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Dr. Darin Davis

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


Category: Best Of

Scotty Zappa became a professional wrestler after playing college football at St. Thomas University. His strength and agility made him a top contender in the wrestling scene.

Although they would later compete against each other in tag team matches (and briefly hold the FLWA Tag Team titles as partners), this was the only time they were opponents in singles competition.

Promotion: French Lake Wrestling Association (FLWA)
Location: Hero’s Sports Bar – Big Lake, MN
Referee: Gary DeRusha
Ring announcer: Travis Sharpe
Commentators: Tim Larson, Travis Sharpe

It was the year 2000. The world had gotten past any potential Y2K problems at the turn of the century, and they were ready for yet another match-up between Mitch Paradise and Dr. Darin Davis.

This match was promoted by St. Paul Championship Wrestling (SPCW) and took place at the West St. Paul Armory. SPCW would later become Steel Domain Wrestling (SDW), a promotion that is still active today.

Promotion: St. Paul Championship Wrestling (SPCW)
Referee: Terry Fox
Ring announcer: Christian Dady
Commentators: “Slick” Mick Karch, Christian Dady, Dale Spear

Well, not really.

A guy at work dressed up like me for Halloween (check out the name tag)! Too bad I didn’t have any merch to sell.

Twenty years ago today, I walked into a place called the Peacemaker Center in Northeast Minneapolis, MN for my first day of pro wrestling training camp with the “Trainer of Champions” Eddie Sharkey. The building was used to teach some Native American studies, but it also doubled as a youth center. The wrestling ring was set up in a corner of a large, open room that also housed a boxing ring, heavy bags, and other workout equipment. Several teenagers and young adults were there learning to box. While we were at this location, I was the only trainee. Billy Blaze and Marty Hamilton (a.k.a. The Joker/Jokester) were helping Eddie out with the training. I also had a boxing trainer that went by the name of General Chang as my (inexperienced) wrestling partner. Occasionally we were getting a couple of guys from the northern part of the state, but they had a three hour round trip so eventually they stopped showing up.

Within a couple of months the place closed- I don’t remember the details of why. Eddie then teamed up with wrestler Terry Fox to restart the camp in Coon Rapids, MN. With Sharkey, Fox, additional trainers “Thunderblood” Charlie Norris and Sam Houston, and a bunch of new talented recruits, it turned out to be a very good summer.

In the late fall, we moved the ring to St. Louis Park, MN so that we could be inside Terry’s garage. And that’s where the camp remained the rest of the time I was there. In the winter the ring was in the garage, and spring through fall it was outside.

In the years that I was there, the trainees that I can recall were Robbie and Mike Thunder, Hellraiser Gutz (a.k.a. ECW’s Bam Neely), PrimeTime, “Opera Man”, the Mighty Angus, referee “Diamond” Joe, Hellraiser Blood, Thor Tyler, “Playboy” Pete Huge, Big Daddy Hoofer (Brody Hoofer), Ultimate Fighter Brad Kohler, “Andy” (forgot his ring name), Mitch Paradise, Shawn Daivari (a.k.a. Sheik Adnan Bashir in TNA), “City Slicker” Jake Ricker, Ian & Ashley Xavier, K-Train, Scott Free, The Sheriff, Shifty, Lacey, Crystal, Ladyhawk, Cynnamon, Sandy from FL, Morgan P.R., “Ray” (don’t remember his ring name), Austin Aries, Helmut Von Strauss/Justin Lee, Smilin’ Jack Daniels/Devin Nash, Black Stallion, Drej, Travis Sharpe, Storm Wolf, “Stone Cold” Doug Johnson, Troy “Don’t Call Me Goldberg” Steel, Chuck Diesel, “Superstar” Steve Stardom, some kid from China (?), and the High Rollers.

At one point I remember counting 17 people training all on the same day. Crazy. Some doing in-ring drills, some on mats outside the ring, some working on punches and other holds. Then “musical chairs” and everyone rotates.

Besides the camp regulars, on Fridays we sometimes had wrestlers from out of town including neighboring states (mostly Wisconsin and Iowa) work out at the camp. They usually were coming in to work a Saturday show and got in a day early to get a little extra ring time. Guys like Travis Lee, Red Lightning, Jay Hanna/Mr. Destiny, T.S. Aggressor, Kamikazee Kid, Rain/Payton Banks. Some former Sharkey trainees like Red Tyler and Lenny Lane would also stop by occasionally, along with local wrestling “celebrities” Tim Larson and “Capital City” Kyle.

I wrestled for five years, working for MIW, PWA, FLWA, SPCW/SDW, WrestleAmerica 2000, WTW, NWF, IWA (Canada), and several others I forgot. Then I broke away from the business for six or seven years (longer story). I ended up getting pulled back in at the beginning of 2009 when K-Train was making a return to the ring. He asked me to come out to the show at Roberts Sports Bar, and I showed up… with my gear in the trunk (just like Terry taught me). I got put into the “Roberts Rumble”, similar to the Royal Rumble where combatants enter the ring at fixed time periods, and at one point the last few guys left in the ring were me, Robbie Thunder, Pete Huge, Mitch Paradise, and I think Hoofer. It really brought back a lot of memories of those days in the backyard at Terry’s.

After that, I started refereeing again and have reffed for MIW, SDW, PTW, and Battleground. At the end of 2014, I got back in the ring as a wrestler and wrestled Pete Huge, Rob Justice, Chris Jordan, James Dawson, Scott Story, PJ Thorn, and Mitch Paradise over the course of a year.

I don’t know exactly how I expected my wrestling career to go, and my expectations have certainly changed over the years. I know I thought I would wrestle for a much longer period of time. I thought when I took a break in early 2002 it would be for six months to a year, not for thirteen years (til the match in Dec of 2014- I’m not counting wrestling in the Roberts Rumble in 2009). Some of that I had control over and some I didn’t. I know that I’d like to wrestle a few more times before hanging it up for good (if there is such a thing as “for good”). But it’s a race against Father Time and it can be at odds with some of my other interests and priorities. And, to be honest, there are a lot of younger, hungry, talented guys (and gals) out there that deserve one of the limited spots on a show more than I do.

I’m really glad to see that the local independents are still going strong today. And that I had the privilege of working out at Terry Fox’s MIW training camp (up in the orginal Coon Rapids location) during the summer of 2015 and getting some ring time with trainees Scott Story, JD Bandit, Aiden Wake, “Stonehenge” Joseph Wayne, referee/manager Tom T. Butterman, and occasionally “Rock Solid” Ross. It makes me feel good about the future to know these guys are going to be carrying the torch.

Overall I can look back and really appreciate the time I had as part of the business and working alongside of, or across the ring from, some really great people (and a few assholes). Thanks to all my fellow wrestlers, referees, promoters, and fans that made all the years worthwhile.


FYI, I posted a more in-depth account back in 2008 about on my wrestling training experience. If you’re curious to find out more, start with the first part called Wrestling Training and it should also take you to Part 2 and Part 3.

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:

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.

Last weekend, I took a trip down to Paradise City to get my butt handed to me. I wrestled Mitch Paradise for the first time since the spring of 2001. Mitch has been a mainstay of the wrestling scene ever since coming out of camp in the late 90’s, and is still at the top of his game. I, on the other hand, took a 13 year leave from wrestling and have had a handful of matches within the last year. This was also my first match back since tearing my hamstring last August and I was still having issues.

Mitch came out victorious after getting me into a cross face for the second time of the night where I couldn’t get to the ropes. But not before my latex buddy made an appearance. Maybe if I get another shot someday things will come out differently. I would even consider taking a few shortcuts if it gave me an advantage.

Thanks to MIW for booking me, and thanks to the fans for showing up and supporting local pro wrestling.

Photo credit: Knocked Out Entertainment

In all honesty we’ve had much better matches and I felt like we were a little out of sync the whole night. I’m seen nearly all of his matches for MIW and many for PTW in the last five or more years and they have all been outstanding, so I think it was me. I haven’t seen any video and had several people tell me it was a good match afterward, but I feel I could have done a lot better. I can’t change the past, so I can only try to do better next time.

MIW had a benefit show for the MS Society this past weekend in Blaine, MN. It was an outdoor show in a park. I got pinned by “The Neverending Story” Scott Story in a singles match. Scott originally trained with the legendary Harley Race before going through Terry Fox’s training camp and is making a rapid ascent on the local scene. I hope that I’ll be able to wrestle him again and try to get a victory before he becomes even that much better.

I don’t have any pictures of the match to share. Apparently neither Kyle Olson (Knocked Out Entertainment) or Wayne McCarty were at this one.

Thanks to MIW for booking me and the folks that came out in the extremely hot weather to watch the action and support the charity.

MIW put on a charity show in the parking lot of the Chanhassen American Legion on Saturday. I was scheduled to ref, but ended up wresting PJ Thorn in the opening match. It was an afternoon show, right in the hot sun on a very hot day, but I ended up coming out victorious.

And my little latex buddy came out for a breath of air.

Thanks to MIW for booking me, and for those that came out to see some wrestling action and support a good cause.

Photo credit: Knocked Out Entertainment

On Saturday, I went up against James Dawson as part of MIW wrestling at the Chanhassen American Legion. Dawson has made a lot of progress in the few years that he’s been wrestling. More experience doesn’t always get your hand raised, as I found out at the end of the match. But I managed to bring the glove out for an appearance nonetheless.

Dawson has a good future ahead of him. Maybe that will include me getting another shot at a victory.

Thanks to MIW for booking me, and to all the fans that came out.

Photo credit: Knocked Out Entertainment