Meadville Tribune

Sports

April 5, 2014

“Luscious” Rocky Reynolds’ love for wrestling runs deep

When Rocky Reynolds is setting up for his signature finisher, the Swanton Bomb, it’s been a good day at the office.

Known as “Luscious” Rocky Reynolds inside the ring, outside of the squared circle the four-time National Wrestling Alliance World Junior Heavyweight champion walks the streets as Aaron Madden, a police officer in his hometown of Titusville.

Fascinated by wrestling from an early age, Madden was 22 years old when he finally broke into the business. The now 36-year old continues to wrestle, with his next match slated for April 12 when he will take part in the Night of the Superstars 3, the annual wrestling event held at the Meadville Area Senior High School gymnasium.

“Just like everybody else that’s in pro wrestling, it’s been something that I wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Madden said. “Getting to see the larger-than-life guys who were wild and crazy in the ring wearing face paint and crazy outfits, I was instantly attracted to it. Pro wrestling is physical theater, and I knew I wanted to do something where I wasn’t sitting behind a desk too often.”

The polar opposite of filing paperwork is being thrown face first into a turnbuckle, but Madden wouldn’t have it any other way. The high-flying grappler has just about done it all in the ring, starting out in 2000 and gaining quite a following while wrestling with the top independent circuits across the county. It appeared that “Luscious” was on the right path to finally get a look from the big boys at World Wrestling Entertainment.

Then disaster struck.

“I should be dead,” Madden said.

The incident, which is a generous term considering the magnitude of the injury, occurred during the NWA’s 55th anniversary show on October 11, 2003 in Parkersburg, W.V. Reynolds’ near-death experience took part in an event called a Fatal Four-Way Ladder match, which nearly lived up to its billing. It was a night that would change him forever.

Midway through the bout, Madden climbed to the top of a 12-foot ladder located inside of the ring, placing him 15 feet above the ground. Next up was that Swanton Bomb — a head-first flip onto another wrestler — to the outside of the ring, where an opposing wrestler failed to catch Madden properly, consequently spiking Madden’s head into the cement floor.

Seated 10 feet away in the stands with a much too up-close view was Madden’s wife, Ashley.

After being rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that Madden had a Grade II concussion, with part of his scalp peeling back when it made contact with the floor. He lost two and a half pints of blood in the process, and was told by doctors that it was a miracle he didn’t snap his neck or cave his skull in.

One month later, Madden was back in the ring.

“It’s a cliché, but once you get into pro wrestling, it’s in your blood,” Madden said. “Once you step in front of the crowd and hear them cheering for you, it’s the most addictive drug out there.”

At the time of the incident, Aaron and Ashley had been married for a year, and once Madden returned to the ring, his style of wrestling took an obvious step back from the high-risk nature he had displayed in the years leading up to the event.

Throughout the years, Madden continued to wrestle, but never quite regained the heat that he had built for himself by 2003. But that’s just fine for Madden.

“When it was just me it was OK to take those risks,” Madden said. “I’m not a lone wolf anymore.”

Madden has two daughters, ages 6 and 4, and knew that while his family grew, his antics in the ring had to slow down.

“The last eight years or so, any time I step into the ring, I have to keep in the back of my mind that it’s not just me out there being affected if I get hurt,” Madden said. “I still do the Swanton Bomb, but not off of a ladder anymore.”

Whether or not Madden is lucky, crazy, driven or a combination of the three, there’s no disputing that his love for wrestling is immeasurable, for better or worse. Realizing that his 14-year wrestling career has been filled with highs and lows, Madden has just completed his first book titled “Luscious: The story of four-time NWA champion Rocky Reynolds.”

The book details his career on the independent circuit, primarily focused around his rise in the early 2000s, and subsequently, the injury that almost derailed more than a wrestling career.

Madden has no problem separating his Rocky Reynolds persona from his everyday life, and said he still gets just as excited these days leading up to an event as he used to.

Rocky Reynolds is a chance to compete in controlled chaos for 20 minutes, a chance for Aaron Madden to live out his childhood fantasy every time he laces up his boots.

“I get pretty nervous up until the point that I step though the curtain,” Madden said. “Once I step though the curtain, you become your character, and the nerves disappear. It’s pure excitement and adrenaline. It’s time to go to the ring and perform.”

As long as the ladders are left at home, Madden can nail his Swanton Bomb in peace.

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