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The Road to NYWC : A Matter of Pride , A Look at Rick Cataldo

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As we get closer to the NYWC event “A Matter of Pride” we will be taking a look at the competitors taking part in the event. We are happy and honored to have our first statement from Rick Cataldo, the brains and beauty behind “A Matter of Pride”. In this statement Rick Cataldo talks about growing up gay in the world of professional wrestling.

“Where you a fan of Adrian Adonis? Goldust? Rico?” Is a a question I got asked a lot, because I’m a gay wrestler… My answer to anything like that would be “abso-fucking-lutley not!” Because I AM a gay wrestler, it’s not a work.. Its a shoot: It’s real! I’m a homosexual male who was out with his asexuality at a tender adolescent age of 12 … I’ve been involved in the world of pro wrestling since I was 14, these combinations make for an abnormal life, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

To thoroughly answer a question like one asked before, the answer would in all sincerity be Terri Runnels, Sable, Sunny, and Dawn Marie … The women of the 90’s who were involved with professional wrestling were, and forever will be my inspirations, there my child hood heroes… While most gay youth found guidance in the likes of Madonna, Cher and later Britney Spears and Lady Gaga… For me it was all about these scantily clad women who would help usher in the Diva era of professional wrestling. As years went by, I soon shared locker rooms with these women, became friends with many of them, and unfortunately saw some of my idols become rivals….. It made me into the man I’ve become; but also broke the boy I was.

You have to understand, I was a gay teenage pro wrestler during the Bush administration. Coming up, things were not pretty. With all due respect to my veterans, the openly gay wrestlers that came before me like Pat Patterson and Cassandro, they had it different and in some sense easy. Though it might be the worst kept secret in wrestling, Patterson never came out of the closet until years after he hung up his boots, and Cassandro spear headed a revolution in Lucha Libre with Exoticos, but this was not Mexico, this was the rough and tough holes in the walls of Indy wrestling. For years I couldn’t find a road to walk on, I simply had to forge my own path. I never fooled anyone that I was working a gimmick, the makeup bags, way of speech, are always dead give aways. In the beginning, the ‘boys’ weren’t welcoming to me at all, I had my bags thrown out of locker rooms, was forced to change in the bathroom while fans pissed in the stalls and mumbled derogatory comments. I remember one of my earliest days of training, a more experienced wrestler had asked me why I threw forearms instead of punches, I replied that “Because Trish Stratus does them, and because I’m more of a personality rather than wrestler… It’d make more sense.” His eyes widen; he was bewildered, “So your shoot a queer?” He replied, and I nodded my head up and down. He yanked my arm towards a boxing bag and for an hour that felt like a century, made me throw punches, until my knuckles bled. Other wrestlers circled around to mock me shouting false encouragements like “faggots can’t fight” “those are sissy punches” and “if your wrist wasn’t limped before, now it is.” I thought this was just a way to weed out the weak though, after all wrestling is built on a hush hush environment and not everyone could stand the heat that the kitchen had to offer. Still, years later after gaining more experience and honing my craft, I was asked to send a match to a talent scout at TNA for a possible dark match … Cassandro had recently rejected The role of ‘Andromeda’ a trademark name the company bought in hopes of bringing in a “flamboyant” character. It just so happened that I had worked Angelina Love a month prior, yet when I got the footage of the match, I was more than discouraged of sending it in .. From start to finish the commentators were burying me hard with comments like “Here comes that fat faggot Rick Cataldo.” “Rick’s father was a seaman in the navy, Now he just spreads it all over Rick’s ass.” At that time let’s say a lot of the commentary on my matches where worse than Jerry Lawler demeaning The Divas. I soon found comfort growing up in the women’s locker rooms on the east coast. To this day I feel like I belong to a sorority of sorts, yet I couldn’t help but noticed being openly gay again was a double edge sword in this field. Its no secret that 99.9% Of the women in this industry have slept with one of the boys, let alone date them. Hell I can instantly tell who a girl is sleeping with by the moves she busts out in the ring, yet if I was to even entertain the idea of having sexual relations with someone in wrestling … I’d be threatened of all sorts of harm, with that being said you can laugh at the irony that some of The women on tv today gained a spot on the roster by dating so and so, and when rumors spread that I … Let’s say for lack of better words, JOBbed out to that same so and so.. half the cast of Total Divas blocked me on twitter, along with Dixie Carter.

So after years of sweat, tears, shitty pay days, dropkicks and glitter, I often wonder why am I still in this abusive relationship with professional wrestling. The answer is simple; because its the only love I know. When family and friends have left me at my lowest points in life… Pro wrestling was always there, waiting for me to show up with a confident attitude after being knocked down. It does get better, whenever I think no one is watching or aware of the passion I have for this business, the beauty of technology comforts me and through social media fans message me of how inspiring I am, how they can relate, and how they think its not such a far fetched dream for them to train to be a wrestler.

 In only the last couple of short years, I have seen more people come into wrestling cut from my cloth. Other workers who are openly gay and march to the beat of their on drum, workers who are knowledgeable of The same Diva matches I watched. Workers who face adversity and still walk into a squared circle with there chin up, face full of make up on, and laced boots. They have become my “sisters”, allies, peers and more importantly my new heroes. I find that all the shit I ate coming up as a teenager was worth it; I carved out my own path to happiness within this circus of a world, and when I look back … I don’t see my past; I see an army of fellow lgbt wrestlers laying their own bricks down, paving the road over the dirt I stepped on. I feel like a mission I didn’t know I had was accomplished: I had given back to pro wrestling.

 Pride : a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Sunday September 18th all of us lgbt wrestlers come together for the first time happening, to wrestle a tournament in ‘A Matter of Pride’. It’s going to be amazing, where not going to be a novelty act on some regular card, this is the start of a revolution… I know I have nothing to lose, after all, if you learned anything from this story…. It’s this : Pride is my favorite sin.”

Rick Cataldo

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For tickets and information about NYWC “A Matter of Pride” visit http://www.nywcwrestling.com/

Be sure to follow Rick Cataldo on Twitter

Photo credits: Abigail Montes

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