Welcome back to another segment of OTH Wrestling Fans, a place to meet great wrestling fans from around the world, who kindly share their stories with us.
Today we meet up with Rob Clooney, an active independent wrestler from Southeastern Michigan, and a longtime wrestling fan since the mid-to-late 80s.
He is recently married, a step-father to three, while also having his first biological.
Who is OTH Wrestling Fan, Rob Clooney?
Rob was a casual fan growing up, he tried recording on VHS as many episodes of late-night NWA wrestling as possible, especially if Sting was defending his title.
Soon after, he officially became addicted to wrestling after seeing the WWF’s tag team division.
“Every team was talented, and every match was exciting. I was especially a fan of the Rockers.”
It didn’t take long for the WWF and the NWA to not be enough to feed his addiction for wrestling.
It all started in River Rouge, a small city just south of Detroit’s border:
“I knew I wanted to be a wrestler, and I started horse playing with other kids around my age.”
“Our version was semi-real. With rules influenced by the ring instead of the mat.”
He later signed up for amateur wrestling once he moved to Brown City. It was a young team, but he still managed to qualify for state his junior year, setting several records along the way.
However, as exciting as that was to him, he became ineligible his senior year, after moving to Riverview for enrolling in a new school.
“I didn’t have enough matches to qualify for the postseason and lost out at any potential athletic scholarships that were being considered.”
His Wrestling Years
Rob didn’t enroll in pro wrestling school until he was able to get a reliable form of transportation around the age of 21.
A lot of his friends signed up with him, but news broke out that the trainer had passed away unexpectedly, and most of them backed out.
He then took a big step and signed up with the NWA-Great Lakes in the summer of 2000.
“I first started out teaming with Raymond Gold, using the name “Rick Solid”. Together, we were known as Solid Gold.”
Unfortunately, Ray got into some legal issues, which caused Rob to go solo, but not all was bad, as things started to pick up right after.
Rob ended up winning multiple regional championships and being placed in high profile feuds for small-town promotions.
“I’ve been fortunate to step in the ring with some great cruiserweights at the time: Chris Sabin, Zack Gowen, Sharkboy, Jimmy Jacobs, Truth Martini.. the list can go on.”
Momentum was on his side, and he was now wrestling between two to five times a weekend, and picking up as much experience as possible.
Rob was planning on teaming up with Ray again, as he preferred tag team wrestling to staying solo.
Unfortunately, that never happened, as Ray passed away in a late-night car accident.
“I took some time away to deal with my own thoughts, mourn Ray for a moment instead of keeping myself busy with a dream we shared together.”
The break took longer than expected, as Rob attempted a comeback, but could not manage to land as many gigs as before.
He did enroll into college when he was twenty-five and tried to shake things up, by changing his name to Rob Clooney.
“I started teaming up with a wrestler by the name of Deuce Diamond, and our team started to click.”
“We were The Motor City High Rollers! But it was hard to stay fired up, as we were only wrestling once or twice per month.”
Within a few years, Rob became burnt out and decided to turn to amateur wrestling.
For someone who had not competed in college, Rob accomplished many things:
He became a:
- Four-time Michigan State Champion
- A Florida Ironman Champion
- A five-time All American
- Two time alternate for the U.S. Team and
- An All-World member of the U.S. Wrestling team.
However, he wasn’t fully done with professional wrestling, and finally returned to the ring in 2013.
“I’ve never been able to get that traction from my early years, but I enjoy stepping between the ropes every chance I get.”
He still enjoys tag-team wrestling and continued to team with Deuce until he retired.
“I’ve also teamed up with a few wrestlers from the Great Lakes like the Maize Rage Rampage, to form the All-American Aggression.”
They held the TWA Tag-team championship for 931 days!
Rob also teamed up with Mr. Fitness Slim Trimmons, to form the great team of Twinkie Power:
“A pair of out-of-shape fitness instructors, who believe in the nutritional value of the Twinkie!”
Most recently, he has started teaming with Franky Right Now, as Okay! USA.
“And to anyone who’s wondering, all of these teams are available for bookings.”
He embraces his current part-time schedule, as he also gets to balance his other passion: Writing!
Becoming a Writer
Rob was always an introvert, so writing became a way for him to express himself throughout his school years.
“I was into short stories in grade school, drawing comics with a friend during my Brown City years.”
He later took poetry at Riverview and during his early adulthood, was always thankful to his best friend Raymond Gold.
“Ray was also a poetry writer, and we would read each other’s poems and would provide feedback to one another.”
Rob has tinkered with a few publications, including an amateur wrestling book called Hosting Beach Wrestling Events.
He is currently working on another book about the style of beach wrestling.
“I also have a short memoir about running a gas station in Corporate Lunacy called Behind the Scenes of America’s Gas Station!”
His best writing became his fictional debut called Fast Cash, a book about a young mixed martial artist, with hopes of making it to the world’s number one MMA promotion.
“It’s a unique action-paced tale of sex, drugs and equality, with a lot of layers to the overall story.”
Fast Cash is a part of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program.
Rob is currently working on 4 projects, including his next big fictional story to follow up Fast Cash.
Which he is hoping to have available for everyone by 2021!
His favorite wrestling moments are:
- The Rockers breaking up – “I still shed a tear whenever I watch the barbershop scene.”
- When Marty caught Shawn by surprise, leading up to their match at the Royal Rumble.
- Marty vs Shawn match – It was announced for my very first live event, however, the match would not happen, and Marty was replaced by Macho Man, and Lawler replaced Shawn last-minute.
“While I was really looking forward to Marty vs Shawn, seeing a pair of legends like Savage and Lawler go toe-to-toe was something I’ll never forget.
Favorite moment on a live show:
- Yokozuna vs the Undertaker:
“During the introduction, Paul Bearer used to have a way of scanning the crowd, a way of making a junior high student at the time feel as if he was looking directly at him from the second-row seat.”
Favorite wrestling match:
“While I love the Rockers feud and enjoy watching most matches from the pre-NOW days of WCA/NWA, I tend to gravitate towards:
“The Austin vs Bret submission match at WrestleMania 13. It’s easy to get hooked. The double turn, the finish, the start of the attitude era.”
“Anytime I go through a wrestling marathon, this match gets a play-through.”
His favorite match that he has been in:
“If I have to choose one match, I am going to go with the sentimental route. I’ve only had one match against my late-best friend, Raymond Gold.
“I may have executed the best Superplex of my career during our match. I really wish I had a video of it.”
“It’s one of those moments I’ll never be able to recreate.”
Funny stories to share on the road or in the ring:
“Sometimes, it’s an audible called in the ring that can bring the best memories.”
“Along with Slim as Twinkie Power, we once had a match get scrapped after the teams were introduced.”
“We toss out Twinkies in a variety of creative ways to the audience, and on this particular night, the crowd was on their feet.”
“Well over ten minutes went by, and we kept tossing Twinkies! It helped we had brought over ten boxes of them.”
“The fans went home happy, but unfortunately, we were asked to limit how many Twinkies we could bring with us to the ring.”
Favorite wrestler that you have met:
“This one is easy, Marty Jannetty, and I am very fortunate to have met him. It was during a show and I participated in a seminar he hosted.”
Who do you consider the future of professional wrestling:
“I’ve had the privilege to learn at the House of Truth and the Blue Water Wrestling Academy, both highly regarded wrestling schools in Michigan.
It’s really tough to pick one person, so I’ll go with a safe pick and choose my Okay! USA! Partner, Franky Right Now!”
Are there any wrestles you would love to face in the ring?
“If I picked someone from a national level, I’d love to go up against Kurt Angle or Chad Gable.”
“It would be fun to step in the ring with another member of the U.S. Team.
“As far as choices on the independent circuit, Nate Mattson, always comes to mind.”
On the Evolution of Pro Wrestling
I will let Rob tell this part with his own words:
“Pro Wrestling has certainly come a long way from its origins at the carnival or since the sellout crowds during Frank Gotch’s era.”
“Shoot, the territory system worked into the early eighties. Now that’s basically referred to the indies, so the bar continues to be elevated as time marches on.”
“The sport has grown with technology. It always has, and it always will!”
“After Gotch’s heyday, wrestling didn’t boom until televisions became popular. Then it boomed again with cable.”
“Tape trading was the “in” thing for wrestling fans during the 90s, which helped ECW and Japanese deathmatches break into the mainstream.”
“Nowadays, you watch wrestling anytime and anywhere thanks to the internet.”
“I’m not sure why wrestling fans still discuss television ratings when there are a lot more ways to watch.”
“It makes it convenient for fans, to be able to watch wrestling whenever they wish on their phones.”
“Social media has also changed wrestling, and fans can spend countless hours learning every little tidbit about their favorite wrestlers.”
“The ease of viewability also creates opportunities as a wrestler.”
“There are more promotions with some level of major exposure, each catering to niche audiences.”
“I’m unsure if wrestling will ever reach the heights set by the Monday Night Wars, but there is something for everyone.”
“There’s plenty of opportunities in the indie scene too, as the internet has really helped level the playing field.”
Thanks for stopping by, we hope you enjoyed our time with Rob Clooney as much as we did.
In the meantime, if you have any comments/feedback, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @Dre2124.
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