About Last Night
2:56 PM CST, March 2, 2014
Pro wrestler Colt Cabana pretends to hurt people for a living. The 33-year-old Deerfield native has been doing it for 15 years, briefly in WWE but mostly on the independent scene. But the punch he delivered to actor Michael Cera’s groin in late January while filming a Comedy Central pilot starring Chris Gethard? That wasn’t pretend — just an accident.
“(In the bit) I was guarding something everybody was trying to get to … and accidentally cracked him in the (groin),” Cabana (real name: Scott Colton) said last week while sitting by the window at Emporium Arcade Bar in Wicker Park. Cabana will host his free, wrestling-meets-”Mystery Science Theater 3000” comedy show, “Five Dollar Wrestling,” Thursday at Emporium. “(Cera) was a great sport. He said it was more than OK and (joked) ‘It’s all for show business.’”
Cabana — who you may have seen in cartoon form flexing on billboards for Bucktown custom tshirt store One Hour Tees — has become very familiar with show business in recent years. While he was only making a cameo on Gethard’s pilot, he was a cast member on a wrestling-themed pilot for Fox called “Undisputed” that never got picked up. In 2012 Cabana signed a production deal with Jamie Kennedy Entertainment, founded by the “Scream” actor, but nothing ever came of it.
“(Kennedy) had his hand in 50 different projects and — the story of my life — I got lost in the shuffle,” Cabana said.
Cabana saw his life-long dream come true when he signed with WWE in 2007, only to be let go less than two years later. With the help of his ex-roommate, former WWE Champion and Chicagoan CM Punk, Cabana landed another WWE tryout in 2011 but was turned down. Cabana later auditioned with WWE for the role of color commentator three times, with the most recent audition taking place in late January.
“They said no,” Cabana said. “I was also supposed to have (a video blog) for wwe.com and they said no to that too. It’s hard for me to sit here and say I keep on getting rejected. I don’t think it makes me look good.”
And yet, this rejection has been a big part of Cabana’s growing popularity.
Everyone loves cheering for the underdog — especially a jovial underdog like Cabana who refuses to give up. In addition to wrestling on the independent scene, Cabana, ever the self starter, launched his weekly podcast, “The Art of Wrestling,” in 2010 and said it now averages around 100,000 downloads per week. In 2011 Cabana released the straight-to-DVD documentary, “The Wrestling Road Diaries,” with a sequel scheduled for release in April. He also co-hosts “Five Dollar Wrestling” and a weekly web series “Worst Promo Ever” with Chicago comedian Marty DeRosa.
Cabana and DeRosa will be joined on stage by comedian Ricky Gonzalez during Thursday’s show. They’ll watch wrestling matches and promos with the audience on Emporium’s big screen and poke fun at the cheesy characters and botched wrestling maneuvers. Cabana has performed the show around the world, including in Scotland, England and New York, and hopes it can become a monthly event in Chicago.
"I think it's for everybody," Cabana said. "The show isn't just meant for wrestling fans. It's a comedy show based on pro wrestling -- bad pro wrestling."
Some of Cabana's fans have been following him since his days in the Ring of Honor wrestling promotion. Others were introduced to him through Punk, who name-dropped Cabana during his legendary anti-WWE speech (aka "pipebomb") on WWE's "Monday Night Raw" in 2011. Cabana believes that was the turning point in his career. "When Punk put the spotlight on me, a lot of people googled me," Cabana said. "I think that was the big spike, but it was up to me to keep them enthralled."
How many emails has Cabana received asking about Punk, who reportedly quit WWE in January and has yet to comment on his situation publicly?
"It's a lot," Cabana said. "It’s wrestling websites and promoters who want to book him. I ignore a lot of them or just say he’s nowhere to be found."
Cabana, on the other hand, is easily accessible (as long as you're not inquiring about Punk). He believes this approach has served him well in his career and made him a go-to-wrestler for promotions and the entertainment industry. Cabana recently wrestled in Europe and India and is booked for shows in South America and Japan this Spring, not to mention the infamous Gathering of the Juggalos festival in August.
“There is that little 5-year-old kid in me who sat around watching (WWF) ‘Saturday Night Main Event’ and playing with rubber LJN dolls who would love to be a part of that (WWE) universe. Maybe it’s just not meant to be,” Cabana said. “I can give up and cry because they don’t want me or continue to grow my business and prove them wrong. It’s not the worst thing. I really enjoy representing the independent world. And I’ve proven I don’t need WWE to be successful. I’m very proud of that.”
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Five Dollar Wrestling
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Emporium Arcade Bar; 1366 N Milwaukee Avenue
Admission: Free; emporiumchicago.com
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