LIVING THE DREAM
As quickly as he could lace up his boots, Suicidal Danny Cage (pictured at right, being powerbombed by Ty Street) was born. With an amateur wrestling background and an over-the-top work ethic, he quickly caught the eye of any seasoned observer.
On one occasion, the Monster Factory appeared at a fitness expo at the Valley Forge Convention Center that also was being visited by a competitor from Shotokan Karate. The individual challenged a member of the Monster Factory to a shoot fight in order to entertain the crowd…Naturally, Danny volunteered.
“I sat there and beat the shit out of this guy for ten minutes straight…I could only wrestle and he could kick and do whatever he wanted...I would have pinned him about fifty times, but the ref kept counting to three instead of one.”
After 10 minutes of straight shoot fighting the gathering crowd was left in awe of the spectacle. “I remember Larry looking at me and he says ‘bratha, I got so much respect for you now, holy shit that was awesome.’”
The shoot nature of this fight only was a microcosm of the harsh realities faced by Danny and any other individual attempting to make a living in the business.
Professional wrestling pulled moonlight duty for Danny, as he spent his day job as a multimedia services technician for Bell Atlantic. “When I started working there, I realized that there were benefits and worker’s rights…We didn’t have any of that shit in wrestling.” This severe juxtaposition resulted in a major turning point in Danny’s life.
Around 1999, a few officials from WCW broke away from the company and planned to form an urban wrestling federation in Los Angeles. They visited the Monster Factory to scout some of Larry’s pupils, including Danny. At the end of the tryouts, Larry called Danny into his office and explained that the executives wanted him to join the promotion…However, before he could accept or decline, Larry said something that Danny would remember for the rest of his life.
“He looked at me and said, ‘but you wouldn’t give up your great job with great benefits at Bell Atlantic to pick up and move to LA for something that could close down in a month, would you?’ And I said no…He said ‘good, you’re smart, see you on Monday.’”
Of considerable significance was the fact that Larry Sharpe would have received a substantial finder’s fee had Danny joined the federation. “The place folded in a month or so…I would have been out of a job…It meant the world that Larry looked out for me when he could have gotten an easy pay day.”
This sense of family and camaraderie instilled by Larry never left Danny as he waded his way through the business.
On one particular occasion, Danny recalled wrestling in a tag match in which his partner suffered a back injury near the end of the bout. “He was hurt so bad that he couldn’t even get up…I was used to TV tapings so I jumped in the ring to take their finisher…I figured the rest could be edited out for the broadcast.”
For whatever the reason, the opponents simply missed the message and continued to try to lift Danny’s partner off the mat. Incensed, Danny knocked one of the opponents out of the ring, sparking a semi-legitimate brawl involving the entirety of the locker room. Following the event, Danny sat down next to the opponents in the locker room and delivered one simple message:
“I looked at them and said ‘when someone’s hurt, you don’t pick them up…period.’ He looked back at me and asked how long I’d been wrestling. I told him 5 years, but that doesn’t matter. He smiled, nodded, and said ‘yup, you’re right’ and that was that.”
Unfortunately for Danny, this experience with injury hit home all too well. By 2005, he had been wrestling an extremely limited schedule because of herniated discs in his back. “It was so bad that I had to roll out of bed just to put my underwear on.” Despite these problems, he agreed to return to the Monster Factory to work one last match with Bulldog Colari, now known to fans as QT Marshall in Ring of Honor.
As QT explained, “I was a young, out of shape 18 year old trying to make it big and he was ready to hang em up. No one would have known though, because he went out there trying to steal the show.” Throughout the entire match, Danny made it a point to work QT’s back in an effort to remind him about his herniated discs. After this one final show, Danny left his boots in the middle of the ring in an emotional farewell.
“I stopped working out for a while because I knew if I got in shape and started feeling good, I would want to come back…That’s the addiction.” For more than 5 years, the addiction was resisted. “I didn’t talk to Larry, I got married…I moved on with other aspects of my life.”