Today, we bring you an interview with John Skyler, who is known for working as an enhancement talent in WWE and on AEW Dark. Courtesy of Andrew Thompson and POST Wrestling, here are the highlights:
John suffered tears in his ACL, PCL and MCL on AEW Dark. AEW continued to pay him while injured and Tony Khan was one of the first people to check on him:
And right out of the get-go, the injury that happened was nobody’s fault whatsoever. It was absolutely a freak accident that I don’t even think could be replicated if we tried. That’s how crazy it was. Getting injured on a roll of all things out of all the things I’ve done in my career, doing a roll under a clothesline is what did me in so that’s — it’s just one of those freak things but, I was very, very blessed it happened when it happened and it’s tough to see it as you’re going through it but in hindsight, I could’ve blew my knee out at an independent show somewhere and then you know, I’m kinda up the creek without a paddle.
There’s nothing that anybody can do for me except me at that point and as soon as I got hurt and I was being taken away to the trainers room to get checked out, one of the first people that was there in the training room to check on me was Tony Khan, and he rest assured me right away, ‘You have nothing to worry about. We’re gonna bring you back, make sure you’re taken care of’ and right away, my mind was kind of put at ease, as much as it could be at the time.
I’m still thinking about this eight-month recovery I have ahead of me so, for them to be as gracious as they were, just inviting me back and to give me [a paycheck] every week I was there even though I couldn’t wrestle, that was, I mean, a huge blessing in disguise because especially during a pandemic where an independent wrestler doesn’t have the independents to rely on and in my case, I was a part-time teacher at one point and there’s no need for part-time teachers when everything goes virtual online in terms of classrooms.
So, it was just a huge, huge blessing for me. It’s something I’ll never forget. The way that they’ve treated me and the way they’ve taken care of me especially during that injury. I mean that should speak volumes of Tony, his heart and really the way the entire company operates.
John on his experiences as an extra/enhancement talent for WWE, working with them since 2012:
It’s always been kind of a whirlwind. For the longest time, I was just trying to get booked as an extra talent. I would call the office and probably annoy the hell out of them on a regular basis. Finally got an opportunity. First time I ever go to TV, as an extra, I had a tryout with Ricardo Rodriguez who used to be the personal ring announcer for Alberto Del Rio.
We had a tryout match and as soon as it was over — it went really well. As soon as it was over, they kinda told me, ‘Hey, you’re gonna be wrestling Ryback tonight’ and that was — the cool thing about that is that was my first time there, I’m doing something on television and it’s in my hometown, and so, because it actually took place in Columbia, South Carolina where I grew up so, it was pretty surreal, fun experience, and from there, they would call here and there to bring me back to do things.
So sometimes I wouldn’t do anything at all, sometimes I’d be in a dark match, sometimes I would be doing whatever and really when NXT became super popular there when it was taking off, that is when I started to get used more consistently because I think it was right at the time of the Cruiserweight Classic so I think they were taking a look at a lot of different smaller guys or cruiserweights so that’s when I started popping up more often and then I would dare say it kind of comes back around to Columbia, South Carolina, my hometown.
It was the week of WrestleMania in Dallas. I had just gotten home from doing a couple things — more extra work during WrestleMania week. I had a match at [WrestleMania] Axxess with The Vaudevillians [Simon Gotch & Aiden English] and just things like that. As I got home from the week, I got a call from Matt Bloom, booking me on the live event loop in the Carolinas that week so I got to wrestle on the non-televised shows for NXT against Elias and Riddick Moss.
I got to do it in Columbia, my hometown in the building that I first saw wrestling as a kid. Literally the first — went to my first show at. The Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina is where I got to wrestle for NXT of all places. So it was just kind of, in a way, that was one of the nights where I could feel like, ‘If this ends tomorrow, I can stamp right here and say alright, I did good,’ and thankfully it didn’t end there. It’s been plenty more since. I could’ve died a happy man right then and there.
John opens up about the mental struggles he faced while out with his knee injury:
For me, it was especially difficult because it was my first injury that I’ve had in my 13-year career. Yeah, I’ve wrestled hurt. I had little minor dings here and there in terms of getting hurt but this is my first actual injury and serious injury so, it was a tough pill to swallow, especially hearing that you’re not gonna be able to do anything upwards to eight months.
So, it does kinda wear on you a little bit but I really tried to find new hobbies and kind of reignite some of the flames in the old hobbies that I used to have so, I spent a lot of time on the lake, a lot of time fishing, stuff like that to occupy my time outside of wrestling but also, the big one for me was the day I got cleared to get back in the gym and do a little bit of minor upper body training and stuff like that.
I mean, pretty much as soon as I found out I was able to do that and was cleared to, I went straight there and started working out so that was a big out for me, especially because I knew I had to get in shape again for my return so I had to maintain what I had.
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