It’s been said that a professional is someone who is always striving to reach greater heights. If that’s the case, “Midnight Special” RJ City can be seen as one of the most professional wrestlers on the Ontario independent scene.
Testament to his commitment to improve can be seen in the accolades that that RJ (real name RJ Skinner) has received from the local wrestling community, awarding him two consecutive Ontario Indy Wrestling “Most Improved Wrestler of the Year” awards in 2008 and 2009. Development of his in-ring skills was a priority ever since Skinner decided to get into the sport he loved as a kid.
“I always liked guys that brought something completely unique and different to the table,” he told SLAM! Wrestling. “Guys like Roddy Piper and Randy Savage. Whether they were face or heel, you didn’t change the channel.”
He would practice cutting promos like his heroes, and realized that he wanted to couple that with in-ring skills to ultimately become a wrestler. To that end, he sought out training at a few different places.
“(I started under) John Rambo at the NWL House of Pain in Maryland. John was kind enough to take in a skinny teenager, beat him up, and train me the old school way. In Ontario, I trained at Figure Four Wrestling in Bradford, and I also spent some time at Squared Circle Training in Toronto.”
In training, Skinner gained an appreciation for many other wrestlers and their styles, stars like Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis.
“What I liked,” he said about those names, is how instrumental they were in making their opponents look like superstars. I’m now a big fan of Nick Bockwinkel also. He was always calm, eloquent and intelligent, and that’s something you just don’t see today.”
It was looking at some of those “smoother” characters that Skinner found the RJ City persona, that of a lounge singer who dresses in a suit and croons Rat Pack standards on his way to the ring. A true fan of that musical genre, being able to incorporate that into his character is actually a case of life imitating art.
“It’s a blast giving myself over to that character every show,” he said. “I actually do break into song at least once a day.” As for his appreciation for the classics, “it’s timeless,” he explained. “The music I sing isn’t good because its old, it’s good because it will always be good.”
Always looking to take the character to new heights, Skinner even took the extra mile to record a CD. RJ City Sings the Classics is a self-produced disc on which City sings nine oldies but goodies, including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Downtown” and “When You’re Smiling.”
It’s all part of being a multi-faceted performer, he says, both in and out of the ring.
“A lot of wrestlers come out and brag about things they don’t actually have,” he observed. “I thought why not actually back it up? How cool is it that RJ City can extend beyond the ring so fans have something they can take home. It’s just a little something that adds another dimension to the character.”
It’s that kind of out-of-the-box thinking that he hopes will help him elevate his career even further. With matches under his belt for Ring of Honor, many promotions across Ontario, and companies in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia among other states, Skinner is hoping to earn even more of a name in the future.
Perhaps his involvement in his other ventures may help in that regard. In addition to an upcoming television project that will air on YTV, the BBC, and on ABC Australia, Skinner is current in the middle of shooting a movie.
“The film is titled Monster Brawl, and its an incredibly unique concept,” he revealed. “It’s a fight-to-the-death tournament of all classic monsters. I’m playing the Wolfman.”
With a cast that includes Hollywood names Lance Henriksen (Alien and TV’s Millennium), wrestling legend Jimmy Hart, and other local wrestlers Rico Montana, PJ Tyler, and Kelly Couture, along with UFC referee Herb Dean, Skinner is hoping that the film will gain a mainstream audience in addition to wrestling fans — and hopefully the attention of WWE.
“Who knows what something like this can lead to? But sooner than later, WWE will be getting a knock at their door. In the meantime, I’m glad to be able to entertain everybody who comes out to see me. And making sure every performance is better than the last.”