Almost two decades ago, an obscure independent wrestler named “Sweet” Stevie Lee was on the mic at an even more obscure local event in a rural part of West Virginia. In typical “rasslin” fashion, it didn’t take much for “Sweet” Stevie to incite the audience, challenging anyone in attendance to get into the ring to square off with the villainous grappler. A surprise to Stevie, the ring announcer, and the referee, a bulky 15-year-old kid actually accepted the invitation and immediately climbed inside the ring ropes. Obviously, Stevie wanted to rile up the crowd to enhance the narrative of his match that night, not trade arm drags with a ninth grader so security politely escorted the overzealous youngster back to his seat in the front row.
The fan obviously didn’t lack passion for the sport of professional wrestling, the genre that blends athletics and theatrics to create an over-the-top spectacle that presents a unique live experience that sets it apart from other forms of entertainment. Just a few years prior to his unintentional in-ring debut, that same enthusiastic fan found himself suspended for a few days from middle school after he got into a physical altercation with a fellow student that wore a Sting t-shirt. He took any allegiance to WCW as an insult because he was WWF through-and-through during the famous Monday Night Wars.
You can’t say the fan didn’t have passion.
“I know this sounds cheesy, but when I stepped into a ring for the first time, I knew that this was what I wanted to do and that was chase my dream of becoming a professional wrestler.”
The fan that hit the ring and previously hit a classmate all in the name of the prosperity of professional wrestling was Wes Fetty, a big man that is known as much for his kind demeanor outside of the ring as he is for his incredible agility inside of it. Today, Wes is just entering the prime of his career and recently made great strides to expand his name outside of his tri-state arena, debuting for Warrior Wresting in Chicago for their Stadium Series, events that have garnered notoriety for their unique set up that allowed fans to attend live wrestling in a safe manner during the pandemic era. Known as the monstrous “Beastman,” Wes received rave review for his for performance there and is scheduled to return to the promotion this weekend. But, before he worked alongside international names under the stadium lights with the live stream of the event online being watched by fans across the country, Fetty’s journey was anything but glamorous.
From very humble beginnings, Wes didn’t have many material items during his youth and was often bullied at school. He credits his mom, who he says wasn’t a wrestling fan, but secretly still cheered for Bret Hart, for providing him a sense of stability in his early years. When some of the harsh realities of financial struggles or life circumstances became overwhelming, a young Wes turned to professional wrestling for solace from it all.
“Just watching Saturday morning cartoons then WWF Superstars and seeing Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and The Iron Sheik. As a kid, it was a real-life cartoon show, and I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Wes explained.
Fetty saw through these larger-than-life personas that beamed through his television screen as a much more thrilling experience than he had in the small town where he lived in West Virginia. After attending a few local cards around the time he was 18, Wes asked around about how he could become involved in the sport. Naive to the shark tank that can often be the small-time indie circuit where nickel-and-dime promoters look to exploit hopefuls to attempt to make a quick dollar, Wes attempted to practice techniques before the doors would open for a local event.
“Well, I started out the wrong way completely. I was going to indy shows, and people were teaching me how to bump, tie-up, and run the ropes. A couple of times I had been put in battle royals, but I was just a beat up guy. Little did I know, I was learning the wrong way of how to be in the business,” Wes explained.
After he went to college to pursue options in higher education, he resurfaced around his hometown, looking for a proper way to break into the business. He found a small-time promoter that actually had some legitimate connections to those that provided training in the sport, and offered to make introductions. The only problem was, a proper training space wasn’t available so a ring was sandwiched into a dingy garage without any shield from the elements.
“We started training in a garage every week for nine months. When it snowed, one half of the ring got covered so we stopped and had to clean the snow off the ring. We trained when it was freezing and when it was so hot you could feel the heat on the canvas when you landed,” he commented.
By 2006, Wes began working local cards under a mask, but even after a few years, found that things just weren’t clicking for him the way he wanted. He wanted more than just “being in the game,” he wanted to excel at this sport. So, he jammed most of his belongings into his car and relocated Shawsville, Virginia, a town just outside of Roanoke, to attend Jimmy Valiant’s training school in 2010. Known as “The Boogie Woogie Man” in his heyday, Valiant’s over 50 years of knowledge was a superb learning experience, something that Wes credits for helping to make him the wrestler he is today.
“I really learned about psychology and really got seasoned up. I truly learned the art of the hustle there,” Wes remarked.
With new skills and a sense of confidence based on the valuable lessons he learned, Wes returned to his home town nearly two years later and wanted a fresh start, opting to abandon the mask persona. To maximize the impact of his 350 LBS frame, he wanted to add a wild side to his presentation, and a combination of advice from stellar veteran, Jock Samson, and inspiration from an unlikely source started the next chapter of his career.
So, one night Jock Samson came up to me and told me I needed to be more like a beast. I was confused with what he was telling me until I watched ‘Ace Ventura When Nature Calls’ and there was a scene where Jim Carey was fighting a savage so I watched his mannerisms. I started studying guys like Bruiser Brody, Kamala, The Missing Link, and George Steele,” Fetty said.
To add to a mixture that only pro wrestling could produce, Wes took advice on concepts for an in-ring style from fellow West Virginian, Necro Butcher, who he traveled with because the two lived close to each other at the time. Clad in furry boots as an homage to Brody, Wes took the tri-state area by strom throughout the past few years, as he really found himself with the Beastman persona and impressed peers and fans with a solid set of skills inside the ropes. The right fundamentals meshed well with his natural athleticism, a trait that he had since he played football in his high school days. As the Beastman, Wes learned not only had to make an impact with his in-ring agility, but also to leave a memorable impression on the audience with his caveman character. However, despite a super heavyweight frame, a strict training regiment is still a part of his usual routine because he knows the importance that mobility is to his style and to prevent injuries.
“I’m always doing something active. When I work out, I’m doing more cardio than weights because with me being a big guy, I have to have good wind. There’s a mix of workouts I watch on YouTube and I have DDP Yoga to help with my mobility as well. I’m going to start getting into cross fit in the near future,” Wes said.
After six years as “The Beastman” Wes developed quite a solid reputation for himself, winning championships and working as a featured competitor for a myriad of organizations in West Virginia and also around the Pittsburgh area. From sparsely attended shows to packed venues, Fetty lodged miles on the road and late nights in the car just to get a chance to hone his craft during the time that he grew by leaps and bounds as a performer. Finally, his hard work paid off as a Pittsburgh native that went on to become a truly international star with runs in Japan, Mexico, and Europe, Sam Adonis, contacted Fetty about a possible trip to Chicago for the previously mentioned Warrior Wrestling.
“It was a place I’ve wanted to get into for over a year. Sam Adonis is a big help for me getting in I asked him who I would need to get in contact with and I sent them my stuff. Sam sent me a text one day, asking if I wanted to go work for Warrior. The whole experience was wonderful. The roster is great and the promoters are great people, and the reason why they are doing Warrior is such a great cause for their school,” Wes explained.
So, this weekend Wes will jump into the car and travel several hours for the chance to have some time under the big lights of Warrior Wrestling, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Wes Fetty wasn’t a natural talent, but that’s what makes his story notable. He couldn’t settled for wrestling a dozen times a year for some alphabet soup promotion that nobody has ever heard of in a town that nobody would recognized. But, he wanted more for himself and put the work in to make the improvements to achieve his goals. He didn’t idly accept his limitations, but rather he put the time and the effort into learning his craft, the same that has to be done with any other learned skill. He dedicated himself toward a goal and continues to make progress even nearly 15 years after he sheepishly put on a mask for his rookie year in the industry. Throughout that time, he became a polished professional, and cites a major contract as his goal in the business. If Wes finds himself on national TV one day remains to be seen, but the stadium lights he will be under this weekend are far away from the ring covered in snow in the garage when he started his journey in the professional wrestling industry.
You can follow The Beastman on Twitter @beastmanhusk
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