Recently on Talk Is Jericho, current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho spoke with Ring Of Honor's Beer City Bruiser. Among many other things, the beefy barroom brawler talked about getting his start in ROH, working in Japan, and the growth of ROH.
According to Beer City Bruiser, he had the opportunity to live his pro wrestling dream because his father-in-law left money in his will for the big man to attend a ROH tryout camp in 2013.
"When he passed it shocked the whole Wisconsin wrestling world, so we're going over his will and the lawyer goes, 'well, who's' and he says my name, and I go, 'oh, that's me'. He says, 'well, there's money in here. The only way you can do it is by doing a tryout camp.' And I said, 'what do you mean?' He says, 'there's money set aside - the only way you get it is by doing a Ring Of Honor tryout camp.' I was like, 'oh, really?' The lawyer said that in his will, he left money for my flight, money for my rental car, money for the hotel, and money for the tryout camp. And the only way we could touch that money is me doing it.
"In October of that year, I told my wife, 'I'm doing it. Like, this is a sign.' But, I said, 'I'm not going to go just to be a guy. I'm going to go to be the guy. I want to be the guy that everyone talks about.' Do you know what I mean? There's always a camp where there's that one guy that sticks out for a good reason, one guy that sticks out for a bad [reason]. I want to be the guy that sticks out for a good [reason]. I told [Steve] Corino, I was like, 'this is my opportunity and I'm going to kick that door wide open,' so when I went, it was a two-day tryout and the office people came up after and went, 'we want you - you're going to be in the Top Prospect Tournament.' Yeah, because I literally said, 'I'm not going to be a guy - I'm going to be the guy.' I was my character the whole time. I was The Beer City Bruiser the whole time. When I'm in the ring, I don't call it, 'my ring', I call it, 'my bar'. 'You're in my bar.'" Bruiser added, "they literally said, 'you stuck out - we will always remember you.' And I was in the Top Prospect [Tournament] and the rest is history."
During the interview, Beer City Bruiser described working in Japan during the Honor Rising tour as a career highlight. Injuries to the ROH roster enabled the cigar-chomping super heavyweight to step in and impress the New Japan Pro-Wrestling braintrust.
"I got to go to Japan for the Honor Rising tour. Yup [that tour is with New Japan Pro-Wrestling]. I got to wrestle Hirooki Goto in Japan in Korakuen Hall for the NEVER Openweight title, which was amazing." Bruiser continued, "I got to wrestle one of their young boys the next night and they put me in a three-way because Dalton Castle was hurt and Trent Barreta was hurt. And Gedo called me out of everybody and he says, 'Bruiser, Bruiser-san, you please?' And I said, 'yes, Gedo, whatever you need.' He says, 'sure.' And after the match, he walks up and he goes, 'you are not The Bruiser.' I said, 'no?' And he says, 'no, you are the Workhorse.' I guess in Japan you don't work more than once a night. I guess it's a rare thing on just a house show. And I did and I did a lot in the second match because both Dalton and Trent were hurt, so they couldn't be in there for every spot and I was. And I worked previously."
Beer City Bruiser described his tour of Japan as "surreal" before telling a funny story about Japanese fans paying him to spit beer at them.
"I'm talking to the booker and Kevin Kelly and I'm like, 'I want to stand out. Like, I don't want to be like every other American that comes through. And they're like, 'remember when [Terry] Gordy would come out' and Kevin Kelly told me this, 'remember when Gordy would come or [Bruiser] Brody would come and they'd always do something big, like, Brody had the chain and Gordy would come out just be swinging at people?' I said, 'yeah!' He goes, 'you need to do something like that,' so I came out and I spit beer on people and they'd run away from it, which, I guess, is a great honor. After the show, walking from K?rakuen Hall to the Tokyo Dome, all the fans are there and they'd walk up with beer and yen and hand it to me and I'd be like, 'oh, thanks!' [The fans said] 'no, please, please!' They wanted me to spit beer in their face! They're paying me to spit beer! And then, I ended up with 24 beers for free with one beer to spit!" Bruiser laughed, "so I'd always tell the boys, 'if you want to come to my room…' but we'd always go out with the boys afterwards, so I'd already come in, so I brought a bunch of beer home with me."
On the subject of ROH's impressive growth over his tenure with the company, Beer City Brawler explained that it has greatly benefitted the undercard performers with ROH.
"It [has] been growing amazingly! I have seen it go from little buildings to huge buildings and it's so fun to be on that ride." Bruiser continued, "us undercard guys, we've been benefitting from that getting bigger because: A) contracts, there [are] contracts now; yeah, and B) the houses are going up. We went from like a 2,000-seat building one time to an 8,000 [or] 9,000 [seat building], or whatever it is."
A special thanks to our friends at Ring Of Honor Wrestling for the video above. Check out the podcast here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho