It is every athlete’s worst nightmare: an injury that forces you to step away from the sport that you love. For Eric Dawson, who wrestles as the Tyrant, the nightmare became a reality.

After just over a year in the sport, a match against Magnus Van Steele left Dawson with three broken ribs, a chipped tooth and a broken bone in his hand. At first, he considered the injury just a minor setback, and was back wrestling the next week.

The Tyrant

“It wasn’t the smartest move,” Dawson now admits, “because I didn’t give myself time to heal up.”

The injury as well as a nagging back injury that he received while playing football in high school, continued to plague Dawson as he worked shows for the New Jersey-based USWF. “It was kinda one of those sayings where I’d have to take a lot of pain-killers before I’d do the show. I’d take Tylenol and stuff and I’d get through it.”

Dawson also suffered a knee injury during a tag team match against the Darkside Demons in the USWF in Mussina, New York. “The Darkside Demons, they’re big guys. They’re an an American team, they do a lot of shows in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, New York State, that kinda stuff, New Jersey. The biggest of the two, he’s 6’9″, weighs almost 400 pounds, and the other guy is 5’7″ and weighs close to 300 pounds and these were big tough guys and it’s just one of those things that happens.”

“That was kinda the very final straw. My back was bothering me, my knee was acting up. That was kinda the major thing that took me out.”

“Even the promoter, Bob Bailey, said ‘Maybe you should take some time off.'” Dawson remembers. “The paramedics wheeled me from the ring, and I knew it was time.”

The pain of the injuries as well as some personal issues sparked Dawson’s decision to “take some time off, let my body heal up and it’d give me a chance to come back fresh, healthier. That way I’d have a little bit more longevity.”

Suffering from the injuries gave Dawson first-hand knowledge of just how real pro wrestling is. “I don’t think a lot of people understand. Even a simple backdrop knocks the wind out of you. You gotta be able to suck it up and get back up.”

It was recovering from moves like those that made Dawson realize just how hurt he was. “It comes to a point with me where I’d take a simple backbump and I wasn’t getting up right away. I knew it was time to take some time off, heal up a bit.”

There was also another reason why Dawson decided to take a step away from the ring wars. “My dad’s very ill, with cancer, so I wanted to kinda take some time off and be around him, just for that reason.”

“I started working full-time, doing the regular 9-to-5 thing, but you know, wrestling isn’t something you just walk away from. Once you start doing it, you miss it.”

“At first, I tried not to watch (wrestling).” Dawson remembers. “It almost came to the point where I would watch it, and I’d get angry about not being able to be there. It actually came to the point where I’d get phone calls from guys and I wasn’t returning them, just because I didn’t want to hear about how they were doing and how well they were doing, and about the business in general.”

“But it eventually fades. I guess in a way, I was bitter. A lot of guys that I started with, started training with, are doing really well. Tommy Twilight’s one of them, he’s doing really well, and J.Q. Public is doing really well. I can respect them. They’re tough guys in the ring, but we have a lot of respect for each other out of the ring. It’s tough to hear about those guys. Tommy went down to the States, and he did some stuff for Music City Wrestling.”

And it wasn’t just the competitiveness that Dawson missed about his wrestling career. “I missed guys that I’ve wrestled against, have a bit of a friendship with, outside of wrestling. I missed talking with those guys, guys like “Danger Boy” Derek Wylde.”

“Tonight, [I’m] running into a lot of guys that I know. They hear I’m coming back, and they’re happy for me. They’re happy for me know, but they know that the odds are, any time now, we could be facing across the ring from each other, and that’s when it becomes, you know, this is business, it’s not personal. You know, the name of the game is making money, and making it to the big time, and if you have to crawl over friends to do it, you have to do it.”

But it looks as if Dawson’s time away from the ring may be coming to a close. On September 3rd, he made his comeback in Oshwigan, Ontario, during a triple threat match from Championship Wrestling International organization. The Tyrant was back to his successful ways, defeating Reggie Marley and Prison Rules.

Prior to the match that would mark his return to the ring, Dawson admits to being “nervous, very nervous. Not so much scared. I even had a good friend of mine, who isn’t in the business, go with me and he even said ‘Geez, you look nervous’ and I was. I went out there, and as soon as the lights came on and the music started, you get that feeling. It’s a false sense of security. You go out there and you think things are going to be good and it worked out well. I was a little stiff the next day. I was nursing a mild concussion, thanks to Prison Rules. He gave me a DDT on the floor, kinda gave me a nice bump on my head here.”

Dawson took it in stride. “My first match back and I get a mild concussion, but at least I didn’t break anything, that’s the way I look at it. I didn’t get my head busted open, which has happened. I’m already sporting some scars for a guy who’s twenty-four years old. I’ve already started getting the war wounds on the forehead.”

“It was a good feeling, you know, after, I just kinda sat back and reflected and I’m smiling and thinking ‘Yeah, this is where I want to be and what I want to do.'”

“That was at least the sign of good things to come,” he said, “I’m booked to do some more shows with the CWI and I’m negotiating with the HWF, and I’m possibly going to be going back to the USWF.”

“Apparently there’s an opportunity to go to Puerto Rico. That’s where the guy is that trained me, (Glamour Boy) Shane Sewell, and I’ve always wanted to get down there, see my mentor, and maybe actually wrestle him. It’s actually a thing I’ve always wanted to do. We’ll see, maybe Puerto Rico, might be in the future. I want to get rid of all the ring rust I do have before that. It’s a big step.”

For now, Dawson is just glad to be back in pro wrestling. “I missed the business, and I’m glad I’m coming back. Hopefully, I can stay healthy, more than what I have. I was wrestling for a year and a half and six months of that was spent healing.”

Dawson is equally excited about getting back into the swing of things in the wrestling ranks. “I like what the HWF is doing. It’s probably going to be the top promotion in Ontario, so hopefully that’ll work out.”

“There’s some guys I’ve never met before, and I’ve watched them work. There’s some tough competition, like the Pitbull. A lot of good guys here. The Hollywood Hunks, I’ve wrestled against Jamie Jackson before. It’s good to see some familiar faces, like L’artiste and ‘Danger Boy’ Derek Wylde. Then you meet some new guys, tough competition, Tyson Dukes, and then you’ve got some guys I have wrestled, like the Anarchist, Tommy Twilight.”

“I’ve still got some connections with the AWA, out of the United States. There’s a possibility that could be something for me. We’ll see. I’m going to do this CWI thing for a little while, do some smaller independents, get rid of the ring rust, kinda work my way back up the ladder, and hopefully the USWF is only a month or so away.”

In looking back at his time away from the ring, Dawson believes that it was probably good that he took the time off, because now knows he can’t be away from wrestling anymore.

“The other good thing about having time off,” Dawson notes, “is that I’m a bit leaner now. I was working at 225, 230 (pounds) but I had a bit of a chub on my stomach, I was kinda chubby. Now, I’m a bit leaner, but I’m still up over that 210-pound mark. I’m a little bit quicker, which is good, and I seem to have more stamina, so in a way that’s a kind of a positive.thing that came out of it. I trimmed some body fat. Nobody’s exactly happy with their body though, so there’s things that you’ve got to work on in the gym.”

His father’s illness has sparked Dawson to succeed even more. “My Dad’s the one who introduced me to the business at a young age. He got me watching wrestling when I was like four or five, and he’s my biggest fan. I’d liked to accomplish a lot in the short time that he possibly could be around, so it’s kind of a good motivator for me right now. His fondest memory of his childhood was going to the wrestling matches with his parents, and that’s what mine are with him. I know he got to go to a lot of shows, last year in Hamilton last October, and he just loved it.”

“He even said to me, ‘I sat there and watched you wrestle in front of these people and I couldn’t believe that’s my son’ and I just hope that I get a lot more accomplished and I want him to see it, so that’s a big motivator. That’s also a big reason why I came back.”

“My better half, my girlfriend, she’s kinda iffy about this, and she’s seen the injuries, and at times, the money isn’t the greatest. When you’re hurt and you can’t go to your job, that’s what she’s worried about. A lot of the guys at this stage of the game, have to have a part-time or a full-time job outside of the business, because you’re not always making the greatest amount of money. Right now, at this stage of the game, it’s experience.”

“A year and a half ago, compared to now, the money is better, for me personally. The money is always better in the States. USWF, I have no complaints about anything like that. I’m not coming back for the money, though, eventually that’s what it’s going to have to be about, the money.”

A career in pro wrestling means learning as much as you can, according to Dawson. “I still got a lot of lessons to learn within the ring. A lot of business lessons to learn that I don’t know that a lot of people know that, yeah, it’s a sport, sports entertainment, whatever you want to call it, but behind the scenes it’s a business and it has to be run like a business.”

He adds that “Sometimes decisions are made that aren’t the most popular for the individual. I’ve put up with some of that.” Dawson declines to name the particular promotion, instead preferring to say that “I was doing a lot of things, I was pushed into a lot of situations that I really wasn’t comfortable with, but I was told ‘Either do it or you’re not working’ basically.”

“You learn from it, you become a bit of a shrewd business person,” Dawson notes. “You know what you want. You know how much money you want to make, and you can be your own negotiator, which is good.”

In the ring, Dawson likes to play the Tyrant as a heel. “That’s kinda the way I like it. My philosophy is I really don’t care too much for the fans, I do it for me. Fans don’t win matches, I do.” However, he’s not averse to positive fan reaction, such as he’s seen in the USWF. “Down in the States, they kinda took too me a little bit, and that was kind of a good feeling, but I like playing the heel end of it.”

Whether as a heel or a face, The Tyrant would like a rematch with Magnus Von Steele. “A lot of people, when they get hurt that bad by someone, they get kind of intimidated by them. I look at Magnus not as payback, but that’s a guy I would like to get back in the ring with and show him ‘Hey, you messed me up one time, let’s see what you can do now.’ I have respect for Magnus.”