Saturday, May 1, 2010
A Metal Master History
Last week I made my long awaited debut in Ring of Honor. I have been training for this "return" since I put the mask back on. I always thought the Metal Master would be a perfect fit into this very intense, hard hitting pro wrestling company. Upon my arrival, I got asked loads of questions about the Metal Master. Where did it come from? When did I start doing it? Who makes my outfit? Why am I the Metal Master now?
With all these questions, I thought it would be a perfect topic for my next blog, so here it goes.
Back in the summer of 2000, I was living in Japan wrestling for the Michinoku Pro and Battlarts promotions. I was wrestling under my real name and was having great matches every night against the likes of the Great Sasuke, Tiger Mask, Jinsei Shinzaki (WWF's Hakushi), and the legendary Gran Hamada. When I wasn't on tour I was living in the Battlarts dojo, a barn on the outskirts of Tokyo. Every morning I would be woke up by chickens outside my window. During the day I would train in the ring, lift weights, and constantly watch wrestling videos of Japanese and American wrestling to learn my craft. This is where I first started to learn the style of Catch Wrestling from Battlarts President and wrestler Yuki Ishikawa. Before shows, I trained with lucha libre master, Apache who is lucha trainer Skyade's top student. Rarely did I go for a night out in Tokyo because I was constantly learning the pro wrestling business. I went out a few times to Roppongi, Tokyo's red light district, with Carl Malenko. Near the end of my 3 month tour, Michinoku Pro referee Ted Tanabe came up to me and said that the next time I came to Japan that I will have a new mask gimmick. I was quite suprised and interested in what this could be, especially after they gave Christopher Daniels the Curry Man gimmick the year before for the 1999 World Mask League Tournament. Ted explained that the gimmick was a present from Jinsei and it would be like "gladiator". At the time, the movie Gladiator with Russel Crowe was a big hit in cinemas worldwide and I was very excited to see how this idea was going to turn out.
Two years had passed and I had completed 4 more tours with Michinoku without being given the Gladiator gimmick. I was still wrestling under my real name. I thought maybe they had forgotten about it.
In 2002, I signed a developmental contract with WWE where I was assigned to the HWA developmental territory in Cincinnati, Ohio. When I signed the contract I asked for permission from John Laurinaitus if I could still travel to Japan for wrestling tours and he didn't seem to have a problem with it. In June of that year, I recieved an email from Mr. Sasuke wanting to know if I could come to Japan in July to participate in the 6 week Tohoku Jr. Heavyweight Title tournament. I called John immediately and was granted permission to do the tour. A few weeks later, right before I was to leave for Japan, John called to inform me I was being released from my contract. I really didn't have a problem with it because I knew I was going to Japan the next week and would be paid severance pay from WWE AND earn Japanese wages. That week Sasuke emailed to inform me that this would be the tour I start the gladiator gimmick and be a mystery competitor in the tournament . I would become METAL MASTER!! I wish I still had that email!
I couldn't wait to get to Japan to see what this outfit would look like. When I got off the plane, I hopped on a bullet train to Morioka where I met Mister Cacao aka Macho Pump, who was not only a wrestler but a very skillful mask and costume maker. As we were going up the escalator he handed me a beautiful blue mask that resembled Boba Fett from Star Wars. The mask had no openings for my eyes or mouth and it would become very uncomfortable and hot during the hot Japanese Summer. The character really caught fire in Michinoku and was undefeated the first 4 weeks of tournament. In my first match as Metal Master, I defeated masked Japanese legend and Michinoku Pro President, The Great Sasuke in the opening match of the tournament. After 6 weeks of being the Metal Master, I really wanted to continue with it when I returned home from Japan. At the time I had been corresponding with Ring of Honor match maker Gabe Sapolsky about coming in for the company as soon as my WWE contract was finished in October. I asked Gabe about coming in as Metal Master but he seemed more interested in me wrestling under my real name since I had already established myself in the states on the Indies and on WWE TV under my real name. I didn't complain about it though. I was totally fine with wrestling as myself.
I did two more tours of Japan as the Metal Master in 2003 but did not wrestle under the mask again until 2004 in England for All Star Wrestling promotions when I was asked "to do the double". I gave no thought of a full-time return as the Metal Master at the time.
For the next two years, I traveled all over the world wrestling under my real name and trying to get a job with WWE.In 2006, I got in incredible shape and went to have a tryout match in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for WWE. I had a great match with MNM and came back to the back to have John Laurinaitus tell me that he would never hire me unless I came in with a character such as Eugene, or the Ultimate Warrior. I was devastated. It was time for a change.
In the summer of 2006, I was working the Butlins camps in England for All Star Wrestling. One night in Bognor Regis I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream that had me wrestling under a mask in a really cool looking outfit. I couldn't go back to sleep because I was really excited and was thinking of all the new possibilities of me reinventing myself. The next morning I hopped on a train with Cannonball Grizzly to go to the airport to fly out to Austria for a weekend of wrestling shows for Chris The Bambikiller. I told Griz of my new plan and he seemed surprised that I wanted to change up my act.
For the next several months, I was trying to come up with a design and name for this new masked character I wanted to become. One day I was brainstorming ideas about what kind of wrestling style I wanted to have, the look I wanted, interview style, etc. and it just hit me that I was describing exactly what the Metal Master was. I will just reinvent the Metal Master!
I first started to design a new mask since the first mask Michinoku made me was an exact copy of the Robin Mask character from the Kinnikumen: Ultimate Muscle cartoons. I decided to keep it similar, only to have holes for my eyes and mouth. I first sent the design to Japanese mask maker IMAI, and he sent me a horrible and embarrassing looking Metal Master mask. There was no way I was going to wrestle in this thing. To be fair, the design I sent IMAI was not very detailed. I then contacted the original Metal Master mask maker, Mister Cacao, and sent him a few very detailed drawings of the new mask I wanted. About a month later, he finished the mask and sent me a pictures....I was totally blown away with what he created for me!
A few weeks later, in Tokyo Japan I returned as the Metal Master in an 8 man tag that featured Jushin Thunder Lyger. The new costume that Mister Cacao made for me was very professional and beautiful looking, much like the dream I had a year earlier in Bognor Regis. I never looked back from this moment on and have been the Metal Master ever since. Since the return I have traveled and performed all over Europe, Japan, and America as the Metal Master. In 2009 I achieved a Metal Master goal by being invited to participate in the 2009 Super 8 tournament. Last weekend another goal was achieved when I stepped in the Ring of Honor ring to wrestle two very good matches that I was very proud of. I hope to return to ROH this summer for a big run. I have many big plans as the Metal Master so stay tuned right here for more big news!