ATHLETE APPRECIATION: Gary Jay

garyJay2In the first of a hopefully long series of wrestler profiles, we turn our attention to a seemingly unlikely place to begin the journey: Gary Jay.

We begin here, as there arguably no better athlete who epitomizes the terrific, Florida  independent wrestling scene.

Who is Gary Jay? A man of mystery, in many ways. He sports a limited (Twitter) Internet presence, has no official (Wikipedia) online placeholder, is devoid of robust merchandise shops, and keeps a fairly low profile.  His Win-Loss record speaks to a man devoid of much fanfare; Internet Wrestling Database estimates Jay falling on  the wrong end of the 3-count nearly 70 percent of the time.

With no offense intended, there’s nothing physically distinctive about  Jay other than his striking red hair, wiry beard and thin (170 pound) frame. Thus, the 29 year old, St. Louis wrestling veteran is perhaps the last person you’d suspect of being a tremendous athlete, which makes his story even more appealing.

Gary Jay belongs to the elusive breed of technical high flyers, a wonderful hybrid between strong style and luchador. His ring demeanor is fearless, consistently booked against individuals more than twice his size. Huricanrana and I had the pleasure of watching him work consecutive weeks within FIP and ACW/Evolve promotions, respectively. Both times he brought the house down via steadfast precision and fearlessness.

There’s a seeming pathway to Gary Jay appreciation:
1. Shock – Rail thin, reckless, red hair everywhere, an Elmer’s Glue white complexion, Gary Jay enters a contest clearly over-matched, mocked his opponent. Still he’s crazily confident.
2. Intrigue – Within the first 3-4 minutes of a match, Jay displays surprising ring savvy and an incredible physical gift of turning size differentials into an array of beautiful, technical wrestling. His opponent clearly underestimated Gary Jay.
3. Acceptance – Even to skeptics, it becomes clear (5+ minutes in), Gary Jay is for real. What appeared – at first – as a decisive mismatch is now a wonderful chess contest of strikes and counters.
4. Advocacy – Ten minutes pass, and the match is now a dead heat. One can’t help but be sucked into this wrestling anomaly, as we hit crescendo in pace and emotion.  Jay now has the crowd on his thin framed but courageous back. “Gary!, Gary!, Gary!” fills the venue.
5. Commitment – As the match roars to its ultimate conclusion, Jay escapes near pinfalls en masse and in dramatic fashion. His opponent follows suit; Gary Jay is hellbent on winning this match. “This is…awesome…clap clap, clap clap clap.” Over and over again.
6. Respect – As the record dictates, Gary Jay will likely fall short of victory; the little red engine that could runs out of steam. A standing ovation by the crowd seals the performance in the manner deserved.

Gary Jay’s been accomplishing the above for more than 12 years, doing so in elite indy leagues such as aforementioned FIP, Evolve, also Chikara, St. Louis Anarchy (where he’s the reigning champ) and IWA Mid-South. Seeing someone like Jay, one can’t help fantasize about him gracing AAA Wrestling’s lucha elite, flying from  the top ropes of a Ring of Honor ring, and/or wowing Full Sail crowds of NXT.

I’m selfishly grateful  Jay is part of our local wrestling scene, a monthly gift for those fortunate enough to succumb to the Six Stages of Gary Jay appreciation.

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