In 2003, when I started training to be a professional wrestler, Ring Of Honor is where I wanted to wrestle.
It took me 13 years, and a lot of effort, to get there.
For most of my life, I had a lot of ambition and drive, but not necessarily a lot of courage. So, instead of actively pursuing the things that I wanted, I just worked hard and expected them to come to me; like one day I would just wrestle the right guy and he would sing my praises to the right promoter and it would create an upward momentum swing that would land me exactly where I wanted to go.
That didn’t work out for me.
Instead: I had a lot of decent-to-good matches, in embarrassing venues, in front of embarrassingly small crowds, for over a decade.
A shift came in 2011, when I ordered the video seminar “In The Ring With Al Snow” from RF Video, after randomly clicking on the YouTube trailer.
The majority of the video is Al aggressively ripping apart a lot of the common thought processes that were holding me down. Most notably: working really hard to put together complex, common-patterned matches, meant to impress other wrestlers and diehard fans, rather than making yourself an interesting person that any fan might go out of their way to see in interesting situations (i.e. non-formulaic, taylor-crafted matches).
Up until then, I was trying to be the next Dory Funk Jr. or Dean Malenko, the guys I most admired; the wrestler’s wrestlers. Really, I wanted to be exactly what Zack Sabre Jr. is, now. The problem was that I wasn’t Dory Jr. or “The Iceman” or ZSJ, I was awk-weirdly creative Jason Kincaid, trying to play a wrestler’s wrestler.
So, to stand out, before Daniel Bryan grew his, I began cultivating a beard and, to accentuate my already naturally-contrasting red beard/dirty blonde hair, I dyed my hair black and began having my wife braid it.
Initially I envisioned myself being a “Wrong-Turn-Backwoods-Occult-Hellbilly”, playing off my interests and background, but on my first trip to Mexico, the first guy I shook hands with in the dressing room said, “¡Vikingo!” With that revelation, I shifted my look to “Wrong-Turn-Backwoods-Occult-Hellbilly-Viking-Luchador”.
Then I attended a Dan Murphy seminar where he talked about how to market yourself, and used that valuable info to start to build a little bit of a name for myself.
I continued to refine my look and promo style, and allowed myself to let go of my insecurities and start trying some of the crazy move-ideas that I had in my head, and enough of them actually worked that I started to stand out.
Then, all of a sudden, after thirteen years of being stricken with the ailment of mixed yearning for success and phobia of failure, a feeling of “I’m ready” rushed through my veins as if from an IV full of “stop f---ing around” medicine.
I half-expected my docile wife to scream “ah-nah, hell-nah” at me, when I suggested spending $300, that we really couldn’t afford, to take our 200,000+ mileage car 480 miles away, for a chance to get evaluated, along with 49 other wrestlers, at a ROH Tryout Camp/Seminar. Instead, she gently said, “Yeah. It’s your dream. Go for it.”
And, with that, I went for it.