Wrestling has often been compared to pornography, two fields in which Joey Ryan is quite familiar.
The California native–and spokesman for pornography site YouPorn–created an internet sensation when he posted video of his match with Japanese wrestler Danshoku Dino. Ryan was hit below the waist, but used his private part to gain the upper hand.
“Danshoku Dino plays a very homoerotic gay character and part of his offense is to grab a guy by the crotch,” explained Ryan. “Sometimes he’ll do a suplex out of it, or sometimes it will be an arm drag. When we were going over the match, he spoke to me in broken English and said, ‘Maybe I grab, but maybe you no-sell because American c--- is so big and so strong.’ I was like, ‘Well, who am I to argue?’”
Once Dino had his grip firmly applied, the only question was what to do next. Of course, in the world of pro wrestling, the answer was organic–allow Ryan’s genitalia to overpower his opponent.
“We had to think of something to do, because he was going to be grabbing it and I was going to be no-selling it,” said Ryan. “Then I said I would ‘Hulk up,’ and he said he’d bump.”
The move made the rounds on the internet, all the way from ESPN to Have I Got News For You in England, and focused entirely on the 36-year-old Ryan’s external male intromittent organ.
“It’s not even the most outrageous thing we did in the match,” said Ryan. “I rarely pop for my own stuff, but I laughed at how ridiculous and how over-the-top it was. I threw it out on Twitter, and had no idea that people would react so well – I only posted it because it made me laugh.”
That notoriety led Ryan to a sponsorship deal with YouPorn.
“YouPorn wanted to sponsor me and use me as a ‘Brand Ambassador,’” explained Ryan. “Last year, YouPorn did something with E Games, and it was a really good crossover for them, and now they want to get into sports and sign some athletes. I’m actually the first one. It’s still a work-in-progress, but I wear the shirts at shows when I can. We’ve commissioned some wrestling gear with the logo on it, and I did a couple videos, including when I represented YouPorn Sports and made a counter-offer to [WWE Hall of Famer/new adult film star] Sunny, but TMZ revealed she’d already signed and filmed something with Vivid.”
Ryan will also be wrestling on season two of Lucha Underground.
“I’ve been blessed with another opportunity to be Joey Ryan,” acknowledged Ryan. “Getting to work with Rey Mysterio is an honor, and Lucha Underground is such a different locker room. They look at everyone as a peer, and there is no one politicking for more TV time, titles, or wins. No one is backstabbing anyone and ideas aren’t being shut down, so the wrestlers are having a lot of fun, and that’s something the fans can read when they watch.”
Ryan understands the importance of a healthy working environment, which is a major reason he helped create independent wrestling company Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2003 with five other wrestlers.
“There is a punk rock feel to it,” said Ryan, whose group runs the “Battle of Los Angeles” every summer. “It’s not in the mainstream. When we started, we were just six young wrestlers who did one show. We dealt with a couple promoters and promotions who were selling wrestlers on being the next WWE or ECW, but they had no idea how pro wrestling worked. They would run two or three shows, go bankrupt, and disappear. But the six of us knew wrestlers, we knew wrestling, and we did a show for the boys by the boys. We just wanted to do one show, and the one made enough money to do two, and that led to more and more.”
Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Zack Sabre, Jr. are just a small sample of wrestling greats who have wrestled for the California-based PWG.
“We didn’t treat it like we were promoters,” said Ryan, who co-founded PWG with Disco Machine, Excalibur, Scott Lost, Super Dragon and Top Gun Talwar. “We’d book ourselves to work the show and pay each other what we’d normally get paid to wrestle. Any money that was left over would go to the next show, so there was never behind the scenes arguing over money. And now PWG has evolved and we have partners like HighSpots, our DVD distributor, and DVDs help fund the shows. At one point, PWG was running two shows a month in 2005 and 2006, but now it’s at the point where it’s more like an all-star show. There aren’t as many shows, but when they are, it’s everybody who’s anybody in the world of wrestling who is independent and able to do it.”
Ryan is sixteen years into his wrestling career.While he remains one of the three co-founders still involved with PWG, he is also riding the momentum of his hottest streak in wrestling.
“This is the most exciting time in my career,” said Ryan. “For so long, I thought I had to make it to WWE, so there were certain lines I thought I couldn’t cross. But now I look at myself–and my friends, like the Young Bucks–and we’re probably making more money than some of the people at NXT, and that’s without their machine behind us. I keep getting new offers, and I even did a pilot for a TV show, and these opportunities are all through wrestling.”
While he is not opposed to bringing his brand of “sleaze” to the WWE, Ryan is perfectly content finding shows and wrestling in front of some of the most knowledgeable fans in the world.
“Essentially, as an independent wrestler, you’re your own business,” said Ryan. “You don’t have Vince McMahon or the WWE behind you, and there is no one invested in you more than yourself. The only reason for me to sign with WWE now would be because that’s what I wanted to do when I was a little kid. Financially and freedom-wise, it makes more sense for me to stay independent. Without these rules and restraints where I have to gear myself toward them, I’m independent and self-made, and I feel like any door could open.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.