September 24, 2006
WWE dreamers put through paces
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
Being a WWE superstar is all about fame and fortune ... about winning and wearing gold championship belts ... about performing in front of millions and millions ... about sitting in first class, driving the best cars, wearing the best bling bling, sleeping with the hottest chicks. It's all of that, right?
Uh, not quite, well, unless you're Ric Flair . And getting to the WWE, well 27 wrestling wannabes, handpicked from 15,000 applications, took the first step on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place. And they found out the road to stardom is long ... and sometimes painful.
They sweated buckets as the WWE trainers made them do squat after squat and stair after stair. Some couldn't finish, grudgingly taking a seat when their legs could take no more.
For some, the dream may have come to an end, when Fit Finlay, whose own WWE promo says: "My name is Finlay ... and I like to fight," lowered the boom after a two-hour session. "I think you all just wasted your time and ours," said Finlay. "If you're going for a job to become a brain surgeon or an auto mechanic, you'd be expected to be the best. I didn't see that. You're not going to kiss my rear end and get anything. You've got to work for it."
But most said they would persevere. For them, wrestling is more than 10-hour car drives for a $50 payday, it's a passion that drives them.
"I'm a thief and a liar by night, but I have to uphold the rules by the day." Jason Maschke stood in the middle of the ring with a stranglehold on the microphone. Spotlights beamed down as he cut his promo.
Maschke, who grew up in Napanee, is a real-life Kingston cop, a job he's held for nearly nine years. He wasn't on the original list of tryout candidates. But the 31-year-old, who, as the Daytona Beach BadBoy Jason Cage, has already wrestled the likes of The Honkytonk Man, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Abyss and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, still showed up and talked his way in.
"They'd have to boot me out of the arena," he said. "And then I'd still be kicking down the door.
"It was crazy. It got to the point where I couldn't stand up (during the squats). I forced myself to get up and in the process, I think I injured myself. (When we got into the ring), I tried leap frogging my (6-foot-5) opponent. I couldn't get over him. I'm known for my dropkicks and leapfrogs. My legs just failed me."
And if Maschke was worried about whether he'd get into the arena, well, think about Jason McGinn who flew 23 hours from South Africa on Monday to be there for the Tuesday afternoon tryout.
The 25-year-old wants this lifestyle ... and he wants it bad.
"To get here cost me 25,000 rand, that's about $7,000 in Canadian money. In South Africa, if you don't play rugby or cricket professionally, you can't make money playing a sport.
"We opened up a federation, the WWP, but the wrestling is basically WWE 25-30 years ago. I work for an internet-based company, 12-hour shifts, six days a week. This is what I want to do."
Sitara Hewitt probably doesn't need to get rugged. The Toronto actress is the co-host of The Comedy Network's You Bet Your Ass game show, with some film credits in her resume, too. But there she was, trying out alongside her real-life boyfriend "The Big Deel" James Rogers.
"I'm a performer," said Hewitt. "And WWE gives you the ultimate stage. I'm very confident in front of people.
"I didn't break a sweat during the squats. I would love to be an action hero ... I idolized Wonder Woman."
Rogers, 34, is confident he can make it to the big time.
"This is it ... this is what I want to do,"he said. "If I didn't want it, I wouldn't be here busting my ass."
Ottawa's Phil Gervais' legs gave out during the squats.
"My legs just didn't want to go," said Gervais, known as The Wild Ace. "I wasn't tired, I wasn't out of breath ... I do thousands of squats each week in the gym. I fell for the second time ... and I just couldn't get back up. Maybe I'm overtrained. Right now, it feels like years of training are for nothing."
Ottawa's Pierre Khoury's pursuit of his dream has taken him to Toronto's Squared Circle gym nearly every weekend for the last five years.
"I don't really have much of a personal life," he said. "I love this. I'd do this 10 times over."
Ottawa's Dave Tierney, who wrestles as Dave Titan, got through the squats, but wasn't happy with his performance on the microphone. Wrestlers are expected to have the gift of gab.
"I bombed that pretty bad," he said. "But (to be here) they must have seen something in me."
- Trish Stratus applied a sharpshooter and won the women's title over Lita at last Sunday's Unforgiven pay-per-view in Toronto. Stratus has retired from WWE for a real-life marriage. John Cena took the men's heavyweight title from Edge, who got an arena-shaking ovation from the Toronto fans. Edge ensured the same reception didn't last long the next night at RAW in Montreal. Cracks like "this is the cheese-eating inbred cousin of Canada" can turn the energetic Montreal crowd in a second.
- Marty Wright (The Boogeyman) has been released by WWE.
- Kurt Angle could turn up on the MMA scene next year.
- JBL has agreed to a three-year extension with WWE. 2 Cold Scorpio has signed a two-year deal.
- Look for "a big announcement" at tonight's TNA No Surrender pay-per-view. Vince Russo has taken over the TNA creative department. Here's the lineup for No Surrender: LAX vs. AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels (Ultimate X match); Jeff Jarrett vs. Samoa Joe (non title); Senshi vs. Chris Sabin; Christian Cage vs. Rhino (no DQ); Abyss vs. Raven vs. Brother Runt; Petey Williams vs. Jay Lethal; Eric Young vs. A1; and America's Most Wanted, The James Gang, The Naturals, The Paparazzi, The Diamonds In The Rough, Kazarian and Bentley, Ron "The Truth" Killings and Lance Hoyt and Shark Boy and Norman Smiley (triple chance battle royal).