Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of columns documenting staff writer Dave Dyer’s journey to becoming a professional wrestler. 

 

“You need a hobby.”

It’s amazing how the realization of a dream can begin with a sentence.

First, let’s backtrack.

I’m a 33-year-old dad. When I’m not writing stories or designing pages for the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, I spend most of my days trying to corral my 2-year-old daughter, Scout. Admittedly, this consumes my schedule.

When my girlfriend, Brandi, told me late last year I needed to find an outlet from the stress of fatherhood, I listened.

But I never expected what would happen next.

Nearly six months after that conversation, my way of relaxation comes from being punched, kicked and body slammed in my new “hobby:” Professional wrestling.

I am a student at the Limitless Dojo in Brewer. The school is affiliated with Limitless Wrestling, a Maine promotion run by 22-year-old wunderkind Randy Carver, who started an organization from scratch and within four years turned it into the premier independent wrestling promotion of Maine and possibly New England.

Hey, not even World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon did that.

Carver’s events showcase some of the top independent talent in Maine and the country, along with appearances from legendary figures within the industry. At his last show, for example, Carver brought in former Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and WWE performer Tommy Dreamer.

Carver is routinely at the school — which opened last fall — while also running Limitless shows on a near-monthly basis in Westbrook. He runs another off-shoot promotion, Let’s Wrestle, each month in Orono. Students are trained by the promotion’s top trio, The Maine State Posse, which is comprised of Alexander Lee, Aiden Aggro and DangerKid.

It’s a promotion, and a world I never would have entered had it not been for a pure coincidence.

WELCOME TO THE DOJO

The Limitless Dojo is a no-nonsense place. As soon as one walks through the doors, you are greeted by an 18-foot by 18-foot ring, which is surrounded by white walls adorned with flyers from previous shows. And that’s it, which is the point as this is a place to learn without distractions.

Alexander Lee taught the first class.

Depending on your taste in characters, Lee is either exactly what you would expect a wrestler would look like, or the exact opposite. Covered in tattoos and multiple piercings, Lee immediately put us to work, starting with standard front rolls and back rolls, drills you might normally see in gymnastics class.

There’s a longstanding misconception that wrestling rings are basically well-covered trampolines that don’t hurt when you land.

Here’s a free tip: That’s a lie.

A wrestling ring is comprised of four steel posts for corners, connected with ring ropes — steel cables that are essentially wrapped in electrical tape — that wrestlers use to bounce around in the ring. They’re not comfy to bounce off of, and they do leave bruises on your back the first few times you use them.

The floor base of the ring is made of wood — think the back deck of your own home. Covering that base are wrestling mats, like the ones used in schools for sport or physical education classes.

Day 1 of training, which I attended with friend Jon Couture, focused on learning to land the bump, which is the most basic move in wrestling.

There are all sorts of bumps in wrestling, but Jon and I learned the two most basic in our first class, the back bump and front bump. A back bump is just how it sounds. You fall backward and land flat on your back, slapping the ring with both arms, so that your back and shoulders absorb the impact of the fall. Even if you do it correctly, it doesn’t tickle. Do it several times and you will feel it in the morning.

The front bump is just as basic, but this time you fall forward, with your arms taking the brunt of the fall, to help avoid smashing your face in the mat.

David Dyer

Of course, I had to screw up on my first front bump.

While I stuck the landing, I felt a funny feeling in my knee. I also heard a clicking sound when I walked. Not good.

I could still move, but kept going so as not to show my age.

Over the next couple of hours, we learned how to run the ropes properly. We also learned how to lock up, which is the traditional start of a wrestling match.

Despite being severely out of shape, I survived. Jon and I were praised for picking up things well, and we were both full of pride as we made our way to our cars. I, of course, celebrated my first class by heading over to McDonald’s for a Big Mac to chomp down on the ride home.

However, as soon as I stepped out of my car, I nearly collapsed, as the pain in my left knee became palpable. I walked into McDonald’s with the kind of gimp John Wayne would have been proud of, ordered my burger, and got back into my car.

Tired, hungry and hurt, I made my way home. I was in pain, but full of pride and excitement.

I knew I’d be coming back for more.

FROM THE BEGINNING

I’ve long been a fan of professional wrestling, although can’t recall ow I got hooked.

I remember watching WWE (it was the he World Wrestling Federation then) at 5 or 6 years old. I remember becoming a fan of Bret “The Hitman” Hart and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. I loved everything about it. The characters, the athleticism, how the crowd got into every match. All of it. I didn’t know at the time that professional wrestling was scripted. Full disclosure: I didn’t care after I found out, either. It was entertaining to me, more entertaining than anything else that was on television.

My love for it only grew into my teenage years, when the WWE entered its pinnacle age of the “Attitude Era,” when the top stars included “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Thanks to its feud with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) – known as “The Monday Night Wars” — the company was putting out its best product, and had me hooked like never before.

There’s only one person I knew growing up — Couture — who rivaled my passion for the sport. Over our 20 years of friendship, we’ve attended an abundance of shows and spent countless hours talking pro wrestling together. As the years went on, we regretted not going to wrestling school.

Jon started his own podcast — The Maine Event Podcast — years ago, and through time he developed a relationship with Carver and some of the Limitless wrestlers. In early January, he texted, saying he was driving from his home in West Paris up to Brewer to attend a class.

The proverbial match was lit.

I told Jon I’d join him for the class — so someone he knew would go through the struggle with him.

Thankfully, he thought this was a good idea.

On Jan. 13, I hopped into my 2009 Ford Focus to make the 28-mile trek from my house in Belfast to the school in Brewer, wondering if — at my advanced age — I could make it through one class.

Now, I’m ready for so much more.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.