Hello y’all….so many people are asking me when I’m coming back to wrestling since I’ve been out with injuries, and I finally have some answers for you.

I’ve actually been sitting on this info for almost a month now (I last saw my doctor on Aug 27), but still have not really come to grips with it. The bottom line is two-fold: I am done wrestling, and, I will be returning to wrestling in February 2015.

What? Well which is it? Pick one!

Most of you are aware that I had extensive spinal surgery on April 25th of this year, to correct 2 discs that were bulging, herniated, and compressed. Basically, they pull the discs out, clean them up, drain some fluid from them, and put them back in place. One of mine couldn’t be saved so it had to be discarded and has been replaced with a piece of bone. The other disc was able to be corrected without issue and re-inserted into my vertebrae (the actual issue and procedure is explained here: Laminectomy-Discectomy). Most of you are also aware that I have the exact same injury in my neck that I did in my spine, except my neck is 3 damaged discs, as opposed to only 2 in my spine. Keeping that in mind, what my doctor told me is this: if it was only my back that was injured, I’d now be okay to return to wrestling (thanks to the surgery I recently had) as long as I lost 20-30 pounds (and kept that weight off). But with the combination of my neck AND back injuries together, there’s no way he can clear me for anything that physical. He said even if he did neck surgery to get me back in the ring, it would be such a risk and it would only give me such a short amount of time back in the ring that it wouldn’t be worth it. He said the surgery + recovery time + PT after + getting back into ring shape, all combined, would be a longer time period than the amount of time the surgery would allow me to be back wrestling anyway, so, very not worth it. The actual conversation went like this:

Doc: “Do you miss wrestling?”
Me: “Absolutely. It’s all I think about sir.”
Doc: “Well then, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re done, Joe. It is simply too risky, and at 37 years old, I’d like to keep you out of a wheelchair and away from paralysis.” He then described everything I said earlier in this post.

The injury I have in my neck is basically the same injury Adam “Edge” Copeland had which forced his early retirement. Now, I’ve had 3 epidural blocks in my neck which do not fix the injury, but they dull the affected nerve so I do not feel pain there regularly. Occasionally, I will feel a lot of pain but when I do it’s for such a short amount of time that I don’t even bother complaining about it.

So at this point, I am just at too big of a risk of paralysis if God forbid something goes wrong, that I simply cannot return. Of course, I can get hurt any day any way and still become paralyzed if I were to injure or negatively-affect my neck, but the point of no longer wrestling is to lessen my risk of anything bad happening to me, by lessening the “unnecessary” physical aspects of my life. I can still work out lightly and do some stretching (I have been doing DDP Yoga), but anything further can land me in a wheelchair for life. Now normally, I wouldn’t care about the risks. I LOVE professional wrestling and would go back tomorrow if I could. But I have a new girlfriend now, who I’m pretty sure will be my last girlfriend. And if we ever plan to get our own place and maybe build a family together, I need to be active and able to move. I cannot risk permanent paralysis with the possibility of a real meaningful future with Angela, I’m simply not that selfish of a person, and it isn’t fair to her to put myself and our future together in that precarious of a position. I hope that makes sense to you.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “but you said that you’ll be back in 2015”, and I will be. Here’s my plan:

I’m going to do a series of matches I’m calling my “Final Five”. Five final matches, against opponents of my choosing. These are guys I have either never wrestled before and always wanted to, or guys I maybe have wrestled before, but the person and/or the match meant a lot to me and I’ve always wanted to wrestle them again. I already have my 5 opponents picked, all have accepted, and all have thanked me for asking them. Three of them even went so far as to say they are “honored” that I’d ask them to be a part of a something so important to me and my career, but “honored” is a bit too big of a word to be used in association with me. I’m just another independent wrestler from Jersey. That’s all. I’m just Joe from Atlantic City, who wanted to wear spandex and entertain the world. The “Final Five” series will be filmed for DVD however I doubt anyone would buy this since it’s me and I’m a nobody, but it’ll be filmed for me. I want all 5 matches on a DVD to keep for myself so when I’m 115 years old, I can look back on it and see what I looked like in spandex. Hah! The opponents, and companies that will host each match, have been chosen already but I will not make any announcements until solid dates are finalized, but I can tell you this: the first match in this series, which will be my return match after 2 years off on the injured list, will be in February 2015 for Grand Slam wrestling in Pennsylvania. That’s as much as I can say right now.

Since I was 9 years old, I’ve wanted to do nothing more than wrestle. It doesn’t matter if I suck, it doesn’t matter if I’m good, it doesn’t matter if I’m famous, and it doesn’t matter if no one knows who I am. I accomplished my childhood dream. People can shit talk me all they want. I did what I set out to do. December 2014 will be 15 years since I first began training, and June 2015 will be 15 years since my first professional match (June 25, 2000). It’s very hard for me to let it go, but I realize I have no real choice. The reason for my “Final Five” series is so I can go out my own way, on my own terms. What I am hoping for is that I can begin the series in Feb 2015 and do one match a month until June, making it exactly 15 years for me. After that, I will simply fade away from in-ring action, hopefully gracefully.

There is such a HUGE amount of people I need to thank for one reason or another from over the past 15 years, and I will get to that over time. But for now, I just needed to get this all off my chest and let people know what’s been going on, because as I said there have been several people asking me when/where I am returning.

The Three R’s:

-Return

-Retire

-Remember

Thank you for reading,

Joey

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