Imagine, if you will, fulfilling your dream.
Maybe it’s not to the level you had one envisioned. But it’s your dream. You are doing something you always believed you were destined to do, even if at a smaller level.
See, when people dream or set goals, it’s often at different levels. For those who dream in the world of professional wrestling, it’s often the WWE — which is the highest level one can go. For others, reality sets the tone.
Take, for example, Rob Cook.
If one was to look at Cook — otherwise known as I.B. Green in the independent wrestling world — they’d see an average Joe. He’s all of 5-foot-6 and weighs 180 pounds, or so he’s announced at. He might have been wearing his boots and gear when he stepped on the scales.
His size might also be why he never obtained other goals, such as playing shortstop for the New York Yankees or being a surfer (well, the lack of water near Elmira, New York may have played a part in that one, too).
But professional wrestling…
If you passed Cook on the street, it’s a near guarantee you wouldn’t confuse him as a professional wrestler. Behind that small-sized person, however, is a pretty well-known independent wrestler, especially in the Upstate New York/Northeast Pennsylvania area. He’s wrestled for many federations, worked with some top-name talent and had a pretty good run.
Heck, he’s even held some championships, but often times, these are used more as props. When a federation throws championships around, it can be for numerous reasons. A lot of times, they aren’t even custom belts, rather ones that are “tweaked” to look like they are. Then there are federations who take the time to create these custom titles, which aren’t cheap, and then make them actually mean something.
Cook is, by no means, a perfect person. He’d even likely be tell you that, if he wasn’t in “heel” wrestler mode. I’ve had the chance to get to know him over the past few years and he’s got his share of stories, but deep down you can tell he cares about the business, especially at the lower and independent levels. I’ve seen Cook wrestle a dozen or two times since I’ve gotten to know him and I can count the number of times I’ve seen him win without filling one hand.
But that’s not always what it’s about.
He entertains. He does what he has to do to help things along. You can tell — whether he’s the good guy or bad guy — that he has a bunch of fun when he does it, which is good.
And let’s not kid anybody here — Vince McMahon and the WWE isn’t knocking down the door for a 5-foot-6 guy. Heck, most places won’t be. And Cook knows that. He says he knew WWE wouldn’t be reality because he’s too small.
But he’s still had the chance to reach some career goals.
He wanted to be famous and accepted. He wanted to work with his boyhood idols, such as Tommy Dreamer and Tony Atlas. He also wanted to wrestle in the ECW Arena, but that never happened. But the other things?
They’re coming along nicely.
One thing, too, is he never wanted to be a guy that crapped on up-and-comers. When he was starting (Cook got started in February 1999), he said he went to wrestling school, got hurt and didn’t go back. Guys he trained with called him a mark (basically somebody who believes in wrestling beyond reality, or believes he is his or her character) and kind of took jabs at him. He swore he would never be “that guy.”
The journey for Cook, who has had countless numbers of cool moments in the professional wrestling world, took a turn on Jan. 4. That’s when he was slated for a heavyweight title match for Xcite Wrestling, a federation based out of Binghamton. Cook had been a big part of the federation since it started (Xcite’s first card was March 16, 2012), despite rarely being on the good end of the win/loss column.
So he got his shot against “Chainsaw” Joe Gacy (readers of the blog may remember his name as I blogged about him in a post about a bloody match in CZW). Gacy had been the federation’s only champion, to this point.
Until this point.
Xcite played it up, too. Hashtagging this match with #IBelieve, and even doing a pretty cool promo package for the crowd with that as well — as wrestlers (including Tommy Dreamer and Steve Corino) and fans talked about how they believed in Rob Cook.
The crowd ate it up.
Cook told me he had always wanted to be the good guy, but worked better as a bad guy. Looks like he does OK as the good guy, too. The crowd was definitely behind him in his quest to overcome the odds and win the championship.
In a pretty solid match, Cook overcame Gacy’s offensive attack, hitting a codebreaker on Gacy as he came off the top turnbuckle. A strong crowd was in attendance and gave Cook a much-deserved ovation as he was handed the Xcite Wrestling championship belt.
Cook’s won titles before, but this one, well, it’s special. It’s a federation he’s helped build. It’s in a place he’s wrestled many, many times. And, well, he’s the top guy now.
Not too shabby for a 5-foot-6 guy who once just wanted to accepted. In the end, it looks like he got what he had wanted all along.
See below for a video of the match, as well as some post-match comments from Cook and Gacy (as shot and edited by Eric Scheer):
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