When I arrived in the U.S. last summer, before I started writing this blog, I thought it might be a cool idea to not just write essay style texts about my impressions and experiences “abroad,” but also to let the people themselves talk, so to speak. As soon as I moved here, I constantly met lots of interesting people, what made me ponder about how it’d be to interview some of those I would meet. But, initially I couldn’t take the courage and actually ask somebody if they wanted to do an interview with me, and so I let the thought fizzle out. But then it came back — on December 30, 2013, in Millis, Massachusetts. Here’s the result.
A LADDER, AND THUMBTACKS
So, Robert, you’re from Massachusetts, right?
Yeah, I was born in Boston. We lived in Newton, which is right in the outskirts of Boston, maybe like a year. And now I’ve been in Millis the rest of my life — I’ve been here for about 29 years.
And what do you do?
Uhm, right now I am unemployed, but – you know, gainfully unemployed, I like to say, because I’m trying to do some other things – I am trying to get into professional wrestling, I’m trying to learn about that. I was working for a while in retail, didn’t really like it, and after my Dad passed away, I felt like I should do something that I really wanted to do.
He worked for about 35 years as a car mechanic, and he hated it. He used to always tell me how much he hated working on my cars, and he wouldn’t work on my cars, because as soon he got out of work he wouldn’t even want to see a car. And that meant a lot to me, that he was able to do that, and work for us, but at the same point it was horrible, because I knew he didn’t enjoy it. And if I had the opportunity to do something with my life and enjoy it, then I really want to. You know, he didn’t get that opportunity because he had — me, and you know, with that kind of responsibility you got to bite the bullet and do what you have to do. Right now I don’t have that responsibility, and while I don’t I want to try find something I like.
How does that work? Did you take wrestling classes? Do you have something like wrestling courses in high school?
I did not. I was not physical at all in high school. I played minor league baseball in elementary school, I was god awful, I was one of the worst players ever. I played intramural volleyball in high school, again I was horrific. But it was fun, it was a good time.
And then I did backyard wrestling in school — not in school, I’m sorry, outside of school. We did it for fun. And it was awful. We didn’t know what we were doing, and in the end we probably shouldn’t have done it because people could have gotten hurt… I almost got hurt at one point. Somebody DDT’ed me of a ladder, which is a move where they grab your head and slam it into the mat. We didn’t have mats, so we just had bedding on a ground, and I didn’t know how to take one of these moves, you know — I’m 17 years old at the time. So my friend is doing it to me and your supposed to brace your fall with your forearm, and I didn’t know that, so I landed directly on the top of my head — almost like 180° on my head. And immediately I can feel like my neck compressed, and I just go down, and I’m like “Aawwrrrrrrrrrrr.” And he’s like “Are you okay,” and I’m like “Noo! Go to the end of the match!” And we ended it there. And I was fine, but uhm…
… but, that was supposed to be like show wrestling?
Yeah, but we didn’t really know what we were doing. But that’s when I first got interested into it. I was watching it since I was nine.
I watched wrestling just for a short time, a year or so — I remember the names of Mankind and The Rock, and the Royal Rumble 1998 with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin…
Yeah, I was into it then.
And there was this one match between Mick Foley and The Undertaker… How do you call these things, poster pins? Or is it tacks? A tack-match…
Yes, thumbtacks. Yes, we actually had one of those in the backyard thing, too. I was not part of that. Yeah, my friend Mark and another friend of mine, John, had a match where – it was in his backyard – there was no ring, it was just like a play-set, a children’s play-set with swings and a slide, and that was where they were gonna wrestle. So they wrestled there, and they were throwing each other into the swing-set, they had chairs, they would hit each other with chairs, and my friend Mark was, you know, a little crazy, and he wanted to do a little thumbtack gimmick into it. He thought it was worked, and if you saw the thumbtacks down it wouldn’t hurt as much. But instead it was just like flat tacks, and they hurt even more when they went in.
So was it bloody?
It wasn’t too bloody. I thought it was gonna be a lot more bloody. Luckily one of them was wearing a leather jacket…
And then, after high school you went to a wrestling school?
I’m in wrestling school right now — at stake. I’m like the bottom tier, but… There’s a lot of schools around here. The school that I’m going to is really well acclaimed. My trainer, his name is John Doe [name changed by editor], he has been wrestling for a while. He is one of the more well known wrestlers now on the independent circuit. He’s not in WWE, but he has worked there, he has worked on “dark matches” there. He is really of all the trainers I have seen he’s definitely one of the more accredited I would say.
He is definitely a guy that you don’t feel like he’s just taking your money, and that he wants you to succeed, and he almost takes it personally when you don’t. But it’s good. At first I was kind of taking a back by it because you’re not used to somebody being that aggressive. He is almost like a military teacher in a way. But it’s cool because you know he’s looking for you to succeed, and when you see who’s coming out of the other schools and who’s coming out of his school you definitely realize that what he is doing is working.
So right now I’m just trying to get to a point where he can train me, because I’m well below the standard where I need to be. So I’ve been in referee school just trying to beef up, learn everything, learn the spots. Because in the end — I mean I got into it late — what I really want to do is do it behind the scenes, maybe do managing, or do something with promoting. So I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. So I’ve been going to shows, they finally got me refereeing on some shows down in Rhode Island. Another place wanted to use me for announcer, but they wanted me to cut my hair and beard, which I wasn’t keen on doing yet.
Maybe one day?
Maybe one day, we’ll see. I don’t understand why you’d cut your hair for wrestling. I think you’d need it for wrestling.
… maybe for commentating?
Yeah, but there’s commentators with long hair. Jesse Ventura had long hair… — before he was bald.
So, but it seems like in wrestling there’s an institutional education, and it’s not something that you do on your own. You have schools, and there’s professional teachers…
Yeah, absolutely. I mean there are some people who go into it completely untrained, but you can tell. Especially now that I have been on the circuit for a little bit. The promotion that runs with our school is we’re like top tier, and they have the best guys in New England wrestle for them. As opposed to the one that I was working this weekend, which I wouldn’t name names, but they didn’t have the greatest talents in the world on it.
So there’s definitely a varying scope of wrestling. And people tell me stories — I haven’t witnessed the shows of their wrestling guys — of these two wrestling a show, they weren’t even trained. They just had them on the show. I was like: How do they do this? They say, people will pay ‘em. They just pay them to do it. Part of me is like “Oh I wish I could get paid to do that!” But at the same point it’s just crazy, it’s a crazy business.
I didn’t know that outside of the big TV show wrestling, there seems to be a big independent scene of wrestling.
Yeah, there’s a huge show down in Nashville this coming weekend actually. I wanted to go! Ring of Honor’s doing a show, Roddy Piper is gonna be on it. You don’t know who Roddy Piper is?! My ex girlfriend didn’t know who Roddy Piper was, and he was born in the town that she’s from. She’d ask me “Who is that?”, and I’m like “You’re the worst Canadian ever!” He’s your native son, and you don’t know this!
“WE NEED MONEY!”
I noticed you were wearing a hat yesterday with the Canadian flag on the side. What’s your connection with Canada?
I don’t have a super-connection with it. I dated a girl from Canada for a while. The hat I didn’t get from her, the hat I got on my own. I just kinda liked Canada. We went to Canada when I was 18. It was me, and Andrew, and four of my friends, and we headed to Montreal.
Is that where you got the hat?
No, I actually got a hat similar to that in Montreal, which made me get the hat.
So that was a replacement hat…
Yeah, that’s what it was. The hat I had had the Quebec flag on it, but this one’s just the Canada flag. We went there, and I loved it. I thought it was really crazy, especially we being 18 here in America, you go up there and it really is like a foreign country. I remember Andrew calling his mom on the second day, looking for money. That was amazing. We had to look for a Western Union somewhere in Canada, though none of us spoke french. That was when Andrew tried to fill the gas tank up with 75 cents worth of gas. And they filled the tank up, and he got so mad. And as he’s pulling out, he goes to the gas attendant, who I don’t think spoke english, and he asked him
Do you just hate Americans?
And the guy would just say “Eeh, goodbye!” It was a gas station in Montreal, and you know, in Montreal, everything’s in French. That’s the provincial law — there’s no English on the signs, it’s only French. So when we first got there, we had no idea what anything was. I knew a little bit of French from a friend’s mom telling me some phrases, but that was it. So we got way lost on the way up, we got way lost trying to find the Western Union, and when we finally found it, we were running low on gas. So we had to pull over to get gas. It was me, my friend Steve, and Andrew.
And I think Andrew tells the guy to put in 75 cents worth of gas, but I don’t think he understood, so he filled the tank up, and Andrew didn’t have that much money as a rule. So he was already… — he was pissed. Because it was his car, too — we took two cars, we took Andrew’s car and we took my car — and I ended up loaning him some money, but he did pay it back to me right after. But he was not too happy, because he was wanting to use that money for drinking…
You guys spent all your money at the strip clubs, didn’t you?
No, Andrew I can say definitely did not, because he… we found him in a Burger King that morning. We all went into a strip club and we had lost him. We’re like “Dude, where is he?” And he was gone for a legit two hours. We didn’t know where he was. And we came downstairs like “Dude, we gotta find Andrew.” We go to the Burger Kind to get something on the way out before we go to the cab. And he is just sitting there, smiling, and he has a drink in one hand, he’s smoking a cigarette, he has BK in front of him. You can even smoke butts in the BK up there! And I ask him “Man, where have you been?” And he’s like “I’ve just been hangin’ out” Why he was smiling? Because he was shit-faced! He’s fuckin’ drunk. He’s 18 years old, drinking in a Burger King.
So that is 12 years ago, right?
Yeah, that’s 12 years ago. I went right after my 18th birthday. But it was just a real experience doing that, as an 18-year-old where you can’t drink down here until you get 21. It was August of 2000… No, no, August of 2001, a month before Andrew died.
We did a second trip the next year with two other friends of mine, which was fun. I was sick for part of the trip, so it wasn’t as fun, but it was funny just because I got to see the both of them get completely destroyed, that was really funny.
“WORKING ON CHARACTERS”
Also, I noticed you were wearing a camouflage jacket yesterday…
The Army Jacket, yeah. That’s from my Dad. I originally thought he got it from a friend of his who was in Vietnam, but I guess the guy wasn’t in Vietnam. He was in the Army, but he didn’t actually serve over in Vietnam. But it’s a genuine Jacket, and… I always get kind of compliments on it. I just like it. I’ve had it since I was like eight. I wore it back in middle school, and then I had stopped wearing it for a while, and I picked it up again, I think it was out of high school, I don’t think I wore it in high school, maybe I did, I don’t know.
But you haven’t been in the Army, right?
No, no, no, no. I don’t think I could ever go into the Army. I’m kind of a Pacifist, and I’m trying to get into wrestling, which is really kind of another Oxymoron.
Yeah, you’re really nice…
Yeah, and that’s what the wrestling guys tell me, too, all of time. They get mad at me for how like at times I say “I’m sorry”, and, “Why are you saying ‘you’re sorry’ right now?” And, well, I don’t know, it just seems right.
I can see being hard, but you gotta get into character and be a blood-killing-machine.
Yeah, no, I know that!
I mean It’s a show biz…
Exactly. So I keep working on Characters. I have different characters, two of the ones I was working on… I was gonna do a Canadian one, where I was a masked guy. I was gonna be “Saskatchewan Valdez,” where I’m based on the Prairie. I have weed all over my uniform, and I just talk in a Scottish brogue, because when I went to Saskatoon, that’s what everybody sounded like. Everybody sounded like they were from deep Scotland or Newcastle. Really thick accents.
Is this in Ontario?
Saskatoon is in the middle of Canada, Saskatchewan, it’s west of Ontario. If you go to Vancouver on the West Coast, then it’s British Columbia, that’s the providence, and Alberta is the next providence, and then Saskatchewan. It’s right above Montana and North Dakota.
So I was over there, I went out there to visit my ex girlfriend. I just noticed that she didn’t really have a thick Canadian accent. She had a little bit of a Canadian accent. Everybody up there had like a really thick, almost like a Geordie accent, from Northern England. So I want to do a gimmick where I was an unintelligible character like that, but it was all about wheat fields and stuff like that. I’m still working on that one.
And the other gimmick I was thinking of was based on the TV show from the 80s, Punky Brewster, where I would dress up like Punky Brewster, but I’d still have my beard, and I’d be Punky Bruiser, and all my part would just be me yelling about plot lines from Punky Brewster.
I’ve never heard of that TV show… What’s it about?
It’s a TV show about a little girl, and she lives with her grandfather, and she is just really spunky and funny, and all her cloths are like mismatched, like her socks are all like multi-colored. I was actually trying to pitch that to one of the girls in my wrestling class, but she wanted no part of it, so I was like “fine, I’ll take it than, if you’re not gonna try it.”
That sounds like fun…
Yeah, but that is the easy part of wrestling to me, is coming up with that stuff. And, you know, I see people who have problems creating stuff like that in wrestling, and I’m more than willing to help out in that aspect, but, I mean, I’m so new that I don’t think people are apt to receive what I’m throwing yet. It’ll take a while, but it’s going good.
I was introduced to Robert B. Greer Jr., 30, from Millis, Massachusetts by a friend at a bar called Victory Lane in the same town. On that evening, he mentioned that he had been refereeing at a wrestling show a short time ago. Here’s a brief summary:
… the whole thing went down at a show in Rhode Island. I was refereeing a match and they needed a name for me, so the promoter just on the spot named me “Christ.” After the matches I refereed, I went to the back and when the next referee came out, the Christ thing must have stuck because the fans were disappointed and started chanting “We Want Jesus! We Want Jesus!” Which was good, for my self-esteem, but bad in that as a ref you’re not trying to get over. The ref’s just supposed to be there in the background, the wrestlers are the ones the fans should be cheering. It was kind of embarrassing, but I took it in stride.
The next day, December 31, 2013, we met again at Bob’s Family Restaurant for breakfast and talked. This post is dedicated to the memory of Robert’s friend Andrew, who died in an automobile accident in 2001.