Normally, within a 12-month period, a professional wrestler may have one or two significant accomplishments as far as winning tournaments and titles are concerned, but in the case of Kenny Lush he’s proving to be the exception to the rule.
In that time span, Lush has won the gold medal at the BC Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Open (BC BJJ Open), the WestCoast Submission Series, the 2013 Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) Pacific Cup tournament, the All Star Wrestling Trans Canada Championship — and that isn’t even taking into account that in the fall of 2012 Lush got married.
When SLAM! Wrestling caught up with Lush he indicated how hard the BC BJJ Open and the WestCoast Submission Series were.
“The BC BJJ Open was right after I blew my ankle out so I just had to tape it up and go; and the WestCoast Submission Series I was super sick,” recalled Lush. “I’m proud of any tournament I win, and they definitely rank as one of the top things I have done this year. A funny moment in the BC BJJ Open was when I had my first match. They called my name and I took my shirt off and I was wearing my pro wrestling singlet. Well, the guy that runs the tournament starts flipping out saying I’m making a mockery of BJJ. You should have seen the look on his face when he had to give me the gold medal. It’s moments like that when I feel I’m representing the art of pro wrestling.”
For Lush, the decision to start competing in catch wrestling and other martial arts came about a few years ago because many of the local professional wrestling training facilities closed down. He looked into doing some mixed martial arts (MMA) training to help with his conditioning.
“I found out about the Burnaby Catch Wrestling Club and started going,” Lush recalled. “At the time too, I was reading a lot about the history of pro wrestling and how catch wrestling played a big part in it. I started to get really into guys like Kazushi Sakuraba who was one of the best MMA fighters in the 2000s, and he was also a pro wrestler — he’s still in New Japan too! Plus, maybe I’m just old and bitter but I want to think pro wrestlers should be tough as &%$!. These days there’s a little too much of what I like to call, to steal a phrase from my buddy Kyle O’Reilly ‘grown men pretending.’ Nothing feels better than when I win a grappling tournament and the guys I beat find out I’m a ‘fake pro wrestler’.”
After the BC BJJ Open and the WestCoast Submission Series, Lush went on to compete in the 2013 ECCW Pacific Cup tournament that was held on March 9th.
The 2013 edition of the Pacific Cup had a great deal of competition including Ring of Honor’s Davey Richards, whom Lush faced in the first round.
“Yah that match was great,” reminisced Lush. “Davey’s about as good of a pro wrestler as you can get. That was my first match in a long time so I was a little nervous, but the match came off really good. My buddy Andy Roy even claims it was the best match he’s seen in ECCW in years and he’s picky.”
In the second round Lush faced the 2012 winner of the ECCW Pacific Cup tournament Bishop. However, interestingly enough, Lush actually faced Bishop at the 2012 Pacific Cup and knew the match they would have in 2013 would be a good one.
“Bishop is a really great wrestler. He and I are both two of the bigger guys around here — well not counting the super fat wrestlers — so it’s nice to be able to work him and do some ‘big man’ type wrestling, especially in the middle of a show like the Pac Cup where there’s a lot of flying around and smaller guys working.”
In the final round of the ECCW Pacific Cup, Lush faced 2009 tournament winner El Phantasmo, whom he had never wrestled before, but proved to be the easiest to work with; the reason why was because the two of them planned the finish of the match out, and called it all in the ring, which is Lush’s preferred style of wrestling.
“He was great to wrestle. We’ve had a few matches since and they’re always fun. Stamina wasn’t really an issue or anything; it was a bit draining mentally just having to go out three times to perform, but I didn’t get blown up ever out there in the ring.”
El Phantasmo had some choice words for Kenny Lush, the current ASW Trans Canada Champion.
“Kenny wrinkled my Randy Travis poster, hid my keys and pissed in my seat,” said El Phantasmo. “All Kenny ever does is stay at home and plays with his tits and looks at his #$% at the same time. I don’t give a dead moose’s last $%@! about Kenny Lush!”
In terms of where winning the 2013 ECCW Pacific Cup ranks in his career highlights, Lush said that it was a sweet moment as far as his accomplishment in British Columbia are concerned.
“Obviously, going to Korea and Japan are my highlights though,” explained Lush. “If I had to choose a top highlight for my career it would be winning the WWA tag titles in Ulsan Korea in front of 10,000 people.”
One disappointment that Lush had with regards to the 2013 ECCW Pacific Cup was that he didn’t have the opportunity to have a match with Ring of Honor’s Tony Kozina. However, Lush is hopeful that at some point Kozina will return to British Columbia so they can have a match as he consider Kozina one of the best.
Normally, after someone wins the ECCW Pacific Cup tournament, it is quite common for them to go on to win an ECCW title, however, in Lush’s case he went on to win the ASW Trans Canada Championship from Gangrel in a two-out-of-three falls match back on June 28, 2013.
As Lush explained, the whole situation simply came about due to ASW’s Michelle Starr texting him to ask if he wanted to work with Harry Smith to which Lush said “sure.”
“I guess Michelle was happy with the [Smith] match and wanted me to wrestle Gangrel,” elucidated Lush.
“It was cool. Gangrel was a dude that I liked from the mid-’90s Raw Era, which was my favourite period for wrestling. My Grandma was in the crowd too so that was fun. I’ve never held a belt locally so it was cool to finally win one.”
What made ASW’s Michelle Starr decide that Lush was the right man for the ASW Trans Canada Championship is his conviction of what a credible performer he is.
“Lush’s got a MMA background, an amateur wrestling background now, and he’s also a legitimate pro wrestler; and he’s travelled Korea,” Starr said matter-of-factly. “He’s everything you want representing you as a champion. So I can’t think of a better choice in this area to hold the All Star Wrestling Trans Canada Heavyweight Championship.”
Long-time friend and fellow wrestler Nelson Creed felt that Lush’s success in the last 12 months is attributable to hard work.
“Not many guys work two jobs and still find the energy to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to hit the gym and do Jiu Jitsu training in the evening,” Creed said. “He takes the steps most other people just can’t be bothered to, and that’s why he’s done what he’s done.”
With respect to how, and when, he started his wrestling career it all began back in 1999. However, Lush added that he took a sizeable sabbatical starting in 2003 until 2008 when he started a band and ended up touring full-time.
“I got my start in wrestling by being a smart @$# in high school,” said Lush.
“We had this class called ‘Career and Personal Planning’ or something where they wanted you to choose a job for when you were done high school. I was a class clown so I just said I wanted to be a pro wrestler and the teacher ended up making me do a report on how to become one. So I ended up learning there were a few schools in Vancouver that taught it. At first, I called a dude named Tim Flowers and he basically said, ‘If you pay me $3,000, I can get you into the WWF in a year.’ Even at 17, I knew that was complete %$#!. Then I talked to Michelle Starr, and even helped his ECCW group run a few shows in the small town I grew up in.”
Once Lush graduated he moved to Vancouver, but after the move learned that “Rocket” Randy Tyler was opening a wrestling school in east Vancouver near where he lived. Being that Tyler was Lush’s favourite ECCW wrestler it was a no-brainer for Lush to sign up to be trained by him and the rest is history.
Now, though, those days are quite a number of years in the past. In a few weeks, Lush will be defending the ASW Trans Canada Title against Harry Smith, which led Lush to thinking about what sort of mark he would like to make as champion, and who he would like to defend it against.
“Whoever has the cajones to step up and wants to fight me!” exclaimed Lush. “I’m hoping to do some travelling with the belt, defend it in some other provinces or countries. It would be nice to bring it to Korea and defend it over there.”
As far as Michelle Starr is concerned he would be comfortable with Lush defending the ASW Trans Canada Championship throughout Canada, being that Vance Nevada did exactly that during his tenure as the titleholder. All that would be necessary, as Starr explained it, is to ask for permission, and to be notified by the other promoter first; provided that was all taken care of Starr could see Lush defending the title on anyone’s show.
However, for the immediate future Lush has two events the week of September 22-28, at which he will be defending the title.
“I expect to see some of the best matches in All Star Wrestling history especially with him and Davey Boy Smith Junior on September 27th in Cloverdale, BC, him and Adam Ryder on September 28th in Richmond, BC, and in October him and Kyle Sebastien,” relayed Starr. “Those are some pretty incredible matches I think, that will have the fans on the edge of the seats for sure. I also think he’ll be a good drawing champion too. I think being from Vancouver, and the lower mainland, people will come out to see him as champion.”
Starr also indicated that there will be a rematch between Lush and Gangrel, the former ASW Trans Canada Champion, but that it would be down the line.
“It’s all up to Gangrel’s schedule,” explained Starr. “I know Gangrel is in high demand for every promotion in Canada and elsewhere. We wanted to bring him back here on tour, but he was unavailable. However, we’ll be looking for other possible dates to bring him back here for sure.”
Being the ASW Trans Canada Champion, though, isn’t the end of Lush’s ambitions. Winning the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Title still continues to be a goal, because as Lush explained, if he didn’t want to be the champion he wouldn’t be wrestling.
“If you’re not going to be the best then don’t waste your time, you know?” said Lush. “I don’t play Monopoly to come in second place! If it’s a company I work for then I want to be the champ. I want to have both belts and be the king of wrestling out here in BC.”
Other future goals of Lush include a desire to do some overseas tours and to return to Japan.
“If nothing pops up I might scale back the wrestling and work towards doing a local MMA fight,” acknowledged Lush. “I’d like to keep grappling and maybe one day coach at a gym.”
Lush has also competed in Korea and won several professional wrestling tournaments, but he admitted that he would like to go there to grapple in the future too.
“Next time, I’m out there I want to train with some of the Korean top team guys. I think for the rest of this year I’ll be focusing on defending the ASW title. The big grappling tournament I like to do in Japan is the same time as a wedding I’m a groomsman for, so I’ll be missing that one; next year hopefully.”
When he was asked to reflect on some of the more meaningful tournaments that he’s won over the years, Lush indicated his favourite one happened over two years ago.
“I went over to Japan and did the SAW Submission Arts Wrestling tournament” recalled Lush. “I was invited out there after one of my coaches, Mike Martelle, recommended me. The SAW people wrote me and we made a deal for me to go out there and then two weeks before I leave they inform me that they want me to have a fight against this black belt karate dude. I was crapping my pants. I’m a decent grappler, but I don’t have a great stand-up game. So I went to Japan and I felt like Frank Dux from Bloodsport, except I can’t do the splits, but I go to the venue and win the novice tournament.”
After Lush won the novice tournament the decision was made to have him compete in the advance tournament, but he ended up exceeding expectations again.
“I got bronze, but I had to do the fight quickly after that,” stated Lush. “I remember seeing the guy I had to fight. He walks in with his crew. He’s this big Japanese guy with a head the size of a basketball and I’m the only foreigner around. I’m starting to think I was set up or something. So I enter the ring wearing my pro wrestling gear and after getting kicked a few times I took the dude down and got a side mount. From there I stockaded him, which is basically a brutal neck crank. Then he rolled over and fed me his back and I choked him out. You can see the video on my Facebook page, but I put music over it because when I win I squeal like a girl. I was so stoked. Afterwards, there was a dinner for all the fighters and the guy’s dad came up and thanked me, which was cool; and now the guy I fought is looking at becoming a pro wrestler in Japan which is awesome.”
Yet, what many may not know is that with all of these things going on Lush, also, got married in late 2012. Reflecting on how married life had affected his professional career, Lush indicated that not much had changed.
“I dated my wife for nine years or so before we got married,” Lush said. “She met me when I was in a touring band so she’s happy I’m not away for half the year, but sometimes she complains about me training all the time. That’s about it, but I’m sure R Kelly’s girls complain when he’s writing too. You know how it goes.”
As the interview finished up, Lush was asked what was the one question he had never been asked, to which he replied, in his trademark good humour: “Who’s the hottest girl ever in wrestling?”
“The answer even today would be Missy Hyatt,” Lush said with a smile.
“Yo Missy, if you’re reading this drop me an email!”