January 25, 2008
Vince Austin's passion for indies inexhaustible
By RICHARD KAMCHEN - SLAM! Wrestling
What is in a name, anyway?
Well, if you are Canadian indy wrestling mainstay "Newfoundland's Own" Vince Austin, more than what you might expect.
"I know it might sound like a mark name," he laughed, alluding to the above story angle.
In fact, his moniker predates the McMahon-Austin program, being derived by combining "Vince," a name shared by both his grandfather and son, and "Austin" which he borrowed from "Stone Cold" back when he was WCW tag champ "Stunning" Steve Austin.
Trained by Ed "Sailor" White in the early 1990s, the six-foot, 218-pound Austin said that besides in-ring basics, White taught him how to take care of his opponents, to respect the business, and how to conduct himself in locker rooms.
"It's a shame he's gone. I owe him everything when it comes to my career."
Austin is now in his 14th year of wrestling and has appeared almost coast to coast.
"Vince is a very dedicated guy," said Republic Pro Wrestling owner Mike Barrington. "He's wrestled in every province in Canada except for B.C."
"I owe Vance Nevada a lot. He's the one who got me off the island first," said Austin.
"There are fewer and fewer guys in the Canadian independents that take risks and travel to start out at the bottom in other provinces and work their way up the card," said Nevada in explaining the months Austin stayed in Winnipeg and Calgary to learn and get his name out there. "You can't say that about a lot of guys on the Canadian scene in the past decade or so. He is a guy that is very passionate about the wrestling business and I would say that he is in the business for the right reasons. I wish him the greatest success in all of his endeavours in and out of the ring."
Austin indicated he had a blast wrestling in promotions between Winnipeg and Calgary. He worked with Nevada around 2000 in Winnipeg and said Nevada gave him another way of looking at the promotional side of wrestling as well as developing compelling stories in the ring.
"I remember a number of heated debates about booking and wrestling psychology that resulted in us having to each just leave the room," Nevada noted.
Austin said he feels great, having recuperated from the years of putting up with bad joints and the bumps of the ring and the road. Those injuries took their toll on him as they led him to abuse alcohol and pain medication until he turned his life around.
"I got sick and tired of being sick and tired ... Nobody can change you unless you want to change," he said. "I feel a whole lot better about it all. It was a big struggle there for awhile. But I'm really happy now for a change. I feel like a million bucks again. It's great to be enthusiastic about what you're doing."
"Recently, he's overcome a lot of demons in his life and I have the greatest respect for him for winning that battle," said Barrington. "He's a great guy to have in the locker room, has taught me a lot about the business, and always wants to help out where he can. A very hard worker."
"I would like to go just to say I wrestled in every province."
Even once he permanently takes off the boots, Austin said he wants to keep his hand in Newfoundland wrestling to help maintain that province's indy scene viability.
"I've been going at it 14 years. I've made a lot of mistakes and I can tell them where not to make them," said Austin, who at one time operated Cutting Edge Wrestling.
Austin also had a message to wrestling fans, urging them to take in more indy shows.
"For every fan that reads this, go out and support your independent league. The guys going out there are busting their butts. You'd be surprised how many good matches you can see in your local league."
Winnipeg correspondent Richard Kamchen can be e-mailed at email@example.com.