Friday, 29 July 2011 01:15
Gregory Iron is no longer an unheralded professional wrestler.
He’s been working for various organizations in the Rust Belt, in Northern Ohio and Illinois and Michigan, with a not-so-spectacular won-loss record, but with a story that is seldom seen in the sport.
On July 23rd, at AAW’s Scars and Stripes Event, Gregory Iron wrestled a tag match with Colt Cabana, against the heel team of “The Awesome Threesome” – Jordan McEntyre and Knight Wagner, with manager Eryn.
After the match, Iron remained in the ring a bit, and out came Colt Cabana from the locker room, followed by a surprise guest: CM Punk.
No, it wasn’t like that, wasn’t the typical run in the ring and beat someone up moment, but a feel good surprise with the appearance of WWE Heavyweight Champion CM Punk, who won that belt from John Cena the week previous and in a WWE storyline, walked out of the promotion and back to the indies.
Punk came out to the ring without that Gold Belt, but with friend Colt Cabana (of the Second City Saints faction that was well known in Illinois, in Ring of Honor and other American Independent Pro Wrestling promotions). Cabana was already announced as a guest, and from a YouTube video after the “Scars and Stripes” event, Gregory Iron was looking forward to meet the top indy name.
It was, by all accounts, an emotional appearance.
It was announced across the internet and the wrestling boards and the top pro wrestling web sites, but the focus was on CM Punk appearing at an indy wrestling event and giving props to a wrestler. Punk came to the ring and pointed to Iron and said: "You overcome more than I ever have just waking up every morning. I saw something special watching you in this ring. This kid's an inspiration. Give it up for Gregory Iron!"
To call someone inspirational caught some attention, but most internet sites seemed to have missed the story. Alex Marvez did not, and I’d suggest reading his interview with Iron, because this wrestler is one of the most inspirational guys that ever put on a pair of trunks and dove through the ropes and dived off the top turnbuckle and performed a variety of impressive maneuvers in the squared circle.
See, Gregory Iron has a condition called cerebral palsy.
The condition leaves him with a withered right arm, but that never stops him in the ring.
I have had the pleasure of watching Iron in action, in another top indy promotion, Absolute Intense Wrestling, out of Cleveland Ohio. Iron wrestled at the event called Absolution 6 recently, and I received a review copy from AIW promoter Chandler Biggins – ironically the day before the big internet celebrity status surrounded the man known as the Handicap Hero and the Crippled Crusader.
After lauding Iron in the ring at Berwyn, Punk and Colt Cabana lifted the 24-year old wrestler up on their shoulders and paraded him around the ring.
Iron, in the interview with Alex Marvez, summed it up the best: “the top guy in wrestling shook my hand and told me I was awesome.”
Punk’s praise the reaction one gets from seeing the guy in action. And those who know him better also sing his praises: AAW Producer Michael Petkovich say “Gregory Iron is so special” and Biggins calls him “an amazing performer” who can “deliver against anybody, he’s not just a “gimmick” guy”.
Wrestling is a business known for gimmicks, and Iron is well aware that gimmicks get old: on an interview on YouTube after the Punk adulations, he explains that he knows that he’s not going to be doing this thing for a long time, and doesn’t see himself wrestling as a 35 year old.
After all this praise, he certainly has his head on his shoulders.
Biggins tells me that Iron began with AIW by working security in 2005, and then got involved with training to be a pro with Cleveland All Pro Wrestling. I’ve learned that he was trained by former wrestler Jimmy Del Ray and current indy star Johnny Gargano.
Iron and Gargano feuded viciously in 2010, and there were reports of concussions on both sides, and Street Fights seem to be one of Gregory Iron’s specialties. It also allows him to use a Handicapped Parking sign as a weapon – not to be confused with Handicapped Parking, his finisher.
At AIW’s Absolution 6, Iron battled AIW wrestler Josh Prohibition, who ironically maintains the CM Punk straight edge lifestyle. But Prohibition is more like Punk in the WWE than Punk in that Berwyn ring, and the story of this match doesn’t have a happy ending.
Yet Iron proves once again why he deserves the accolades of a current WWE Champion.
Within a minute, he dove outside of the ring, another minute or two later, he’s jumping from the top rope. Throughout the match, which meandered to the back, on a bar, through various double doors and then back to the ring, Iron and Prohibition worked a match that would have engaged pro wrestling fans of any promotion of the past two decades.
Perhaps Iron in action needs to be seen to be understood, but even with the cynical eyes of a jaded wrestling reviewer, I was marking out at his ability, noting the way he sells, applauding his efforts, being vocal at the risks he took, realizing that both training and talent have made him a well rounded performer.
Sure, the style was what the hardcores called ‘garbage’ but the moves on display were anything but. Insiders could pick out the spots where Iron was protected, but the “trust” – as Chandler Biggins points out, is such that so many promotions would use him, and AIW has been “using him regularly as a performer” since 2007.
Over the years he’s worked for the PWO organization, has teased being part of CHIKARA’s Young Lions tournament, has wrestled a multiple man match with Mike Quackenbush, has been seen in various Ohio based promotions including American Luchadores.
Fans can watch Gregory Iron in action on a variety of DVDs (AIW, PWO, AAW to name a few, and I have some more review copies coming), and also on YouTube, including a very strong match touted by Biggins, where he faces Eric Ryan for that aforementioned shot at the Young Lions Cup Tournament.
Unfortunately, Iron lost that match. But it wasn’t that he lost, it was how he lost. There’s no fakeness in his wrestling, no political correctness, no sympathy or pity or sense that he’s wrestling because the guys feel sorry for him.
Watching Gregory Iron in action can be a little unnerving – seeing a guy do daredevil spots with really just one arm to protect himself means that there is a lot of risk involved for himself, and his opponent. But eventually, the reality grows that this kid can wrestle, that he has a passion that is rarely duplicated, and he has a talent that cannot be denied.
Getting back to AAW, the Chicago based promotion that under previous ownership stood for All American Wrestling (now branded as AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined), there are big plans for Gregory Iron.
Michael Petkovich tells me that the CM Punk appearance “was something special and we are honored to be part of it.”
The promotion was already kick-starting the telling of Iron’s story, and Punk’s appearance wasn’t part of the plans, but he certainly did “help tell his story” Now, instead of the hundreds of fans at ringside and the others who would watch on DVD, YouTube and wrestling sites have brought much more attention to his name and the efforts of AAW to tell his story.
“Gregory Iron is so special and has such a great story.” Petkovich said. “We are so happy for Greg. It was a touching moment.”
I certainly look forward to seeing more of Gregory Iron in action, and will do my best to help tell his story to wrestling fans as I get more DVDs to review, and more of his story to tell.