July 16, 2014 - During the week, Chuck Weeden is just another mild-mannered tech geek.
"Big Money" Chuck Weeden (center) takes on Deputy Justice in a tag team match held Saturday at Basketball America in Orion Township.
Behind Weeden, a 2004 OHS graduate, is his partner "All Day" Danny Shay. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
But on the weekends, he transforms into a fierce professional wrestler who dominates the ring and entertains fans as "Big Money" Chuck Weeden.
The 28-year-old Oxford resident made his local debut in the ring Saturday night at Basketball America in Orion as part of the "Arch Rivals" event put on by the Michigan Championship Wrestling Association (MCWA).
When Weeden, who works as part of Best Buy's Geek Squad, found out the MCWA was staging a show right in his own backyard, he contacted the company and got a spot on the card.
Having the opportunity to perform in his "hometown area" is something Weeden's been dreaming of doing since "day one" of entering the pro wrestling world more than a decade ago.
"It felt good," he said. "I'm looking forward to hopefully, more opportunities (to wrestle locally) should that occur."
Weeden, a 2004 graduate of Oxford High School, wrestled in a dramatic tag team bout that featured the classic tale of the hero betrayed.
After his partner, "All Day" Danny Shay, spent most of the match being beaten, flipped and pounded like a rag doll as the cheating villains, Officer Roderick Street and Deputy Justice, double-teamed him, Weeden was finally able to tag in and save the day as the "hometown hero."
Weeden entered the ring fast and furious like a force of nature.
He's surprisingly agile for a guy who stands 6 feet and weighs 275 to 280 pounds.
At times, he was nothing but a large blur as he sprinted around the ring and bounced off the ropes delivering powerful blows.
Ultimately, Weeden was able to pin one of his opponents for a three-count and win the match.
But instead of being grateful and celebrating with Weeden, in true professional wrestling fashion, the treacherous Shay blind-sided him with a vicious "super kick" to the head.
The traitor then casually exited the ring, leaving Weeden lying flat on his back, in agony, on the canvas.
But fear not, for Big Money will be back to fight another day. Count on it.
Even though this was Weeden's first time wrestling in Oxford/Orion area, it was by no means his first rodeo.
Weeden's been a professional wrestler for 12 years now.
"I love the business," he said. "That's why I'm still doing it and still pushing myself."
He's squared off against opponents, playing both a hero and a heel, in well over 500 bouts.
"Lately, for a lot of the shows, I've been the bad guy," he said. "It's a lot of fun. Some times I just enjoy being the bad guy. It definitely relieves a lot of stress, especially if you have a bad day."
In the Orion show, he played a good guy so he could be billed as the "hometown hero" from neighboring Oxford.
But, according to Weeden, whether a character is a hero or a heel is typically determined by the writers and the storylines they develop for the wrestlers.
Hard to believe, but he started his career as a baby-faced 16-year-old still attending high school.
Weeden made his pro debut back in December 2002, when, before a crowd of more than 700 screaming fans, he participated in a Battle Royal match held in Taylor, Michigan.
"I was still undergoing my training (at that point)," Weeden said. "That was my initiation I guess you could say."
He began wrestling under the persona "Night Creeper," a shadowy, dark character similar to "The Undertaker," a famous pro wrestler.
He later changed his persona to "Big Money C," then finally Big Money Chuck Weeden. Big Money is a nickname from his high school days.
"I always used to wear a big dollar-sign necklace and I was a pretty big kid," Weeden said. "Out of the blue, some of my buddies started calling me Big Money," Weeden said.
The name stuck.
As a wrestler, the Big Money character has developed over time.
"Originally, I started off as the rich, arrogant, fat kid (with his) nose up in the air," he said.
Today, his character is still rich, but he's a guy who divides his time between the ring and the nearest casino.
Over the years, Weeden's wrestled for various promoters including American Sky Dojo, Sault Area Wrestling, Midwest Pro Wrestling Alliance, Ontario Championship Wrestling, Superior Wrestling Alliance and Great Lakes All Pro Wrestling.
He's done his fair share of traveling.
"I've been pretty much all around the Midwest and (to) parts of Canada," he said. "Right now, I hold the Sault Area (Wrestling) tag team title. I've had that for a few months now."
Weeden's partner wrestles under the name "Wildcard" Deuce Diamond.
"We both play casino characters," he explained. "He's the card player and I'm the rich guy."
Like many pro wrestlers, Weeden has his own signature "finishing move" when it comes time to finally put an opponent down for the count.
"I call it the Cash Out," he said.
He described it as a "reverse DDT."
The DDT is any move in which a wrestler has an opponent in a front facelock/inverted headlock and falls down or backwards to drive the opponent's head into the mat. It's said the move was named by pro wrestling legend Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who invented it back in the 1980s.
In the Cash Out, "instead of (an opponent) facing the floor, he faces the sky," Weeden said.
He stumbled upon the move by accident during a match. It turned out to be quite the crowd-pleaser.
"The reaction I got from the people was tremendous, so I ended up sticking with it," he said. "During training, I worked on it more and more to make it look a little more legit rather than like an accident."
After more than a decade in the ring, Weeden still harbors the dream of moving up to "the next level" in professional wrestling.
"I've seen guys work their asses off and prove that anybody can make that level with hard work," he said. "Eventually, I'd like to be one of those guys."
Weeden called promoters like the MCWA the "minor leagues" of the pro wrestling world. Everybody there is honing their skills and paying their dues in the hopes of one day getting a shot at the big leagues.
John Michael Nicosia, co-owner/promoter of the MCWA, agreed.
"Every major sport has a minor league," he said. "Independent wrestling is professional wrestling's minor league. We've had guys that are huge names in the business – Zach Gowen, Rhino, Sabu, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley . . . they're all household names worldwide and they all got their start in Michigan in venues just like this."
"You might get an autograph tonight from somebody and in five years, they're (the) main event in Wrestlemania," Nicosia added.
Weeden's realistic about what constitutes "the next level" for him in the pro wrestling world.
He said it probably won't be World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), with its nationwide television deals, "because they have pretty strict criteria."
But he believes a "top-notch" promoter, like Ring of Honor, which has a television series, could still be within his grasp.
"That would be perfect," he said.
Weeden's favorite fans are the youth.
"I enjoy performing for the kids and signing autographs," he said. "It's a good feeling. Something like this gives kids hope (and shows them) that anybody can achieve their dreams."
Weeden probably identifies with the kids so much because it seems like he's still a big kid at heart. He's really enjoyed meeting the "old school" pro wrestling superstars he grew up watching on television.
He's met Bret "The Hitman" Hart, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DeBiase, Rick Steiner, The Iron Sheik, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Shane Douglas, Chris Masters, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff.
"Some of these guys still wrestle," Weeden said.
Meeting these legends can be a difficult experience because on the one hand, Weeden wants to maintain his professionalism at all times.
But on the other hand . . .
"It's like the little kid in you just wants to go AWOL," he said.
Established in October 2008, the MCWA travels around the state providing the public with "family-oriented" entertainment at affordable prices, according to Nicosia.
He explained that independent wrestling, like the MCWA offers, is a different animal than a large, national outfit like the WWE. It give fans a more intimate experience.
"You're up close. You're personal. You're meeting the guys and the gals," Nicosia said. "You get to see them every weekend. You get to know them a lot better."
And fans never know where an independent wrestling show might pop up.
"We'll go anywhere we're wanted," Nicosia said. "There's thousands of wrestling fans in Michigan. Where there's wrestling on the marquee, that's where I'll be."
The MCWA's next show will be Aug. 15 at the Gibraltar Trade Center in Mt. Clemens.
To learn more, visit www.mcwaonline.com
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.