What I’ve come to learn about independent wrestling is that sometimes the adrenaline rush and emotions carried by the weight of the art that takes place with us and in front of us isn’t just relegated to jam-packed arenas and stadiums. It can also be found in small venues, built not by the fancy and whims of the powerful, but of the everyday places we see. Backyards, cafeterias, and the notorious ‘bingo halls’.
While there are the many who graduate from these places, that part still lives within. That heart that is undeniable and maintains its aura as a niche. As I have went into a little deep dive recently into some independent promotions like DPW and Enjoy Wrestling, it wasn’t until I took a trip browsing the content of Limitless Wrestling and Prestige Wrestling, and eventually Garden State Pro Wrestling when I found some past matches of one Robert Martyr.
To be completely honest, I was looking to learn more about the wrestlers I have heard of, especially in times before they were starting to make it big. I’m talking about the likes of: Kevin Blackwood, Daniel Garcia, Dominic Garrini, Anthony Greene, JD Drake, and Jacob Fatu. As I searched, his name started to pop up more and more, and there was something about him. In him rests the spirit of the independent scene, the territories, the ghost of WCW’s best, and the stiffness of Japan. And at the young age of twenty-one, he’s still getting started.
The experiences that have molded the Robert Martyr in the here and now goes a long way, specifically his short, yet important history with Daniel Garcia. Serving as Garcia’s young boy, like Japanese rookie wrestlers would do for legendary veteran wrestlers, Martyr learned not only what to do between the ropes and outside of them, but who to trust and who to be. What to stand up to. There is that young mind, that naivety that preceded him, the notion of what’s wrong and what’s right as night after night, Garcia would either tear apart the latest victim of The Red Death, or would take out the rage of the battle’s outcome on Martyr. Garcia’s been deep enough in the business to remain as unforgiving because that’s the state of the business. He and Martyr would see themselves in victory against the likes of Nicholi White and Atticus Cogar, until one day, Martyr would stand up against Garcia following the latter’s defeat at the hands of Masha Slamovich, and The Poisoned Youth would leave The Red Death to forge his own path. While Martyr continues his journey on the independent scene, Garcia has went through his own story on All Elite Wrestling, transitioning from professional wrestling to sports entertainment with Chris Jericho, and back again with Bryan Danielson. Newly reinvigorated, Garcia and Martyr would put aside these differences and reunite on October 8, 2022, when they teamed up with Kevin Knight at West Coast Pro’s Ride the Lightning event. No longer the Poisoned Youth at this point, Martyr is now The Stray Dog – ribs showing and hungry enough to fight for the necessary meal of victory. And to this day, this is the path that he will stay on to reach his own dreams, for Robert Martyr is going to choose what Robert Martyr wants.
That isn’t the true charm of Robert Martyr though, no. It’s an intangible that is hard for many babyface wrestlers to tap into, it feels. But he’s the type of face many aspiring wrestlers start out as – and he’s not only taken the template…he’s become the template. To a wholly believable degree. Robert Martyr is a living, breathing, walking contradiction.
He lives by his own code, to live like a martyr – taking from the past but intentionally being a bastardization of it. He lives to be a good person, but knows at the end of the day Robert Martyr needs to live for Robert Martyr and take what is his. He wants to be remembered for all the right things, and that’s why he remains cocky, even in defeat; he’ll simply get back up again and keep fighting because this is who he is. Purity to him is not the concept of being untouched by rules of conduct or idealizations of who to be – it is being purely yourself. And the self of Robert Martyr is brash, yet civil. Says what’s on his mind. Robert Martyr is fighting spirit. Where will it take him? Who will it bring out of the Stray Dog throughout his career?
Every time I listen to his promos and I look at him, I feel like I’ve seen him in every skinny kid who wants to make it in the world. That guy who you worry for, not because you don’t think he won’t be able to do it, but because of how much he’s willing to sacrifice to get to it, because you know he won’t stop. That type of person who wants to give so much to the thing he loves, to become a part of it, in spite of the odds against him, in spite of lack of exposure, and in spite of feeling that his contemporaries are passing him by as he struggles to catch up. Because the dream is more important than the roads others take. Something we can all relate to, something we can respect, and something we can cheer for. This is his road.
It is by that metric that the connection I had already felt to Robert Martyr’s character akin to a reflection of my own, that I’m not much compared to others in what I do, but that’s the beauty of it. I don’t have to be, because I am me. And he is himself. He is Travis Bickle before the events of Taxi Driver. Walter Kovacs before becoming The Watchmen’s Rorschach. Billy Kidman before joining Raven’s Flock. All it takes is one moment to turn a good man… Will he survive it?
He doesn’t do it for us, so we can vicariously live out his victories through him – he does it for himself because his life was tailor-made for the art of combat in the squared circle. It’s a talent given to him and he has to make it count for something, so why not fight and fight until the battle is won?
That’s his modus operandi, for he stands, still determined and hardened through time, through the force of fighting spirit, crafted in the streets of Harlem and Brooklyn by his family. A family of boxers, athletes, and gang members. He was forged in the fires of deathmatches and the diligence of technical wrestling, and this is where his steel is tempered. There’s nothing left for him to lose. He’ll go until his brain is naught but brain stew.
Everything that is sought to be accomplished can’t be for nothing. That lump in his throat, the fire in his heart, and the screaming voices that beg for him to keep them fed through trials and tribulations filled with blood embodies that this is his path. This is the road of a good man, a struggling man who knows what he can’t do yet and how he is willing to fix it. And all you can do as a wrestling fan is to sit back and watch, and hope that something good can be given to someone who deserves those things worked towards.
Robert Martyr is everything you want to mold from a babyface in the modern wrestling era, someone who can tap into the emotions of wrestling fans and hold them there. Through the power of empathy, he can be a draw, and it’s pleasing to see that more promotions are using him to help build that story. Because he’s human, he’ll walk the line between bad and good.
He is a martyr for his personal cause.
Robert Martyr vs Davey Richards, July 23, 2022 (Garden State Pro Wrestling: Welcome to Eden – Openweight Title Tournament)
This match is the most important of Robert Martyr’s career to this point. If you wish to watch the match before reading how it unfurled, click here.
This was the second first round match of a tournament to crown a champion that will carry this fledgling new promotion into the future. In this match, the hungry Robert Martyr would face off against the hardened independent wrestling veteran, Davey Richards.
Robert Martyr enters with the youthful fire that has gotten him this far in the tournament. This is the biggest chance of his career so far – toppling a fixture and giant this side of the industry to get one step closer to prestigious gold against Alan Angels. So Robert has to be cocky. He has to be confident, otherwise, what is this all for?
For Davey Richards, this is seemingly another day at the office. A kid full of energy that he has to push down. A foregone conclusion. He’s fought wars all over the scene – PWG, NJPW, ROH, TNA, and so on and so forth. His reputation precedes him.
Staring into the soul of one another, a man who walked the path and a man who was born on it with everything on the line. The bell rings.
The American Wolf and The Poisoned Youth lock up, with Richards in control, despite the fight Martyr puts in, until finally the twenty-one year old squeezes out hold after hold, torque after torque, rolling Richards and throwing Richards into his own holds. Richards tastes blood, however, and reverses into a crossface and hooks the arms to pin Martyr’s shoulders to the mat for a two-count.
In this breather, Martyr has to reevaluate. This isn’t a game of Go Fish, this is playing chess with Bobby Fisher. A man who has gone through these motions for so long, it’s second-nature. Worse still is the fact that The American Wolf is hungry tonight, salivating for another trophy on the shelf.
The technical offense and defense in this match is so compelling, but it stays not there. This is every bit of Martyr’s playground too, as the abuse from Richards lasts briefly until Martyr twists and works the arm until the veteran has to scramble to the ring, back into Richard’s place of comfort for this match. He snares Martyr’s legs into a figure-four, to which The Poisoned Youth tortures the wrist of the industry legend. Richards escapes this by a headbutt.
Newly reinvigorated, Martyr flies around the ring, but Richards is ready. He’s delicate, perfect in the dissection of his young opponent that holds and grapples nearly swallows Robert Martyr into the hellish depths of pain, maintaining supreme ring-awareness to keep Martyr in the center of the ring, away from safety, away from salvation.
The fighting spirit of Robert Martyr keeps him alive, soul pumping with adrenaline as he stands up again and again, as the two eschew the matwork and instead strikes each other with such force. A belly-to-belly sees Richards seek refuge outside, not factoring in that Martyr is willing to put his body on the line as he dives into Richards, sending both into the rows of chairs.
For once in this match, Martyr is solidly in control, with one of the finest missile dropkicks I’ve ever seen, followed by a hellish brainbuster. It’s a lot of devastation, just for a two-count. The crowd still clamors for him, drowning him in a sea of chants ‘Let’s Go, Martyr!’
This urgent and sudden turn of the tide slowly removes the façade of ego out of the match as it is a fight to survive for Richards until he has to reverse a pin attempt into a double-stomp.
Equal ground now, and the two stand, in pure wrestling fashion, allowing and inviting pain as they open their bodies for punishment. Richards squeaks out with it, working circles around Robert Martyr until applying the trailer-hitch to this new, fresh problem. The worst fears of Richards becomes realized, however, as Martyr has to bite his own hand to redirect the pain and use it to crawl just inches of salvation – breaking the hold with but a pinky finger. The crowd eats this up like children with chocolate with chants of ‘This is Awesome!’
Each competitor heeds the urgency of the match, of the fight left in one another. Another brainbuster, Brain Stew, leads to a two-count but man, is Martyr resilient. He’s already a star at this point and the crowd knows it. Of course he is, as an open-palm strike to Davey’s face draws the crimson flow of blood and the beast is angry. He’s straight-up abusive now, relentless and merciless. Martyr’s body is in the Wolf’s fangs and an ankle lock seems to inch Martyr one inch closer to death, all that needs to be done is a closing of the jaw and-
No! The Poisoned Youth flips Richards over like a pancake and in this rolling-pin, he secures a three-count and the starving youth has a massive, massive victory over a man who has done it all and wrestled pretty much everywhere.
As Green Day’s ‘Brain Stew’ and the cheering crowd rain down the emotional significance of this most momentous of occasions, Davey respectfully shakes the hand of the man who just humbled him as the better in this conflict. Once the world quietens, Martyr then delivers an impassioned promo for the sport he loves, for Garden State Pro Wrestling and the Openweight Title, and for Alan Angels who himself is currently fighting to prove his past doubters wrong.
This is the road to GSPW’s Thy Kingdom Come, and the end goal is in sight. Will Robert Martyr make the biggest statement of his career against another amazing departee of All Elite Wrestling, or will he crumble, and become something else as something has got to give?
Robert Martyr vs Alan Angels, August 27, 2022 (Garden State Pro Wrestling: Thy Kingdom Come, Openweight Title Tournament)
Thy Kingdom Come, featuring this match, is now available on FiteTV, as of the night of August 30, 2022. The match can be found here.
Alan Angels has made a name for himself immediately after his departure from AEW and The Dark Order with an entirely new identity and fire beneath him. He has everything to prove and everything to add to his name. He fights to be remembered and to be noticed, to not have his star diminished.
Robert Martyr enters, having vanquished someone who has had decades of experience in the squared circle, and thus like Atlas, he carries the world and his head on his shoulder. Martyr, as much as he respects Angels, cannot afford to abide by that respect. This is war, and this is violence. This is vindication – for both men.
Upon the initial bell, they lock up and it does not take long for The Poisoned Youth to gain control. Maybe it’s confidence, maybe it’s bravado, or maybe it’s the nerves of both men, but as Angels recovers on the outside, his face contemplates many things, none of them apparent at this moment.
The two engage again, and Martyr is still fresh, he’s in there. Words are exchanged in a brief hiatus from the violence, and Angels tolerates the banter and attitude from the scrapper no longer; he greets Martyr’s face with a slap so loud it rang throughout the court this match takes place in. Martyr isn’t one to get bitched out like that and he fires back. And already the fans are fully behind Robert Martyr, their hears firmly in his vice-like grip.
An angel he is not, Alan Angels, because this isn’t some goofy skit on Being The Elite, nor some smaller guy getting jobbed out on Wednesdays, this is someone who seeks to remind the world just who he is. Alan doesn’t take too kindly to the fans in attendance who are chanting the name of his opponent, deflating his ego and inflating Martyr’s.
The offense by Angels is cruel and vicious and not from the man we once knew. He’s someone who wants to get the job done.
He’s got a lot of work to do, however, as Martyr, as always, has the fighting spirit, leaving Angels in a heap of trouble. So quick, brutal, and calculated is the offense of Martyr, that it leaves Angels too staggered, that it is either by luck, instinct, intent, or all the above that sends Angels to the ropes while Martyr sets up for a dive from the heavens, only to land in an unfortunate position, leaving him incapacitated, vulnerable as prey to the predator that is the former fifth member of Dark Order.
Martyr is essentially bullied for a bit more by this cocky and arrogant Angels, that it becomes too easy – a thought that passes through his mind a little too late as Martyr transitions a nasty hold from all angles into an inside cradle and then a gnarly hold of his own. Back in control, he gives no quarter and no pause, but everything in his arsenal, involving a flying headbutt and an exposed knee, the latter of which missed, giving way for a low blow and Exalted Clothesline from Angels quells the match suddenly and quickly.
As Mr. Brodie Lee’s gift to him secures him a victory, he smirks. This is a man long gone and reborn in the waters of pursuit.
Robert Martyr, defeated, pained on different levels, has no other option but to gather himself and leave. The world that had once stood on his shoulder, had him buckle under the sheer weight of it all. There seems to be a change in this instance, a blink-and-you miss it, told through the briefest of body language.
But he wasn’t done on this night.
Gauntlet Match, August 27, 2022 (Garden State Pro Wrestling: Thy Kingdom Come, Shot in the Garden Gauntlet Match)
A colorful wrestler comes out to the ring, full of personality and wit and charm. They’re a straight-edge wrestler by the name of Dyln McKay, but the introduction here is cut short. Robert Martyr is a different man with a different look, calling his shot and enters the match immediately. “Too Hot” Steve Scott shortly enters and incapacitates Martyr briefly. Several others follow: Austin Luke, Manders, and Janai Kai. Everyone enters at different intervals and the stakes increase the more the wrestlers enter.
Most of the match is either dominated by Manders or Kai, with the former eliminating Austin Luke and Dyln McKay, and the latter trouncing Steve Scott. Erstwhile, Robert Martyr bides his time and recovers, waiting for his time to strike. This does not go too well for him, as after using Kai against Manders, she tanks him with a series of kicks. Manders soon eliminates her following a hard clothesline.
Now, a wrestler through and through, Martyr withstands everything Manders can offer. Lariats and slams and clotheslines – Martyr survives it all. Through two consecutive knees and two sleeper hold variations, the beast, the giant is slayed by the man whose life was forged and saved by professional wrestling. He not only wins the respect of Manders, but the Shot in the Garden Match.
He, through the support of the crowd, called his shot. Though he was torn through the passage of conflict and battle, he persevered past people of different levels of power and now he can call his shot anywhere. Who did he choose? Well, tune in to FiteTV and find out for yourself when you watch Thy Kingdom Come.
Q & A Interview
I recently had the opportunity to interview Robert Martyr with a few questions, and his responses give just enough insight to where he’s going and where he’s been. Read on below, and know the man behind the Martyr.
Question: Where do you see your career and character going in the foreseeable future?
• I don’t want to give it away too much, but there’s going to be a lot of changes in the next few months. A lot of those extra elements to wrestling took a back seat for awhile up until very recently, due to the fact that I wanted to build a legitimate reputation of my in ring work alone. That was my priority. But now you’re going to see my full potential, and just who Robert Martyr is, blossoming in these next few months. I’m only twenty-one years old, and I had my first match at fourteen years old. I’ve basically been wrestling for seven and a half years.
I really want to be someone who’s respected by in ring work before anything else. I want to be known as a storyteller, whether it be on the mic or in the ring. I just want to make people feel something, while being completely unique from everyone else. I want to be someone promoters bring in to enhance their brand and their roster. As much as being a name in wrestling is awesome, that’s what’s most important to me, to elevate this business.
The best advice I ever got about wrestling was from someone who doesn’t even like it, my own dad. He told me to “Become Undeniable” so that’s what I aim to do. Hopefully I get to go over seas to the UK. Mexico might be coming real soon, and Germany has always been a dream of mine; Obviously Japan is the end goal. I want to become known not just nationwide, but internationally as well, and I think that my skill and ability will be on another level if I get to do that. I genuinely get excited at the idea of living in a Dojo training five days a week and physically/mentally becoming a wrestling machine.
Question: What places that you haven’t wrestled for feel enticing for you to wrestle for – and how do you think they’ll treat you and your character?
• I feel like I’m doing the best work of my career so far at Garden State Pro. And the story being told is so natural as far as the response it’s received. I give my all every time I wrestle but I work extra hard when I’m there. However, Rev Pro has really caught my eye. They’ve been doing some great stuff, while NOAH’s string of main event matches these past three years have been fantastic. I hope I get to do more work at West Coast Pro, because legitimately, every time I work for them I leave a better wrestler. Deadlock Pro and Defy Wrestling are both places I’d love to be at; I love the energy at both places.
Hardcore passionate fans that care and appreciate what’s going on in the shows with top of the line pro wrestling. Deadlock has something really special brewing. They’re really important because they’re creating new fans to people who would otherwise not care about wrestling. And that’s something I want to be a part of. Every place I’ve mentioned that I’ve been at has treated me great, I have a lot of unique stories I want to tell but it’s up to them to give me that opportunity to tell those stories. Ultimately, it’s absolutely up to me to earn those opportunities and most importantly deliver on them.
I think I’m on my way to doing that.
Question: Who are some of your inspirations?
• I watch so much wrestling so this always changes, but all-time? It’d probably be: Fit Finlay, Negro Casas, Eddie Guerrero, Roderick Strong, Nigel McGuinness, Masato Tanaka and Bryan Danielson. Current would be Jonathan Gresham and Chris Ridgeway. And because I suck at choosing… 2001-2003 Kaz Hayashi and Low Ki.
Question: Who are some of your dream matches?
• That’s a hard one. Pretty much everyone I said who’s alive and still wrestling that I just mentioned. But Takashi Suigura for sure, Mike Bailey, Nick Wayne, Titus Alexander, Royce Chambers, Ricky Knight Jr, Dax Harwood, Konosuke Takeshita, Chad Gable, and Jonathan Gresham. I also need a rematch with both Bryan Keith, Kevin Blackwood, and Robbie X. Probably most of all would be Daniel Garcia. We have a lot of history that few know about so to be able to finally get that match would be great.