If ever there was a story that can be described as truly inspiring, it’s Anthony Fiasco’s. Wrestling fans probably wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Fiasco’s road to success has been a lot bumpier than most.
“There were a lot of people early on, who kind of wrote me off, saying that I’d either end up dead or in jail, just because of the environment that I grew up in,” Fiasco said.
Despite having to deal with all of the negativity, Fiasco saw a future for himself in professional wrestling. But before people get an idea of where someone is going, it is important to first understand where they’ve been.
Fiasco, whose real name is Greg Longo, had a pretty rough upbringing. He lost his mother to cancer when he was only a child, and his father abandoned him. Living out of a suitcase for most of his childhood, as he’s lived in cities all over the Greater Toronto Area, and in some pretty tough neighbourhoods.
“Because my mom had passed away when I was 11 and then my father kicked me out, I always had to kind of educate myself,” Fiasco said. “I’ve lived all over the place, but I have always called Toronto my home, no matter what city I’ve lived in throughout the GTA.”
Watching wrestling was really the only thing that brought a smile to Fiasco’s face at the time. It may have even saved his life, as most people would have likely given up, if faced with those same circumstances. But Fiasco was determined to make sure that he didn’t travel down the wrong path.
“Growing up, my friends were very inspiring. I wanted to succeed and just be better at what I do for them, not just me, and to show people where we come from, that they have a chance too,” Fiasco said. “Even as a kid, I always understood what I saw on TV. The wrestlers I saw on TV looked different than people on the street.”
After his mother’s passing, Fiasco was left to fend for himself. He knew that he needed to get out of the life that he was currently living, and find a better one. And he needed to do it as soon as possible.
“I wanted to join a reputable wrestling school, so I found Squared Circle, which was one of the top schools in my area. When I was younger, I used to call Sully’s Gym, which Ron Hutchison ran. But being 13, I was really nervous, so I would always just hang up whenever someone answered,” Fiasco said. “Because I wanted to be a wrestler, I knew I had to get bigger. I got my first weight set when I was 12, and by the time I was 16, I started going to a gym.”
All that weight training must have paid off, as Fiasco currently is 218 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame, which can only help him as his career progresses. And he eventually did build up the courage to start wrestling school.
“I started training around 2007-08 under Rob Fuego and Kobra Kai. They really helped me excel. I just picked up on things naturally. I was always safe and very observant. I would pay attention to the little things too, like body language and movement,” Fiasco said. “I think you have to look at wrestling as a business. I guess you have to be a mark to get into it. But once you’re in it, it’s best to treat it as a business.”
To say that Rob Fuego has an eye for talent would be a major understatement. He’s trained and trained with several former World Champions. Fiasco just might be added to that list one day.
“Everybody changes so much from the time they walk in, to the time they leave; you almost feel like they’re your kids growing up. I do remember him (Fiasco) coming in to check out the place a few times,” Fuego said. “He knew a couple of the current students that were there at the time. He was fairly quiet and didn’t say much, and we had a little quick conversation about him wanting to sign up. We started with the basic classes, and as far as I remember, he progressed pretty quickly and had everything down pretty easily. Sooner rather than later, he started doing shows, probably within a year or so of training.”
As heartbreaking as Fiasco’s story is, Fuego seemed more impressed by the fact that Fiasco has made it so far in the wrestling business, in spite of what he’s been through.
“I’m not sure if he was really encouraged by anybody to get into professional wrestling. So just by getting into it was a big step,” Fuego said. “Even when I was starting out, nobody supported me and nobody thought that I could do it, so that made me more determined to start training and basically get into wrestling. A lot of people have terrible stories, but it’s about how you turn out in the end that’s the most important thing.”
Fiasco proved to be a very quick learner. He was already working shows within his first year of training. As Fiasco’s career continued to progress, he was gaining a lot of momentum and had the attention of a lot of people in the industry, including Toronto broadcaster Arda Ocal.
“You look at a guy like Anthony and you really believe that he can beat people up, which is going to be very helpful for him later on,” Ocal said. “I also like that he helps pitch in by setting up the ring and promoting shows. He’s a very respectful and funny guy; he’s very engaging. Whenever he gets ribbed, he always takes it very humbly.”
Fiasco was making friends everywhere he went and he was quickly becoming a household name. But he wanted to challenge himself a little more, and so he packed all of his things and took off to Mexico, to compete for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL).
“I started to really fall in love with Lucha Libre, just by reading Jericho’s book, and also because when I was a kid at my grandparents’ house, they would always have the Italian channel on, which is the station that they would air a lot of the Mexican wrestling,” Fiasco said. “Moving to Mexico wasn’t really something that was planned out. It was more of a ‘Pick up and go’ kind of thing. The CMLL building in Mexico takes up an entire block. There are always people marching around with masks on, and in the arena, there is one side that would cheer for the rudos, and the other side, which cheered for the technicos. Learning the Lucha style is kind of like learning how to play the piano. If you can master the piano, you can pretty much play any instrument.”
Fiasco soon realized that it was not only this new style of wrestling that he had to get used to, but the culture itself.
“I used to have nightmares about the training. The culture was pretty easy to adapt to, but you would have to train from morning to night sometimes,” Fiasco said. “Probably the hardest thing to adapt to is that we couldn’t eat the fruits or drink the water. We had this burner in the place that we were staying, that we used to cook all of our meals on, and it was also in the washroom.”
Fiasco has been all over North America lately and after finishing up with CMLL, he was presented with another major opportunity; four of them, in fact.
“I’ve had four tryouts with the WWE over the last few years,” Fiasco said. “They’re very organized and they seem to know exactly what they’re looking for.”
The new WWE Performance Center in Florida might open the door for a lot of young, undiscovered talent like Fiasco. And Fiasco is well aware of how prepared he should be when his time comes, as are others.
“He (Fiasco) shouldn’t ever get discouraged that he hasn’t been signed by WWE yet,” Ocal said. “It took Ken Anderson (Mr. Anderson) about 4, 5, 6, 7 years to finally get signed. El Generico (Sami Zayn) is another great example of a guy who ended up getting signed several years later. Anthony shouldn’t look at this as a negative, because he’s still building his name and building his reputation with the WWE.”
Fuego agrees that Fiasco is in great shape and is highly skilled in the ring. But he says that Fiasco could use a little improvement in some areas.
“I think his wrestling is fine, but just like anybody, he can probably work on his persona a bit more; maybe be a little more obvious with it. You shouldn’t have to look at someone and say, ‘I wonder what this guy’s angle is?’ From whatever you’re doing in the ring or how you’re talking or how you’re projecting, it should be obvious to people,” Fuego said. “If you’re a cowboy, you wear a cowboy hat, but without the hat, you’re not a cowboy. I think he’s got to fine-tune his gimmick and just nail it. There’s the in-ring ability and then there’s the out-of-ring ability, which is the talking and the charisma and the persona. So I think he can work on his character a bit more.”
At only 28 years of age, Fiasco isn’t even close to being done yet. He works as a property manager during the day, but wrestling is his one, true passion. As he continues his climb to the top, many of his fans can look at him from down below and dream of one day being up there too.
“Being in this business has made me have respect for everyone that ever gets into a wrestling ring,” Fiasco said.