‘The Black Sheep’ Dave Turner talks about early inspiration, Pacific Northwest Wrestling, in-ring style and more

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Photos / FEST Wrestling

Sometimes nightmares are real. Sometimes your greatest fears manifest in human form and stalk the night. They enter the ring reaping destruction on those who dare step through the ropes to face them. From the suburban sprawl of Everett Washington comes one of the region’s most terrifying talents working in professional wrestling today. “The Black Sheep” Dave Turner, agreed to take some time off from terrifying children and families across Western Washington and answer a few questions for me.

It was quite an experience getting to know this truly talented man who is a horror in the ring, and a perfect gentleman in person. Writers, such as Emily Dickenson, have often lamented how well-mannered death really is. The same can be said for The Black Sheep.

Dave Turner has many faces. A father, husband, self-professed ‘giant nerd’, a professional, artist and a terror in the ring. It is quite rare to see someone able to switch between wearing so many hats. After talking with Dave, its readily apparent this man is so busy he doesn’t sleep. He is possibly one of the busiest pros working in the business today.

Photos / FEST Wrestling

Philip: In my research I saw you have been working in the indies for about five years. What inspired you to start training and get in the ring?

Dave Turner: Growing up I always wanted to be a wrestler. I actually started training when I was 18 but it was a much different time then. It was harder to find a reputable school/trainer and the person I had started to train with ultimately ended up providing neither. It became a lot of broken and empty promises but having no other place to learn I stuck with it. Eventually I made a couple of life choices (nothing TMZ worthy) that set me back a bit. In the end, I got there though, perhaps a little later than most of my peers, but I got there.

Philip: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you perform at Without A Cause. Max Zaleski has credited you with being a huge support in the process of launching his new promotion. As a performer and observer of professional wrestling here in the Pacific Northwest, how have you seen this region evolve in the last few years?

Dave Turner: Thank you! It’s been an interesting several years. This region has a RICH history with Professional Wrestling dating back to the early 1900’s but most notably during the Don Owens days. Once the territories ‘died’ the well for wrestling in this area kind of dried up and stayed that way for a LONG time. When I started there weren’t a lot of places you could go to really learn your craft. Washington, Oregon and Canada all had approximately two places a piece you could go for work. Other places would pop up here and there, but nothing really had any staying power. Davey Richards famously called this region a “black hole” and he was right. It wasn’t until recently with the changes in legislature that the area started to have a resurgence with wrestling. 3-2-1 Battle! Has really evolved into its own distinct brand, DEFY created a certain niche for itself and now WAC has joined the party. It’s easier now than ever to be a consistently working athlete in the Pacific Northwest.

Photos / FEST Wrestling

Philip: You have recently had some bookings outside our local region (Pacific Northwest). Tell us about working and traveling. Who have you worked for and who are you hoping to work for?

Dave Turner: Oh boy. So, I said it’s easier than ever to consistently work in the PNW right, but I’ve never had the goal of just being “Seattle Famous”. That’s great for the guys that do, but there is such a large world of wrestling out there left for me to conquer. This year I spent a significant amount of time in Denver, Colorado working with Rocky Mountain Pro on their TV series Charged. I’ve traveled to Arizona for Party Hard Wrestling, California for PCW Ultra, and Florida for FEST Wrestling. All of that while maintaining a very consistent schedule in the PNW. Travel is hard, truthfully, probably the hardest part of what we do, but I consider myself lucky to be one of the most elite and travelled athletes from this area. Not many guys can stack up their resumes with mine around here. I’ve got some pretty big opportunities coming up and have had some conversations with our companies back east. Ultimately, I’d like to go overseas, Japan, the UK and China, and also spend some time with more companies on the East Coast such as MLW, Beyond, Limitless, Freelance and Evolve, just to name a few.

Philip: How do you manage balancing everything between work, family, training and hitting shows?

Dave Turner: I don’t LOL! I’ve been lucky to have a huge support system since I started wrestling. In the beginning it was all meant to be just a ‘hobby,’ something I did once or twice a month because I always wanted to. Within a couple years and completely transforming my physique to the masculine hunk of beef you see before you today, it became less of a hobby and more of my career. I’ve probably alienated a lot of people because of it, but family and friends have always been very supportive. In the end, so many people have stood by me and walked this very hard road with me. I have to give my lovely wife, Ashley, most of the credit for my current success. Wrestling takes me away almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On top of that I’m in the gym lifting to maintain a certain appearance. Spending time in the kitchen to prepare my food and altogether in my own head constantly thinking about how to build my brand visibility. Her patience and willingness to let me be me every day has been a godsend.

Photos / FEST Wrestling

Philip: How would you describe your style and approach to wrestling? In terms of performers, past and present, who have had the most influence on your style?

Dave Turner: As I’ve pursued wrestling more as a career, I’ve had to learn to reinvent myself. It’s very easy for a guy who looks like me (bald head, black trunks, black boots) to draw comparisons to other bald-headed famous wrestlers. Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA were three guys I really drew a lot of inspiration from in wrestling. For a short period, there was a time I wanted to be just like Shawn Michaels as well. However, I had to come to grips with the reality that I was neither technical or handsome enough to be any of those four, so I started to just pick and choose things to borrow and make mine. These days I realize there is a large gap that I intend to fill in the wrestling world and I spend a lot of time finding dynamic ways to take what I do now and put a little more “indie spin” on it.

Philip: When you get into the ring with your opponent, what makes it a good match for you? What are the elements of a satisfying match for you?

Dave Turner: All of us making it back to the locker room alive and in one piece. Although there is an element of truth to that statement I’m mostly kidding when I say that. Wrestling is such a fickle sport. Try as you might you can’t make everyone happy and you never will. I’ve learned over the years to slow my brain down when I’m in a match, I’m much more “in the moment” n ow then I was when I started. I don’t really wrestle for the adulation of the audience, someone is always going to love it, and someone is always going to hate it, that’s just the way it is. These days I can tell if I’m happy while I’m actually in the throes of the match. Pacing, camera angles, storytelling and execution all make me happy. If I can nail most of those, I’m good for the night.

Philip: You have been doing this for a while now. What does training look like for you? How frequent? With whom?

Dave Turner: So, this is going to sound super controversial because the last and greatest craze in wrestling is to practice, practice, practice. But I don’t really. I’m not taking away anything from people who do, I understand why they do. It’s a different business than it was back in the territory days. You can’t wrestle as often to stay sharp. And I’m also not saying I never train either. I own a wrestling ring, it’s currently set up in my garage and I’ll go in and run conditioning drills or have Cool Dad Chris Ross come over from time to time to run through practices. The reality is though, I know what I’m doing and who I am as a performer. I perform more than the average person in this area, so a lot of my training is either a) on the job, or b) mental exercises on how to perfect the finer details of my performances and character.

Philip: What promotions, outside the Pacific Northwest, do you follow as a fan? What makes Dave Turner a fan?

Dave Turner: I grew up watching wrestling. Being a fan was just bred into me at a very young age. The pomp and circumstance, the showmanship and athleticism always spoke to me. As far as what I currently watch, I try to stay current with everything. Which is a pretty big trail sometimes. Lucha Underground, Impact, MLW, PCW Ultra, NJPW, Progress and WWE to name a few. Everything is really very accessible now to get your hands on and watch. The difference between 2018/2019 Dave Turner and 2015 Dave Turner is now I’m watching as a peer with the intent of earning my spot on these shows instead of watching as a fan.

Philip: You can be an intimidating and imposing presence. I’m certain there are times that can be very useful. Have you ever had a situation when it didn’t work well for you?

Dave Turner: Hahahaha… No, I honestly can’t remember a time when it didn’t. Ultimately, I’m a lover, not a fighter. I’d rather take your girl than fight you for her, BUT that doesn’t mean I won’t. I think my size intimidates people to the point where most people just walk away. My wife comments on people looking at me in public all the time. I don’t really notice it much anymore. I suppose when you live inside my body 24/7 being big becomes so normal that I sometimes just feel average. Then I stand in the mirror or behind my wife with my shirt off and realize I’m freaking huge. So that’s nice LOL.

Philip: What would be your advice to someone who is interested in getting into the world of professional wrestling?

Dave Turner: Be realistic with what your goals are. Don’t sacrifice your own dignity and sense of self-worth for this business. Don’t sacrifice your health and overall well-being for this business. And never ask for permission to live your career how you want it. I won’t sit here and tell a person not to sacrifice family time, relationships or friendships. You’ll have to do all that to get the success you want from this business, but if you clearly define what your goals are then getting what you want is doable. I’ve been very fortunate to learn from some of the best minds in this business and I’m an open book to help IF you really want it. Eventually I’ll start my own school… who knows maybe sooner rather than later, but I intend to teach the business model that’s worked for me so far. The real-life version of how to get what you want, not the old guard mentality that plagues wrestling today.

Philip: “The Black Sheep” Dave Turner… how did you form this gimmick? Are you used to being the proverbial black sheep?

Dave Turner: So, I was more or less shunned from the region for a long time. I don’t want to say people disliked me, because I’ve always had mostly positive relationships with everyone in this area. BUT people don’t think I fit in this business. And truthfully, they were probably right. I started picking up, what was at the time, a pretty busy schedule though, more than everyone else for the most part. It wasn’t anything compared to what I’m doing now, but it was still work. My friend Charlie made an offhanded commend and said, “you really are the Black Sheep of the area” and it just kind of stuck with me. It became a way to get the chip off my shoulder in a constructive way. It wasn’t until working with 3-2-1 BATTLE! And Steve West’s direction of how he perceived my character that I really understood who The Black Sheep was. That being said, Kevin Kelly once told me, “eventually you won’t be the underdog anymore, you’ll have to evolve,” which is exactly what happened. I’ve spent the last two years working harder than every single other person from this region that I earned the respect I wasn’t getting in the beginning. Now I’m in the challenging, but extremely fulfilling, process of evolving The Black Sheep character.

Philip: What is something about Dave Turner That your fan’s may not know about you?

Dave Turner: I don’t know if there is anything that is super special or shocking. I’m a pretty simple guy and I’m kind of an open book. I love my cats… like A LOT. I’m fairly artistic, and a lot of my design work, video editing, etc. is of my own creation and effort. Probably the biggest thing that would surprise people is I’m actually a giant nerd. I love comic books of all varieties, sci-fi, fantasy and collectible action figures (only wrestling figures thought) including a nearly complete set of WWE Funko Pop Vinyls.

Photos / FEST Wrestling

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It was truly a great opportunity to have a chat with Mr. Dave Turner. He is a consummate professional and a pleasure to watch in the ring. Outside the ring he is approachable and a pleasure to interact with. He is making his mark on this region and already getting noticed far and wide. With the amount of talent this man has he deserves every ounce of recognition he receives.