MWR Spotlight: “Serial Thriller” Shane Rich
Posted by Admin on June 6, 2009
by Josh Ray
When looking at All-American good guys in the MWR coverage area, they don’t come any more talented or well-received than “Serial Thriller” Shane Rich. The former All American Pro Wrestling (AAPW) Heavyweight Champion, Rich has carved a reputation in Illinois as being one of the best. Looking at the Rich’s life, it’s easy to see why he is thought of highly in the Midwest independent pro wrestling community.
Rich was four-years-old when he first noticed pro wrestling. He watched the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) on cable television before it transformed into what became World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and while most wrestling fans in his age group would say they were most influenced by wrestling legend “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Rich gives the credit to one of Flair’s greatest rivals: “Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
“I loved martial arts and Bruce Lee as a youngster, so Steamboat fit what I was looking for in a wrestling hero,” said Rich.
In the mind of the “Serial Thriller” both Flair and Steamboat complimented each other in style and personality. It’s easy to see this philosophy shine in Shane Rich’s personality when comparing him to three of his most recent rivals: “Homicidal” Steven Davis, “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt, and “Modern Day Viking” Shawn Shultz. He couldn’t be more different then any of them, and that translates into happy fans and competitive matches. When confronted with this comparative observation, Rich smiled.
“Just thinking back (on Steamboat and Flair) puts a smile on my face. Their matches were just so intense that you would never have said that they were only putting on a show.”
Other early inspirations were numerous and diverse, including Bret Hart, Sting, Ultimate Warrior, Brian Pillman, AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio Jr., and Juventud Guerrera. Rich describe each individual and his reasons for them inspiring him, and a common theme emerged. Rich naturally migrated toward tough, high-impact individuals with strong personalities and a certain unique quality that placed them above the rest in their time. These are qualities he continues to hold dear to this very day.
With a few younger uncles encouraging him due to his love of pro wrestling, Rich started working out when he was six-years-old. They told him at a young age that in order to make it big in wrestling he would have to be big and in shape. Heeding their advice, Rich started small by riding his bicycle and lifting small weights with one of his uncles.
“I was much too small for the olympic sized bar bell that my Uncle Kevin had, so he put together some dumb bells for me to use when I was at his house,” Rich explained.
Not one to limit himself, Rich did sit-ups, pushups, hindu squats, and other exercises even when not at his uncle’s house. This continued until he got his hands on the best weight bench at fifteen years of age.
“I’ve been addicted to bodybuilding and fitness ever since,” added Rich.
In 2000 at the age of seventeen, Shane Rich started training with “Homicidal” Steven Davis. Within months of starting his official training to becoem a professional wrestler, he started wrestling on a local level for Attitude Championship Wrestling (ACW) and National Wrestling Coalition (NWC). This is where the base of Rich’s wrestling talent came from. During this nearly two-year period, Rich wrestled every weekend and trained for five days every week with Steven Davis at the ACW training facility. This hard work and dedication combined with his committment to physical fitness set the tone for “Serial Thriller” wrestling career.
When asked about his most memorable matches from the early days, Rich quickly replied with one name: “Homicidal” Steven Davis.He added, “We started out together and in a way became the Flair and Steamboat of the Midwest during that time. Then, just like now, we beat the tar out of each other and were always willing to go that extra mile to entertain the people while still staying true to the old school mentality of pro wrestling.”
Rich has wrestled for many other wrestling promotions, including Rampage Championship Wrestling, NWA Tennessee and Old School Wrestling in Kentucky. It stands to reason that he will wrestle for many more in the years to come.
The Air Force
Some might expect that a young two-year veteran of independent professional wrestling might develop an attitude. That wasn’t the case with Rich. He made the decision to better himself outside of pro wrestling, and in the process develop some very important wrestler attributes. In November 2001, two short months after the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, he joined the United States Air Force.
“To me, I needed to learn discipline, a good work ethic, and do a service to my country,” Rich clarified.
He continued to work for various independent promotions across the country during this time, building a reputation and keeping himself in great shape. Rich was once again staying dedicated and pushing himself to get better.
Life as a pro wrestler while working full time for the U.S. Air Force is extremely difficult for Rich, but he takes it in stride. Some of the benefits from being in the Air Force actually help him pursue his dreams in pro wrestling, since he doesn’t worry about health care, food, or a place to stay.
“In the Air Force, you can never just up and travel to a show that is more than 8 hours away,” said Rich. “If I ever got a call to wrestle in Japan, Mexico or elsewhere overseas, the military would say no in a heartbeat. However, the military has given me discipline, money, education, and most importantly PRIDE.”
Close to a Smackdown!
It was during one of his many travels that he got his biggest break. In the Fall of 2004 while deployed somewhere in Southwest Asia in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, things started to heat up when Rich met one of the best wrestlers pound-for-pound in pro wrestling, Chris Benoit. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was conducting a meet and greet to support the troops, and Rich jumped at the opportunity to meet Benoit, whom he idolized.
“Basically, I told him that I wanted to some day be as great a wrestler as he was,” Rich said.
His encounter with Benoit proved fortunate, as Benoit smiled and told Rich that he would help him out. Later in the evening he was introduced to WWE’s Smackdown Vice President, Gary Davis. Benoit told Davis that Rich wanted to be a wrestler, asking Davis to give Rich his contact information. Davis onbliged, giving Rich his e-mail address and insturcting Rich to contact him as soon as he landed back in the United States.
Nearly three months later, “Serial Thriller” returned to California, where he was stationed at the time. He quickly e-mailed Gary Davis, as he was instucted to do. Shortly thereafter, he had a reply, asking for a good 8×10 promotional picture. Rich complied with the request and when Wrestlemania rolled around in the Spring (2005), Davis sent him tickets to the “biggest event of the year” along with a lot of WWE merchandise.
Rich was excited to say the least, and in the Summer was invited to Tennessee to attend one of Tom Pritchard’s training camps.
“I would love to tell you that they signed me on the spot, but they didn’t,” said Rich. “After the camp was over, I went back to California and was never contacted again. I re-enlisted (into the Air Force) and took an assignment back home in Illinois.”
Rich still hasn’t let up on his committment to being a professional wrestler. Upon returning home, Rich has been heavily involved in All American Pro Wrestling (AAPW) and IWA Productions (IWAP). After battles with former trainer “Homicidal” Steven Davis as part of one of the most intense feuds of recent history, Rich claimed the top prize in AAPW, defeating Davis to become the new AAPW Heavyweight Champion. On top of his training and independent wrestling work schedule, Rich is still in the Air Force and attends McKendree University, where he is working on his bachelors degree in business administration and marketing.
His biggest connection to Illinois, though, is his eight-year-old son, Christian.
“To me, there is nothing more important than taking care of him,” Rich said.
His son was his main reason for relocating back to Illinois when he re-enlisted. Rich reflected that he wasn’t a part of Christian’s life enough in the first four years of his life, but that he has made up for lost time since returning to Illinois. His son was born when Rich was only seventeen years old, and Rich credits his birth for making him realize he needed to grow up.
“It made me realize that it was time to step out into the world and be responsible,” said Rich. “It has been a great reward to watch him grow up.”
Rich feuded and battled some of the best in the area, including Steven Davis, Shawn Shultz, Jeremy Wyatt, Tracy Smothers, and Edmund McGuire, but what is in store for “Serial Thriller” in the months and years to come.
In Shane’s own words:
“I am very happy with working the indies for the moment. It gives me a flexible schedule and allows me to work with young, undiscovered talent. It’s a great reward for me at the moment.”
In five years, Rich hopes to be a big part of the independent wrestling scene not just in the Midwest, but across the nation. As humble as they come, Rich acknowledges that due to his current situation in the military and with school, larger promotions in Japan, Mexico, and the U.S. are further down the road. That isn’t to say that the next level of success will never come, though. “Serial Thriller” Shane Rich is one of the absolute best that the area has to offer and success is always within reach for a man with his dedication, desire, committment, and work ethic.
One of his idols, Rich would love to have at least one match with AJ Styles. Another Total Nonstop Action (TNA) wrestler that Rich would like to go one-on-one with is “Cowboy” James Storm.
“It’d be a hilarious slobber knocker,” claims Rich.
Others that Rich wants to wrestle already have ties to the Midwest. On top of the list are Mike Sydal and Issan Hadeev.
The future is bright for “Serial Thriller” Shane Rich, and Missouri Wrestling Revival is proud to shine a spotlight on him!