The Self-Made Man: Colt Cabana
You’ll forgive me, I hope, for dedicating yet another edition of this Self Made Man column to a wrestler-turned-businessman. I just can’t help myself, both as a fan of wrestling and of people who put themselves out into the world and try to build a life for themselves. Besides, this week’s subject is a guy whose little media empire is still growing, and it’s exciting to watch a guy’s career expand and grow, especially when he deserves his success as much as Colt Cabana does.
Colt (born Scott Colton in Deerfield, IL) is a born hustler, and unlike Diamond Dallas Page (who I covered last week), Colt never had a run as world champion to build his name before starting a business venture outside of wrestling. In fact, the closest Colt has been to mainstream stardom was a two-year stay in World Wrestling Entertainment, where he had five televised matches and a short-lived show on WWE.com before getting unceremoniously turfed out of the company in 2009.
Before and since his WWE run, Colt worked the independent wrestling circuit, meaning he drove or flew all over the world to wrestle in one or two-night engagements for dozens of small promotions and scrape together a living that way. It’s a tough row to hoe for any performer, let alone guys who beat the crap out of themselves as much as wrestlers do. Colt has developed a good indy buzz for himself by working comedy into his wrestling style, and his goofy, affable personality has done a lot to win fans over, but he decided that he needed other ways to make money beyond wrestling. Which is where the Art of Wrestling comes in.
Inspired by Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Colt started his own podcast, called the Art of Wrestling, in 2010, and while the topic of conversation is often wrestling—Colt uses the show to interview his friends about their careers and lives—the success of the show is largely due to Colt’s natural charisma and what he brings out of his guests.
Consequently, the show enjoys a much larger audience than just wrestling fans, and it has led to other opportunities for Colt – he’s been interviewed by The Huffington Post and The Sound of Young America, toured as a stand-up comedian alongside wrestling legend Mick Foley, starred in a documentary alongside current WWE superstar Daniel Bryan, and he currently stars in a weekly YouTube series (alongside Chicago comedian Marty DeRosa) called Creative Has Nothing For You.
And of course, he still wrestles. Colt makes appearances all over the world, and his merchandise table is another example of his shrewd marketing savvy: Colt has numerous t-shirts, pictures, posters, buttons, and DVDs for sale wherever he goes, and his carny instincts are a source of great amusement (and some envy) for other wrestlers. TNA star Samoa Joe, for example, has talked about Colt buying luchador masks wholesale in Mexico and selling them, along with anything else that isn’t nailed down, back in the States for $20 each. WWE champion (for now) CM Punk, one of Colt’s best friends, has similar stories, and has been a firsthand witness to Colt’s shameless thriftiness on the road as well.
But really, what’s endearing (and inspiring) about Colt Cabana is this: he worked really hard to get to the WWE, where he’d dreamed of wrestling since he was a pudgy teenager, and once he got there, he was mistreated and fired. But rather than give up or lock himself into bitterness like so many other could-have-beens, Colt took full control over his dream of wrestling stardom and is seeking it on his own terms. If that’s not an entrepreneurial spirit, then I don’t know what is.
I’ll leave you with two examples of Colt’s work. The first is his hilarious Art of Wrestling interview with ex-WWE wrestler Luke Gallows, and the second is his equally hilarious match against Claudio Castagnoli (aka Antonio Cesaro in WWE).
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.