Melbourne’s Spike Steele is one of the most respected wrestlers in Australian wrestling’s recent past and a man who loved to stir up EPW fans in the mid to late noughties with the words, “Your Face”, ringing throughout arenas. Having been retired for a number of years, Spike recently returned to Perth and caught up with epwperth.com to chat wrestling, working in EPW, and what he’s been up to since stepping away from the squared circle.
EPW: It was good to see you back at ReAwakening. What have you been up to since you were last in Perth?
SPIKE: It was great to be there for the first time in a long time. It was good to see some old faces and meet a lot of new ones. Life has thrown me a couple of challenges since last I was in Perth. I lost my father to cancer. I also got quite sick with undiagnosed coeliac disease for years which was only discovered after seeing a doctor. With wrestling gone, I lost my creative expression and emotional release and had developed depression. I also herniated a disc three years ago, so I was feeling defeated without wrestling in my life. I’ve turned my outlook around considerably in the last two-or-so years when I reconnected with a close friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. I started studying again and looking for more sensible career options. Sadly, this person had many problems of her own and three months ago the demons got to her, although I tried my best to be there. She reached out to me for help which I promptly responded to, but unfortunately after I left her side, she took her own life. I was diagnosed with PTSD, which my most natural response to is “I need to wrestle!” Hence why I turned up in Perth at EPW, my home away from home, to come and take in the view of what is now wrestling.
EPW: You made your first appearance for EPW at ReAwakening III back in 2004 and would go on to make nearly a dozen appearances until 2007. Can you tell us a little bit about your time in EPW?
SPIKE: My time in EPW was extremely rewarding for me. I’m pretty sure I met the EPW crew at a ‘super show’ in NSW where I wrestled Lobo in a ladder match and I ended up being booked in Perth shortly after. When I showed up at EPW for the first time, the thing that struck me the most was how tightly knit the group was. From everybody being so close to the collective feel of a show and group effort that was present, it truly felt like a promotion should. It’s overflowing with talent and has a great fan base. It quickly became my favorite place to work.
EPW: You attended ReAwakening 16 – your first EPW event in years. What were your thoughts on the show?
SPIKE: Reawakening 16 was great to watch, I was sincerely impressed with how far all the wrestlers have come and the level the scene is at. It’s been years since I watched a live show and ReAwakening blew me away as a fan, and as someone contemplating a return, the bar is well and truly raised. It’s a great thing for Australian wrestling. The matches that stood out to me most were the tag match with the Street Gang Hooligans versus The Untouchables, and the crazy main event of The Don vs Davis Storm.
EPW: Do you still keep an eye on Australian wrestling and what are your thoughts on how much it has evolved over the past decade?
SPIKE: When I stopped wrestling I did so out of necessity for health. I was quite unwell and getting worse so I decided I needed to step back and see what was happening. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop if I was around it so I had to leave a lot of circles of friends in wrestling to stay away. I hadn’t seen a wrestling show in a long time and was very impressed with the few I have seen lately. EPW was fantastic to watch, I’ve also recently seen MCW (Melbourne City Wrestling) and BCW in Melbourne. I’m actually joining a training session this week with MCW, so never say never.
EPW: You made your name as one of Australia’s premier hardcore wrestlers. Have you suffered any long lasting injuries from the style you wrestled?
SPIKE: That’s a funny question as I never considered myself a hardcore wrestler, I believe the reputation of a handful of matches preceded me on that one. I have sustained my share of injuries, the worst probably being a broken humerus from a poorly bumped powerbomb to the floor off a stage. I had surgery for it and they inserted an internal splint – ironically enough it was a steel spike in the arm of Spike Steel (go figure). I was stubborn at the time and hit the gym within two months or so after doctors told me to not lift for a year, and had to have a second surgery to remove said spike. I left myself with all kinds of scar tissue through the right bicep and a semi dislocated shoulder.
EPW: What was the craziest thing you ever did in the ring?
SPIKE: I have had many injuries in the ring and wrestled through them, but I think the craziest thing I ever did was probably a superplex off a cage. I over rotated and performed something of a moonsault/pin drop, bumping from the top of the cage onto the top of my head. No injury, just surprise.
EPW: KrackerJak has mentioned you as one the workers who brought the best out of him. Who have been some of your favourite guys to wrestle?
SPIKE: I have always had a funny outlook on wrestling matches. I usually see the opponent as my creativity, so any time I go into a match I like to have studied what they do and how to interact with them in new and innovative ways. Some of the guys I really enjoyed wrestling over the years are Lobo, Mad Dog, Jay Andrews, Dowie James, Cremator, KrackerJak, Cletus Blood, Shane Haste, Slex, and many more (to name a few). It was rare that I wouldn’t look forward to a match as every person brings something different to work with, it’s just a matter of tapping into it
EPW: What are some of things that you are most proud of looking back on your career?
SPIKE: I never really took pride/ego into account while I was wrestling as I’ve always been a glass half empty kind of guy. Rather than pat myself on the back for what I do know or can do, I reminded myself of what I didn’t or what others could do. After I stopped wrestling I was able to actually acknowledge how many people my work had affected as they referenced me and showed appreciation for my contributions. My proudest thing is being remembered by my peers.
EPW: Do you look back on your time in the business with any regrets, or mostly fond memories of the past?
SPIKE: I look back at the past with many regrets. I’m now studying remedial massage and have learned quite a bit about anatomy and injury and everything in between – if I knew then what I know now I would certainly work a little smarter for the long term and take my physical health more seriously than I did. Other than that it’s all fond! Wrestling was the greatest thing I’ve ever done and I gave it quite a bit of effort.
EPW: What’s next for Spike Steele?
SPIKE: What’s next for Spike Steele? That’s a very good question and one I should ask myself more often. At the moment I’m reconnecting with my wrestling past to get into some training as I have a real need for that familiar feeling of creatively exploding as a means of levelling myself out. It’s silly to say but getting in that ring and exploding with energy, knocking myself about and others while growling and cursing like a heathen, is the most rational way I ever dealt with anything and I find myself needing it. It’s not smart academically, it’s not smart financially, but it never was and I never intended it to be.
EPW: Thank you very much for your time, Spike.
Don’t forget you can catch some of Spike Steele in action at EPW From The Vault on the following shows:
All For One 2007
Hell Or Highwater 2007
NWA Australian Tour 2007