Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana is easily the most prolific independent wrestler of the modern era. With his comedic style, underdog appeal, and fierce independent streak, he has earned the respect of wrestling fans worldwide. But how did this all happen? We present Colt Cabana, part 1 in our latest AEW Talent Preview.
Scott Colton was born on May 6th, 1980 in Deerfield, Illinois. He became a pro wrestling fan at the age of four when he saw Andre the Giant on an episode of WWF Championship Wrestling. The colorful characters and high-impact action of the 1980s wrestling had the young man hooked. The future Colt Cabana’s passion for the industry never dwindled, even as his friends began to pursue more mature interests. He wanted to get into the business straight after finishing high school but enrolled at Western Michigan University at the behest of his parents. There, he studied business marketing while playing on the school’s football team. It was while he was home for the summer of 1999 that he made the decision that would change his life forever.
Colt Cabana, Part 1
Training at Steel Domain
The young Scott Colton began training under Ace Steel, Danny Dominion, and Kevin Quinn in 1999. As part of his training, he began wrestling for St. Paul Championship Wrestling (later Steel Domain Wrestling) in Minnesota. While working for SPCW, he met a young CM Punk and the two quickly became friends. The duo would become inseparable on the indie scene, traveling together as tag partners or rivals from Minnesota to Pennsylvania.
“It was a great experience,” Cabana told Robbie Deming. “They ran me hard, they beat the crap out of me, they beat respect into me. Hard work, cardio, understanding the business, whatever I thought I knew, I didn’t know anything. I’ve learned so much from them and I’ve taken so much away from that and I give them all the credit in the world. You know obviously, since I’ve broken away, I’ve picked up different stuff from going different places but it all came down to the basics they taught me. They taught me a lot more than the basics.”
Punk and Cabana Journey to IWA: Mid-South
In 2001, the duo made their way to IWA: Mid-South in Indiana at the behest of manager Dave Prazak with a number of other Steel Domain graduates. It was in IWA where Cabana, Punk, and Prazak along with Adam Pearce formed the Gold Bond Mafia. IWA would become their home promotion until 2003. Cabana and Punk’s work in IWA caught the attention of upstart promotion Ring of Honor, where they would work as rivals on a per appearance basis. The duo excited crowds and impressed management enough to be featured in the opening of the inaugural Final Battle in 2002. In the 10-minute match, Cabana and Punk fought for an ROH contract, with Punk taking the victory. Colt would join him as a regular in ROH the following year.
ROH and The Second City Saints
In 2003, Cabana would continue having occasional matches for ROH. On March 22nd, he was revealed as Raven’s tag partner in a match against CM Punk and Ace Steel. Early in the match, Cabana attempted a moonsault to the outside but landed awkwardly, seemingly injuring himself in the process. This turned a tag match into a handicap match, with Raven fighting the rest of the match on his own. He managed to catch Steel in his Even Flow DDT for the win. Immediately following his win, Cabana attacked Raven, turning heel on his partner and aligning with Steel and Punk to form The Second City Saints. The Second City Saints had an eventful first year, putting on a fondly remembered match against Kazushi Miyamoto & Tomoaki Honma at Final Battle 2003.
That was a big year for Colt. “In 2003, when I stopped as a teaching assistant and I became a full-time pro wrestler, I realized that I couldn’t just be a full-time pro wrestler by just making a wrestler’s salary,” Cabana told ESPN. “I needed to supplement it somehow and that was through merchandise and marketing.” This led him to develop his product range, producing merchandise with vibrant colors, catchy designs, and a level of variety unheard of in the industry. He was one of the first wrestlers to work at his own merchandise table. In doing so, he was engaging with the fans on a level that other indie stars weren’t. His choice to market himself more intensely led to the development of a small but devoted fan base.
ROH Tag Team Champions
Colt Cabana, Part 1
The Second City Saints got their first major feud later in 2003, after a mystery attacker struck their valet. CM Punk led the charge to find the mystery assailant, calling out Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff, AKA The Prophecy. Punk reasoned that The Prophecy feared that the Second City Saints would take their spot as most dominant tag team in ROH. Daniels denied The Prophecy’s involvement until Final Battle 2003, when he admitted that newest member B.J. Whitmer had carried out the attack.
The war between the Second City Saints and The Prophecy gave us many intense, bloody battles. At “The Battle Lines Are Drawn” in 2004, they collided in an hour-long 6-man tag match, ending in a no contest. Whitmer and Maff met Cabana and Steel again that March at “At Our Best” in a tag team match. Again, the encounter was inconclusive. The next month at ROH: Reborn, Cabana and Punk captured the ROH Tag Team Titles from the Briscoe Brothers in the main event. The Saints would lose those titles the next month at “Round Robin Challenge III” to The Prophecy, only to win them back from The Briscoe Brothers in the main event. The following month at Generation Next, Punk and Cabana successfully defended against The Prophecy. CM Punk and Colt Cabana held the tag team championships until “Testing The Limit,” losing to Ricky Reyes and Rocky Romero.
CM Punk’s Shadow
Colt Cabana, Part 1
During The Saints’ feud with The Prophecy, CM Punk’s true value as a singles star became clear. Consequently, Colt Cabana saw himself and Ace Steel pushed to the sidelines as more stories centered on Punk. After Punk lost to AJ Styles in his quest to become ROH Pure Champion, his arrogance caught the attention of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Steamboat felt that Punk had all the tools necessary to become the top babyface in ROH, and became his mentor. So began a face turn not only for Punk but for Cabana and Steele as well. In mid-July, during a match between Punk and Steamboat, the members of the new faction Generation Next attacked the elder wrestler. Punk came to the legend’s rescue, beginning the feud between the Second City Saints and Generation Next and cementing Punk’s face turn.
With Punk becoming a singles star, Colt spent much of 2004 facing the lower-card members of GenNext. He had many matches against Roderick Strong, Jack Evans, and Austin Aries. At Final Battle 2004, Austin Aries defeated Samoa Joe for the ROH World Championship, ending Joe’s reign of 645 days. Aries’s first title defenses were against Cabana, a singles match at It All Begins and a cage match at the Third Anniversary show. While still with the Second City Saints, Cabana briefly teamed with Nigel McGuinness before the two entered a feud.
In the meantime, CM Punk captured the ROH world championship from Austin Aries and began to turn heel. WWE offered Punk a deal, and he began to treat ROH as a lesser brand. Punk’s had his final ROH match in August of 2005, losing to Colt Cabana in a 2 out of 3 falls match in their hometown of Chicago.
Post-Punk and International Success
Colt Cabana, Part 1
Following Punk’s departure for WWE, Cabana floated around the mid-card for a few months. Then, at Enter The Dragon in October of 2005, he teamed with Steve Corino against Homicide and Low Ki in a winning effort. Infuriated at losing to his old rival, Corino, Homicide took his frustrations out on Colt. Their feud saw Homicide wail on Cabana with steel chairs, strangle him with a metal coat hanger, and attempt to poison him with Drano. The feud culminated at Better Than Our Best on April 1st, 2006 in a Chicago Street Fight. This match saw Cabana up his hardcore game to defeat Homicide, earning his rival’s respect.
In 2004 and 2005, Cabana embarked upon tours of Europe. He wrestled in Scotland, Germany, and France, but mainly worked in England. While on tour, he learned some of the finer points of European technical wrestling, taking in older matches from World of Sport and Catch Wrestling Association. Through this, he learned about English pro wrestler Les Kellet, one of his idols in the sport. While Cabana’s prior work had comedic elements, his style was still bound to American indie wrestling. In other words, he had to break from wrestling to do a comedy spot. Les Kellet’s style emphasized comedy in the context of a wrestling match, taking something as basic as a wristlock and making it funny through his reactions. This breakthrough would shape the way Colt Cabana wrestled when he returned to the US indie scene. He also enjoyed success in Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
Colt Cabana, Part 1
Matt Classic and WWE
In 2006, Cabana filmed a handful of matches for the short-lived Wrestling Society X show on MTV. The WSX roster included a handful of other ROH talent, including Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, Matt Sydal, and Matt Cross. Cabana decided that his character should be the antithesis of the frenetic, fast-paced, high-flying action displayed by others. To this end, he created the character Matt Classic, a masked throwback to wrestlers of the 50s and 60s. His offence consisted entirely of “old school” moves, like airplane spins and nerve pinches. While the WSX show was not very popular, the Matt Classic character struck a chord with wrestling fans, and Cabana would return to the character for appearances in Chikara.
On April 3rd, 2007 Colt Cabana announced he had signed a contract with WWE. He had made prior appearances for the company, working preliminary matches on Heat and Velocity. This, however, was the full developmental deal. Colt wrestled his final indie match on April 28th, 2007 at ROH Good Times, Great Memories, an event named in his honor. He defeated fellow Steel Domain graduate Adam Pearce in the main event that night in Chicago. On May 30th, 2007, Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana debuted at a TV taping for Ohio Valley Wrestling. Little did he know the disaster that awaited him.