John Skyler has been a strong presence on AEW Dark and tonight, he’ll be in singles action against Brian Cage. However, The Southern Savior’s road to get to Daily’s Place wasn’t always an easy one as just last year, he was presented with arguably his toughest career challenge to date.
Skyler is the featured player for episode four of Meet The Wrestler, the series hosted by Dominic DeAngelo that gives you an in-depth look at new names and notable talents on the pro wrestling scene.
Back in June, Skyler suffered a freak in-ring injury during an episode of Dark. Skyler ultimately finished the match, but the 13-year vet received the rough news that he suffered tears in his ACL, MCL and PCL, putting him on the shelf for six to nine months. Mike Mooneyham of The Post & Courier covered Skyler’s road back to the ring, which included his return match in January.
Before covering ground on his return to Elite status, Skyler talked about how he first broke into the sport training under Bob Keller, a man whom Skyler saw by chance at the first-ever indie show he attended.
“Everybody I asked, everything came up Bob Keller,” Skyler said when he was searching for wrestling schools. “The name didn’t sound really familiar in my head, and then the first day I went to his school I was like, ‘Damn this guy looks familiar. I know him from somewhere,’ and ironically enough I got a Polaroid picture with him that day in 1998 and I went back home and was kind looking through my memorabilia and I found the Polaroid and I was like, ‘That’s where I knew this guy from somewhere!’ So it’s just a small world type thing where things kind of come full circle and I still have the Polaroid picture.”
Welcome to One One Twenty One! #2021 pic.twitter.com/9g1D23cpAE
— First Name John. Last Name Skyler. (@TheJohnSkyler) January 1, 2021
Skyler’s first opportunity to square up in the ring also came with serendipity as he found himself “Frankensteining” ring gear in order to make his debut in Big Bear Lake, West Virginia, at an independent show he and Keller went to with the intent to merely set up and sell merch.
“I actually got thrown on at the last minute because a bunch of guys no-showed or they couldn’t make it for whatever reason so I wrestled a guy by the name of ‘The One Man Warning’ Bill Bane and got beat in about three minutes. I didn’t have any wrestling gear so I had to borrow gear from literally all the guys in the back. One guy gave me his trunks to wear. Another dude gave me boots,’ ‘Everybody’s just loaning me all this stuff. I looked like one of the created wrestlers from No Mercy or something. Yeah, just this thrown together outfit, just a jabrone that got beat in three minutes, but it was still like the best three minutes of my life. It was a lot of fun.”
“Bill, the guy that I worked with, Bill Bane. He was great. He was a total pro. Totally took care of me and thank gosh he did because like if he would have gone out there and taken liberties with me or beat me up because I was new, who’s to say I would still be around? So very thankful for just the way things happens sometimes.”
Skyler grew up an admirer of stars like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho, but once he started running the ropes, there happened to be several talents he began to pattern his style after.
“I really started diving deep into like Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and then when I started going to Europe I really started taking a liking to Fit Finlay’s style of wrestling, William Regal,” and that lesson in hard knocks from the former two sure came full circle. “It’s crazy cause now on like a bi-weekly basis when we’re taping TV down in Jacksonville I’m around Chris Jericho all the time, I’m around Arn Anderson. A lot of these guys have become mentors of mine and it’s just a surreal thing that here they are, guys that I patterned myself after (or tried to anyways) and now I’m sitting here having conversations with them on a regular basis.”
Another AEW sage Skyler receives knowledge from is from the incomparable Jerry Lynn, whom he happens to have become travel partners with.
“We call each other are ‘road wives’ now,” Sklyer notes. “Jerry never gets the credit he deserves. He’s really somebody that should be talked about when they talk about ushering the cruiserweight style of wrestling. With the matches he had with Sean Waltman [X-Pac]. If there was a best supporting wrestler, like Academy Award it would be Jerry Lynn hands down would win it because so many guys will tell you that they had their best match with Jerry Lynn.”
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)
Skyler covers plenty more with DeAngelo including his appreciation for growing up in the 9o’s and how a step away from social media did wonders for him before making his return.