On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, CBS aired its massively successful 26th season premier of The Amazing Race. Normally, I’m one to opt out of reality television. Yet, this year I was armed with SUPER SECRET SPECIAL INFORMATION months in advance from a very good friend of mine. If you watch the show, you’ll know him as Mike Dombrowski, one half of the team called “Truck Stop Love.”
If you’re reading this then you’re like, “Bro, so what?” Well, “bro,” I’ll tell you a few things about this burly bearded man that you may not know. First of all, Mike and I have been friends for many years. He contacted me in and says be needs to gain some endurance. I found out later exactly why. So, he came to me and this was the result:
So why are you reading about Mike on here? Because Mike has another name. His alias when he’s not being your nice, fun-loving, down-home buddy is Mikey Zeroe and his occupation is an independent professional wrestler who runs his own local promotion and works closely with Ring of Honor. Naturally, I was like, “Mike, you have to give me an interview with you for TJR Wrestling. You have some amazing stories that I know people would love to read about.” His response? “No. I hate you. Please get out of my house.” So, after a whole lot of joking around and me threatening his life with a lawnmower blade, I did it. Perseverance, lads and lasses. That’s the key.
Mikey Zeroe and I got together for the Post-Wrestlemania Raw (best TV show of the year, every year) and we sat down and had a chit-chat about a few things. This is the life and times of Mikey Zeroe.
Me: So, let’s start with The Amazing Race. You traveled around the entire world in a month. Can you sum up all of it in just a brief few sentences?
Mike: There’s one word: ‘Crazy.’ I can’t describe it any other way. You get used to this life of not knowing where you’re going to go and what you’re going to do every morning when you wake up. You have a camera man following every second of your day and you have people who speak other languages trying to give you directions. Then you come back to cold, quiet, snowy Northern Michigan and realize just how truly insane what you just did really was. Just…comparing an experience like that to everyday life is almost overwhelming.
In your own promotion you’ve worked with a lot of really big names in the wrestling industry. How is it to work with these guys, many of whom you grew up watching on your television every week?
Mike: I’ve seriously been so lucky when it comes to who I’ve worked with. You hear a lot of stories about who’s a pain to work with and who’s hard to get along with and I’ve really never had a problem. They’re professionals and it shows. I actually booked The Sandman and my show took place two weeks after there had been a video leak of him just drunk and actually falling asleep during a match, so I was terrified that that was going to happen to me. He came in. He did his match, and he was completely professional.
My annual biggest show is called Battleground, that’s coming up soon. Well, back at Battleground III a few years back I had booked this really awesome indie standout named Tyler Black in my main event against another standout named Jimmy Jacobs and Mick Foley was my guest enforcer. That show ended with Tyler Black winning my MCPW World Title and holding it up. Well, a little while later, while still holding my title, he lets me know he has to forfeit it. I asked why, and he let me know he had signed to WWE and his name is now Seth Rollins. Wrestlemania 31 ended with the exact same image as my own show four years ago. That was just surreal to me.
I mean, I’ve worked with Zach Gowen, Chris Sabin, Jimmy Jacobs, Sandman, Solomon Crow, Scott Hall, Rhyno, Mick Foley, Goldust…and they’re all just absolutely great. I had to book Mick through a talent agency and the contract I had to sign was just lined with requests. He had to have a five star hotel and he had to have a certain expensive rental car and he just had all sorts of demands. He shows up at my show and had rented just the cheapest, clankiest car you can imagine. He told me he had stayed at a one star hotel and all I needed to do was reimburse him for those instead. He wanted to help me out and make sure my show was a financial success.
With Scott Hall it was the first time I had ever had time to personally go down and pick him up from the airport. Normally, I’m running all over trying to get ready. But, I made the time to go pick him up personally and I literally spent all day with Scott Hall after that. I got to hear all of his stories about the NWO, the Kliq, and the Hall of Fame because he had just been inducted two weeks earlier. We went out to dinner and it’s sorta customary for the promoter to buy dinner for the talent, but he was like, ‘No, mang. I got dis.’ Then at the show I was in the back watching on a little monitor like I always do, and pretty soon Scott Hall pulls up a chair, sits next to me, and him and I are sitting here watching my show and making sure it went over well with the fans. It was just an amazing time.
I was into wrestling at a very young age, and at 13 I ended up in the hospital with a broken leg. I needed surgery and it was just awful. Zach Gowen was on my next show and it was like, here I was complaining about my situation and this guy, who you’ll remember was the one-legged former WWE superstar, is coming to my show. A few years later I’m traveling all across Michigan and I find myself in Kalamazoo, where Zach is from. He calls me up and says I need to come stay at his house. I’ll never forget him just saying, ‘Mikey Zeroe, I’m a master of grilled cheese. You want one?’
Oh man, and then there was Wrestlehouse. It was a place where Zach Gowen, Mike Z, Keith Crème, and Jimmy Jacobs were all living. I would go down there and stay all the time and I’ll go officially on record to say I learned more about professional wrestling staying in that house than my trainer ever taught me. If you get me started on Jimmy Jacobs then I’ll straight-up say he’s possibly one of the most brilliant professional wrestling minds in the world. He’s just born to be in the business. He just signed on as a WWE writer, and if they listen to this man’s ideas then I assure you that WWE’s writing quality is going to absolutely skyrocket. One time he cut an in-character promo in the locker room about why Jimmy Jacobs needed to win the World Title, just to show us who his character was and what motivated him. It wasn’t for the fans, it was so we understood that sometimes you need to have a character with a motivation and always remember it when you hit that ring.
About two years ago you were working a gimmick where you were a ‘Savior of the Masses’ type of character. You were a big, burly, bearded guy who cut really ominous and mysterious promos about hidden forces. Now, if I described that character people would say it’s Bray Wyatt. Does that feel like a little piece of your idea was stolen? Or is it flattering to see something so similar?
Mike: That’s a tricky subject. All I’ll say is that there are some parallels. Back when I was doing that gimmick, Wyatt was known as Husky Harris. They sent him back to NXT and that’s when I was doing my character based on the Illuminati conspiracy. I kept saying I was getting followers for a revolution. Seemingly at random, a few months later the Wyatt Family shows up. I thought it was going to be like a backwoods Louisiana redneck gimmick. There was no tie then, he just grew out his beard and his hair so we had a really similar look that was new to Husky Harris. Well, I had filmed a promo a few months before that as well. When an indie wrestler films a promo around here it’s usually a couple hundred views, this thing shot up to like 4,000 almost overnight because the ROH locker room was passing it around and I did get word that some of the guys in WWE had seen it. Well, then the Wyatt’s made their debut promo about two weeks after that and it was almost identical to mine. I’m not at all saying they stole anything, but the timing and everything about it was odd. So, I changed my character because he’s the one who ran with it and made it big. That’s just the business.”
I’ll throw a link here to that promo so you can judge that for yourselves:
Other than when they catch you on The Amazing Race, what are some other ways for people to get in touch with you?
Mike: Well, obviously following me on Twitter @MikeyZeroe. I make shirts for my promotion and for my Amazing Race team that you can grab at prowrestlingtees.com/mikeyzeroe and they’re really unique and cool designs, not typical indie cotton shirts with really basic designs. I make a few guest appearances with you (Jake) on our friend’s TwitchTV account where we just talk about all sorts of things with video games and wrestling. Last night I was cutting Macho Man promos for a lot of it. Then I have my promotion’s site over at MCPWOnline.com where you can check out our shows and buy stuff or just, ya know, get involved in the indie scene a little.
This is my favorite question. I’ve known you for a long time. You have a fractured vertebrae, you split your femur vertically in half, your forehead has blade scars, I have personally picked thumb tacks out of your back, and I watched you accidentally break your own father’s leg in a match (legitimately). There are lot of IWC fans out there who claim they can wrestle because it’s staged, and there are even more people who just bash it because it’s ‘fake.’ I have to know what you have to say to these people.
Mike: I have three words for people who say that: ‘Don’t watch it.’ I mean, people used to give me a lot of grief years ago over it and, when I was younger and more aggressive, I would just tell them, ‘Hey, I’m trained to protect whoever I’m working with from breaking their neck. I sure as hell know how not to protect someone, too.’ You take it in stride. People have always said that, and to them I say, ‘It’s fine. It’s not for everyone.’ It’s a very hard business and it takes a toll on you, for sure. I mean, sure, some guys make it feel more real than others. Look at Brock Lesnar, I mean, when he suplexes you, that’s not fake. You can’t fake that. That hurts. I work a stiff style and I want to be as real as possible, and that comes with a lot of dangers.
Most of the people reading this can’t make a drive to Northern Michigan to see your next show in May, so, where can people go if they want to learn more about it?”
Mike: They can go to MCPWOnline.com. I haven’t announced all of the matches, but I have Chris Sabin on the next show and he is a former TNA World Champion. I book a lot of guys who are up-and-coming. I haven’t announced all of the matches yet, but we’ll for sure have clips and stuff up. Indie wrestling has a really solid footing right now because of the success of Ring of Honor and those smaller promotions, so it’s a really good time to be a fan of professional wrestling.
There you have it. A small peak into the world of indie wrestling and no one needed to get hurt via lawnmower blades. Go check out Mike on The Amazing Race on CBS, follow him on Twitter @MikeyZeroe. Hell, as long as you’re at it, follow me too @JakobDraper because I’m needy too, dammit. Thanks for reading.