by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Shawn Shultz is a wrestler with nearly a decade and a half of experience. Only nine matches into his career Shultz suffered a shoulder injury that left him on the shelf for months and may have convinced others to abandon wrestling, but Shultz came back even more motivated. Shultz began his career in Tennessee and early on after meeting Bert Prentice had the chance to get involved with TNA while the company was still very young. Since then he has worked in the former WWE developmental territory Deep South Wrestling (DSW) and a wide variety of other promotions including ROH, NWA Smoky Mountain and All American Pro Wrestling (AAPW). His list of championships include the NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship, the NWA Mid-America Television Championship and the AAPW Heavyweight Championship among others. Shultz has an official website that can be found here. This interview was completed on October 8, 2013. In this interview Shultz and I focus on the topic of dealing with an injury early on in one’s career.
Daniel Johnson: How would you describe yourself as a performer in a nutshell?
Shawn Shultz: That is a hard one to start off with. I guess I would say I’m a bit of Jerry Lynn and Brad Armstrong with a dash of Tracy Smothers mixed in.
Daniel Johnson: For those unfamiliar with you where and when were you born and how long have you been wrestling?
Shawn Shultz: Born in 1982 and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee which is near Knoxville. I started wrestling in October of 2000.
Daniel Johnson: When you first knew you wanted to become a wrestler how did you find a place to get trained? Also, what did a typical day of training look like?
Shawn Shultz: I got a part-time job at the age of 16 to save up and go to Mr. Fuji’s training school in Knoxville. After I got the money saved up my mother had a co-worker that was friends with a pro wrestler named Jason Wrecker who was from our town. I met with Jason and hit it off and he directed me to who trained him, Scott Bishop. So, shortly after I started training with Scott. I trained on a gym floor. I learned all my first rolls and bumps on a basketball court. We went through a short circuit training each day that was followed by rolls and bumps, all the basics.
Daniel Johnson: How long did you train before having your first match?
Shawn Shultz: Scott was very up front in letting me know that he was only teaching me the basics and the rest from there on was up to me to learn. So, I trained under Scott for about four months before I had my first match.
Daniel Johnson: Do you remember your very first match at all? If so then what stands out from it?
Shawn Shultz: I do remember bits of it. The rest is a blur. I just mainly remember that I was so nervous I almost puked and it was terrible because the guy I worked and I were both super green.
Daniel Johnson: Nine matches into your career your suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined you for over four months. What was your first thought when you suffered the injury? Did you know it was going to be as bad as it was when it first happened?
Shawn Shultz: Yeah, when it happened my collar bone was sticking out and I couldn’t feel my arm really other than tingles, so yeah I knew it was going to be pretty bad. My first thought was, “Man, I hope I’m not out too long!”
Daniel Johnson: Was the injury unavoidable or was it more a rookie mistake?
Shawn Shultz: I was just trying to do something that I wasn’t ready for and neither was the guy in the ring with me.
Daniel Johnson: What was the recovery process like for rehabbing the shoulder?
Shawn Shultz: I actually rehabbed myself. Nobody knows my body like me. I mean it all hurt, but from what I remember it didn’t really seem to take too long.
Daniel Johnson: Did you have any concerns about coming back after such an injury? At any point did you consider giving up wrestling completely?
Shawn Shultz: No concerns, I had fears of getting hurt again, but I believe that is normal. No, I’ve never given any serious thought to giving it up completely.
Daniel Johnson: I know some wrestlers who suffer injuries look to others for inspiration to get back in the ring. For instance, before the majority of his career Ric Flair suffered a broken back that could have ended his career, which some find inspiring. What, if anything, inspired you during the recovery process?
Shawn Shultz: I just wanted to keep going. There wasn’t any one person who inspired me, just wanted to do what I had always dreamed of.
Daniel Johnson: Have you had any nagging pains from your shoulder injury or was it completely healed after you had two surgeries on it?
Shawn Shultz: I mean it gets stiff, but nothing severe. Dr. Mckay in Oak Ridge is amazing!
Daniel Johnson: Since that time have you had any other injuries? If so were they related to your original shoulder injury?
Shawn Shultz: I’ve had a laundry list of injuries, but none related to the shoulder.
Daniel Johnson: What advice would you give to a wrestler who has suffered an injury early in their career?
Shawn Shultz: Decide if it is worth it to you. If you aren’t willing to give a large part of your life to wrestling and have the passion to go further in the world of wrestling, I don’t see the point on beating your body up so bad. On the other hand their isn’t any experience like being in this crazy world we live in.
Daniel Johnson: I recently watched the documentary The Last of McGuinness about the end of Nigel McGuinness’ career. In the film WWE withdraws his contract offer after it turned out some previous injuries took more of a toll on his body than initial x-rays showed. Do you have any concerns about anything similarly happening to you?
Shawn Shultz: No, no concerns.
Daniel Johnson: I also wanted to talk about your broader wrestling career. How long in your career was it before you wrestled outside of your home state for the first time? What was the experience like?
Shawn Shultz: After coming back from my shoulder I worked in east Tennessee for around five months or so and then got on the road starting with Kentucky and other southern states.
Daniel Johnson: Fairly early in your career you had the chance to work with TNA? How did this opportunity come about?
Shawn Shultz: I started working for Bert Prentice in Nashville and Bert had a lot to do with TNA being at the Fairgrounds in Nashville. I asked him if I could start coming and being seen and he said of course. So, every week for a while I was there willing to do whatever I needed to do to get noticed.
Daniel Johnson: Did you ever have a chance to be on the full-time roster in TNA? If not than why do you think it never came about?
Shawn Shultz: Back then no and for that time honestly in some aspects I wasn’t ready and in other aspects this is just a strange business.
Daniel Johnson: You have also had the chance to appear for WWE a few times and had three stints in WWE’s former developmental territory Deep South Wrestling. What was the most valuable thing you learned during your time in Deep South Wrestling?
Shawn Shultz: I learned a lot about camera positioning and timing and how they visualize the match. WWE is on point and until you have been there and see how they work you really can’t grasp how much goes into what they do.
Daniel Johnson: Have you ever considered going to Florida for NXT? Why or why not?
Shawn Shultz: Well, of course! My dream was to be in the WWE since I was five years old. I would love to be at that new facility and be able to learn from the best and make no mistake they have the best teachers.
Daniel Johnson: Outside of the two biggest American promotions you have worked for a slew of independent companies including the now defunct AAPW where you held the AAPW Heavyweight Championship in 2009. What was it like to be the top dog in the company?
Shawn Shultz: I love southern Illinois, the crowds there are always great and most of the talent is pretty good and there are a few great ones. It was always fun being there.
Daniel Johnson: Do you consider the AAPW Heavyweight Championship to be the most prestigious championship you have held to date? If not than what is?
Shawn Shultz: I mean I’ve been the champion of more than several shows, but I guess the time a belt really meant a lot to me was when I had the NWA Mid-America TV title. I really took pride in taking that title everywhere and defending it. At that time I was on a mission to make that title mean more than the NWA World title and the 19 months I had it I did, I took it more places in one month than the NWA World title had been in that entire 19 month period.
Daniel Johnson: What do you consider your current home promotion to be? What keeps you coming back to that company in particular?
Shawn Shultz: Don’t really have one. I consider everywhere in the ring home.
Daniel Johnson: How would you rank 2013 among all your years as a wrestler?
Shawn Shultz: It has been amazing! I’ve got to be a part of some awesome indie shows and got to be around a lot of really good friends again and I feel like I’m closer to my goal now more than ever.
Daniel Johnson: This is kind of a random question, but I also saw that you appeared in the film Sting: Moment of Truth. How did this chance come about and what memories do you have from working on the set? Did you get the chance to meet Sting at all?
Shawn Shultz: Once again Bert Prentice. They were filming the in-ring stuff at Bert’s studio. It was fun, it was the first time I was a part of a movie and yeah he is a nice guy.
Daniel Johnson: Have you been in any other movies as well? If not do you have any interest to act more?
Shawn Shultz: I was also in an independent comedy called, Sparkle and Tooter and yeah I would if the opportunity came about, but it isn’t something that interests me enough to chase it.
Daniel Johnson: On a different note I always like to hear ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be able to share?
Shawn Shultz: Jeez there are so many. I guess the best was Tony Lucassio (my manager), Jerry Lynn and I were somewhere in North Carolina years ago and some fans followed us back to our hotel and as Tony and I were convincing the extremely large woman that I was exhausted and had to get right to sleep, somehow we lost track of Jerry. What you have to understand is that Jerry would constantly get recognized and the inevitable Jerry vs. RVD fan questions would begin and we would leave him with these people and run off as a rib. But anyway we lost track of Jerry while we were trying our best to get the woman beast off our tracks and Tony and I both ended up falling asleep and I woke up at like 5:30 in the morning and still no Jerry! I woke up Tony and was like, “Jerry isn’t here, he’s been kidnapped!” Lol so we freaked out for a bit and finally around 8 a.m. Jerry showed back up and he was like, “You guys need to hit the road.” We asked where he went and he said he kind of did get kidnapped by some fans but they were cool and let him rest. The end isn’t as funny as it could’ve been, but it was still good times.
Daniel Johnson: I also like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to bring a little uniqueness to the interview. Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Shawn Shultz: I love Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That show is awesome and as much as my kids hate it, I’m a huge mark for Family Feud.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Shawn Shultz: The Wolverine.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Shawn Shultz: Haven’t really tried anything new that I know of. I love all food!
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Shawn Shultz: I like Redlight King’s stuff.
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Shawn Shultz: I’m a father of two that is on the road a lot and working out a lot. Reading a book? Ha!
Daniel Johnson: I wanted to close with just a few more brief wrestling questions. What is the weirdest part of being a pro wrestler?
Shawn Shultz: Shaving my legs.
Daniel Johnson: Who is one wrestler 25 or under that you think readers should know about?
Shawn Shultz: I don’t know his exact age, but Steven Walters is insanely talented.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to promote?
Shawn Shultz: www.shawnshultz.weebly.com you can get all my links for social media and support me by going to my site!
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Shawn Shultz: Thanks!
Witness Shawn Shultz in action! In this match from just last month Shultz takes on Steven Walters in front of a fascinated crowd at Anarchy Wrestling (AW):
Categories: Wrestling Interviews