Vaughn Vertigo discusses early training, support from his contemporaries and more

Vaughn Vertigo has been carving and making a name for himself since the age of 17 all over the world. This multi-faceted talent shared with us ahead of his upcoming set of matches for Smash Wrestling about several topics.

In the first of this multi-part interview, the V Guy shared with us the evolution of his character, where he has competed, and the list of names that have been among his biggest supporters along the way.

Vaughn Vertigo
[Photo: Vaughn Vertigo]

Everything that you do, and maybe share a little bit about the genesis of the V Guy and how you all came to be where you are now.

I started wrestling when I was 14 years old in Toronto. So, I kind of grew up around professional wrestling and I did like everything I could to get into wrestling. I was a referee; I did commentary, I filmed shows, and I did every role possible until I was able to actually start doing shows when I was 17.

That led me to travel around the Ontario circuit, mostly with my tag team partner, Gabriel Fuerza. In 2017, I started reaching out to Europe because I felt like I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of Canada, so I needed to go somewhere new. And that led me to a whole new wealth of opportunities in Europe.

And that just kept growing and growing until the pandemic happened.  I did a little backyard wrestling film project over the pandemic. And once the pandemic kind of came to an end, I went back to Europe and everything just kind of blew up from there. Yeah.

Where did the idea to pivot professionally come from? I know you said you did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Was wrestling always the end goal, or was there was there something that you had to feel like you had to build up to get to that point because it’s not always automatic?

There’s some great indie talent that stick to being referees, and that’s their lane. But for yourself?

For me, I was producing these backyard wrestling shows when I was like 10, 11, 12 years old in my backyard with all my friends and I was filming it.

I was editing it. I always had the sick production part of my life. So, when I started training, I reached out to originally saying, ‘Hey, I’d love to learn about professional wrestling’. I didn’t necessarily want to solely, learn professional wrestling. I wanted to learn how to be a referee.

I wanted to learn how to be a commentator and a ring announcer, and ultimately, I got to do all those things, but you don’t really do that often. I was just kind of forced into being a wrestler, not forced.

But I was training to be a wrestler, and I got addicted to it immediately, and I was like, Oh, there’s no other choice here. I have to be a pro wrestler.

What can those other experiences provide you? How did they lend themselves to helping get, get you to where you are in becoming a pro wrestler? 

A lot of it was just kind of getting comfortable with a crowd. I mean, you have to remember, like, I was 14 years old when I started. Like, I was incredibly shy.

I wasn’t a kid who was into a lot of extracurriculars or sports. So, it took a while for me to kind of open up and get more confident in a lot of these avenues. Just like being out there as a referee for like you know, a Sebastian Suave or a Brent Banks match, like helped grow that confidence.

And then by the time I was 17. And I was finally able to start doing shows. I was just like, so ready. I was just ready to hit the ground running.

From your training and the relationships that you’ve built. Not only just in Ontario, but I guess across the ocean too, and in Europe.

What can you speak about those relationships and how they’ve helped? To build you up as to where you are today. 

I mean, my relationship with Sebastian (Suave) is incredibly important because he had a little bit of a hand in training me.

He was one of the guys that would kind of take sessions here and there. So I learned a little bit through him, and then obviously, like, wrestling his matches, I learned through him as well.

And he’s always somebody who’s kind of advocated for me. So, when he started up Smash Wrestling, and I started coming around, I kind of said like, well, hey, what do I need to do to be a part of this?

This is something special in Toronto. And you could see it like the crowds were loving it. And they had all these partnerships with companies like Progress and WXW. And they had the whole WhatCulture/Defiant tournament. And I was like, this is a company I need to be a part of. What do I need to do to get there?

Vaughn Vertigo – Not Like Everyone Else

And in that conversation with him, he said, what do you offer that’s different from everybody else, right? And at the time, he made a valid point. What did I have that was different from everybody else? I was another, you know, high-flying wrestler on the Ontario circuit.

There’s, you know, that’s replaceable. So, he kind of said, like, you need to go make a name.  So, I looked at that. I was in college at the time. I was just about to graduate. And I said, okay, who do I know?

In Europe, because that’s like an attainable thing. Mike Bailey just started going over there. Obviously, the European scene was on, on growth.

So, I knew this guy named Oli Peace, who runs WrestleForce Wrestling through YouTube. I reached out to him, and he got me booked in a couple of places, and then my first matches over there were with Kip Sabian, who’s now in AEW, and Elton Prince, who’s part of Pretty Deadly, in WWE now.

So, once I went over there and, You know, started having these matches with these guys, They were able to vouch for me, and I got on bigger and bigger shows.

So I was able to go back to Smash Wrestling and say, Look at, look at the entirety of the Ontario roster. Like, who, who’s doing what I’m doing? Like, there’s not, there’s not many people.

Mike Bailey was really the only one who was doing the extent of it and much more.  So that was kind of used as leverage to say, like, hey, you should be using me.

And that kind of became more of a thing after the pandemic as opposed to before. I was doing smash shows before the pandemic, but it’s mostly like tag stuff.  Sebastian’s really important to like help.

He’s helped push me to be a better professional wrestler. I’m sure a lot of wrestlers who have worked for Smash in the past and now would have the same thing to say about him because he helps kind of develop you.

Often, wrestlers will be trained by not just one or two people but a crew of people, and every relationship is different. How can you speak to those that you’ve taken from and taught you something very specific that you carry with you today?

In Europe, there was a different style. You had to learn that different promoters wanted different things. How’s that? What were those expectations? And who did you learn from there? 

A lot of that was just wrestling. You know, guys are on the kind of like the same age as me over there.

Kip was the perfect example because he was my first opponent over there introduction to it. And he kind of took me under his wing and said, Hey, this guy’s good. And that led me to, you know, getting opportunities with like IPW: UK and attack wrestling with that’s Mark Andrews promotion in Wales.

I was picking up feedback from whoever was around, especially when I was there in 2018 and 2019. All this, all these like NXT UK talents, like Pete Dunne, you know, Tyler Bate, these guys would like, they’d go to training at NXT, and then they’d go like help out at ATTACK.

Will Ospreay, as well, would be just backstage, hanging out at ATTACK, so you had like this wealth of knowledge of people you could, you know, learn from, which is something that I think is incredibly crucial to their scene.

I think what helped build it, is everybody was working together, so, you know, I’d have a match there, and then, you know, I’d get to speak to Pete Dunne immediately.

And hear his feedback, and that’s just invaluable, right? Essentially just kind of picking up knowledge from whoever was around who, you know, obviously had a better, or had more knowledge and more experience than me. That’s always kind of been the game, you know?

Obviously, travel hampered your ability to travel and thrive during the pandemic, but you said you were working on a project. Could touch upon that a little bit. What was, what was that about?

Yeah, yeah, so it’s the pandemic happened, and myself and a couple of other Ontario wrestlers, we looked at,  you know, what was happening, you know, there’s only allowed to be five people on a property.

The masking was just starting, and we said, what can we do to,  you know, kind of continue professional wrestling in this, like, really weird, so we kind of thought, like, if there’s no crowds, what are you performing for?

It’s almost like you reverted to being a backyard wrestler, so we ended up doing these, like, backyard wrestling matches. Basically, we took the, we took, like, Basically, my friends, but some of the top people in Ontario, like Josh Alexander, Psycho Mike, Gabriel Fuerza, Alexia Nicole, all these people.

Everyone came up with a new character, and we pretended that because the pandemic happened, we all had to become Backyard Mystery.

It was this very was intentionally supposed to be, like, a serious thing at first, but it quickly developed to be a comedy wrestling show. And it ended up just being, essentially, a film project, and that was Backyard Pro.

We did three seasons of it during the pandemic, and we had Psycho Mike, who was Psychotic Michael, and of course, wrestle The Rock, which was a literal rock.

We had Josh Alexander wrestle in his basement as the dancing weapon as opposed to the walking weapon. RJ City was there, Ethan Page was there, and it was just a wealth of, like, Canadian talent coming together to do the best that we could during the pandemic.

It was a really, really good experience to make something out of, you know, a terrible time in everybody’s life.

My backyard experience growing up, I just treated it literally how I would do it as a kid, making a backyard wrestling product. So, we, we, like, we had like WWE replica tools, but we all treated it little like it was special, you know, and everybody had a championship.

In backyard wrestling championships don’t really mean anything. Everybody wants a title. So, everybody had a championship, and it was just like the stupidest, funniest time of my life. And it was.

Such an experiment, there were people like, if you’re familiar with Justin Sane, who retired recently, but he’s an incredible wrestler who came up with this character, Cornelius Rufidor, who was like this, like an old man who was experiencing dementia, who was also a backyard wrestler.

There were just these, all these ridiculous characters that people came up with.  It was very fun.

It’s become a buzzword that you’ve mentioned buzzword more or so in this conversation about backyard wrestling. And, and it always seems like those that will mention it, it’s, it’s two-handed, right?

It’s either really helpful or if people are critical because they’re not getting the proper training. OMEGA emerged first emerged as a trampoline backyard federation.

Can you speak to backyard wrestling, and how can you say that there was, that it has its place as opposed to being a kind of like the outlaw mud show that certain people might consider backyard wrestling?

I think it very much depends on where your backyard wrestling came from and what it was. For me, I was doing it in my parent’s backyard on a trampoline, which was a little bit safer than in a ring or just wrestling on the ground.

I feel like I already had it’s somewhat of the movement down and I was kind of like anybody who came to our backyard wrestling company. I was almost training them without knowing anything, but I somehow knew movement better than everybody else. I think there’s a place for it.

But it’s kind of like a dangerous line at the end of the day. You need to get actually trained to become an actual professional wrestler. But I think there is something to be said about the introduction of backyard wrestling.

It’s just if backyard wrestlers are putting on a show, and you know fans are coming to see it, and they’re paying a ticket. And that’s where it becomes an issue because they’re not seeing a professional show and they might, they might, a real professional wrestling fan might come to that show.

And not realize that it’s a backyard show. And that’s what they’re going to think independent wrestling is. That’s where it becomes the issue. I would, I would think you have to.

We never got to that extent because we were just kids. We didn’t have, we had like our friends come over to watch. But it wasn’t like we were putting on a show and charging, you know, people in town to come. It was just like a thing for us.

But there, you know, there are people out there that they get into their 20s, and they don’t necessarily get wrestling trained, and they are legitimate backyard wrestlers. But when you’re a kid, it’s entirely different than an adult being a backyard wrestler.

Now, you talked about being a backyard wrestler but talking more so about being a kid, being a wrestler, and training at 13 and 14. Pete Dunne, who was also established well before fans saw him on television, has been in the business for about 10 years.

Do you find that, I don’t know, I would say more so in Europe, but maybe it’s happening here?

I think, specifically in Ontario, I want to say LuFusto is the one that got it changed, where she changed, or she went to a bat for intergender wrestling, which also changed.

The legal wrestling age limit to be 14. I just had to have my parents sign off on it. But, having gone through training at 14 years old, I feel like I kind of waited until I was like at least 16. My body wasn’t fully developed. I was bumping before I had hit my growth spurt.

Which I think maybe, you didn’t, didn’t give me any favors height-wise.  I think training before 18, even if you’re 16, like, I think there’s a lot you can learn, but I feel like there’s a lot you can learn without bumping into certain things. I was treated like everybody else, which is great.

But at the same time, like, I probably shouldn’t have been lining up to take choke slams from these giant guys who come into training, right?

So, you know, hindsight’s 20/20 on that. So, what were the fundamentals that you’d say, like, young teens are probably learning or should probably be learning if, if this is going to be something that they’re going to get into?


Fans can see the V Guy share their admiration for him this weekend for Smash Wrestling Any Given Saturday and Any Given Sunday on Twitter @VaughnVertigo on Instagram @VaughnVertigo and on TikTok @VaughnVertigo.