- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Local wrestling alliance gears up for Sunday match
By JESSE YEATMAN
As Cornelius Godzilla Guy launched himself off the top rope, he knew he would come down hard. But, after years of training, the Lexington Park man knew he could trust the move.
“My character now is a complete bad guy,” said Craig Guy Jr. (Cornelius Godzilla Guy’s real name), adding that when in the ring he thinks he is a 400-pound tough guy, even though he weighs in at only 140 pounds.
The 28-year-old carpenter by day works out five or six times a week, and does yoga on a regular basis to help keep limber for his wrestling encounters.
“A good portion of it is about athleticism, ability and strength,” Craig Guy Sr., Godzilla’s dad, said. Being outgoing, and able to excite a crowd, is certainly essential, too.
Guy Sr. is a promoter for Horizons Wrestling Alliance, a semi-professional league he started a few years ago in St. Mary’s County.
“One thing about professional wrestling is, you’re limited only by your imagination,” Guy Sr. of Lexington Park said.
That goes for stage names, too.
“Typically, there’s a history to where the gimmick began” for each wrestler, he said. It might be a childhood nickname, related to something they like or a physical characteristic.
Guy Jr., started out wrestling under the moniker Professor Milo Shizo. After a couple of matches, he changed up his look and became Cornelius Godzilla Guy.
Since its heyday in the 1980s when Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and other wrestlers were household names, the sport underwent a kind of unveiling, Guy Sr. said. The athletes — yes, the matches require real strength and endurance — no longer hide the fact that the blows, kicks and arm twists are, let’s say, exaggerated.
But the matches are not rehearsed move by move. There is a level of give and take and improvisation involved.
“The main part of professional wrestling is the entertainment side of it,” Guy Sr. said. “Everybody knows.”
And just because the fights are performed for entertainment value, it doesn’t mean the wrestlers don’t genuinely get hurt sometimes. Godzilla said he’s had multiple injuries over the years, including dislocating a shoulder and seriously injuring one of his knees.
“It takes a lot of training,” said Ryan Rybak, known in the ring as Ronnie Wake. The Baltimore resident said most of the people he knows in the business started training when they were fresh out of high school, and continue wrestling at least into their 30s.
Most all of them have one goal — make it to professional wrestling’s WrestleMania, the ultimate annual match.
“I saw it on TV and said, ‘That is the coolest thing,’” Guy Jr. said.
He would re-enact moves he saw from the professional wrestlers at home with his friends, sometimes using the fence around his yard as a jumping-off point.
Guy Jr. found his fascination with the world of professional wrestling only grew as he got older.
“There’s just something about it, you know. ‘Man, that looks like a lot of fun,’” Matt Iaconianni, who grew up in Great Mills and now lives in New Jersey, said.
The Great Mills High School graduate said about two years after high school he grew tired of working at a local restaurant chain, and decided to become a professional wrestler.
For a year he drove a couple times a week to a training school in Philadelphia, where he learned how to compete on the professional circuit.
Iaconianni went the humorous route, calling himself Grizzly Redwood, after the iconic tall trees, despite his own small frame.
“At my tallest, I’m 5-foot, 4-inches, flat,” he said.
Iaconianni wrestled professionally for about nine years, before shaving his signature beard last spring and taking off a year to re-evaluate what he wanted to do with his life.
He’s trying it again, and is set for a match Sunday at the Leonard Hall Recreation Center in Leonardtown.
Guy Jr. a couple of years ago enrolled at the Ring of Honor Wrestling training school, where his buddy had attended. He said after about nine months he graduated and was given a blessing to wrestle professionally by his trainer, Delirious.
At first he wore a mask when he wrestled. “It was a way to hide myself in plain sight,” Guy Jr.
Soon, though, he developed enough confidence to enter the ring unmasked. He said he likes to not only show off his strength and skills, but to add a touch of “wackiness” to the bouts.
Guy Jr., with help from his friends, eventually talked his father into starting his own league. Guy Sr. contacted the state’s sports licensing authority and got a promoter license, he said.
He described Horizon Wrestling Alliance as an independent wrestling league. Some professional wrestlers, particularly the ones that make appearances on television, are under contract and limited to only wrestle within a specific league.
Thousands of other professional or want-to-be-professional wrestlers work independently, booking gigs when they can, often traveling to neighboring states or regions, he said.
Sometimes they get paid, maybe just enough to cover gas, and sometimes they do it for free to get exposure or practice.
He labels his league “family friendly,” and appropriate for most kids. He put on two shows in the last few years, but then was deployed to Afghanistan through the Maryland Army National Guard.
Guy Sr. said he has plans to keep growing his promotional business, including holding a tournament, the winner of which will receive an all-leather title belt he recently had made.
“It’s up to you to get the fans involved,” said Brandon “Money” Greene, who is also wrestling this Sunday at the match in Leonardtown. He plays a bad guy, dressed in green with a “dastardly” curled mustache and the stink of greed around him.
Not only do the wrestlers want to showcase their own moves, it is important to coordinate with their opponents to make them look good, too, he said.