August 30, 2006
Wedding day for J.D. Michaels & April HunterWrestling duo to walk down aisle together for real
By RICHARD KAMCHEN - SLAM! Wrestling
Wedding bells are ringing for Jordan Danyluk, a.k.a. "Canadian Showstopper" J.D. Michaels, and April Hunter, but don't expect that to slow them down.
"I don't think it should affect anything," the Edmonton, Alberta native Michaels told SLAM! Wrestling. "I always had goals ... I always hoped to meet somebody and have a family too. As long as I keep focusing, I don't think it should interfere."
The two will be married today, August 30th, in a small, private ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Michaels and Hunter first met at an Action Wrestling Entertainment (AWE) taping in Winnipeg, Manitoba in December 2005, but the two almost did not hook up when Hunter was detained at the Canada-U.S. border.
Although she had never entered Canada before, Hunter had no worries about getting across the border, as she was accustomed to dealing with customs officials when she toured Europe, Mexico, and Asia. During those jaunts, Hunter simply told border guards she was holidaying.
Little did she know the AWE event was high profile enough to warrant front-page coverage in the Winnipeg Sun newspaper.
When she arrived at the border, Hunter gave her usual story, prompting officials to respond with, "Oh, yeah?" before proceeding to show her a copy of the paper. They ended up holding Hunter for a couple of hours.
When she finally got into Winnipeg later that day, she was faced with a hectic schedule, which included numerous appearances with Scott Steiner and Chuck Palumbo.
"I was tired. I got down to the front of the hotel. There were a couple of guys hanging back. One guy was very, very cute. I checked him out," she said of Michaels. "Later, I'd broken my nose that night ... He'd seen what happened on the monitor, and he's like, 'This is what's happened.' And we got to talking."
Exhausted, Hunter declined going to the after-show party, instead accepting a lift from Michaels and some of the other wrestlers. The two ended up talking during the entire hour-plus drive.
Shortly after she got back to her hotel room, Michaels called her. It was 1:30 a.m.
"I'm thinking, 'This guy's got balls.' But I thought it couldn't hurt to talk."
They ended up chatting until six in the morning on the day she had a 9:00 a.m. meeting.
"As soon as we got to talking, neither of us shut up -- we just clicked," Hunter said.
The next night, Michaels broke his nose too and on the same spot -- the bridge -- which Hunter still laughed about.
"Kissing was difficult! Instead of 'break a leg,' it's 'break a nose' now, I guess," Hunter said.
Their immediate connection made Hunter somewhat apprehensive, partly because she lived in New Haven, Connecticut and Michaels in Edmonton, but also given her previous relationship with a wrestler (Slyck Wagner Brown) soured to the point where he was arrested for assaulting her months after they broke up.
"I'd come out of a horrible relationship with the only other wrestler I'd ever dated and didn't want to date another worker. Even though there's lots in common and they relate, too many seem like egotistical, mirror-hogging wanks who only care about themselves and will do whatever to get ahead -- wrestling is number one, you aren't."
Still, Michaels and Hunter got engaged after Valentine's Day.
Hunter said she was not sure at first if they would tell anyone about it in case it did not work out. But she felt reassured after talking to third generation wrestler Nattie Neidhart, daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Nattie, who worked with Michaels in Stampede Wrestling, told Hunter that Michaels was a sincere, good guy, and the couple were right for each other.
"I feel lucky to have met Jordan, he's really, really good to me -- and fun. He makes other things fun too, even crappy things like waiting in line or traffic."
Hunter complained about going through an arduous visa process in Canada that was beyond challenging. Although they got a fiancÚ visa earlier this month in Vancouver, British Columbia, Michaels has found he cannot leave the U.S. right now to return to Canada. Finally, both figured it would be best to get married sooner than later and decided on Vegas.
The two are scheduled to continue seeing each other on the road after their wedding and honeymoon as both plan to wrestle shows in September for TNT Pro Wrestling, which runs in Virginia, Georgia, and Texas.
Both will appear on two shows September 23 in Winder and Kennesaw, Georgia. Michaels will face "Texas Lightning" Bobby Houston in a heavyweight championship match, while Hunter will go up against Talia Maidson for the women's championship.
Michaels lauded TNT promoter Marvin Ward, a 14-year veteran of the business, for running his promotion similar to how Jim Crockett Jr. ran his in the 1980s, namely drawing larger houses by getting sponsors to donate money to schools in exchange for those schools selling a certain number of tickets to events.
That method resulted in TNT consistently drawing crowds of 1,000 to 2,000 per show, Michaels said.
He enjoyed performing before southern fans, whom he called more appreciative than most.
"They're there to have a good time, not chant, 'You f-'ed up,'" Michaels said. "And you don't have to go out there and kill yourself."
TNT is working on securing a TV deal in September and as a result is using more mainstream than indie wrestlers, including former WWE talent The Heart Throbs, Orlando Jordan, and John Heidenreich, as well as Lenny and Lodi, previously of WCW.
Michaels thought both he and Hunter would work heel. He was not sure if they would work alone or side-by-side, but he pointed out they drew a lot of heat from a crowd of over 1,500 when they debuted together in May.
Longer-term, Michaels said his goal remains making a good living from wrestling.
"You can travel the indies and make a lot of bookings but at the end of the day, you're not exactly setting yourself up for security," he said.
But for now, WWE and TNA do not seem to be in the picture for him.
Michaels attended an evaluation camp in October 2004 at WWE's developmental Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) territory, and afterwards was told WWE wanted him. After returning to Canada, though, Michaels discovered U.S. border restrictions made it tough for him to return, as he needed a guaranteed contract to move to OVW's Louisville, Kentucky headquarters.
In June 2005, Michaels wrestled on WWE's Velocity, teaming up with Ted Hart against The Basham Brothers.
"It wasn't what I would have hoped it to be," he said of the five-minute match in which he put over the Bashams.
Vince McMahon complimented him on his ability to sell, and while Michaels was happy about the positive reaction, he lamented not being able to show more of his abilities in the match.
Michaels' potential future in WWE remains in doubt.
"It's a little overcrowded right now," Michaels said, noting WWE must have 140 to 150 guys in RAW, SmackDown!, and its OVW and Deep South Wrestling developmental territories.
He paraphrased WWE's head of talent relations John "Johnny Ace" Lauranitis as telling him, "You're talented, but now's not the time," before explaining WWE is looking for wrestlers who are at least 6'4" and 250 lbs. The 6'0", 217-pound Michaels obviously did not fit the bill.
Michaels thought WWE's focus on taller, bigger men is the promotion's way of distracting fans from noticing that some of the artificially large men on the roster are shrinking, a direct result of WWE's Talent Wellness Program, which includes a ban on performance-enhancing drugs.
The formerly large wrestlers no longer will be able to mask their deficiencies in the ring with size, Michaels said. "The bigger guys are a lot more affected than the smaller guys."
Michaels believed returning to a big man mentality that was so prominent in the 1980s would fail to rejuvenate fan interest.
"Fans don't care -- they just want someone who's entertaining and can wrestle," he said, adding: "Fans are more demanding. You can't just shove someone like John Cena down their throats."
TNA also would not be a great fit for him right now.
Although TNA promotes the X Division, the company's emphasis remains probably 80 per cent on heavyweights, Michaels said. "They acknowledge the X Division, and it's over with smart marks, but the rest aren't overly familiar with A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe."
Estimating the company has probably lost $40 million since its inception in 2002, Michaels said TNA cannot risk allowing fewer than a handful of guys to carry the show, because any prolonged injury to one or more of them would seriously endanger the promotion's viability.
"A lot of fans feel like they're watching WCW all over again," he griped, adding the focus often is on the same wrestlers, especially Jeff Jarrett and Sting. "You have to have your next level of guys take the spotlight."
Hunter also had a couple of tryouts with WWE and TNA, but she too was unsure of her future with those companies. WWE, for one, seemed to her to have been busy focusing on its Diva Search contest.
"I really have no idea. They've called me to do a couple of dark matches," Hunter said.
The former student of Killer Kowalski's wrestling school is certainly no big fan of the Diva Search, rationalizing it would be easier to turn a wrestler into a diva than the other way around.
"I think they've got it backwards," she said, but added WWE must get strong ratings out of the gimmick, otherwise it would not bother. Although many wrestling fans might rail against the diva push, Hunter said radio "shock jock" Howard Stern once told her he gets higher ratings from those who hate him than like him, because they'll tune in religiously just to criticize him.
As a former Playboy model, Hunter said she can relate to WWE's spotlight on eye candy. After all, she too was a diva of sorts, having worked in WCW as a Nitro Girl, a valet for nWo members, and one of Scott Steiner's "Freaks," and later wrestled nude in Carmen Electra's Naked Women's Wrestling League (NWWL).
Hunter said she might retire by the New Year, simply because there are other, more lucrative avenues for her to make a living, most notably in modeling and commercials.
But for now, besides TNT, Hunter said she lined up more wrestling tours of Europe, Asia, and Mexico.
"It's beneficial because you're working everyday or every other day. And you get to work with people who've been in the business 15 to 20 years," as opposed to the typically green North American women wrestlers.
See April Hunter in action:
Richard Kamchen -- what a card! He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.