Professional wrestling is an art form that combines storytelling, acrobatics, acting, and character creating. Maybe you never thought about wrestling as an art form, or wrestlers as artists, but that might be because you haven’t met Colt Cabana. An independent wrestler—that is, one who’s not under contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)—Colt handles every aspect of his brand management and promotion. After reviewing his debut children’s book, Wrestling Dreams, in our November/December issue, we caught up with Colt to talk about indie art.
Indie wrestlers are another on a long list of independent artists who need to be scrappy and creative to make sure the world sees their art. Can you tell us a bit about the world of indie wrestling?
After being fired by the WWE in 2009, I thought my life as a pro wrestler was over. Luckily, for 8 years prior to signing with the WWE I had made a living as an Independent pro wrestler. I decided to try that route once again and it was the most successful decision of my life. As an indie wrestler, I act as everything. I’m my own agent, producer, PR, marketer, you name it. I travel all over the world to smaller scaled Wrestling shows and perform with zero restrictions. My career flourished on the idea of working hard. Our world is so intimate and makes for building the best relationships possible with your audience.
As an independent artist, was it important to you to publish with an independent publisher?
It really was. The independent spirit is what made me successful. I really found that your audience realizes that each time they make a purchase, it DIRECTLY affects that artist. I’d like this to be no different than each time I sell a shirt or a DVD.
This was your first book. What made you want to start with a children’s book instead of a traditional memoir?
So many people ask me when I’m going to put out a book. I have years of stories and I podcast about them weekly. A memoir didn’t seem like something I’d be interested in. When Erica and Trism approached me to do a children’s book, that was really something that excites me. As a wrestler, we’re always performing for kids and I love their innocents. Performing on the pages for kids, seemed just as fun as performing in person.
There are a lot of themes in the book—from perseverance to doing it yourself. What do you see as the most important message the book has to offer?
That you really can be a pro wrestler if you want to be a pro wrestler. Pro wrestler is such a silly job, but someone has to have that job. I hope a kid reading this might have a silly passion and hopefully it sparks a conversation that if you pursue anything, you can do anything.
What are some children’s or picture books that inspired you to follow your own path?
I guess the classics for me. I was raised on Shel Silverstein and Dr Seuss. There was this book I always remembered called Casey at the Bat. That one always stuck with me too.
Seth Dellon is the Associate Publisher of Foreword Reviews. You can meet him or hear him speak at most of the events Foreword attends, and contact him at email@example.com.