It’s minutes before the opening bell for the first All-Star Wrestling card in London, Ontario, and Tyson Dux is excited — and not just because he is about to win the ASW Canadian Wrestling Championship. He’s also gotten a break into TNA.
Already a familiar name on the Ontario indy scene, Dux is scheduled to begin working dates for TNA and there’s no need to ask him if he’s looking forward to it.
“I’m really excited about working with TNA. I feel as though that’s where I want to be,” Dux told SLAM! Wrestling. “I think that’s going to be a lot of fun. I just want to have fun. I would like… people to remember me just a little bit. I would just like to have some more fun and do what I kinda want to do. I came back (from the injury) with the intention of doing what I wanted to do, having fun and doing it the way I feel would work.”
Dux goes on to explain that “I’m going for their World Cup, the World X Cup. There’s four teams, Team USA, Team Canada. Team Canada comprises of me, Eric Young, Petey Williams and Johnny Devine, which is wonderful because I didn’t want to take anybody’s spot, and I’m not. I’m just coming in for the tournament, but we don’t know where it’s gonna go from there. There’s already been talk of three more dates in June, which may happen, may not, because you know wrestling, the way it is, but what I enjoy is the thought that I am going to be a part of that.”
“I get to work with one of the legends,” Dux reveals, “Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, is going to be there, and a bunch of Japanese guys. Puma is going to be there. There’s going to be a Mexican team as well, and I just look forward to going down there and having a good time, getting together with Terry again and hopefully having some good programs and having some good, fun matches…I’m really excited.”
There’s a bittersweet irony in Dux facing Liger during his run in TNA, since Dux believes that a match featuring Liger may be what sparked Dux’s interest in becoming part of the wrestling industry. “One of the first matches as a kid I watched was for an old thing called ‘Wrestling Plus’, that was a cable network thing that would show wrestling from every territory (possibly TSN’s Pro Wrestling Plus with Ed Whalen),” Dux remembers fondly, “They showed a match from NWA when they had a tag tournament (match) between Leo Burke and Chris Benoit against Jushin Liger and, it’s insulting but I can’t remember who his partner was. I was like five years old. I can remember Chris Benoit and Jushin Liger being in the ring and watching that for the first time. Just blew me away. It was such a big deal as a kid to see Jushin Liger do a spring board that had never been seen before and Benoit being as sickly intense as he was even back then as a kid. I think that was it. Jushin Liger and Benoit really planted a seed with that.”
The enthusiasm that Dux now shows about his career and future in the wrestling industry is a far cry from where he found himself just two years ago. For most wrestlers, a chance to work a WWE dark match or TV taping is a dream come true, a major stop on the road to wrestling stardom but Dux now recalls how one such match, a March 2004 bout against Mark Jindrak, almost spelled the end of his career.
“We got in there and as soon as I locked up with him, I knew things were wrong. I could see that he was a deer in the headlights,” Dux remembers, “I was going to have fun. We had a great little match, a great little program set up. It was going to be excellent. It was going to be a really good little shine for him, because it was his first night on Smackdown and he was nervous about it. I was going to put him over huge, but in the meantime I had some really nice stuff for that planned, and as soon as we locked up, he tightened up and I could see in his eyes that he was like a deer in the headlights and things were not going to go as smoothly as I thought.”
Things didn’t improve as the match progressed. Dux remembers that “I got dropkicked to the outside. When he threw me back in, I clipped my feet on the apron, that hurt. And then when he came and got me he said ‘Take a real hard buckle.’ So when he sent me in, it was an unbelievable amount of force. And I couldn’t turn around and I didn’t want to take it on my chest because it was so fast that by the time I chose to turn and pivot to hit the buckle with my back, which isn’t a treat to take anyways, I couldn’t make the pivot. The canvas buckled up, bunched up and you could hear a pop and I knew I was done.”
The knee injury cost him a chance to work the 2004 ECWA Super Eight tournament (won by Christopher Daniels, although he was able to return and compete in the 2005 tournament (won by Petey Williams). But the chance to compete in the 2005 tournament actually turned out to be a hindrance to his comeback from the injury as Dux was defeated in the first round by J.J. Perez.
“I was disappointed because I wanted to be a part of the first one (2004),” Dux says, “Psychologically, I wasn’t ready for the second one. I wasn’t in a good place in the second one. I enjoyed the crew from the first one. I was really looking forward to it because I liked Psichosis…See, I’m still a mark, so I enjoy Christopher Daniels and I was looking forward to working those guys. Not to say anything against anybody in Super 8 my year but my knee still wasn’t a hundred percent. Things had totally come to a halt with the WWE and I was totally at the end of my rope.
“After Super 8, I retired, I tried to retire,” Dux admits, “I cancelled many bookings from after Super 8, so after April, I did one Border City show, and then I pretty much went on a hiatus until after Christmas.”
It would be the young wrestlers that Dux was training that brought him back from the brink of retirement. “I train kids at the Border City Wrestling gym, that’s still open. They brought me back, their enthusiasm and their willingness to learn showed me why I got into it in the first place. That’s what brought me back.”
Not only did his students bring him back to active competition, but training them gave Dux an idea of the road he’d like to travel when his career is finally over. “I’ve thought about (becoming a trainer) because I enjoy training. I always thought about (WWE) in that aspect. If I had a career with the Fed, I’d only want to do it until I got my name established and then I wanted to start training, down in OVW because I feel as though my heart is into it. I enjoy enthusiasm, the way I used to feel. I like to relive when I first got into the ring and bumped around and learned stuff and put on a good match. When you get your first good match, you really feel something. It’s like a drug.”
“Working for the WWE would be for a lot of people a highlight. It was a big deal, it was a great deal but I feel as though a highlight would be, for me, is now seeing the kids that I worked with and that I helped train or helped put a little bit of input into,” reveals Dux. “I feel that’s a highlight: to watch them and see them grow and become tremendous workers, like ten times better than me, ten times the worker that I am, watching these guys perform because it’s just uncanny. I have two more kids out of Border City. I trained a bunch of kids of out Border City…and I got two more kids that I really put a lot of input into and they’re going to be tremendous. I really think that’s my highlight, seeing the next step, the next generation move on.”
Dux hopes that he can help younger wrestlers avoid being taken advantage of the way he was when he started at the tender age of 18. “I was naive and got taken advantage of when I started, really bad,” Dux remembers. “I worked for about two years for free, didn’t make any money (and) didn’t think I was good enough…to make money, and just got beat up a lot.”
Dux, a native of New Brunswick, came to Ontario for wrestling school, but won’t name the school. “The only thing that was good out of that was that…they would let guys in that knew something. Christian was there, Edge at the time. Before they made it, they were there.”
“I was just a kid,” Dux says of his wrestling debut, “I wore red karate pants. I wore a mask. My name was El Tigre, Jr. It was in Orillia, up there in front of, I’d say, 200 people. Jack Damage got into wrestling (after) he watched that show. I worked my buddy at the time, from Australia, Campbell Thompson. We just beat the piss out of each other. We were so nervous was that the only way we could settle down was we just beat the crap out of each other. That was in October of the year I started, so it’s 96-97. I started training in August, I had my first match in October.”
His first major gimmick, however, was the Muay Thai Kid. “(As a kid), I always had a thing for martial arts. It was spur of the moment. I had no name. I just did the Tigre thing for one night. The next night we didn’t have the hood available, so they said ‘Well we gotta give you a name…what kind of martial arts do you take?’ I said ‘Japanese karate. I took some Muay Thai kickboxing” so they said ‘Let’s go with that. Muay Thai Kid’. Everybody was a kid…”
In retrospect, however, Dux believes that his early experiences may have had its positives. “I think it seasoned me quite well and I can help the new kids…I want to help them get better, so it’s been an asset for me to go the road less chosen.”
Dux continued down that road and eventually met up with some wrestlers who helped him further his training. “Joe Legend was a huge contribution,” Dux notes, “and then from there, Scott D’Amore and then Terry Taylor finished me up, so it’s been a good road.”
“It’s like eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet of wrestling,” is how Dux describes training with D’Amore, Legend and Taylor. “You have guys from totally different styles. You have Joe Legend, he likes his lucha, he likes hard, strong Japanese stuff and then you have classic Scott D’Amore that is kind of modern and would work with spots and would make more humour out of stuff. And then you have Terry Taylor that has so much psychology and is so smart when it comes to the business.”
“I guarantee you, if these kids could listen to (Taylor) for one match, how much they’d learn would be unreal,” advises Dux.
Dux had plenty of opportunities to learn from Taylor, having worked with him extensively in Border City Wrestling. “I worked him for about a year solid. What a wonderful guy.”
But working with Taylor meant getting used to his unusual mentoring style. “He would never give you a compliment, which is the great thing about Terry,” Dux remembers with a laugh, “‘Terry, how was that?’ and he’d say ‘it sucked, Tyson, you didn’t do this, this and this.’ And I’d talk to Scott D’Amore later and he’d say ‘Terry just loves working you. He only wants to work you and (El) Tornado.”
(It was Tornado, who Dux helped to train and calls “my only best friend” who would give Dux his nickname of “Textbook”. “That is actually a creation of Tornado’s; (he) gave me that handle. I believe I was working him, and we taped a match. I gave him a superplex and after the superplex, I yelled out, because I was the heel, I said ‘Now that’s textbook. That’s how it’s done.’ And then it just stuck from there. He thought ‘That’s a great handle, ’cause you’re so old-school, just use it because you’re old school. You think that you play by the rules. You’re cocky that you do everything well. Just use it.’ We just stuck with it (and) it’s been my handle ever since.”)
Although he’s wrestled in several independent promotions including Neo Spirit Wrestling and New Vision Pro Wrestling, it was Border City Wrestling that Dux lists as one that really stands out over the rest. “Border City is where I really got my real good start. It’s where I got noticed. It’s where I met all the guys, like Terry, that helped me along the way. Scott has been a great asset, always took care of me. (Border City Wrestling) is the only one that hasn’t really died. It’s quiet now, but it’s still around. It’s the only one that has lasted more than ten years in Ontario.”
Dux made such a name for himself on the independent circuit that eventually the WWE came calling, asking him to work dark matches and B-level shows like Velocity.
“I worked with them on a part-time basis. I worked with them so much that they all thought that I was under contract and that they were just bringing me up from OVW. A lot of the guys thought I was an OVW kid,” Dux reveals.
Dux’s time with WWE also helped him to cross paths with his former mentor, Terry Taylor and Dux was pleased to see that Taylor’s style had not changed.
Dux remembers that “everybody would come up to me after my matches, like I had really good matches with Chris Kanyon and stuff. Everybody would be kissing my butt, except Terry. ‘Your punches sucked. You didn’t fire up enough and this looked like crap.’ He was like that the whole time so he was like a father figure.”
“I trained a lot with Arn Anderson and learned a great deal, and Fit Finlay and Dean Malenko, “Dux remembers, “We all got along because I respect them and they actually respected me because they enjoyed my work ethic.”
Dux also cherishes getting a chance to get to know a fallen hero in the WWE. “I enjoyed…God love him, I enjoyed Eddie Guerrero, I loved him to death. I’m so honoured to have gotten to meet Eddie and actually have a little bit of a relationship with him before he passed on and just the thought of him, when I heard that he died, actually made me cry.”
Eddie Guerrero wasn’t the only WWE superstar that Dux has high regard for. “I enjoyed (Eddie’s) nephew (Chavo); I still do. He’s a gentleman and a great worker. Matt Hardy was a pleasure to work…Jamie Noble and me put on an excellent, excellent match in Nova Scotia…Chris Kanyon…You know what? The list could go on an on because the thing was, I could always train with them. I was always in their training, so it’s like I got a piece of everybody. I didn’t like the new kids, working with them, training with them, but I liked the old guys. I liked the guys who were seasoned, who knew who I was. They knew that I come from independents and what I was about and actually had respect for me. I enjoyed those guys. Respect’s a big deal with me.”
TYSON DUX LINKS
- Sep. 16, 2016: Guest column: Smash vs Progress brings UK’s best to Toronto
- Sep. 11, 2014: Why Tyson Dux is the Godfather of Ontario wrestling
- Twitter: @TysonDux