The Strongest Referee of The World? – Writer’s Introductions

Our newest writing talent, Steve Sezso, tells you who he is, where he’s from, and why he’s the world’s strongest referee…

And his opponent, weighing in at 245lbs, from San Antonio California. The Bounty Hunter!”.

Around 25 minutes after this announcement, I would finally win the WWF Heavyweight title from the then-undefeated, Hulk Hogan. A feat made even more incredible because not only was I nine years old but at around 95lbs, I may have been somewhat short of my billed weight. The imaginary thousands in attendance never knew the difference, and they loved my character – ‘the Bounty Hunter’ and his deadly finisher, ‘the shotgun’. A small living-room in a flat/apartment in Kent (UK) had remarkably become the scene for WrestleMania.

I had planned this day all week. I had beaten every opponent in the ‘World Title Tournament’. And now I was ready to take on the biggest star in wrestling, sort of. Imagination does many wondrous things. For me, it allowed me to escape the abject poverty my mother and I were living in. Wrestling allowed me to fight more than just giant teddies; wresting allowed me to fight my own limitations.

Skip forward many years later. Wrestling still stayed with me, but never stretched beyond just watching on TV, attending local events or buying merchandise. There were no local training schools that I could attend. And to be honest, I never considered being a wrestler an actual option. As an adult, I was always fast, strong, fit and certainly capable of entering the squared circle. But I had a family, a job and responsibilities. And besides which, I grew up in a generation that only saw wrestlers that ate steroids for breakfast and were always introduced as being upwards of 6’4”. At 5’ 8” and before the likes of Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan and Kalisto had entered the scene, how could I possibly even stand a chance of being picked?

Rey Mysterio Wwe GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

As a child, poverty had robbed me of many dreams. As with many people, the after-effects of growing up in an environment like that lingered on. It affected my life choices and my general outlook. But on hitting 30 years of age, wrestling once again came to the rescue. After working many jobs that robbed me of all and any joy, and despite having little in the way of academic qualifications, I decided to attend University as an adult. I wanted to better mine and my family’s life, and maybe feel happy again. And with that, my passion for wrestling and fitness returned with a vengeance. I started to believe anything was possible – including my dreams. One of those dreams was to attend Wrestlemania; the other was to compete in the ring.

I graduated from University and was awarded a scholarship. I began studying for a Ph.D. and continued to work hard and save for what seemed an eternity. But the day of realization finally came. It was an incredible moment when I knew it was possible; Wrestlemania 33 would be my first Mania. I began a Vlog (Search for ‘Steve Says So’ on YouTube) to document my journey from buying the tickets to attending the granddaddy of them all. Through that process, I started to make many more friends, all of whom had a story to tell regarding their journey with wrestling. But my journey was still incomplete; I hadn’t yet been in the ring.

As Wrestlemania 34 approached, me and three of my friends had decided we were all suffering from Mania fever and had to do something about it. We had all ‘virtually’ met in the run-up to 33’ and gone for drinks whilst out there. We spoke every day and decided a group travel package to Wrestlemania 35 was the only cure to our wrestling woes. Alongside this, my on-and-off journey with the military (Army Reserves) was ended due to circumstances beyond my control. The need to partake physically in something became insatiable. And then I heard about a local wrestling school…

My friends were (almost) as excited as me. I began my training like a man possessed. That was a mistake. My trainer (and owner of the local promotion) Matt is brilliant and knows his craft inside and out. In the ring, he kept me safe, but I hit the gym harder than ever to make up for my insecurities. The combination of all the training and years of punishing my body took its toll. The doctor said I was close to needing surgery in both shoulders and that I should cease all training immediately. The results were devastating; at least one year out to recover, and then slowly building up the tendons again. I couldn’t handle the thought of walking away from my passion. Thankfully I didn’t have to.

When I first approached SEPW (South East Professional Wrestling), I had said that I was also interested in training as a Referee. I loved the idea of being close to the action and being involved in a role I knew could be pivotal in making a great match. Referees always walked between the worlds of reality and fantasy, giving promises of authenticity to the skeptical in attendance. And furthermore, they had authority. My previous work and my current physical training had given me the confidence to command that which was in front of me. Sure, I wouldn’t be allowed to F5 someone into submission or Superkick someone’s head off (well, not yet). But I would be able to play my part in the theatre of wrestling combat.

I got the call from Matt a couple of nights before my first event. Someone had let him down and he wanted to know if I was interested in stepping up as a Ref for the day. I couldn’t say ‘yes’ quick enough. After I finished messaging him, I immediately went out and bought new trousers and shoes. I was buzzing and I couldn’t wait. The pressure was also on to come up with an in-ring name. My name worked per se, but it didn’t shout “I am the authority!”. After going through several suggestions, I decided to adapt my YouTube channel name of ‘Steve Says So’; a deliberate play on the Stone Cold Steve Austin catchphrase – “…and that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold Says So!”. And thus ‘Steve Sezso’ was born.

The dream to wrestle wasn’t dead – it was simply postponed. The funny thing is, we have one of those cheesy meme-esque pictures hanging on one of our walls in my house. It reads: ‘Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew that you had’. It sucks, and I’m not a fan of it. But I’m convinced the universe has a sense of humor. Because in refereeing, a new dream came true.

Over the past year or so, I attended Wrestlemania 35 (again, see my YouTube Vlog – Steve Says So), and have refereed at multiple events. I’ve also started to heal. Being injured forced me to change how I trained. I took my time and essentially started from the ground up. And it’s made me a lot stronger than I was before, which is surprising given that I’m still technically on the mend.

With the healing in motion, I started to think more about my refereeing style and how I am perceived in the ring. I’m a huge UFC and MMA fan. And this has rubbed off in my approach and style. Black taped wrists, fitted refereeing shirt, black medic gloves, and slick hair make the look complete. Whereas in the ring I’m direct, close to the action, and not afraid to give back to the wrestlers what they give to me. And I love it. Every damn second of it.

I want to build on this experience and referee for as many promotions as possible. I also would love to give announcing and commentary a shot at some point. In my current employment, I speak to large audiences on a regular basis. So, to do that for a wrestling promotion? Yes, please. I have a few unique selling points, including the slightly odd and completely unnecessary talent in probably being stronger (pound for pound) than any other wrestling referee. I have no proof of this, and I can’t even claim that it’s an educated guess. It’s just highly probable, and in my opinion highly necessary. And why’s that, you ask? Because this is my ring, my rules and you will do as I say. Why? Because Steve says so!

Originally Written by
Steve Seszo