Shark Tales: Welcome to America

In the last blog covered wrapping up in Calgary and getting ready for my first trip to the United States of America. The place I wanted to visit ever since I was a little kid. The land of opportunity. In the last edition of Shark Tales I explained how my first booking was billed as Lance Storm Student vs HBK Student. This would be my first but not last encounter with Erico. Welcome to America. I felt like a total Independent wrestler at this point. I’ve spoken to promoters, worked outmatch fees, accommodation, travel and fun things that go on doing business. With everything all locked away, it was time to say goodbye to Calgary and Hello America.

As I wave goodbye to my fellow SWA students, the car drives off. I’m beyond excited, here I am fresh out of Lance’s school ready to make my impact in the wrestling world. I take my bags and get ready to fly. Before flying to the US you have to go through immigration in Canada before flying. So I entered the US immigration with a massive smile on my face and my first trip ready to go. I get called through by a not so smiley and excited office.

Photo / Andrew Carter

Then one of the scariest moments in my travel history.

Office: “Passport”

Me: “Yep no worries mate here you go”

Officer:  “Why are you traveling to America”

Me: “ I’m a professional wrestler and this is my first tour”

Officer: “ Are you working in America”

Me: “ Yes, Sir”

Officer: Checks passport… “ Why do you have a visa for the US”

Me: “ So I can wrestle there?”

Officer: “ Do you get paid to wrestle”

Me: “Yes…”

Officer: “ So you plan on working in America? “

Me: “ Yeah hence the visa”

Officer: “ What are you doing for work?

Me: “Wrestling”

Officer: “Whereabouts”

Me: I’m traveling all across because I’m working for different promotions”

Officer: Where are you staying”

Me: at hotels and motels mainly

Officer: Which ones? What are their addresses

Me: Oh, I’m not sure the promoters booking and paying for them, He is just picking me up and taking me there

Officer: That’s great for you but without an address, you’re not coming in

Me: in my mind “F**K… 

Now keep in mind this is still 2008 and all of my business dealings were done via email.

Welcome to America. So I didn’t have anyone’s phone numbers or addresses or any information. So I had to frantically send out multiple emails so I get a number use a payphone (yes still a thing back then).

I got a hold of Erico and I’m like “Mate please give me an address for where you got me booked. Otherwise, they are not letting me in I got the information I needed and returned to the same officer. I must have looked threatening with my buddy Ferrea goatee because the officer called an army guy over with a gun. The guy goes over the address then proceeds to call the hotel and confirm I am staying there.

He then angrily stamps my passport and I’m on my way!

I arrived in Chicago and couldn’t believe I was finally here. Though my excitement began to decrease as time passed waiting for my ride. After 3 hours waiting, I began to think I was a part of a rib and no one was getting me. Just as I was about to lose all hope the car finally arrived. Erico the guy I was wrestling, his business partner and a couple of others greeted me and we hit it off straight away, sharing our training experiences and just general wrestling banter. We arrived in Indiana where I would be having my first match. They checked me into the hotel and I was set for the night and would see them all tomorrow as we get ready for the first show of the tour.

Was I excited to be in America? Put it this way, I walked to a gas station, bought Krispy Kreme, some protein snacks and breakfast for the morning. I talked to some locals then went back to the room and watched some TV. And it was everything I ever dreamed of! Locals seemed to love my accent just as much as I did theirs, You can get anything you need 24/7 and have unlimited TV choices (Is about 7 in Australia without cable) I was so excited to be in America I could bare sleep.

So instead I would do hotel room workouts to get ready… and try applying self-tanning lotion and trying not to sweat haha.

Let’s get to the first match of the tour. South Bend, Indiana for NWA Underground. I introduce myself to everyone backstage. Then I saw a face that I felt like I knew but wasn’t sure exactly. I Introduced myself but still couldn’t put my finger on it. But oh well let’s continue. The promoter is excited to meet me and says the whole show has been built around this match. Wow, thanks for the pressure. I have never wrestled Erico before, I don’t know anything about his style or how we put things together, but somehow I wasn’t nervous. I was just feeling so blessed to be here and I put my gear on then went to look for Erico. Wait a minute…that face that I couldn’t recognize… now has face paint on…holy shit that’s former WWE Tag Team Champion, Demolition Ax!

Photo / Andrew Carter

I asked if he could possibly watch my match and give me any advice. He gladly accepted. Now even more pressure to deliver. Eric and I barely spoke much about the match and both ended up busy doing promo stuff then it was time for the match so we were gonna call most of it out there.

For my first paid professional match, I was actually really proud of it even to this day.

I’m in a new town, new fans, new wrestlers no one knows me but I was able to get over with the local fans. Eric and I just clicked and honestly from an old school perspective, the formula of that match and story we told, we blew it out of the water. Erico was an amazing Heel with so much personality and charisma. This made my job as a babyface so much easier. everything looked crisp and I could have asked for a better debut match for the American Audience.

I get to the back and Ax says, Great Job Kid. Gave me a few pointers and mainly told me to focus on slowing down. A phrase I would hear from every veteran for a while until I finally got what I actually meant.

After the show, we are driving back to the motel and Erico says hey man great news, This promoter just saw the match and wants us to work tomorrow.I thought that’s awesome as it was one of my only dates free. Sounds great mate let’s do it. Eric says we are doing a triple shot. I said oh no… I’m working the days after that. He says I mean for tomorrow. At this point, I got smartened up… A double shot or triple shot is not two or three shows a weekend it shows in a day haha. This would be a real test.

A MidDay and 3 pm show as part of a festival then an hour drive to another town for another show!

Photo / Andrew Carter

The two festival matches were more magic and fun in the ring. I worked Erico again in singles then against him in a Tag and again every time was a blast we just had so much magic. The final match, however… for a company named Evolve and not the big one nowadays haha. I was against one of Ericos students Colin Troy. He was the local top babyface and the plan was early on I was gonna turn on him and join Ericos heel group called the “International Playas Club” Then I was going to the main event against Troy for the title. How much heat will I be able to pull as a Heel in Indian? We will talk all about it in the next blog.

For now! Stay safe, Wash your hands, Self Isolate, follow me on Facebook and Instagram and have a great day!