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). 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...
Dr. Darin Davis