This Thanksgiving, David Arquette was thankful to be alive.
“I’m very grateful,” said Arquette. “I’m super lucky to be alive.”
Arquette’s run in professional wrestling has been memorable, beginning with his WCW world title victory in 2000. But his most noteworthy moment in the ring—and possibly the most unforgettable wrestling moment of 2018—took place last week in a death match against Nick Gage, an icon in the genre.
The match was gripping, but became uncomfortable when Arquette was cut in the neck with a piece of broken glass.
“It was crazy,” said Arquette. “I got cut in a part of my neck muscle that was really close to my jugular. It’s in an area called ‘the box’ in your neck, and if you get hit there it’s pretty deadly.”
Arquette has been criticized for taking part in a death match, but he is intent on proving that he belongs in pro wrestling. Nevertheless, at that very moment, his sole focus was staying alive.
“I’m thinking, ‘I just got cut in my neck, and if that’s my jugular, I’m going to die,’” said Arquette. “Pretty quickly after that I exited the ring and had someone look at it.”
That someone, incredibly, was fellow actor Luke Perry.
“Luke is a dear friend of mine, and his son, who is a fantastic wrestler named Jungle Boy, was wrestling on the same show,” said Arquette. “We’ve been friends for over 30 years, so Luke is the one I went to see to look inside the wound.”
Arquette turned to Perry and asked if his neck was pumping blood.
“He looked and said no, so I knew I didn’t cut a main artery or vein,” said Arquette. “I could feel something was wrong with my neck, but I wanted to finish the match and tell a complete story.”
As is often the case in pro wrestling, the match still went to its finish.
“It went off the rails a little,” admitted Arquette. “I was pretty pissed. I was at fault for it. Once I got cut, some things happened in the ring, and I reacted. We were both at fault for the neck cut, but me defending myself is how it actually happened.
“I was in the hospital and had to have surgery to sew up my muscle and clean up my wound. It is what it is. I have no hard feelings with Nick Gage and I hope he doesn’t have any with me.”
Though it could have been catastrophic, the gruesome match instead worked in Arquette’s favor. Death match wrestling is not for the faint of heart, but Arquette held his own and gained respect from a fan base he has hungered to impress for nearly 20 years.
“My main reason in doing it is because I’ve been bullied for 18 years about being a punk who came into wrestling,” said Arquette, referring to his WCW title victory, which was a failed publicity stunt that some, albeit erroneously, claim was the final blow that caused WCW to fail. “I’m not a punk and I don’t like being pushed around, so I wanted to show people that I can hang.”
In addition to his upcoming film roles, including Saving Flora due out before the end of the year, Arquette is also shooting a documentary covering his return to pro wrestling.
“The idea behind it was to make a love letter to wrestling,” explained Arquette. “I’ve always loved wrestling, I fell in love with it when I saw Andre The Giant, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan wrestle at the LA Sports Arena. My dad actually did the voice for Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka on Hulk Hogan’s cartoon. It’s always been something I loved, the characters, the flamboyance, the athleticism.
“The main idea of the documentary is to let people know who I am. For me to meet the fans, to get to know the fans, to prove myself to the fans. The death match was a big part of it. You’ll always have your haters, but I’m glad they’re getting to know who I am, and I can go out and entertain them, because that’s what it’s all about.”
The documentary is expected be released at some point in 2019. Arquette still has a lot of footage to add, including his upcoming appearance at Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore show at the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia on December 8.
And if he had it his way, Arquette would be thrilled to add a stop at the WWE’s Royal Rumble to his current wrestling portfolio.
“I haven’t got any calls,” said Arquette. “So I don’t know about any of that, but I love going to their shows.”
No matter what the future brings forth, Arquette is sticking to one promise: there will be no more death matches.
“I don’t think there will be a rematch,” said Arquette. “I don’t want to freak my family out any more.”
There are still many preconceived notions that exist about Arquette. But the truest narrative about the 47-year-old is that he is a devoted husband and a proud father of three. Contrary to popular belief, he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he has battled to overcome his issues with alcohol. His wrestling redemption encompasses all of this, as he sets his sights on showing people his fighting spirit.
Arquette continues to put himself on display, in front of anyone willing to watch, in an effort to deliver his best possible content: himself.
“Through this process, I’ve learned so much about wrestling and about the performance element of it, the show, and the history,” said Arquette. “It’s so epic, the battle between good and evil. It has a mythological quality to it. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve learned a lot, to say the least.”
Leave it to an actor to channel William Shakespeare, who famously wrote “to thine own self be true.” Arquette has found that his success in wrestling can be credited to his authenticity.
“I’m staying true to myself,” said Arquette. “The more real you are, the more honest, and staying confident while remaining humble, that is what it’s all about. That’s what I’m trying to do: be the best me and have fun doing it.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.