Are You Tough Enough? The Lessons of Backyard Wrestling, WWE Superstar Hopes and Dreams of Flying

Man has always had limitations. In actual ability and in what he can reasonably do. Man can create machines to go into outer space (allegedly). Man can come up with, and prove, physics and mathematical equations that boggle 99% of the world’s brain. And it all started with inventing the wheel. Or so you think. But what if I told you it all started with Icarus and his dream to fly? Legit, flying. Like, bird in the sky, wings abroad, flying.

Daedalus and Icarus

The Greek story goes, that Daedalus created wings out of wax and feathers, so that he and his son, Icarus, could fly. The point? To escape the Labyrinth which encased them both. They were trapped inside, and needed to escape. Such a brilliant, third level thinker. His easy button was to simply fly out.

Well, Daedalus created the wings made of wax and feathers, then warned his son, to not fly too close to sea, for the dampness would affect the feathers. Flying too high, would cause the wax to melt, by virtue of the sun. Naturally, Icarus did not listen to his father and flew too high. He enjoyed it too much, and when you’re young and like something, you want more of it. You get greedy. It happens in modern day times, too. Whether it’s money, sex, drugs, drinking, buying things, going on trips, etc. Everyone always wants more. 

Icarus wanted to go higher than anyone had before, instead of accepting that he had made it. And it cost him his life. 

He flew too high, and the sun melted the wax wings. Icarus then fell down, into the sea, which is still to this day, known as the Icarian Sea. A story of confidence at its max, to be sure. A story of greed, absolutely. But this story is also the same one man has yet to accomplish: Learning how to fly. 

It’s something I’ve been fascinated with for a long time. It’s also why I have a few bird tattoos on my left leg, because of that dream to fly. The freedom, to just up and soar away, making nothing feel as if it matters more than your thoughts and the wind. It’s an amazing feeling, that we can’t freely have whenever we want. The closest I can compare it to in my experiences so far in life are when I skateboard (as posted here: SK8 or Die). But that’s on the ground. We have airplanes, helicopters, parachutes, hang gliders and aerial wrestling maneuvers. 

Wondering

Wait, what? Aerial wrestling maneuvers? Yes sir! That moment when wrestlers fly through the ring, towards their opponent, reaching them with enough force to knock them down. Offensive moves, indeed. Even in the Pokemon videogames, I always loved the bird and flying type moves. They just struck a chord with me.

So, as I’m in high school, after I had quit team sports altogether (read here to find out the how and the why: Hoop Dreams and a Final Shot), I still needed that outlet. Sure, I still played sports with my friends, but I needed a new challenge, physically. I wanted something to give me that excitement again in competing. I would come across a WWE (then it was known as the WWF) show one summer, Monday night, courtesy of my brother’s friend, who was over and HAD to watch it.

We obliged, and from that moment on, the rest of my high school years were spent on watching every WWE show (Mondays, Thursdays, Sundays and then the once a month PPV). Playing the WWE videogames became a thing, as well. Buying all the action figures and acting our own stories out, as if we were kids playing with toys, also happened. Embarrassing to admit this, and say this, but it happened. I’m not here to tell stories, I’m here to broadcast my life, and this is a part of it.

It wasn’t enough, though, to do all those things, at first. I wanted to wrestle. As they did, not the Greco-Roman style that high schoolers or college students do as a team. I wanted to wrestle WWE style, to tell a story, to act, to be painted as a hero, only to turn into a villain. Really make spectators feel what it is that’s being portrayed. Wrestling on TV gave me that feeling, so I wanted to reciprocate it as close as possible. The hyped up promo videos that they produced really made me want to be a part of it, as well. I mean, check this fan made video out, and tell me you don’t get pumped up!?

What if I could suplex someone? What if I could take a Stone Cold Stunner? What if I could fly like the Hardy Boyz?

I sure as hell wanted to try, so look out couches and beds in the household, because here goes nothing! And that’s how it started. Me and my brother, trying the very moves we saw on TV, on the floor, on the couch, on the bed, whatever it was that would give us a soft and relatively safe landing. Of course, as with anything, there were limitations. The ceiling, the space, the awkwardness of trying to complete moves full speed in rooms. It just didn’t look the same. But it felt the same, like we were on to something.

My favorites had always been the Hardy Boyz, Matt and Jeff, from Raleigh, North Carolina. The long, dyed hair. The wildness of their looks, the taunts and poses they had. They were just… different. Like me, in high school. That very same thing I talked about in my first blog in my own words posted on here (The Rockstar Mortician vs. The World). It was always me wanting to try and do new things, as the Hardy Boyz looked, acted and wrestled: Extreme.

Over time, quickly, might I add, me and my brother Justin (you can follow him on Twitter here: @JustinWatry) would seek new heights, literally and figuratively. We needed another, a third person. Someone to trust practicing these moves with, and someone who was also a huge fan of the WWE. After all, you can’t do this type of stuff if you’re not a fan! Enter… @MrMattyMoses)! My friend since we were little. From playing Ninja Turtles on the playground, to backyard wrestling. Sorry, Mrs. Moore!

SIDE NOTE: I’ll never forget him dropping Leonardo, breaking his leg off, and being handed back to me, as if he was being nice, “Here’s your guy, I got him for you.” Gee, thanks.

Anyway, my friend Matthew was in like Flynn! Matt Flynn. Ok ok, so Matthew was excited and wanted to be a part of this new endeavor me and Justin were attempting. Backyard wrestling, three guys, just coming up with numerous story lines and move sets that fit our body types. We even had our own entrance music playing, stolen from actual WWE themes of course. We had to make it realistic, you know. Ha.

Rough CopyBeing that I was in my athletic prime back then, and could run faster and jump higher than them, I had to have the aerial moves and quick actions for how I wrestled. My brother was of the similar style as well. We were both built as skinny, pale kids, only I had long, dyed hair always and he had his short and the color as it grew. Matthew was of a bigger build (one of the few kids in high school who would work out), so his move set was that of power and using his strength.

We even went as far as creating monikers for ourselves and outfits. We had to go legit, right? So, my creation of a wrestling name came one night as I was creating my wrestling guy on the WWF: Smackdown videogame. All I needed was a name, after giving my guy his moves and look. Hmmmm… what to call myself? I happened to be listening to my favorite band, Duran Duran, at the time, and the song “New Moon on Monday” was playing. Boom, that’s it! I shall be known as… New Moon.  

Matthew was known as Fallen, the idea stemming from the wrestler Raven. Wanting that one syllable name to stand out, and be feared. Or even Goldberg. You knew what you were getting, and Matthew being the good boy always, this was his chance to be a wrestling monster. A fall from grace, if you will.  

Justin had created a few different characters, because that’s what his favorite wrestler, Mick Foley (Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack) had done. So my brother would have names like, Fusion, Mr. Greeny and Crazy Case. Laugh all you want, I know I still do. At us, the names, the outfits, the slip ups on moves, it was all there. It was all of us. 

New Moon vs. Fallen vs. (insert Justin’s name here)

Nomenclature

Logos created by the uber talented Melissa Monroe, tattoo artist extraordinaire!

From triple threat matches, to one on one matches. Hardcore matches, tables and ladders and chairs, we did it all. We wrestled inside when no one was home, because after all, what mother would want her furniture getting ruined right? Sorry mom! We wrestled outside when people were home. And that’s when it seemed to click. At our peak, in our prime, at the highest sensation, our setup was pretty cool outside. Or so we thought…

Boxes were used as our tables. A wooden ladder was used as our ladder, but we broke that (our infamous TLC match, which came crashing to a halt, again, sorry mom). And all the random sandbox toys we could find. It really was quite comical. When I look back on it all, I can’t help but laugh. So bad. But that is what we were into and in those moments, we thought we were being bad ass.

As we performed our moves, we always protected one another, and did them in such a way. We didn’t really use the end of a chair to ram each other in the face to make ourselves bleed. I didn’t really kick Matthew in the nuts or give Justin a boot to his face. Oh wait, I did. Sorry dudes! Sometimes, those things happened. But, we made it out alive and didn’t break any bones. Somehow.  

If you ever wondered what it’s like to take a powerbomb on the grass or suplex your brother on a car, well, it isn’t like sleeping in your bed. Hell, even a bulldog onto the concrete has to be taken a certain way. These were things we picked up on while watching WWF: Tough Enough and by learning what each guy had to do for each move. Almost like a dance, the choreography had to be there. We had to be in sync with one another. We had to sacrifice ourselves and trust. Our desire was that strong, that we were willing to walk our own lonely road if we failed.

Warning

LOL, OK BRO.

We tried everything we could at home. Our limitations in ability, having an actual ring setup and just not being trained properly lead to some hilarious moments. For the most part though, we were wrestlers. This was before the internet, Youtube, and even any kind of social media, really. So we had old VHS camcorders to record ourselves on and that was it. Hell, we wrestled on grass for a good year or in snow during winter until we came across an old mattress laying out for garbage. Yeah, we took that and used it as our ring. The AIDS risk was worth it.

Over those last few years in high school though, I did as I always did, I lost interest. It wore on me, and we just couldn’t come up with any other ideas or moves or storylines. Three people can only do so much. There was talk of adding a couple other people, but I always wondered, “Would I really trust them though, to not be dropped on my head or break an arm?” The answer was no. I couldn’t rely on anyone other than my brother or my brother from another mother. So that was it. I had to hang up the tights and the belt. 

Retirement

Those two would continue for awhile, forming the NRW: No Rulez Wrestling. And once in awhile, I’d get the urge to wrestle again, or participate if they needed me. I was like Stone Cold or Hulk Hogan or even now, The Rock. I’d return to put on a show, and leave. It just didn’t have that same effect or feeling to me anymore. The excitement and butterflies were gone. I just wanted to walk away while I could and move onto something else. Everlast did it. Justin Timberlake did it. Hell, Kevin Durant just did it, too.

As time went on, I stopped watching the theatrics of the WWE. I stopped wrestling. I stopped playing the videogames and just had nothing to do with it. Not a care in the world about what happened or who was what title belt holder, etc. My brother never gave up though, he actually went on and became more involved with wrestling than anyone I’ve ever known or heard of, on a personal level. He still blogs and has his insiders and all that, using the Watry talent of writing, at what he knows best.

Matthew would randomly have an interest in watching old tapes, or playing the games. Going to the WWE shows with Justin would become a staple as well. Let me tell you though, going to those live events is something else. It’s unlike a sporting event like basketball or football or baseball. Not saying it’s better, but it is different. Imagine the fourth quarter of a game, how the excitement builds up to that moment. Well, that’s how wrestling is the entire time. The story lines, the moves, the underhanded characters. You really feel what they want you to.

Wondering 2

15 years ago, we wrestled as kids, in the backyard. Flash forward to now, 2017. Until recently, I thought that was buried. I thought the sacrifices I made and the heart I put into a show probably a hundred times, for only us to watch or know of, was for naught. I thought that I would never wrestle again, and I thought I was OK with that. I was not. There was always something stewing in the back of my mind. As we all became older, in our early 30’s, what if we had one more shot? 

What if… we came out of retirement, and put on one more match? Just. One. More. 

As the thoughts crept in our minds and we started talking, that became a reality. Matthew and Justin are the ones to thank for this, as I had never openly suggested or pushed wanting to do one more match. Just one more, they would say. Just one more shot, to create a whole new experience. We’re older, and wiser, and can afford things we actually need to pull this off. We can create a legitimate ring. We can record with actual clarity and in some cases, high definition. We can buy our outfits, or what we need to make them look professional instead of looking as they were…  

Music provided by lifelong musician and WWE fan, @TriP03!

Yeah, but we’re also slower, not as in shape, our backs hurt, balder, heavily tattooed and have things to live for. I have a career I love, and things I worked so hard to achieve and buy. What if something goes wrong? Matthew has a wife, two kids and a newly bought house. Justin, well, he wouldn’t be much help to anyone if we broke his neck, so we all had reasons NOT to do it. But, all we needed was ONE reason to do it. We just had to do this. We had to exorcise those moments of screwing moves up, or having our wrestling “careers” end the way it did, with that unfinished feeling. 

Sometimes, bands reunite. Athletes un-retire. And once in awhile, wrestlers come back, for one… last… match… 

This is our return. The return of NRW.

 

-Noah Watry

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