Dylan Postl has made a great career for himself in professional wrestling as the mischievous Hornswoggle in WWE rings for a decade and more on the independent circuit. What has been extraordinary about his rise to stardom is the fact that he is a little person, but he self-identifies using the term midget. In the history of the WWE no other little person played such a prominent role in storylines for so long as he did as Hornswoggle. Postl’s start in the business was definitely unique and a path less taken.

Growing up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the 4-foot-5 Postl was enthralled by the larger-than-life characters that the WWE had on its television shows. Wrestling stars such as the Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart and Adam Bomb excited Postl’s young imagination. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a wrestler.

Swoggle returns to his hometown for a show in June 2016.

His father never told him he couldn’t become a wrestler. Never did his family try to hold him back or protect him from a career in which very few make it to the top. “My dad has been my number one supporter behind my grandpa, but my dad doesn’t like wrestling,” said Postl at a recent CWF show in Niagara Falls, Ont.

What was likely the most worrisome aspect about Postl’s decision for his family was his health issues as a child. As a young lad he had back surgery that left him paralyzed for six months. After a slow recovery his doctor told him that he was not to jump on trampolines, and no contact sports or the results could be catastrophic.

At 13 years old Postl attended his first independent wrestling show. Watching a production that was not a WWE show in his hometown inspired him to become an entrepreneur. Postl was so enamoured by the sport of professional wrestling that he decided to start his own backyard wrestling group. With the help of his friends he started putting on shows using WWE foam belts with printer paper with a crude logo covering the front of the championships.

Success was quick for Postl as the crowds grew from just a few pals to hundreds of people attending. “We had 400 hundred people at our shows, swear to God, and the cops would show up,” recalled Postl. “My backyard company in Oshkosh joined a mega backyard company in Appleton and they ran shows. They had a legit ring, a wooden ring. It was so cool to us because we were wrestling on mattresses. You could hit the ropes, go to the top rope but the padding was carpet padding over the wood so it would hurt so bad. It broke every year and we had to fix it because of the winter because it was outside in Wisconsin. We would have 400 people and the cops would show up because it was on this really busy street corner. Looking back on it, it was crazy how many people we had at these.”

A local independent wrestling company heard about these kids putting on huge shows and decided to check them out. “So this indy company, ACW, they scouted talent to make a buck off of and train them and get some more young boys,” said Postl. “They saw me right away and I think they saw a midget. They could put a midget on the show and the poster. I don’t blame them at all and I wouldn’t take it back as it got me my start.”

At the ACW training school Postl met his teacher and a man he would cross paths with in the big leagues, Ken Anderson (WWE’s Mr. Kennedy). When he started training to be a wrestler Postl didn’t want to be trained as a traditional “midget” he wanted to learn just like everyone else, he wanted to be a small cruiserweight wrestler.

“I said from day one don’t train me to be a midget wrestler because I don’t want to be that,” said Postl. “I don’t want to bite ass. I always wanted to be like a small cruiserweight because I didn’t want to do midget spots. I still hate doing them, but I know they are going to get a reaction so I will do them here. They had me doing back body drops and suplexes off the top, crazy things.”

Kennedy and Postl would meet again at WrestleMania 23’s Money in the Bank Ladder match. In the midst of the match Postl, as Hornswoggle, emerged from under the ring to help his pal Finlay. Instead Postl found himself on the receiving end of Kennedy’s “Green Bay Plunge” off of the ladder to the mat far below.

Postl wasn’t alone in his training, as his best friend since third grade, Nick Colucci, was also in the class. Often, Postl found himself paired up with Colucci in the ring. “We are close,” said Postl. “He started training the month after I started. We had each other’s first matches, all that and we are still close and our kids are incredibly close. At every show I run at home we get a picture of our kids together in the ring because it is neat to us.”

After a few years wrestling around the American mid-West Postl achieved his dream of becoming a WWE superstar. He does have some advice for young wrestlers who are following along the path he took years ago. “I didn’t do college; I didn’t go to my junior or senior prom because I had indy bookings,” lamented Postl. “I quit college for independent wrestling. That was the dumbest move, so stupid, but, somehow it worked out in the end.”