It's Poopoo's Birthday

I feel like starting things off with an entertainment update:

I saw Oceans last Tuesday. It was kind of a disappointment. It didn't really do as much for me as Earth did last year, but oh well. It was short and informative. I also had time to finally see The Men Who Stare at Goats, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The humor isn't for everyone, but the premise is excellent and it has a lot of good actors in it. Before those, I watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and that was okay, but it is definitely geared towards a younger audience...whooops. Nothing stand out, sadly, but we'll get em back in May with Iron Man 2 and Ridley Scott's take on Robin Hood.

-Video Games
I took the advice of my readers and bought Arkham Asylum. And let me extend a big THANK YOU to you guys. That game was fun as hell. I cruised through it 2 days (I took some time off the gym for my neck, so I had a lot of time on my hands) and it was super fun using all of Batman's gadgets and the fighting system is really fun to. It was the best superhero video game I have ever played; I can't wait for the sequel.

I tried Left 4 Dead before that, but it was a FPS and had essentially no story, so I returned it promptly after killing enough zombies to keep me satisfied for some time....until I moved onto Resident Evil 5, I've only devoted an hour to it, but I am not pleased thus far. I don't like the lack of control I have over my player. It's kind of slow and choppy. I think Splinter Cell: Conviction is up next. Thoughts?

A couple Sundays ago I ventured West 3 hours to see one of my favorite bands, Set Your Goals (pictured below). They played a great headlining set in a little dive bar called Vaudeville Mew's. I had been to this joint once before a summer ago to see Misery Signals, but damn was it packed this time for SYG...and their support: Comeback Kid, The Wonder Years, and a couple of other bands I wasn't too keen on. Comeback did work. It was the first time I had seen them live with their new singer, and while I was biased toward their old frontman Scotty Wade, new dude did a bang up job and they tore the place up. The Wonder Years was a band I had not heard until that show, but they impressed me quite a bit with their punk-pop stylings, especially in the lyrical department. It was a fun show, and me and my lady had a blast. Oh, and I bought a SYG t-shirt. It's neat.

In addition to live music, I just pick up Punk Goes Classic Rock, and it didn't disappoint at all! My favorite tracks are "Your Love" covered by I See Stars, "Caught Up In You" covered by We The Kings, "We Are The Champions" by Mayday Parade, and "More Than A Feeling" done up by Hit The Lights. Honorable mention to A Skylit Drive's cover of "Separate Ways."

I also downloaded an early release of As I Lay Dying's newest offering "The Powerless Rise." I hate downloading music early though, because it tends to be of poorer quality than what I enjoy. Regardless, I can still discern brutality, and damn AILD tear it up here. They are one of those metal bands who don't appear to give two shits about changing drastically from album to album. They just get better at what they do, which is write great songs. Kudos to As I Lay Dying.

Now onto wrestling stuffs...

This weekend is a big one. I daresay I have the biggest title defense of my young reign upcoming on Saturday in New York. Roderick Strong and I have met in some hotly contested matches over the past year, but never have the stakes been so high. I am not quite 100%, but when are any of us really performing optimally? I think that regardless of my condition, or of Roddy's condition, we both intend to give more than what is physically believed to be possible to win in New York. I know he has a chip on his shoulder based on how things have played out between us since January, but I have a chip on mine as well.

It's strange, because even though I have the ROH World Title and that symbolizes a certain status in this industry, I still don't feel like I am getting the respect I deserve. I hear whispers and the sentiment I am gathering is one of my demise. I hear shit like "Tyler's just a transitional champion," or "Who's going to be the next ROH champion?" It's frustrating because I have busted my ass to get to the top of this mountain....but I suppose taking a lesson from history, staying at this apex might be even more challenging than the climb it took to get here.

I often ask myself what any of it is even worth. A page in a history book? An inflated ego? Stories to tell my kids? I don't know...

One way or another, I'm still here doing work. People often ask me for advice when they are thinking of getting into the wrestling business; well here's a bit: Be prepared for it to consume your existence. That's why it's hard for guys to truly retire; because leaving this business is like starting your life over. While you're involved, wrestling becomes the major factor in 99% of every decision you make. For better or worse, pro wrestling will become your mistress. And it's just as trying as any human connection or relationship you will ever make.


All The World's a Stage

-I jammed my neck last weekend in a match with Irish Airborne. I don't think it's anything too serious--as it's already begun to feel better--but it definitely scared me and wasn't necessarily the most comfortable thing I've ever felt. I plan on making 2010 a relatively injury-free year, so suck it Mr. Neck; I own you.

-I was working for AAW when the neck jam happened. Currently, I am teaming there with my long-time friend and part-time partner Jimmy Jacobs. Our match with IA was pretty darn good too..actually the whole show was good...and come to think of it, ya know what? So are most of AAW's shows. I think they kinda fly under the radar as far as indy feds go, but don't sleep on em. Ever since Danny Daniels took over about 5 years ago, they have consistently been putting on solid monthly cards. If you get an opportunity I suggest you YouTube them, or hop onto www.smartmarkvideo.com and pick up some of their recent DVDs. I had a match with Shane Hollister there in February (I think) that was my favorite match of mine so far this year.

-Speaking of Shane (pictured with mohawk), he broke his leg about a month ago and will be out of action until late in the summer. He is one of the best young talents in wrestling. YouTube him too...and send him well wishes on his Facebook.

-Coming up this Friday night I am defending my Ring of Honor World Title against the "Pretty Boy Pitbull" Kenny King. Kenny and I have had a few matches in ROH already, and say what you will about him and his methodology, but he's an incredible athlete. Over the past year or so, Kenny has really come into his own under the tutelage of "A Double" Austin Aries...damn, am I the only one in wrestling without a moniker of some sort?...And my previous contests with Kenny have really been building to this Friday, I feel. I am at the top of my game, and Kenny is the best he's ever been. We're both healthy and in great shape. We match up really well stylistically and I think the people in Dayton are in for a real treat.

-Rolling into Chicago, I'm really looking forward to defending my belt against Chris Hero (not overlooking KK at all, but I intend to leave Dayton with the belt in tow). "That Young Knockout Kid" and I have had many encounters over the course of my 5 year career, but again, I really feel like this one is gonna be epic. Hero is riding high off of he and Claudio's dethroning of the Briscoes. He has his sights set and I'm ready to meet him head on. Plus, Chicago has been like a second home to me throughout my career. Luckily, I've had his number lately and I don't feel like Saturday is gonna be any different. It's MY championship march and it's only just begun.

-About 2 or 3 months ago I decided that I needed to expand my video gaming horizons. See, typically I stick to playing 2 games: Madden and Rock Band/Guitar Hero. I guess that's 3 games, but you get the idea. Lately I've found myself getting bored with the linear nature of those types of games and so I invested in Assassin's Creed. Holy balls, I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the free roaming nature in which Altair could run, jump, and climb around the awesome, sprawling Middle-Eastern environments. I loved killing fools. And most importantly, I dug the story. Upon completing the first game, it became evident to me that I needed to continue the series with the second installment. Aaaaand...thanks to Best Buy doing a week long sale of Assassin's Creed 2, I was able to spend hundreds more hours inside the Animus ;). Sequels usually fail for one of two reasons: either A) they can't live up to the original, or B) they are exactly like the original. AC2 is neither of those. It both surpasses and expands the game play and story of the first game. I loved playing it so much that I am now salivating for Assassin's Creed 3...which, to my dismay, probably won't drop until 2011. I need new games! Help me! (P.S. I hate first person shooters, so don't bother recommending any COD or Battlefield games)

-I just revisited Haste The Day's second album "When Everything Falls." It's one of my favorite hardcore albums ever. HTD is actually a Christian hardcore band, but the doses of Jesus are kept to undertones and they in no way interfere with the badassness of the breakdowns or the ultra-catchy, sing-a-long choruses.

-Songs I am liking right now: "Kids in Love" by Mayday Parade, "Soul Sister" by Train, "Live Like You're Dying" by Kris Allen, "Starting Over" by Killswitch Engage, and as much as it pains me to say this because I thoroughly hate her guts "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga. I hate myself.


Back in the Saddle

I am pretty sure that the wear and tear wrestling has put on my head over the past 5 years has caused my brain function to deteriorate. In an effort to derail this regression, I have decided to pick up the pen (or in this case, the keyboard) again and start trying to write again on a semi-regular basis. Hopefully some people read this blog, start to enjoy it, tell others about it, and then we can all have an extra distraction in our lives, and I can retrieve some of my lost mental capacity.

-Starting with the arts, my girlfriend and I see new movies nearly every Tuesday of the year. Thanks to a theater near my home continuing "bargain" Tuesdays at only $6 a movie all day long, this has reflected minimally in my pocketbook. Last week I saw Date Night, starring two of my favorites: Steve Carell and Tina Fey. The movie was hampered by a PG-13 rating, but overall it was a good way to spend 90 minutes and I would recommend it to any couple, especially those who live together or have been together for a long enough time to know the ins and outs of the Mars vs. Venus debate. On a side note, paying for movie snacks is outrageous. I sneak diet soda and beef jerky into that shit every single time. Bargain Tuesdays are the only time I think oversized purses are useful.

-Other movies I've seen lately, complete with quick ratings (out of 4 stars): Precious- 3 1/2 stars, Zombieland- 2 1/2 stars, Hot Tub Time Machine- 2 1/2 stars, Alice in Wonderland- 1 star, Avatar (in IMAX 3D) 4 stars, She's Out of My League- 2 stars, Crazy Heart- 4 stars. That about covers the last month of my movie viewing.

-I have been blasting Four Year Strong's (pictured below) new album "Enemy of the World" for about a month straight now. I saw them in concert about 3 weeks ago at a small show headlined by Everytime I Die. One thing I noticed while at this show was that I am getting old. I'm 23, nearly 24, and I feel like I'm too old for my own music! I remember the days when I was but a mere 16 and moshing and dancing and crowd surfing like there was no tomorrow. Now, I'm just that old dude who goes to shows by himself and bobs his head while looking menacing with his arms crossed. The girls are all too young and instead of watching their sweaty bodies writhe, I find myself wondering if they are even old enough to be in the establishment to begin with. F me.

-I know it's a little late, but here are some albums from 2009 you NEED to listen to:
1)"Homesick" by A Day to Remember
2)"This Will Be the Death of Us" by Set Your Goals
3)"Retribution" by Shadows Fall
4)"The Blueprint 3" by Jay Z
5)"A Shipwreck in the Sand" by Silverstein

-ROH has some new belts and I think they are pretty cool. I posted a picture of my new World Title on my Twitter this week and it got a mixed response. Let me clarify a few things. A) The new belt is much larger than the old one. The faceplate nearly covers my nipples. B) The belt is actually gold, which is great because now I can refer to it as such in promos without looking like a dummy. And C) I will always be partial to the old belt because that's the one Samoa Joe made famous and it's the only ROH title I've ever known. I was super honored to have had the opportunity to wear it for a couple of months, but I am even more taken aback by being the man lucky enough to usher in a new piece of ROH history.

-Recently in some interviews I've done the question has come up, "Tyler, you've accomplished a lot in your career thus far, but what is your ultimate goal? Is it with ROH, or TNA, or WWE, or what?" I found it difficult to answer at first, but once I got into the process of mulling it over I discovered that my goal in this industry really hasn't changed that much; not nearly as much as my perception of said industry has changed anyway. And to answer the question, my ultimate goal really is just to reach as many people as I can with wrestling as my channel. I want kids to brush their teeth with my cute little catch phrases in their heads. I want to give massive crowds of people goosebumps with climactic moments in my career. I want to tell stories and create honest portraits that keep kids out of bad situations and inspire people to follow their dreams. I want to retire and have a future set up for my own children. I want to provide for myself and for a family I plan to have in the future. Whether or not I can accomplish these goals is to be determined, as is where and how I go about completing them. Currently, ROH is my home and I love it there. I hope that the company can grow with me leading the charge, and if it's to be that I move on to something else...well, only time will tell. It would be preemptive and a tad asinine of me to assume what lies ahead. All I can promise is that I'll never stop working hard. The journey to the end is not to be overlooked, and looking back is just as vital as looking ahead.

Alright, I've ranted enough. Gotta save something for next time. I ain't no hollaback girl.




It seems like it was only a short time ago that I had all my belongings crammed into a '96 Chevy Corsica; flying down Interstate 80 hoping to train with CM Punk at the ROH Academy...

It feels like only months have passed since I was "Doin' It For Her"...

And if I close my eyes tight enough, I swear I can channel the same blood that was coursing through my veins while I was pushing Nigel McGuinness to the limit at Take No Prisoners 2008....

You know, in a way I'll kind of miss those chants of "Next World Champ!"...

But man does it feel SO SO good to wake up every day, take a look at that beautiful belt, and know that the kind Ring of Honor fans will never have to utter those words in my direction ever again. Call it me coming into my own. Call it manifest destiny. Put whatever label you want on it--I don't care; because I cannot express in words the elation that poured out of me when I heard the slap of Paul Turner's hand hitting the mat for "3" last Saturday night in New York City. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to live out their dreams, but in the roar of that crowd I am forever indebted to this great world, and its people, for the immeasurable fortune it has bestowed upon me. I won't let you down...

However, there is some light left to be shed on the closing moments of my match last week. So let me flip the switch...

First thing's first, regardless of what he was doing on the apron, and regardless of who's foot met who's mouth; I fully intend to honor the commitment and the promise I made to Roderick Strong when he agreed to be my appointed judge for that match. As far as I am concerned, Roddy is one of the top competitors in the world and he should be the first guy to get a crack at my title. Now, I don't know when or where Roddy's opportunity will come, but let me reiterate what I said to Roddy before I won the belt... He'll never beat me. I'm too focused and too determined for any man to get the better of me right now. And Roddy is no exception.

And with that, let me state clearly that though I have tremendous respect for Jim Cornette and everything he has done for this business, for ROH, and for me, I don't regret superkicking him just as I don't regret kicking Roddy. Going into New York it was made abundantly clear by Jim that that match was going to be my last opportunity. So I treated it like it was the life or death of my career. I went at Austin Aries without hesitation, without mercy. And when I had the ball in my hands, I wasn't going to drop it. I wasn't going to let a single distraction stand between me and the life of my career. As far as I'm concerned, there wasn't a choice in the matter. I did what I had to do to stay alive, and take my rightful place at the throne of ROH.

All my life we've heard the doubters under their breath; we've felt the leering bystanders scoffing at the notion of a kid following his dream into this misunderstood business. And I know I'm not alone in these sentiments: Tyler Black as the Ring of Honor World Champion is a big middle finger to everyone who exists in that discontented wasteland devoid of thought and emotion. Like it or not, I am the man--and ROH is the company--that is poised to lead this business into the next generation of greatness. Let's ball up our collective fist and stick it to the f***ing man...and the McMahon. ;)


Trading Safety for Skin

We are all machines. Self-sufficient and perfect. Programmed and reprogrammed every second of every day by the behaviors and environments that surround us. God, money, love. We are excellently adapted for survival, for getting by....

Myself included. I am a jaded liar. I am a robotic cadet. I've made excuses for my shortcomings and my mistakes for far too long. And as a result, sometimes when I look a little deeper into the mirror, I wonder if I have become the things I once loathed. Have I bought in? Has the pilot light burnt out? Am I running on fumes? I'm tired of hiding from myself.

Some might say that if I even have to ask myself those questions, then they answer themselves, but I disagree. In life, there are times when we can't just accept what's going on around us and shrug our apathetic shoulders. We can't just point fingers and place blame and give up so easily. Sometimes we can't just pretend everything is alright. The fault does not rest in the hands of timing, nor of circumstance. I have never relied on fate to get me by. Never trusted in a god or a "plan" to keep me motivated. I have always believed in myself; the person, not the machine.

I choose to no longer let them wire me. I choose to open my eyes. I choose to destroy, to rebuild, and to reclaim. And in turn, I'll step out of safety and back into skin. The 8th Anniversary of Ring of Honor will be a rebirth. For me. And for professional wrestling. We will live again.