Before joining WWE, NXT referee Darryl Sharma wrestled for years on the Ontario independent scene under the name Hornet. So he’s understandably buzzing with anticipation about coming back home — first as part of SummerSlam weekend, but also a week later, when he’ll be hosting a charity concert that he’s organizing that he hopes people will swarm to.
“Hornet Saves The Bees,” taking place on August 15 at the The Rockpile Bar And Nightclub in Toronto, at the 427 and Dundas, is a Tragically Hip tribute concert, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Wildlife Preservation Canada. More specifically, the goal is to help fund its native pollinator initiative to recover the dwindling global bumble bee population.
“It’s actually funny how many people have asked me why I’m trying to save bees, or (what the problem is) in the first place,” he told SLAM! Wrestling.
“Funny in a scary way,” he clarified. “I mean, they’ve actually just been declared the most important living being on the planet (in a recent scientific report). And they’re critically endangered. Think about that. We lose them, we lose the Earth.”
The concert is Sharma’s brainchild, and his passion and commitment to the cause is palpable.
“I brainstormed for a long time with friends about ways to raise awareness and money to help endangered animals. One day I was driving to a show in Florida, and I said, ‘What about the bees?’ Literally, as soon as I said that, a big billboard appeared out of the tall trees on the side of the road that said ‘Bee here soon’ with a picture of a bee. It was literally a sign. Five seconds later I yelled ‘HORNET SAVES THE BEES!’
“From the name, to the logo, posters, venue, I’ve been involved in every step.”
The decision to make it a Tragically Hip tribute show was, he said, a simple one.
“I live in Florida now, so I miss Canada, and I miss the Tragically Hip. Since we can’t see the actual band anymore, the next best thing would be a good tribute band… and I happen to know a GREAT tribute band.”
The band, That’s Where The Hornet Stung Me, and, indeed, the entire event, is expected to be chock-full of local independent talent, including Impact Wrestling star “Mr. Adventure” Stone Rockwell.
“The response from the wrestling community has been incredible,” he said, gratefully. “Crossbody Pro Wrestling put out a donation box and flyers at their events. The group from Battle Arts Pro Wrestling will be there, as will Barrie Wrestling. If you’re a wrestling fan you’re going to see a lot of familiar faces, fans and wrestlers, new and old, from everywhere. It’s turning into a reunion of sorts for me.” There will be plenty of non-wrestling things to win too, like tickets to the Blue Jays and TFC.
But having wrestlers around is par for the course for Sharma who, as mentioned, is currently a referee with WWE’s NXT brand. Fortunately, like the wrestlers here, the company has been very supportive of Sharma’s efforts in putting on the event.
“I asked the office a long time ago if I could do this, and got the green light immediately. I’m actually missing a set of NXT tapings in Orlando the night of the event because I had the date booked before I got the schedule.”
“I talked to Coach (NXT head trainer, Matt) Bloom about (it, and) told him what I was doing, he had no problem with it, and wished me luck. They’ve been great and very supportive.”
Better still, the company’s flexibility will even allow Sharma to have a bit of an extended visit home.
“The way the schedule works out, I’m actually getting into Toronto early and I’ll get to stay until after my event. So I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Toronto before and after SummerSlam weekend.”
But even though he’ll be taking it easy from work, that doesn’t mean that he’ll be relaxing his commitment to the bees — and, more broadly, the planet in general.
“Besides saving the bees specifically, the show is also about raising awareness. We all have to do our part,” he stressed. “I’m trying every day to completely eliminate single-use plastic from my life. If we all do our part and hold ourselves accountable, we can change the system and save the planet.”
- Oct. 27, 2006: Hornet buzzes back to Toronto