August 30, 2009
Choose Death explores the mind of the Necro Butcher
By MARSHALL WARD - SLAM! Wrestling
In what Big Vision Entertainment boasts as the Necro Butcher's "first interview ever!" on the recently released DVD, Choose Death: Inside the Mind of a Wrestling Madman, Dylan Summers said, "When I was a kid, I was a little Hulkmaniac -- trainin' sayin' my prayers and eatin' my vitamins."
These days, Dylan Summers -- known to hardcore wrestling fans around the world as the Necro Butcher -- is more likely to be eating fluorescent light tubes and stomping barefoot on thumbtacks during death matches deemed, "too violent for TV!"
The DVD package states: "For 10 years he has been known as the most insane wrestler in the world of wrestling. Too violent for mainstream wrestling companies like the WWE, the man known as Necro Butcher has toiled in the more underground leagues throughout the world shredding both his blood and that of others throughout the United States, Japan and Europe.
"His battles are legendary and no other individual has ever been awarded more 'King of the Death Match' titles! Content to live in the shadows, loved by wrestling fans but ignored by the mainstream media, Necro has honed his craft. But the world is about to know the Butcher a whole lot better!"
Throughout the interview, the mild-mannered Dylan Summers shared his earliest memories of watching pro wrestling at the age of six or seven, shortly after his parents divorced. "Wrestling was only on (television) on the weekends, so I began to associate wrestling with my dad -- who I'd only see on the weekends," said Summers. "After he died, I missed him and got even more into wrestling, going to live shows and buying all the magazines.
"My first live show was in '85 at the Wheeling Civic Centre in Wheeling, West Virginia, and the main event was Terry Taylor vs. Black Bart for the National Heavyweight title. I remember I was in the second row and Terry Taylor dropped Black Bart throat-first on the guardrail -- you see that happen in the opening match these days -- but back then, I remember being floored and thinking, 'I can't believe these guys are fighting like this.' I was shocked at the level of brutality I was seeing at that point in my young life, and I realized that you had to go see (wrestling) live -- TV wasn't good enough."
Summers then told his story of "accidentally" breaking into the business in Texas, being trained by Black Bart, and his first matches in January 1998. With humility, Summers spoke of his beginnings as a jobber trying to learn the ropes under the persona of Private Dylan Summers, working various promotions, and the invaluable feedback he would later receive from hardcore veterans like Ian Rotten, whom he sent tapes of his matches. Rotten told him over the phone from Kentucky, "You need some polish, but I can't afford to use you unless you're local." So Summers moved to Louisville, Kentucky -- home to the IWA Mid-South wrestling promotion, owned by Ian Rotten.
Summers then shared one funny story after another about sleeping on Ian Rotten's couch for three months as he continued to hone his craft in IWA Mid-South, while building his reputation as the most violent of death match wrestlers.
Both articulate and insightful, Summers shared stories of his first matches in IWA Mid-South, wresting the likes of Corporal Robinson and Madman Pondo. When asked of his memories of IWA Mid-South, Summers laughed, "The building was really hot and really dirty, and guys were beating the s**t out of each other."
Of his infamous time wrestling for CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling) based in New Jersey and Delaware, Summers said, "Coming into CZW for the first time, I remember thinking I'm gonna get f*****' hurt! (Those were) mean, angry f*****' bloodthirsty fans. Some of the fans in IWA, they would want to see you get f***** up, and I remember thinking, 'Well, maybe they care about me.' But those fans in Philly, where they came from, they gave me the impression that they wanted to see someone get f***** up and they did not care what happened -- they wanted to see somebody die."
Highly entertaining, Summers attempts to shed some light on the enduring popularity of hardcore wrestling. "When you punch someone in the f****** mouth, everyone can identify with that -- and we try to appeal to the lowest common denominator. When someone like Toby (Klein) and I are (having a match) we don't try to reinvent the wheel out there. Keep it simple."
Unfortunately, it's during these segments of the shoot interview that the interviewer feels the need to smugly show that he's "in the know," making references to a personal history he obviously has with Summers, as he voices his own opinions about certain wrestlers. "Justice Pain is a f****** douche bag," the interviewer said to Summers. As well, the interviewer annoyingly finishes Summers' sentences repeatedly throughout the second half-hour of the shoot. It's a bad habit he should consider shedding for any future productions as it detracts from the overall professional quality of the DVD, with its great picture and top-notch sound.
Having said that, the interviewer moves the interview along at a good pace and the entertainment value really picks up when Summers is asked about his time traveling with Madman Pondo, Mitch Page and Zack Gowen from Boston to Los Angeles, wrestling for JCW (Juggalo Champions**t Wrestling). From there, Summers spoke about having stability in the business, wrestling everywhere from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Dragon Gate to Ring of Honour and Big Japan Pro Wrestling.
Summers was then asked about his memories wrestling Samoa Joe, and their highly anticipated first encounter in 2005 in the main event of IWA Mid-South's debut at the ECW arena. "The atmosphere in the crowd is something I have not seen since," said Summers. "Everyone had some kind of personal interest in that match. It created an unbelievable atmosphere. (I remember thinking) I'm representing all the so-called 'death match guys' in this match, and people wouldn't take us seriously and say, 'All they can do is bleed.'
"I wanted to be like Rocky (Balboa) and stay on my feet 'til the end of the match. I'm not going to let this guy just knock me out." Summers then made some interesting analogies between his 2006 rematch with Samoa Joe and how the movie Rocky II didn't live up to the first Rocky.
From there, Summers was asked about wrestling the legendary, Abdullah the Butcher . "Abdullah and I have had three matches now," said Summers. "He knows that I'm not going to do anything that's going to make him look bad. He appreciates that, and therefore makes me look good. He speaks highly of me because I speak highly of him.
"I hope I won't be wrestling as long as him, but I can only hope that if I have to, some of the young bad ass guys will go to the lengths that I have, that I have for some the older guys that I've worked with. I think that's how its supposed to work around here -- I'm not sure."
In a nice transition, the interviewer asked Summers about his role in the movie The Wrestler. Here, Summers tells a charming and self-effacing story of getting "double-teamed" by his mother and wife as they worked to convince him to try out for the part. Summers, in telling the story, clearly didn't think he would be considered for the part as many of the younger, more physically impressive wrestlers were auditioning as well.
Summers shared the hilarious story about showing up for the audition, high as a kite, after driving across the country with his brother, "smoking weed all along the way." Summers said when he got to the audition, he learned that the writer had written the role with him specifically in mind.
"So when they saw me, they said, 'That's our f*****' guy!'" Summers laughed. "Originally, (my character) was going to be called Hillbilly Cannibal. Yeah, they wrote that role with me in mind.
"It was fun doing that movie, but it was a lot of work -- it really was. Of all the crazy shit I've done in my life, I had never jumped off a ladder before. I've been hit with ladders and had kids jump off of ladders on to me many times -- but I'd never actually climbed up a f*****' ladder and jumped off. And I had to do that six times with a bunch of movie people watching!"
The back of the DVD case states: "It was a performance so powerful it inspired a shout out of 'Necro Butcher!' from James Franco on the world's biggest movie awards show! For (Mickey) Rourke, it was a one-time movie role. But for the man known as Necro Butcher, this is a common day in a not-so-common profession."
As the interview winds down, the interviewer offers up a fun round of name association with wrestlers made famous on the independent circuit like Chris Hero, Homicide, Tyler Black, Super Dragon, Bull Pain, Nate Webb, and Eddie Kingston. "I hated (Kingston's) guts when I first met him, but now I love him."
When Gypsy Joe's name is brought up, Summers said, "That's who I want to be.
"Gypsy Joe is my dream. He's like 70-years-old and still wrestlin', always beating the s**t out of somebody, always smoking pot and has good weed on him, always has a hot ass girlfriend with him who is like 30 or 40 years younger than him -- and sometimes she's pregnant!" Summers laughed.
"I hope I don't have to still wrestle when I'm 70, but if I want to, it would be nice to know that I can. (Black) Bart always told me it doesn't matter what you do in the ring, but you gotta make people give a s**t," Summers concluded. "I never thought I'd have one match, let alone sign a f****** five-digit contract -- that hangs on my wall -- with Antonio Inoki's name at the bottom of it. And the movie (The Wrestler), I never thought that s*** would have ever happened. But it's like what Bart always told me, this s**t wouldn't have ever happened if people didn't give a s**t about my matches."
For fans of the Necro Butcher, the two DVD set offers over five hours of insanely violent matches, many of which involve chairs, tables, ladders, barbed wire, baseball bats, cacti, thumbtacks, and staple guns. There's even an "Ultraviolent Underground Cage Deathmatch," deemed "not even viewable for a live audience." Then there's the memorable clash between Necro Butcher and Madman Pondo involving 200 light tubes, which ends with Pondo screaming at the top of his lungs, "Call a f****** ambulance!"
And for those looking to sway wrestling purists to the allure of the Necro Butcher, there are two high profile brawls that are both wildly entertaining and extremely brutal -- one with Low-Ki, and the other with Samoa Joe (with CM Punk providing commentary). As far as hardcore matches go, the first encounter between Samoa Joe and Necro Butcher is a tremendous match where the only weapons involved are a chair and a guardrail, proving that Necro Butcher can deliver a compelling match without deathmatch weaponry. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD as the Necro Butcher takes the beating of a lifetime, and keeps coming back for more.
Like the back of the case states: "What takes a humble, 24-year-old from Morgantown, West Virginia named Dylan Summers and turns him into the Necro Butcher? What makes a man spend 10 years wrestling barefoot on thumbtacks, being thrown into barbed wire, and chomping on fluorescent light bulbs?"
The answers can be found in Choose Death, a highly entertaining and insightful release by Big Vision Entertainment that takes you inside the mind of a wrestling madman.
Marshall Ward is a visual artist, independent filmmaker, and weekly columnist with the Waterloo Chronicle. Email is welcome at email@example.com.