June 16, 2008
Winnipeg’s Jon Cutler looking for a return bout with WWE
By RICHARD KAMCHEN - SLAM! Wrestling
WINNIPEG -- Jon Cutler recently made a surprising albeit brief appearance on WWE Raw, and hopes a more permanent stay in the big time awaits him.
Cutler wrestled on the May 5 edition of Monday Night Raw. Billed from Toronto, Canada (Cutler is actually from Selkirk, Manitoba and lives in Winnipeg), he faced Paul Burchill and Katie Lea in a handicap squash match.
He called waiting at the Gorilla position beside wrestling's kingpin Vince McMahon and then walking out in front of thousands a "pretty surreal moment."
"I'd never been in front of 17,000 people and on TV before," Cutler told SLAM! Wrestling. Once he got to the ring he almost instantly relaxed, and it was only after the match that his nerves hit: "It kind of worked backwards for me."
With fellow Manitoba product Shane Madison pushing him to put together a video package for WWE, Cutler last year sent WWE his pictures and a DVD of his matches and interviews. He followed that up with an e-mail to WWE Talent Relations. He ended up getting a call back and an invitation to come down when WWE hit Calgary and Edmonton. But when that tour was cancelled, Talent Relations told him to wait until the next time WWE swung north of the border. That turned out to be Raw in Toronto and Smackdown in London, Ontario.
Winnipeg wrestler Adam Knight said he was not surprised Cutler attracted WWE's attention, explaining the 27-year-old (Cutler will turn 28 in July), 6'3", 235-pounder offers the WWE exactly what it is looking for -- a young guy with an athletic look and a good attitude.
"Having had a WWE tryout myself in 2004, I spoke with Jon a lot about what to expect when he got there," said Knight. "His gym training in the weeks leading up to the shots made certain that even if he wasn't the most polished in-ring performer that he would definitely be the one with the 'best look.'"
Cutler arrived at the Air Canada Centre expecting a tryout, but by around 3 or 4 o'clock, WWE officials told him he would be in a match. They also quickly shattered his belief he would appear in a dark match, or at best, something taped for Heat.
"They said this is gonna be on in the middle of Raw. It was pretty surprising," admitted Cutler.
Cutler said Burchill and Lea felt satisfied with their match, and added he also received good feedback from Chris Jericho and Jamie Noble, the latter having acted as agent for the match. Although Cutler said he was told there were little things he could work on, those improvements would come easily with a little practice.
"I was pretty happy with it when I got to see it," Cutler said, noting that friends back home made him feel even better when they told him he physically did not look out of place in a WWE ring.
Cutler also appeared in London prior to the Smackdown tapings, where he worked out in the ring with Kofi Kingston and Charlie Haas. Thereafter, he met with Talent Relations.
"I got good, positive feedback and it might open doors for me in the future."
Cutler, who hopes to secure a developmental deal with WWE, is cautiously limiting his future bookings, having only scheduled indy dates for June.
A pro wrestling fan since he was a boy watching ‘80s babyface heroes like Hulk Hogan and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Cutler broke into the business only a few years into adulthood. He asked Selkirk, Manitoba's Matt Evans, who had a ring and had previously booked shows, for some training, and Evans taught him some of the basics before helping book him in Winnipeg. Cutler later received further training from Johnny Devine, who fine-tuned his abilities and gave him tips on interviews and what to include in promotional packages.
Cutler debuted May 30, 2002 and has mostly wrestled in Manitoba, with some shots in Saskatchewan as well. He also has appeared in some British Columbia, Ontario, and U.S. shows.
"I have known Jon pretty much since he first broke in locally," said Knight, who considered Cutler one of his very good friends. "In one of our first ever matches it was very clear to me that he had a lot of the necessary tools to really excel in pro wrestling were he to apply himself."
Apply himself he did, and in 2003, Cutler attended an invitational week-long Ohio Valley Wrestling camp.
"It gave me a good look right off the hop at what I need to do to go where I want." Cutler said.
Already a muscular specimen, Cutler has recently taken steps to further intensify his workouts.
"Brad, my personal trainer, has helped me a lot. I started training with him about 10 weeks now. I thought I was in good shape before ... but I think he gave me that extra conditioning and toning. And he's still helping me now," Cutler said. "He took me somewhere I thought I could never get."
"In recent years the strides he has made both in the ring and out to improve his physicality, footwork, psychology and presence are almost incomparable," Knight said. "He looks the part, can act the part and is capable of being in the ring with anybody and not look out of place."
Andrew Shallcross, director of Winnipeg's Premier Championship Wrestling, has used Cutler on various PCW shows and admired his continual progress through hard work and determination. Cutler has succeeded when put into situations where he needed more experience, like mic work, he said.
"He's not afraid to take advice or criticism and is always working extremely diligently to improve," Shallcross said, calling Cutler a genuinely nice, humble guy who is exceptionally easy to work with. "He's always taken on the assignments give him with pride and worked very hard to hit a homerun every time he goes to the ring."
Shallcross said previous to his Raw appearance, Cutler did not always seem convinced he could be a top tier performer, but his televised WWE match could only have buoyed his confidence.
"I really believe we'll all have further reason to say, ‘The Cutler did it!'" Shallcross said, quoting WWE announcer Mike Adamle, who called Cutler's match.
Canadian Wrestling Federation owner Ernie Todd, who had Cutler on one of his shows, echoed sentiment that Cutler has a great attitude, and he believed Cutler demonstrated he can fit into any role in which the WWE wants him.
"I do think this should serve notice to the boys that it is not about things that are ‘not good for your character,' but rather, whether or not you are willing to do what you are told to do that gets you places. Not marking out for yourself," said Todd. "Cutler does what he is told, is respectful to promoters and other workers, and has never said a bad thing about anyone. He deserves any break he will get."
Winnipeg correspondent Richard Kamchen can be e-mailed at email@example.com.