Wrestling for fame

Submitted photo

Junior Ryan Bucki has suffered a lot for his craft.

“I’ve broken all my fingers, sprained my wrist, and then one time I broke my nose and got a concussion at the same time,” Bucki said.

And what does Bucki do that gives him bumps, bruises and a variety of other injuries on a regular basis? Pro wrestling, which he said he has been doing seriously for five years now.

The marketing major from Medford, known as Renny D in the ring, has performed in 24 independent wrestling federations all across the Midwest, including Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Chicago. Though he’s only held one title belt in his young career, Bucki said it’s entertaining fans who watch him wrestle that truly drives him.

“Whether I’m a villain or a good guy, I still make people laugh or happy regardless if I’m getting my butt kicked or doing it to someone else,” he said.

Bucki said wrestling became a part of his life at a very young age. Growing up, he and his three older brothers would watch the WWF as often as they could. Being the smallest, Bucki said he was the test dummy for the wrestling moves his older brothers saw on TV and wanted to imitate.

“Just watching it on TV all the time and the influence from my older brothers (drove my interest),” he said.

At 16, Bucki and a group of friends taught themselves how to wrestle after given access to a wrestling ring. Though he hasn’t had any formal training, Bucki said he learned much of what he knows from watching pro wrestling videos and listening to other wrestlers’ advice.

Bucki described his in-ring style as chain and mat wrestling, although due to his smaller size – he is listed at 185 pounds for his matches – he said he has to do a lot of high-flying moves, as much as he doesn’t want to.

“I hate the top rope with a passion,” Bucki said. “I don’t mind jumping off stuff, but I’d rather not . but since I’m so small I have to.”

Some of his favorite pro wrestlers are Bret “Hitman” Hart, The Rock, Mr. Perfect and AJ Styles, Bucki said.

Currently, Bucki said he mostly wrestles on the weekends when he can make the drive to the Twin Cities or wherever the event is located. When he started out, Bucki said he only earned $5 a match; now that he’s a more established performer, he earns $100 to $150 a night.

He said he mostly plays the bad guy, or heel, in his matches. His in-ring personality is an over-confident, talkative skater punk.

“If I’m a villain, I’m just a cocky kid,” he said. “Everyone hates me because I’m so young and I’m doing the stuff they want to do and they can’t do it.”

Bucki’s mother, Linda Kloth, said she has seen her son wrestle many times. She said he feeds off the animosity he generates while playing the heel in matches.

“The more people hate him, the more excited he gets,” she said.

Junior Travis Mester, Bucki’s friend of three years, said he didn’t initially peg Bucki as a person who would be a pro wrestler.

“It’s a surprise to hear he wrestles professionally (upon meeting Bucki),” Mester said.

Mester said he has seen Bucki wrestle twice and said he was a little shocked to see his cocky in-ring personality.

“You never see him as being that kind of person,” Mester said, although he added there are points outside of the ring when the Renny D in Bucki shines through.

Rising Star Shimdog, Bucki’s friend and frequent in-ring opponent, said he enjoys hanging out with Bucki as well as performing with him.

“He’s very outgoing, fun to be with,” said Shimdog. “He’s got a positive personality.”

His wrestling style lends itself to potential for injury, though. Bucki said his worst injury came in a tag team match where his opponents set him up for a two-man maneuver.

“His partner kicked me in the face the same time he throws me over, and he threw me over too far and I landed on my head,” he said. “That sucked.”

Bucki’s mother said although she doesn’t like it when he suffers injuries, she supports his career choice.

“I’m behind him, if that’s what he wants to do,” she said. “He’s very good at it.”

Bucki said he would like to continue with his pro wrestling career if he can. He said in October, he’ll be trying out for Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, which airs nationally on Spike TV every Saturday. If pro wrestling doesn’t work out, then he said he’d like to do something in acting.

Bucki said he continues to wrestle professionally because of the entertainment aspect of the profession. He said he loves helping people have a good time and forget the troubles of the world.

“The economy’s down, we’re in a war, no one’s happy, so I like to go out and give people something to actually entertain themselves for three hours of their lives,” he said. “At least they get away from everything else that’s crappy.”