Don't be a Slater Hater
The Hunt for Donald Glover a.k.a. Big Day Out Diaries

I really love writing. Always have. I haven’t done so in a while because I’m more aware now that only a handful would give a shit. Although maybe I’m just more cynical these days. Anyway, some of you may know that I was afforded the opportunity to perform for Lucha VaVoom on the Big Day Out tour. I’m a HUGE fan of anything over-the-top and different. So naturally, I was super excited to be a part of the ‘Sexo y Violencia’ that is VaVoom. After my 1st day I started writing a blog that I briefly updated yet refrained from posting. Now a few days removed from the 14 day tour and I’ve decided to expand on it and put it out there, mostly for my own memory (getting kicked in the head for the last 10 years does not help the cause) and to give some insight into what it’s like to experience the madness of a major festival.

Where do we start? So around 6 months ago I was contacted to help organise and work for Lucha VaVoom on this tour. I could probably say that my networking from 2007 and 2009 in Los Angeles finally paid off, regardless of how much of a failure I saw my last trip being. I was all too keen to help out as…. shock horror…. I actually want to see Pro Wrestling succeed and grow, particularly in Australia. I didn’t actually find out that the tour was a part of the Big Day Out until recently, so when they told me that they were performing Lucha at the Showgrounds in each city, I thought it was going to be on its own in a bunch of oversized venues. You can understand why I was fairly certain that they were out of their mind! VaVoom is super successful in the states but the lucha/Mexican culture isn’t as prevalent down under. Would fans get it? Would they even bother coming? However if you insert 55,000+ drunk festival kids, it turned out to be a far different story :)

This will probably be a long read, so feel free to click that little X in the top right hand corner (fuck MacBooks) if this thing gets boring. I should also put out a disclaimer that for the purposes of keeping the ‘fabe, the following stories MAY or MAY NOT be true depending on who’s askin’. I’ll refrain from revealing too much about the characters I performed under, though it wouldn’t be too hard to find out. Or maybe I didn’t wrestle at all? How’d ya like them apples Urijah ‘fabers? Here it goes…

Wednesday, Jan 16th – Adelaide/Sydney

Rushed from my day job to the airport and boarded a flight to Sydney. The only details I had were to search for a luchadore when I arrived and pick up a rental van to take us to the hotel. I arrive in Sydney and check my emails. The BDO organiser has said I won’t be able to grab the rental until tomorrow, and from Kings Cross instead. I also realise that said luchadore would be in the international terminal whereas I’m domestic. A $24 taxi ride (3-4 minutes. Farken’ bullshit) later and I’m in the ghost town known as Sydney International Airport. No Mexicans to be found. As has always been the case, the 1st day of tours for me never goes to plan. But fuck it, adrenaline is high and I’m about to embark on the greatest 2 weeks of my life.

So I catch a taxi to the hotel and quickly realise that this festival sure does have a lot of money. Unlike the usual indy bed of someone’s spare mattress (at best), I’m in a 5 star hotel. On my own at that, considering my soon to be roommate Shane Haste doesn’t arrive until tomorrow. And there are free cookies and milk waiting for me. I love free shit!

With no means of communication other than email, I sit in my bed wondering how the VaVoom crew will be in contact with me considering the hotel doesn’t have free wi-fi. This thought ends when I hear a huge amount of ruckus and a knock on my door. I open it to the VaVoom promoters who I am meeting for the 1st time. Turns out the whole crew are on our floor.

I re-unite with my old friends TJ Perkins and Willie Mack who I haven’t seen since 2009 when I was in California. Both are awesome dudes and great value to have on a tour like this. I then receive some new wrestling gear that I am to wear as we have a photo shoot for the Daily Telegraph in the morning. I immediately try on said gear which is probably a couple of sizes too small and quickly remember that I have never worn a mask before. I am also claustrophobic. Perfect combination. I remember that I am supposed to be at the PWA Bootcamp in the morning. So I call the powers that be and let them know that I first have to don some white nut-huggers and be photographed for the world to see.

Before hitting the hay I surf the YouTubes to study some Lucha Libre. I had some training in California and in Japan with Hidaka, but it was limited. I am promptly distracted by countless videos of midget wrestling. Oh how I hope there are some of the ‘minis’ on tour.

Thursday, Jan 17th – Sydney

I wake up and head down to the pool area for the photo shoot. TJ ribs  me that I must keep complete kayfabe throughout the hotel. So I walk around in full lucha gimmick. Such a dick. As soon as it ends, I rush off to find a train so that I can take the 90 minute transit to Campbelltown for the boot camp. I bring Willie Mack along. After realising that Sydney’s railway system is too complex for my feeble mind, I eventually make it with about 1 hour left of the camp. We take a few drills and then go grab burgers. It is as hot as the fires of hell and apparently will reach a record high tomorrow. My mind wanders back to when I tried on the mask the night before. At worst, I will die. At best, I will botch everything.

We get back to the hotel and Shane Haste has arrived. Due to his frequent stays in Japan, I hadn’t seen the guy for over 2 years. I get greeted with a naked luchashane with a mangina. No time to rest, we have to go to grab the rental vans from Kings Cross. We get there and the office is closed.

Nate Dooley is in town helping to promote the Mundine vs. Geale fight, so we meet up with him and catch a cab to Darling Harbour. Nate decides that we need to share a beer. Several more decisions later and it’s decided that we need to share jugs of sangria. I should probably mention that I never drink. Oh how this would change. It reaches the early hours and after every place in Sydney is seemingly shut, we find 1 last open bar. We walk in and it is flooded with people all dressed to the 9’s. Suits and all. We are clad in basketball shorts, thongs and UFC promo tees. After a couple more [bad] decisions, we call it a night. After all, we have a big day of lucha libre in the morning.

 

Friday, Jan 18th – Sydney

It’s Big Day Out Day. We have no idea what to expect. However I don’t have much of a hangover so I hit the hotel gym for a workout. Hangover kicks in. I cut the workout short and head over to attempt to get the rental van AGAIN. Kings Cross tell us that we were supposed to get them from the Airport. Awesome. So after almost an hour of waiting and generic ‘oh you’re a wrestler’ small talk with staff, we get some more vans and head off.

Arriving at the Sydney Showgrounds we notice 2 things. (1) It is 45 fucking degrees and (2) The VaVoom arena is MASSIVE! I find out that I will be on both the 3pm and 5pm sessions. Fortunately my old pal Robbie Eagles is booked against me in 1 of the matches. After getting over my claustrophobia I head out and am completely stunned by the eruption of the crowd. People have filled every seat of the 1000ish (guesstimate) seat arena. People are even lining the aisle ways to fit in. For the 1st time ever I also get to wrestle old mate Willie Mack which was cool.

I soon realise how different lucha is to American or Japanese style. I can safely admit that I had not a clue what was going on. Fortunately the crowd were likely full of too many chemicals to care. The 3pm session ends and after eating basically nothing all day I head over to catering for a free feed. Catering closed at 3pm. It doesn’t re-open until 5pm when my next match is on. Again, I am a jew, so I refuse to pay for food like a civilian. Instead I steal some leftover cookies sitting around and chug on countless cans of red bull. The 5pm session comes around and this time I am full body spandex. But I am a little more accustomed to the lucha libre styling and have a fairly decent match.

After getting back on the Coronas, we are semi-naked and off to catering. I am stoked that I do not have to rely on tuna packets like I thought I would. I also feel like I do not deserve any of this incredible treatment. I search for celebrities. It dawns on me that after boycotting radio to make way for podcasts 2 years ago, I am completely out of the loop with pop culture. These people all look like they play in bands, but my shitty music pulse is weak these days.  After eating more food than my dehydrated body can handle, Dooley messages us that he is side stage for Childish Gambino. It was a goal of mine to meet Donald Glover, so we sprint to the stage just as Glover is finishing. He is promptly rushed to a getaway vehicle, but Dooley stops him so that we can take a photo. The G man starts spitting water at the camera. Dooley asks “hey man, are you spitting water?” to which Big Don replies “Yuuup” and spits more water. We then run off giggling like schoolgirls.

Back to the hotel and it’s time for the official after-party. We only know that is near the Opera house somewhere. So we drink the remaining coronas from our rider and head off into the night. Having no idea which club the party is actually in; we try 1 and are denied. It’s late and we’re not really in the mood so we walk towards a fancy museum looking place which is flanked by security. Must be something important. We are greeted by a hostess who asks “What’s your name?” We introduce ourselves, thinking this is some big business party or something and expect to be turned away. She then says “Who are you with?” We pause and look dumbfounded before saying “Lucha VaVoom” expecting her to look confused. However she responds with “come right in”. Success! Turns out we randomly found the after-party.

Again, I don’t recognise any celebrities other than Big Brother’s Fitzy. So we eat free pizza and drink free beer until the early hours before heading home.

Saturday, Jan 19th – Sydney/Gold Cost

Early flight out to Gold Coast for a nice 4 day stay in Surfers Paradise. It is only just sinking in at how insane this trip has been and should continue to be. One of my favourite bands of all time Every Time I Die are on the flight with us, so we had a chat and being the wrestling marks they are, said that they would come and check us out. I mark out inside. In front of me on the flight is a skinny Australian with bad tattoos (not that I can talk). Seemed nice enough. We leave the airport and everyone is pointing at him. I didn’t think the tattoos were THAT bad.

We successfully collect the vans and after a sweet dive along the coast, arrive at the Hilton in Surfers. The tattood Aussie is out front surrounded by pre-teen fans. Turns out he is known as ‘360’ and is kind of a big deal. I tell my girlfriend. She gets angry that I don’t know who he is. I still maintain that I’d rather listen to Joe Rogan talk about mushrooms than listen to any form of shitty Aussie hip hop.

The rest of the day was pool, beach, pool.

 

Sunday, Jan 20th – Gold Coast

Big Day Out Round Dos! Expecting the lavish arena that we were greeted with i Sydney, I was a little surprised to see the ring setup on a non-descript hill. But I can’t complain, any large avenue to perform is an absolute blessing. We go and checkout Every Time I Die who destroyed as per usual, though was a little embarrassed at how pathetic kids’ moshing skills have become. I know Big Day Out has lost its punk/metal influence but these kids were looking less like Ralph Macchio and more like Hilary Swank.

I had the opportunity of wrestling a long time friend, trainer and influence of mine in TJ Perkins. I never would have imagined that the time would come in Gold Coast dressed as luchadores. Also spotted the ETID lads in the crowd which was super cool. I am a full fledged ETID mark and proud.

I wasn’t too keen on the band line-up coming into the tour but in between sessions I got to see Death Grips, Sleigh Bells and Bloody Beetroots which was cool. But enough of that, time for another after-party. Myself and Shane made it certain that we would never miss one of these parties. I think we both share the same values of milking free stuff for all it’s worth. It’s safe to say that we were probably the Loosest On Ground at all 4 of these ventures.

This time, a few notable faces decided to come out and hang. Another photo opportunity with Donald Glover was a little more pleasant. He turned out to be a really cool dude. We also had a good chat with Jordan from ETID who decided that we would need to take him for a workout at 9am the next morning. After texting about my giddiness to some close friends, I look up and Shane is on the other side of the bar with a barman standing on his shoulders. Again, Loosest On Ground for sure.

 

Monday, Jan 21st – Gold Coast

11am comes. I guess it’ll be no workout with Jordan. We figured he wouldn’t remember our drunken conversation anyway. That or he was sitting on his bed for hours waiting for that phone to ring. Oh well.

Again, this day consisted of pool, sleep, pool. This also became the night when we were introduced to Willie Mack’s alter ego ‘Don’t Give A Fuck’ Jones. DGAF Jones is a big proponent of break-dancing in full saunas and proclaiming that he “don’t give a fuck.”

Tuesday, Jan 22nd – Gold Coast

Off to Dreamworld which a couple of the guys and former EPW cameraman Chad. We take the visitors to hug koalas, feed kangaroos etc. etc.

 

Wednesday, Jan 23rd – Gold Coast/Adelaide

As happy as I was to return home for a few days, leaving the Gold Coast was depressing. We get back to Adelaide, check in to my room that I wouldn’t be staying at. Find out that there are no free cookies, so leave to go back to reality for 24 hours.

Thursday, Jan 24th – Adelaide

Normal life. Boo urns.

Friday, Jan 25th – Adelaide

Hit the surf in the morning and then off to the Showgrounds for Big Day Out #3. There really is nothing like performing in your hometown. I had the opportunity of wrestling with Cassandro and a couple of other Mexican wrestlers which was a 1st for me. I truly learnt a lot about the lucha libre style in that 1 match alone.

I decided that with catering running for lunch AND dinner, I would grab several other takeaway plates to keep with me ‘on the road’. The salmonella risk was well worth it. Paying for food is silly.

No after-party in Adelaide. I guess Donald Glover can sleep easy tonight.

Saturday, Jan 26th – Adelaide/Melbourne

Off to Melbourne and straight to the venue. As expected, weather is shite. Classic Melbourne. Shows go well and we re-unite with Rohan and Nate which means that post-match tequila is on the menu. It also means that the after-party shall be huge. They issue most of the crew with ‘Team Australia’ Ultimate Fighter shirts.

The after-party is way too packed and Jordan from ETID completely kayfabes Shane. But I noticed Chris Lilley at the urinal next to me. Kinda cool I guess. I Hasselhoff a few free burgers and we make our way back to the hotel for a quick siesta before an early flight.

 

Sunday, Jan 27th – Melbourne/Perth

It kind of dawns on me that this trip is fast coming to an end, just as I am getting accustomed to the lifestyle. I’m super excited to get back to Perth though considering it was my 2nd home for about 4 years. I hadn’t been there for over a year so made sure to meet up with some old friends as soon as we arrived. Naturally I take Willie with me for the stories.


Ever since getting these Ultimate Fighter shirts, people everywhere have been pointing and looking at us constantly. Whilst eating our meal, a lady comes up and says that her husband is a big fan of us. At first I am impressed that indy wrestling is finally getting its dues. Turns out she, like everyone else, thinks we’re UFC fighters. Keep in mind that we have all been wearing the infamous green TUF promo tees for a couple of days now. I tell said lady that Willie Mack is actually Kimbo Slice. He plays along. Good times are had by all.

Monday, Jan 28th – Perth

The temperature is back up and naturally I am back doing double duty in the full body spandex. But first I go side stage for Every Time I Die which was awesome. Such an incredibly fun band.

It again was a great crowd throughout the day, although our 8pm directly clashed with Red Hot Chili Peppers. So to make the session more fun we draw 2 random wrestlers names out of a hat and as per the ‘end of tour’ tradition we must act like those wrestlers for the duration of our match. I was given X-Pac and Earthquake. For the lucky few who abandoned RHCP to see Lucha VaVoom, I’m not sure how it would have looked to see luchadores doing Wolfpac signs and dropping Earthquake splashes. EPW’s Gavin McGavin was also booked for the session which was a really cool way to end the tour.

Perth after-party begins well as pretty much all of the bands are there. Tom Gabel is at the booth next to us. Still looks like a dude. Then at around 1am the bar tab closes. This means the night is over. I look for a filthy kebab place but it’s Monday night and a public holiday so I settle for trail mix.

 

Tuesday, Jan 29th – Perth/Adelaide :(

Home. I hate goodbyes. The douchebag next to me on the flight had his elbows in my ribs the entire way. I’ve never wanted to headbutt someone more. Welcome back to reality.

 

 

Pride, Honour… Glory?

May 22nd, 2010 was the last time I felt the NWA Australian National Championship slip through my hands. It was the 7th time this had happened to me. Pretty crazy statistics huh? Working your way up and being knocked down isn’t an easy thing to swallow. This time was different though.

I don’t usually get nervous before matches, but I could barely move my legs as I was standing in the ring at Cosgrove Hall waiting for Robby Heart to make his way to the ring. I’d never felt an atmosphere as electric as this one. Still haven’t to this day. Not 1200 fans at Thebby, 2000 at Korakuen Hall or 4000 at the Orleans Arena, could hold a candle to this crowd. I had spent the past few years doing whatever I could to ‘make an impact.’ Whether it meant turning my back on friends who I felt couldn’t offer me anything or just acting like a tool in general. According to Pro Wrestling 101, this is how you got noticed in our wacky industry. As a result, there were literally more than 500 screaming people eager to see me fail against their hero. But the nerves were there because I was more ready than I had ever been. I literally could not have trained any harder. I had beaten all of the top dogs. I had no Plan B. If I was to lose again, there was nothing more I could really do. And I did lose. Again.

Not long after that I decided to just start being myself. I also made it a point to forget about the NWA Australian Title. In that time I fought and beat some of the best from around Australia. Jack Bonza, AJ Istria, Mark Davis, Davis Storm, Rocky Menero, Bobby Marshall. I then went to Japan and did the same. The stresses of high expectations and political bulls**t were gone. The only expectation I had for myself was to leave it all in the ring each and every time, and never quit.

Now I find myself back in a position I haven’t been in for over 2 years.  July 28th I get another chance to complete the one goal that has eluded me. As surprising as it may sound, I don’t have a problem with Ryan Eagles. Sure he has disrespected my hometown, my home promotion and my best friends, but as a result he’s now the Champ. Whether you like it or not, he had a game plan that worked and you can’t deny that he’s one of the best. In saying that, I don’t have the same respect for Mark Aiston. Nor do I have any time for other outsiders who think they can walk into my sport and treat it as a playground for their childhood fantasies.

I don’t really feel like coming up with some kind of epic conclusion to this rant so I’ll just say this. At GROUND ZERO I’m going to put my foot through Ryan Eagles’ mouth. Not only to keep the belt in Adelaide, but more importantly, to keep the belt away from Mark Aiston. Then while Aiston sits behind his news desk informing the masses of dodgy footy umpiring and tennis scores nobody cares about, I’m going to keep doing what I do best. This time as a champion. Finally.

www.prowrestlingaustralia.com

ZERO1 Interview with Damian Slater (reposted from prowrestlingaustralia.com)

First memory of Wrestling?

Survivor Series 1998. I’m pretty sure it aired on a 6 month delay in Australia. It blew me away as I’d always associated Wrestling with being cheesy PG type stuff but this was cutting edge, especially for an 11 year old! I remember not being into Wrestling at all growing up but it became super popular to the point where I felt left out for not liking it. So I jumped aboard the bandwagon and became more obsessed than anyone else. Who knew that it would change my life so drastically! *laughs*

Who were your influences growing up?

When I started I was really young, small, weak and un-athletic. So when I looked for influences, I realised that mat wrestling was something I could do and was within my comfort zone. I used to watch guys like William Regal and Dean Malenko early on.

After I developed my frame I looked to wrestlers such as Alex Shelley, TJ Perkins and Ikuto Hidaka for inspiration as I really enjoyed how fluid and innovative their wrestling was. I also felt drawn to the way they incorporated the Japanese, Mexican, British and American styles all into one.

If you weren’t a Professional Wrestler, what would you be?

Easy one. I’d focus more on Jiu Jitsu.

Favourite band?

Every Time I Die

Favourite movie?

Fight Club

Worst injury in wrestling?

My most painful injury was in a match with Cletus Blood in Melbourne a couple of years back. I picked him up for a modified Tilt-A-Whirl and felt something in my chest pop. It felt like I’d been shot. As soon as I got backstage I sat down and couldn’t really breathe or move. I went to hospital where they took X-Rays and they said it looked like a small part of my sternum had broken off but weren’t 100% sure. To be honest I think it felt a lot more like a partially torn abdominal muscle. Either way I had to sleep sitting upright for 2 weeks.

What was it like to wrestle in Japan against some of the Japanese greats? (sent in by Jamie Vandenberg)

An absolute dream come true. The Japanese style has been my main influence for several years now. It still seems kind of surreal that I was able to experience the same lifestyle that I have read about in so many autobiographies. Living at the dojo and training with Ikuto Hidaka was an amazing experience as he was always somebody I watched growing up. My match with Masato Tanaka was a war that I won’t forget in a hurry. He pushed me further than anyone has before and I felt like I could truly hang with one of the best in the world.

What did you learn in Japan that will make you a better wrestler here in Australia? (sent in by David Drane)

The main thing I learnt wasn’t any style or move set. I learnt a lot about myself. Being in Japan made me really analyse myself and put a lot of things into perspective. I think I am far more confident since the experience. I feel as though I have all of the tools to achieve as much success as I want, it is just up to me put myself out there and grab it. Since then my two matches back on home soil with Davis Storm and Rocky Menero have been some of my favourite ever. Confidence is one of the most important things in the game and I think the next year or so will prove that.

Who is your favourite wrestler to be in the ring with here in Australia? (sent in by Brendan West)

Shane Haste hands down. His level of talent is world class and wrestling against him brings you up to a whole new level. I’d have to give a special mention to Davis Storm and Ryan Eagles as well. Two of the smartest and most confident wrestlers in the ring and it truly shows.

List 3 wrestlers you’d like to face in the future and why?

Ryan Eagles – I had some great matches with him in Sydney and Canberra a couple of years ago and think it would be awesome to have this match in my hometown.

Ikuto Hidaka – my Zero1 trainer whose style I have idolized for years. I believe that he is probably the best mat wrestler in the world

Fitness Maniacs – Best tag team in Australia and one of the last remaining on my bucket list who I haven’t wrestled

What are your plans for 2012 and beyond?

I am yet to hold heavyweight gold in my hometown as of yet so it’s always on the back of my mind. However recently I have had the opportunity to face the best from around Australia on a consistent basis which to me is bigger than anything else. I want to test myself against everyone. I think I am living proof that you can achieve great success without holding a title. Of course I want to return to Japan in the near future as I have plenty of unfinished business over there. The only thing holding me back is myself and that is the one thing that I need to overcome.

Thankyou for taking the time to speak with us and all the best for your future

No, thank you!

epwironman:

(NOTE: Apologies if this blog just shows up as one great big pile of words. I’ve tried reformatting if 3-4 times so far with no joy)
So, if you follow me on Facebook (look for Davis Storm if you aren’t already following), you’d know that there were two blogs that I was hoping to write in…

Checkout Davis Storm’s blog from this past weekend. Mainly because he blows smoke up my arse.

epwironman:

Recently, I found myself watching yet another ‘highlights’ video from an Australian wrestling promotion. As I watched I couldn’t help but ask myself a question that I have repeated in my mind countless times while viewing videos from various groups all over the world.

‘You’re really proud enough…

I have less than 48 hours left in Japan. Feel a little sad. Thankyou to the whole country for being so awesome! Who knew that 2 months could go so quickly!? Anyway, some final thoughts…

My Jiu Jitsu is so much better than it was 7 weeks ago. I’m gonna legally change my middle name to ‘Omoplata’
Masato Tanaka is far too fast, jacked and talented for a 39 year old. What an incredible experience! One of the best in the world.
I wish shoulders could be removed like appendixes. Has been 7 weeks since I have been able to lift more than a 13 year old girl. However I don’t think my physique has suffered too much from the lack of lifting and heavy white rice intake. Looking forward to starting rehab as soon as get on that plane. Carb rehab.
Also looking forward to making 3 days worth of chicken and measuring it out into Tupperware containers. I honestly don’t know why. I hate it, but it feels so right!
I really, really don’t want to leave.
Have many tools to bring home to Adelaide. You never stop learning in this game. When you do you should either give me some of your millions, or quit.
I’m foregoing a booking on a very important Korakuen Hall show Friday, just to go to Soundwave. Should probably mention that being bad at reading foreign schedules also has something to do with it.
Might be checking Ribera off of my ‘Life Goals’ checklist tomorrow. Free silver jacket would complete my life.
 I finally summoned the courage to try Natto. I hate myself.
When I return to Japan I must hit up Disneyland, wrestle Hidaka, lose a shitload of money on Pachinko (they love doing this so I guess I should experience it too), buy some of the heavily discounted Bob Sapp merch and find the mythical USED PANTIES VENDING MACHINE!!! 
Did I mention that I don’t want to leave?
 The thought of reality makes me cringe. Such a huge change in lifestyle as soon as I leave the airport. Depressing. 
It looks like I may be spending a solid 10 hours at Narita Airport before I fly out due to being cheap/lazy. Kinda like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Only it won’t be made into a shit movie.

I have less than 48 hours left in Japan. Feel a little sad. Thankyou to the whole country for being so awesome! Who knew that 2 months could go so quickly!? Anyway, some final thoughts…

  • My Jiu Jitsu is so much better than it was 7 weeks ago. I’m gonna legally change my middle name to ‘Omoplata’
  • Masato Tanaka is far too fast, jacked and talented for a 39 year old. What an incredible experience! One of the best in the world.
  • I wish shoulders could be removed like appendixes. Has been 7 weeks since I have been able to lift more than a 13 year old girl. However I don’t think my physique has suffered too much from the lack of lifting and heavy white rice intake. Looking forward to starting rehab as soon as get on that plane. Carb rehab.
  • Also looking forward to making 3 days worth of chicken and measuring it out into Tupperware containers. I honestly don’t know why. I hate it, but it feels so right!
  • I really, really don’t want to leave.
  • Have many tools to bring home to Adelaide. You never stop learning in this game. When you do you should either give me some of your millions, or quit.
  • I’m foregoing a booking on a very important Korakuen Hall show Friday, just to go to Soundwave. Should probably mention that being bad at reading foreign schedules also has something to do with it.
  • Might be checking Ribera off of my ‘Life Goals’ checklist tomorrow. Free silver jacket would complete my life.
  •  I finally summoned the courage to try Natto. I hate myself.
  • When I return to Japan I must hit up Disneyland, wrestle Hidaka, lose a shitload of money on Pachinko (they love doing this so I guess I should experience it too), buy some of the heavily discounted Bob Sapp merch and find the mythical USED PANTIES VENDING MACHINE!!!
  • Did I mention that I don’t want to leave?
  •  The thought of reality makes me cringe. Such a huge change in lifestyle as soon as I leave the airport. Depressing.
  • It looks like I may be spending a solid 10 hours at Narita Airport before I fly out due to being cheap/lazy. Kinda like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Only it won’t be made into a shit movie.
I thought I’d write another blog whilst my body is covered in ice patches and Facebook is littered with cheesy Valentine’s Day photos of roses, or single dudes passively hating themselves. Life in Japan is still going well. There has been a short break between shows, which means more training time. It also means my body is breaking down more rapidly, but I’ll get to that later. I’ve had some great opportunities to pick Hidaka’s brain, especially when it comes to the boring chain wrestling that I get hard over. He’s just on a whole different level. Everything lately has been real lucha influenced, which is fun and handy if I ever return to Tijuana. Maybe I’ll repost the TJ blog soon.

This Saturday I’m wrestling Masato Tanaka which will be my first singles match here. I’m super pumped for it. I remember watching him no-sell chair shots to the head when I was 12. It’s crazy the way life turns out sometimes. I’ll be practicing my Sliding D evasion techniques in the mean time. Apparently I’ve been compared to Jimmy Snuka over here. I think my nickname is “The Australian Panther” or something. I vaguely heard the name mentioned during the Japanese commentary, but wasn’t sure how it related to me. Knife edge chops and leopard print underwear ahoy!

After working through 2 bad shoulders, the Zero1 guys said they would take me to have them fixed. I had no idea where we were going but we ended up arriving at the New Japan physio. I received electrotherapy, ultrasound, acupuncture and deep tissue massage, and thanks to wrestler’s status in Japan, didn’t pay a cent! Unfortunately all of said techniques did very little. Cool experience though.

I don’t want these blogs to seem like I’m all up on the Japan love, because I sure do miss Australia, but I’m continually impressed by things over here. Chocolate milk only has 70 calories yet tastes the same. Valentine’s Day is a celebration for females to give males chocolates. And not just their partner, but ALL males. Which means female wrestlers fed me chocolates. The way it should be. Out of everywhere I have travelled to, this is probably the only place I could see myself living in without going batshit crazy. Then again, maybe I already have gone crazy. Case in point; almost every day I’ve been feeling earthquakes. Only minor, but enough to shake stuff. Yet the locals don’t feel a thing. Weirdos.

My episode of Deal or No Deal airs tomorrow. Kinda pissed that I won’t see it for a while, but it should be fun. I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened due to nervousness (and selective memory) but I did put on a lot of wrestling holds during that hour of filming, none of which were planned or agreed to by Andrew O’Keefe. I was in the moment! I may or may not have cranked on a Figure 4 leg lock after he failed to sell enough to my liking. Hopefully editing doesn’t remove too much cool stuff. Like my constant Beyond The Mat and Titus O’Neil references. Ah I’ve said too much, just watch tomorrow!

I thought I’d write another blog whilst my body is covered in ice patches and Facebook is littered with cheesy Valentine’s Day photos of roses, or single dudes passively hating themselves. Life in Japan is still going well. There has been a short break between shows, which means more training time. It also means my body is breaking down more rapidly, but I’ll get to that later. I’ve had some great opportunities to pick Hidaka’s brain, especially when it comes to the boring chain wrestling that I get hard over. He’s just on a whole different level. Everything lately has been real lucha influenced, which is fun and handy if I ever return to Tijuana. Maybe I’ll repost the TJ blog soon.

This Saturday I’m wrestling Masato Tanaka which will be my first singles match here. I’m super pumped for it. I remember watching him no-sell chair shots to the head when I was 12. It’s crazy the way life turns out sometimes. I’ll be practicing my Sliding D evasion techniques in the mean time. Apparently I’ve been compared to Jimmy Snuka over here. I think my nickname is “The Australian Panther” or something. I vaguely heard the name mentioned during the Japanese commentary, but wasn’t sure how it related to me. Knife edge chops and leopard print underwear ahoy!

After working through 2 bad shoulders, the Zero1 guys said they would take me to have them fixed. I had no idea where we were going but we ended up arriving at the New Japan physio. I received electrotherapy, ultrasound, acupuncture and deep tissue massage, and thanks to wrestler’s status in Japan, didn’t pay a cent! Unfortunately all of said techniques did very little. Cool experience though.

I don’t want these blogs to seem like I’m all up on the Japan love, because I sure do miss Australia, but I’m continually impressed by things over here. Chocolate milk only has 70 calories yet tastes the same. Valentine’s Day is a celebration for females to give males chocolates. And not just their partner, but ALL males. Which means female wrestlers fed me chocolates. The way it should be. Out of everywhere I have travelled to, this is probably the only place I could see myself living in without going batshit crazy. Then again, maybe I already have gone crazy. Case in point; almost every day I’ve been feeling earthquakes. Only minor, but enough to shake stuff. Yet the locals don’t feel a thing. Weirdos.

My episode of Deal or No Deal airs tomorrow. Kinda pissed that I won’t see it for a while, but it should be fun. I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened due to nervousness (and selective memory) but I did put on a lot of wrestling holds during that hour of filming, none of which were planned or agreed to by Andrew O’Keefe. I was in the moment! I may or may not have cranked on a Figure 4 leg lock after he failed to sell enough to my liking. Hopefully editing doesn’t remove too much cool stuff. Like my constant Beyond The Mat and Titus O’Neil references. Ah I’ve said too much, just watch tomorrow!

Col Dervany

The time was roughly October of 2002 and I was finally allowed (by my parents) to make my way out to Salisbury’s Monster Factory to begin my Pro Wrestling training with veteran, Col Dervany. Having been a fan of the local product for years, and having friends who had trained, I’d heard that Col liked locking nerve holds on unsuspecting victims that felt “worse than 1000 hot needles going into your eyes.” Well, I’ve never copped a needle to the eye, but the statement ended up being quite true as far as I can imagine. As I entered the building full of fear, I fondly remember Col asking me “have you done any of that other shit?” to which after a minute of deliberation over what “shit” that was, I said “I did karate,” having no idea what he was talking about. He then proceeded to scrunch up his face and in an annoyed tone “NO! That backyard shit!” to which I replied with “no way.”

I lied. Sorry Col.

Col did love his nerve holds, and I quickly figured out that if you make him laugh, or always keep on the move, you get off easy. Some were not so lucky. I’m probably making him sound like a malicious bastard, but this was all just a lesson in tough love. Col is from the old school of catch-as-catch-can wrestling where it was more important to be able to protect the industry via shoot fighting. He would always have a smile on his face while he stretched our limbs, especially with his patented finishing submission, the small package. Yes, SUBMISSION! Trust me. In fact the fear of this move was so great that on my 2nd training Col said to me “call Tony Stone a pussy or I’ll put you in the small package.” Without hesitation I called Tony Stone (my other trainer) a pussy. He then proceeded to hiptoss me for 2 minutes. Though as I left the ring, Col gave me a wink and a smile. This kind of confirmation was like gold and made it all worthwhile. There is nothing like earning your teacher’s respect, especially when you have so much respect for that person.

A couple of months into my training I went to watch a Maximum Power Wrestling event (the local company attached to the Monster Factory). There was a young guy throwing rubbish at wrestlers and was warned several times to stop by Col. He mouthed off at Col and then they walked outside together. Col returned and went back to his position, however this time with blood on his shirt. When I questioned him afterwards, he told me that the guy tried to fight him to which Col delivered a swift headbutt to the nose and knocked him out cold. Yet this story is only second to the story about how he was hit by a car, had surgery and returned to training in the same day. Old man strength is underrated.

Unbeknownst to me, Col was one of the only veterans left training young guys in Australia. There was a big black hole in Australian wrestling in the 90’s so most of the few schools in existence didn’t have the kind of experienced trainer that I had. In fact Adelaide only had 1 wrestling school at the time. I was taught so many lessons about respect, protecting the business and hard work, that I am forever grateful. I was told that I could be the next ‘Shawn McMichaels’ if I wanted to be. I still have no idea who he is, but I figure that he has a lot of talent. One of the early lessons I learnt was to not let your opponent “guzzle” you. It was explained to me that a lot of the more experienced guys are pricks and will beat you down in a match so you really have to fight for your comebacks. I soon wrestled B-Unit in a tag match and out of fear of guzzling; I reversed every move they attempted! I ended up guzzling the guzzlers! Thanks Col.

One of the proudest moments in my life happened just before the Monster Factory closed in 2006. Before a Joint Promotions show (the new company that took over MPW), they were giving out awards for certain things that slip my mind. Finally Col was to give out the “Col Dervany Award” to his best trainee from 1999-2006. I received a super shock when I won the award. I still display it proudly in my bedroom. As I said, there is absolutely nothing like earning the respect of your teacher.

On March 31st I get my opportunity to give back to Col Dervany for everything he gave to me. He hasn’t trained anyone since 2006, but has always come to our shows and offered support. It’s always a pleasure to see Col still kicking around backstage whilst I go to work. The NWA Pro is holding ‘WRESTLE REUNION’ at Cosgrove Hall, Clovelly Park in Adelaide. I am so glad and proud that we get to do this thing. I always leave 100% in the ring, but I will be making sure that I put in absolutely every bit of effort on this night. I owe it to my trainer and everyone who has been a part of South Australian wrestling history for the past 13 years.

www.nwapro.com.au

Edit: Ok, confession time. I lied again. Col never put me in the Small Package stretch. Somehow I became the only trainee to ever go through that school and avoid that hold, whilst I watched my peers feel the pain on a nightly basis.

Korakuen Hall

So life is good. Though I am sure my photos and blogging do make it seem so much cooler than it really is. I’m good at that. If I was to be real honest, my days consist of many hours of training followed by many hours of sitting and watching bad sitcoms while I ice my decaying body parts. Ah who am I kidding, that’s the greatest life ever! I’ve even been eating carbs. Bad carbs! Yet I’m at my lowest weight in years. Hard training will do that. I’ve been constantly thinking about the many things I miss back home, but I usually follow it up by telling my brain that I am a retard and I’m in mother fucking Japan, bitch!

I ticked off a long time goal of mine the other day, to wrestle at Korakuen Hall. It was an incredible experience, and whilst I felt a little rusty with my performance (as is almost always the case), I did enough to earn a few “OSHAAAAAN” shrieks from schoolgirls (and a guy in a suit) in the crowd. 2 long time goals ticked off! I really love how revered Japanese wrestling still is. Business may be down everywhere, but each night there will be several big shows within a 1 hour drive and thousands of people will pay upwards of $50 per ticket to watch. They dress nicely and are actually….gasp… civilised human beings! I received a big shock whilst leaving a convenience store near Korakuen a few hours before the show, as there were fans waiting for me so that they could take a photo and give gifts. It’s all very surreal. Hell, even a few members from huge pop group AKB48 were in attendance to see this gaijin sport the gold trunks! Speaking of which, I can’t get their stupidly catchy tunes out of my head. I blame Daichi Hashimoto. Kid loves his underage girl pop and waking me up with said rabble!

Training with Hidaka has been great. I’ve been honing my Jiu Jitsu skills and become the master of the Americana. I have now renamed it the Oceania. I even thought about competing again when I get home. 4 seconds later I realised what a stupid statement that is. Especially since the last time was when my head was ripped off in the 2nd round by a Wanderlei Silva dead ringer. Pro Wrestling  4 lyf.

The other day I ventured out to find a tanning salon because the world isn’t ready for my natural skin colour. I ended up dragging the British guy along with me and after getting lost due to not being able to read street signs, we found a tiny little place on the 4th floor of a random building in Shibuya. We departed with a stupid amount of money in exchange for a little skin cancer. Public showers post-tan seemed a little strange, but smart I must admit. The skinny guys walking around in white undies, staring holes through me whilst I changed, a lot strange. The mission was to not make eye contact and not make any sudden movements. Regardless, I got rid of my tanorexia for a few days so all is good again in the world.

I have quite the day when I return back to Adelaide. Fly from Tokyo to Sydney, Sydney to Adelaide, and drive straight to Bonython Park for what will likely be the best Soundwave Festival of all time. No rest for the wicked. What’s better than re-uniting with friends in the Australian sun and watching Fred Durst go through a mid-life crisis? My 13 year old self will have permanent wood on that day. Any flight delays will ruin my life. Unfortunately this will be followed by a return to Uni studies. It turns out that one degree isn’t enough to make some real money, so I have to get me a 2nd one. I do miss the lifestyle though. By that I mean bailing on Uni to sleep in and lift weights. Real jobs prevent this kind of stuff. Growing up is for losers. Peter Pan 4 lyf!

I also can’t wait to rehab my constantly destroyed shoulders. I guess hundreds of push-ups each day don’t help these things. Though on the plus side, it means I’m distracted from the tendonitis in my feet, messed up knee, sciatica, bad back and elbows. Sigh. Being an idiot, my plan is to keep damaging my body until I leave. Not like these opportunities come every day! Fortunately I have no bookings for a whole month when I get back, so I have plenty of time to get fat, and then back into shape.

Which segways me into March 31st. Not only will this be the NWA Pro ‘WRESTLE REUNION’ event, but it signals the start of the Zero1 Tryout held in Adelaide. The show itself is a tribute to my first trainer, Col Dervany. I may be wrong, but I think I am the last trainee under Col. I have a lot of thoughts to get down which I’ll save for closer to the date. I’m hearing of so many surprises for the night, and I’m sure I’ll be the guy marking out the hardest for some of the names we will see, just like I was in 1999 as an 11 year old kid at The Octagon! As for the tryout, there are a lot of wrestlers in Australia who deserve the opportunities I have had here in Japan. I can’t wait to see some hungry guys and gals fight for that spot.

In other news, some of you may know that I auditioned for Deal or No Deal. I was in Melbourne for an MCW show sometime last year, conveniently when the auditions were on. I then received a call back to be in the studio audience for some tapings at the end of last year. Fortunately I was selected to be on the actual show. The episode airs on February 15th. I’m sure I’ll be cringing at how nervous and sleep deprived I was, but I suggest you watch if you’re a fan of really corny wrestling moves on national TV. None of which were actually planned, might I add. I was just in the moment and the producers told me that I could test their insurance policy if I really wanted. Though a little insider word, I really wrenched one of the holds after the fucker didn’t sell it. Learn to work, kid!

Anyway I’ll leave you with some things I miss and don’t miss…

Miss: Eating chicken & broccoli out of tupperware containers, my girl, warmth, road trips, the chaos of interstate wrestling trips (even though I always have a sleep deprived pre-match moment where I contemplating what I’m doing with my life), coconut water, working out BEFORE wrestling training, being tanned

Don’t Miss: Jerks (everyone’s pretty cool in Japanland), not having time to sleep, spending money, having to tan

I crave donuts.

Earthquakes love this place. Twice.

Nick Diaz is a bitch.

Sincerely yours,

Ocean Neal

I’ve had a cool last few days training with Hidaka and co. Definitely feel at home here. On my off day I ventured out to Harajuku and Shibuya with a couple of other Aussie wrestlers who are conveniently training with other companies here in Japan. Both incredible places full of pancake flavoured Kit Kats, Nintendo merch shops which play thrash metal, no censoring of music in the street and lazy lady-boys who are blatantly just men wearing schoolgirl dresses. Crazy, crazy place.  So this morning we were told that we are going out to dinner at 5pm. A busy day of training ensues, and by 5pm we are wrecked but ready to go eat. Still no idea where or what we are really doing but I’m told we are eating ‘yakitori’ or chicken kebabs.                 We end up in a tiny little restaurant that was half the size of my bedroom and full of Japanese wrestlers’ signatures all over the walls. I think it may have been a sponsor. Either way, it didn’t cost a cent. This makes me happy. Out of politeness I decided to accept a beer. I thought I could nurse my beer for the night and get away with being sober, whilst still joining the alcohol culture of Japan. Well me being the ‘baka gaijin’ that I am, was wrong. No nursing in these parts. On top of the countless beers and random spirits, we were given maybe 10 or so courses of random foods. With each course we were told that it was ‘chicken testicles’. I called bullshit, but I have no doubt that I ate some really weird shit, including what seemed to be pork cartilage. They were honest about one of the delicacies though, in the jellyfish we ingested. Wasn’t too bad actually. Crunchy.

By the end of the food/beer fest, I have somehow become Kamikaze’s drinking buddy. He says we have to have a small shot at this bar near the dojo. I agree. What follows is Round 2 of the food/beer fest. We enter a tiny bar/restaurant/house/something half the size of what we just entered. Meet the clearly hammered owner and sponsor. We talk shit despite the fact that he barely speaks a lick of English. Beer language is universal apparently. They bring us 3 courses of entrees and 1 huge main meal. Still have no idea what we are being fed, but who am I to turn down free food? Kamikaze tells me I should go easy on the alcohol and only have half a beer. He comes back with 2 beers. I am now double fisting beers and choking down food because I am so polite. When all the food is gone and we are 4 hours into this massacre, the owner goes out for a while. She comes back with packets of chips and chocolates for us. When these are finished, another round of food enters the fray. I could never get sick of this lifestyle!
I have no doubt that I am leaving this country as a heavyweight.

I’ve had a cool last few days training with Hidaka and co. Definitely feel at home here. On my off day I ventured out to Harajuku and Shibuya with a couple of other Aussie wrestlers who are conveniently training with other companies here in Japan. Both incredible places full of pancake flavoured Kit Kats, Nintendo merch shops which play thrash metal, no censoring of music in the street and lazy lady-boys who are blatantly just men wearing schoolgirl dresses. Crazy, crazy place.

So this morning we were told that we are going out to dinner at 5pm. A busy day of training ensues, and by 5pm we are wrecked but ready to go eat. Still no idea where or what we are really doing but I’m told we are eating ‘yakitori’ or chicken kebabs.               

We end up in a tiny little restaurant that was half the size of my bedroom and full of Japanese wrestlers’ signatures all over the walls. I think it may have been a sponsor. Either way, it didn’t cost a cent. This makes me happy. Out of politeness I decided to accept a beer. I thought I could nurse my beer for the night and get away with being sober, whilst still joining the alcohol culture of Japan. Well me being the ‘baka gaijin’ that I am, was wrong. No nursing in these parts. On top of the countless beers and random spirits, we were given maybe 10 or so courses of random foods. With each course we were told that it was ‘chicken testicles’. I called bullshit, but I have no doubt that I ate some really weird shit, including what seemed to be pork cartilage. They were honest about one of the delicacies though, in the jellyfish we ingested. Wasn’t too bad actually. Crunchy.

By the end of the food/beer fest, I have somehow become Kamikaze’s drinking buddy. He says we have to have a small shot at this bar near the dojo. I agree. What follows is Round 2 of the food/beer fest. We enter a tiny bar/restaurant/house/something half the size of what we just entered. Meet the clearly hammered owner and sponsor. We talk shit despite the fact that he barely speaks a lick of English. Beer language is universal apparently. They bring us 3 courses of entrees and 1 huge main meal. Still have no idea what we are being fed, but who am I to turn down free food? Kamikaze tells me I should go easy on the alcohol and only have half a beer. He comes back with 2 beers. I am now double fisting beers and choking down food because I am so polite. When all the food is gone and we are 4 hours into this massacre, the owner goes out for a while. She comes back with packets of chips and chocolates for us. When these are finished, another round of food enters the fray. I could never get sick of this lifestyle!


I have no doubt that I am leaving this country as a heavyweight.