It’s been a year since Alex Shelley was seen on Ring of Honor television. During Shelley’s year away from wrestling, his life was a “train wreck” from a divorce and being a student without income. However, his time away from the ring also gave him a new appreciation of wrestling.

Being a full-time student put stress on Shelley’s wrestling career. “I was in school at the time. When you are working in the medical field and you are aspiring to do so, you have to do something called clinical rotations and basically you get sent away. In my case it was about an hour and a half away from home working at a clinic five days a week and then another clinic about an hour away again five days a week. You do that for a long time to work in the field to gain experience,” Shelley explained to SLAM! Wrestling.

Alex Shelley is introduced at a Ring of Honor show. Photos courtesy RING OF HONOR/Bruno Silveira

Building two careers that required time and dedication was a lot to handle for Shelley. “I was burnt out also, just from being a student and wrestled full time, and produced at a high level and wear all these different hats, as a friend, as a husband, as a home owner, as a son, as a brother, and it just got to be overwhelming. I was fried. To go through that and do what I did, I definitely stretched myself too thin. I realize that now but I got through it and I’m happy that I went through it as well, because it forced me to grow.”

Though life became darker for Shelley after he left wrestling.

“It’s been a train wreck. A lot of life changes. Getting divorced, which I did about a year ago will force you to change and at least reflect on yourself. Losing Alex Shelley as part of my identity and just being Patrick Martin, a student in the physical therapy field was massively, massively shocking. I didn’t realize how much I value wrestling until it was taken away. Voluntarily, yeah but I missed my friends. I missed the creativity. I missed everything about it. I was without income and paying to go to school which that’s not anything abnormal about our generation and I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had to take out a student loan who’s my age, or younger or older. Also, living far away from home to do these clinic rotations and then having to complete the board exams, and then trying to find a job in the field. It was just so much to deal with and so different that what I was use to for the majority of my live. It really made me appreciate how lucky and fortunate I’ve been in pro wrestling,” said Shelley.

“I didn’t want to have wrestling control me and I decided that in 2009 when I was really unhappy in TNA. I just didn’t want to have wrestling tell me what to do and be beholden to people who quite frankly, I thought were making poor decisions. I wanted that freedom. I wanted that autonomy and I told myself that I’m going to go back to school and I’m going to work really hard and I’m going to be able to love wrestling on my terms.”

Recently, Shelley returned to ROH after seeing what’s currently happening in wrestling.

“I always figured that I might come back (to wrestling). You can’t predict what life is going to throw at you. One of the things I realized because I actually went to a psychologist myself when I went through a divorce, I wanted to fix what I could and be my own advocate in terms of growth. I realized that I tried to control too much then when I was in school and wrestling; it was, ‘Okay, I’m going to control my future’ in wrestling and school. By controlling my school and education path and if I can do steps one to ten then I’ll be happy. That’s just not how it really works. My love of wrestling never went away. I didn’t pay close attention to wrestling but I paid enough attention and said, ‘Wow, there are some really cool things happening.’ I just felt like I had more to offer,” said Shelley.

Shelley has displayed his wrestling skills in many different areas during his long career including many trips to Japan. “I’ve been over there over 50 times. Each time was different with all due respect to each company. As far as learning, I took something away from all of them, especially Zero1 and New Japan,” said Shelley.

In 2012, Shelley became tag partners with New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kushida and the two became the Time Splitters. (Kushida is now in NXT.) “I met him (Kushida) about four years before that (being a part of the Time Splitters). He used to work for one of the Japanese newspapers and had come to see me wrestle a Zero1 match at Korakuen (Hall) and reported on it before he ever debuted as a pro. He’d only been wrestling half the time I did at that point. So, I had quite a bit of experience. We became brothers. I was the best man at his wedding. He was my best friend over there. We couldn’t have gelled more efficiently and he spent some time in Scott D’Amore’s school in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and I met him there and he was good then. So, to see him four years later and see that growth and for us to grow together as a team, that’s kind of where the name came from, Time Splitters, we were going to split our time. I feel very privileged and honoured to have picked that name and had it stuck,” said Shelley.

Alex Shelley in action.

While Shelley has many accomplishments from his past, looking to his future, on Friday, August 9th he will challenge Matt Taven for the ROH world championship at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, as a part of Ring of Honor’s Summer Supercard.

“Matt got to where he’s at because he’s been at Ring of Honor a long time. He’s worked really, really, really hard and he’s really, really good. I, on the other hand, have absolutely nothing to lose. What I can guarantee is that there are going to see me. They are going to see me wrestle with my heart. They are going to see me wear it on my sleeve. Having been away for a year, I realize there is no guarantee that I’m going to be wrestling again in Toronto. So, if I can just leave some sort of emotional imprint on them or some sort of memory for them, I’ll consider that a victory.”

Other matches on the card:
– Women of Honor World Championship: Kelly Klein (c) vs. Tasha Steelz
– Carístico, Soberano Jr. and Stuka Jr. vs. Bárbaro Cavernario, Hechicero and Templario
– Ladder War X for the ROH World Tag Team Championship: The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) (c) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa)
– ROH World Television Championship: Shane Taylor (c) vs. Tracy Williams
– Rush vs. Dalton Castle
– LifeBlood (Bandido and Mark Haskins) vs. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham