There have been a surge of returnees to WWE of late, including Rhino and Jinder Mahal. Another name that has surfaced is Brian Myers, who wrestled as Curt Hawkins in WWE. Will he get a chance? Regardless, he’s had a full career in professional wrestling and is more than happy to talk about it, as are a number of people who helped him along the way.
ACT ONE: SETTING THE STAGE
Sitting in the Broadway audience, spellbound as the actors sang and danced their way across the stage, a young Brian Myers was transfixed by the spectacle unfolding before his eyes. The passion, the exuberance, the connection with the actors was so palpable that it drew him deeper into the make-believe story that unfolded in front of him. Lost in the magic that the fine-tuned, highly-skilled actors brought to the stage, Myers found joy in the moment. The outrageous characters, beautiful tales and ballads belted out moved the child to the point that he would ask his mother if they could return to watch the larger-than-life characters again someday soon. In Grease, Sandy asked Danny “Is this the end?” To which Danny replied, “Of course not! It is only the beginning.” Brian Myers didn’t know it, but he was starting out on a journey to a very theatrical life.
One spring evening he discovered another type of performance that also moved his soul. Myers strolled down to the local Mom and Pop video store in Glen Cove, New York, with his older brother in search of a movie to watch that night. Upon entering the establishment, his eyes were drawn to the colourful display of Coliseum Videos that the WWF produced. The interesting characters and graphics adorning the packaging made young Myers wonder what fantastic fantasy had he just discovered.
WrestleMania VI featured Hulk Hogan losing his WWF championship to The Ultimate Warrior. Even before he put the VHS video in the machine Myers was drawn in by the bolts of electricity and the posing, muscular behemoths featured on the cover.
Soon, Myers was hooked on the mat game. The Ultimate Warrior and his fanciful streamers stormed into his imagination. The fast-paced tag team called the Rockers were so different than the Warrior and the mammoths of the WWF rings. The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) were unique, smaller guys who moved liked greased lightning. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and his smooth but brash style made Myers perk up. The flawless one moved with grace and exuded the confidence that made the viewer sit on the edge of their seat.
While there were sports and theatre growing up, when he saw professional wrestling Myers had found the place to combine his two loves. The ring could give him the physical outlet to test himself. The ring could also be his stage where he could move the audience to tears, rage and joy. He had found his muse that would fill his mind and soul with inspiration.
ACT TWO: LEARNING HIS CRAFT
When Myers was a teenager he was certain he wanted to become a wrestler. Like any good Broadway actor, he knew he needed training. Enter ECW Triple Crown winner Mikey Whipwreck, who had opened a wrestling school near Myers’ hometown. Whipwreck pushed the idea of respect with his pupils. As long-time WWE trainer Dr. Tom Prichard once said, “For wrestling to work you need respect for yourself, your opponent and your audience.” These core values would help Myers along his journey from apprentice to scene stealer.
“He was big into respect,” said Myers of Whipwreck. “I always try to maintain that and keep that in mind. His fundamentals and basics of wrestling are so solid and it kept me safe because of the foundation I have.”
After a year of training, Myers formed a tag team with Matthew Cardona, who would go on to become Zack Ryder. The duo didn’t have the usual indy wrestling struggle that most young wrestlers face. After a year and a half the duo was signed by the WWE. “I feel like we have done things in reverse,” said Myers with a chuckle at a recent Empire State Wrestling show. “I was really obsessed with early Ring of Honor and CM Punk. I wanted to go to Puerto Rico, Japan, Mexico and do things the way Punk did. I saw myself as that. Then I get signed at [age] twenty.”
Myers did struggle a bit on the independent scene — not because he lacked ability, but because his style was perceived as not being indy enough. “Zack and I would go places on the indys and they would say, ‘We are not going to have you back,” recalled Myers. “‘You wrestle too much like WWE.’ What does that even mean? That’s bad?”
Through Whipwreck, a call was placed to Tommy Dreamer to team up with his hot young prospects in a six-man tag match on a local show. At the time Dreamer was working in the WWE office and he liked what he saw. Soon enough Myers and Ryder had a try-out with the big leagues, the Broadway of wrestling promotions. “He got us a tryout and we got hired,” said Myers. “We were so green and I thought we bombed the tryout. This is something I made up in my head but I think they looked at us and said, ‘They look about the same, have the same gear, let’s throw them a bone.’ They put us in developmental.”
ACT THREE: OFF, OFF-BROADWAY
With a contract in his hand Myers was sent to Deep South Wrestling where he and his partner were rechristened as the Majors Brothers. Deep South Wrestling wasn’t Broadway, and it wasn’t even Off-Broadway. It might as well have been on another planet. “Sometimes I reflect on it and it was just insane,” said Myers. “I often say ‘What the hell?’ when thinking about it there. We came exactly a year into it. It was only open two years. So we missed the first full year that was supposed to be even crazier. It was nuts.”
If Myers thought he would be working on his craft when he first got to Deep South he was wrong. The hours of grueling conditioning and lack of ring time at live events was taxing on the young wrestler. “During the week it was … I don’t know how I got through sometimes,” confessed Myers. “It was like you would almost blackout going through these drills, but you just get through it. Your mind goes to another place to get through what we were doing.”
Partway through his stay at Deep South the head trainer was reassigned and in came a new head coach, Dr. Tom Prichard. He also acted as a producer in the promotion. Prichard said that he believes you should enjoy what you are doing. “It should be fun and I never got, nor understood the theory and thinking behind having guys doing squats, push-ups, conditioning drills all day when you are there to learn how to work, to wrestle,’ explained Prichard. “Before, I believe, there was a lot of squats and conditioning. When I came in my idea and attitude to training is when you are there to wrestle and learn how to work, you have to wrestle and the conditioning is going to come. We did wrestling drills as opposed to conditioning drills.”
Prichard quickly became a fan of Myers. “Brian had a passion for the business, you could see that. He was someone who was talented and was almost effortless in what he did. Honest to God I wish I could tell you there was something I did that was magic and a big secret, but it wasn’t. It was just that I think he didn’t feel oppressed or afraid to try something new if you want to try it.”
With the shackles off, Myers was free to express himself in the ring. Wrestling was fun again and he had cast-mates that made life in and out of the ring enjoyable.
“We would do the show on Thursday,” said Myers. “We would all go out and party. Watch the tape review on Friday super hungover and get through that. Twenty-one years old, living on my own for the first time, it was fun. The guys I met there like Luke Gallows, Ray Gordy, Mike Knox are some of my best friends in the business because we were all in the trenches together. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Deep South Wrestling lowered the curtain for the last time in April 2007. The show moved on and so did Myers to Ohio Valley Wrestling. Former Dudebuster Caylen Croft remembered his first impression of Brian Myers.
“He (Brian Myers) came to OVW from Deep South when it closed. That is when I met him around 2007,” said Croft. “He was the first guy I met who told me he was a fan of me which is pretty cool. My first impression was just a really cool, nice kid.”
The Majors Brothers made an impact in Ohio Valley Wrestling before being called up to the WWE’s then third brand, the newly revived ECW. Soon afterwards the team of young grapplers were sent to Smackdown. While he and Ryder made little impact on the two brands, behind the scenes Myers got an idea.
ACT FOUR: THE UNDERSTUDY
Edge was tearing up the ring as a main event scumbag that could turn the audience and twist their emotions. Gone were the days of the funny tag team specialist alongside Christian, with their goofy poses and tag team champions; in its place was a singles marquee player hungry for the World championship.
One day Edge received an email from Myers with a unique idea. “It was Brian who came up with the idea for the Edgeheads,” recalled Edge (Adam Copeland). “They could be my doppelgangers and I thought this is a really great idea. The fact that he had the hutzpah to actually email me and lay out this really good idea took a lot of guts. I liked them, but we were never really had any in-depth relationship or anything. I figured they were fans just from their look. I didn’t know a lot. When he emailed me I thought it was good stuff and thought we could give it a shot. That is pretty where it all started.”
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Myers had more than a resemblance to Edge. Myers and Ryder (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) had similar lean and long physiques as the Rated R Superstar. Once the duo added long tights they were Edge twins.
Each night Ryder and Myers, now named Curt Hawkins, would second Edge to the ring. They would sit at ringside, the understudies, taking in as much information as they could about the art of wrestling.
“Priceless, I mean Zack and I got to sit front row, every night for a year and watch what a WWE champion does, day in and day out,” reflected Myers.
Edge remembers the enthusiasm that Myers displayed watching the main eventer work on his craft. “Brian would sit down and pick my brain,” said Edge. “I could tell he was watching. He was looking for the finer points and then would ask me why I did this or why ‘Taker did that. Just all the little tiny things are the difference between just another guy and getting to the main event matches. It was fun to be able to help him with that because he was such a fan of the industry. It was fun to tell him why I did this and why I did this. Then I would tell him to listen if there is any change because it should sound like this.”
Being brought into the inner sanctum of wrestling to learn from a great was a dream come true for Myers. “Being on top we sit there in the back and watch him put a match together or the WrestleMania match together. There was invaluable stuff that truly shaped my career,” said Myers. “If you ask me, he is the greatest of all time. He is like a five-tool player in baseball. He’s got all five tools and they are off the charts. He is the best. It may be my bias because of how good he was to me personally, but I can’t say enough great things about the guy. It was an unbelievable learning experience. Who else comes in and does this except Zack and myself? It was pretty nuts.”
Edge didn’t just focus on his matches or how his young protégé might influence his work. Rather, Edge became Uncle Adam to both Ryder and Myers. He grew fond of the two exuberant grapplers and wanted to see them succeed.
“I always called them my kids, both Brian and Matt, they felt like they were my nephews. It was that kind of feel, so they called me Uncle Adam,” remembered Edge fondly. “Then to sit down and watch their matches with Kane and Rey Mysterio and they are wrestling these two iconic guys in the industry and have great matches. They got to really get in there with guys like Batista, and ‘Taker. They went from having starter matches with OVW and now they are having handicap matches with me against Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels in a cage in Chicago is a big leap; and I could tell he was really blown away by it but, also, not intimidated, which was great, but like, ‘I belong here and I’ll do everything I can to make sure I don’t drop the ball.'”
After a year of learning from the “Rated R Superstar” Edge, the storyline came to an end. “That group stayed together as long as it did with no superheavyweight or something, because there is usually one of those who keeps them a strong deal,” said Edge. “We were always a slimy and manipulative group. The fact that it stayed together that long, when I look back, is impressive. I think they were bummed when it ended.”
With their alliance with Edge almost complete Myers didn’t get to mope as he had the thrill winning the WWE tag team titles. “It was very cool,” said Myers. “We won them in our home town at the Nassau Coliseum where we grew up. Our families were in the crowd and stuff. I believe it was a last-minute decision. It was a real special day. I never had a moment. I just looked straight ahead at what I had to do. Now that I am older I do think about it, but not in the moment.”
Soon after the tag team victory, Myers found himself in WWE purgatory. He just couldn’t seem to get a role outside of the ensemble. Edge saw the disappointment that Myers received firsthand. “I know it was difficult to make the jump because you didn’t have a main event guy to have all those storylines with,” said Edge. “That can be a tough transition whether it is Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas or the Bashams, whoever it is seems to have a difficult leap to not just being the minions and never wanting to become that. Inevitably, it can. I know they both tried multiple things. Brian was always trying to come up with something and had ideas. I think eventually when your ideas aren’t listened to or they fall on deaf ears and you are trying things and spitballing things and you are still having great matches. He would get in there with Trent Baretta and I would be thinking, ‘This is a great match! Is anybody besides me watching?’ I think that can be disheartening and WWE can be a disheartening place if that happens. You feel like you are banging your head against the wall sometimes and I think that is what happened to Brian. No matter how many ideas you pitch or good matches you have, you can only get so far unless you have support.”
Prichard had a similar take on Myers’ struggles post-Edge. “I think it was one of those deals where he could do anything and never rocked the boat, he was easy to dismiss,” said Prichard. “What you learn in this business is no matter how good you are in this business, you have to learn to play the game. You have to make yourself seen and make yourself heard. I don’t think Brian had the guts for it or had the desire to put himself in the middle of that bullsh–. I understand that as I was the same way. They want to have the guys stand up and give ideas and that is the thing too, he gave ideas and was very creative and I respect and admire that.”
Not to be kept down, Myers regrouped and decided that if the WWE was not going to use him on the main roster that he was going to show the initiative and work out in the WWE developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling.
Croft remembered being impressed with Myers moxie during that time. “He got his big run with the Edgeheads and I remember they just took the tag titles off of him,” said Croft. “He was sitting at home and he was one of the few guys who took it upon himself, during his own time, to come to developmental and that was in July of 2009. It probably saved his job at the time.”
Prichard was head trainer at Florida Championship Wrestling, and was always impressed with Myers’ ability. “He came to FCW and we worked with him there,” said Prichard. “He was one of those guys who had that quiet confidence. What I mean by that is, he was very, very good and I don’t know if he knew how good he was.”
While in FCW, Myers joined Croft and Trent Barreta in the Dudebusters tag team.
“I lived with Hawkins for a year and teamed with him as the Dudebusters on almost every FCW show that happened during that time,” recalled Barreta, currently a star in New Japan teaming with Rocky Romero as Roppongi Vice. “During that time working together and living together we never got in one fight. He’s just a good dude and easy to get along with. And he loves wrestling. He loves wrestling so much that it’s disturbing. He loves wrestling so much that he can watch Honky Tonk Man shoot interviews.”
“That was probably the most fun I had (teaming with Myers and Barreta),” said Croft. “When you are with your buddies you just think more fun. You can just look at that guy (Myers) and you know that he is good and he knows what he is doing.”
One FCW match certainly stood out for Prichard. The three young talents were pitted against a legendary wrestling family. ”
“There was a six-man tag match in FCW where it was Brian, Croft and Barreta against Dustin, Cody and the American Dream (Dusty Rhodes),” said Prichard. “All three got t-shirts that said ‘Dusty sucks eggs.’ [An homage to the Dusty Rhodes vs. Terry Funk feud of the early 1980s.] The Dream loved it and those guys loved it too because those guys were excited to have that opportunity to work with The Dream. So, they were creative and exceptional talents.”
ACT FIVE: INDEPENDENT ARTIST
After leaving the WWE in 2014, Myers could have retired, or gone into hiding, and or just been a jerk. If you have learned anything about Brian Myers it should be that above all he has a love for professional wrestling, a love for performing, and a love for the crowd.
No longer an understudy, he had acquired all of the tools, the chops. He had the hours of practice under the some of the greatest wrestling coaches in the world such as Prichard, Dave Taylor and Fit Finlay. He had a long dance on the big stage and then it was gone.
Surrendering the Curt Hawkins name, he was Brian Myers again, and went into his expected future, and opened a wrestling school.
“It was something I was always going to do,” said Myers. “I think I did it a lot earlier then I ever imagined, but in WWE I jumped off the top rope and blew out my PCL [Posterior Cruciate Ligament] and tore my meniscus. So that kinda ended my active WWE career and that was late 2012. I did what I could do from home. I would pitch ideas, but nothing was going to get done and they weren’t booking me. My biggest fear ever was being cold on the road and being asked to do this 15-minute match and that is not something you can just do without training, so once a week I would go out to a school out on Long Island, then go to my buddy’s school in Jersey and it started to be a pain in the ass.
At dinner one night, Myers and his friend Pat Buck talked about a wrestling school, and decided to go for it. “The hardest part was finding a building that would put up with a load ring that is banging and clanging. Once we got that done the ball got rolling and it is one of the best decisions that I have made in my life,” said Myers. “It just makes me so happy. It is my private playground. We have great kids. I kinda did it for selfish reasons because I just wanted a place to train and then the thing that crept up on my and is so rewarding is how I love seeing my group of guys get better at every show. It was the best thing ever for me.”
Create A Pro Wrestling Academy opened up in Hicksville, New York. The school prides itself on having trainers who have had the experience with the WWE. The school has been endorsed on Twitter by the likes of Kofi Kingston, Colt Cabana, Hornswoggle and of course, Edge. Trainers Pat Buck (former WWE developmental talent) and Myers offer classes for beginner and experienced wrestlers. They even brag that their famous friends and special guest might stop by.
Friends from the wrestling business are happy for Brian Myers. They are pleased that he is in a good place and is enjoying teaching others the sport of wrestling.
“I am impressed with what he has done,” said Croft. “He reinvented himself on the indies and he seems to be just having a blast. If I was going to get into this business and wanted to get trained I would want to go to a place where they know what they are doing. Anybody can have a wrestling school. I think it is great that Bryan is providing an opportunity for guys to learn the craft the correct way, to learn pro wrestling and he offers that to people.”
“Honest to goodness, I understand that, being happy,” said Prichard. “He didn’t get completely covered by the poison. As long as he is happy doing it, and I understand that the only time you are happy is in the ring, he still has that passion. That is great! He hasn’t been jaded yet. If I touched him or helped him in any way I am extremely proud.”
Perhaps Edge can say it best when describing the man Brian Myers and his talents. “A good guy,” said Edge. “We have a very similar personality so we always got along. I think he was able to focus on the positives of what his experiences were with WWE and didn’t let it jade him. He still likes to go out there and perform. He has all that ability, he just needs a place to showcase it.”
To that end, Myers continues to take bookings far and wide, from high-profile shows, like Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore, Global Force Wrestling, AIW, Pro-Wrestling Syndicate, and Wrestlecade in North Carolina. During a recent Empire State Wrestling show in upstate New York, fans marveled at his talent. One man raved that Myers is an “extremely polished wrestler.” Word is that a return to WWE is likely, if not a given. Myers loves to get in the ring and test himself against a variety of opponents.
If a WWE run does transpire, great. But Brian Myers is happy, and still loves to perform, whether it is on the biggest stage, or off-off-Broadway.
In short, the curtain has not dropped on the career of Brian Myers. He might play to some smaller houses these days, but don’t be surprised if he takes a starring role and has a great run at the top. Perhaps Eva said it best in Evita: “Stand back, you oughta know whatcha gonna get in me. Just a little touch of star quality.”
— with files from Greg Oliver
- Jan. 9, 2015: Review: Timeline for 2008 shines light on lesser-known Curt Hawkins
- Brian Myers website
- Create A Pro Wrestling Academy website
While Caleb Smith does not have the extensive wrestling doll collection that Brian Myers does, he will continue to search for the perfect LJN dolls. In fact, if you want to send him LJN wrestling dolls please do!