Spenny vs. Rhino: my appearance at House of Hardcore 9

Spenny and Rhino

Spenny with wrestling legend Rhino. (Photo by Mike Mastrandrea)

I’ve been to many wrestling shows.  I’ve spent a disproportionate portion of my life watching wrestling on television. I’ve spent endless hours mining Youtube for old school wrestling videos.  I even simulated a wrestling match on Kenny Vs. Spenny.   But, until now, I was never a part of an official professional wrestling show.  Thanks to my buddy Jan Murphy, I appeared at House of Hardcore 9, and it was, for me, the thrill of a lifetime.
Originally, Jan asked if Kenny and I would appear together, but unlike me, Kenny wouldn’t change his schedule to do the show.  He is a wrestling dilettante.  I’m a wrestling lover.  Jan is a wrestling FREAK … and I mean that in the best sense.
House of Hardcore is run/promoted by the great Tommy Dreamer.  Just meeting Dreamer would have been a thrill enough, but working with him was surreal. Dreamer is a legend, and I don’t use the L word loosely.  Much of my exposure to him was through ECW.  I also loved his emotional last match for the WWE where his family was present.  It was everything it deserved to be, and he was a class act all the way.
Initially I pitched Jan my angle for the show, but I never got a clear response, so I patiently waited for my marching orders.  I think it was about three days before the show that received a text from Jan explaining that Rhino (Terry Gerin) was doing some sort of an open challenge, and Tommy wanted me to get speared as part of the challenge.  Sounded scary and reasonable to me.
Now, on Kenny Vs. Spenny, in the wrestling competition episode, I took some bumps. I was suplexed, camel-clutched, body slammed and chopped — which by the was by far the most painful — but I was never speared.  The last thing I wanted to do was to start whining to Jan and Dreamer that I was afraid I’d get hurt.  Rhino is a large man.  I’m a twig of a Jew, who hasn’t exercised in years.  I have no muscles that aren’t part of the minimum allowable for existing.  Nonetheless, I said sure.  I suppose agreeing to the spearing/goring is my way of giving back to a business that has entertained me for most of my life.  My only hope was that my giving back wouldn’t end up with me drooling in a wheelchair for the rest of life.  Turns out I use my body for many things.
House of Hardcore 9 was held in Toronto at Ted Reeve arena.  I had played hockey there many, many years before.  I checked where the nearest hospital was just in case.
Jan went a few days early to facilitate media appearances with Dreamer.  I rolled into town the day of the event after a music show I did in Port Stanley, Ontario.  Not really knowing what I’d be doing, I showed up at the arena around 3pm, which was the talent call time according to Jan.  When I got there, Jan was signing in talent and helping out in any way he could.  We chatted for a bit.  I told him about the non-medical prostate exams I was giving on the Kenny Vs. Spenny Live tour the week previously.
Spenny with hardcore legend and House of Hardcore founder Tommy Dreamer.

Spenny with hardcore legend and House of Hardcore founder Tommy Dreamer.

He introduced me to Dreamer, who was understandably pre-occupied with putting the show together.  I could see that my participation was rightly going to be a very low priority in the grand scheme of things, so I ducked out for a beer at a dive bar down the street.  I ordered a Guinness, and watched some local seniors playing country music.  I ended up doing two songs, borrowing a gorgeous Martin from one of the guitar players.  Luckily, I love old-school country music, and the three tipplers at the bar enjoyed my playing.
I headed back to the arena, floating around, observing the construction of the ring, and eavesdropping on Dreamer’s many discussions with the various wrestlers.  He was like a director going over how he wanted the matches to go.  Much of the jargon was over my head, but it was very cool to see all the backstage stuff play out.
It was about two hours to show time and still no one told me what exactly I was doing.  Killing time, I asked Jan who would be cool to get a picture with to post on my social media to promote the show.  I, of course, wanted Dreamer, but he looked too busy.  Jan said Bully Ray of  the Dudleys fame would be a good pic, but warned me that he could be prickly.  I approached him.  He was prickly, but very nice.  He said he knew me from somewhere.  I suggested that Kenny Vs. Spenny did a season on Comedy Central, adding maybe he saw me there.  He said no.  I wasn’t going to argue.  Anyhow, he graciously posed for a selfie with me.
Spenny with wrestling legend Bully Ray.

Spenny with wrestling legend Bully Ray.

A few minutes later I saw a huge man, who looked worse for wear and tear.  He was sweaty and limped. I was sure it was Rhino. He seemed much older and rougher than the last time I saw him wrestle. It’s always sad to see broke-down wrestlers. I approached him and said that he was going to gore me.  He looked at me like I was nuts.  It wasn’t Rhino.  Apparently it was guy who used to do security for ECW.  My bad.  When I explained who I thought he was, he said he wasn’t Rhino and limped away.  I felt like an idiot.  But, in reality, I am an idiot, so I took it well.
A little bit later the actual Rhino showed up.  He was one of the last wrestlers to arrive.  I let him settle for a few moments then explained I was a comedian and that he was supposed to gore me.  He looked at my body and said he wouldn’t gore me.  I was strangely disappointed.  He said he’d piledrive me, and asked if I’d ever been piledriven.  I said no, but proudly mentioned I had been suplexed.  He said okay, then wandered off to talk to the actual wrestlers he would be working with that night.
I wandered around some more, watching the wrestlers discuss their matches.  Most were play acting the moves they planned on doing.  I found it fascinating. How could they remember everything?  When I wrestled Tyson Dux on Kenny Vs. Spenny, I had to have a cheat sheet to know what moves were coming during the match.  I guess that’s the difference between a pro and a jabroni like me.
I wandered into one of the dressing rooms to try to talk to Rhino a little more about what we were doing.  He was talking to Team 3D’s Devon Hughes.  I quietly sat down, not wanting to interrupt.  A few minutes later Bully Ray entered giving me a strange look.  Before I could say anything, he grabbed me by both shoulders, lifted me up, and walked me across the room, gently lowering me on the opposite bench.  I had unknowingly been sitting in HIS spot.  That was fuck-up number two, but he was reasonably gracious about it.  He went on again about me looking familiar, then another wrestler said I looked like a guy who worked out of the WWE head office.  Bully was convinced he was the guy he thought I was.  Mystery solved.  I slinked out of the room feeling like I didn’t belong in that sacred space, and wandered the halls still thinking about what my angle would be once I was called to action.
I knew, almost for sure, that I would get booed.  On Kenny Vs. Spenny I became what I like to call a reverse heel.  By that I mean, that my penchant to be a good guy is annoying to our fucked up fans.  That same dynamic is discussed by Bret Hart in the fantastic documentary Wrestling With Shadows.  Hitman talks about how the traditional heels became fan favourites, while the babyfaces were considered lame and deserved a good beating.  I’m not sure what that development means in a deeper cultural sense, but it probably isn’t good. Kenny Vs. Spenny, unlike wrestling, is not scripted.  So, for me, being considered a heel is quite depressing.  It is what it is, I guess,
Many of the angles I was considering were too similar to Andy Kaufman’s I’m-a-big-Hollywood-star-with-asshole-lawyers angle, in his incredible run with Jerry Lawler in Memphis, and on the David Letterman Show.  So, I landed on this:  I would approach the ring, hopefully to some booing, which I would exacerbate by telling the fans to fuck off and shut up.  Classic heel schtick. Once in the ring I would take the mic and verbally trash the fans hero, Tommy Dreamer, saying that I hurt my neck and have a doctor’s note saying can’t do the gore challenge.  I would go on to say that I cancelled other gigs to be there, and that Dreamer had to pay me the money he promised.  (Dreamer, of course, promised nothing — it was a pro-bono appearance.) I would then go on to have a sissy fit, screaming for my money.  Then, Rhino would come out and piledrive me.  It seemed like a solid angle, but nobody seemed to give a shit enough to listen to it.
The show started.  I was determined to stay backstage watching as many of the matches as I could while peeking through a black curtain just behind the corridor where the wrestlers entered the arena to the ring.
The crowd, a record sellout for that arena, was awesome and they were loving it.  The card was stellar.  Notables included; Dreamer, Rhino, Matt Striker, Team 3D, The Young Bucks, Traci Brooks, Bobby Roode, Chris Hero and Austin Aries, among others.
Dreamer opened the show with some great mic work and then dropped his match to Hero.  The crowd was chanting for Dreamer.  You’d think the audience were rehearsed, but it was pure love.
The matches were terrific.  I was especially moved by Traci Brooks, who was making her final wrestling appearance.  She’s a mother now, and Dreamer wanted to give the Ontario native and longtime TNA knockout a well deserved sendoff.  She got involved in a match briefly and by the end the crowd was chanting, “Thank you Traci,” as she cried with appreciation and what must have been a flood of wonderful memories from her career.  I had worked with her years earlier in an episode of Kenny Vs. Spenny. She’s a class act.  I was very happy for her.  Dreamer did right by her.
My bit was supposed to happen after the intermission, but was pushed back to after the first post-intermission match.  I wasn’t nervous about anything but the piledriver.  Talking in front of hostile crowds is my day job.  I’m pretty good at it.
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Just before the match before my appearance was over, Rhino came up to me.  He said he wasn’t comfortable piledriving me after all.  He suggested a clothesline.  I agreed, a little disappointed he thought I couldn’t handle the piledriver.  He asked me if I knew how to hit the mat.  I said that Tyson Dux taught me.  I asked Rhino if he was cool with me calling him Rhino-sore-ass.  He smiled.  It was as good as a yes.  Cool guy.
As the match before my appearance was ending, Dreamer sauntered up to me and asked if I knew what I was doing. I didn’t know if it was a rib, or if he thought I was completely unprepared. I told him quickly about my angle — him not paying me and the doctor’s note — and he slightly smiled.  He said he wanted me to be a heel.  I said no problem.
I heard former WWE announcer Justin Roberts introduce me, and I walked the pathway to the ring.  I heard a few boos and screamed back at them angrily, and the boos seemed to spread.  Perfect.  On the spot, I decided I would get into the ring by stepping over the top rope like Andre, Big John Stud, etc…  Of course, I’m not tall enough and fell into the ring.  Perfect.
I took the mic from Roberts, who I could tell had no idea who I was, or what the fuck I was doing there. I did the verbal part of the angle very well. I called Dreamer, whom I called Tommy Reamer, a piece of shit and explained why I couldn’t do the gore challenge, but wanted to be paid. The boos got louder. I started jumping up and down screaming that I wanted “Reamer” to pay me my money.  Rhino’s music hit and the big man entered to cheers from the crowd.  I said, “Look who it is – Rhino-sore -ass.” The crowd definitely wanted him to pummel me.  Perfect.  Rhino entered the ring and grabbed my arm.  It seemed like a long time as I dropped the mic, looking at him, screaming like a little girl that I had a doctor’s note.  Next thing know I was on the mat after the clothesline.  Fans were roaring with approval.  Perfect.  Someone, I don’t know who, helped me up and out of the ring (turns out it was my buddy Jan).  I remember a lot of people screaming “Fuck you, Spenny” for which I responded in kind as I headed for the dressing room.
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And that was it.  My first official foray into the world of pro wrestling is now checked off my bucket list. I loved it.  I was a heel. No doubt a about it.  I was a whiny, chicken-shit celebrity heel.
A few people backstage said I did well.  Now, all I could think about was getting the hell out of there before the show was over and I’d have to deal with the crowd. I wasn’t sure how they’d treat me, and I didn’t want to find out.  The TTC bus outside the arena was taking forever, but it arrived before the show was over.  I slipped away, and woke up the next day with a stiff neck.  Irony?
I’d like to thank Jan Murphy for making one of my dreams come true.  I’d also like to thank the wrestlers who were all very nice to me.  I love what they do. Always have, always will.  Apparently, it was the most successful House of Hardcore to date, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Spencer “Spenny” Rice is one half of the comedic duo from Kenny Vs. Spenny. Follow him on Facebook — www.facebook.com/pages/SPENCER-SPENNY-RICE/216355453412 — or on Twitter (@Spenny) and watch reruns of KVS for years to come.

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