Gregory Iron is a great example of the layers to a professional wrestling character.
For the majority of his career, Greg ws a largely inspirational character due to his decision to become a professional wrestler despite being afflicted with cerebral palsy. However, now Greg is one of the top villains on the independent circuit as part of the group 44OH!.
In an era where everything about professional wrestling is exposed and independent wrestling has survived during the pandemic through the large support of a very familial-like fan base, 44OH! is genuinely vilified and hated during every performance they make.
Speaking with Fightful, Gregory Iron opened up about how special it is for him to be able to make fans suspend their disbelief during this time and he feels that the villainous stable is proof that even in an era where everything is known, fans still want clear-cut babyfaces and heels and the ability to emotionally invest.
“I mean, I love it because as professional wrestlers, we're in this time where kayfabe is dead. The wrestling fans are a lot smarter to be ins and outs of professional wrestling, but I think the magic that we have is performers are those moments where we make the fans suspend their disbelief and I think a lot of the fans are chanting what they're chanting and doing the things they're doing because they're in on the bed. I think they want someone to boo and they want someone to cheer because wrestling fans are smarter than most people give them credit for but there are those people that can blur the lines between reality and fiction and there is a genuine love for Nick Gage and guys like Effy and Allie Kat and Mance Warner and there's a genuine hatred for anyone that opposes those characters and I think that's a testament to the emotional investment that those characters have created for themselves and I think 44OH! that is just proof that in a day and age where I think a lot of people that follow professional wrestling have this belief that the athleticism is what really matters and there's shades of gray and you don't really need good guys and bad guys because everything is exposed. I think what 44OH! does is prove that people want to emotionally invest.”
Gregory Iron further talked about playing the villain despite the natural direction for his character being a sympathetic babyface due to his disability.
For Iron, he felt that this is a chance to spread his wings, and also dive into the minutiae of disability stereotypes and display a different kind of disabled character, perhaps one that exploits his disability rather than championing fighting the good fight in spite of it.
“It's one of those things too where not everything is just as easy as good and bad. Just because I have a disability, as a character, doesn't necessarily make me a good person and I think I wanted to show that I'm okay with embracing the idea that at the end of the day, I'm probably going to be known as the pro wrestler that has cerebral palsy and that's fine because like yourself, there's a lot of people with disabilities or who know people with disabilities and they're inspired by the story. However, you know as well as I do, you are a human being, you're more than just someone with cerebral palsy and loving wrestling as much as I do, I know that there's elements of myself that I wanted to be able to show or elements that I can betray that go beyond being the guy with cerebral palsy.”
He continued, “Again, I mentioned something about layers. When I was doing seminars, and I was doing a lot of them before the pandemic and I had the opportunity to do some of them during the pandemic, and in them, I always talk about the layers of a character and how every person we meet in our lives every relationship we have oh, whether it's good or bad, reveal the layers of who you are as a character and I think that's what happened in professional wrestling. I think every wrestler that I've ever wrestled, I think every wrestler or character that I've ever interacted with on-screen, every promo, every good and bad interaction has created an element of Gregory Iron that perhaps before I met that person, I didn't know how to convey on the camera. No different than in life, there are some things that we're trying to find out about ourselves -- things that we like, people we want to surround ourselves with, who we are, we don't find these things unless we find these things we can emotionally invest in life current things that have hurt us, things that have made us stronger, and that creates who you are. I think that's what happens as a wrestler.
“So, I've been able to show besides of me, good and bad, that depicts someone with a disability that isn't necessarily the best thing because, Robert, you know as well as I do there are some people out there that do have a disability but exploit that. So, I wanted to show that element of that. Even though I have this disability, perhaps I'm a scumbag piece of garbage, and I'm going to take advantage of that and make it more than it is. I like the idea of being able to show multiple sides of who I am as a character and who I am as a performer because I would like to be known as not the pro wrestler with cerebral palsy but a pro wrestler who happens to have cerebral palsy. I think when you book an African American, you don't book them as ‘here’s the black wrestler.’ He's a wrestler that happens to be black. I think we have to change the perception I've how things are viewed. Again, at the end of the day, if I'm remembered as the guy with cerebral palsy, that's fine. But I take a lot of pride in being able to show all the different sides of me and being able to show that I'm not just this one-dimensional, white meat babyface.”
With over a decade put into professional wrestling and his best friend, Johnny Gargano being one of the top superstars in NXT, it would only be natural for Greg to think about the progression to television for himself.
However, Greg says that while television will always be the dream and he does feel that he has a good story for TV wrestling, he is happy being able to contribute to professional wrestling in any way as he has learned in recent years that he has an affinity for the educational side of the industry and utilizing his mind as opposed to filling out his bump card and having that be the only contribution to the industry he loves.
“I would love the opportunity to wrestle for any company that will pay me, quite frankly. I live with NXT is doing and I love what AEW is doing. Obviously, I've been a WWE kid my whole life, but I have to be honest with myself as I'm getting older. I'm 34. For whatever reason, when you're in your 20s, you always put a timetable on getting signed. Me and a lot of other guys would always go, well if I'm not signed by the time I'm 30, I'm done. But as you get older, you realize a couple of things. A) this obsession, this passion for wrestling isn't going anywhere and B) most of the most successful pro wrestlers, really have their prime years in their late thirties and early forties.
“I don't know, I think there is a spot for me on TV. I think there is a great story that I can tell through my character and through my real story, and I can parlay that into an audience and may not necessarily be wrestling fans. However, if I can contribute to pro wrestling, in any way, shape, or form even behind the scenes, I think I'm okay with that because I've learned in the past couple of years that I really love teaching and sometimes I feel like -- cerebral palsy is technically brain damage, right? So I've always felt like because I'm very limited in what I can do as an athlete, I've always had a better wrestling brain than a wrestling body. I really love explaining things to people, the little things in between moves that make things work, the storytelling of professional wrestling, the promos, and then I like seeing, after I teach this to a kid, him going out and doing those things and learning and understanding. It's thrilling for me. So if I can just contribute in some way and make a couple of bucks, I don't need to be rich. I don't want to be rich. I just want to be comfortable, I was a poor kid growing up. Maybe a part of me still has that poor kid mentality. I just want to do wrestling because I love it and be able to take care of myself. That's the ultimate dream.”
Gregory Iron and 44OH! will be a part of GCW The Collective: Remix. Gregory Iron will also have his own challenge match during Effy’s Big Gay Brunch. You can check out the schedule for The Collective here. Also, you can check out Gregory's podcast at this link.