Jake's Big Break

A computer geek dons a blue wig and takes a flying leap at the fringes of pro wrestling.

"He's quite a kid," says Gil.

"Loving and caring," says Joey. "You couldn't ask for a better son."

"I never imagined him doing this," she adds. "But he's such a good young man. He's been through so much. Whatever he wants to do, I'm all for it. Whatever he does to fulfill his life is fine with me."

A wigless Jake Shannon (right) gives a salute with Vampiro.
A wigless Jake Shannon (right) gives a salute with Vampiro.
The good boy: Jake, GIl Shannon and Joey Senter in a quiet moment.
The good boy: Jake, GIl Shannon and Joey Senter in a quiet moment.

"Hey, Libido Gigante -- nice to meet you," says the big guy wearing a black-and-white mask with devil horns and holding a baseball bat who answers the door of the Westminster tract house. "Jake couldn't make it, and he asked me to answer any questions for him."

"He met you with a mask?" asks Joey. "He's a very nice-looking boy. He should have taken that thing off."

Jake's fast track to the world of wrestling began, in a way, back in 1994, when he went to watch an Ultimate Fighting Championship at the Mammoth Events Center. The fights were dominated by fighters trained in a martial art called Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Intrigued, Jake quit his basic karate and signed on with the South Americans.

A year later he moved to San Francisco. He worked a series of lousy jobs. But one of them, at a bookstore, led to another gig at a small publishing house called Laissez Faire Books, which specialized in Libertarian political theory. It spoke to Jake. "Shit," he thought to himself while perusing the goods. "This stuff makes sense."

After digesting a few more economics tomes, Jake was hooked. He registered at a local university to learn more about monetary systems and computers. (Even now, his personal Web site is a heady, if unusual, mixture of pro wrestling, political theorizing and poetry.) A couple of years ago, he took a job with a fast-moving Denver computer company and moved back home.

Meanwhile, Jake's jiu-jitsu interests had proceeded apace, until one day he badly injured his neck during a competition. Seeking a replacement activity without all the potential for injury, at the advice of a friend he decided to try his hand at professional wrestling.

Jake was captivated immediately. It seemed that he was born for the mat. He loved the combination of athleticism and hambone. He liked the spontaneity of working out the details of a performance with his opponent in the middle of a live show. "For example," he explains, "maybe while we're in a clinch, I'll whisper to him, 'I'm going to throw you off the ropes, give you a clothesline, then you lay down and I'll give you a leg dump, and I'll roll you over with a crucifix pin and you kick out in two.' So you see, it is an interesting canvas you get to work with."

Jake wears his dreams on his sleeve, so his plans were no secret, even at his new computer job. "He wasn't too shy about it," recalls Kal Rucker, whose work cube was next to Jake's. "Not too long after I met him at work, he said he wanted to be a professional wrestler. Everybody kind of laughed. I mean, I want to be a part-time baseball player. I figured both were about equally likely to be true. I didn't believe he was 100 percent serious."

But Jake was. And after some training at a local academy, he and his stepbrother sat down to contemplate one of the thornier problems facing a young professional wrestler on the cusp of fame: What would his shtick be? Eventually, they resorted to the old drinking game of coming up with a good-sounding porn-star handle by combining the name of your first pet with your mother's maiden name. Thus was born MoBush.

As time went on, MoBush's character filled out. He was a pussy hound, of course. Eventually, for reasons that are not entirely clear, he started wearing a big blue wig. Jake also had a revelation: Promoters generally decide who will wrestle, for how long, and who will win. But Jake soon realized that MoBush could be just as popular as a guy who got pummeled nearly every time he stepped into the ring as one who won every time out.

"People hated me, which was great," he says. "They're all pissed off at their boss or whatever, and they can throw stuff and get arrested and have a great time.

"Who wins doesn't really matter," he adds. "But it's competitive in that you want to outperform the other guy. You want the slicker moves, the better dialogue."

A year ago, Jake took a break for some continuing education. He traveled to Mexico to train with a famous Japanese wrestler who was an expert in an athletic, almost gymnastic style of wrestling called lucha libre. It was a formative experience. Upon his return, Jake translated MoBush into Spanish as best he could, donned a black mask with horns and birthed Libido Gigante.

As he trained, Jake continued to massage his contacts within the wrestling world. When the Vans Warped Tour passed through Denver this past summer, he was ready to go. Jake, appearing as Libido Gigante, took on El Gran Fangorio (translated extremely loosely as "The Big Fang"). Uncharacteristically, the Huge Libido won. Impressed with Jake's crowd appeal, the show's promoter called Jake onto the bus and asked if he'd like to extend his appearance on the tour. Two weeks later, after quitting his job, he did.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help