PUNXSUTAWNEY — Most people like to sit around in their most comfortable chair or at a table with friends in their spare time, but one Punxsy resident, Matt Bish, likes to slam his friends through them.
An avid professional wrestling fan his entire life, Matt Bish got involved in independent wrestling leagues back in 2002 when his mother, Wendy Bish, introduced him to a colleague, Christine Mancini, who wrestled for the Allied Powers Wrestling Federation (APWF), a now defunct wrestling league. Mancini introduced Bish to Ken "Bad Bubba" Brewer Jr., who was the APWF promoter at the time.
"In 2002, I started setting up rings, selling merchandise, filming shows and pretty much any job that nobody wanted to do, because I wanted to earn my way in," said Bish.
In 2006, Bish began wrestling training with the APWF, which lasted for about 6 months. He did full contact training with Brewer, Chris Coleman and Donnie "Mr. Tapout" Fulmer.
Bish also held an APWF match at PAHS for his graduation project, which gave him his first experience as a manager.
Bish wrestled his first match with APWF in October 2007 at a "Diceman" (Robert Hornack) memorial show. Bish was thrown into a battle royal style match for his first taste of professional wrestling.
A battle royal match requires over four wrestlers and can expand to as many as 60. New wrestlers enter the ring periodically and are eliminated when they are thrown over the top rope and out of the ring, and occasionally by pin fall in certain battle royals.
"There were 15 guys, and I was one of the last guys in there, and I was so scared because I didn't know what to do," said Bish. "I was fighting all the guys I grew up watching," he added.
Since then, Bish has developed the persona "Marvelous" Matt Bish for Adrenaline Championship Wrestling, Undisputed Championship Wrestling and Phoenix Pro Wrestling, all three of which he currently manages or wrestles in.
Bish compares himself to Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, who was a manager/wrestler hybrid for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and WCW (World Championship Wrestling).
Bish prefers the managing, but is a fully trained wrestler, so he get can in the ring and be featured in matches when he chooses or is needed.
Bish is a "heel" manager/wrestler as opposed to a "face." A heel is the "bad-guy" type wrestler, where as a "face" is the opposing "good-guy," hero sort of wrestler.
As a wrestler, Bish uses his dirty tricks to entertain crowds. He recalls a match he wrestled in January when he hid a choker chain, brass knuckles, steel railroad spike and taser under his wrestling attire. The referee would periodically take the obviously placed weapons from Bish and the crowd throughly enjoyed his antics.
"I'm a dirty bad-guy, I cheat every chance I get," said Bish. "I don't think I've ever wrestled a clean match before; I think I've cheated in every single one of them."
Bish has wrestled in a variety of matches since he began in 2007, including singles, tag-team, battle royal, lumberjack, and weapons/hardcore style matches.
Bish also managed a wrestler named "C4" who won a steel cage match over "Coma Clayton" to become Phoenix Pro Wrestlings' first ever grand champion.
Since Bish began wrestling, he has been slammed into thumb tacks and was once involved in a "fans bring the weapons" gauntlet match. In that match, Bish was the second wrestler out of 12 to enter the ring.
During the match, Bish used a boat oar and a keyboard as weapons and got hit with a "Hungry Hungry Hippos" game board, which cut his cheek, and got smacked in the head with a "No Parking" street sign that knocked him unconscious for a few minutes, but Bish got up and finished the match.
Even though professional wrestling is considered "fake," Bish has learned first hand that the injuries aren't.
As part of Bish's persona, he used to bring a steel cane with a brass horse head on the top with him as he walked to the ring. During a match, one of the wrestlers involved didn't realize it was a real cane and he used it as a weapon against Bish.
Bish was hit with it on the back of the neck, which slightly fractured his neck and also cut his lip and chipped some of his teeth. As a result, Bish was forced to sit out for 10 weeks from his wrestling career.
Recently, Bish received an elbow to the face during a show, and it cracked the palate in the roof of his mouth and loosened all of his top teeth. As a result, Bish will have to have all of his top teeth replaced.
Despite any injuries or hardships, Bish has throughly enjoyed every part of his wrestling career.
One of Bish's fondest moments was being able to work with "The Blue Meanie," a former wrestler in the WWE and ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling).
He also enjoyed doing the Diceman memorial shows at the Punxsy Community Center with APWF.
"Because of wrestling I got to meet so many different people, I got to meet all my idols" said Bish.
Bish has been fortunate enough to meet his biggest Idol, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
"He is my all-time favorite idol; I wanted to be Ric Flair growing up," said Bish.
Bish's love of wrestling has even spread to his brother, Alan Bish, who interviews wrestlers for promotions and does various camera work and commentary under the persona of "Al Roberts."
As a manager, Bish talks on the microphone to the crowd and in front of the camera for promotions, normally drawing boos and hatred as part of his "Marvelous" Matt Bish persona.
He has managed over 25 champions and currently manages three different champions in three different wrestling promotions.
"I have a lot more fun managing; you get over the guy that you're managing. By getting over, I mean getting them popular with the crowd and as a bad guy, you want them to be hated. You also help the guy he is wrestling, and you all look good. I love trying to help people more than trying to help myself," said Bish. "I speak for the guys that can't normally talk for themselves," he added.
During the day, Bish works as a lunch room monitor at PAMS, and he says students at the school have found out that he is involved with wrestling.
In Bish's everyday life, he considers himself a shy and quiet person, but wrestling allows him to be someone completely different.
"Marvelous Matt Bish is Matt Bish with the volume turned all the way up," he said. "I am actually a quiet, shy person that doesn't like to be in front of a group of people, but when I get to the buildings for whatever show I'm doing; it's like a switch that turns on, and I turn into my character," said Bish.
If you want to see "Marvelous" Matt Bish in action, he has three shows before the end of 2012. On Nov. 24, Bish will be at the Young Peoples Community Center in Ebensburg with Phoenix Pro Wrestling.
On Dec. 7, Bish will be working at the Jaffa Mosque with Big Time Wrestling (BTW).
"This show is the one that is going to make or break my wrestling career to determine whether I can still do this or not," said Bish.
The BTW show will feature Bret "The Hitman" Hart, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, Tommy Dreamer, Carlito Colon, "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.
On Dec. 21, Bish will be involved in Phoenix Pro Wrestlings' "The Last Show Ever" in reference to the Mayans prediction of the world ending.
Bish will continue to enjoy his wrestling career and is anxious to see how far it will take him.
"I'm pretty much living my dream. Eventually I'd love to turn this into a full-time job, but until then, I need to pay the bills," said Bish.