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Dr. Darin Davis

Minnesota independent pro wrestler discusses past experiences and the current state of pro wrestling

A little over 17 years ago, a skinny baby-faced kid showed up at the Eddie Sharkey/Terry Fox professional wrestling training camp where I was a trainee. His name was Pete. He had wanted to be a wrestler ever since he had watched it on TV with his mother. They formed a bond, like she had formed while watching wrestling with her father. Pete idolized guys like Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect Curt Henning, Shawn Michaels and others. Through a lot of hard work, a lot of talent, and being the “practice dummy” for some of the bigger guys, that young kid evolved into a man and wrestled all over the upper midwest as “Playboy” Pete Huge.

After all the accolades, road trips, championship belts, and injuries, his career came to an emotional end at the Chanhassen, MN American Legion last night at a farewell show in his honor. While I was just expecting to be there to witness it all, I ended up being invited to say a few words at the beginning of the show along with some of his other peers, and I had the privilege to referee his final match.

It feels almost like the end of an era for me. We won’t be seeing him in the locker room at the next show, in the ring in singles matches or with his Junk Squad tag team partner and close friend Chris Jordan. Now that he is retired, there are really only one or two of my wrestling graduating class that are still active (notably Mitch Paradise). While some of the trainees that we helped through camp afterwards had national and international success and are still working (Austin Aries, Shawn Daivari) the rest have walked away, either voluntarily or because of injury.

While it was sad to see his wrestling career come to an end, he couldn’t have had a better send-off. From the outpouring of support from his fellow wrestlers and fans in the week leading up to the event, to the tribute at the start of the show, to the over-capacity crowd of people who love and respect him.

Pete, I want to thank you as an opponent, a (brief) tag partner, a friend, and a fan. The standing room only crowd was there because you’ve made a difference in all of our lives.

Playboy Pete Huge farewell
IMAG2393Junk Squad memorial belts

Tag Team of the '90s

Tag Team of the ’90s

We were called “The Tag Team of the 90’s”. Unfortunately it was the 2000’s… And I think the team only lasted for one match before we split up. My (brief) tag team partner, often opponent, and training camp alumni, “Playboy” Pete Huge is having the last wrestling match of his career on Sat. April 30th at the American Legion in Chanhassen, MN. Bell time is 8pm, but if you’re not there before 6:30 you’re not getting in.

To add to the buildup to his retirement, I pulled the following from issue #111 (Mar 12th, 2000) of Tim Larson‘s Upper Midwest Wrestling Newsletter:

http://drdarindavis.com/oldsite/umwn/

Midwest Pro Wrestling/Wrestle America 2000
3/11/2000 Mound, MN

After the intermission, the recently vacated MPW/WA2000 tag belts were on the line as Cruel and Unusual (Big Daddy Hoofer and Ian Xavier) with Cynnamon faced Playboy Pete Huge and Dr. Darin Davis. First, Hoofer came out and said something about the crowd, saying it was Fridley. Then Playboy Pete came out and said: “Come on New Hope, let’s make some noise.” Announcer Mick Karch then announced that Huge and Davis are the tag team of the 90s. During the match, Pete hit a couple of nice spinning heel kicks. Also, Pete was funny as hell throughout the match including putting a bear hug on the much larger Xavier. Davis was hit by a chair shot from Xavier on the outside and rolled into the ring. Later, Davis was outside again and Cynnamon put the boots to him. Then he received a double biel throw by Cruel and Unusual. On a splash by Xavier, Pete called it “Air Willy.” Eventually, Huge took a hot tag and cleaned house. Then did a spot where Davis gave Hoofer a drop toe hold onto Pete’s feet. The finish came when Xavier gave Pete a stun gun and then they did their “Cruel Intentions” finisher. Xavier pinned Huge.

After the match,Pete said that the fans in Chanhassen didn’t like the ending and then Huge and Davis argued and ended up pushing.

Result: Cruel and Unusual beat Dr.Darin Davis & Pete Huge to win the Midwest Pro Wrestling/Wrestle America 2000 tag team titles.


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I attended the Minnesota Independent Wrestling (MIW) show at the Chanhassen American Legion last Saturday Oct 17th. Recorded video of the MIW no DQ tag match while it was in progress. Pretty brutal and a great end to the feud between these two tag teams.

Excuse the purple hue- my phone does that in lower light conditions.

I defeated Officer Rob Justice with a “Proctoplex” (a.k.a. Perfectplex, a.k.a. fisherman suplex) at the the MIW show on Jan 3rd in the Chanhassen American Legion.

This was my second match back after a 13 year hiatus. This one felt good as I was able to enjoy myself more when I was out there and be more aware of my surroundings. My first match back I had to concentrate so hard to compensate for things that were no longer muscle memory that I wasn’t able to be present and enjoy it as much.

The next MIW show in Chanhassen is Saturday Mar 7th. I am up for wrestling more matches, but at this time I’m not booked on that show and I don’t know what my next date will be. I’ll post it here and on Facebook (drdarindavis) when I know it.

This is about as late of notice as I could give… sorry about that. I posted something on my Facebook profile (drdarindavis) but forgot to do it here.

I am wrestling for Minnesota Independent Wrestling (MIW) tonight at the American Legion in Chanhassen, MN.

The building is open all day (they have a bar and good food there), but the separate room where the wrestling is opens at 7:00pm. Bell time is at 8:00.

Stop by if you can.

Yep. I hinted at it in my previous post, but didn’t want to come out and say it to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

I’ll do a follow-up post later to talk about what things had to happen for me to get back in the ring again. Below, I’m only going to describe it from the perspective of a fan watching it unfold the night of the event.

It started out with me refereeing the first match of the night, James Dawson vs. Scott Story. I’ve been a ref for MIW at their Chanhassen events for about 6 years, so nothing out of the ordinary.

James Dawson vs. Scott Story (12/6/2014)

As I was heading to go out the curtain, “Playboy” Pete Huge, Chris Jordan, and Rob Page were coming out to do an interview segment. Pete told me to stay put. Jordan got on the mic first and talked about his upcoming match that night against JD Bandit. After he was through, he handed the mic to Pete, who said something along these lines:

“I am the MIW Heavyweight Champion. I am one half of the MIW Tag Team Champions (with Jordan). You would think I would be satisfied with these two belts. But I want more.”

Pete Huge with Dem Belts

He then pointed to MIW commissioner Terry Fox and said:

“Earlier this week, I called up Terry Fox and asked him to bring in the dormant MIW TV Championship belt. It turns out the last TV Champion was referee Darin Davis, who used to wrestle as Dr. Darin Davis, and he hasn’t defended the belt in thirteen years! I want that belt, so I challenge you to a match for the MIW TV title.”

Pete challenges referee Darin Davis

I responded that I already have the belt and I haven’t wrestled for over a decade. Why would I come back only for the chance to lose it? What’s my incentive? Pete, Chris, and Rob Page conferred and Pete said that he would put the MIW Heavyweight title on the line. I agreed and the match was set for later that night.

The match happened, the glove came out, but in the end I lost and Pete Huge is the MIW TV champion. I managed to get a few moves in along the way and it seemed like the crowd enjoyed it. I doubt that they will ever mention the TV belt again though, as it was just an angle to pull me back in, so this storyline is probably over. As more opportunities come up, and depending on how I feel, I’m going to be wrestling at least a couple more times. [Update: the next time is Jan 3rd 2015]

Here are a few pics from the match:

DDD armdragVertical suplexPete with a banana kick

The glove!Mandible latex clawDamn! There goes my belt

photo credit: Kyle Olson at Knocked Out Entertainment

From reading previous posts you can figure out that I haven’t wrestled for well over a decade and have been involved only as referee for the past 6 years or so. Without spoiling anything, there are “rumors” that some event will get me back in the wrestling ring at the next MIW show at the Chanhassen American Legion on Saturday December 6th (at 8pm). Before you decide that these rumors can’t be true because I “retired”, you need to know something about my state of mind when I walked away from wrestling at the end of 2001 and why it was not necessarily the last time I would ever step in the ring.

Below is a repost from my former (ancient) wrestling site dated Jan 6th, 2002. It’s entitled “Never Use the ‘R’ Word“.

As far as this Saturday- you’ll have to stop out and see if the scrubs (and the glove) have come out of storage.

[FYI, the old site in all its web 0.5 glory can be found here.]


Jan 6th, 2002

Never use the ‘R’ word. It has no meaning in the wrestling business. It gets used so often in storylines that nobody in or out of the business reacts to it anymore. Wrestlers use it, only to reappear a few months later as if nothing happened. Some wrestlers have used it several times in their careers. It has no significance except as yet another gimmick to sell tickets.

Why am I bringing this up? I’m bringing it up because I have decided to take a break from the wrestling business for an “undetermined period of time”. That’s the best way I can think of describing it. What does this mean? It means that I will not have an active role in professional wrestling from this point forward, at the same time leaving open the possibility of coming back.

Now that I’ve made that sufficiently vague, the next question is why? There are a few reasons, a couple of which I’ll write about here.

I’m sure everybody has interests they’d like to pursue. Some you may talk about constantly, and some that you never mention because they’re on a dream list that seems too impossible to even happen. If you stop reading this for a minute and think about it, I bet you could come up with a list 3 or 4 things that you’d like to get involved with. Some of those things might take a lifetime to get good at and require the majority of your free time. For me, wrestling was one of those interests. Not just going to shows, but actually wrestling. It wasn’t in the category of things that I openly talked about, it was in the category of interests or goals that I kept to myself. Who was I kidding, right? A 130 pound high school kid who wanted to try professional wrestling at a time when size and strength were requirements. When you had to have credentials as a professional athlete, or a certified badass. I carried that with me through high school, through college, and through several years of working at my “real” job. I also carried along some other interests that I wanted to try. As the business started to change to accept smaller workers, and I worked on gaining weight and adding some size, we seemed to meet in the middle. I had the chance to start training to be a professional wrestler. I’ll skip some of the details of training with Terry Fox and Ed Sharkey, as they are documented in other interviews on other web sites (and in my UMWN interview on this site) [2014: And also on this site, like in Wrestling Training]. When I started, several people told me that the business was cyclical (which I already knew) and that in 2-3 years, the popularity would once again fade, the national TV audience would fall, and the local scene would go back to a state where there would be maybe one or two shows a year. With that in mind, I tried to get as much as I could out of it in those years, knowing that once it was through I would have time to do other things.

Fast forward 5 years… While the national TV ratings are down from what they were a year or two ago, the local indy promotions stayed strong. I’ve tried over the last year to take less bookings and spend less time at training camp to have more “free” time, but that didn’t seem to have as much of an effect as I thought it would. If this was the only reason, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

The main reason for this decision is, quite simply, that I’ve burned myself out. I don’t have the drive and desire I once had to spend the time on it that I should. I’ve gone from watching televised wrestling and wrestling videos to only watching “Tough Enough” and one PPV in the last 10 months. From working out in wrestling camp 2-3 days a week, to going to camp maybe one day a month. From thinking about an upcoming match for days or weeks, going through the potential moves, counter-moves, teases, and false finishes in my head, to thinking about it while I’m lacing up my boots. Don’t get me wrong, once I stepped through the ropes I always gave 100% (I’d even consider the last match I had one of the best I’ve had this year). I think you owe that to the fans that paid their money, the worker(s) across the ring from me, the promoter, and all the workers that didn’t get on the show because there wasn’t a spot for them. But when do you decide that it might be time to exit? If the business continues to be strong, and you are healthy enough to do it, how do you know when you might be done? I’ve heard people say in the past that they’ll keep doing it “…until it’s no longer fun.” That isn’t really an answer, because there are always parts of it that are fun. When you’re around such great people, some of it will always be fun. And there will always be parts of it that aren’t fun. For me, I said to myself that if I ever got to the point where the only effort I put into it was from the time my entrance music starts playing until the time I head back from the ring, then maybe I need to reevaluate what I’m doing. Maybe I need to separate myself from it awhile to see if the desire will come back. Maybe I need to separate myself to make the desire come back. Maybe I need to pursue other things and see what happens. And that’s what I’m going to do.

I don’t want it to sound like I think wrestling is at a low point, because this does not in any way reflect on the current state of the local wrestling scene. In fact, this is one of the best times to be involved in the indy wrestling business and to be a local wrestling fan. Rookie and newer wrestlers like Austin Aries, Justin Lee, Travis Sharpe, Lacey, Autumn Hayze, Rain, Shawn Daivari, Black Stallion, Rikki Noga, CM Punk, and Colt Cabana will keep us entertained for years (yes I know about the current SDW conflicts). Workers like Mitch Paradise, Adrian Lynch, Chi-Town Thug, K-Train, Kamikaze, Playboy Pete Huge, Big Daddy Hoofer, Magnus Maximus, Primetime, Daryck St. Holmes, Shifty, Ian & Ashey Xavier, Robby Thunder, Storm Wolf, and others continue to improve and are still giving us their all. Managers like Mortimer Plumtree, the High Rollers, and McCoy Counterfeit are still providing interesting interviews and giving the fans some bonus entertainment. “Veterans” like Scotty Zappa, Lenny Lane, Horace the Psychopath, and Ace Steel are still going strong. Promotions like MIW and the FLWA are working to provide more continuity in their storylines. MPW is promoting again. The Minnesota Wrestling Superstars television show is still going on several cable access stations around the area and in other parts of the state. SDW is on broadcast television. Commentators like Mick Karch, Kyle Wolf, Christian Dady and Dale Spear are putting in a lot of effort to make the televised and live products better. Tim Larson’s Upper Midwest Wrestling Newsletter is approaching its 250th issue. Wrestler websites are being relaunched and new sites are popping up all the time. Fans like Otto, Glenn, Jack, Doc D-X, ZsaZsa and Mark keep supporting the local promotions.

This may or may not be the closing of a chapter of my life, but even if it is, I’ll never forget the workers, the fans, and the people behind the scenes that worked their asses off to try to make every show go as smoothly as possible.

Save me a spot in the cheap seats…

Eddie Sharkey Lifetime AchievementI’ve had several previous posts (start with Wrestling Training Part 1) about going through training camp run by Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox.

On July 19th, local wrestling promotion Steel Domain Wrestling (SDW) presented Eddie with a long-overdue Lifetime Achievement award during their annual show at the Raspberry Festival in Hopkins, MN. The following week, I attended a dinner held at Poor Richard’s Commonhouse in Bloomington, MN to honor Eddie’s accomplishments and share stories about his long career in wrestling.

Eddie started wrestling back in the 1950’s on the carnival circuit. He was trained by Boris Malenko, Bob Geigel, and Joe Scarpello. He made his wrestling debut in the AWA in 1961. Eddie wrestled Harley Race and had memorable feuds with Danny Hodge, Bob Boyer, and Jack Donovan.sharkey14

After ending his relationship with the AWA due to a “disagreement” (a more interesting version can be found here), Sharkey got out of the wrestling business to spend more time with his wife and kids.

In 1982, two young bouncers approached him at the bar he tended in Minneapolis and asked if he would train them to be professional wrestlers. Sharkey agreed, and they would become the hottest tag team of the 80’s – The Road Warriors.

He continued to train wrestlers and run wrestling cards on a regular basis with his Pro Wrestling America (PWA) promotion. Wrestling historians and fans alike would say he was responsible for the 80’s boom of professional wrestling. The talent he trained is a who’s who of the big names of the time. Besides the Road Warriors, there was Jesse Ventura, Bob Backlund, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Barry Darsow (one half of the tag team Demolition), the Destruction Crew (Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos), Nord the Barbarian, and Nikita Koloff. Later years would produce Rick and Scott Steiner, Sean Waltman, Jerry Lynn, Charlie Norris, Lenny Lane, Ricky Rice, Derrick Dukes, The Warlord, Tom Zenk, J.W. Storm, Madusa Miceli, Josie, ODB, Austin Aries, Shawn Daivari, and Bam Neely.

On the local scene we can also thank him (and Terry Fox) for such independent wrestlers as Horace the Psychopath, Mitch Paradise, the High Rollers, “Playboy” Pete Huge, “Big Daddy” (Brody) Hoofer, Black Stallion, Lacey, Rain, Robbie and Mike Thunder, Ian Xavier, the Mighty Angus, K-Train, Scott Free, Helmut Von Strauss/Justin Lee, Travis Sharpe, and Storm Wolf among others. Oh, yeah… and Darin Davis.

Eddie is still involved with Prime Time Wrestling (PTW) and running occasional shows under the Pro Wrestling America name.

 

Sharkey Appreciation Group Photo B/WAt the dinner, hearing Eddie and his longtime friends tell stories was very entertaining (some of the stories are referred to in a City Pages article from the early 2000’s that I’ll post about separately). It was clear that the older days in wrestling were a more dangerous time for the talent (i.e. less security in arenas), but they also managed to have a lot of fun. And it was great to see a lot of the boys I used to work with show up for this event, some of which are pictured in the group photo above.

To Eddie, I’d like to say thank you for all your wisdom and encouragement while I was going through training camp with you and Terry, and while I was working for your promotions. It probably was the best experience of my life.

darin_davis_eddie_sharkey

As I am still somewhat involved on the local scene, hopefully there are still more of these moments to come.

At the start of each year, I put together a post of what I felt were my best articles for the previous year.

Below are the my best articles for the year 2013, listed in chronological order. If you didn’t get a chance to see them when they were first posted, you may want to check these out.

Previous articles are always available through the Archives box on the right, the Category selection, or the Search box.

  • The Job of a Pro Wrestling Referee: For the last three or four years, I have been working as referee for Minnesota Independent Wrestling (MIW) when they run shows at the American Legion in Chanhassen, MN. I ran across an article by referee Jason Iannone that went a little more “behind the curtain” than I was willing to go in some of my previous postings. But, as I wrote in another posting called My Wrestling NDA, I’m more likely to talk about it if someone else reveals it first.
  • Pro Wrestling Ain’t Easy: Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen several articles with the common theme that being a pro wrestler isn’t easy. Usually the people making these statements are fans that went to a “fantasy camp”, or a similar situation where they paid a few bucks to train for a weekend that culminated in an undoubtedly crappy wrestling match against one of the other trainees. But what about the opinions of people that have a physically job that is obviously not easy? This is a look at a couple of MMA fighter-turned-pro wrestlers that have recently commented on the subject

Upper midwest independent wrestlers “Playboy” Pete Huge and Nate Bash, along with legendary wrestling commentator and host “Slick” Mick Karch are the stars of an independent short film Tourvall the Terrible.

Check it out at the link above.

Tourvall the Terrible