Many times your life comes to a crossroad. The decision you make can affect your happiness, your future and your career. For some it comes down to money. For Gregory Iron his happiness and his career were affected by a $50 decision.
On July 22, 2011, Iron visited his brother to ask for a $50 loan so he could get to his next wrestling booking in Chicago. He fretted over the decision to borrow the money because he was not even sure if he should continue with wrestling.
“I hadn’t been making much money and I kept wondering when someone was going to notice me?” Iron recently told SLAM! Wrestling. “I have a pretty unique situation as a wrestler because I am a wrestler who has cerebral palsy and I thought that was different.”
Iron received the money and drove to Chicago where he teamed with Colt Cabana. When he was about to head to the ring, WWE superstar CM Punk was waiting for him. “I was star struck,” said Iron. “I introduced myself to him and he said ‘hi’ like he already knew me.”
After the match a sweaty Iron was told by Cabana to stay in the ring. “The timing was perfect,” said Cabana. “I’m a big believer in human interest stories and an incredibly big believer in the underdog. A couple of months before any of that interaction had happened, I was telling the promoter of AAW (All American Wrestling) how I think if I put my stamp of approval on Greg that the fans would get behind him.”
Cabana had been watching Iron progress and noticed that Iron, his right arm withered with a limited range of motion because of the cerebral palsy, was stuck doing a lot of pre-show matches. “I had seen a lot of Gregory since I came back to the indies in 2009 and I always thought he was an inspiration,” said Cabana, who felt that Iron had something special and that “if booked right, he could be an incredible babyface.”
At the same time, Punk had just done his infamous pipe bomb promo and had beaten John Cena at the Money in The Bank WWE pay-per-view. “I was booked for AAW just a week later and the plan was to come to the aid of Gregory.” Cabana continued. “Punk wanted to do something with me on the indies to help move his storyline forward and so we could do something together again. I told him about Greg and how I thought he was inspirational and how great it would be for him to have the rub of a guy like Punk and a moment like that.”
Out came CM Punk and when he received the microphone he proceeded to tell the crowd that Gregory was awesome. “That moment has defined my life,” a smiling Iron said. “All of the negative things in my life washed away. It meant everything to me that the best wrestler in the world said I was awesome!” Gregory was overcome with emotion and began to cry tears of relief and joy in the ring that night.
Later, in the locker room, Iron asked Cabana why that happened that night. Cabana told him to “Consider it a gift. Now it is your turn to run with it.”
Run with it he has — that $50 loan and some kind words stoked the passion that Gregory Iron had for wrestling and this moment invigorated his career. Cabana said that he “was happy to do it and I’m glad Greg has progressed in his career and life. Sometimes people just need little shots in the arm to get stuff going.”
Since then the 27-year-old Iron, from Cleveland, Ohio, has seen his bookings increase dramatically and is barnstorming across the USA and Canada, often with his tag team partner, the one legged wrestler Zack Gowen as the Handicapped Heroes.
His quick and intense style is mixed with Lucha Libre and technical influences that often shock the crowd. “I want to create believability with my intensity and facials,” stated Iron. At a recent Empire State Wrestling show in North Tonawanda, New York, Irons and Gowen had the crowd on the edge of their seats, captivated by their unique pairing and moves.
ESW promoter Brett Stymus said that “when we first ever booked Gregory Iron in September of 2013 the fans really took to him and got behind him one hundred percent.” Stymus was surprised by the support for Iron and “by popular demand we had fans asking when he was coming back and in any situation you want to keep fans happy so we brought back Iron who is now a part of our regular full-time roster.”
Chris Bryan, the promoter for Absolute Intense Wrestling in Cleveland, Ohio, has known Gregory since 2005, when he worked security for his shows. “We’ve been able to use Gregory in many ways and it’s a testament to his ability,” said Bryan. “We’ve used Greg as a comedic babyface, a scrappy underdog, a whiny heel using his disability and his current role as a slimy obsessive ex-boyfriend.” Bryan pointed out that, “most wrestlers couldn’t pull off all of these roles, but Gregory pulls all of these off flawlessly.”
Curtis Yantha, the production manager for Toronto’s Smash Wrestling, felt that Iron’s contributions “go beyond serving as a unique inspiration.” He too has been struck by Iron’s positive personality and said that Iron “is very well liked in our locker room and among the fans. In the ring, he’s surprised many proving he is just as good as anyone else.”
He could be bitter about life because of his disability, or because he grew up being bullied, or even because he watched his mother succumb to drug addiction. Iron is the opposite. He is positive and upbeat about life and the direction it is heading. During the day he works as a security guard, but he has some side ventures brewing. He has been writing his life story with Colin Hunter and has begun to do some public speaking, hoping to inspire others.
When asked about the future Iron is positive, but also realistic. “By 30 I would like something to happen,” explained Iron. “I have a great love for wrestling and if I can’t be a performer perhaps I can put my mind to use as a booker.”
Chris Bryan pointed out that “you forget that Greg has a disability, he’s that good.”
While he is a long way from hanging up his trunks, Iron is realistic. “If I never go higher that is alright,” he said. “Everyone understands passion, my passion is wrestling, and everyone can see my passion.”
Gregory Iron was at a crossroad and took the path less traveled. He swallowed his pride and asked for $50. That money and the kind words from his idol went a long way towards cleansing his soul and kick starting his wrestling career. It goes to show that even the small efforts we make to support someone can help them soar to heights once thought unattainable.
GREGORY IRON STORIES
- Dec. 13, 2017: Gregory Iron sports a new bad attitude