Stars, thunderous bangs, and bright flashes of light are the details that describe a stormy night sky, but for wrestlers like CW Anderson, it might just sound like Extreme Championship Wrestling. The 47-year-old wrestler from Raleigh, North Carolina has been wrestling for 24 years, and when he walks through the curtain to the ring, he has wanted to prove only one thing.
“That CW Anderson is the baddest man on the planet. I don’t care who you are in the crowd or who you are in the ring, you are not going to beat me,” CW Anderson said. “I tell the kids I wrestle with today that you might be a better athlete than me, but you are not going to outwork me. I’m smart, I know how to get the point across, and I want the fans to love the babyface by hating me so much.”
Work ethic has always been important to CW, and it was something that was instilled in him from the time he was a young child. While growing up on a farm, he learned the discipline of hard work by putting in long hours on his family’s property when he wasn’t in school.
“I grew up in the country, so I was outside feeding the animals, slaughtering hogs, farming, or whatever it was. I worked a lot of my young life growing up,” Anderson said. “On the weekends, if I wasn’t barning tobacco for my grandfather, I was barning tobacco for other people. I didn’t mind working.”
Some wrestling fans might find it hard to believe, but there was a time that CW was not interested in the pro sport. It was his brother that was the big wrestling fan in their house. One day, CW’s brother talked him into sitting down and watching it with him. The match that was on television was Ivan Koloff and Krusher Kruschev defending their NWA tag team titles against the Rock n’ Roll Express.
“The Rock n’ Roll Express won by Ricky rolling up Uncle Ivan for the pin,” Anderson said. “I specifically remember running and jumping around the room screaming that the Rock n’ Roll Express had just defeated the Russians. That got me hooked.”
Baseball was the game that CW had a passion for, however, and it was something that he was very good at. He played catcher in high school where he caught the attention of college and pro scouts by being able to throw the ball to second base at 90 miles an hour from his knees.
One of the teams that were interested in CW was the San Diego Padres. His mother encouraged him to go to college to further his education, so he studied to become a video game designer. While he was playing baseball at Columbus State Community College, he hyperextended his arm.
“I was showing off and I was trying to pick somebody off at the first base by throwing from my knees,” Anderson said. “I came home and my baseball career never went anywhere after that. Since then, my arm has never really been the same.”
Back at home in 1993 while waiting in line at a McDonalds’, CW ran into a buddy of his that he hadn’t seen for quite some time. The two men got to talking about what they were doing and CW found out that his friend was doing some independent wrestling. The friend invited him to come to a show and CW accepted the offer.
“I showed up early and got in the ring with him and we started rolling around. I kind of got hooked and I haven’t left the ring since,” Anderson said. “It was then when I thought that this was something that I could do. I have the type of personality that if I am going to do something, I’m going to be the best at it.”
CW made his professional debut on December 4th, 1993, and started cutting his teeth on the independent wrestling circuit. The one thing he did differently than most wrestlers throughout his career was to keep a full-time job. His big break on national television came in 1999 when he started wrestling for Extreme Championship Wrestling.
“ECW was like a family. I can’t stress that enough. We spent every Christmas together and we shared presents with each other at the arena,” Anderson said. “I have never been anywhere else that we did stuff like that.”
If you have ever seen Extreme Championship Wrestling, you might remember it for the hardcore style that it presented. There was violence, risk-taking moves, barbed wire, tables, and of course, let’s not forget the use of the chairs. ECW captivated the audience and elevated a large amount of its roster to superstar status.
“People misunderstood that just because it was called Extreme, it didn’t mean that there was going to be chair shots and blood every night,” Anderson said. “Being able to wrestle in front of that crowd was an intense experience because you had to bring you’re A-game every night. They would never let you slip up and phone one in.”
CW and his counterparts pushed each other to succeed, and they all wanted to see the best from each other. Although the wrestling they were doing was very physical, they hated to see when their friends got hurt. Because of the intense reputation that ECW had, not everybody walked away injury-free. CW experienced at least 17 concussions while wrestling there and that’s because the metal chairs they were using to hit each other with were real.
“Your body is not designed to take chair shots like that. People think they are fake, but they aren’t” Anderson said. “A lot of times, adrenaline got me through a match because I didn’t drink or do drugs. It was pure adrenaline because the hardest thing I ever took was aspirin.”
In the year and a half that C.W. spent with the ECW promotion, he had some great matches with the likes of New Jack, Kid Kash, 2 Cold Scorpio, Balls Mahoney, and several others. One match that stands in a class all by itself was the “I Quit Match” he had with Tommy Dreamer in 2001.
“There are things about that match that stick out with me. There were also a lot of guys that didn’t think I could pull off a good “I Quit Match,” especially on pay-per-view,” Anderson said. “Tommy told me before the match that if it was good, he would shake my hand afterward.”
The two men started to go at each other as they were being introduced to the crowd, and before you knew it, the fight quickly made its way to the outside of the ring. The ring posts, the guardrails, and the cement flooring had all become dangerous available weapons.
“I think a few things leading up to the match and the emotion involved made it special,” Anderson said. “The suplex on the floor was extremely painful.”
The contest was physical and intense. Both Dreamer and Anderson were relentless in their attack, and there were times when you thought they were going to kill each other. Each man was determined to finish off the other, as they traded back and forth with merciless submission holds.
If the match wasn’t exciting enough, the interference from the promotion’s towel boy, the use of metal cooking sheets, steel chairs, and razor wire helped set the tone for a spectacle that no one could not take your eyes off of.
“We were going to do barbed wire across my face, but we couldn’t find any. We found some razor wire and Tommy said I could suplex him on it because I wasn’t going to put that across my face,” Anderson said. “I think we could have taken it a little too far with some stuff that didn’t mean anything, but I really think it was just right.”
In the end, Tommy made CW relent. The weapon that he used was a long strip of vinyl trim from a broken table. Tommy used it to pull CW’s neck back while he laid on his stomach in the middle of the ring. In all, the match was right under 15 minutes, and the fans gave both men a standing ovation after being treated to an epic battle of will. Ultimately, Tommy shook CW’s hand after the match.
“It’s hard to explain how we got it right,” Anderson said. “We must have got something right because fans are still talking about it 17 years later.”
To have that kind of a match with Tommy Dreamer would be important to anyone’s career. At the time, Tommy was the face of ECW and had a reputation for going all out giving a hundred percent of himself inside the ring.
“He always pushed me to be better. Tommy always knew I had it in me to be one of the top guys there,” Anderson said. “So when I was in the ring with him, I always wanted to prove to him that I deserved to be there.”
Today, on almost any weekend, you can still find CW wrestling on the independent circuit. The sport is still fun for him and he still enjoys entertaining the fans and being around the boys. What he has done throughout his career is important to him, and that’s because he has a strong passion and high regard for the business.
“I would like for the fans to think that they always got their money’s worth, and I hope they knew I always gave a hundred percent every time I was in the ring,” Anderson said. “As long as I can still do that, I am going to keep on wrestling. I don’t ever want to disrespect the fans, the business, or myself because I think that would tarnish everything that I’ve done for the past 24 years.”
Favorite Wrestle: Bobby Eaton
Career Highlight: My “I quit match” with Tommy Dreamer.
Favorite band: Lincoln Park
Favorite sports team: Chicago Bulls the Michael Jordan era.
Hobbies: Playing video games, playing chess and collecting chess sets.
Dog or cat person: Both, but right now I have six dogs.
Favorite state: North Carolina & Florida
A movie that you have seen multiple times: Gladiator
Favorite Actor: Denzel Washington & Tom Hanks
Favorite color: Purple
A book you’ve read: Da Vinci Code
Favorite dessert: Banana pudding
CW Anderson talks about the towel boy from the “I Quit Match.”
CW Anderson vs. Dusty Rhodes
CW Anderson vs. CM Punk
CW Anderson vs. Super Crazy
CW Anderson vs. Mikey Whipwreck