As owner of Primos Hardcore & Wrestling and the Butcher Shop wrestling gym, Joe "Joey Terrorfyn" McDougal is now gearing up for Primo's biggest throwdown of the year, Slave to the Deathmatch III this Sunday, September 16. The organization will join with the Juggalo Wrestling League and other fighting federations across the country to bring the Japanese fighting-style center stage at Red & Jerry's.
When we last spoke with McDougal back in February, the hardcore wrestler was on his way to Mexico City to train at Arena Azteca Budokan, the famed Luchadores gym.. But life took McDougal down a path he wasn't quite expecting, and the fighter was kind enough to share some of this deeply personal story with Westword.
Westword: How was your training in Mexico?
Joe "Joy Terrofyn" McDougal: I planned on being down there for at least eight weeks - and honestly, that time got in half. I knew this going in, but my mom had leukemia. She got really sick while I was down there, and called and wanted me to come home. A couple weeks later, my mom passed away.
But I did a lot of great stuff while I was in Mexico; I don't regret any of it. My mom wanted me to go down there, and I got to come back when she needed me. It wasn't even a day after she called me and I was there for her. I don't regret it - I got to compete in different arenas when I was in Mexico. I got to do a lot of cool stuff and trained at several gyms while I was down there, and that's what I brought back with me.
What was different about the wrestling training in Mexico, as opposed to what you at your gym, the Butcher Shop?
Oh, it completely changed the culture of the Butcher Shop. The work ethic, mainly. (The guys I trained with) in Mexico look at it as a sport. They don't feel like it's "fake wrestling"; I think Americans have a bad perception of wrestling, in general. They believe it's one hundred percent fake and none of it is real. But we prep just as hard, if not harder than any sport. That's what I brought back, showing how much harder we all can be working.
The level of expectation went up. Doing what we do with more intensity, more passion. That was the biggest change in our culture. Primos seems to really be making that education of the American public part of its mission.
This is my business, my company. This is what I do. Sometimes it feels like that is the harder fight -- to try to suspend the American (audience's) belief, if just for one night. If someone goes into wrestling thinking it's totally fake, I'll challenge them. I'll say, well, watch my match, and tell me how fake it is. Or I'll challenge them to come to my gym and come train with me.
If I can take one person from a crowd -- right then and there and challenge them -- that, to me, is our goal. In Mexico, the crowd already believes, so you don't have to try to suspend anything; you just do what you do passionately, and they will see that. Here, we have to show a little more realism - show them the tangible. Pick someone up, put them through a table. I'm not saying that's what we focus on, but if we can show someone a punch, a real punch to a skull, there's no way they can say "that was fake."
We want to be intense and show a passion, if even for one night, with this tangible fight. Then we can create a fan. The allure to wrestling is that the fans feel like they are in on something - they know more than everyone else. They are in on "the secret"; they're smart to it. But that's also what we play off of. Sometimes, it's easier to play off of those who think they know so much about wrestling.
What was the biggest thing that struck you about the time you spent training in Mexico City? The culture shock of it -- to see how little people live on down there is amazing. We were just four guys in a tiny room. They live on a lot less in Mexico City, but that doesn't mean they're not happy; to me, it was a beautiful experience - I got to see people who care about what we do.
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The opportunity is still there for me and any of my guys to go down and train in Mexico again. That was probably the hardest part of my life that I've ever dealt with, but it is part of my journey. My mom even told me that she wouldn't have wanted me to do it any differently.