I’ve known Shepherd for the longest of times. First, I was a fan when he was going through the ropes at EWA and then through some of the other places. My heart was broken when he injured his hand at Action! Wrestling. I finally got to work with the man at Spinebuster Wrestling where he had a feud with ACW’s Andy Sharp and more importantly have been a friend over his time in Just Wrestling.
Brock is an interesting character and his evolution from that clean cut baby face way back in the early 2000’s to the culture shocking vigilante we’ve seen of late. Through personal adversity and business adversity he’s a diamond with many facets. A rough diamond? Yes. You could say that, but he’s a diamond nonetheless.
In the want for bringing some more to ewtorch.com, since Teddy and I have put our hands in our pockets with the dot com and the like, I wanted to add a little more through some interviews with guys and straight off the bat, I knew I’d love to pick the mind of someone I’ve been close with over the years. I managed to get some time with the One-Armed Wrecking Crew and I promise, I tried to remain as bias as I possibly could but sometimes with friends it’s not so easy. I can guarantee I’m probably the only one who is able to unlock the monster that is Shepherd since we’re so close as friends.
Without further adieu I’d like to welcome you all to my newest ewtorch.com column…
Non-HMO Elective Quizzical Surgery: (Don’t call me Brock) Shepherd.
Morton Murphy (MM): Brock, we’ve known each other for so long. I just knew when I was going to do this that I had to get under your skin first.
Shepherd (Shep): [laughs] Shit, Morty. Me an’ you known each other for the longest of times. I remember runnin’ into you at Action! Wrestlin’. What were you doin’ again? Runnin’ cables behind the camera man?
MM: [laughs] Embarrassingly… yes.
Shep: We all gotta start somewhere right?
MM: Cue segway… and you got your start in EWA, right?
Shep: Right. Shit. That was a long time ago, Morty. “Version 6.9” Brock Shepherd I called myself. Everybody got cheap pops for the numbers 6 and 9 so closely bound together I couldn’t refuse.
MM: All-American. Clean cut. Blue chip. All those words come to mind.
Shep: Morty, quit shillin’ my shit, man. Yeah. I was pretty clean those days, was green as a fucken Muppet frog, too. They saw my potential and gimme the ball so I ran with it.
MM: Three Intercontinental title runs. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Shep: Well, thank-you. I guess not. I busted my ass back then, puttin’ my body on the line time and time again, with no regard for my own health. Won me over with the fans. Got me a contract into Action! Wrestling in the end. I guess in my old age I’ve kinda gotten a little bit meaner and a little bit more careful with what I do to my body.
MM: You mentioned Action! Wrestling. That place really changed you as a person.
Shep: We talkin’ figuratively or physically, Morty? Coz it’s no secret I lost my paw there.
MM: Well, that does bring up some points, Brock. I wanted to ask you some questions about that but I know it’s a touchy subject. Your injury in the HardCase feud. That’s certainly a turning point in your life.
Shep: See, things might’ve turned out a little different if Fiend hadn’t gotten himself involved so heavily like he did.
MM: There were rumours circulating on the Internet about Fiend having gone too far. Can you tell us what was supposed to happen in that segment?
Shep: Fiend was s’posed to come out and send me a warnin’ from HardCase. Invalid I think he was callin’ himself at the time. He was s’posed to knock me out with the Butterfly Effect. Like some sorta Arn Anderson spinebuster or somethin’. And he did the job. But after that he went and broke my hand. People said he was gonna stomp my hand coz it’d push his mob-style gimmick. I was never one for stoppin’ another guy’s push so I agreed since he was pushin’ me an’ HardCase’s program.
MM: But he went too far?
Shep: Went way too far. I was tryin’ my ass off to sell the KO but when that mother fucker stomped my paw, I felt three bones snappin’.
MM: Yet you went on with the program?
Shep: Damn straight I went on with it. It was my big chance. I was tryin’ to build my name in A!, Morty. Steppin’ out in the middle of a feud wasn’t never my deal. I always saw through what I started.
MM: And the pay-per-view. Up on the Action!Tron. Bound to HardCase with the handcuffs. Tell me what went through your mind.
Shep: First thing I thought, when I fell, was “we’re both dead”. I thought we were both gonna break our backs but somehow, HardCase hung on. Can’t say I blame him. I’d probably do the same damn thing.
MM: I can’t imagine dangling by my wrist for so long. Especially with my hand already broken.
Shep: It was a pain I don’t think I could ever imagine. I mean, first thing I thought was I’ve broken it worse. But it was far worse than I ever could have imagined. My hand was a mess right inside that cast, Morty. It was destroyed inside that cast. The doctor cut it open and he said that bones had severed through tendons and ligaments and there weren’t nothin’ he could do to get it back up and running. They talked about pig tendons and monkey parts and shit but I wasn’t for that. I didn’t want no animal’s bits and bobs in my fucken hand, Morty. So they gave me the offer of tryin’ with the animal bits or cut it off. Even with the animal bits they couldn’t say if it’d work again so it was off with the hand.
MM: Just like that?
Shep: Just like that.
MM: Can I share with you some of the Internet rumours of the time that were floating around?
Shep: [laughs] Definitely.
MM: “Brock Shepherd had his hand removed to get out of his Action! Wrestling contract.”
Shep: [laughs] Wow. That’s rich. Seein’ that I was on a pay-per-appearance / developmental deal at the time, that makes no sense. That’s the thing about news sites, Morty. They report on what they wanna report on.
MM: Not the Torch, Brock.
Shep: [laughs] DEFINITELY not the Torch. [laughs]
MM: “Brock Shepherd had his hand amputated for a pirate gimmick with the Asylum.”
Shep: [laughs] A pirate? The fuck kinda rumour is that. And Asylum ain’t my cup of tea. ‘specially after what happened to me. Last thing I’d wanna do is get Villam Endered.
MM: “Brock Shepherd fired by Action! Wrestling’s Reed Young for not upholding contracted appearances.”
Shep: Like I said, was getting’ paid-per-appearance. Me and Reed never had any problems backstage. The guy sent me a whole stack of flowers when I had my surgery with a spot held for me if I were ever healthy enough to get back in the ring. Young and me never had any grievances.
MM: But you were able to get back in the ring. Despite losing your hand.
Shep: Talk a long time, Morty. A long, long time. Fact is… I never thought I’d get inside a wrestlin’ ring again. I thought the minute the doc chopped that fucker off that I was gonna have to go on benefits or somethin’ for the rest of my life.
MM: But you didn’t. You fought on. Got back on your feet and back in the ring.
Shep: I was with April Monday at the time. Me and her brother, Augie, sat down and thought about the moves I could do without havin’ another grappling hand. Took a long time. See, some folks out there don’t really understand what it’s like to have a move set you rely on. They don’t understand that having a move set is like a business analyst havin’ his computer set up all nice with the applications he needs. With his emails set-up and all his bookmarks saved in Firefox. Let’s say that business analyst was told he wasn’t allowed to use the Internet to do his job. That’s what losing your move set is like. It took me a long time to get back inside the ring. To have the means and ends of your financials stricken from you, it’s a weird feelin’. But me and Augie, we got down to business and figured out I couldn’t do a vertical suplex as good as I could do a capture suplex or a German suplex. I couldn’t do a brainbuster but I sure as Hell could do a one armed Samoan drop. Things like that.
MM: You certainly benefited from having the bulk and size. I think a lighter guy wouldn’t be able to have survived losing their hand.
Shep: Morty, when I had my hand taken away from me I certainly lost a lotta beef, yeah? I lost probably thirty-five (35) pounds, man. I was like a rake. I had to put it back on. I had to tone up again and gain some strength back. Some muscle back. I obviously couldn’t hoist dumbbells up with righty [Brock shakes his prosthetic] but I could put it in a little sling and use a pulley. Everything I did in life needed to be reconsidered and reconfigured, I guess you could say. Opening a bottle of Coke. I gotta sit down and stick it between my thighs and twist the cap off.
MM: And I’m sure a stubborn, independent guy like you would never dream of asking anybody for help.
Shep: You read me like a book, Morty. [laughs] I couldn’t bring myself to askin’ nobody to wipe my ass or tie my shoe. You improvise. Velcro shoes. They sure make some cool lookin’ trainers these days. Pull on boots. If it needs lacin’… it’s stayin’ on the shelf. At home I use a little pincher hook thing that needs a little manual assistance from my left hand to get goin’ but it works fine and helps with some things. I had to learn how to write all over agan. I tell ya, becomin’ the devil’s chosen left hander is somethin’ else altogether.
MM: You mentioned April Monday. She’s played a big role in your life, Brock. She’s given you a child but you guys are no longer together.
Shep: I don’t really wanna talk about April, Morty. I mean, yeah, April and I had a lot of good times together but we’re not really on speaking terms so much these days. We’ve both got separate lives.
MM: And your son… do you get to see much of him?
Shep: Don’t get to see him at all.
MM: A court ruled in favour of April Monday as the sole custodian of Adam, Brock. How did that make you feel?
Shep: How the [censor] do you think it made me feel, Morty? Can we drop this?
MM: People wanna know about this side of Brock Shepherd.
Shep: Well, I don’t wanna tell ‘em, Mort. Maybe we should wrap things up.
MM: Let’s move along, okay? Tell me about Adam Dick. The Illustrious Face-Eater.
Shep: See, people don’t understand where reality and kayfabe mix together sometimes. I’m just leaving it at that.
MM: So you’re alleging that Adam Dick tried to steal your girlfriend from you AND delivered your child. I find that hard to believe.
Shep: What’s real and what’s not are sometimes never two different things, Morty. What’s come between Adam and I is water under the bridge. I respect him as the professional that he is and we’re past anything that might circumvent that relationship, Morty.
MM: I’m just saying, if someone was trying to adulterate my girlfriend I’d be a little pissed off.
Shep: Well maybe I was pissed off at the time. I realised I had bigger burdens to bear and Adam Dick is just a minnow trying to swim upstream in surging river current, Morty. Our relationship is purely professional, we don’t speak outside of Just Wrestling.
MM: Speaking of Just Wrestling, you were the prime suspect in what Albany police seemed to think was a homicide, Brock. Just Wrestling employee, Samantha Gideon, was found in a Motel 6 hotel room with her hand cut off and in the arms of yourself.
Shep: I was acquitted. The case didn’t even go to trial, Morty. I was a suspect and that’s all. They said she committed suicide and what the police says is final.
MM: I just think it’s a little bit weird, you know? A right hand being cut off. Do you think someone might’ve been out to get you.
Shep: I don’t recall. I regret that I’d partaken in some drugs and alcohol to celebrate a monument in my return to wrestling, Morty.
MM: I just think it’s weird that the same hand you’re missing is removed from this girl-
Shep: What are you trying to say? You trying to go 60 Minutes on me, old friend?
MM: I’m just looking over the clues and putting together conclusions.
Shep: That’s been done already. Cops did that in Albany. They don’t need some Internet smark doin’ their detective work.
MM: Okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.
Shep: Well, you did. Havin’ your good name dragged through the mud is nothing to be taken lightly, Morty. I went through some tough times through wrestling and the general public in the period the investigation into Samantha’s death took place. You know what it’s like reading newspapers and Internet sites tellin’ you that you’re a killer? It ain’t nice, Morty. I’d prefer to drop the subject.
MM: That’s fine. We’ll move along. On that same day, however, you won the Just Wrestling Championship title from Judas Crippen. This was a few weeks after you losing to Judas Crippen. A big turn around.
Shep: I walked into Just Wrestling thinking I was a big shot still. I hadn’t fully got my head around being in the Independent scene. I had to look at the way I carried myself. Look at what the New York and Jersey fans were wantin’. Made some changes to myself and stepped up.
MM: The second tour, the time you were champion, you remained undefeated. A feat only recently met by Violence Jack in the tour which just wrapped up. Five in a row is a big deal.
Shep: No, Morty. Eight in a row is a big deal. Come talk to me about Violence Jack when he’s eight in a row. I was on a roll. The people were on my side and the world was my oyster. I’d finally found my feet and good things were happening for me.
MM: Including a PRIME contract.
Shep: Including a PRIME contract. When I lost the title I was in another mindset. I didn’t quite realize what had happened until it was gone. And I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
MM: You lost it to current ACW World Champion, Max Danger.
Shep: That I did. Tim Shipley called me up and told me about a Christmas show special he wanted to do. That he needed me there as I was Just Wrestling Champion. I was in the middle of trying to patch things up with April. The title changed hands and Danger took himself a little souvenir.
MM: Armsy McDanger?
Shep: If that’s what he’s calling it. I thought it was Handy Andy. [laughs]
MM: [laughs] I don’t mean to laugh.
Shep: Why not? It’s funny. Max and I planned the whole work. He had a whole other place he wantin’ to take himself and I’ve never been one to stand in the way of another guy gettin’ over. Shit. Max and I go all the way back to Action! Wrestling, but I bet if you ask him he’ll never even remember I was there.
MM: PRIME was a strange deal. What happened there?
Shep: Well, it was all kinda funny. I got in there around the time of some tournament to get some shot at their Universal title. It was a fed wide and invitational type of deal and is really some tournament. The best of the best in PRIME and the Indy scene get involved. It’s something else entirely. Anyways… my manager, Harry Balkin… you know Harry.
MM: I do. We worked together in Spinebuster and BRAND.
Shep: Same asshole. Anyways, Balkin was rorting the system. He was skimmin’ off the top of me and a bunch of other guys he was involved with. You go speak with JLV or August Monday, we were being managed by Balkin at one time or another. He was makin’ himself filthy rich over the years. Augie got out years ago after Kage fell through but there’s a whole list of guys he ripped off. And the IRS caught up with him.
MM: What’s this gotta do with PRIME?
Shep: Wrestling companies and the IRS go together like birds and lawn mower blades, Morty. As soon as the IRS were trekkin’ through my empty bank accounts and Balkin’s they knew no good could come of this. PR stunt? Maybe. I was the one who suffered.
MM: PRIME are the actual owners of the “Brock Shepherd” name, right?
[ED NOTE: You might have noticed me calling him “Brock”. Shepherd’s real name is Brock Aardson and we’re on a first name basis so naturally I’ll call him his real name. PRIME, unsharpen those suing pencils!]
Shep: Right. They trademarked it. Same as when I left Action! I couldn’t use “Version 6.9” no more, but as it turns out the wrestling fans got older and the only time they wanna see those numbers together these days is in the bedroom.
MM: And thus the re-birth. Going by the name of “Shepherd”.
Shep: Yup. Here I am. Shepherd.
MM: Did you toss up other names?
Shep: I tossed around a few. Thought about going by my real name but it really doesn’t have that ring to it, does it? Aardson?
MM: Could work. Rumour has it you were contemplating “Hook Shepherd”.
Shep: I was actually. It was kind of a tribute to a writer I really enjoy. Lee Child. He wrote this book about a guy who was a multi-millionaire but crooked as a lawyers cock. His name was Hook somethin’. Shit my memory’s bad. Anyways… I liked the idea of the character and was lookin’ into a heel turn so it kinda fitted.
MM: Who talked you out of that car crash?
Shep: Adam Dick actually. We were talking about my return to wrestling and I was talking through the idea and he just plain said “No”. There’s not many guy’s who front up with honesty in this biz, Dick is refreshing. Tells it like it is.
MM: Recently you appeared on All-Star Championship Wrestling. At Legends III and the two successive Courage’s afterward. Was this a work with Danger?
Shep: Danger and I had grown quite the relationship between the pair of us down in Just Wrestling, Mort. We wanted to do something which finished our story. Since I got shut down in a major way with the whole Balkin / IRS fiasco. We had a story we were building up and we couldn’t just let it go unsaid. We worked it out and it kinda fit that way. ACW was the place.
MM: For Armsy McDanger.
Shep: Danger winning the ACW World title has nothing to do with me. Those guys run a pretty tight ship in Montreal. It’s something I’d enjoy being a part of but right at this time ACW doesn’t fit my loyalties and I don’t fit into their programs. We were lucky enough to get out three shows to push our feud and finish things off.
MM: With that ladder match. Sources say you’re scared of heights.
Shep: You can hit me with a pane of glass. Hit me with a baseball bat coated in barbed wire. Do whatever but the minute I get any higher than the second rope I’m quaking in my boots. After that fall in Action! Wrestling I’ve suffered a little bit of vertigo. I get vertigo from midgets.
MM: Really? Midgets?
Shep: One walks by and my knees get all shaky and my guts get knots in ‘em.
MM: Wow. At the end of Courage last week, you dropped Armsy McDanger in the middle of the ring. I thought the whole thing was “eye-for-an-eye tooth-for-a-tooth” type deal.
Shep: Let me ask you somethin’, Morty. Let’s say you go to a bar. You see a guy playin’ pool and he’s havin’ a heck of a time. You wanna play, too, so you have a couple games with him. But this guy is enjoyin’ himself way more than you are. But you don’t wanna play pool anymore. Do you stay at the table or do you let the guy havin’ fun keep playin’?
MM: Let the guy keep playing.
Shep: Danger is workin’ that prosthetic like a mother[censor]. You ever seen a wrestling crowd give a prosthetic heat before? I haven’t. When I held that arm high above my head to a pop from those Canadians I knew right off the bat that I couldn’t take this arm from Max. He’d turned it into Armsy McDanger and it wasn’t my right to take the overness away from another performer. Who am I? Terry Bolea? Paul Levesque?
MM: Fair enough. Well, I don’t think we’ve got much more to recap in this is your life. I’ve got a few other questions if you don’t mind, Brock. First of all, anybody you wished you could have worked a program with?
Shep: Plenty of guys, Morty. For the record, I’d like to run a Face-Eater program one more time before I’m through. I don’t think we did it the way we wanted to do it first time round in Just Wrestling. I’d like to do it one more time and do it properly.
MM: Any promotions you wish you worked in?
Shep: Nah. If you want in somewhere bad enough you can normally muster your way into them. You haven’t seen me somewhere it’s coz I never wanted to be in it bad enough.
MM: Okay, well, before we finish off, I wanna ask you for a piece of advice for anybody reading this on the website.
Shep: [laughs] Advice from me? Okay. Here’s some. Don’t let nobody tell you that you can’t do something.
MM: Nice. Shepherd. Thanks for being my first victim.
Shep: You really got your fangs in back there. You nearly lost an eye.
MM: [laughs] I don’t know if that’s nervous laughter or not. Thanks, Brock.