My Biggest Influaences
January 17, 2010
I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit”
Magazine, back in October of 2009, and it is being reproduced with permission
from Uncooked Media Ltd.
I going to take a look back on my career and discuss my biggest influences. I don’t mean who I was a fan of and who I patterned my career after, I mean the people who had the biggest effect on my career; the people responsible for my progress and success as a pro-wrestler.
There are 4 key steps to the progress of becoming a success in pro-wrestling. So while I learned from so many the following 4 people are the ones most involved in pulling the trigger and taking me to the next level or stage in my career. Before I start naming names I should point out what I consider the 4 key steps to becoming a success in this business: Breaking in and learning how to wrestle, Learning how to “Work”, Developing a Character (what I like to call Finding Yourself as a Performer), and finally being given the opportunity on a large stage to prove yourself.
Learning how to Wrestle: Everyone knows I was trained in Calgary at The Hart Brother’s Pro-Wrestling Camp, but to be honest (read Chris Jericho’s book) there wasn’t a whole lot of Hart involvement in that training. While there was an instructor there running the classes I still credit the bulk of my learning to Chris Jericho. If it wasn’t for Chris I’m not sure I even would have broken into the business. With the exception of Chris and me the camp was pretty much filled with unathletic non-athletes, so if not for Chris I might have packed up and headed home and just written off this whole pro-wrestling business as a bad idea.
Chris and I were attached at the hip through out training and we learned every move, ran every drill, and did every spot together. We had our first match against each other and tag together in our second. There is not an element of the first few years of my career Chris Jericho did not play a role in; if not for him I never would have been successful in my training nor gotten the bookings I did once training was complete. I had approximately 100 bookings my first 2 years in this business and I could count on one hand the ones Chris didn’t help me get or at the very least drive me to. This step is the foundation and with out Chris Jericho I’d have had no foundation to build any other stage of my career.
Learning how to Work: You may think learning how to work and learning how to wrestle are the same thing but they are two completely different things. Learning how to wrestle is about the technical part of the business like executing moves, where learning how to work is all about psychology and the emotion of the business. You can only learn this aspect of the business from an experienced veteran and I was very lucky to cross paths with Stampede Wrestling veteran “Champaign” Gerry Morrow. Working with Gerry Morrow really took me to the next level. No one involved in the Hart Brother’s training program taught us a thing about ring psychology so the first time I worked with Gerry Morrow a whole new world opened up to me. While I fine tuned my ring psychology for years, Gerry Morrow was the one that flipped that switched and showed me the light. After working with Gerry Morrow I wasn’t just a gifted athlete out there executing spots, I was a guy with a game plan and a focus, trying to hook the crowd and have a good match. Gerry Morrow took me from being a guy who could follow and made me a guy who could lead.
Developing a Character: Coming into your own and finding yourself is a real big step, and likely one of the toughest. If you are a good athlete the wrestling can come quickly, and psychology, once you are taught it you either get or you don’t, but finding and developing your character can sometimes take a while. The problem with this stage is that it takes time and you need the right platform to do it. You have to be involved in angles and be given the opportunity to do promos to fully grow as a performer and find yourself. If the person booking your angles doesn’t give you the freedom to find your own direction, you have to hope their vision of what they want you to be, is one that suits you and you are able to grow into it. I think this is one of the major downfalls in wrestling today in that today, writers just write and try to shove the people they have into the roles they have created, rather than taking the cast of characters they have and book angles to allow them to grow into whatever character suits them best.
I was very fortunate to work with someone who did the latter, and he did it better than anyone. I speak, of course, of Paul Heyman, and it was in ECW, and with Heyman’s help that Lance Storm was born. Up until that stage of my career I was just Lance Evers, talented wrestler/worker performing under the name Lance Storm. Lance Storm was just a moniker until Paul Heyman got his hands on him. Paul Heyman turned Lance Evers heel, gave him Dawn Marie, and stuck a microphone in his hand and is responsible for creating Lance Storm. Lance Storm was in me all along and for the most part he was my creation but Paul was the catalyst, he was the one that helped me find myself and discover who Lance Storm really was.
Opportunity on the Big Stage: You could argue that Paul Heyman provided me this opportunity as well, but I don’t think even at its peak, ECW was considered the Big Stage. Success in either WCW or WWE was the true measuring stick of success during my career. There were a lot of ECW successes that never reached that WWE/WCW platform and they are not seen in the same light as those who did. In my mind my big-league break through was my Triple Title run in WCW. It was a major push with a major company and really established me as a guy who could play on any field. While I don’t know for sure whose idea the big push was, I know my biggest supporter back then was Johnny Ace. Johnny had just started with the company as an agent and I was his pet project. He was my agent that whole run and in my mind responsible for getting me the ball and allowing me to run with it. WCW was a political mind field back then and Johnny had my back and was the one that got me the matches and the minutes I needed to prove myself. If not for Johnny I would have had my legs cut out from under me long before reaching that next level.
Thank you, Chris, Gerry, Paul, and Johnny. Your assistance and friendship are what made me who I am today and for that I am very grateful.