Hey all you cool burgers and fries, it's Cheeseburger with Ring of Honor Wrestling.
So today I’m going to answer a very important question. The question I’m asked more than anything else almost every single day. Whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, a podcast, or the news, this question always pops up:
“Why the hell would a wrestler call himself Cheeseburger?!?!”
Which brings us to today’s word of the day: ORIGINS
To start this story we are going to have to jump into the way-back machine and go all the way back in time to the year 2010! October 25, 2010 to be exact, as a young man begins his first training session at the ROH Academy, now known as the ROH Dojo. When I began training I was incredibly skinny. I still am, but I was even skinnier then, believe it or not.
I started training at 17 years old while still in high school and weighed somewhere around 115 pounds. Literally everyone at the school was bigger than me, which was incredibly intimidating. A fun fact about myself most people don’t know is I originally signed up to train with Ring of Honor for the role of a ringside manager. I thought I was too small to actually be a wrestler and being a manager would allow me to still be involved with wrestling in some way. What I didn't know is that the managers have to learn the exact same basics as all the wrestlers. While signed up to be a manager, I still learned how to bump, run the ropes, chain wrestle, etc.
Over time I realized I’m picking up the wrestling stuff and doing decent at it, so I decided to make the switch. I went to my trainers Delirious and ROH alumna Daizee Haze and told them I’ve decided to continue my training as a wrestler. Thankfully, they were both extremely supportive and agreed with my decision. I can’t thank them both enough for how much they’re responsible for my success!
So this leads me to my first road trip and the origins of Cheeseburger! A few months into my training I was able to go to my first ROH weekend as a student. Students of the dojo are encouraged to travel on the road to visit shows and help out with ring crew and do various jobs during the show. If you go back through a lot of ROH shows between 2011-2013 you'll see me ringside collecting streamers, ringing the bell or even as security in brawls!
My first trip was when I met a guy who at the time I never expected to be one of my best friends in wrestling 10 years later. The day we were hitting the road to Dayton, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois, I was introduced to Mr. RHETT TITUS. I went up to meet Rhett to introduce myself as a new student, and literally the very first comment he ever made to me was something along the lines of “Wow, this kid is super skinny. You need to eat some cheeseburgers.” A few of the older students were in the group and everyone immediately thought it was hilarious.
In wrestling it’s a rite of passage to get a silly nickname sometimes as a student. That night after Rhett made that comment, I was officially christened as “Cheeseburger.” Sadly, my embarrassment didn't stop there that night. Rhett being the veteran of the group decreed to me and the people in my car that during the trip anytime we stopped at a rest stop I had to eat a cheeseburger. THIS was Rhett's plan for me to bulk up and gain some weight! That night was the beginning of Cheeseburger as my nickname; it just stuck with me perfectly. Now the way it became my ring name leads me to the next chapter of this story. ...
It is now January 2013. At the time one of the biggest heels in the company is Charlie Haas doing his outlaw gimmick. A segment was written for that episode of TV where Charlie would be in the ring yelling at the crowd, and he needed somebody to beat up. Enter the student known as Cheeseburger, who was doing ringside duties collecting streamers and toilet paper thrown into the ring. I was told I would be collecting items from the ring and Charlie would yell at me on the mic for cutting into his TV time and beat me up.
We are in the Du Burns Arena in Baltimore in front of a sold-out crowd and the segment begins. Haas sees me collecting debris from the ring during his promo and begins to yell at me. After he’s yelled at me for a bit he asks what my name is, and I give him my real name that my wonderful mother bestowed upon me at birth. Now at this point everyone in the ROH locker room just knows me as Cheeseburger and calls me such. Only a handful of people know my real name, but most people prefer to call me Cheeseburger anyway. So Charlie decides right there in the ring to say that my real name wasn't good enough and then tell me my new name is going to be “Cheeseburger” as a joke … and then he proceeds to put me in the most painful submission in wrestling, the Haas of Pain, which wasn't a joke!
However, right before he beat me up something amazing happened. After he called me Cheeseburger, the entire crowd of 800 people at the Du Burns Arena began chanting “CHEESEBURGER” in unison. At the time, I didn’t think much of it except that it was a little bit funny. Once I got to the back, one of the head officials for ROH ran right up to me and goes ,“Did you hear that? That was incredible! I think we might have something with this Cheeseburger thing!”
So an entire crowd chanted my nickname, I got to be on TV and my boss was super happy! I should have been super excited right? Nope. My heart sank and my worst fear for my wrestling career had come true. I was going to be forced to wrestle under my Cheeseburger nickname, which while it was fun backstage, it’s not really ideal for a successful wrestling career.
What kind of successful career could a guy named Cheeseburger ever hope to have?!?! Could a guy named Cheeseburger ever hope to achieve his dream of wrestling in New Japan Pro Wrestling? Could he wrestle in big arenas like the Tokyo Dome or Madison Square Garden? Wrestle main events against some of the best in the world on national TV?
Moral of the story is 19-year-old me was a complete idiot.