Posts Tagged ‘Cannonball Grizzly’

Every once in awhile, I try to offer the newer guys and gals coming up in the pro wrestling industry something worthwhile, which would help them orchestrate and navigate their careers.

Myself having been in the pro wrestling trade now for a quarter century, I’ve met many successful contemporaries in my travels, who’ve carved out particular niche’s for themselves in the business.  These pros have learned to navigate in the shark-infested waters that make up professional wrestling, and they have valuable life experience, which can be readily used as learning material for the next generation.

In so saying, I offer up a unique angle for this one-on-one interview that I conducted with former WCW alumni Paul Neu, who wrestled for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling in the early ’90s as PN News, and shortly thereafter migrated to Europe, where he became known as Cannonball Grizzly.

The man became one of the most successful journeyman big man wrestlers in the past three decades arguably worldwide, and he took some time out to shed some light on how you have to adapt your in-ring style as you get older and the injuries mount up, as well as advice for other big man-style wrestlers now coming up in the business and how to stay healthy to help prolong one’s career.

Listen up and take to heart what Paul has to say.

Cannonball Grizzly

Cannonball Grizzly stands 188cm and weighs 190kg

1. Thanks for taking the time out to do this one-on-one piece. I’d like to dig into the topic of how, as a veteran, and as the years pile up and the injuries accumulate, you have to adapt your in-ring style and working approach. However, first, how are you doing nowadays that you’ve moved back to your native USA after spending, what, the better part of 25 years wrestling in Europe?

Hello, Michael.  First of all, thank you for the opportunity to express myself on your platform. I’ve enjoyed entertaining fans around the world for over 31 years and its great to address not just fans, but future wrestlers as well.  

Wow, you hit me with an amazing question to start. As an athletic big man, it’s been a hard tradition over the years. I always want to produce, show people I’m athletic. I had to stop drop kicking after 25 years. I’ve done moonsaults, sentons, topes, top rope splashes, etc.  

The splash was hard on my knees so I changed to the senton as my finish. From top rope to a second rope senton when my back started hurting. Basically what you learn over time is how to work the crowd with showmanship instead of overwhelming them with the ooh and aah of brute force and majesty of big moves. I got better heat from working smart than working hard. When you do something big it should mean something.

Tradition is transition.  Moving back to the States has been good for me. I’m picking up legend conventions. I’m not really advertising myself at the moment. I’m getting to know family again and settling down. I needed a pause. My body needs healing if it’s even possible.

2. What made you choose coming to Europe back in the day, after your WCW contract ended, in lieu of going somewhere else or taking a different career path? How did the parting with WCW come about, and would you have liked to continue there?

I had a few opportunities to continue in America. Territories were dying. The WWF/WWE was actually trying to do something with me. Unfortunately, they wanted me to wait around. I couldn’t, my daughter was on the way and I need to make money so I chose to come back to Europe. I don’t regret it.  The business in Europe was pretty good at the time. My love for Austria and Germany at the time made my choice easy.

3. You found a good deal of success in Europe, but you also saw the business change drastically over the quarter-century that you spent here. I recall you once saying in a locker room in Germany back in 2013, that the job used to be 30 dates a month, now it’s 30 dates a year. Why do you believe that the business changed so drastically in Europe also, taking into account that this is not Vince’s predominant playground to begin with?

You can watch wrestling on TV everyday. The market is over-saturated and that isn’t a good thing. Wrestlers are stars but when you’re on TV every week, you’re a SUPERSTAR. It’s hard to compete with television.

4. You’ve been a super-heavyweight all of your career. What are the main things you would give as advice, coming from a big man worker, to the newer crop of big men and super-heavyweights coming up today?

There really aren’t any super-heavyweights anymore. The size of your average wrestler is getting smaller. So it’s hard for big guys now. I’d say to be a super-heavyweight today, athleticism is the key. If you’re big and you’ve never done anything athletic, only sat in front of a computer and a TV your whole life, stay on the other side of the barrier.

Cannonball Grizzly vs Alofa

Battle of the super-heavyweights: Cannonball Grizzly vs. Headshriner Alofa

5. What are the main things you would expound in terms of career longevity in pro wrestling? What are the key factors of longevity to be taken into account and practice, from your experience?

Stay in the gym, don’t do overly stupid stuff. Work smart.

6. What do you believe are the essentials to ”making it” in the pro wrestling business, to becoming a viable player, to making money and to having a decent shot at procuring the most amount of work possible?

Again the gym. Being good on the mic. You have to have a bit of an ego and still try to be humble. Take and ask for advice from guys who have been around. Show respect, and when you get your shot give everything you’ve got. Look after your gear. Don’t just put on kickpads over sneakers. Look and act like a wrestler, not a mark.

7. Everyone goes in hurt, as the saying goes in our trade. Where do you draw the line, however?

I never drew the line. I worked with a dislocated shoulder, torn hamstring, severed tendon, a lung infection and a sowing needle that broke off in my foot. There is always someone ready to take your place. Not everyone is that resilient, I know. Nowadays, I see kids not show up because the have a nosebleed. In the end, it’s your own call.

8. As we age, the body tends to stiffen and acute nervous response is compromised, since reaction time is slightly dulled with age. I have often used Keiji Muto as a good example of changing one’s stylistic approach to suit the changes that come with age, limiting the amount of action output and focusing more on body language and character presence. How did you navigate in-ring as you got older? How did you alter your style to suit your age-brought restrictions, as time went by?

That’s all part of working smart. I changed my style at least three time to adapt to my bones screaming at me. I new time was catching up when I had to stop throwing my dropkick. Before that I stopped doing my top rope splash, because I was hurting my knees. I switched to the senton and now my hip is messed up so I don’t even do that much anymore.

9. What are the approaches and ways you kept yourself physically viable and functional as the years rolled by?

The gym, stretching and ibuprofen. I wasn’t into the pain killer scene. Unfortunately time catches up with us all.

PN News

Paul Neu as PN News in WCW (1991), before Cannonball Grizzly

10. If you could turn back time and some things over again, so as to prolong your long-term health, hindsight being 20/20, what would those things be?

The nature of the beast. I would have probably done everything the same way. I’d might have cut the top rope splash out earlier or never done it.

11. What advice would you give to guys in the business today, based on your own experiences and what you’ve seen in our industry, in terms of protecting their long-term health and quality of physical life?

Don’t drink as much as I did. Listen to your bones. If you’re waking up in pain every morning you’ve waited to long.

12. What are the biggest changes you noted on a personal level, passing from your 20s to your 30s, and from your 30s to your 40s in your wrestling career?

In my early 20s, I was green. I hit my stride from about 26-44. That was my prime. In my 30s, I was physically unstoppable. By my mid-40s,  I started waking up everyday in pain.

13. Where do you stand today with the current popularized in-ring style, as promoted largely by WWE, TNA and NJPW, where the action is largely spot-oriented and arguably more indie-influenced than ever before? What do you foresee in terms of longevity for the guys utilizing and working this current, modern spotty style?

I prefer the old-school story-telling aspect of wrestling. We played off peoples’ emotion. We could suspend peoples’ disbelief.  Now, it’s all about the oohs and aahs.

14. Thanks for taking the time out to do this introspective piece.  In closing, there’s a saying in our industry, that you work a certain style to get over, and then you work a modified version of that style to stay over. This, however, didn’t seem to work too favorably for guys like Mick Foley or Daniel Bryan. Perhaps a case of too little too late? What’s your take on getting over … and then staying over?

Your body can only take so much. The best workers have around four things they have to do every time they go out there and work. If you have to abuse your body every time, you’re gonna be on borrowed time long before your time would normally be up.

 

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On Saturday, October 12, I will be returning to the ring in England to wrestle against “English Bulldog” Matt Jarrett at the GL1 Leisure Center in Gloucester at an event entitled Wrestling Rampage.  This show will also feature the retirement match of UK ring legend Danny Collins, who bids his fellow Englishmen adieu in terms of in-ring competition.  I met Danny earlier this year on a card in Hannover, Germany, and we got on very well, so I am sad to see him leave the business.  However, I wish him all the best with whatever he endeavors after this…

The English press covers my upcoming match

The English press covers my upcoming match

But speaking of my match against local Gloucester hero Matt Jarrett, this will mark the first time in 13-years that I will have been on English soil to compete in a professional wrestling ring.  I last wrestled in the British Isles in 2000, for a very shady promoter, who ended up shafting me out of part of my money.  The less said about that incident and person, the better.  Now, on October 12, it’s a brand new opportunity and under different circumstances.  That said, Matt Jarrett won’t get out of this match without a fight, and I sure as hell don’t plan on leaving England after Wrestling Rampage with my head bowed.

Other big names appearing on this mega-show will be Cannonball Grizzly, Drew McDonald, Keith Myatt, Marty Jones, ROH star Luke Hawx, Skull Murphy, Frankie Sloan, and many more!  Don’t miss this show if you are in the UK on October 12!  A documentary film about British pro wrestling will be shot the same night at this event, which only adds prestige to an already loaded card.

 

Tomorrow night in Kotka, Finland at Route 66, I will be acting as official host for the Rock & Wrestling Rampage event, which also features my hard rock band, Overnight Sensation, in addition to a great card of pro wrestling action.

 

The Rock & Wrestling event at Route 66 is restricted to anyone under the age of 18, as at half-time, there will be strippers on hand also, offering up entertainment.

Since I was diagnosed with a herniated disc between C6-C7 vertebrae on August 15, I had to withdraw from active competition, and my slated BWA title defense against the USA’s monsterous 190kg brute, Cannonball Grizzly.  FCF Wrestling signed a huge replacement main event for the Kotka card, featuring “Wildman” Heimo Ukonselkä, defending his PWF German championship against Cannonball Grizzly now.  Heimo faced Grizzly once previously, last year in Hannover, Germany, where the Wildman fell to the immense American ring veteran.  This colossal rematch is Ukonselkä’s chance to redeem his loss and it remains to be seen, whether he will be walking out of Rock & Wrestling Rampage as the PWF champion, when all is said and done!

Collage KOTKA event

 

Rock & Wrestling Rampage at Route 66

24.8.2013

start time 20:00

Motel Road 66, Kotolahdentie 22, 48310 Kotka, Finland

Tickets15€

The shit has hit the proverbial fan.  I was diagnosed today with a herniated disc between my C6-C7 vertebrae by top sports physician Tuomo Karila in Helsinki at Dextra Sports Clinic.

Preparing for my MRI scan at Helsinki's Dextra Sports Clinic today

Preparing for my MRI scan at Helsinki’s Dextra Sports Clinic today

The injury itself happened as a freak occurrence on August 3rd, as I was training upcoming Finnish pro wrestling hopefuls at FCF Wrestling’s training center in Kellokoski, Finland.  I suffered whiplash in one of the training exercises, and I felt a sharp pain in my upper trapezius and neck after my sparring partner sent me chest-first into the ring corner buckles.  I continued the training exercise, disregarding what had just happened.  The next day, I continued coaching my class, and the pain intensified in my injured region.  I thought that adequate rest would suffice to heal whatever momentary strain had been incurred, but I could not have been more wrong.  I went on a short vacation with my wife Diana in western Finland near the city of Pori, and during last week, the pain spread to my left arm and ached so bad that it kept me awake at night.  Last Thursday, as we were driving back to Helsinki through Turku, I had to make an emergency stop at Turku’s main hospital, as the agony was unbearable.  On Friday last week, I made plans to see Dr. Karila, as I could no longer cope with my physical condition.  However, I had a match in Rovaniemi, Finland at the 2013 edition of the Simerock Festival last Saturday, where I wrestled in a tag team main event alongside “Wildman” Heimo Ukonselkä against Stark Adder and FCF champion King Kong Karhula.  My injury was further aggrevated during that outing, although I tried my best to play it safe.

This news puts a real damper on my upcoming BWA (British Wrestling Alliance) Catchweight title defense against the USA’s 190kg monster Cannonball Grizzly in Kotka, Finland on August 24 at FCF Wrestling’s Rock & Wrestling Rampage at Route 66.  Dr. Karila told me that I would be risking paralysis if I stepped into the ring to grapple with my neck in this current condition.  Of course, I got scared good and proper, and there is no way that I would be willing to put my health at unnecessary risk.  I am not willing to look at ending up like one of my old wrestling idols, Tom Billington aka The Dynamite Kid, who has already spent the last 20-years in a wheelchair following the end of his wrestling career.

The fact is that right now, I am looking at a herniated disc between my C6 and C7 vertebrae.  I have been unable to sleep for almost two weeks, due to the 24/7 pain that courses through my left arm, numbing my index and middle fingers.  My left shoulder blade and upper trapezius feels like a smoldering fire has set into it, and I really do not wish this anguish on even my worst enemy.  All I can say is, that I hope the Good Lord above has mercy on my predicament.

The MRI scan shows the damage to my neck

The MRI scan shows the damage to my neck

Dr. Karila himself is a former wrestler (albeit not a pro wrestler like myself) and he has acted as the official doctor of the Finnish Olympic wrestling team in the past, so you can guess that he knows his stuff.  When the doctor told me to just sit out for six to ten weeks, I took it pretty hard.  After all, I am an athlete, and a top athlete at that in my chosen sport.  It is not easy for me to turn away bookings and walk away from active competition.  At heart, I am a warrior, and my blood calls me to fight.  That said, right now, my battle is with my physical well-being.

The following video documentation of my injury and MRI was filmed by director Oskari Pastila, who has been filming a documentary entitled Spandex Sapiens, about my wrestling career and persona, over the past four years (the film will be out in early 2014):

I am chagrined to forfeit my title match in Kotka on August 24 with Cannonball Grizzly.  FCF Wrestling will find a suitable replacement main event for Rock & Wrestling Rampage at Route 66, and you can bet that Cannonball Grizzly will have the fight of his life on his hands once FCF officials have deemed his opponent for the event.  Down the road, once I am healthy, I look forward to getting another chance to face the American behemoth Grizzly, whether it is for the title or just for personal honor.

Cannonball Grizzly stands 188cm and weighs 190kg

Cannonball Grizzly stands 188cm and weighs 190kg

Thank you for your support in this trying time.  Your prayers are appreciated.

We have a whole slew of shows across Finland this August slated with FCF Wrestling, and I am stoked about this!  The fact that FCF runs more events on an annual basis than 3/4 of our contemporaries out there in Europe puts us at the top of the food chain in the pro wrestling field on our continent.

On August 10 in Rovaniemi, Finland, FCF Wrestling presents Saturday Night Rock Fight at the 2013 installment of the Simerock Festival.  This is a special occasion, as the wrestling will be in the main slot of Saturday’s Simerock line-up, starting at 22:45 with five big matches on the menu.  Saturday Night Rock Fight will be headlined by Yours Truly tagging with “Wildman” Heimo Ukonselkä against Stark Adder and FCF champion King Kong Karhula.

SIMEROCK_2013_poster2

Between August 16-18, FCF Wrestling will present Ragnarök 2013 at this year’s Häme Medeival Fair in Hämeenlinna, Finland.  This theme weekend, featuring reenactments and relics of the Medeival era in Nordic culture, is an annual attraction in the city of Hämeenlinna.  2013 marks the third year that FCF Wrestling has been a part of the festivities and program.  All throughout the three days, Friday to Sunday, wrestling matches will be held in a central tent on the fair grounds, three times a day.  The gimmick is that all the wrestlers must dress up in Medeival costumes and garb for their matches, adding to the flair and flavor of the whole kit and caboodle.  For more infos, go to the Medeival Fair website.

ragnarok_2013_poster

On August 24, FCF Wrestling comes to Kotka, Finland for an event entitled Rock & Wrestling Rampage at Route 66.  The catch here is, that the show is restricted to anyone under the age of 18, with alcohol and strippers on hand also.  This big event will feature five kickass wrestling matches, headlined by 185kg/188cm Cannonball Grizzly from the USA challenging me for my BWA (British Wrestling Alliance) Catchweight championship title.  This is going to be undoubtedly my toughest challenge to date, as Grizzly is a 25-year veteran of the ring wars, and the current reigning EWP (European Wrestling Promotion) heavyweight champion in Germany.  Grizzly has wrestled in 40 countries worldwide over his extensive career, and on August 24 he adds Finland to that list.  I just have to hope that I find a way by hook or by crook to retain my BWA championship at Rock & Wrestling Rampage, because I have never wrestled against anyone the size of Cannonball Grizzly before, and my active in-ring career dates all the way back to 1994!  In addition, my hard rock band Overnight Sensation will be playing live in Kotka at the same event, offering up originals and known cover songs by acclaimed artists such as The Cult, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Motörhead and Thin Lizzy.

KOTKA_2013_poster

For more infos, go to www.wrestling.fi