An Orator and a Gentleman: The Long Road of Chuck Taylor (VIDEOS)

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On Tuesday July 30, it was announced that a Bullet Club crew of the Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson), Adam “Hangman” Page and “The Villain” Marty Scurll, where going to be facing New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) faction CHAOS in a showdown at Ring of Honor‘s upcoming PPV, Death Before Dishonor XVI, on September 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A rare New Japan crossover in the US that’s not part of their co-branded events like Global Wars, CHAOS would be lead by former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and his co-hort Tomoshiro Ishii, but their team mates would also include ROH (and long time indie unit) Best Friends, featuring former Roppongi Vice member Trent Beretta and his BFF, Chuck Taylor. Today, Best Friends were announced as being the next announced names for ALL IN, the indie SuperCard in Chicago on September 1, run by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson). It’s been a long road to the top for the Kentucky Gentleman, who started his journey at the age of 15, and who has traveled a Yellow Brick Road for 17 years to get to the Emerald City.

Born in Murray, Kentucky, Chuck Taylor joined the Old School Wrestling Training Academy in nearby Hardin, to learn under the tutelage of “Thunderbolt” Brandon Walker. Sadly, Taylor was unable to wrestle in his home state – Kentucky’s labor laws wouldn’t allow him to compete until he was 18 – so he spend his first few years learning across state-line with indie promotions in Tennessee and Illinois. It was on these excursions that he caught on with Insanity Pro Wrestling (IPW) in Indianapolis, where he would meet a young wrestler named Trevor Mann. He would have a hand in training the youngster, who would go on to become NXT Superstar Ricochet. Taylor continued to hone his craft, working for IWA Mid South and Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW).

In 2006, he made his debut with CHIKARA, the Philadelphia based family friendly promotion that emphasized showmanship – the more comedic, the better – as well as world class talent. In CHIKARA, Chuck Taylor blossomed, combining classic traditional (almost British style) wrestling with comedic wrestling on part with the funniest slapstick Hollywood comedies. His relationship with CHIKARA has lasted up until last year, during which he assisted CHIKARA owner Mike Quackenbush as a trainer at CHIKARA’s Wrestling Factory. he won the CHIKARA Young Lions Cup Tournament in 2007 and became a 2x CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas (Tag Team) Champions, alongside Johnny Gargano in Team F.I.S.T. In 2012, he formed The Gentlemen’s Club, a comedic faction that included the likes of WWE Superstar Drew Gulak, Orange Cassidy, Jake Manning and The Swamp Monster, and went viral with his invisible grenade bit (although he made a mortal enemy in Jim Cornette).

He took his dastardly narcissist character to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), starting in 2008, and for a decade has remained one of the core stars of the California-based promotion. He’s competed in four PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournaments (2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014) and after nearly a decade with the company, became a 2x PWG World Champion. In between his two reigns, he dropped the title to his protege Ricochet, in his send off run prior to heading to NXT. In 2009, he was part of a short lived tag team called Men of Low Morale Fiber – his partner was a Canadian kid named Kenny Omega.

Chuck Taylor was also a regular with CZW (2006 to 2016) and IWA Mid South (2006 to 2014), where he became a 2x IWA Mid South Heavyweight Champion, CZW Junior Heavyweight Champion, and 2x IWA Mid South Light Heavyweight Champion. His character became in high demand for specialty matches across the globe, travelling to RevPro in the UK, Smash Wrestling in Canada, Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) in Germany, and more. In the US, he began to work more and more with the likes of Dragon Gate USA, All American Wrestling (AAW), and Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), solidifying himself as one of the indie circuit’s true cult heroes. A comedic masterpiece in the ring, who had the skills to back himself up or work any opponent, he was one of the indie circuit’s most respected and funny guys. But many began to wonder if Chuck Taylor would ever progress past the regional indie promotions ceiling due to the comedic overtones of his style.

It wasn’t until his big run with EVOLVE Wrestling in 2016 – where he competed as DUSTIN due to a “copyright issue” in CHIKARA over his ring name (Stokely Hathaway stole the trademark and…nevermind. Long story) – that suddenly people began to notice a change in the Chuck Taylor they’d seen for the past 15 years. The comedy was still there, but there was now a more direct and aggressive approach to his style. Like seeing Steve Martin go from “The Jerk” to “LA Story”. He returned to EVOLVE alongside WWE Superstar Drew McIntyre – who was on an indie pilgrimage as Drew Galloway – and captured the EVOLVE Tag Team titles.

BEST FRIENDS: A LOVE STORY

Photo: Devin Chen Photography

But Chuck Taylor’s main tag team will always be the one alongside Trent Beretta, Best Friends. The two first tagged together at PWG BOLA ’13, in a 6-man tag match alongside Joey Ryan against the trio of B-Boy, Wille Mack and current NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa. Since then, the two have regularly competed together, off and on, in PWG, AAW and WrestleCircus. In May of 2017, Chuck Taylor finally got his foot in the door. His partner Trent Beretta was also part of the 4x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi Vice, with Rocky Romero. In late 2017, the duo disbanded, with Romero going on to form Roppongi 3K, acting more as a mentor to his new pupils, SHO and YOH. In one of their send off matches, Roppongi Vice brought Chuck Taylor to Ring of Honor for a 6-man tag match against Bullet Club’s Young Bucks & Hangman Page, which lead to Best Friends getting entered in the three team tornado match for the ROH World Tag Team titles at ROH Best in the World last June. Since then, Best Friends have been a contender for the ROH tag titles, facing off against the likes of The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) and Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin).

With Rocky Romero now leading Roppongi 3K in NJPW, Trent needed a new partner. When the NJPW World Tag League (the tag team version of the G1 Climax) was announced last year, it was revealed that Trent would be bringing in his partner, Chuck Taylor, with Best Friends one of the announced teams.While they went 4-3 in the tournament, it wasn’t enough to advance to the finals. With Trent still a member of the CHAOS faction from his Roppongi Vice days, Chuck Taylor was soon inducted in CHAOS himself. Since then, Best Friends were a part of the ROH/NJPW co-production Honor Rising this February, while Chuck Taylor was a surprise announcement for this year’s NJPW New Japan Cup, where he was one of CHAOS’ representatives in the tournament. Unfortunately, he was knocked out in the first round by Los Ingobernables de Japon‘s SANADA. With NJPW expanding into the US – and running the West Coast first – Chuck Taylor will be an asset on the US cards. He tagged with CHAOS team mate Toru Yano at Strong Style Evolved at Long Beach this March and this past may defeated both Jay Lethal and “Switchblade” Jay White in a triple threat at ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds.

Today, Taylor continues to work with Ring of Honor and Best Friends, challenging for the ROH World Tag Team titles, always ready to join the clan wars of Japan with his friends in CHAOS. He still continues to work on the indies as well, such as Beyond Wrestling, where he’s reunited The Gentlemen’s Club with Orange Cassidy, competing as recently as this past Sunday at Beyond’s Americanrana event.

It’s been a long and winding road for this clown prince of comedy wrestling, but it looks like the rest of the wrestling world is finally catching up to what many of us have known for years.

That Chuck Taylor is a national treasure and the funniest Twitter you’ll ever follow.