Colourful Cam!!ikaze known for crazy moves
MATTHEW BYER - SLAM! Wrestling
|Cam!!ikaze models his unique look.
The crazy Cam!!ikaze has been wowing audiences throughout Alberta with his death-defying monsaults off balconies and shooting star presses to the outside of the ring. Though his moveset remains constant, he has transformed his look, eschewing the mask he used for the first five years of his career for a red and green Mohawk, matching eyes, and arresting tattoos.
It turns out that Cam!!ikaze -- Cameron Toms -- wasn't a fan of the mask, and said his Edmonton-based trainer Massive Damage was responsible.
"He thought because I had more of an athletic and high-flying sort of style that wearing mask would fit my style, but I think in a lot of ways it hid it," Cam!!ikaze relayed to SLAM! Wrestling. "I went to college and did acting/drama and I was really good at facial expressions, but I was so animated that I could make it work even though I was wearing a mask.
In 2010, the six-foot, 220-pound Cam!!ikaze got a tryout with Ring of Honor in Toronto, and chose not to wear the hood.
Then ROH booker Adam Pearce looked at Cam!ikaze's promo pictures and was shocked that he wore a mask; Pearce advised him that he didn't need to. "For five years I thought my cardio was terrible and I remembered I finally wrestled without it [the mask] I was like 'whew' this is nice; it was the mask all that time. A lot of the times I was blind and such. I don't know how I did it for so long."
The process of losing his mask permanently involved a very lengthy program again Alex Plexis while both were wrestling for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA). The program began with Plexis jumping Cam!!ikaze before the bell even rang for the match and tearing off his mask.
"I just covered my face real quick and they had to carry me out and put a towel over my head and stuff," recalled Cam!!ikaze. "He was the cruiserweight champion at the time; I was trying to get the belt away from him of course. We just started playing mind games with each other and the feud would go on for almost six months with PWA. Back and forth and I would beat him for the title, but he would screw me over in the end. He kept taking off my mask and trying to show my identity."
One of the highlights from the feud was a Halloween show where a bunch of other wrestlers came out wearing Cam!!ikaze masks and surrounding Plexis.
The masked Cam!!ikaze.
"The next minute the lights went out and all the other Cam!!ikazes disappeared, with the real one appearing right behind Plexis. The crowd just went crazy. So I stole his belt because he stole my mask and then we ended up having a mask versus title match," he remembered. "Plexis screwed me again and I had to do this really emotional speech. It was really electric and then I finally unmasked. I was really unsure [of the reaction], but they just loved it, they went crazy. I ended up beating him in a crazy no disqualification match, getting bloodied and finally winning the title. It was a really good story and we ended up taking our time over six months."
In a career full of challenges, the 26-year-old Cam!!ikaze can say he is fulfilling his dream.
"I was kid, 12 years old, and decided that's what I wanted to do, but I very quickly learned that you had to be 18 to start training," Cam!!ikaze said. Like most kids, he started backyard wrestling, and continued until he was of age to train. He went to Edmonton's Monster Pro Wrestling, run by Massive Damage (Sean Dunster) and fibbed that he had trained before, so that Dunster would look at him.
"I had a terrible match, and I remember the first thing after I walked through the curtain after the match, he said, 'You need to get trained,' and I said, 'Yes sir, yes I do.' Then we exchanged information and I said I was going to go to college for a year and then I would be back and start training and move to Edmonton. I don't think anyone was expecting me to ever return."
A year later, he showed up, armed with the grand he had saved up for the training, a box of wrestling tapes, and some blankets. Luckily for him, Dunster let him live at his house and from there he began his training in earnest. Dunster taught Cam!!ikaze the basics, such as how to bump, basic chain wrestling running the ropes and hitting the gym.
Dunster reflected on how Cam!!ikaze has changed over the years. "Cam has an undying passion for wrestling. It has led him down many paths, some good, some, not so good. He will literally do anything that is asked of him, and takes direction very well," said Dunster. "He works hard, and is willing to travel, train, hit the weights, anything that he feels will get him a few more steps closer to his goal. He has had trouble with injuries, as he takes some pretty crazy risks.
Cam!!ikaze credits veteran Chi Chi Cruz with really molding him. "At the time Chi Chi Cruz was living with Massive Damage and he had been in the business 20 years by 2005. When Chi Chi Cruz got his hands on me, he was the one who really picked up the training a notch. He was in there with us every day."
Despite working 12-hour days at a construction job while learning to be a professional wrestler, Cam!!ikaze caught on pretty quickly and made his debut on September 3, 2005. Early in 2006, however, he suffered a torn ACL.
"I was so young and wanted to wrestle so bad I would do anything, I did a corkscrew dive outside the ring, I shouldn't have done it," he recalled to SLAM! Wrestling. "One of the guys didn't catch me very well and he kind of turned away and didn't really protect me. My knee kind of hit the guardrail. I heard a pop, tore my ACL. I knew it was hurt. I just kept wrestling for another 12 minutes. After the whole adrenaline wore off I knew something was wrong. I didn't want to stop and it was really stupid. At the same time I take pride in it, but it was stupid it really was. I put off surgery for two years and nine months and I kept wrestling with no ACL in my left knee. I don't know how I did it. I have no idea. I wanted to wrestle so damn bad. I can't help and take pride in it because nobody knew, nobody could tell."
Cam!!ikaze and Roddy Piper.
During those three years, Cam!!ikaze would wrestle ladder matches, including a very memorable one during his appearance on the second season of the reality series World of Hurt
. For Cam!!ikaze a huge motivating factor for participating in the show wasn't only exposure, but also the chance to learn from Roddy Piper
"I haven't heard of a lot of people training under him or learning from him. He even said himself on the first day, 'I don't have a wrestling school and nor do I ever want to have one.' We learned a lot from him, promos especially, reaching deep down and finding something to relate to, psychology; it was a great experience for learning from a guy of his magnitude. You never stop learning in this business and if you think you know everything you should get out because you can never stop learning."
After finally getting the surgery and going through rehab one person who has been helping Cam!!ikaze get back in shape is former ECW/WCW/WWE wrestler Lance Storm, who let him join the Storm Wrestling Academy. Since he's been at the school, Cam!!ikaze has been impressed by the level of professionalism he's witnessed and the structure that Storm provides.
"I'll been training with him for the next three months, five days a week and I've very thankful he was nice enough to let me get in there," Cam!!ikaze said. "[Storm] breaks a lot of bad habits I never knew I had. Small things, the little details that would separate a really good worker from an average Joe indy worker. I can't really explain it. The little things, hand positions, selling, psychology. The little tiny things that will make the big things mean so much more. He's just so good at talking things out. I learn every day with him."
That work ethic is the thing that Storm most respects about Cam!!ikaze.
"He is constantly striving to improve and learn more," Storm told SLAM! Wrestling. "So often guys at the indy level think they now know it all and have learned all they can, they don't seek advice and don't like criticism; Cam is not like this at all, and that's why he has a much greater chance of success. While Cam was off with his knee injury he came to every PWA show and asked to sit with me during the show just to hear my feedback on the matches, so he could pick up extra ring psychology advice. Now that he's gotten clearance for his knee he's taking my full training camp, to get back on top of his game. This is a level of dedication you don't see often. By virtually starting over from scratch he's fixing little bad habits he's developed or things he's missed along the way. He is doing everything within his power to be the best he can be. While many say they are willing to do this it's a select few who actually do it. Cam has a lot of ability, charisma, and talent, but it's his work ethic and willingness to accept criticism in order to improve that is his biggest asset."
It is those little things that he is learning from Storm that Cam!!ikaze hopes will help him break through into the next stage of his career. Having been through a number of tryouts has been an eye-opening experience for him, and made Cam!!ikaze want to continue to improve himself. Cam!!ikaze also went through the WWE tryouts in Florida in the summer of 2010 and revealed some very interesting facts about what the process was like to SLAM! Wrestling.
"That was the same tryout that [fellow Canadian] Mike Dalton wrestled and he got signed to WWE NXT at that one. The tryout was awesome. It was a four-day camp, there was 50 guys and four to five rings. They split you into groups. You spend a half hour in each ring and then they rotate you. I got to train with Doctor Tom [Prichard], Norman Smiley, Fit Finlay, and Dusty Rhodes with promos, Billy Kidman, Steve Keirn. I try to go to these tryouts not just to learn, but to try to get noticed, get in their database they have. You take what they tell you to improve on and then the next time you want to show you've changed and you're doing the things they told you do to and hopefully they notice that. I did the TNA Gut Check tryouts in Louisiana last year too with D'Lo Brown. I'm planning to go back for the next [WWE] tryout."
However, for the next couple of months Cam!!ikaze will continue working at Storm's school and then will take bookings further abroad.
Cam!!ikaze, left, heads to the ring for his Ring of Honor tryout in Toronto. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
, owner of Canadian Wrestling's Elite (CWE) in Manitoba, feels Cam!!ikaze is one of the most passionate and dedicated wrestlers on the Canadian independents scene. "I have said for many years he is the standout prospect to keep an eye out for in Alberta," said Duggan. "His unique style, look, and gimmick is unlike any other in his area. He is the one wrestler from Western Canada I've always wanted to have involved in the CWE fold that we haven't yet and that will be changing very soon."
One of the advantages that Cam!!ikaze currently has is that he worked in the gas industry in Edmonton and saved his money so that he could afford to not only train full-time at Storm's school, but also work as a professional wrestler.
"I noticed the main pattern going to tryouts is them telling me to get more matches. To get more matches you need to travel, get your name out there more, get out of the little bubble you're in. I would love to go international, Japan or Mexico, or Europe," he said. "I have some really cool fans on Twitter and they're really helping me out and trying to get me booked in the UK. I'm really blown away.
"If I can just get by, pay the rent and put food on my table doing what I love to do awesome, I'll be the happiest guy in the world. Of course your goals change and evolve and when I hit that stage of course I want to instead of just scraping by, maybe the next step is putting money away and to hit that you need to get signed by one of the big companies. At the end of the day it's a business and making money. To get that security you need money to fall back on when you retire."
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Matthew Byer lives in Victoria, BC. He was recently laid off from his job. If you are aware of anyone hiring at the moment, he would greatly appreciate if you could let him know. Matthew can be emailed here email@example.com.