Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

JRNL 1265 – Feature Story – Scotty Mac, Professional Wrestler

JRNL 1265 – Feature Writing

April 2009

Scotty Mac, Professional Wrestler

Scotty Mac would rather be known for kicking people in the throat and swinging steel chairs than for pouring drinks at his pub job. He’s a wrestler who bartends, not a bartender who wrestles.

Once a month, he puts on pink tights and matching wrist tape, then performs fast-paced, entertaining and sometimes bloody matches for a Surrey crowd. He wrestles at Bridgeview Hall, a community center in Whalley’s industrial district. In the daytime, the facility is used for preschool, senior events and after-school youth programs, but tonight, it’s being rented out by Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling.

It’s the last Friday of January and this year’s first ECCW show in Surrey. Mac, the champion, has his ECCW Title on the line against challenger Memphis Raines in the main event—a Texas Death Match, and the fans want blood.

This match has no rules and the referee can’t do anything about weapons or interference. A wrestler can pin his opponent outside of the ring, but pinfalls must be held for three seconds with the opponents’ shoulders touching the ground. Whoever scores a pinfall must return to the ring by the count of 10 to win. Otherwise, the match continues.

The show begins with the 2008 ECCW awards ceremony in which Mac won the Wrestler of the Year and Most Hated of the Year honours. He received framed certificates for his efforts.

He is the leader of Chill Town, arguably the most dominant force in the ECCW, made up of Mac and his posse. “Chill Town’s my baby,” he said. “It’s been people that I have strong personal relationships with that I knew would translate well on shows.”

The group includes his best friend and roommate, Dropkick Murphy. Murphy, 25, has known Mac since he was 16; they met as fans, then became wrestlers, and outside of the ECCW, they’re both bartenders. They’re also the founding members of Chill Town, though it’s unclear when their partnership became a faction.

“Our original tag team was just me and Scotty,” said Murphy, “and I don’t think we were Chill Town yet then.”

As the awards are handed out, 10-time ECCW Hardcore Champion Moondog Manson, 32, shows up unannounced and threatens to permanently injure Murphy. In exchange for sparing the Chill Town co-founder, Manson receives a title shot against Mac for February’s Surrey show. Manson is an intimidating, long-haired, 300-pound man who has wrestled in barbed wire, thumbtacks, and broken glass. Backstage before his February title match, he drank from a 40 oz. bottle of Crown Royal in a paper bag.

Manson’s been with the ECCW for 11 and a half years. He’s known Mac for the past seven, and though they are opponents, he’s impressed by his in-ring ability. “In Canada, I would honestly say he’s in the top five,” said Manson, the chief technical officer of a foreign currency exchange website.

Backstage, the Kelowna-born, Richmond-raised Mac prepares to make his entrance in front of the Surrey audience. The ECCW reaches a broad demographic, but he likes seeing young kids who remind him of when he was growing up as a superhero-loving child.

“It goes all the way back to elementary school. I got a letter sent home in Grade 4 saying that I had to stop what they called play-fighting at lunch and recess,” said Mac, who is now 30 and hasn’t stopped “play-fighting.” Judging by his biceps, he looks like he could rip his t-shirt, Incredible Hulk-style, just by flexing.

He recalls watching WrestleMania 2 (World Wrestling Entertainment’s biggest annual Pay-Per-View event) on VHS and idolizing such wrestlers as Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Owen Hart, who became his wrestling influences.

“I think wrestlers are the closest thing real life has to superheroes in the sense that we have the public suspend their disbelief,” he said.

Mac joined his high school wrestling team for a year before he moved to Alberta and trained with Can-Am Wrestling at the age of 18. When he returned to British Columbia, he chose to work for the ECCW, despite his parents’ hesitation towards his career choice.

“I don’t think anybody really took it all that seriously until I actually did it,” he said.
That was nine years ago.

Now he’s headlining and promoting shows throughout the Lower Mainland, working in front of the crowd and behind-the-scenes.

As “Vertigo” by U2 plays through the speakers, he emerges and taunts the crowd on his way to the ring. Behind his arrogance, he gets a thrill out of performing. Though he seems calm and easygoing when he’s not preparing for a match, his persona doesn’t stray far from his personality.

“I enjoy doing it so much that it spills over into real life maybe more than it should,” he said. “I’ve been through several girlfriends that just really can’t put up with it.”

He tries to incorporate his pretty-boy gimmick into his day job as a bartender. “There’s a little bit of Scotty Mac in everything I do.”

The ring announcer reads off his height and weight: five feet nine inches, 201 pounds. He has a blonde fauxhawk and wears mirrored shades with a black vest over his pink ring attire.

“I like that the girls like that I wear pink and that the guys don’t,” said Mac, “and as the top heel, that’s what I want.”

In professional wrestling terms, a heel is a bad guy. Heels want to be disliked. It was when Flair, Hart and Michaels each turned heel that Mac saw the appeal in being hated.

Still, some people cheer for the bad guy.

“It’s really fun to be that over-the-top and obnoxious and have it as well-received as it is.”

In the time he’s been with the ECCW, he’s held every championship belt the company has to offer. Tonight, he carries two titles, one over each shoulder. One is the title he is defending, the ECCW Title. The other is the Canadian Heavyweight Title of the NWA, which stands for the National Wrestling Alliance, a group of independent wrestling promoters with over a hundred years of history.

Mike Sweetser, the NWA representative for the ECCW, recognizes how gifted an athlete Mac is, saying, “Scotty is one of the best talents we’ve ever had here in ECCW.”

“That being said, I really wish he wouldn’t break the rules so much,” said Sweetser, trying to maintain his character.

Warrant’s “The Power” plays next and Raines, wearing red and black trunks with fringe hanging from the edges, steps through the curtain to nothing but cheers.

By day, he’s an electrician. He’s also a face (a good guy, short for baby face) with a large following, and the fans are anticipating a match to remember.

Before the show, fans lined up around the corner, waiting in 2 ºC temperature for the doors of Bridgeview Hall to open. They socialized to pass the time and shivered in WWE hoodies, Iron Maiden t-shirts and Harley Davidson jackets.

They’re here to see some good matches, whether or not this entertainment is considered sport. “It’s 2009,” said Mac. “If you’re still concerned whether wrestling is fake or not or wonder if it’s fake or not or really give a shit if the outcomes are predetermined or not, then don’t bother coming.”

When the doors opened, fans paid between $12 (general admission) and $15 (front row) to sit on steel chairs for the next two and a half hours.

They’ve sat through seven matches and they’re ready for the main event.

Mac hands the prized belt to referee Bill Coltrane, who displays it for the crowd. This is what these two men are fighting for.

The bell sounds and the competitors size each other up. All it takes is some spit from Mac to get the match under way. A provoked Raines wipes it off and the two exchange lefts and rights until the brawl spills out of the ring. Mac puts Raines back-first into the steel ring post, but he retaliates, throwing the champion into a wall while shoving chairs out of his path. Mac seeks help from his executive consultant, the Natural, and they position a wooden table by the stage.

The Natural, 25, is the newest member of Chill Town. He has been the team’s executive consultant since his ECCW debut in May 2008. He is also a substitute teacher and coaches Grade 7 girls basketball.

He is a good friend of Mac’s and can attest to his attitude. “He knows when he’s right and has no problem telling people about it,” said the Natural. “He’s a little more humble in real life.”

Someone in the front row heckles the Natural at ringside, who yells, “Shut yer maaaouth,” a catchphrase associated with Mac and Chill Town. (According to t-shirts bearing the phrase at the merchandise table, that is the correct spelling.) It was originally used by the Ladies Choice, a former ECCW wrestler and good friend of Mac’s, who now uses it as his own.

As Mac climbs onto the stage, he’s met with a chairshot that opens a five-inch gash on his head. His blonde hair has turned crimson and blood pours down his face into his light blue eyes.

Wrestlers don’t often get split open by steel chairs and instead cut their foreheads with razor blades to draw blood, but Mac maintains the chair did all the work.

“I looked at how much blood there was,” he said. “They want to see us beat the hell out of each other and so I knew it was good for business.”

He later went to the hospital where he waited five hours for 15 stitches to sew the cut shut.

“I didn’t really have plans on going to the hospital that night, but, you know, things change.”

After the shot, Raines pins Mac, but gets kicked by Azeem the Dream, another member of Chill Town. There’s no disqualification as anything goes in a Texas Death Match, but Azeem gets chased backstage by Raines’ brother, MR2.

Azeem started out as a fan with a video camera who wanted to tape the shows. “Another guy was filming Scotty’s matches,” said Azeem, 29, “and did a horrible, horrible job, so I volunteered to do it.”

He went from fan to referee to wrestler and soon became the third member of Chill Town.

Outside of wrestling, he works for a company that installs beverage systems in restaurants, and like the Natural, he is good friends with Mac. “Scotty Mac inside the ring is phenomenal, great person, great wrestler, perhaps one of the greatest in all of Canada right now,” he said. “Outside the ring, he’s still Scotty Mac, he’s still my friend.”

Mac enjoys the ability to get fans close to the action. “The appeal for a lot of people is the fact that we’re in your face,” he said, noting how some fights find their way through the crowd. “Might even get some blood on you, which I don’t think is that appealing.”

The match heads to the other side of the hall where another pinfall by Raines is broken up by the Natural and Nicole Matthews, a member of Chill Town at the time. A bloody Mac stumbles towards the exit where Raines sends Mac through the double-doors into the gravel parking lot.

Many fans leave their seats and follow the fighters outside, leading to another highlight: on top of a dumpster, Mac drives Raines’ head straight down onto the lid. He scores a pinfall, but has to be dragged back into the building by his teammates. He climbs onto the edge of the ring known as the apron, pulling himself up with the ropes, but Raines’ pulls him down with his backbreaker finisher, driving both knees into Mac’s lower spine. As they reach their feet, Mac hits his own finisher, the Superkick.

The Superkick involves keeping one foot on the ground while raising the other leg at an angle and kicking your opponent under the jaw.

It’s like an uppercut with your foot.

Mac adopted the move from Shawn Michaels, but would never want to be called a rip-off. Being a smaller wrestler, he takes pride in how well he performs the move and how he can hit an opponent of any size. “I like to lay it in, make it look like I kicked his head off,” he said.

He hasn’t used the Superkick on anyone outside of wrestling, but he recalls one incident with an unruly customer at the bar. “There was one guy that was drunk to the point where he was falling down,” he said. “As I was taking him towards the door, he … we broke a table. I broke a table with him.”

“I make sure that they hit the door on the way out,” he said with a laugh.

Mac likes his wrestling life to spill over into his personal life; when other wrestlers hang out at his pub, he likes to serve up his specialty drink named after his finisher.

The ingredients of the Superkick (the drink) are top secret, but he has a humourous way of measuring how strong the drink is.

“They’ll ask me how stiff it is based on what wrestler I would give it to,” he said, naming two former ECCW wrestlers who represent each end of the spectrum. “The stiffest I think would be a Disco Fury Superkick and the lightest would be the Ladies Choice Superkick.”

A Memphis Raines Superkick fits right in the middle.

The fight returns to the stage where Raines lifts the champ up on his shoulder, just inches from the edge of the stage. Mac takes one last look behind him before both men drop off the stage and through the wooden table.

The fans applaud and chant “holy shit” as Mac and Raines writhe in pain on the floor. For Mac, the pain is temporary as his adrenaline replaces the hurt of falling eight feet, back-first, through something that isn’t meant to break. “When I went through the table, I hit the back of my head on the floor, but then that ‘holy shit’ took the pain away right away.”

Both men struggle to get up, but the champion gets an assist from the final member of Chill Town, Sid Sylum, who shatters Macs 2008 Wrestler of the Year award over Raines’ head.

“Much like Scotty, I’m a bartender,” said Sylum, sitting on a couch and wrapping tape around his wrist before the show. “Me, Dropkick and Scotty all work for the same guy, pretty much,” though they all bartend at different pubs.

At 21, Sylum is the youngest member of Chill Town and the self-proclaimed protégé of Mac. “He’s not quite as big of a dick as he is in the ring,” he said of his mentor.

In 2005, Sylum was trained to wrestle by Mac, who leads Friday evening classes at the Slam Academy, the ECCW’s wrestling school. The school is based out of a small warehouse in Port Coquitlam which smells of stale sweat.

Sylum leaves ringside and Mac grabs Raines around the waist, delivering a suplex. He keeps his arms around Raines, whose shoulders are on the ground, but so are Macs’ and he doesn’t realize it. Referee Bill Coltrane counts to three and declares it a double-pinfall. The match becomes a race to the ring.

They pull themselves up with the ring ropes, exhausted, each man pushing shoving his way closer. Blood drips in Mac’s eyes as he gets one knee onto the apron. He looks like he might retain the ECCW Title until Jessica, Raines’ girlfriend, steps out of the crowd and hits him across the back with a crutch.

As Mac falls from the apron, Raines jumps in the ring at the count of nine.

The bell rings. “The Power” by Warrant plays.

Memphis Raines is the new ECCW Champion.

• • •

A few weeks later at the Slam Academy, Mac sits in the office while a class of wrestlers perform the same moves over and over again until they’re perfect.

Mac isn’t bartending tonight, though he enjoys his day job for three main reasons: he makes good money, he gets to work with gorgeous waitresses and it’s not hard work.

“If my ex-girlfriend reads this, she’ll be pissed,” he said, “but the best part is the interaction with the girls.”

The stitches on his head are healing, as are the other bumps and bruises from the Texas Death Match. Despite the lengthy hospital visit that night, Mac is happy about how he and Raines performed. “I wouldn’t change a thing from that night,” he said.

He has a custom pink t-shirt with black lettering that reads “As Seen on WWE SmackDown!” He explained that he wrestled a match for the WWE in Spokane, Washington.

“I had my first WWE match in October, which pretty much just involved me running away from the Great Khali,” he said. The Great Khali is a seven-feet tall, 420-pound goliath from India who often crushes opponents with his bare hands.

Mac spent three days with the WWE, which ran three shows in Washington that month. Before his match, he was given an intimidating pep talk by Vince McMahon, the chairman of the company.

It also didn’t help when Mac accidentally interrupted McMahon mid-sentence.

Mac spoke out of turn to introduce himself and cut off McMahon by accident. With fear pulsing through him, Mac waited until McMahon replied, “I’m Vince McMahon,” and formally introduced himself to all of the unsigned talent. Then Mac learned what McMahon wanted out of the match and wrestled.

Halfway through his stay, Mac thought how cool it would be to wrestle full-time on an international level. He knows that the chances of being hired by the WWE are slim and has considered moving to Florida to wrestle in Florida Championship Wrestling, a company that many aspiring wrestlers pass through before reaching the big-time.

But no matter where wrestling takes him, Mac won’t stop doing what he loves. “I’m going to be involved in wrestling for the rest of my life,” he said, “regardless of whether it’s WWE or ECCW or whatever.”

He’s been loyal to the ECCW since his debut and if he never gets a chance at worldwide exposure, his presence on the local scene will do.

“It’s been a very, very cool journey.”

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