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Former Huntington man bringing ‘old friend’ back to town Saturday for fun, entertainment
By STEVE CLARK - Wednesday, December 7, 2016 5:57 PM
When Kasey Geyer looks in the mirror these days, he sees an old friend staring back.
That old friend is KC Thunder – the identity Geyer assumed for years as a professional wrestler. His return can only mean one thing: Geyer is getting back in the ring.
And not just any ring. Geyer will be climbing back into one in Huntington, his hometown. The ring will be at the Police Athletic League Club for “Christmas Clash 2016,” a pro wrestling event presented by W.A.R. Wrestling.
The event is set for Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., with Geyer competing in one of two matches on the evening.
The match will be Geyer’s first, he speculates, in four or five years. The hurdles that come with such a hiatus, like having to whip his body back into fighting shape, didn’t discourage him; rather, they served as his motivation for returning.
“Part of it was just [to] flat-out challenge myself,” says the 42-year-old. “Can I do this one more time?”
The comeback isn’t Geyer’s first. He returned to wrestling in 2006 after a three-year break. He competed regularly through 2010, when he stepped away from the sport again, setting the stage for his current comeback.
Before all of that was Geyer’s heyday. From 1994 to 2002, “it was pretty much non-stop,” he says of his wrestling career.
Becoming a pro wrestler was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. He grew up obsessed with the sport, captivated by wrestlers whose colossal frames were surpassed in size only by their personalities. He credits his family with nurturing that obsession.
“Somehow, they’d find a way to have enough money to scrape together to get me to the Coliseum to see Dick the Bruiser,” he recalls, referencing the legendary wrestler from Indianapolis with menacingly gritted teeth.
Fittingly, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum is where Geyer got his big break. At the time, he was a student at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, but was much more interested in becoming a pro wrestler. A chance encounter at a World Wrestling Federation event one night opened the door for him to follow that dream.
“If you’re over six feet tall and over 200 pounds, you’re going to stand out a little,” says Geyer. “So, I was at this event and – one in a million – this guy approached me who was a referee from a Midwest independent wrestling promotion league.”
After commenting on Geyer’s physique, the referee inquired if he’d ever thought about becoming a wrestler.
“And I’m like, ‘I’ve wanted to my whole life,’” Geyer says.
The referee handed him a business card and encouraged him to check out a professional wrestling school he was affiliated with in Lima, OH.
“You might as well have said Turkey,” says Geyer. “You might as well have said Zimbabwe to me. Where in the hell is Lima, OH?
“I had a $50 car. So, you better believe I’m on it, I’m researching. Who is this? What is this?”
With one of his buddies in tow, Geyer hopped in his jalopy and made the trip to Lima, determined to find out if this school was real or just a scam. When he arrived at the school’s address, he found a Masonic Temple on the spot, with the school supposedly on the fifth floor. He made his way up to that level – and soon beheld something that allayed all his fears.
“You go in and there’s the professional ring set up,” says Geyer.
He was sold.
“Next thing you know, I’m getting my student loan money from real college and it pays me enough extra where it should’ve went towards books and clothes, whatever, but no it’s going towards professional wrestling tuition,” says Geyer, with a grin.
Geyer started attending the school in 1994. He recalls doing so with about 15 to 20 other new students. He quickly learned that it was a reputable institution, serving as the gym for Dan Severn, a mixed martial artist who was preparing to compete in the fourth Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It also didn’t take him long to learn that being a student at the school was going to be a humbling experience.
“I wandered into that gym as a roughly 20-year-old kid, thought that I was the toughest guy around, thought because I could bench press 300 pounds or whatever that I was a bad man,” he says. “And I got tossed into a world of, ‘Oh my God. These dudes are killing me every single day in training.’”
For the first time in his life, Geyer questioned the extent of his love for wrestling.
“That first month at pro wrestling school, I’ve never been so sore in my entire life,” he confesses. “It literally is like, ‘Is this worth it?’ ‘Can I even endure this?’ ‘This is so ridiculous.’
“The older guys, you see a 20-year-old guy coming in there thinking he’s all that, I’m sure they took some liberties in taking me down and stretching me a little bit.”
But Geyer endured. For a year, he brushed off the pain, soreness and self-doubt to learn about wrestling. He describes that period of time as a “weeding out process,” with his fellow students dropping out one by one as they reached their respective limits. By the end of that year, only two students had made it to graduation. Geyer was one of them.
Shortly thereafter, his pro wrestling career began. Geyer’s first match was in Indianapolis. He and future WWF wrestler D’Lo Brown were in an elevator heading to the event when Brown realized something: Geyer didn’t have a nickname yet, one of the most important things in wrestling. So, on the spot, Brown came up with the moniker “KC Thunder.” It stuck.
The early years of his career weren’t glamorous, Geyer notes. He learned that making it in wrestling involved more than showing up, climbing in the ring and putting on a good show for the fans. To get ahead, he realized that staying late at events, long after the raucous crowds had left, and helping organizers tear down the same rings he’d competed in earlier furthered his career as much as anything else.
“If they know you, they like you and they trust you, do your best, you’re probably going to get called back,” says Geyer of match organizers.
One of the early highlights of his career came in 1997 when he got a chance to try out for the WWF at Ball State University.
“That was the first time I ever saw The Rock and all those guys,” Geyer recollects. “And at the time, he was unheard of.”
While Geyer may have been unheard of, too, he started to make a name for himself in the wrestling world as the years progressed. His proudest accomplishment came when he traveled to Japan to compete. He returned multiple times and remains amazed at just how different wrestling is there compared to the United States.
“The wrestling in Japan is so physical,” he relates. “It’s just insane. It’s a lot lighter contact in an MMA fight than it is the pro wrestling in Japan.”
By 2002, after wrestling for nine years, Geyer decided that it was time to take a break from being KC Thunder. He got into the mortgage business. He also welcomed a son into the world.
In 2006, the chance to fight in an MMA match presented itself to Geyer and was just too tempting to turn down. He accepted the match and got back in condition. When he won the fight, it marked the start of a second phase to his career. He began wrestling again, while also competing in MMA matches, and did so for the next four years.
As for Geyer’s current comeback, while the physical challenge of it may be motivating, his derives inspiration from his children, too.
“Part of it’s my kids, for sure, my son and my daughter,” he says. “Not to, like, impress them. Just to show them that life’s not over at 42. ‘Your dad’s still got it if he has to.’”
Geyer started training in mid-September. His workouts, which have been overseen by Anton Talamantes, a former wrestler and MMA fighter himself, have included a healthy dose of running to build up his stamina, which Geyer considers to be even more important that strength training.
“I’ve spent more time running sprints, running hills, skipping rope on treadmill, whatever, because you can’t get tired,” he says of being in the ring.
Geyer notes there have been some days where Talamantes’ workouts have been so grueling he’s lost between five and six pounds. Overall, he’s dropped 56 pounds since training began. And is, once again, looking like KC Thunder.
“Christmas Clash 2016” will see Geyer taking on Dusty Dillinger. The evening’s other match will feature W.A.R. Wrestling champion Jake Something facing Matt “Darkstar” Taylor. While tickets will be available for purchase at the PAL Club the night of the event, advance tickets may be bought at Jimmy Pop’s Pizza Shop, in Huntington, as well as www.warwrestling.com.
As nice as seeing KC Thunder again may be, Geyer is even more excited to see the people in the crowd on Saturday night. Because after thousands of matches, he knows that victory in wrestling doesn’t hinge on his opponent; it hinges on them.
“Winning is capturing the audience,” he says. “Winning is when somebody leaves that night and goes, ‘Damn, I got my money’s worth.’ Or, ‘Damn, that was so good. When are they coming back?’