling was truly hot Debra calls it the golden era and his promotion was drawing a thousand people or more to every show wrestlers Danny demondo and Chris Ford were just teenage friends back then but they got their first taste of wrestling on independent promotions just like NWS probably 16 I was probably 17 or 18 I was living in Rutherford he was living in Lodi close by I got my license before him and I had a car so I would usually pick Danny up and we would drive all over the East Coast as far up as Boston and Maine and as far down south as North Carolina Baltimore places like that we had the keys to this one place and we would go in and after hours and do Matt just for like an hour straight and not even know where the time went you know we had we were two kids who just had such a passion when we grew up here we are on the independence and we’re usually like the heavyweights and they can’t believe we’re looking at the young guys like they don’t even look like wrestlers you know at least I think we tried to look like we were wrestlers over 15 there he was 17 I think when I was 15 he’s got some age on me 1996 to 2002 I probably did a hundred two hundred matches for WWE me I mean I would Memphis for them down in Florida Georgia I mean oh what can you be in South Carolina it’s more Kevin Sullivan brought me in to WCW on nitro you could YouTube this match I look horrific I got a blondish red mullet haircut with this bodysuit and they bring me in to nitro to work with Conan and I’m doing them flips off the chairs and stuff like that I had a few students there but I really had to stay locally I had to finish school Chris chose to go to physical therapy school for refocusing his sights on pro wrestling his friend Danny however packed his bags moved down to Louisville on his own dime Derry trained with the WWE’s developmental program for both men it paid off I grabbed my cell phone and of course everybody who I wanted to tell didn’t answer their phones so I had nobody to say anything to you know my girl for the time I call her she didn’t answer my best friend I called him didn’t answer the mom answered I said guess what after years of wrestling on the Indies both Chris and Danny had gotten their shot but making it as a pro wrestler takes sacrifice and dedication and a little bit of lock there out isn’t always directing I won’t rest until my life I would love to support a family and make a living doing wrestling as of right now I can so I have to work basically a regular full-time job and do it but if the opportunity came where it was wrestling full-time we have to move down to Florida I’m in achieving this dream takes as much dedication outside the ring as in it and Shawn wants to be a star he wants to look like the men on the posters of his childhood bedroom so he hits the gym five days a week he takes supplement after supplement he dons self-tanner to make his muscles pop and he even changed jobs when they began asking him to work on show nights the one thing I just got to figure out how to do is just appear bigger got to be larger than life because if you the same as an audience member it’s not really that believable dedication doesn’t always pay off his heart is Shawn tries there’s no guarantee he’ll make it and even if he gets his shot well there’s no telling how long it might last after more than seven years in the WWF as a tag team the cracks began to grow between Marty and Shawn Michaels owner Vince McMahon staged a historic breakup where Michaels threw Jannetty through a plate-glass window and propelled himself it’s a startup they end up getting a lot of people the rest of world notice we end up getting a factual fight and from that that was where that was the beginning of the end for the team what we’d like to do is we’d like to Marty’s as we see Superstar and Shawn don’t see that in you yet which was like did you play a big round like Oh Marty would spend several years bouncing around the organization he briefly held the intercontinental belt and in 1997 nine years after his debut he left the WWE for a better contract offer soon after a shoulder injury suffered in the right would force him out of wrestling yeah I thought it was oh I mean I went into a deep depression over that and what used to be party and for fun you know who did what reported with the drugs and alcohol became one now of escape and pain not physical but emotional pain because I thought it was it 14 years and I’m done and never really got to do what I wanted to do or I say wanted to do I just thought I could do more when you want to become anything you want to become as a kid and you finally get there and you’ve worked your butt off your whole entire life for it it’s the worst thing in the world to hear you’re let go I started really just really heavily drinking you know my spare time it was like I have nothing to do today as long as I went to the gym got that out of the way I would just start drinking and just you know I want up getting a DUI Georgia and losing my license and I was like I can’t stay here anymore I said if I stay at 35 Danny’s routine isn’t much different from Shawn’s after his release from the WWE he packed on the pounds five years later he’s trying to get the look to I’ve gotten myself finally in the shape where I can call them to be and say throw me in a nobody match at the eyes on center throw me in an opening match in massacre gardening and trust in the fact that I’m I’m gonna get a job if I want it Danny is like many other pros that are out there they are professionals or what they do they look the part they talk the part they act upon but there’s an abundance of guys like Danny out there he’s great for all promotion and he’s great for a couple other pros but there’s an abundance of guys like Danny and each pocket of the country that have gone that little extra step but haven’t made it for one reason to the I hope he does get the call back I hope I really did I really do it’s the glamorous life Saturday night a beautiful Saturday night most people are going on dates and go to movies and Here I am keeping wrists and wrestle you in front of what they’ve got hundred people I doubt it hey dude WCW was brought out by WWE two weeks prior I was giving my release in a cost-cutting measure when I really wasn’t one of the high speed guys on the roster by any means had I gotten that opportunity I would have never have met my wife would have never have had my kids so I hate leaving them in the morning and just your mindset switches to where ok I’m not pursuing this full-time thing anymore I’m not pursuing I have to be with dough w/e it’s it becomes something that I choose to do for fun Chris spends his days working full-time as a physical therapist with a career outside of wrestling he is the anomaly most pro wrestlers no matter their age have nothing else to fall back on I’ll probably go up tonight I probably make a 100 and a quarter in that ballpark and it’s not a lot of money but it’s I equated to is if I was a guy that played softball and that was my thing that was my hobby that was what I enjoyed it it’s like going out to play men’s softball game paid for it daddy looks scary [Applause] if I can go out and perform if I can take whatever amount of people is there will be a 300 you know small high school gym or something or 30,000 garden if if I’m able to go out and whatever adjustments I gotta make them character perform to where they’re entertained do a little bit for wrestlers on the Indies most will never make it and for those who have tasted success however brief their chances of getting back are slim the dreams are hard thing to FL the devil do with a devil don’t as the promoter I’m promoting these older guys and I’m hoping people who you know I’m I’m I I’m one hand I’m condemning him because of living off their memories but on the second hand I’m also promoting them and I’m promoting the fact that that you know come and see the memory so I can make a living or the sponsor can make money that night so again it’s it it’s a two-sided if you know what I’m going what’s ankle is hurting worse today left one the right one which one gets the extra brace it’s tough to look at because I grew up watching Marty Jannetty the rockers when I was a little kid we’re the coolest people in the world the rockers and new rockers and it’s just tough to see him having to wear all these braces and you know have to move the way he does because he can’t move any other way and it it is depressing to see that this is it this is all he’s his name is what he has going for him he could still work he could still move in the ring but as soon as you see him outside the ring it’s it’s tough to watch and I don’t want that to be me these days when Marty Jannetty isn’t wrestling he’s still consumed by it he can earn hundreds of dollars for appearance fees he talks about opening a wrestling school and occasionally gives seminars for a few dollars young wrestlers can come to pick the brain of a man who made it to the top of the professional wrestling world what I feel bad for sometimes is and it’s just not Marty’s not the only you know victim of this is guys that have wrestled their whole lives and made a good living doing it and they didn’t have a chance to do something else you know now would be maybe the time to go back to school and over learn a trade or do something besides you know coz what are you gonna do now in ten more years you know like what are you gonna do when that when you can’t physically Russell at all anymore then you’re you know you’re stuck in that I can name it you know a ton of Legends Hall of Fame guys that you know are still wrestling you know in their fifties sixties still doing appearances in 70s there’s got to be a time where you realize the money’s not gonna pay your bills anymore and you know it’s not gonna happen I don’t want to let it go I did from time I was fourteen until until now you know this is all I really do know I don’t know how they go out you know go running or playing pickup baseball or play pickup football flag football I don’t know how to do any of that stuff or how to even go about it’s like somebody smoking a cigarette they can’t wake up and not smoke a cigarette they can’t eat and not smoke a cigarette out two words they can’t drive in a car not have a cigarette I can’t go Monday through Sunday and not have a show and just get that basically purpose of meaning [Music] by meaning for now is to entertain people hugh morrus always had a great saying is head pro Russell’s are a special kind of idiot and who knows why we do the things we do it’s just you get out there the roar of the crowd you just get hooked in that moment and just a switch flicks off inside you and just let’s do it at the time wala was very disappointing that I wasn’t picked up like I couldn’t have ended up in a better place so I just tell you just find something else I work as hard as you want at Pro Wrestling have a great time shoot for the stars but just in the event you don’t you can’t grab that star you have to have a more secure plan I’ve created a situation for myself and eyesight and it’s the fact that I can do it because I like to do it let me see it is out having here the worst thing was all my friends telling me especially the ones in the wrestlers Marty you’re 40 now bands get stopped go and do something else you get was fear 40 you know yet 145 I wanted to call all those people back when I got to contra I wasn’t calm all backs I see it’s never over to you say is over at 45 marty was back in the WWE 14 years after Shawn Michaels threw him through a plate-glass window the pair were united as the rockers on national TV nine years after he left the company again signed him to a contract it didn’t last the partying one decide affects the party and all the time crazy lifestyle is there you know sometimes bad things happen out of it I ended up getting into more legal trouble which ended up it’s time they ended up having to do some jail time [Music] Friday and Saturday nights in towns like Donnellan and Manville and brick in front of dwindling crowds the men of national wrestling superstars go out and perform this is who they are and it’s it’s in your blood it’s showbiz it’s in your blood why does the comedian go out there who’s you know they’re still out there that you know if Henny Youngman was still alive he’d still be doing it if Rodney Dangerfield was still alive they’d still be doing it Don Rickles still does it why it’s in their blood they make people laugh so if a wrestler can entertain somebody why shouldn’t I still be out there it’s in their blood I still believe I have something to offer Big Time Rush’s that meat money to make money until they were they knew what they were doing and there the 30s that’s what guys start making money that’s the recipe and if you’re bitter really bitter about it you’re not gonna you’re never gonna be successful you know many times the door shut on me and I just stick my foot in it and make sure the door opens up and I just keep walking through another door so basically wrestling you take show by show hopefully one day at one of those shows someone’s there you know likes what you do says you can cheat if you can change this this and this you know we’ll see what we can do with you that’s all I’m looking for I’m not looking for someone to come offer me a huge contract just that chance you know I mean I guess I owe it to everybody not just myself the way I see it I owe it to the fans who supported me to a while I mean just personally the competitive nature in me but what what does actually my heart holds the passion for is to give what as what I could have never got through be at my mistakes or others go ahead and give them to one good time where necessary to leave them on but you know there wasn’t a start with no finish I’ve seen people since I was a kid come and go they want the shot they try they just find themselves on the Indies every show they’re not going anywhere they give up down the line to come back again everyone wants that shot everyone wants it no matter how old you get everyone wants to be on top I’m thinking back in my head maybe they do need a you know five foot ten 200-pound you know Italian looking boy maybe they need it maybe they don’t maybe Marty Jannetty said it’s the same thing you know maybe they need you know an old legend to come back maybe they need Danny inferno maybe they need crowbar you never know what they need so you’re just gonna make something with the tools that you have no matter how old you get no matter how many shots you get there’s always that chance for that one more shot going this morning to nanny to a rocker forgotten all right still doing a thing in the ring rocking and rolling brothers pros man attend [Music] [Applause] [Music] you [Music]

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