BY SEREIMA TAROGI
The room smells like sweat and soft drink, people in the crowd are shifting restlessly in their seats, and the show was supposed to start half an hour ago. It’s AWFs’ Aussie Mania 3 at the Blacktown PCYC and at some point this afternoon the 14 wrestlers backstage will be giving us a show. Hopefully.
All of a sudden the music fades and the first fight of the afternoon, Aussie Ozbone Vs Tristan Slade, kicks off. It’s a good fight, but it’s the second match that I’m here to see. More specifically, one of the wrestlers in the second fight: Massive Q.
Better known to the tax man as Matt Sforcina, Massive Q had his first pro match in early 2006 after spending a year, every Saturday in a hot dojo at the AWF wrestling school.
That was eight years ago. Today his music is exploding out of the speakers to announce his entrance. At a towering 202cm and weighing in at 165kg, Massive Q is usually the bad guy at these shows. In his black and blue costume (it’s usually black and red), with manager Lord Mark Williamson at his side, he swaggers on past the crowd to the ring as if the audience may be a little bit below him. His opponent Saxon Bruce wouldn’t be considered a little guy in anybody’s book (198cm and 131kg) but as soon as the bell rings Massive is tossing him around like a child with a rag doll, winning the match in no time.
For the uninitiated, AWF stands for the Australasian Wrestling Federation. Formed in 1999 by Greg Bownds and Robert Jones, the AWF doesn’t just put on pro wrestling shows with championship titles. They also have a wrestling school for would-be fighters, and all events are conducted under safety guidelines set out by the Department of Sport and Recreation.
Every wrestler in the AWF universe has a character, back story and a gimmick that they use to entertain the audience along with their skills. The inspiration behind Massive’s character was a collaborative effort. “The back story is pretty just me turned up to eleven, my natural laziness and arrogance turned way, way up, as part of the overall package, which is me amplified,” says Matt. “I always wanted to be called Q because I was, at the time, a huge Star Trek fan, and also I thought it would be easy for move names and puns. The gear, which I designed myself, had Q’s and ‘QED’ on it, as I thought that would be my finisher name. But I’d vastly overestimated the nerd level of the average wrestling fan, and so I became Massive Matt Q and then just Massive Q, and that’s stuck.”
Going back to where it all began, Massive grew up watching guys like Mick Foley, Andre the Giant, Vader, and Big Boss Man but it was one match in particular that really ignited the fire. “I was just a fan for a few years until one specific match, Triple H defending the WWF Title against Cactus Jack in a street fight in MSG at Royal Rumble 2000. The match was awesome and told an awesome story, and it was the first time I remember thinking that I wanted to do that, I wanted to be in front of a crowd, and lead them through a story and at the end crush their hearts, as Triple H did that night.”
Now a wrestler himself, he has a new appreciation for different styles of fighting. “Now I tend to appreciate the guys who never got to the top but who were just really solid, great workers, guys like William Regal, Tully Blanchard, and Arn Anderson.”
Wrestlers do two types of training, wrestling training, drills, free wrestling, move practice, as well as general training, mostly cardio and weights. Every wrestler has their own training schedule they’ll happily tell you about and Massive is quite happy to open up about his. “I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, my gimmick needs me to be a big fat guy so I can’t get too slim.”
All jokes aside, the wrestling may be fake but the injuries can sometimes be very real. “In terms of injures in matches, I’ve been bruised a fair bit, got a bloody nose once or twice, had my bell rung once or twice (which is no laughing matter) and got a nasty cut over an eye once.”
In the ring Massive says he isn’t a fan of big guy versus big guy matches, preferring to wrestle small guys where the storyline is simple but always works. “In terms of specific guys, I think the best match I ever had was with Sonjay Dutt on a tour he did with us, but I always love wrestling Concrete Davidson. He’s just a great gimmick and such an easy guy to work with.”
At all of his AWF fights Massive Q is always accompanied through the crowd by his manager Lord Mark Williamson, and when things are looking to go sour for his talent Lord Mark also has a bad habit of turning the match to Massive’s favour. Lord Mark hails from the Blue Mountains, styles himself as “Manager, Announcer, Prophet” and likes to wear suits. Unsurprisingly any interrogation regarding Lord Mark’s underhanded tactics is quickly shut down by Massive. “Lord Mark Williamson is a wonderful human being who I won’t hear a word against.”
Massive Q is just as entertaining outside the ring as he is in it and AWF is first and foremost entertainment. So who writes the script and how much control does he have over his image and the direction that his character is going in the AWF context?
“There’s the booker, who in AWF is Greg the owner. He’s the guy who decides the matches, who wrestles who and what the finish of each match will be, as well as the general way promos and the like go. We have input, we can pitch ideas and such, but at the end of the day the booker is the guy in charge and he gets final say.
“Obviously I have my own ideas in how a wrestling show should be booked but at the end of the day the company isn’t mine, so it’s not my place to pass judgment. That’s up to the fans.”
Outside the ring Massive Q has a weekly wrestling Q&A column, a blog for creative writing, and he is also part of the Super Wrestling Heroes, which is a wrestling themed kids entertainment company set up by a fellow wrestler.
During his few years with the AWF Massive Q has been steadily amassing a dedicated following who come to every event. Now after eight years of being a pro wrestler he still looks to be enjoying what he does, but how much longer does he think he will still be at it? “As long as I’m physically able to do it, and it’s still fun, and there’s still fans that come to see me, in roughly that order of importance.”
Featured image: Massive Q vs Shane Saw in Aussie Mania 3 at Blacktown PCYC. Photo by Amy Oxford