Many people claim to have a tough path in wrestling. They fight and claw and scratch their way up the ladder battling injuries and their own personal demons along the way. Sledge, the Heavy Metal Maniac of Ring of Honor, had one of those paths. He fought his way up from rock bottom and is now out to show the world why ROH took a chance on him and why you should pay attention. We here at SteelChair got the chance to talk to Sledge about ROH, his recent string of matches, heavy metal, and much more. Enjoy!
As it’s your first interview with SteelChair, please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in wrestling.
“I started wrestling about ten years ago. If you guys don’t know who I am, I’m the Metal Head Maniac Sledge, and I work for a company called Ring of Honor. I started about ten years ago and am going about ten years strong.”
ROH often likes to talk about the more arduous journey you’ve had into wrestling. Mainly with addiction and demons. Can you talk a bit about how wrestling helped you deal with that and the thought processes that went into it?
“Yeah man, I’m 6 ½ or 7 years clean and sober. A lot of my addiction issues actually came from wrestling because I got hurt. It got to the stage where a lot of things snowballed up into my personal life, and when you mix it with alcohol and drinking, it kind of turns into a shitshow. That’s the best way to put it. But all those days are behind me, and I want people to understand that dark days come but won’t last. There’s always sunny days on the other side, you know? You can do anything if you’re willing to put your mind to it and put the work in.”
How did you end up in ROH?
“I ended up in ROH by going to a show. I told them I was here to help out and whatever they need me to do, I’m here to do. I caught the notice of a couple of the producers, and I knew a couple of the guys there. One thing led to another, and next thing you know, they’re asking me to come to Madison Square Garden. They offered me a try-out and a Dojo spot, and now here I am, a full contracted wrestler in Ring of Honor. For about two years now.”
How have you found working in ROH so far? I saw the series of matches with O’Shay Edwards and loved the no DQ match. How have you found working with people like that and within the company itself?
“Great, honestly. Working with guys like O’Shay, guys like Matt Taven, Vinnie, Mike Bennet, the list goes on and on. Jay Lethal, my coaches Jonathan Gresham and Will Ferrara. Some of the Dojo guys. You are literally in a locker room full of sharks. You really are, and you’re going to sink, or you’re going to swim. Right now, I’m swimming, so anybody they put in front of me, I’m not afraid of. I’m ready to rock and roll.”
What are you hoping to accomplish during your time with the company?
“To be the biggest star in the company.”
Any Dream opponents you’re hoping to mix it up with?
“All of them. There’s not a guy in the locker room that I don’t want to mix it up with.”
Something that’s always interested me is, there’s a lot of music-linked monikers. You’re the Heavy Metal Maniac, how have you found music influenced your wrestling and approach to it?
“Well, metal music is very hard-hitting. You’re in the mosh pits, and you’re getting very dirty and grungy. Hitting people and having fun. It’s what I like to do, I like to hit people and have fun. That’s exactly what metal music is to me, and that’s exactly what professional wrestling is to me.”
Is that the way to describe your wrestling style then, mosh pit killing?
“Yes, that is a great way to say what my style is. It’s very mosh pit, yes.”
What kind of tracks do you listen to to get you in the zone?
“Oh man, who am I high on right now? I think Tantric is really good. Killswitch Engage is always on my playlist, Slayer is always on my list, Pantera is always on my list. Ghost is good. Hatebreed is good. Anything that is ready to make me want to kill somebody. That’s the best way to put it, I’ll put it on.”
With wrestling coming back slowly, how has ROH adapted for live crowds and are you looking forward to them coming back?
“I don’t know if you know this, but we’re having a live crowd July 11th for Best in the World. That’s going to be the first time we have fans back live. Yes, that is a very stupid question, I am absolutely looking forward to it.”
How difficult was it to adapt to wrestling during the pandemic? With there being no people to feed off of, dead silence, no fans?
“I’ve done so many dark matches and things like that, and you’ve got to realise we’re a TV product, so we’re not always necessarily wrestling for the fans but the people at home as well. So, you just have to work the cameras more, that’s it. But yes, I’m still very excited about the fans being back.”
If you had a chance to bring someone into ROH, who would it be? Or people, it can be multiple choices.
“If it’s people I’d love to build a stable with, I’d love to bring in, one of them is Marty the Moth. He’s a former Lucha Underground Champion, and he is one of the best-unsigned talents out there right now. I’d love to work with him in the stable. The second is a guy named Izzy James out of Texas. Another very good, unsigned talent. As a stable, I feel we’d be this punk rock, heavy metal stable that I think would be fun.”
That would definitely be something different to bring…
“You’ve got Brody King’s VLNC UNLTD who has Chris Dickinson, Tony Deppen, and Homicide. They’re a bit metal. You’ve got Brody’s band, God’s Hate, whose band I really love, they’re effing fantastic. But yeah, I think we’d be a bit different when it comes to style. We’d be more punk rock, not really following the rules very well. Then again, they don’t either.”
Maybe that’s the feud we’re all waiting for, your stable vs. VLNC UNLTD? Especially you vs. Brody King…
“Yeah, a lot of people want to see that. Me and Brody have passed, we have gone down that road on the independents, I’d love to run it back on a bigger stage.”
The other thing I wanted to ask about was, you don’t just wrestle. You document. You’re a Twitch Streamer, a vlogger, and you’ve kept a record of your matches. How has this helped? Does it help keep track of what you’ve done, set new goals, plan ahead?
“It helps me learn how to talk better because I’m not a very talkative human being. It definitely helps me to talk better, pronounce my words better, especially being on Twitch and me doing a talk show, Coffee with Sledge. It’s definitely helped me learn to talk and do interviews like this a lot better than I could. When I used to do interviews, they were really bad.”
How would you persuade people to watch ROH? It’s making a resurgence now after a bit of a dip. How would you bring a relapsed fan back to ROH?
“If you’re tired of the hokey shit that you see on television and you want real, hard-hitting professional wrestling, watch Ring of Honor. Because that is what you are going to get, real hard-hitting wrestling and none of the hokey shit you see on TV right now with other companies.”
Despite the hokey shit, the wrestling industry seems to be more interlinked. A lot of companies are working together. Is there anyone you’d like to see work with ROH?
“That’s above my pay grade. I’m only talent and whatever they decide to do, ROH decide to do, I will back 100%. We have working relationships with a number of other companies, like NJPW. A lot of our guys work for NJPW, NJPW guys come work with us, and we have working relationships with other people. Whatever ROH decides to do is all cool because they’re the company that chose to have me. I love working for them, so I really don’t think we need another company to come in and try and help us out. I really don’t. I think we have some of the best talent in the world. If not, the best talent in the world.”
But given the option to have any dream match, with any dream star in any company, who would be that sort of person?
“Nobody off the top of my head right now. That’d be like, oh, I’m bringing them in so I can face them. There’s a number of guys in ROH I could work 5-stars with and love to continue working with.”
I actually like that approach. It’s very grounded and level-headed. There’s a nice level of dedication…
“Well ROH is some of the best wrestling on the planet, if not the best wrestling on the planet. Why would I want to go anywhere else? Why would I want to wrestle anyone else when I haven’t even worked a quarter of the locker room yet? It would be stupid of me to call out other people from other companies when I have a locker room full of sharks I’d love to step in the ring with and get into a fight with. Shane Taylor is one of them. Matt Taven is one of them. Moses and Kaun. You got anything from Bateman to Bandito. Demonic Flamita to Rey Horus to PJ Black. The list goes on, EC3, Flip Gordon. Why would I want to go after anyone else? I don’t see the point when I have a whole locker room there I can just step in and get into a fistfight with. It’s great.”
I can 100% see the logic in that. I’ve noticed you’re highly optimistic and positive. Have you found this helps working within such a cynical industry?
“You mean negative, right? How do I look past all the negativity to continue my success? It’s just me, man. It’s just how I am. I’ve seen the downsides of the business; I’ve seen the upsides of the business. I tell people all the time, I tell all my students all the time that the wrestling business doesn’t owe you anything. It doesn’t. It doesn’t owe you a damn thing. If you work hard and you really want to go after something, and you’re willing to sacrifice to get that then there’s nothing that can stop you. If people believe big companies are going to come to our doorstep, then unless you’re a big name or an indie darling, it’s not going to happen. You have to go out there and show yourself and show them who you are and what you want to do. To answer your question, I just don’t pay attention or follow into the bullshit. Honestly, I just do my thing and mind my business. Let my actions speak louder than my words.”
That exhausts my questions, any closing remarks?
“Make sure you tune into Ring of Honor television. We have the PPV, July 11th Best in the World. Follow me on my social media, Twitch. You never know where I’m going to pop up in ROH or who I’m going to face. So, if you want to see some hard-hitting action or see someone’s head get knocked off, I’m the guy you want to watch.”
All images are courtesy of RING OF HONOR/Mike Adams