Stu Grayson has always been a team player. From his days as a member of the Super Smash Brothers alongside his longtime friend Evil Uno as part of The International Wrestling Syndicate in Montreal and his Dark Order days in AEW, Grayson knows there is strength in numbers. The Dark Order itself would go on to become one of the most beloved and most underutilized groups in AEW.
Grayson and AEW have since parted ways. Grayson decided that a return to the indies was in order and he has racked in quite a few shows already. He’s done Just For Laughs in Montreal and he has a C*4 Wrestling event coming on August 19 where he will be facing Eddie Kingston. Grayson has enjoyed getting back to the indies and his roots.
“It ended up being a huge success. It was like minimum 5,000 people there. It was incredible. Backstage I couldn’t see the extent of the crowd—maybe 1,000 people—but when I went onstage I said: This place is huge! I originally wanted to take the summer off,” Grayson told SlamWrestling.net about the FLQ show as a part of the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. One show has led to another. “I want to put eyes on independent Canadian wrestling.”
Yesterday @FLQWrestling show at @Justepourrirefr in Montréal was a huge success.
Thank you to the 5000+ people who showed up to support the show and giving me a Heroes welcome! It's awesome to see how alive and loved wrestling is in Canada! pic.twitter.com/JEHperXYgv
— Stu Grayson (@stu_dos) July 24, 2022
Grayson said his relationship with the Ottawa-based C*4 — officially Capital City Championship Combat — is a great one.
“I’ve been with C*4 since day one. The promoter was a friend of mine before C*4 even existed,” said Grayson. “We knew each other from wrestling shows in Canada… IWS in Montreal. When he started C*4 wrestling, myself and Evil Uno tried to help out a lot. He knew we had a lot of contacts. We knew who was good, who wasn’t. Who was worth investing in, even when I was crazy busy with the U.S. booking, AEW and all, I would try to be there as often as possible.”
Every year since 2011, C*4 has been doing fundraisers for the Canadian Cancer Society, in honor of the late Phrank Morin, who wrestled as Stinky the Homeless Guy. The August 19 show is another fundraiser.
In AEW, wrestlers have the option to work the indies of their choosing. WWE doesn’t allow its wrestlers to work indie shows or at least that was the deal while Vince McMahon was at the helm. AEW mainstays Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston are still on many indie shows. Grayson said that if AEW didn’t allow him to do those indie show he would not have signed with them in the first place. It was a deal-breaker for him.
“I didn’t want to abandon the Canadian scene… every time I do something in Canada people on (social media) are like…Wow, there’s wrestling in Canada?” he laughed. “Of course!”
Grayson points out that there wrestlers in the Canadian promotions that have never been seen by a wider audience, and that’s primarily because of work visa requirements to take a job with a U.S. promotion.
The exposure Grayson received in AEW was massive, and it made so many fans—predominantly American fans—much more aware of him. Grayson has always been the whole package from his in-ring work, to his microphone skills, he checks all the boxes, so to speak.
Grayson is also thankful for his days in the Montreal promotion, IWS. He and Uno were tag team champs there and in demand as Super Smash Brothers.
“IWS is one of the first places I ended up traveling to because I’m from Gatineau. My first few months of wrestling I would only do promotions in my area. When Uno started traveling a bit more, I said: ‘Hey man can I just hop in the car and go places with you, build bridges?’ That’s how independent works,” recalled Grayson. “Eventually when we did a Warped Show tour for ISW, I took a huge bump on the ground and the guy who booked IWS said: ‘Who’s this guy? Who’s this insane kid?’ I was 16 then—something like that. IWS kind of got me started. They were well known… they had Steen, Generico and SeXXXy Eddie.”
Despite working there with his friend Evil Uno, Grayson has come to the proverbial fork in the road as far as AEW was concerned. All of his raw emotions and thoughts on his situation within the company came out during an very emotional promo on Being The Elite. Grayson happened to be backstage and Adam Page thought it would be great if Grayson went on camera and expressed the frustrations he felt in AEW. Grayson agreed to do it and what came out was a projectile of poignant emotion directed not just at one man, the promotion itself but at the situation he had found himself in.
And really it was the first glimpse the fans got into the very real fact that AEW wasn’t the promised land as many perhaps thought it was at first.
It was Grayson’s promo on Being The Elite that helped turned the tide. If a talented individual like Grayson and so many others — including The Dark Order — are stuck in catering, then is AEW any better than the WWE or other promotions?
Grayson said that it got to a point where he was looking at his paycheck and seriously wondered if he had earned the money. He was grateful for it but he wanted to wrestle. He made a difficult decision. He chose his love of wrestling over the money.
“Kenny Omega has tried to work with me since forever. In 13 years I had like 13 matches—something like that—it’s very hard to show the world how good you are in such a limited amount of time,” Grayson said, noting that he didn’t have one singles match in AEW.
“I would trade in a hundred dark matches for 15 minutes on television,” he said still wearing the Dark Order colors in the Zoom interview.
In the end, AEW blew up with such big name stars as CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and others but that meant talent like Grayson was getting lost in the shuffle.
“I never wanted to get paid to do nothing. I’d rather make less money and be useful than being useless and make a ton of money. That’s not how I am. I need to be challenged. I would go to the gym and hit a massive leg day so that way I’d feel challenged,” he said claiming his AEW check seemed like charity at times.
At the C*4 event in Ottawa, Grayson will be facing an old colleague in Eddie Kingston. This is a match that pro wrestling fans would have loved to see on AEW TV but never did.
Grayson is excited for the event and he is very proud of donating the money to the Canadian Cancer Society once again. Besides Grayson versus Kingston, Evil Uno will also be there facing Kevin Ku, and LuFisto will battle Janai Kai too.
It seems that Grayson made a decision for the greater good and that greater good is Stu Grayson’s wrestling legacy.
TOP PHOTO: Stu Grayson at AEW Dynamite at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, on August 11, 2021. Photo by Joe Hrycych, www.hrycychphotography.com
FIGHTING BACK 11 CARD TO DATE
- Eddie Kingston vs Stu Grayson
- Undisputed king of crazy championship 4-way: Addy Starr vs Dan Barry vs Terra Calaway vs Cecil Nyx
- LuFisto vs Janai Kai
- Evil Uno vs Kevin Ku
- 20-ish person over-the-top rumble