Independent wrestling star Effy joined Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette (guess hosted this week by Amy Dumas, aka Lita) to talk about his wrestling career on the independent circuit. Best known for working in GCW and heading shows like Effy’s Big Gay Brunch, Effy discussed starting his career in the south and how thinking on his feet and improvising led to him becoming the worker he is today.
“I started wrestling in the south, which was like Alabama, North Florida, Georgia, even South Carolina,” Effy said. “And in those audiences, they’re very unpredictable audiences and they’re very mean and loud sometimes. And it really forced me to think on my feet so fast. Now that I’m being given more opportunities, that ability to think on my feet is great. So what I’m getting to is I call two matches. I call the match that we discuss, and then I call the match in my of head ‘here’s where this is not going to be right and what I’m going to do instead.’ And not that I’m going to stick to my exact ideas, but the fact that I’ve already said to myself ‘I’m going to trust this person. But if they don’t, I’m not going to look like a fool for not knowing what’s going on here.’
“That think on your feet thing, it helps out so much. I did a match one time where I got to the venue late. And the guy was freaking out. I was like ‘tell me the things you do. I’m going to work heat on you it’ll be fine.’ It was incredible it was so much fun. I was like ‘brother that was wrestling. That was wrestling.’ And I hope everybody that jumps into the ring and says ‘I want to take a bump, I want to run the ropes’, I hope they find that point in themselves where they go ‘I feel comfortable just walking out there now. I know what I do, you know what I do, let’s see what happens.’ There’s real magic in that. There’s obviously bigger risks, but there’s also magic in there.”
Effy then delved further into his wrestling philosophy, and how he believes wrestling is better when performed with a looseness and more creativity. As such he isn’t high of matches that are overly rehearsed due to the limitations they pose.
“The last thing I want to say when I see a professional wrestling spot is ‘they really rehearsed that well,'” Effy said. “Like that’s great, and as somebody who is in a backstage position it’s great to go ‘oh, okay, that is done well. Good job boys.’ But when I’m going like ‘wow everyone really made every single mark on that’, I’m like ‘at the end of the day, the core of this we are are simulating a fight.’ I can be goofy, I can be silly because that’s who I am. But when I turn it on and when I get there and when I go nuts, I am in a fight.” And so when things feel a little off, when things feel a little sketchy, when you don’t know what’s happening, we can still find those moments in wrestling. But not if we’re predicting every single part of it. We have to sort of trust ourselves to have that looseness to go ‘yeah this is going to sound silly. This is going to sound stupid, but it’s going to work and here’s why.’ And then showing that ‘oh I never would’ve done that in wrestling.’
“I’ll use this as for example. We did a 24 hour wrestling show recently for GCW. It was during a pandemic, closed set, to raise money for the wrestlers. And what was cool about it was they raised $54K, Game Changer Wrestling, and it was split literally evenly amongst contract guys, amongst just starting on the indies. In the spirit of ‘hey, everyone is worth the same here to get this show done.’ It’s great. But 24 hours of wrestling, and a lot of the fans are marathoning it, you have to sort of throw exclamation points in there to make sure people are paying attention still. So I told Billy Dixon, I said ‘Billy throw me down the stairs.’ He goes ‘what?’ There’s a staircase in this building. I go ‘just get me to the top, kick me, toss me down the stairs. He’s like ‘that’s very dangerous.’ I’m like ‘I know, but I love Buster Keaton. Let’s see what happens.’ And all of a sudden it’s 11 a.m., the show’s been on for twelve hours and people are freaking out. They’re like ‘whoa. He fell down the stairs!’ Ten hours before I’m fighting Homicide, who is an indie legend, Ring of Honor. A guy who is stabbing me with a fork. I’m doing commentary at five in the morning. ‘It’s not surprising that Effy would fall down the stairs being that tired and exhausted. But also is he messing with us here?'”
An openly gay wrestler, Effy revealed he came out shortly before he got into wrestling. He also detailed how he fell into wrestling after working for moving companies, and how his father raised him to not know whether wrestling was a work or not.
“I did not come out until I got sober at the age of 23, which is when I started wrestling,” Effy said. “I graduated college with a public relations degree. I majored in IT or something stupid. And I had been working at moving companies since I was sixteen. Every summer it was moving companies, it was make your own money. My dad was like ‘I’m not paying for your booze, make your own money. I would work at these companies and I graduated, I had no job, I was playing in bands and there was no money in that. I’ll go run a moving company. So I was offered a position to be an operations manager for this company. I was quickly moved to the GM, and I’m living alone in Tallahassee, Florida. I have very much filled my expendable income, I can buy and drug I want in a college town, I can buy any booze I want in a college town. I messed up and took eight hits of LSD and I tripped so long and I ended up in rehab and I got clean.
“From that point I was like ‘well I’m 23. I have nothing really lined up except working for this company.’ And I remember meeting this guy at an NXT house show named White Trash Fred. His real name is Steve Hetrick but his gimmick is White Trash Fred. And he helped me get my car started and he signed an 8×10. And it’s him White Trash Fred, WTF. It said ‘follow your dreams.’ And I remember back at this going ‘I have to look him up on Facebook. I have to be a wrestler. I have nothing going on. I’m sober.’ My dad loved showing me wrestling growing up, but he never filled me in. It was always Crockett, NWA. He never showed me WWF growing up, he was a WCW guy. He was a Flair, Tully, Horsemen guy, but he would never fill me in on the work. And that’s what kept me so intrigued, cause I had to go in and figure it out for myself.”
Effy was also critical of wrestlers on the independent circuit who he sees as working only to get a contract with a bigger organization such as WWE or AEW. Because of this, he believes wrestlers are working themselves to an extent.
“I think wrestlers work themselves by going ‘I only want to be a wrestler. I only want to wrestle,'” Effy said. “Well darling, you’re literally in the wrong business. Vince literally said it himself, ‘we’re making movies’, and if that’s the guy with the most money in wrestling, he’s probably telling you the truth. And so these guys that come in, and I love bringing those real ju-jitsu and MMA and karate backgrounds in, but for you to come in with that mentality like ‘I’m supposed to be in here for my fight’, like your McGregor and you’re going to be done in three minutes, it’s foolish.
“We are in the entertainment business. And because wrestling has always relied a little bit on the backstage narrative and has always given into that ‘is it real, is it not?’ because it helps us, a lot of these cats sort of got lost in the sauce. And instead of thinking about ‘oh I’ve got to do well on the indies because it impresses fans who pay money and paid a full price ticket to see me’, it’s sort of ‘well who from the fed might see this footage and who might do this?’ And so while they’re talking a big indie game, they’re literally waiting for that phone call.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription