“When I walk to the ring I’m the same guy you see on the news or the same guy you listen to on the radio. Fans happen to be drawn to that and I really appreciate it.”- Chris Lea
Independent (indy) wrestling is the lifeblood of the professional wrestling business. Often hosting their events in high school gymnasiums and National Guard armories, the indy circuit is where future legends are born and bred. Some of the biggest names in WWE, including C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan, spent years making a reputation for themselves at the indy level before becoming global superstars.
At is core, wrestling is one of the most physically demanding forms of entertainment there is. While the outcomes to the matches are scripted, the bodily harm inflicted is anything but. A certain amount of heart and sheer determination is necessary for anyone looking to break into the profession.
On the same token, you wouldn’t exactly envision your local news personality donning a pair of tights to do battle in the squared circle on their day off. However, it’s the exact predicament Chris “ShoSmoove” Lea finds himself in.
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Chris graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in communication studies. In addition to the wrestling lifestyle, Chris serves as traffic anchor for WXII-12 and is an on-air personality for 102 Jamz. He currently competes for independent promotions CWF Mid-Atlantic, East Coast Professional Wrestling, Eastern All-Star Wrestling, Heritage Championship Wrestling, Premiere Wrestling Xperience, New Skool Wrestling and Fire Star Pro Wrestling.
Clearly, multitasking isn’t an issue.
As with anyone who decides to dedicate a portion of their life to the wrestling business, Chris is a true student of the game and has a deep appreciation for the performers of today and yesteryear.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of conducting the following interview with Chris in order to gain a better understanding of the unique journey he took towards making his dream into a reality. Just as those performers he grew up admiring, Chris plans to leave his own unique imprint on the wrestling world.
How long have you been a fan of wrestling?
I’ve been a fan for my entire life.
Who are some of your favorite wrestlers, past and present?
A few of my favorites are Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, Sting, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart and KENTA (of Pro Wrestling NOAH).
What made you decide to pursue a career in wrestling?
I was 26, and just felt like I needed to finally do it so I wouldn’t regret never stepping into the ring when I got older.
How did your family initially feel about your decision?
My family was very supportive of me wrestling. Everyone has always known how much I was into it and on the night I debuted I had over 50 people, many of which were family, in attendance. It was an awesome feeling to hear that roar of the crowd when I came out.
When you began training, was there anything about the process that caught you by surprise? Is being a wrestler tougher than what you thought it would be?
I knew it would be tough because I respect the business and always have.I was more surprised that
I caught on as quickly as I did. I kind of assumed I’d have a match here or there whenever someone needed an extra person. I didn’t realize I’d become pretty good (for a rookie) and would have bookings every week.
How many shows do you wrestle in a given month?
I’ve had as little as four and as many as nine in a month’s time.
Is there a particular wrestler whose style you pattern yourself after?
Daniel Bryan, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam have all influenced my in-ring style.
Tell me a little about your gimmick?
I don’t wrestle under a gimmick name. I am myself. When I walk to the ring I’m the same guy you see on the news or the same guy you listen to on the radio. Fans happen to be drawn to that and I really appreciate it. I just use what I’m known by professionally and how I make my real money…Chris “ShoSmoove” Lea.
What is the biggest difference you’ve discovered between being a fan and being an actual wrestler?
I definitely look at things differently now. Not saying anything negative about wrestling fans, but I realized that I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew about the wrestling business until after becoming a wrestler and seeing it from the inside.
The way I watch matches now is totally different, even live events. When I attended the recent WWE Smackdown tapings at the Greensboro Coliseum, I was watching as a wrestler and not a fan. I was able to notice things that I’m sure most regular fans didn’t notice. It’s been an interesting transition.”
Do you have dreams of one day working for WWE, or do you wish to make more of a name for yourself on the independent level?
Of course, I’d love to make it to WWE. If you’re serious about what you do, you’d definitely want to make it to the highest level. That’s in the plans, but if I never make it, at least I can be happy that I at least tried and that I have other careers to fall back on.
I want to thank Chris for taking the time out of his busy schedule to be a part of this interview. You can check him out at the FSPW Supremacy show on Saturday, August 26, at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Gym located on 840 Neal Street in Greensboro.