OTTAWA – It’s common for brothers to fight, although most would agree that sending your sibling crashing through a folding table isn’t the healthiest way to resolve a conflict. If you’re Damian and Drake Styles, however, it’s just the latest development in an ongoing saga unfolding in Gatineau’s Canadian Professional Wrestling (CPW).
At CPW’s Mob Rules event in November, Damian attacked his brother during a match with “Paranoid” Jake Matthews, costing Drake the CPW heavyweight championship. Over the following weeks, the brothers frequently interfered in each other’s matches, often costing each other victories. The warring siblings finally squared off for the first time on Dec. 27 at CPW’s Reincarnation 2 event, battling to a time-limit draw. Even an extra five minutes granted by CPW promoter Gino Brito failed to produce a clear winner, as both men were counted out.
Despite pummeling each other with reckless abandon inside the squared circle, Damian and Drake are the best of friends outside of it. Known to their family and friends as Dean and Dave Danis, the brothers have never once resorted to physical violence to resolve conflicts, says older brother Dean (Damian Styles).
“We have never, ever been in a fight. We’ve beat the crap out of each other in the last few years more than anything, but we have never, ever fought,” laughed Dean. “We’ve never hit each other. We shoot straight. When we’ve got something to say, we say it. We don’t hold anything back and we talk about it.”
Growing up, the brothers were not big wrestling fans. Dean admits that he watched wrestling on-and-off while growing up, especially his favourite grappler, the Ultimate Warrior. When the Warrior disappeared, so do Dean’s interest in wrestling.
“I always joked around with Dave about being a tag team and wearing the belts when we were younger, but then life took over,” said Dean. “Then the opportunity presented itself a few years back. Basically, it was just a shot in the dark. It came out of nowhere.”
That shot in the dark was fired during one of Dave’s floor hockey games two years ago. The goaltender, noticing Dave’s size and athletic ability, asked if he’d like to be a professional wrestler. When Dave replied that he hadn’t really thought about it, the goaltender mentioned that his father, Rene Bastien, had recently opened a professional wrestling school and was looking for students. That night, Dean and Dave excitedly discussed the idea and decided to check out the CPW training facility.
“We walked in there the first day and the guys were bumping and Dean and I looked over at each other and said, ‘do we really want to do this?’ But, I think we can count on our hands and toes the number of days we’ve missed training since then,” said Dave.
That dedication impressed their trainer, Wayne Cryderman, who has seen his share of wannabes over the past decade.
“Basically, they were like everybody else that was around there. They just were pretty overwhelmed with what was thrown at them as far as what they hadn’t been taught before,” said Cryderman. “But they were two of the most receptive to wanting to learn of anybody and they haven’t missed a practice since. That’s really the difference between whether you’re going to be successful and whether you’re not.”
The brothers are quick to praise Cryderman for his role in their development over the past two years.
“When we first started, we were trained by Tommy Blade for about three months. Then Wayne came into the picture,” said Dean. “I don’t have a word to describe it. It was an education. There’s nothing we do in the ring that just comes out of nowhere. There’s a reason behind everything. I think the biggest thing he taught us was the psychology of wrestling. That was something that helped us develop to where we are as characters.”
“It’s night and day, dark and light,” agreed Dave. “You don’t learn something just because that’s the way it’s done. You learn something and understand the how’s and why’s and when’s. There are no random moves. As far as everything else, what we’ve learned about the business through this man, we couldn’t learn that in ten years.”
Reaping the benefits of Cryderman’s years in the business is especially important to the brothers because Dean, 36, and Dave, 32, realize that time isn’t exactly on their side.
“There’s no set window of opportunity, but I’m pressing, I’m ready to go,” said Dave. “You only have one chance to make a first impression. If you’re not ready physically, mentally, and emotionally, if you’re not on your game 100 per cent, and you can’t make that impression right and make an impact on somebody, then you’ve wasted your time.”
Despite being older than some of their peers, Dean and Dave’s chances of making it are the same as everyone else’s, says Cryderman.
“If you can make somebody money, it doesn’t matter how old you are. That’s the key,” said Cryderman. “They’ve got the type of look and as long as they stay with the kind of attitude they have, they’re going to have as good a shot as anybody.”
Undoubtedly, the brothers look the part of superstars with their chiseled physiques, a product of many years of bodybuilding. Dean took up bodybuilding more than two decades ago, competing in 24 competitions and placing at the provincial level. During this time, Dave would occasionally work out with his older brother, but began training seriously about seven years ago.
“I didn’t have to go through any of the learning curves he did. It’s the same genetics; different bodies, but same genetics. He figured out what works,” said Dave.
The brothers are now starting to turn heads with their in-ring performances. They have been in contact with Tommy Dreamer and are in the midst of preparing a package to send to WWE brass. While both Dean and Dave realize that few travel the road to Stamford, CT, they remain optimistic about their chances.
“They want to see what we have. It looks positive but, again, these guys do this on a regular basis. It’s just a matter of getting the right person or getting the right combination of what they want to see,” said Dave. “I think we have a better than average chance simply because of the fact that bodybuilding isn’t something we started doing as wrestlers; it’s something we did beyond wrestling. With the training we received from Wayne, we also have an advantage because most people don’t how many ways there are to do a hammerlock, or even how to apply a hammerlock properly. Given that we have a couple of different things that we can go with, I think our chances are good.”
While Cryderman admits the odds of anyone competing in a WWE ring are slim, he doesn’t write off his students’ chances.
“Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having the right look at the right time. You’ve got to remember that the wrestling business is such a small business. There are only about 60 guys that you see on TV regularly. The realism of what we’re doing is the percentage of people who actually make it is very small,” said Cryderman. “You’ll never be the biggest guy in wrestling, you’ll never be the best wrestler, but you can understand it a lot better than most. That’ll put you in a small circle of people to choose from. That’s when your opportunities are going to become great in this business.”