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Dr. Darin Davis

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

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

Last Saturday I wrestled “The Genuine Article” Chris Jordan at the Chanhassen American Legion in front of a packed house. This was my first time wrestling Jordan, but I’ve seen a lot of his matches over the last several years (and refereed a few of them as well). The word that always comes to mind when I think of Jordan is “intensity”. When he comes through the curtain he’s on fire, and doesn’t let up until he heads back to the locker room. And if you’re his opponent, you don’t stop feeling it for another four days.

With a little unintentional help from the ref, and being in the right place at the right time, I was able to get the win.

Thanks to MIW for booking me and to all the fans that came out to watch (and show me their fingers).

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Knocked Out Entertainment

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.

Photo credit: Knocked Out Entertainment

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

not-so-easy-buttonOver 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. They’ll tell you with obvious disbelief that it is much harder than sitting in their Lay-Z-Boy watching it on TV each week.

But what about the opinions of people that have a physically job that is obviously not easy? Let’s look at a couple of MMA fighter-turned-pro wrestlers that have recently commented..

Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal

From Wikipedia: Muhammed Lawal an American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler. He is signed with Bellator Fighting Championships as an MMA fighter, and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as a wrestler.

He is the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Nicknamed King Mo, he is a former three-time U.S. Senior National Wrestling Champion. He wrestled at the University of Central Oklahoma for three years (’00, ’01, ’02), winning one NCAA division II national championship in 2002, and compiling an overall record of 103-22.

In an interview with Fight Hype (full interview), he had the following to say:

[…] pro wrestling training is harder than MMA training. Just look at the gruesome injuries you see in pro wrestling as opposed to MMA. That sh*t is real, man. You don’t see many compound fractures in MMA like you do in pro wrestling. All you gotta do is YouTube Sid Vicious leg break. Man, you see all kinds of crazy sh*t in pro wrestling.

[…]It was surprising to me and it made me question could I handle this. I was talking to Bully Ray and he was telling me they get people …he was like, “Mo, I have had fighters come through, football players come through, and they will train hard for a week or two and after that, they are done. They never come back.” That sh*t is not easy, and for all of the people out there that think it is, they should go and try to take a bump. […]  I asked the film guy to take a bump real quick. He couldn’t do it. He was like, “Man, this is so hard, I can’t do it.” So he ended up doing a soft one and the next day, he was sore. He was like, “The whole back of my neck is sore.”

When he was interviewed for Sports Illustrated, he said:

“I didn’t know you’d wake up not being able to move your neck,” said Lawal of his initial time with TNA. “I didn’t know how hard that canvas was going to be. I really didn’t know about all the technique that goes into it to make sure you and your partner don’t hurt each other in a match, but I can do this and I want to do this.”

He told website MMA Junkie:

[He] was asked to vault over the ropes and stick a landing. It was easily a 10-foot drop. Seven people tried it before him, and all of them got hurt. He flatly refused.

Another day, an instructor demonstrated a fall – on concrete. Lawal was shocked at the loudness of his body hitting the ground. It didn’t take him long to realize he had a long way to go.

Dan “The Beast” Severn

From Wikipedia: Daniel “Dan” DeWayne Severn is a retired American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, notable for his success in the early years of Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments. Severn has fought and wrestled for many mixed martial arts and professional wrestling promotions, including King of the Cage, PRIDE FC, Cage Rage, WEC, RINGS, MFC, the IFC and the World Wrestling Federation. He holds a professional MMA Record of 101–19–7 and is a UFC Hall of Famer and a former UFC Superfight Champion.

In professional wrestling Severn is a two-time world champion, having won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. As of January 2013, at age 54+, Severn still competes in professional wrestling.

In amateur wrestling, Severn was an All American at Arizona State University and a U.S. Olympic Team alternate.

Fighters.com ran an interview with Severn in late 2012:

On the brink of his retirement from action, Dan “The Beast” Severn is looking back at his long and successful careers in mixed martial arts and pro wrestling.

His unique insight on those pursuits might surprise people who view them through the simple real-versus-fake dichotomy.

“Professional wrestling is much more difficult,” Severn says

“I’ve been hurt far worse in the professional wrestling industry than I have been in all of my cage matches.”

and

Severn quickly discovered that wrestling, though scripted, wasn’t nearly as “fake” as widely believed.

“What makes me nervous about wrestling is that I have to put my body in someone else’s hands,” he says. “If that person screws up, it’s me that gets hurt.”

and

What makes it even trickier, he says, is the peculiar nature of most professional wrestlers.

“I say this as a broad stroke: professional wrestling is the biggest band of derelicts, ne’er-do-wells, misfits, nitwits and socially inept individuals ever. There are exceptions. But that’s the way it was when I first got involved, and it still is to this day.”

 

Now, I’ll admit that when these guys say it’s hard they aren’t just talking about the physical abuse. What they’re also talking about, but don’t specifically say, is that a match should have a good beginning, a solid middle, and build to a satisfying end. Accomplishing that while still concentrating on the physical is probably the hardest part. So when they say it’s hard, it’s probably similar to a veteran NFL player, who is used to years of getting pummelled on the field, saying that “Dancing with the Stars” is hard. It’s just different.

In any case, it’s definitely the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, so it’s nice to hear some legit tough guys say the same.

Image: www.marketingtechblog.com