On April 1, 2017, I attended my first wrestling show of the year. I was in Orlando, Florida attending everything WrestleMania weekend had to offer. On that night, my buddy, John, and I were getting ready for NXT Takeover: Orlando, adding another chapter to the amazing history of the NXT brand. Little did I know that this would be the start to a crazy year in pro wrestling.
The next night was the real night I knew I wanted to get involved in pro wrestling. It was WrestleMania 33, the “greatest spectacle in live entertainment.” The second I stepped into the Citrus Bowl stadium, I was hooked. Attending a WrestleMania was a dream come true for me, and it gave me inspiration to get involved in this sport I love so much.
I really couldn’t pursue my wrestling aspirations until July. In between there, though, I went to my first true “independent” wrestling show: Glory Pro. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, as my friends Ross and Gabby asked me to join them. It was an amazing show, featuring numerous matches that stole the show. Kyle O’Reily vs. Curt Stallion and Rey Fenix vs. Myron Reed were superb, and it was an eye-opening experience to see how an indie show works.
Once I got back home to the Chicagoland area, I knew I had to get my foot in the door somehow. Not having many connections, though, put me at a disadvantage. Luckily, I saw a Facebook post one day asking for some help setting up the ring for a show in Elk Grove Village. Seeing this has a chance, I took up the offer from this man, “Ox Baker Jr.”, to help set up the ring for the inaugural Zelo Pro show. The rest, as they say, is history.
The five months that followed that show can only be described as a whirlwind. Being a part of the ring crew is a grind, but it’s a rewarding experience for the access to the business you get. I’ve gained an incredible appreciation for the art of wrestling, the industry, and the men and women who travel thousands of miles to do what they love most. The amount of time pro wrestlers spend traveling, training, and fine tuning their craft is unreal, and it’s all to put on the best show possible.
2017 was an awesome year in wrestling for me. I attended 26 shows between April and December, working ring crew for 16 of those. I saw superstars from WWE, NXT, ROH and NJPW compete live. I attended the best shows Chicago wrestling had to offer, like Freelance and AAW.
The complete list of elite superstars I saw wrestle in-person is a mile long. I saw some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, like Undertaker, Triple H and Rey Mysterio. I saw some of the top wrestlers of today, like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kenny Omega, to name a few. And, I got to see some amazing young talent, like Myron Reed, Stevie Fierce and Sammy Guevara. I’m truly appreciative to have seen some of the best wrestlers in the business this year with my two own eyes.
I’ve also developed some cool friendships with my ring crew brothers. Ox, Merle, Zack and “BD Smooth” have all become cool people to hang around, and they’ve made setting up rings in -5 degrees a lot of fun.
I’m also appreciative of meeting guys like Mike, Martin, and “The Articulator” Steve Kenton. They have become cool wrestling friends who’ve broaden my knowledge on the independent wrestling scene. And Mike is always good for a beer or two, which is a definite plus.
I have no idea what will happen for me in 2018. What I do know, though, was that 2017 was a fun year for me. I saw a bunch of wrestling, met a lot of great people, and have created memories that’ll last a lifetime. Pro wrestling is in an amazing place right now, and I’m excited to see what will happen in 2018. For as much “bad” there is, there’s 10X more good in professional wrestling.
So thank you, professional wrestling. You’ve been good to me this year, and I’m thankful for all that you’ve given to me. See you in 2018.