Colt Cabana Gets the Last Laugh: How Wrestling’s Comedian Built an Empire
In 2015, independent wrestler Scott Colton (a.k.a. Colt Cabana) will celebrate his 16th year in the wacky world of professional wrestling. He’s competed in every corner of the globe, from Japan to India, held myriad titles including the prestigious NWA World Heavyweight Championship and worked, in some capacity, for every promotion of note over the last decade.
But while the likes of Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Cesaro – his comrades of the squared circle for many years – have risen up the ranks of the industry, Colton’s time with wrestling’s biggest promotion came and went in a flash. So how has his career not only survived, but flourished, since a failed run in WWE?
“I’m a fighter,” he says. “I’m a wrestler.”
Born in Deerfield, Illinois in 1980, Colton caught the wrestling bug from his father. As a four year old, he watched Andre the Giant get his hair cut during an episode of WWF Championship Wrestling, and remembers growing up during pro wrestling’s Golden Age, when larger-than-life characters like Hulk Hogan were lifting the sport to new heights. The loud combination of cartoony characters and high-impact action struck a chord with the young Colton, and he was hooked.
“As I became an adolescent, a lot of the boys who loved wrestling started being told it was stupid and nerdy, and started moving onto girls and stuff,” he laughs. “But to me, I always kept that love of wrestling; that appreciation for it.”
Colton stuck to his guns. Even at a young age, he would read into the behind-the-scenes workings of a business still operating under the guise of kayfabe, when wrestling’s secrets were unknown to the outside world. His inspiration for wanting to get in the ring himself was simple: “If you were a wrestler you were the coolest, and I wasn’t a wrestler, so [they] were way cooler than me.”
Though he was determined to begin grappling straight out of high school, Colton instead attended college at the behest of his parents, playing football at Western Michigan University (“I thought it’d look good on my resume,” he says). After returning home for the summer, he began training at the school formerly known as the Steel Domain in Chicago, under the tutelage of trainers Ace Steel and Danny Dominion. Only in their mid-twenties at the time, Steel and Dominion were a stark contrast to the usual crop of grizzled veterans training the next generation of hopefuls, and their lessons resonated with the idealistic Colton.
“They were big, they were tanned, they were muscular and young, but still knowledgeable,” Colton remembers. “I would hear stories about old guys taking people’s money or not caring and just sitting around the ring, but I saw that these guys were very hands-on. They were always in the ring because they were still young and hungry. They were great.”
And then Colt Cabana was born. Under his new persona, Colton began barnstorming indie events across the country with friend Phillip “CM Punk” Brooks, driving from Detroit to Milwaukee to Minnesota one weekend, Pittsburgh to Cleveland to Louisville the next (“We were young, hungry, stupid and ready to go,” Colton laughs). They made waves together in Ring of Honor, first as opponents and then as members of the Second City Saints stable, alongside former mentor Steel. The promotion’s wrestling-first focus helped them hone their craft, but the sizeable chip on their shoulders didn’t hurt either.
“It was all East Coast and West Coast guys; there weren’t any from the Midwest, and we thought it was our job to represent. Both of us learned so much about how to be a wrestler on a bigger platform,” Colton says. “We had great matches; we were drawing an audience and making new fans without any heavy promotion and without any real money behind the project. It was just pure passion, blood, sweat and tears. The ‘product’ was the art of wrestling.
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