That match I was so excited about with Daniel Bryan…almost didn’t happen. I was sitting at a Buffalo Wild Wings watching Summerslam as a part of a 2CW Meet & Greet for the upcoming show. The main event rolled around and John Cena’s mystery partner was none other than my scheduled opponent a week later, Daniel Bryan. I kind of had it set in my mind right there that “Yup, this match isn’t going to happen.” Luckily the next day I got some great news that WWE was letting Bryan fulfill his independent dates, so the match was still a go! So the last weekend of August 2010 was one of my biggest yet, Friday and Saturday night at Ring Of Honor, Sunday night one-on-one with Daniel Bryan.
That match was one I’ll never forget. Going toe-to-toe with one of the best in the world is something you cherish for a long time, and it blew my mind to do it within walking distance from the house I grew up in. All that was racing through my head in that match was “Hit him hard, him him often, just like with Davey. Don’t hold back.” It was one of the longest and most grueling matches of my career without a doubt, that culminated with a validation moment post match when Bryan said that it was amazing I was still standing and that I was the real deal. Being able to look over that crowd and seeing my parents both standing, clapping, with smiles on their faces is something I’ll never forget. This match was really a launching point for me with 2CW and elsewhere, because the big name opponents came flooding in as 2011 and 2012 progressed.
I was sharing the ring with guys like Kevin Steen, Sami Callihan, Michael Elgin, AR Fox, hell, even Terry Funk on one occasion! It was a crazy time for me. On top of that, I was still doing Ring Of Honor TV tapings and some house shows throughout, hitting the road with Davey Richards, meeting some newcomers to ROH like Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole. I felt like I was really on my way to eventually earning a constant spot with ROH, which was the main goal for me at that time. However, a few weeks before a Toronto/Detroit ROH double shot, a weekend in Massachusetts derailed my plans..
I was at the end of a weekend loop, teaming with Bob Evans against The Zubaz Connection. During the match, I came down on my right foot and felt a ripple go from my knee to my toes and I crumbled. I tried to stand up, but fell right back down and couldn’t move. After getting to the locker room, Spike Dudley helped me get my gear off and my knee was swollen down to my toes. I went to the ER, got a leg brace and crutches, and then had a nice 6 hour drive back to Watertown ahead of me. I followed that drive up with an MRI, which revealed a laundry list of issues, including damage to all of my ligaments in that area, and a crack in my knee cap, needing up to a year of recovery. So just like that, my ground gained in ROH was gone, as was my 2012.
Being out a year with a knee injury was a real depressing time, not only professionally but personally. I was sitting on the shelf, watching all the guys I was working with getting signed to contracts or exclusive deals with major companies while I sat in my living room immobile. There was also a shift in ROH management at the time after being purchased by Sinclair, so some of the people in positions that were constantly inviting me back to tapings were gone. But I still had my home promotion, 2CW.
While I was unable to compete, 2CW was gaining some major popularity, holding their first free iPPV which had over 9,000 hits. I was happy to be apart of it, even if I was just a barely mobile special guest referee. But just being in the ring made me realize how much I needed to rehab this leg and get better. So once the process could start, I went in 110%. And finally after one full year, I was cleared and ready to go. I spent the remainder of 2013 really getting back in the swing of things, but 2014 was my turning point.
A company gaining national attention sent out a tweet asking fans to suggest some new wrestlers for them to look at, and I popped up and was given an opportunity. That company was Beyond Wrestling. I drove to the New England Pro Wrestling Academy on Valentine’s Day (something my girlfriend was NOT thrilled about) to compete at their set of studio tapings, where I was put against a kid from the midwest by the name of Danny Cannon. We went out there and laid everything on the line and after the match, we were both extended invitations to come back to Beyond. Also in early 2014, I took the first step in my dream to go to Japan. 2CW booked Tajiri and a few of his students for a double shot. I wrestled each of Tajiri’s students both days, and after the second night, Tajiri took down my information for a company he was running (WNC) in Japan. However, about a month later, I received a message about WNC shutting down and being absorbed into The Great Muta’s Wrestle-1 promotion. Japan may have been out the window for 2014, but 2015 was just around the corner..