Acey Romero made his Bound for Glory debut in October in memorable fashion.
Romero was surrounded by a talented assortment of wrestlers in Impact Wrestling’s X-Division title ladder match, including rising star Ace Austin. Looking to stand out, the 475-pound Romero, best known throughout his time on the indies for a willingness to put his body through torturous spots to light up the crowd, was on the receiving end of a table spot off the top of a ladder. Though he did not walk away from the match as champion, he was fortunate to simply walk away after taking such an unforgiving bump.
Watching from behind the curtain, Ethan Page cringed. Uncomfortable, painful spots undoubtedly have their place in pro wrestling, but Page believed Romero was only hurting himself by accepting a fate as a big man only known for putting his body at risk.
“Romero shouldn’t aspire to become a stunt star,” Page says. “He should want to become a superstar.”
Page is Julian Micevski, a star on-screen for Impact as part of the North with Josh Alexander, as well as one of the company’s locker-room leaders. Page has earned that position by looking out for his peers, which is why he reached out to Romero.
“He needed to be called out on his bulls---,” Page says. “Myself and Josh both know that Romero is in a position where he can do a lot in wrestling. This was about a lot more than the just high spots and the weight loss. He needed to take himself more seriously to begin to achieve his true potential.”
Justin “Acey” Romero listened every time Page reached out to him with advice. But he didn’t act on it until 119 days ago, when he made the decision that he was going to redefine his body and his place in wrestling and completely alter his lifestyle.
“I was content being the big guy,” Romero says. “That’s who I’ve always been, doing things no one thought I could do, but my weight just snowballed. I was almost 500 pounds, and I needed to get my health in check.”
Romero gave himself no other option but to improve his quality of life. Only 30, he found himself with limited stamina and endurance. For someone who is extremely proud of his ability to perform in the ring, Romero had ballooned into an oversized attraction instead of a wrestler.
“My wrestling was starting to suffer,” Romero says. “I wasn’t the athlete I used to be. I feel incredibly lucky to be signed by Impact. I was overweight when they signed me, and now it’s my time to return that investment.”
Heeding Page’s advice, Romero has leaned on a close group of friends to help as he battles an entirely new opponent. Surprisingly, not everyone was supportive.
“A lot of people reached out and said I’m killing my gimmick, that I should stay big,” Romero says. “Maybe they’re right, maybe I am killing my gimmick, but I was also in the process of killing myself. I understand that now, so I’m doing this for me. If I kept going the way I was going, I don’t know if I’d make it to 40. I don’t want to be that guy.”
Page expressed no surprise that not everyone voiced support for Romero’s weight loss. Wrestling is a cutthroat business, and people are not always interested in playing a supporting role in someone else’s success story.
“There is a lot of straight-up lying to people, and he was victim to that,” Page says. “So it was a shell shock when Josh and I sat him down and told him he needed to change some s--- in his lifestyle in order to succeed.
“I’ve given him advice multiple times, but this time, it feels like it stuck. He’s done crash dieting before, and I can relate to that, but he hit me up to apologize for blowing off past advice. I was impressed that he was taking ownership. That’s bigger than fitness. It’s personal growth. He’s working to succeed at his job. I know what he’s capable of, and I’m thrilled that he is doing so well.”
Romero has adhered to the belief that there are no shortcuts in true weight loss, and he has spent the past four months exercising, cutting calories and sticking to a healthy diet.
“This is the next evolution of my career,” says Romero. “I don’t have to be anyone else but myself, and I want to go from the guy that was 475 all the way down to 225. That’s who I want to be. That’s my ultimate goal.”
The mere thought of transitioning from 475 pounds to a fit 225 has lit a fire within Romero. His journey is now visible on Impact programming, as he wrestles on Tuesday night’s edition of Impact! in a tag match against the Deaners. Romero, along with his 330-pound partner, Larry D, form the tag team known as XXXL, a moniker he hopes to soon shed.
Romero finally weighed himself in late August, exactly 100 days after he started his weight loss journey. He decided it was only fitting to pick up the scale off the bathroom floor and hold the weigh-in at a different, far more meaningful venue: the kitchen.
“That’s where I’ve done most of my damage,” Romero says. “So that’s where I wanted to do my weigh-in.”
The scale read 375, meaning he cut 100 pounds off his frame. But Romero didn’t celebrate with a cheat meal. He spent time charting goals for his future, making note that this year’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view is rapidly approaching on Oct. 24.
“I was pleasantly surprised with my results, but there is still a long way to go,” Romero says. “Wrestling is a big part of it, but this goes much deeper than wrestling. Success doesn’t mean anything if I don’t have my health.
“I know people won’t believe what I want to do, but they won’t be able to believe the way I look, either. I have two more years on my contract, and my goal is to be Impact world champion. That’s my goal before the end of my contract. I’ll have to work my ass off to get there, but I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.”