By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Marek on training Zicky Dice and an intense argument they had during a practice session: “From day one [Zicky was who he is]. He was in a pretty successful band and still is before arriving, so he always kind of had that stage presence about him and he was always quite the entertainer. Sometimes to a fault. I remember — he might get mad at me for telling this story but he’ll get over it. I remember, coming to the end of his class, there was one day where just — I don’t know if he was in a mood or he wasn’t feeling it or whatnot but we were having practice matches that day and he just decided to goof off during his entire practice match and he didn’t take it seriously and he didn’t try hard and he thought it was funny and a couple of his classmates thought it was funny but I didn’t think it was very funny. I might’ve been having a bad day too and I pulled him aside — actually I didn’t even pull him aside.
“I just called him out in front of everybody and told him he was being lazy, he was being a fool and if he continued to act that way, he’d never have a future in professional wrestling but then he made a full-on career of being a fool so I was wrong on that,” Brave smirked. “And he got mad and he yelled at me and you know, as a head coach, I’m not gonna take any signs of disrespect from anyone so I yelled back at him and then eventually it got heated so much that I kicked him out of class but on his way out, he decided to do a little chirping so I followed him outside and I was like, ‘You need to get out of here’ and he pushed me and I pushed him back and we came very close to getting into a fist fight right outside the doors of our training facility at the time.
“Thankfully that didn’t happen and cooler heads prevailed and he called to apologize later in the evening and everything was cool after that and he ended up graduating and he stuck around for a little while and then went off and did his own thing and he’s achieved some pretty good success and I’m very proud of him. We talk all the time. That’s so far, that’s so long ago. That’s completely water under the bridge. We’re cool now. He’ll text me and call me for advice, basically once a week and we keep in touch and he’s doing great things and I’m very, very proud of him.”
Marek speaks about his career-ending surgery, details the surgical process and if he could ever wrestle again: “On the 14th of September last year, I was in a six-man tag team match. If you go back and watch it, you’ll realize I didn’t take any bumps or anything like that. I was kind of the one dishing out most of the punishment so I did it in a safe manner. So I was able to kind of get that one last hurrah as a babyface where the crowd gave me a standing ovation. We were in a really large venue with a whole lot of people there… but it was an awesome opportunity to — and again, that was a moment where I was like, ‘This may never happen again’ so I took a step back once again, I soaked it all in and realized how special of a moment it was and I do miss performing all the time. All my life I’ve been a performer.
“Even before getting into professional wrestling, I was in theater growing up in middle school and high school. I played sports, high school football and that’s really big in our area so in a way that was performing as well. Since being involved in professional wrestling, I’ve done television, I’ve done movies. I’ve been a part of WWE productions on Raw and Smackdown and a WrestleMania which was super cool. So like my whole life I’ve been a performer so now, I’m not so much of a performer. Now, I’m behind the scenes and I’m giving other people ideas and I’m writing promos for somebody else if they need help with that, and I’m coming up with storylines and ideas for feuds and matches that have nothing to do with me other than the fact that I promote them. But yeah, there’s definitely a part of me that misses performing, but unfortunately it’s just too dangerous for me at this moment.
“When I had my fusion, it was a C5 through C7, so that covers two vertebrae. They put a screw in the top, they put a screw in the bottom and then when they went to put a screw in the middle to make it a nice strong plate on my spine, I was hooked up to all these neural sensors and whatnot, since I was passed out and I wouldn’t be able to tell them what hurt and what didn’t. But every time they would go to put the third screw in, it would separate my vertebrae just a little too much and it actually caused my entire body to seize on the operating table so after trying that a handful of times, they just realized it wasn’t possible so they had to leave that third screw out. So I have a top screw and a bottom screw but I don’t have a middle screw, which means all the pressure from the strong part at the top and the strong part at the bottom goes to the middle where there is no screw. It was dispersed to the middle so that actually makes it quite weak in the middle so I wouldn’t really be cleared to bump again. I wouldn’t be cleared.
“I’m not even — I’m cleared to lift again, but with restrictions to where if I ever feel like a little bit of pain in the neck or discomfort in the neck, I’m supposed to stop immediately and unfortunately, every time I go to lift, I do get the pain in my neck and I have to stop what I’m doing so, I can’t really stay in the physical shape I need to be to be a performer at the level I would expect from myself, and I wouldn’t be able to go in the ring and do these epic, 30 minute, one-on-one, main event-style matches and these big blow off feuds that I’m so used to doing and that people would expect of me. So, at this point, it doesn’t feel like it’s something that I’ll be able to come back to in my future. I’m not gonna sit here and say I never will. I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m retired for the rest of my life because there’s always an opportunity, within the right storyline. As long as it’s safe and we can kind of structure it safely, there’s always an opportunity for something like that but as of right now, I would say it’s pretty unlikely.”
Marek on the competitiveness between him and Seth Rollins while they were on the independents together/their feud in AAW: “My persona and my character and my standing within the company [AAW] just grew from there and so did Tyler, so did Seth and we actually ended up really, at the time in a very heated rivalry with each other in storyline and kinda outside of storyline a little bit too just because we always wanted to one-up each other and be the one to have the better matches and so on and so forth and people will laugh when they watch this but Danny Daniels always said I was better than him until I had my neck injury so, maybe it’d be called the Brave and Black Wrestling Academy [laughs]. But we had an awesome feud for the AAW Heavyweight Title after he had turned on me as my tag team partner and I think that’s kind of a running theme with him I think.”
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...