Well, last night was the Black Diamond Wrestling 9th Anniversary Show, back at the infamous Martin's Ferry Rec Center, just a stones throw from downtown Wheeling, WV.
It was also officially my last night as a professional wrestler.
As I hope most of you reading this already know, last May I was injured in an industrial accident at my job away from the squared circle. To make a long story short, years and years of training and competing took a pretty big toll on my body, and this industrial injury aggravated and worsened a degenerative arthritic condition that I was previously unaware of, and that I had no issues with. Post accident however, I essentially have no cartilage in my shoulder, and I am constantly have trouble with basic functions of every day life.
As much as I love professional wrestling, and as much as I have dedicated my life to it, I had to look at things realistically: I am 34 years old, and it is no longer financially feasible to pile up medical bills and expenses to do something that, at this point, is only going to cripple me. I worked a hard style. I traveled a lot. I paid the price in the gym. It is time for my body to rest. Time to go have some kids and a family.
After holding off on making any kind of decision like this, I decided that at BDW's 9th Anniversary show, I would either wrestle my last match, or I would hang it up for good if I couldn't. After trying to rehab and get my workers comp issues resolved for more than a year, it became obvious that things were not going to workout, so I asked Rikk Diamond and Jake Garrett if I could make the announcement at Martin's Ferry for the Anniversary.
From the time that I knew that this announcement was coming, up until I publicly made it, I was pretty torn up about it. There are so many different facets of life that I devoted to professional wrestling, that in a lot of ways, I do not know how to live without. I went to college, and I have a degree. However, ever since I walked down the aisle of St. Johns Arena to get that certificate in my hands, my career and professional goals were all related to wrestling. I took jobs that helped me pay bills, but allowed me flexibility to wrestle when and where I needed.
An analogy that I think somewhat fits is that of someone drafted out of high school or college to play baseball, but never made it to the major leagues, but bounced around the minor leagues for thirteen years. Then, after thirteen years of travel, low pay, and focusing completely on that sport, what do you do? How do you go from being an athlete, to being a civilian with no money to show for all the time and effort you put into a career?
When my fiance and I loaded up the car to head out for Wheeling Saturday morning, I felt quite melancholy. I was heading out to go to a wrestling show, but I had no wrestling gear with me; it was truly the end.
I can't say that I was nervous when I walked out to make the announcement. I was actually kind of relieved, because it had been a few years since I had been in that town, and more than a year since I had been in a BDW ring. When the crowd popped for me walking to the ring, I was thankful that people remembered who I was.
I took the microphone and explained to the crowd how holding the BDW Heavyweight Championship three times was one of the highlights of my career, and how I always took great pride in busting my ass to help build BDW as a company, and to help make Wheeling a good town for independent wrestling. I thanked the fans for supporting BDW and myself. At that point the lockerroom emptied out and the boys all came out and pounded on the apron, and they played a tribute video on the Diamond-tron. I gotta be honest, I was pretty moved.
There are a lot of people that are very important to me that were there, and I cannot express my thanks to the people who came out to say goodbye, or who sent their well wishes to me via text, email, or social networking. There are just so many people that I want to thank, and people that I love that I want to let know, but I just do not know where to begin.
I was proud that most of the guys that I had a hand in training were on the show, and that the main event featured two guys that I trained battling for the BDW Heavyweight Championship.
Here are some pics from the show.
|Raising the hand of the victorious BDW Heavyweight Champion Dan Sandwich|
|Myself, surrounded by three of the guys I trained: l-r Payton Graham, Nikita Allanov, Destin Vaine, Dan Sandwich|
And the video slideshow that played while I was in the ring...