By ALEX MARVEZ Scripps Howard News Service 02-MAR-06
He has two herniated discs, damaged knees, a bad right shoulder and is unable to chew hard food because of a permanently cracked jaw.
All at the age of 32.
But while these injuries helped lead to the premature end of his full-time grappling career, Mikey Whipwreck said he has no regrets thanks to what he accomplished while performing for now-defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling.
"I stopped soon enough so that I'm not completely a mess," said Whipwreck, who is now a trainer for the New York Wrestling Connection school in Deer Park, N.Y. "I'm still banged up and everything hurts, but I can still move and play with my daughter. Twenty years from now, it might catch up with me, but right now, I'm hanging in there."
At only 5-8 and 180 pounds, Whipwreck overcame size limitations to become one of the most unlikely superstars in ECW history.
Although he held a full-time job as a K-Mart garden shop manager, Whipwreck had such passion for wrestling that he was part of the ring assembly crew for ECW matches in the early 1990s. Whipwreck then caught the eye of ECW matchmaker Paul Heyman while taking practice falls in the ring before shows, leading to a spot as a low-level performer whose ring entrance music was fittingly Beck's "Loser."
Whipwreck, though, began to develop a cult following thanks to his outrageous bumps and a series of fluke victories. An improving Whipwreck eventually won all three of ECW's main championships and even scored a pinfall victory over Steve Austin before "Stone Cold" joined World Wrestling Entertainment in 1996.
"As Paul and the guys started letting me do more and more offensive stuff in my matches, I would still sell (moves) to make guys look good," said Whipwreck, whose real name is James Watson. "Everybody had a lot of fun. It was cool. Nobody cared who was making money. We just wanted the company to do well."
Whipwreck couldn't resist the allure of a major pay raise when World Championship Wrestling offered him a contract in late 1998. Whipwreck, though, didn't hit it off with WCW matchmakers and worked less than a dozen bouts in one year before being released and returning to ECW.
"The positive was I got paid almost $3,000 a week for what was pretty much a paid vacation," Whipwreck said. "It paid for my wedding, I bought a nice house and I invested well. Working there was terrible, but I didn't mind the cash."
The financial windfall allowed a beaten-up Whipwreck to begin winding down his career after ECW folded in February 2001.
"I'm just teaching guys at the school and that's pretty much it," said Whipwreck, who did appear as Yoshihiro Tajiri's second on last June's ECW: One Night Stand reunion pay-per-view show. "I'm trying to stay un-busy."
Whipwreck will make a rare grappling appearance against fellow ECW alumnus C.W. Anderson on the Wrestling Underground: Origin of Mayhem pay-per-view show that will air throughout this month on InDemand. Other notable grapplers on the pre-taped card are Diamond Dallas Page, Justin Credible (with "Queen of Extreme" Francine), Nu Jack and Rodney Mack (with former WWE women's champion Jazz).
Stumbled upon this and thought it was interesting..I couldn't imagine not being able to eat solid food for the second half of my life.
EDIT: Notice some of one paragraph somehow got shuffled to another one.
I couldn't imagine not being able to eat solid food for the second half of my life.
What's the big deal? Scott Hall has been on the all liquid diet for YEARS...
It really is remarkable, when you consider the price of professional wrestling. It's a game with a small number of winners, a whole lot of losers, and an incredible amount of early deaths & long-term injuries. Not to mention no unions, no insurance, and no benefits.
It's a big reason why I don't condemn guys like Goldberg or the Warrior from walking away from it -- while they still can walk. If you don't cover your own ass & operate out of unapologetic self-interest, you will be destroyed... and I don't think that's overstating it.