What I Learned: Billy Robinson’s Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling

Billy Robinson Physical ChessOne of the only books I know from a British wrestler is Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling by former world champion Billy Robinson. However, it’s much different than other pro wrestling books since it focuses a lot more on the catch-as-catch-can aspect than the sports entertainment we’ve come to enjoy.

Here is what I learned from Billy Robinson speaking about his time working for Joint Promotions in the UK, as well as in Sweden, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, Lebanon, India, Nepal, IWE & UWFi in Japan, Calgary, Hawaii and the AWA.

British Working Class Culture

The biggest piece of culture shock I read was how poor Robinson was in his youth. The working class of England back at that time had a low life expectancy and made extra money via side bets for private matches & street fights on weekends.

Eventually, his father told him to learn how to wrestle from the best (Billy Riley in what became known as the Snake Pit in Wigan) after being in so many fights.

Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling

As I said, a lot of the book is about catch-as-catch-can wrestling, from the holds to the strategy a good wrestler needs to have. He also delves into how it influenced the birth of mixed martial arts (MMA).

It’s interesting how a good wrestler’s mind has to work, taking every angle and approach into consideration. I kind of see this in pro wrestling in the strategy behind wrestling different matches. And how working with good veterans (old timers as Robinson called them) can help you learn so many lessons.

Other Lessons I Learned

  • Forgetting you’re of your own culture to try & immerse yourself in another culture when in a foreign country
  • The difference between European wrestling and American politics
  • You have to wrestle & train like a wrestler to be a good wrestler

Billy Robinson’s Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling really spoke more about how catch wrestling was superior to the pro wrestling of today than actually delving into pro wrestling.

Upcoming Event: WrestlePro in Brooklyn NY on February 11, 2017

WrestlePro Brooklyn NY Feb 11 2017WrestlePro makes this return to St Pats CYO Sports (9511 4th Avenue) in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday February 11, 2017 and will feature Bobby Wayward vs Anthony Bowens for the WrestlePro Championship. We’ll see what factor Chris Avery Queling will have in this match, especially after his match with Bowens the night before at Starland Ballroom.

This will mark the WrestlePro debut of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, WWE Hall of Famer and 1-time opponent of CAQ, and appearances by former WWE superstar Ryback, former WWE Diva Ashley Massaro and GFW wrestler Sonjay Dutt.

Another big match scheduled will be a WrestlePro Tag Team Championship defense by new champions The Heavenly Bodies against Mega Muscle (The Big O & Mike Verna, both making their WrestlePro debuts). Danny Maff vs Craven Varro is also taking place and it’s sure to be hard hitting, as is CPA vs Habib in match 4 of their best of 5 series.

Other matches scheduled include:

  • Mario Bokara vs Chris Payne
  • Beefcake Charlie vs Bear Bronson w/ Jay Enterprise in a grudge match
  • Chris Steeler vs Hush vs Nikos Rikos vs Johnny Clash vs Kip Stevens vs Hotdog Starkes
  • Talon vs Alex Reynolds
  • Taboo Crew vs Team Espana
  • Buster Jackson vs Delroy Alexander

There will be a signing at 6 pm and matches start at 8 pm. Tickets are available now on the WrestlePro website.

WrestlePro at Starland Ballroom: Chris Avery Queling vs Anthony Bowens on February 10

WrestlePro Starland Ballroom Feb 10 2017

Chris Avery Queling vs Anthony BowensWrestlePro will be making its debut at the Starland Ballroom (540 Jernee Mill Road) in Sayreville, New Jersey on Friday night February 10, 2017! One of the featured matches on the card will be a grudge match between Chris Avery Queling and Anthony Bowens.

The event will also feature the return of Ryback, who will be taking on Lucha Underground’s Brian Cage in a clash of muscled men who can do more in the ring than their looks make you think.

Former WWE superstar Cody Rhodes also returns with his WCPW Internet Championship with him and will defend against ROH Top Prospect Lio Rush and Mario Bokara (who had a scuffle at the last WrestlePro event). Speaking of Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes (Cody’s wife) and Ashley Massaro will also be appearing.

WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi will be making his WrestlePro debut teaming with The Beach Bums to take on Johnny Clash, Massage NV & Mark Sterling from Create-a-Pro NY in an 8-man tag team match.

Other matches scheduled on the card include:

  • Pat Buck & Kevin Matthews vs Danny Maff & a mystery partner
  • Team Espanikos vs Taboo Crew in the Trios Tournament finals
  • Matt Macintosh vs Alex Reynolds vs Joey Janela
  • CPA vs Habib in their best of 5 series (they are tied 1 to 1)

There may be more announced in the coming weeks leading up to the event, but you can find tickets here. Matches start at 8 and doors open at 6 pm, but it’s encouraged to get there early since the first 50 people on line will receive a free Dusty Rhodes bear.

My Memories of One-Time Opponent Superfly Jimmy Snuka

Superfly Jimmy Snuka DeathPro wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer Superfly Jimmy Snuka passed away today at the age of 73 after his battle with cancer. I first knew of him as a wrestling fan, but met him many times as a wrestler.

As a Fan

WrestleMania VII was the first time I ever watched wrestling and that’s where I saw Snuka wrestle The Undertaker. I also saw him in various other WWF events over the years renting from Blockbuster Video, as well as a random WCW Nitro from 2000 doing his famous splash from the top of a steel cage.

I also watched older footage on DVDs, such as both of his initial steel cage splash against Bob Backlund & his more noteworthy one against Don Muraco. I also read about him in books and heard about his influence on many wrestlers like Mick Foley & being one of the first to hit a big move from the top rope.

As a Wrestler

I will admit I wasn’t a huge Superfly Jimmy Snuka fan growing up since he was a bit before my time. However, I was a fan of him in the multitude of locker rooms I shared with him in ECPW.

Every time I would see him in the locker room, he’d say “bruddah!”and give me a big hug. We didn’t really have many in-depth conversations, but we did share some words about how we were doing and other things (likewise with his wife Carol).

No matter where we were, he would always have sandals on. Ice skating rink… sandals. Snowing in New York City… sandals. If I would have done that, I would have been sick all the time.

My biggest memory with Superfly happened on June 17, 2011 at an ECPW event in Brooklyn, New York. I had the honor of being one of the Masked Superstars (along with my good friend Tony Myers) and we wrestled Jimmy Snuka & Tony Biella. I got into the match being nervous since Snuka was the most notable wrestler I was matched up against at that time.

I remember being so worried about how the match would go, I didn’t even think I’d be tagged into the match to chain wrestle with Snuka. And that I did, which was an experience in of itself. Every small movement, from a wristlock reversal to taking his signature double chop, had the crowd roaring.

My condolences go out to the family of Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Rest in peace bruddah.

Upcoming Event: WrestlePro at Union NJ on January 7, 2017

WrestlePro Union NJ January 7The first wrestling event that Chris Avery Queling will be appearing at takes place on Saturday January 7, 2017 as WrestlePro returns to the Columbia Club (1034 Jeanette Ave) in Union, New Jersey!

Scheduled matches include:

  • Former WWE superstar “The King of Small Style” Swoggle vs Johnny Clash
  • Former WWE superstar Matt Striker vs Fallah Bahh
  • ROH wrestler Lio Rush vs Chris Payne vs Craven Varro vs Delroy Alexander
  • Bobby Wayward vs Alex Reynolds vs former TNA/current GFW wrestler Sonjay Dutt for the WrestlePro Championship
  • CPA vs Habib in a rematch
  • Beatrice the Barbie Killer vs Nikki Adams in women’s wrestling action

Also appearing for this event will be:

  • Anthony Bowens
  • Kevin Matthews
  • Danny Maff
  • Mario Bokara
  • The Heavenly Bodies & Buster Jackson
  • Matt Macintosh & The Apple Corps
  • Nikos Rikos
  • The Wrestlepreneurs

Doors open at 7 pm and the matches begin at 8 pm. Tickets are available at the door or on the WrestlePro website.

CAQ Reminiscences: The Story of the Missing Ring Post

This is probably the most bizarre ECPW (or any other company) ring crew story I’ll ever tell and I was probably never going to tell it to this extent, but it has been made public by the perpetrator.

Here is Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast featuring Bull James who delves into the details behind why he did it.

I have a different perspective: the guy who had to deal with the effects of Bull’s decision to take the ring post off of Gino Caruso’s ring truck (which was only secured by bungee cords since the ring was too big for the truck) and throw it into a ditch behind his wrestling school.

The Afternoon Before Showtime

It was the the first time we were going to do ring crew after my first main event and first match with a big name (Doink the Clown) on March 27, 2010. It was 3 weeks later because there were no events on Easter weekend and the weekend after was when Gino’s PA crew ran back-to-back events & they had their own ring.

Because it had been a while since I did a ring crew, I felt refreshed. It was the usual Brooklyn crew (Timothy Plazma, Creeper and I) going to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was the most hated building on the circuit due to the multiple floors required to bring the ring down and how we had to work against gravity to bring the ring back up after.

We made good time arriving to the building, took out the canvas and brought post 1/post 2/post 3 into the church basement. I saw them pulling put the first side beam and told them to stop & bring in the 4th post.

Plazma said all 4 posts were in and we argued since I knew I saw 3. When he was animate about it, I thought he was ribbing me since he was on the truck. When I indulged him and counted 3 & it was not a joke, everyone’s heart sunk.

Gino had to be informed and neither of them wanted to, so I had to make the call. As soon as I told Gino, he hung up on me. Creeper asled what he said and I told him he literally just hung up.

Gino called me back furious since he wanted answers. I gave him to Creeper and Plazma, so they can get an earful. They were also technically responsible for the ring from the last event, yet I somehow got equal the amount of heat because I usually do the ring.

How the Show Went On

Wrestling Ring PostAfter a few phone calls were made, we found a spare post but the style of it was different than the ring we had so it probably wouldn’t fit. I convinced Gino to let us drive the truck to Staten Island, so we could at least see the post & possibly rent the whole ring if we had to. Turns out that the kid who owned this ring was pretty much a backyarder and lived at home with his mom, who was animate against renting out the ring.

After convincing the mom to let her son rent the ring, I received a phone call from Gino that he found the post behind the school. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have checked there in the first place hours beforehand, but oh well. We had everybody set up the ring once the post arrived and I did my usual “count the ceiling tiles” finishing maneuver and “all was right with the world.”

Even though I took a bit of the heat, I can still say that Gino had to tuck his tail between his legs and apologize over it.

The Aftermath

There were some changes made going forward. Thanks to this incident, Gino actually bought himself a cheap chain and padlock to secure his ring truck back. That didn’t stop someone from being able to crawl onto the truck for the next NY state show Gino ran to steal his padding for outside the ring per the NYS Athletic Commission’s requirements.

That’s when Gino decided to call the police after not finding them behind the school. There was a suspect (yes, Bull James), but it was never confirmed who actually took the padding since there were multiple suspects.

I guess the last question remains: do I have heat with Bull James? Nope, especially after he explained his reasoning behind it. In fact, I have to thank him in a way. That was my first wake-up call to see that I needed to expand beyond primarily wrestling for ECPW. I had others, but this was truly the start of me losing my mind over the nonsense I put up with while paying my dues at ECPW.

What I Learned: Pat Patterson’s Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE

Pat Patterson AcceptedI’ve been a bit behind on reading since I have had my mind elsewhere. I think that the Pat Patterson autobiography, Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, was the most highly anticipated book released in 2016 because of the role he played in the ring and behind the scenes.

Here is what I learned from Patterson’s book based on his stories about his personal life and his time wrestling and/or working behind the scenes for places like WWF/WWE, AWA, San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Texas, Arizona and Florida.

Being Different

It’s clear by the title (and lots of mention) of the book being his homosexuality. From conflict with his father to some homophobic promoters & wrestlers, he spoke about his struggles with being different. That includes feeling like traditional employment was never his true calling.

Not that I’m comparing by any means, but I’ve always felt different based on my own mental struggles throughout my life, as well as people doubting my dreams to be a wrestler (the latter being what Patterson experienced as well). Some days, I feel the same way about the traditional employment.

This also includes his relationship with his lifelong partner Louie and how they had to get accustomed to the gay culture in various communities as they moved territories.

Psychology

From in the ring to the back end of booking, there were a lot of lessons in wrestling psychology that he spoke about. He spoke about what he learned from people who came before him, as well as his experience being a teacher to the wrestlers in the 80s, 90s, 2000s and even today.

In fact, he thanks one man in particular for showing him that psychology was the most important thing in wrestling: Roy Shire. Even the smallest of detail is so crucial in telling the right story to your audience & get the right emotional response from them.

Other Lessons I Learned

  • How to be a good teacher to upcoming and less experienced wrestlers
  • Not taking unnecessary risks in and out of the ring
  • How his love of performing in front of an audience from a young age helped in his wrestling
  • The wrestling business is all about image to both the fans and the promoter
  • His transition between being a wrestler and a member of the office
  • Stories involving his relationships with Mad Dog Vachon, Nick Bockwinkel, Nick Kozak, Ray Stevens, Vince McMahon, dealing with WWF wrestlers in the 1980s & more

My Memories of “Quick Count” Al Soprano

Quick Count Al SopranoOne of the first people I met in wrestling was “Quick Count” Al Soprano since he was the Senior Referee at ECPW, the place where I first trained. Sadly, he just passed away at the age of 63 due to failing health.

It’s said that people that get into wrestling are characters and Al Soprano was no different between his $5 pizza, the sense of humor he had and the stories I’ve heard from others about traveling with him like getting a flat tire on the way to an event at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and him slapping his arms to stay awake behind the wheel.

I even have an Al Soprano road experience that I had on August 7, 2010. That was the day I had my steel cage match with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and I drove to the event with Al and Andrew Anderson. After the match, we went to a buffet and ate (probably too much).

The car ride home was most intriguing since Drew decoded to go with Beefcake, leaving me and Al alone. It was a 2-hour drive and he told me his life story from officiating pro and high school wrestling to losing his wife to cancer. And yes, he slapped his arms a couple of times during the drive.

I think that was the one in-depth conversation I’ve ever had with Al, showing the bonds that can be made on a wrestling  road trip. There was plenty of locker room banter and joking outside of & in the ring including doing many purposeful pinfalls since he hated going down to the mat and back up.

There was also our time in the ring together. I learned valuable lessons from having Al as my referee, which I still use to this day.

Al had his demons, even being in a coma for a period of time as a result. I never spoke to him after our intersecting time at ECPW, but heard he was never the same after his health issues took over. I hope he is at peace.

Have a story or fond memory about “Quick Count” Al Soprano? Feel free to share in the comments below!

 

Throwback: My First Pseudo Reality Show with a Puppet

I’ve taken part in some ridiculous things in wrestling, but what could be my very first came to surface recently. This was filmed in my first year as a wrestler, though I’m not exactly sure when.

The concept is that Sheldon T. Shellstein (some puppet that’s supposed to be like Elmo or Kermit the Frog) wants to become a pro wrestler and has to go through some training. I remember taping a bunch of things for this video, but it (shockingly) got cut… not sure why, but oh well. I guess that’s the reason I let it fade into obscurity in my head.

Being shown this again brought back memories of the experience and it being a typical day at training & this producer came in to shoot some things. It was definitely a Thursday because I remember training every week just me and Ghetto Brown (the black guy who looks like Bad News Allen) with the occasional special guest. In this case, it was Andrew Anderson and from ECPW Five Boroughs Tony Biella and Ryan Roxbury.

My thought process at the time was “I’ll be training anyway, I might as well take part in this since it could help me down the road.” Spoiler alert: it did not. At least you see a young whitemeat babyface Chris Avery Queling as a raw rookie.

Oh and my favorite part is the full hypothetical card, which was shown briefly in this video. The matches were as follows:

  • Sheldon T. Shellstein vs All Challengers
  • Rusty Trombone vs Cleveland Steamer
  • Hot Lunch vs Dirty Sanchez

Chris Avery Queling vs Giant Leather at WrestlePro in Rahway NJ on Saturday November 19

Chris Avery Queling vs Giant Leather

WrestlePro Rahway NJ November 19 2016WrestlePro returns home to the Rahway Rec Center on Saturday November 19 with a huge lineup of matches that features Chris Avery Queling going one-on-one with Giant Leather, his toughest challenge yet. They were former Monsters Island teammates back when Raven transformed Chris from being the Scranton Strangler/Big Ben Cromwell into Dr. Acula.

Also being featured is a double main event. A star-studded 8-man tag team elimination grudge match is on tap as Brother Nero (Jeff Hardy), Broken Matt Hardy, Ryback and Pat Buck take on The Jackson 5 (The Heavenly Bodies, Chris Payne & Buster Jackson) with Shining Edward Jackson, while WrestlePro Champion Bobby Wayward defends the gold against #1 contender Dan Maff in what should be a show-stealer.

A huge triple threat match is scheduled between former NXT superstar Bull James, Mario Bokara and Anthony Bowens, which will show 3 different styles. Colt Cabana will also be in action and will take on Delroy in Delroy’s biggest match to date.

Other matches scheduled include:

  • Kevin Matthews & Craven Varro vs Team Espana with Nikos Rikos & Dylan Stiffwood
  • CPA vs Habib
  • The Aesthetic Males (Damian Gibbs, Mike Del & Beefcake Charlie) with Jay Enterprise vs The Apple Corps (Matt Macintosh, Valerio LaMorte & Maxwell Jacob Feinstein)
  • C-Bunny vs Antoinette in women’s action
  • The Beach Bums vs Taboo Crew with Gino Gotz

There will be a signing that starts at 6 pm and the matches begin at 8 pm. The Rahway Rec Center is located at 275 East Milton Ave in Rahway, New Jersey. Tickets and special VIP autograph packages are available here.