The reigning DEFY World Champion Randy Myers talks to Spencer Love about pro wrestling’s influence on his mental health, the short-lived Matrats promotion, getting invited to train in the Hart Dungeon, why DEFY Wrestling means so much to him and more.

    Credit: Win Column Sports Canada

    There are few professional wrestlers quite like “The Weirdo Hero” Randy Myers. The reigning DEFY World Champion is not only one of the most talented in-ring performers on the independent scene today, but one of its most beloved. Few can encapsulate an audience quite like the Calgarian, who’s earned his reputation as one of Canada’s greatest exports throughout the entirety of his 20-year career.

    Why he hasn’t wrestled in Alberta recently:

    “Just because I’ve been living in Vancouver for the last eight, going on nine years I think. So, I’ve been out doing West Coast things, going down the Pacific Northwest and doing most of my wrestling in this area.”

    His love of DEFY Wrestling:

    “When I got involved with DEFY, it was at a point where I was taking my first-ever break from professional wrestling. I’ve been doing wrestling for the last twenty years, so I’ve been going, like, every weekend, (a) couple shows for quite a while. And then, it was a time where I developed some mental health issues that I’d kind of needed to focus on, so I’d taken a step away from wrestling. But, then, there was a big show at DEFY down in Seattle, and they had Davey Boy Smith versus…who was he wrestling that night? It was a stacked card, and I needed to go down and I needed to witness this live. So, I went down. I had heard good things, I went down, had some friends down there, and I was blown away when I saw the product. The fans were incredible, the actual in-ring was awesome, and just the vibe was phenomenal. So, I just went down there as a fan and was blown away.”

    “Then, Matt Farmer, who’s one of the promotors of it, we’ve known each other for quite a while. We toured a couple years, probably ten years ago, eight years ago now. So, we knew each other, and then we kind of got to talking. He sent me a message asking me if I wanted to be on their next show. Like I said, I was taking some time away, but I was so blown away and this kind of rejuvenated me and it got my heart pumping again. It got those juices flowing. So I was like “of course, I’d love to take part in your show.’ I thought I was going to maybe only go down for one, but then the crowd was so loving and embraced me so much that I was like ‘well, I can’t leave. They pulled me back in. It’s like the mafia, right? You try and get out but they pull you back in, but happily.”

    Succeeding names like Artemis Spencer, Shane Strickland and Schaff as DEFY Champion:

    “It’s incredible. Representing DEFY as a whole, being in that lineage of champions that (were) just named, it means so much to me. I can’t even really put it in to words. I (feel) like DEFY’s what I always wanted from wrestling. I always wanted something that was an inclusive product where you could feel safe as a fan no matter who you were, no matter what kind of place you were coming from in life. Whether you’re a freak, a geek, a misfit, a weirdo, felt that you were strange, or felt that you needed to change, or any of those things. (If) you ever felt that you were different, this is the place for you. It’s so embracing and so loving.”

    “To represent a company that is what I’ve been looking for for twenty years in wrestling means the absolute world to me, and means every drip of sweat I’ve had, means all the blood, means all the tears that I’ve cried, all the times I said I was going to quit, all the workloads I didn’t want to do but did anyways, all the gross cans of tuna I shoved down my throat, they were all worth it.”

    Using his platform as a professional wrestler in a positive way:

    “I was having trouble with wrestling for a while there a while back. I felt like I was playing a cartoon character, and I wasn’t showing all the aspects of me. I felt there was more. There (were) more aspects to performing that I wanted to show than just the greed for wanting a championship, or the anger of wanting revenge. I felt there’s so many other emotions and aspects and so many other sides of me that I wanted to share with the audience.”

    “Fans have shared stuff with me in the past, their true, personal lives. I wanted to un-crack that and start sharing who I really was and be the performer that I wanted and maybe needed in my youth, and the performer that I need still at this time that’s going out there and is championing these issues that are important. It goes beyond just the fight in the ring. There is so much more, and if we have this platform and we’re given this stage to deliver a message, IO don’t want to go out there and just grunt and say that I want this championship and you know that I’m better than you and I’ve always been better than you.”

    “If there’s any ears that are open to what I’m saying and it gives me an opportunity to get in to those ears, that’s what I want to do. That, to me, is the championship. That, to me, means so much that I could maybe make one person feel more comfortable in that audience.”

    How professional wrestling has impacted his journey with mental health:

    “More and more I realize each day. During this time when we have it off, it’s been hard. It’s been really a struggle for me, because wrestling is my therapy. It gets this aggression out in me, that fire, that energy. I look at it like nuclear power. If you can use that nuclear power for good, then that’s awesome and you can get that power out. But that energy’s not going to go away. It’s not just going to disappear. It can go – it can be led in the wrong direction quite easily.”

    “Wrestling is so much about control. It looks like extreme, wild violence at times, but it’s so much about control at the same time, and so much about consent, and so much about caring about that person you’re in the ring with. It’s about being able to get that energy out in a wild, frantic manner, but it’s done in the most healthy of ways. For me, when I first got into professional wrestling, I was a 17-year-old kid who was kind of lost and could have easily gone down the wrong path. But then, I found wrestling.”

    “I was at a point where I’d broken up with my first love, and I was really heartbroken about that, so I really wanted to do self-harm. Define professional wrestling, which was like a way that I could do a bit of self-harm, but it was therapeutic self-harm. It grew me rather than being destructive. It built.”

    Why he enters to “At Last”

    “I was working out at the gym. I like powerful, strong women to encourage me while I’m working out. That energy is what fires me up. I was scrolling through, and that song came on, and I just started moving differently. I just started feeling like I blossomed as soon as I heard it.”

    “I’m so tired of rap songs. I’m from the prairie. I’m a Canadian prairie boy. Everyone’s coming out to these hardcore rap songs and I’m like ‘I don’t know how you relate to any of this music.’ I don’t know if that’s your life, and If it does, that’s cool, I want you to come out to something that relates to you, but these either metal or hard songs never quite fit me. I was always kind of trying to find something that worked, and then this, Etta James just felt like it was so different, and what I want to give is something different, so it just worked so well.”

    Starting out at BJ’s Gym:

    “My first independent wrestling show was the resurgence of Stampede Wrestling that they did at the Pavillion in 1999. I went to that first show. I was a fan of professional wrestling before that, but that was when it seemed doable. It seemed realistic as something I could actually achieve. I had so many wild dreams as a child, but they were all sort of things that felt out of my grasp. Here, it was these people that were trained in Calgary, it was these prairie boys just like me that were performing in these rings. There was young people, too, like TJ Wilson and Teddy Hart and Harry Smith, and they were all just phenomenal. Then, I started watching Stampede Wrestling on TV, and BJ’s Gym had a commercial during the commercial breaks at noon on Stampede Wrestling Saturday mornings. They would say ‘come down to BJ’s Gym, I’m training all the young guys and they’re going to be the future of professional wrestling. I can teach them anything from moonsaults off the top rope to DDT’s,’ and as soon as I saw that, I was like ‘this is something I’m very interested in doing,’ so I went down there and checked it out.”

    “The first time I went there, it was beyond what I thought. I had never done anything athletic in my entire life before; in fact, I’d weaselled my way out of gym class by writing essays about sports. I’d go to the library and study on sports and write the essays on them. The idea of competition was always really hard on me when I was young. I was really, really in to it, and then I would be either the sore loser or the crappy winner. I never saw the good side in it. From a young, young age, probably seven or eight, I decided the competitiveness wasn’t necessary my bag. It wasn’t healthy for me. So, not being an athletic kid, when I went to BJ’s Gym, first time I hit those ropes I think I made it one-and-a-half times across the ring before I was entirely gassed. 130 pounds, and I was not built to be a professional wrestler athletically or physically, but mentally I was stubborn. I had so much fun there.”

    “At the same time, I was taking my first improv class. I had gone to improv class, because I was like ‘either I want to do improv, or I want to do wrestling.’ I went to improv class, and everyone was, like 35+. I went to wrestling class and everyone was like 15, they were all younger than me. So, I was like ‘oh, if I’m going to do this, if I want to do both, I’m going to have to do wrestling first, because I can still do improv when I’m 35, but I can’t do improv until I’m 35 and then start wrestling.’ That’s going to be a lot.”

    “Like I said, I was heartbroken at that time, and I deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder so this was a place where I could focus my obsession on something that was kind of healthy, and just continue to be learning and physically made me better. I also needed to get in to shape and wanted to clean my act up as far as being a person. I wanted to be a role model, and I realized this was an avenue for me to do that.”

    Beginning his training at the Hart Dungeon:

    “When I first started at BJ’s, I did that for about a year, and then there was the short-lived Matrats promotion that came through. Basically, Stampede Wrestling had run low, their talent pool had run low, so they didn’t have a lot of people on their shows. I was always going and supporting their shows. I went to one where there were only three matches on the card or something like that, so I started to bring my gear to the shows. I started asking Bruce – Bruce Hart, I started asking him, he was the promoter at the time – if they needed anyone, ever, I’ve always got my stuff with me. Like they say, bring your gear to every show, so I started bringing it. Then, one day, he was like ‘hey, we’re going to use you tonight,’ and he threw me in the ring against Hannibal, who was my very first match.”

    “I didn’t know I was welcomed in the Dungeon yet. So, I started doing the Stampede Wrestling shows and sheepishly being at these shows, tentatively going and doing my best. One day, TJ came up to me and said ‘Bruce is upset that you’re not coming to the Dungeon practices.’ And the whole time, I wasn’t going was because I thought either I wasn’t invited, and I’d spent all my money on Teddy Hart’s pro wrestling camp. My grandmother had given me a little bit of money for when I graduated high school, and I spent all that money for a lifetime membership with Teddy’s school. So, at that point, I had nothing left in my bank account, and I didn’t have the price for the Dungeon. So, I was like ‘I can’t do that,’ and then Bruce was kind enough to waive the fee and invited me into the Dungeon.”

    “I had to pay for it with my skin, whether that be chops or whether that be taking bumps or whether – they used to have a lot of people come through the Dungeon that were tourists that would be from wherever in the world that wanted to come see the famous Hart Family Dungeon. They would come to practice some times and then Bruce would get them on the mat to maybe throw some chops or maybe do some kicks to the groin. There was always one person who was volunteered for those, and it was me. I paid for the Dungeon, but in a different way.”

    A brief background on the short-lived Matrats promotion:

    “Basically what Matrats was, was it was a promotion for people under the age of 25. The idea was it was going to be a kids wrestling promotion. Basically, more athletic, kind of more the style you’re seeing in PWG today or any of the independents, even DEFY in the States or across the world. Kind of like a higher-impact, faster style, more athleticism, (and a) heavy emphasis on creativity within the moveset. There was just these incredible talents, so there was like TJ Wilson, Teddy Hart, Jack Evans was there, Rene Dupree was there at the time. Even like there (were) two boys by the name of Nick Nogg and Pete Wilson who were incredible (at) inventing moves, like three or four moves a day that you see now popping up and people are like ‘oh my god, I can’t believe that happened,’ and I’ve seen them forever ago. I was there the day the 630 was invented. Here we were, just like a bunch of rag-tag kids that Teddy had put together.”

    “There was a person named Graham Owens who had invested, because he had seen Teddy Hart at Stampede Wrestling, and was a cameraman I believe. He saw that the kids matches were just this different level and different style that could maybe really be harnessed and sold. So, he propositioned this show, and it was called Matrats. It was short-lived, but it was very almost like Wrestling Society X ended up being on MTV. It was like that youth, high-energy, MTV-kind-of-audience style wrestling show. It was really fun.”

    Eric Bischoff’s involvement with Matrats:

    “Eric Bischoff was involved. He was at the Palace show, which was my first live wrestling match, and he was also at another show that was actually the first time I ever took a bump on a show. So, yeah, Eric Bischoff was involved, and Jason Hervey, who was the brother Wayne on the Wonder Years, was there as well. At the Palace show, we had Don Callis (and) Mauro as the commentators, so it was phenomenal. Joey Styles was there. It was crazy.”

    Why the promotion fell through:

    “I think the idea of selling a children’s wrestling program, especially when you think of wrestling, especially at that time in the early 2000’s, it was kind of a dark spot within entertainment. There was a lot of deaths and there was a lot of negativity around it, so the idea of having children involved in that, I think, was kind of a harder sell than you would think. Especially with injuries and stuff like that, the idea of seeing grown adults hitting each other and stuff like that, consenting adults hitting each other, that’s okay, but the idea of children, it’s kind of blurry. I’m not exactly sure, but that would be my guess as to why things fell through.”

    When prospective professional wrestlers should begin training:

    “I think bumping is something that you should maybe give some time on, because you’ve only got so many bumps in you, unfortunately. I didn’t want to think that was true, and I denied that for years and years. I thought if you were doing things right, you were going to be fine. But, you can’t guarantee you’re going to do things right every single time. So, you do – I guess you have unlimited good bumps, but only so many bad bumps on your card.” 

    “So, I wouldn’t necessarily start with that at a young age, but you can easily start with amateur wrestling or weight lifting. Maybe not heavy, heavy weight lifting like some, but getting athletic, learning how to be in the gym, doing gymnastics, even some diving. Some of the best aerial people I know were divers as a kid. There’s all sorts of different stuff. Even drama and stuff like that, but then also building in pro wrestling and chain wrestling and stuff like that. I just wouldn’t do any major bumping until you’re, I don’t know, in your early teens. But, like, fourteen  I would say it’s okay to maybe do some crash pad bumps and go from there.”

    A potential Matrats reunion:

    “Oh, for sure. Hands down.”

    How important the theatre aspect is to professional wrestling:

    “It depends on which way you want to look at it. There’s some incredible technicians that are just going out there and wowing you with their technique. Some people are, like we’re saying, it’s all about a circus. There’s monkeys, there’s acrobatics, there’s clowns, there’s the ring leader, there’s all sorts of different creatures that build up the circus. If you want to be a dramatic person, then I think that’s important. I think it always adds. I think character is always important, but you don’t necessarily need to be heavy on the character side. I personally am, so it depends what you want to bring to the ring. If you want to be more that athleticsim, then focus on that. But, if you want more character, focus on that. If you want both, you gotta split your time, baby!”

    His attraction to over-the-top professional wrestlers:

    “Definitely. For me, Mick Foley (has) always been my number one. He always will be my number one. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to interact with him, and he’s just everything you’d ever want him to be and more. He was the one that was the final – I always think there’s one performance or one wrestler or one time that you’re like ‘this is it.’ You go from a fan, a superfan, (to) I just need to (wrestle). I need to.’ There was that promo he did with JR where he was kind of blurring the lines between Mick Foley and Mankind and he was telling some real life stories, and kind of showed the man behind the mask, as cheesy as that sounds. That was the moment that hooked me. He was playing this monster character, this sort of over-the-top horror movie villain, or not villain but horror movie monster. Then, to see that there’s like a person behind that, or that this monster could also be this sweet, caring, sensitive human was so eye opening for me. I’m a big horror movie fan, and I love the dualities of characters. That, to me, was the ultimate duality where I could be seen by society as a monster, but really I’m this sweet, soft, sensitive – it’s almost like the Quasimodo story, to a certain degree.”

    His relationship with Mick Foley:

    “I was fortunate enough to work with (Mick) in my last match, or one of my last matches, for the PWA in Edmonton. I was supposed to go off to the WWE, I had an opportunity with them in 2009 which fell through due to a failed drug test, but we can talk about that later. Mick Foley was there and he’d, and like I said, always been my idol, and Kurt Sorochan had brought him in. It was actually the first time Mick had ever done one of those speaking engagements, so I’d met him the night before at that and we’d all gone out for dinner. At the time, I was dating Lindsay Hart, who’s a niece of the Hart family. She got talking to Mick, and Mick and Owen had a special relationship. So they started hitting it off, and I was so shy. I was sitting at the edge of the table – normally, I’m pretty loud, but at this point I was just like ‘there he is, and I don’t want to make the wrong move.’ Lindsay encouraged me to come and talk to him, and he was so kind to me.”

    “The next day, when we worked together (and) when he saw me as Randy, he was very kind and had very nice words to say. When we worked together in that match that night, he was a special guest enforcer, we both got to lock in Mr. Socko on my opponent and his manager. He put me over online afterwords, which I wasn’t expecting. Everything I wanted him to be, he’s been in my life. He’s been an inspiration as a fan, he’s given me advice from a mentor role, I’ve gone on the road with him during his comedy shows and even done some comedy on the stage with him, so even from the theatre and comedic aspect of my life, he’s been there for me. You can hear the crack in my voice, because he means the world to me.”

    “People say don’t meet your heroes. I just say make sure your hero is Mick Foley and he’ll never let you down.”

    On his WWE opportunity:

    “I’d gone down in 2009 for a tryout. They were doing these tryouts where if you paid I think it was $1,000 and flew yourself down to Florida, they would have a look at you. I think it was 72 people in that camp. It was funny, because actually Hannibal was in that camp, too. So, he was my first Matrats match, my first Stampede Wrestling match, and then I had a match with him in front of WWE talent agents, so, weird.”

    “So, I went down to Florida in 2009 expecting nothing. It was the first time WWE had ever seen me. I just wanted to kind of know what they were looking for in a wrestler, and kind of learn how to train their style. To find out where I was lacking, basically. They had us doing promos every day, and Dusty Rhodes was there encouraging us or having us do promos for him. One day, we all cut our promos, and he went up and he pulled me out of the crowd to cut a second promo. It was on the fl. We all had time to pre-rehearse our promos, and at that time they were very ‘rhymey’, so they were very line-for-line-for-line, this word needed to rhyme with this word, so they were very orchestrated. But, then I went up and I cut a promo from the heart. He seemed to enjoy it and kind of put it over in front of the rest of the class. I was kind of – I still am – blown away by that fact, because it’s freakin’ Dusty Rhodes!”

    “The promo was basically about how there (were) a lot of people who want to be professional wrestlers for the fame or for the sex or the riches or whatever, but I wanted to be a role model, and how I had seen a kid singing Rey Mysterio’s theme song, even though nobody knows the lyrics to Rey Mysterio’s theme song except for this kid at the top of his lungs at a wrestling show, and how one day, that’s what I would hope to be, is to have my song sung like that. So, Dusty said he really like the promo.”

    “Then, time went by, class ended, nothing came of it. I was waiting for my performance review, which was supposed to come in three weeks. I waited three weeks, I waited four weeks, I waited five weeks, I waited six. Nothing came. I’m like ‘okay?’ I got a phone call, and they offered me a job. They wanted me to come down on a developmental contract. Again, I didn’t expect anything from this, so I was blown away. I finished up my Alberta bookings, made a big stink about how I was going to WWE, how your hometown hero is going to WWE.”

    “I ended up being pretty stressed out by it. Like I said, I’ve always dealt with mental health issues. At that point, I was not dealing with them. I was hiding them behind drugs, I was hiding them behind marijuana and just kind of escaping. Then, when I was very nervous, I had impostor syndrome, like ‘how the heck am I going to be what they want me to be? There’s no way I’m going to go down there and deliver. I’m going to f**k this up, I’m going to blow it all.’ My anxiety was lying its head off to me, and convincing me of things that weren’t necessarily true. You don’t know until you see it, right? My anxiety was trying to be a fortune teller, and I don’t know if I believe in fortune tellers at the best of time, let alone my anxiety.”

    “Like I said, I was still smoking pot. I told my dad. My father was estranged from me when I was young. So, I’d gone to him and told him, like, ‘Dad! I’m going to WWE! My dreams are coming true!’ And he wasn’t that interested. I think part of me was wanting him telling me ‘you did it, son! You did it! I’m finally proud of you!’ When that didn’t come, I think that added to my anxiety or depression and all these things. Like I said, I didn’t stop smoking pot. I was addicted. Then, when the time came around for the drug test, when they gave me the call, I quit then. It was like 10 days before, but it still popped in my system. They called me and told me that it was all over.”

    “That was probably a two-month run between them trying to work on getting me VISA’s, and flying me down for the drug test, and putting me up in a beautiful place, and renting me a nice car and all of these things, and then me getting the call that it wasn’t going to end up going through. I was crushed.”

    Rebounding from not signing with WWE:

    “I think the way that I stumbled into wrestling, or come to wrestling, was almost like a parachute for me at that point. Wrestling had become, like I said, therapy. So, when I needed therapy from having my heart broken in high school, I went to wrestling. Now, I had my heart broken by myself. I don’t blame anyone but myself, I went to wrestling again. It took a while, and it was hard to kind of man up – I don’t like that word. Let’s not use that. Let’s bootstrap it up! Let’s pick up them bootstraps, and go out in front of that audience. I had to make that decision: Is there too much shame in coming back? So, I came back, and the fans were really appreciative and awesome to me. If I hadn’t gone back to wrestling, I don’t know where I’d be now. It would have made me go back to that bad place. Wrestling has helped me so much over the years, and is so cathartic that if I didn’t have wrestling, I don’t know whether it would have saved me from wrestling.”

    Why the Weirdo Hero nickname resonates with him:

    “I think because I’ve always – I think was that Mick Foley, that first impression that I saw where I’m like ‘here’s this sensitive person who’s not what you expect to be, but can be the hero.’ It seems like so often it’s like Clark Kent, or your cookie-cutter, John-Cena style that they have be the hero, because that’s what you expect and that’s normally what’s cast in that role. I always felt like an outsider, or kind of felt like people were looking at me differently. Not necessarily badly, but differently. Sometimes badly, but sometimes lovingly. It felt like it fit so well. I’m a man of a million monikers, but that’s the one that feels the most in-sync with who I am as a human.

    Being the last-ever Stampede Wrestling Champion:

    “It’s pretty wild that I watched that promotion go through – and it’s gone through so many incarnations over the years – but I’ve watched it even myself go through two or three different bookers or stuff like that over the years. Being the Champion when it closed down means a lot, but it also means that I was the Champion when the promotion closed, which isn’t necessarily the greatest thing either!”

    “I had a realization when I won the DEFY belt, and I had been so excited about that. Then, this whole where we’re at right now came down, and I’m like ‘so, I become the Stampede Wrestling Champion and it closes down, and then I become the DEFY Worldwide Champion and the world closes down. Like, what is going on?!’”

    The full conversation can be found in the links below: