From The Squared Circle To The Classroom:The Josh Prohibition Story

When Mick Foley soared from the top of his friend’s garage in 1985, crashing on a makeshift landing pad of dingy mattresses, he didn’t envision that those clips would make worldwide television over a decade later. Foley, the Long Island native who chronicled the flight from the residential home in his New York Times best-selling autobiography, Have a Nice Day, was simply emulating his wrestling hero, Superfly Snuka. As the future King of The Deathmatch penned in the pages of his first of several books, those literal backyard wrestling clips indirectly introduced him to the pro ranks, where he would go on to achieve legendary status.

Ironically, the same year that those primitive clips of Dude Love made television, another teenager was also emulating the grapplers that he idolized, and it provided him with an introduction to the professional side of the industry. Josh Prohibition, a Cleveland native with over twenty years of in-ring experience, was enthralled with the spectacle and athleticism of sports entertainment since the time he was a very young child.

“I have loved wrestling since I was four years old. Wrestling is my drug. Even when my body fails me I will always stay involved, it’s part of who I am and always will be,” he explained.

While wrestling was always a passion, he also had an enthusiasm of music, an avenue that allowed him to meet one of the most influential people in his life and someone that he considers his brother, Matt Cross, who went around the world as a truly international star himself in the time since their initial meeting.

“During my senior year in 1997, my makeshift awful band was playing a show at our high school and during our miserable attempt at making music, a dude in a straight edge hooded sweatshirt pulled a moonsault off the stage to the floor. It was at that moment we became friends. He and I shared a love of punk rock, we were both straight edge at that time, and I think him and I are wired in a very similar fashion. When it comes to wrestling, I think our styles matched up well,” Josh commented.

The two had a similar philosophy for wrestling and both often wondered what it would be like to compete in the unique genre. Along with their comparable mindsets, they both had a background and dedication to athletics. The graceful grappler that would go on to become “M-Dogg” had developed a solid gymnastics skill sets, and Josh was considered a top-tier baseball player in high school before an arm injury and surgeries that followed halted his prospects for the collegiate level. Without baseball as an athletic outlet, the two youths turned their energy toward wrestling, copying the moves the fueled their fandom, and using the static tones of dial-up internet to distribute their over-the-top maneuvers online, which unintentionally led to them being discovered as something more than just local Ohio teens in their backyard.

“Matt Cross and I really started getting into backyard wrestling. With each match we had, the action got crazier. We started filming our matches and putting the video clips up online, and that is the way we got discovered by the Backyard Wrestling Video series,” Josh explained.

At a time when nearly anything wrestling was pushed to the public because of the surge of popularity of the Monday Night Wars, late-night infomercials offered a glimpse into the risky world of backyard wrestling with wild clips from risk takers that also garnered attention through online clips.

Eventually, Josh and Cross wanted to take their backyard bouts indoors, and a scenario was set up where an actual pro ring held the matches as an audience marveled as local grapplers put themselves on the line, purely for their entertainment and passion for the sport. Ironically, John Thore, who would go on to be one of the founders of Absolute Intense Wrestling, one of the premiere independent groups in the United States and where Prohibition is currently a head trainer, organized the event. During the actual in-ring action, the unfiltered skills of Cross and Prohibition was noticed by the late JT Lightning, a longtime promoter and widely-regarded as the godfather of Cleveland wrestling. He saw the potential in the two enthusiastic athletes, but knew without the proper skills to protect their bodies in the ring, the prospects would have a short run if an injury derailed their progress. JT offered the pair proper training and they spent a year learning the correct techniques and the tedious process of landing on the canvas safely.

In the post-Attitude era of the industry, the independent scene began to thrive, as numerous groups tried to patch the void with the lack of variety among the American circuit. With the proper training, Josh and Matt took the indies by storm, working as their opponents as a featured match on the card or as a notable tag team. A combination of fast-paced and aerial action made them one of the most recognizable stars of their era, working for nearly every major independent group at the time, and appearing as mainstays for UWA in Canada, which Prohibition considers one of the highlights of his career.

“Traveling was amazing. Seeing the country and getting to wrestle in front of different crowds was a high that was indescribable. One of the things that made it even more special was getting to do it with one of my best friends Matt Cross. Besides that just having the opportunity to get in the ring with some of the best wrestlers in the world and being able to hold my own,” Prohibition said.

After nearly a decade of wrestling on an almost full-time basis, Prohibition was at a crossroads, not only in his wrestling career, but his life. Just prior to the publicity that put him on the wrestling radar of many groups, he pursued a teaching degree, an education that he paused when he saw the door possibly open for the chance to make a living as a sports entertainer. As is the case with any form of entertainment, not just the skills, but also the timing of events can be a determining factor for success. Prohibition was generally considered one of the most skilled of his era, but a spot that would provide him financial security was uncertain. Instead of waiting for the draw of the “wrestling lottery” as he calls it, Prohibition decided to finish his college education in 2008 and has since flourished in the teaching profession. As a social studies teacher, the grappler that has crashed through tables or hit a top rope pile driver, encourages students to hit the books, helping them shape their own education. Along with his contributions in the classroom, Josh coached sports, and recently completed his principal license as he climbs the ranks of his profession.

Another aspect that determined the direction of Josh’s path was his family, as he and his wife have two daughters, which he considers some of the most rewarding things in his life.

“I think it helped me recognize what’s important and not to sweat any small stuff. Wrestling stopped being my career over a decade ago and I can say I love pro wrestling even more when I don’t have to worry about it as a source of income. Now when I wrestle I pick and choose my spots depending on the promotion, location, and the opponent,” he explained.

Now with a family, his late-night trips with ECW original, Jerry Lynn to the famous arena in South Philadelphia were traded for reading stories or board games with his daughters, but Josh wouldn’t have it any other way, as he found a balance to appreciate the memories while building a life for his family in the future. Still, pro wrestling plays a role in the family, as social media clips show Prohibition teaching his daughter lucha libre arm drags off the couch in a comical combination of pro wrestling and parenting for them.

When he’s not teaching in the classroom, Josh still presents lessons in the square circle because as mentioned, he’s the head trainer of the AIW center, something he considers an important contribution to the industry as he helps others learn their craft the same way that he was offered pro lessons over twenty years ago.

Perhaps the most striking trait about Josh Prohibition’s story is that he didn’t necessarily “make it big” in professional wrestling, but he was undoubtedly a success in sports entertainment. With a reputation as one of the most well-rounded of his generation, his ability took him across the United States and even to other countries. He appeared on national video tapes and was also a featured character in the backyard wrestling video game. There are very few independent wrestlers that have such a lengthy list of accomplishments. At the same time, Josh earned an education and excelled in his chosen field outside of the ring with his work as a teacher. More than anything, Josh Prohibition proved that a wrestler isn’t limited to just one path, as he proved to be successful both inside and outside of the wrestling industry.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail [email protected] | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta