Interview with IZW Superstar Striker
by Drew Archer
“I'd much rather chase death than be chased by it.”
Striker, a man with over 15 years in the professional wrestling business and one of the few veteran leaders who commands total respect in any locker room he steps foot in, recently made his return to Impact Zone Wrestling (IZW). Over the course of a decade and a half, Striker has built a name for himself as one of the top wrestlers in the sport where he has traveled throughout Oklahoma, Texas and the surrounding territory to ply this trade. But Striker’s homecoming to IZW has been anything but rosy. Almost instantly, he found himself battling tooth and nail against another returning veteran in the Canadian Red Devil. In only a few short weeks, their feud has reached nuclear levels with CRD injuring Striker in a backstage incident that left Striker unconscious. The extent of Striker’s injuries are still unknown at the present time, but rumor is, the injuries sustained were significant and Striker is expected to be on the shelf for some time.
This interview was conducted last week before the most recent attack by Canadian Red Devil.
Striker grew up East of Lawton in Krebs, Oklahoma where his journey to the squared circle followed an unusual and inspiring chain of events. “I played football in high school. Wrestling is something that I always wanted to do but the pieces never fell into place. When I was 27, I met my biological mother and she used to be a photographer for the [Fabulous] Freebirds. She re-sparked my interest back in to wrestling. The next thing you know I was tracking down someone in Oklahoma to train me,” Striker remembered.
After gaining the know-how from Oklahoma icon and training legend Tom Jones in 1997, Striker set off on a journey that would see him stand across the ring from some of the all-time greats in the business. Throughout his career, Striker has won over a dozen championships and wrestled in front of packed arenas. Two of Striker’s most famous matches/feuds came in the form of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champion and WWE Legend, The Honky Tonk Man and WCW, NJPW, AJPW and IZW World Champion Big Van Vader. But to hear Striker tell it, all of the places he has worked and opponents he has faced have been one, long highlight.
That journey now brings Striker back to IZW, a place he is very familiar with and an old stomping grounds of sorts. “I have been a part of and around IZW since the beginning. To say it has taken major strides is an understatement.” Now with IZW airing live on GFL.tv and making international distribution deals around the world, Striker has witnessed the immediate impact of returning to IZW. “Oh man it's huge. We are exposed to people all over the world and at the push of a button. In the short time that I have been back, I have already gained exposure as far away as Dublin, Ireland.” From his memorable feud partnering with Nathan Sensation against the New Age Syndicate to facing world-renowned legends of the business, Striker has the battle scars to show from life as a pro wrestler.
“One of the major things people don't consider is the sacrifices we make when it comes to our families. The fact that we are on the road more than we are home. Our families patiently wait at home waiting on a phone call to tell them we are okay or what hospital we are in. Injuries are a big part of it. Even though we don't always take time off for injuries, I promise you we have them constantly. Managing our money is always a challenge too. People think we make a ton of money when we start out but that’s far from the truth. Its years before we ever break even.”
But luckily for Striker his family supports him 100% and he can thank his own flesh and blood for giving him his nickname. “When I was training I was trying like hell to come up with a name. I went through tons of them and nothing sounded right. One night at home my kids were running through the house and came up to me and said, ‘you will be Striker!’ I thought on it for a few days and the kids kept calling me by that name so I took it.”
Like most wrestlers, Striker has taken his fair share of bumps, bruises and breaks inside the ring. But he has also dealt with injuries and sickness on a level most wrestlers and for that matter, most people never have to worry about.
“I had to step out of the ring back in March 2009 after getting my face smashed and needing facial reconstructive surgery. After that surgery the doctor told me to never step foot in the ring again because if I got hit in the face, I'd be dead…I sat out until my great friend, Christopher Crow, died in a car accident in June 2011. I told his family I would come back to do a benefit show for them,” Striker recalled.
On the brink of returning to the ring in more than two years, Striker soon found another obstacle standing in his way.
“While getting my physical for my license the doctor wanted to check my gallbladder. While checking it, they discovered that I had renal cell carcinoma, in other words, kidney cancer. I ended up having four surgeries in eight weeks resulting in the complete removal of my right kidney and a partial removal of my left one. But in March of 2012 I made my return! I also had another small break from September 2012 to January 2013 due to hernia surgery,” Striker said.
And recently, Striker was involved in an explosion where he suffered burns on 15% of his body. But he fought back from that too. The one thing he couldn’t account for was the dastardly deeds of the Canadian Red Devil, whose unprovoked ambush caught Striker off guard on June 1. Striker has vowed not to let anything stop him in reaching his goals, whether it’s facial reconstructive surgery, kidney cancer, suffering multiple burns or even a sneak attack by a foe. Striker has come back from all of it and that spells bad news for Canadian Red Devil.
“Canadian Red Devil has been a thorn in my side. Constantly jumping me from behind and running from me. He can't run forever!”
When Striker finally does get his hands on CRD, somewhere along the line, expect Striker to go for his patented finisher, the STROKE, his trademark move since 2000 where he crushed an opponent in Hugo, Oklahoma and dropped every jaw in the building.
Among all the highpoints of Striker’s career, it was still clear from my interview he was looking for new challenges and bigger accolades. “I can see myself in the mix for the IZW Heavyweight Title before too long. I will never settle for just being another person on the card. I will push myself beyond my own limits to come out on top. I'm the old man of the group so I have to constantly prove myself to the young ones.”
Once Striker finally hangs up the boots, he still wants to be involved in the sport as an agent/mentor helping the younger wrestlers learn the ins and outs of the business. With the mind and experience Striker has for the sport, today’s younger athletes will do well for themselves if they take a seat under his learning tree.
Always the consummate professional, Striker was adamant on leaving his fans and the people that have supported him throughout his career a heartfelt, sincere message. “I just want to say thank you so much for the great and exciting last 15 years. You guys have stayed beside me through it all and have never gave up on me. You guys are the best and I promise anytime that you see me I will give you nothing less than 110% each and every time.”
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