Rob Ryzin talks about his tough past and upcoming wrestling match with idol Matt Hardy
Pro-wrestler Rob Ryzin is no stranger to the ring -- but this Sunday, November 10, the local hero will be performing a fighting first. Going up against his wrestling hero, Matt Hardy of the WWE's Hardy Boyz fame, Ryzin will take on the Sensei of Mattitude in Twist of Hate, one of his biggest matches to date.
D-Rock Imaging Rob Ryzin
In advance of this massive throwdown, Ryzin spoke candidly with Westword about his tough childhood, keeping a positive attitude and what it's like training to take on his idol and rival in the ring.
Westword: How and why did you get into wrestling?
Rob Ryzin: I've been a lifelong fan of wrestling for as long as I can remember -- I even remember being in a crib for some reason and watching wrestling on TV. I never grew out of it. When I was five, I started buying all of the action figures and I had the toy ring -- my life was consumed entirely with pro wrestling.
I was attracted to the athleticism and the larger-than-life characters -- I think I've always had an interest in being the center of attention. I loved the idea of being able to perform and having thousands of people chanting my name. I remember jumping couch-to-couch doing flying elbow smashes and wearing a paper belt that I made. It was very cartoonish -- it seemed like the wrestlers had super powers.
My grandmother had custody of me when I was five. One of the cool things about her was that she kept a lot of my grade-school work: I have a drawing from kindergarten that says, "when I grow up, I want to be a pro wrestler." Even then I knew; this is all I ever wanted to do.
That never changed -- all through elementary, middle and high school, it's what I wanted to do. I didn't graduate; I left school in tenth grade. Both of my parents struggled with alcohol and that's why my grandmother had custody of me at a young age -- but I moved back in with my dad as a teenager. My parents had divorced and I felt a personal responsibility almost to spend time with him. I lived with him in a run-down motel, until I persuaded him to get us an apartment. It was a good thing -- I think part of him wanted to have a "do-over," so to speak.
He wanted to make good with me and I wanted to spend some time with him. He got lung cancer and passed away when I was fifteen and I've been living on my own ever since. When he passed, I basically was emancipated. I left high school, got a job and got my GED right away and never looked back.
While my father was still alive, I saw an ad for a wrestling school in Westminster called XTC Pro-Wrestling. I was fourteen and I begged and pleaded with my grandmother and my dad to help me get into this school. It was all wanted to do. We went and met with the owner and he said I was a little young -- but he let me train. I was only at the school for about six months before it went under.
I went to another wrestling school and I felt a little bullied -- I was out of my element and still pretty young. I felt like they took advantage of that -- I was thrown around and beat up a little bit. But I loved what I was doing and I wanted to wrestle, so I kept going back. I ended up walking away from it because I hated being beat up and walking away crying -- not in front of the other guys, of course.
I waited until I was seventeen to get back into wrestling -- that's when I met a guy named Jay Synn, who still wrestles today. We met and completely hit it off. We became best friends and had the same goals. We had this common passion and it was like, no matter what we were going to do, we were going to get into wrestling. I'd already been into it and I wanted to get Jay into it because I knew we could both be successful.