November 8, 2008
ROH, movies and baby in focus for Necro Butcher
By "Bloodthirsty" BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling
The Necro Butcher has had an excellent couple of years, from signing with Ring of Honor, to starring in a Hollywood movie, to becoming a new father. He's hoping to continue his lucky streak by capturing the ROH World Heavyweight Championship tonight when the company returns to the Toronto area, with a show at the Markham Fairgrounds.
"I feel like Rocky Balboa," he said to SLAM! Wrestling about his match against champion Nigel McGuinness. "It's a great honour to receive a world title shot. Ring of Honor takes the world title pretty seriously. So they're not going to put the champion against just anybody. This is a pretty good stamp of approval -- they're saying they have the trust and the confidence in you. Especially as this is only the second show in the area (the company made its debut in Toronto earlier this year)."
At the same time, he acknowledged that he might not be the most obvious choice as the company's standard-bearer. While ROH has prided itself on putting on some of the most exciting matches in North America -- many of those with McGuinness as a participant -- his style isn't necessarily the prettiest. Primarily a brawler with a hardcore bent, Butcher (real name Dylan Summers) is aware that he isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea.
"I'm sure I'll never be accepted by some of the Ring of Honor fans. But I've been lucky in that there's a small niche of fans in every town that seems to get behind me. They've made a couple of t-shirts of me, and they're selling, so somebody likes it," he observed. "But I don't want to make any major changes."
Besides, why change the formula that brought him to the dance? Signing with ROH has, not surprisingly, been a major boon to Summers' career and life.
"The best part about it," he said about the company, "is that they have their dates booked so far in advance. They have stuff booked right now all the way up to June of next year. So that makes it real nice in terms of planning things out and finding myself spot shows for other companies. That gives you a tremendous head start for the next seven months, knowing what's coming up, because this is how I pay the bills."
That being the case, it caused him some nervousness when the company announced last month that it was parting ways with long-time booker Gabe Sapolsky.
"I was really worried when that happened because I didn't have any clue that it was coming. I got up the next morning and went over to my mom's house and she was like, 'What happened at Ring of Honor? The Internet says they've fired Gabe.' 'What are you talking about, Mom? Have you been on the message boards again?' 'No, no,' she said, 'get on here and look.' So that wasn't exactly the way I preferred to find out about it.
"So then I got really paranoid. (Gabe) was the guy that got me in there. So I thought that if they fired him, they're surely not going to be that patient with me. They had given me some documents about the Canada shows in a manila envelope and I hadn't opened them at that point, figuring that since they were for the Canada shows, I had some time to worry about them. When I found out that they'd fired Mr. Sapolsky, I ran upstairs and ripped open the documents, wondering if I'd find my release in there. I was really worried."
It was a phone call from ROH owner Cary Silkin the next day that finally put his mind at ease. "Cary called me and we talked for a little while, and he made me feel a lot better. He feels confident about the way things are going, and that's the most important thing. It's just like in baseball or football if they make changes to the coaching team or whatever -- kind of like when they fired Joe Torre from the Yankees. Sometimes in sports, decisions have to be made. The people in Ring of Honor management feel confident about the decision, so so do I."
Yesterday's show in Montreal and tonight's in Markham are the first under the new booking regime headed up by wrestler Adam Pearce. Summers thinks it may be too early to know if there will be any marked changes to the product so soon, and is anxious to find out himself.
"I'm sure everybody will have a better idea after we go up there and meet face to face. The last time I talked with everybody, I was waving my goodbyes and heading out the door, and they were huddled around a big screen TV watching the World Series. It was the next day that I found out about the changes being made."
Speculating, he doesn't think anything about Markham will be significantly different than what ROH fans have come to expect. Whether or not that continues over the long haul, he can't say.
"(Markham) seems to be the same type of structure as far as the shows go. There are some new faces, but a lot of the same ones. We have six shows left after this for the rest of the year. They may follow the same format for the rest of the year, and next year go with something different. I really don't know."
There has been talk that one change the company is exploring is to revert to a more 1970s style, with clearly established heroes and villains. Summers' preference would be to stay as a fan favourite -- his style and in-ring persona have been compared to Bruiser Brody in the past -- but would also be open to change if he had to.
"It seems it's been easier for me to work with the fans on my side. I don't think they're going to change things with me, or put any unnecessary demands on me. But it's kind of hard to tell the boss no. So if they want me to, I'll try to make the best of it."
He would even consider bringing over the persona he's been using in CZW recently, "Hollywood" Dylan Summers, a prima donna that feels he is above that company's signature hardcore style. The character was prompted by Summers' recent foray into major motion pictures as a co-star of the critically acclaimed film, The Wrestler. Butcher plays a villain who squares off against Randy 'Ram' Robertson portrayed by Mickey Rourke.
The movie-making experience was a fun one, Summers revealed, and completely different from anything he'd ever done before.
"I had done a really, really small independent film in Japan called The Tiger Mask Story, but that was about two hours worth of work on a really small scale. This was different. (For this movie), I worked six or seven days. In terms of camera time, I'm probably in there for about 20 minutes. (Rourke and I) have a death match with chairs, broken glass and all kinds of assorted weaponry -- things you'd see in a typical CZW death match."
Fortunately for him, the time allowed Summers the opportunity to heal up between takes, as his body took a great deal of physical abuse during filming.
"(Doing those scenes) doesn't beat you up like a match, but actually it's kind of worse. Because the things we did in the match, we'd have to do over and over and over again."
"For instance, in the match, he gives me a Rock Bottom off of a ladder through a table. I had to get on the ladder -- and in my entire 12-year career, heck in the last 12 years of my entire life, I've never even climbed a ladder -- and then, because it's a Rock Bottom, you have to like jump up, and then fall down off of it. And through a table. And even though it's a movie, but it wasn't like a stunt table that they'd brought from Hollywood. We had to do that six times. Or we might have had to do (a scene) where I get thrown into a guardrail, and you have to do that seven times. It's like, 'Ow, that hurt. Oh... I get to do that again? Ow, it hurt again.' What? One more time?' I definitely took a beating."
Overall, though, he was pleased with the work, and would certainly consider doing it again, if the right opportunity came along.
"I think I only missed three or four shows (for the filming), so that wasn't really that bad. For the most part, I was still able to keep my schedule and fit the movie stuff in. It was like picking up a couple of high-paying dates in between my usual matches. If I get lucky and stumble into something like it again, then certainly I'd be interested. But in terms of moving to Wilshire Boulevard and getting an agent, I don't see that happening ever."
Besides, wrestling affords him a lifestyle that he's very happy with, and that other types of work wouldn't necessarily allow. Moreover, he's still having fun doing it.
"Most of the time, I work three days a week, so I have four days where I can lay around and do nothing. I have a four-month-old baby, so if I decide I want to play with a rattle for three hours, or do whatever baby activities I want to do, or catch a movie with my wife, well, that's what I do. I don't have the constraints on me that some other form of employment would place on me."
"I'm sure I'll have to (think about a change) someday," he acknowledged, "but that day is not today, and as far as I can tell, it's not tomorrow. For right now, things are good where they are -- there's no need to adjust fire."
Bob Kapur is disappointed that he won't be able to attend the Markham show tonight. Send him your thoughts on the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.