May 1, 2010
Bad Boy Jason Cage says goodbye
By JAN MURPHY - Kingston Whig-Standard
Many people claim to have dreams. Few actually pursue them.
Don't count Kingston Police officer Jason Maschke among them. Quite the opposite, actually.
For the past seven years, Maschke has chased a rather unorthodox dream -- to become a pro wrestler.
In that time, Maschke has met -- and in some cases even wrestled -- his childhood idols and even briefly stared death in the face.
Maschke's dreams culminated in a do-or-die retirement match last weekend that ended with him dropping his championship title -- and with it, his dream to wrestle professionally. Following the match, he announced his retirement.
After the better part of a decade in the squared circle, the only people Maschke will be wrestling in the future are those who dare break the law on his watch in the Limestone City.
It cannot be understated how amazing it is that Maschke -- whose in-ring persona is the Daytona Beach Bad Boy Jason Cage -- was even afforded the opportunity to walk away from his dream.
That's because that dream spawned a nightmare for the officer, father and husband just a few short years ago.
During a World Wrestling Entertainment tryout in Ottawa in September 2006, Maschke punished his body so badly that he collapsed, unable to continue. During a weeklong stay in Kingston General Hospital, Maschke was subsequently diagnosed with a condition known as rhabdomyolysis, which is brought on by overexerting one's body to the point that it breaks down its own muscle, releasing dangerous proteins into the body. Untreated, the condition can cause kidney failure.
Ultimately, that injury played a large role in his decision to walk away.
"After I got injured at the tryout, I did take some time off and re-evaluated some things and healed up," Maschke told me as we sat on the back porch of his Kingston home.
"I promised my family I wouldn't wrestle when I was 35. As it turns out, I'm already made out to be a liar because I wrestled four days into my 35th year."
In what could have been an ugly twist of irony, Maschke nearly suffered another, more serious injury during his swan song match.
"Very early into the match, I did a slingshot dropkick, kind of like (WWE superstar) Chris Jericho does, and caught my foot on the ropes when I was dropkicking my opponent off the apron, and it slingshot me right into the canvas and I hit my head," Maschke explained.
"I've had to see a chiropracter three times now just to straighten it out.
"I thought I broke my neck. I thought 'Don't tell me I'm going to break my neck in my final match.' It turns out I just strained a lot of muscles."
Now that he has survived his final match -- and a seven-year stint in a business that has seen it's share of death and tragedy in recent years -- the veteran police officer was asked what he takes away from the experience.
"I'm very satisfied," said the multiple-time champion. "My wrestling career was seven years long. I'm very satisfied with the way it went, the way it ended. I'm very happy to say that's it.
"I count my blessings. I got out with quality of life and my life."
Perhaps it's his background as a police officer or his easygoing nature, but Maschke exudes confidence. He rarely struggles for words. And he almost never shows regret. Yet on this day, when asked if he has any, he admitted, with emotion evident in his eyes, that he has one.
"The one glowing regret is putting my family through what they went through when I was injured," he said, referring to the Ottawa incident.
"It's something I would take back in a heartbeat. I would give it all back just because it was so hard on my family," he said, looking skyward.
Asked whether his family watched his final match, Maschke said his children did, but not his wife.
"My wife didn't come to the last match because she's had enough of it and I don't blame her," he said, again referencing his injuries suffered in 2006. "My kids were there," he added, his face lighting up. "They were there and they had a blast."
Maschke's journey includes a who's who list of former WWE superstars that he both met and faced over the years.
As we talked, I couldn't help but wonder if this is truly the end of the Jason Cage saga. We are, after all, talking about a man who returned to the ring after at one point having faced the prospect of not walking again.
Apparently, I'm not alone. Some of Maschke's police colleagues wonder, too.
"Everybody seems to say 'Is this it? Are you sure this is it?' " Maschke admitted, quickly reporting that his colleagues up and down the Kingston Police force have been nothing but supportive from Day 1.
Ditto, he says, for Kingstonians he has encountered both in the arenas where he competes and on the streets. Sometimes, his supporters include those he may be ticketing for traffic violations.
"There was one guy who was in cells," Maschke offers, referring to the holding area at Kingston Police Headquarters. "The staff sergeant let me know. The guy said 'I know that wrestler is here.'
"And he was ripping his shirt off and he was saying 'Come on, bring him down,' and they were all laughing because this guy was hulking up down in the cell area."
It's hard to imagine someone who immersed himself in pro wrestling, of all things, quietly riding off into the sunset.
"That journey's over," Maschke says. "On to the next one.
"I've built a hundred-foot-long zipline for my kids and I think that's going to be my enjoyment."
Here's hoping I don't catch him ziplining his way into a wrestling ring some day.