With Wrestlemania this Sunday and the main event being Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, I thought this would be a good opportunity to speak on my former co-worker Brock!
Brock and I have a history. He was involved in the 3 my most memorable WWE segments: 1) He F5’d Big Show, allowing me to moonsault and pin Show, which gave me a WWE contract. 2) Brock tied me to a wheelchair and threw me down a flight of stairs. 3) Brock destroyed me in my hometown in front of my family, culminating in 2 F5’s into the ringpost.
Just writing that out fills me with gratitude because all 3 segments were super intense and groundbreaking. It honestly feels good to be part of history in that regard. It was awesome TV. I think I appreciate my run now more than ever, it’s a very neat feeling. If you wanna see em, they’re all on YouTube I would imagine.
But, I digress. This piece is about “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar.
I feel like Brock has always been unfairly judged and misunderstood. This might sound kinda weird coming from me, but I absolutely adore Brock. Not only as a performer but as a human being. Here is a guy who was not a fan of wrestling growing up, but because of his physical attributes was able to “walk on” to the WWE and get pushed and promoted right away. When I was the road with WWE, I would travel with guys that often made fun of him for being a country boy and a loner. That pissed me off. I saw Brock as a guy that valued his alone time and would show up to work on time every day, do his job (extremely well I might add), clock out and go onto the next one. I saw nothing wrong with that. Who cares if he wanted to work out and eat alone? In WWE at the time (can’t speak for how it is now), it was understood that we all traveled together and helped each other out. That was the culture. I can see the benefits to that system. But if a performer wasn’t comfortable in that system, I don’t think it’s fair to ostracize and criticize. I respect anyone for staying true to themselves, even it means going against the grain.
But here’s where my respect for Brock turned to complete admiration. We were taping Smackdown! in my hometown of Detroit, MI. The plan going in was for me to wrestle Matt Hardy (Matt and I were in the middle of a storyline). I show up that day and the producers tell me plans have changed and it’s now me vs. Brock. Here’s what I surmised as to why the change occurred: Brock had recently turned heel but was still getting favorable reactions from the WWE Universe. I think the office needed Brock to ratchet up the villainous index so to speak, so they could move forward with their plans with a little less resistance or complications from the crowd. So I guess the idea was to bloody and mangle the most sympathetic character in WWE history in his hometown and in front of his family. And that’s exactly what we did. My mom, brother, and grandma would sitting front row to witness the massacre. By the way, if you remember the show, my mom cut a helluva promo before the match and her reactions during it were amazing. She was really really good and comfortable on TV.
I’m excited to work with Brock and we lay out the match with help from Vince and the producers. I’m excited because I know it’s going to be special and memorable. I’m at Joe Louis Arena, the same arena I used to go to twice a year to watch WWE. All of my best wrestling buddies are with me (Chris Hero, Nate Webb, Jimmy Jacobs, Alex Shelley, Truth Martini, and Brian Gorie were backstage. In fact, Truth tore the house down with Mortis in the dark match). The adrenaline is coursing through my veins. The match is fairly simple, but it’s very violent. The Big Show told me once that Brock was the strongest wrestler he’s ever been in the ring with. I agree. When Brock picked me up for that first powerbomb, I felt like a toddler being thrown in the air by his dad. Like, there was zero effort needed to whip my 150 pound carcass in the air. Check this out: there were supposed to be 3 powerbombs in a row, Brock only gave me 2 because he felt like my health might be in danger. Here was a guy who’s immediate future depended on how fucking violently he kills me in this match and he made a judgment call that risked his ability to get over as a heel because he was concerned about my physical well-being. I was the least liked WWE wrestler backstage. There was no upside for him to go against the script to keep me safe, yet he did anyways. That speaks to the character of the man.
The rest of the match went exactly according to plan. Brock kept me 100% safe the entire time. I put my life in his hands and he respected that and took care of me. I’ll never forget that. I think he was appreciative of me being willing to do whatever was necessary to get him over as a heel. Maybe because I was an outcast in WWE, he saw a little of himself in me, I dunno. Whatever the reason, we got along swimmingly and I’ll always be grateful that I got to work with him. He’s a once in a lifetime athlete.
Oh, here’s what he did AFTER the show was over. I got cleaned up and was hanging out backstage with my family. Now my grandma thinks what we did was 100% legitimate (bless her heart) and she’s P**SED at Brock. Like, she wants to fight him. Brock comes over to check on me and thank me and say hello to my friends and family. My grandma squares up to Brock and says flat out “I don’t appreciate what you did to my grandson”. Brock starts laughing, gives here a big ol’ hug and says “Look at him, see he’s ok grandma!” and totally puts her at ease. Brock didn’t have to do that, he didn’t have to check on me, he didn’t even have to keep me as safe as he did during the match.
I’ll always be Brock’s #1 fan.
Come see me wrestle live this weekend in Rahway, NJ for PWS (www.prowrestlingsyndicate.com) and in Marietta, OH for 605 Wrestling (www.605wrestling.com). A week from Saturday, I’ll be wrestling for 2CW in Watertown, NY (www.2cw.com)
Find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @ZachGowen.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.