Duke’s Adventures – Road to Retirement Pt 2

Road To Retirement Pt 2…

I flew from Allentown to Florida with Samu and his family to a house we’d rent for a few days. The house was great and had a pool out the back we could relax by and I was in a good mood to take part in my next show. WXW was having their 22 yr. Anniversary and it was looking to be a great show with not only a great card but also featuring Pro Wrestling Legends who would be there for meet and greets and also to take part in a pre show clinic. Also featured was a WWE NXT coach who’s name escapes me.

These legends included the other half of the Wild Samoans , Hall of Famer and Afa’s brother Sika, The Rock’s father and Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, former WWE and WCW legend Haku/Meng, WCW legend Ricky Santana and former WWE star Gangrel, all of whom were considered family by Afa.

Duke w/Afa & Sika, Minneola Recreation Centre

I would get to meet and chat with them all and it was an honour to work my final USA show with these legends of Pro Wrestling. We got through the show which went off to great success and even featured a spot by Haku, who without going into detail, showed why he was one of the most feared men in the business. I really enjoyed being around the WXW roster and was even surprised to run into my old friend Shaun Bennett who’d I’d met on my first trip to Florida and was now one of WWE’s current respected referees.

I was grateful to Afa, his wonderful wife Lynn, his daughter, my friend, Vale for having me take part in such an important show in WXW’s history. I was even invited along to a BBQ the next day with Samu and family to a friend of Afa, where we relaxed, ate amazing food and discussed the previous nights show. I felt blessed to be there and appreciated for my final effort. I’d made the right choice to return and it felt so good.

I’d return to Australia feeling whole and in a good frame of mind to have my final AWF show in December 2018. My good friend TNT had even flown in my good friends Mad Dog Mcrea and Vixsin, who were some of the first interstate wrestlers I ever met and worked with to be a part of the show. I also had good friends and former wrestlers Kyle and Erika Semenoff there in the audience as well as many AWF fans old and new who I’d gotten to know over the years. Well respected photographer and friend Sarah Newman was on hand to capture some great pics and all night I was receiving praise and thanks from the younger wrestlers, some of who were only kids when I’d first started.

It meant the world they were all there and it helped make it feel special. We got through the show and gave the fans a fun show. Once it was over, much like in America at WXWc4, TNT had gotten the entire locker room to come into the ring. After being embraced by all and feeling the emotions rise in me again, TNT made a wonderful speech to the crowd thanking me for all my years of service to not just AWF and Australian Pro Wrestling but for also being a pioneering ring announcer who through professionalism and hard work, had broken ground. In a speech with tears streaming down my face, I thanked the audience in attendance, the fans of old, the wrestlers who’d I’d worked with and all of those friends and promoters who gave me a chance and opportunities to do what I had always dreamed of.

TNT then presented me with a beautiful and ornate cup for my retirement and years of service. After all was said and done, I left the ring one last time to head to the locker room. I was exhausted and spent. I went to a room by myself and burst into tears. It was all over. Nearly 20 yrs of shows, being on the road, the flights, the hotels, the comradery, the feeling of belonging, the noise of the audience and the tangible energy from them that I fed off and made me who I was.

I would no longer be a part of the show, like I’d always wanted. I was done. Was it a dream? It was all over….. Or was it.

To use a well spoken and known term in Pro Wrestling, Never say never…..

AWF retirement show, Penrith PCYC

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