Sledge may be classified as an emerging Future of Honor star, his journey to Ring of Honor actually took nine years. Now the "Metal Head Maniac" is looking to make the most of his opportunity in the company. The Californian had just signed an official deal just before the pandemic led to ROH pausing TV tapings and touring events. Sledge calls the last few months a blessing in disguise.
"It might sound really bad with the way the world is going and has been with the pandemic. SInclair Broadcasting, Ring of Honor, has taken care of me. I was very fortunate, thank you God, I signed this contract just before this pandemic happened," he said. "When I went to the Dojo, I wasn't on any kind of deal. It was more like a handshake agreement, work your butt off, and we'll see what happens. I signed my deal as this was all happening, so I took it as an opportunity to reset mentally, physically, emotionally. Really take this time."
When ROH sent out an email encouraging talent to help contribute content, he jumped at the chance. Sledge a number of ideas and was grateful to see how receptive the promotion was to them. The motivational speaker has been growing his "Coffee with Sledge." show on Twitch. The host feels momentum building as sponsors come on board. There is also a Mad Cat coffee scented beard oil in the works. He uses the platform to open up about his life and inspire others, as well as connect the audience with fellow members of the ROH roster and others from all walks of life.
"I'm a recovering addict and battle depression as well. Just to let people know they're not alone, especially during these times of a pandemic," he said. "The suicide rate is higher than it has ever been because people are down in the dumps with what is in the world.
"I was letting them know on Instagram that you don't need to go down this road. You can do anything you want. You need to put in the hard work and change your mindset. If you want to change your diet or the way you're living, this is the perfect time because it's giving you a reset button like it did me."
Sledge is down 30 pounds and in the best shape ever in his eyes. Thinking about the progress he has made in life helps keep him on the straight and narrow. He traces his "rock bottom" to six years ago.There was a point the new wrestler found himself homeless, broke and unable to put food on the table. It was for him to look in the mirror to see how far he'd fallen.
"At the time I was married. I lost my ex-wife. My kids didn't want to be around me. I was down a bad, dark road," he said. "One of my best friends pulled me out. He told me, 'You need help.' I hurt my back very early in my wrestling career.
"I have two discs in my back, my L4 and L5, from a drunken night. A party night. I fell on a beer can that was standing straight up and destroyed two discs in my lower back. I decided to wrestle three times the next day, which wasn't' the best thing. A week later I lost feeling in my left leg and got addicted to pain pills when all I needed to do was rahab really well. My best friend JD Horror, Jason Turner. We have a tattoo on our chest together. He saved my life, and I wouldn't be in the place I'm in right now if it weren't for him."
Today he wants to pay it forward. And a way of doing that is finding success in ROH to demonstrate one can overcome adversity. Sledge is thankful for those who helped him along the way including "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who had him on his podcast. An appearance that made all the difference.
"He launched me into that 'indie wrestler' darling would be the best way to put it," he said. "It came out of nowhere. I was traveling with a buddy. He was going to be on the podcast where I was happy to be in the right place, right time. I started rapping with Steve. He said, 'You got a story. Let's podcast you.' Releasing that, within 24 hours my inbox was full with people wanting me to wrestle for them out of state.
"I got my first out-of-state flight out of Texas. That helped me launch into next brackets. Next thing I know I'm in Washington one night, New Orleans the next and trying to maintain my home life. It was great when I got the opportunity to try out for Ring of Honor. I texted Steve. I still text with Steve. I talked to him on Saturday. I'm still in contact with Steve. I said, 'Yo, do you have any advice going into the tryout?' It was go be you. Don't be a version you think tey want to see. Don't do stuff you wouldn't do normally. Go be you, and you'll be fine. When I signed my official deal, I sent him a video of it. 'Hell yeah kid. Congrats!' I got that. It was really cool. I talked to him about coming on with 'Coffee with Sledge.' We're working on it. You never know."
Until then Sledge is gearing up to officially begin his ROH run. He isn't wasting any time putting goals out into the universe.
"There is not a guy on the roster that doesn't have a target on their back," he said. "There is not a guy on the roster that I don't want to step in the ring with and go toe-to-toe and throw hands with. My initial goal is that TV title. I know abroad right now. That's okay. When the borders open, Dragon Lee let's do it. After the TV title,you know what's next. Rush coming for you...I'm looking to be the biggest thing in Ring of Honor since Kevin Steen and El Generico."
Ring of Honor, Sundays, 10/9c, Charge! ROH TV episodes are also available via HonorClub, FITE TV and in syndication on Sinclair networks (check local listings). Sledge's full interview aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.