This weekend, Chris Hero has two decidedly different challenges in front of him. First off, he faces the WWE-bound Samoa Joe in what will no doubt be a hard-hitting battle. The next day, he goes for a marathon, wrestling in a gauntlet match where the length of the bout is still to be determined, but is likely to be more than two hours.
The best part is that there will be a guaranteed winner — ALS Canada.
Both events run under the Smash Wrestling banner.
Hero and Samoa Joe have a long history, dating back to their time together in Ring of Honor. On Saturday, they face off in Toronto on a show titled Smash Kicks ALS, where proceeds go to the charity. Earlier in the day, Samoa Joe is doing a seminar for interested wrestlers as well.
“I wrestled Joe a couple of times in the last couple of months, once one-on-one and once in a tag team match. So we have squared off recently, but before that, yeah, it had been a long time,” Hero told SLAM! Wrestling. “Joe is such an anomaly. Not just his size and strength and speed, but just the presence that he carries himself with, both in the locker room and in the ring. He’s one of those rare guys that just has an aura around him.”
On Sunday in Waterloo, Ontario, though, Hero is trying something completely different to raise funds for charity.
Technically, it’s a gauntlet match, but according to the promotion, “the length of time that Chris Hero will wrestle — even if pinned or submitted, will be determined by your donations.”
“I wanted to do something in addition to the ALS show to help raise some more funds. We’re calling it the Infinity Gauntlet. The time limit is determined by the donations. We’re getting really close to $2,000 – if we hit that, then it’s two hours,” said Hero. (As of this posting, it’s over $2,200.)
“The idea is that I stay in the match for the entire time. So even if somebody pins me, they leave and I have to stay for the entire match, so it’s going to be quite the endurance test for me. We’re going to have some local Toronto guys in it, and some special attractions here and there as well. It’s going to be fun.
“If you donate any money, you’ll get a download of the match. And if you donate ten dollars, that gets you into the meet and greet before the actual match. It’s pretty cool to perform in front of a crowd that wants to see that long of a match.”
The obvious question is, Can Hero Last?
“I know I can wrestle for a long time, but I don’t think anybody has done anything quite like this,” he said. “I’ve had numerous one hour matches with different people. My longest was a 90-minute, two out of three falls match with CM Punk. This will definitely be longer than that.”
The idea is to pace himself.
“I can’t start hot, I’m going to have to pace myself or else I’m going to ruin myself after the first 20, 30 minutes. But if you think about it, it’s no crazier than somebody running 26 miles in a marathon, you know. That’s like a six-, seven-hour run? To me, this is so much more feasible. I love wrestling, I say I could do it for hours — so I guess we’re going to see if I’m actually capable of doing it.”
A match is more than just the wrestlers in the ring though, and Hero has thought a little about bending the rules too.
“I’m going to talk with the commentary guys, because there are going to be so many stories going on in this match. I’m really excited for that aspect of it. Because, if you think about it, I know I’m going to be in that match no matter how long it goes. So if somebody has me in a submission hold, I can just tap out. Rather than stay in the hold and try to break it and risking an injury that’s going to affect me later in the match. So early on in the match, I’m going to have to decide whether pride is going to be a factor or not if I don’t want someone to get a win over me.”
A weekend in Canada with consecutive shows nearby is a luxury for the globetrotting Hero. He talked about his schedule.
“I do about ten shows a month. I do tours with NOAH in Japan, I go over to Germany and England, I do shows with EVOLVE, PWG, Beyond Wrestling, Smash, NOAH, and WXW in Germany. And then I fill in the blanks with a bunch of other companies all over the place.”
Hero (real name Chris Spradlin) has been wrestling since late 1998. At age 35, it’s natural to ask about how long he plans to wrestle.
“I’m cooking as long as I can. I’m taking care of my body, I’m taking the time to heal up and rehab any little bangs and bruises that I get on the weekends. I feel like some of my matches in the past six months to a year have been some of the best of my career. I don’t feel like slowing down at all.”
That might not be the same story at the end of Sunday’s Infinity Gauntlet.
— with files from Greg Oliver
- Smash Wrestling website
- ALS Canada website
- Chris Hero / Kassius Ohno story archive
- Twitter: @ChrisHero