The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Release Date: April 27th 2017
Guest: Kenny Dykstra
Recap by: Josh Coulson
- Colt will be hosting a free, live podcast at Bric-a-brac records in Chicago on Saturday, May 6.
- Kenny part-owned a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts.
- Kenny traveled to WWE Headquarters at the age of 12 to apply to become a wrestler and was obviously turned away.
- At the age of 13, Dykstra convinced Killer Kowalski to start training him.
- Kenny began wrestling as an enhancement talent for WWE at the age of just 16.
- Kenny may be the youngest person to ever wrestle on WWE televison, with him and Colt uncertain as to whether it’s him or Jeff Hardy.
- At the age of 18, he was officially signed by WWE and had to reveal to John Laurinaitis his true age.
- When the Spirit Squad idea was first pitched to him by Vince he thought it may have been a joke.
- After Spirit Squad disbanded, Kenny beat Ric Flair in a very short-lived push.
- As well as continuing to wrestle, Kenny now gives seminars on how to set up and run your own business.
Subjects covered (with timestamps)
0:00 – Show introduction
9:15 – Song of the week
11:07 – Interview with Kenny Dykstra begins
34:15 – Called by WWE
43:53 – Time under contract with WWE
51:50 – Spirit Squad
58:37 – Post WWE career
1:05:57 – Close of show
Colt opens the show before the theme plays with a reminder that he’ll be hosting a live podcast in his native Chicago at Bric-a-Brac records, and that it’ll be free.
As (almost) always, Colt starts the show by announcing that he’s sitting there live in his studio…apartment, and runs down everywhere the podcast is available and all the ways listeners can help the show.
Colt then gets into the main body of the introduction and reveals that he bumped into Justin Roberts last week and plans to read his book which he has there beside him. He does admit that he hasn’t read a book in ten years but wants to make an effort to change that with this one.
Cabana thanks a writer from U.K. newspaper The Metro for including his podcast, along with a few other pro wrestling based ones, in one of their articles before introducing his guest, Kenny Dykstra.
Reveals that Kenny Dykstra is best know for his time in the Spirit Squad in WWE and similarly to previous guest Jeff Hardy, began wrestling for WWE before he had even left high school.
Colt compares enjoying success very early in your pro wrestling career to being more of a late bloomer, like himself.
Following the revelation and description of who his guest is this week, he then goes on to describe where he’s been wrestling over the past seven days. Mostly in some of the more remote parts of Canada.
Colt relates wrestling in that part of the world to wrestling in the U.K. That in the past if you wrestled in Europe or Japan or up in Nova Scotia you’d have to move to America in order to ‘make it.’ However with the U.K., in particular as of late, that is not necessarily the case anymore.
After finally making it home from Nova Scotia, Colt had to fly straight out to a town called Cape Girardeau for another independent show.
Cabana then introduces and plays the song of the week, a track titled “Jim Cornette” by a band called Knothead.
Kenny Dykstra Interview
Getting into the business and training with Killer Kowalski
Cabana introduces Kenny and asks him to explain why he has almost no voice. Turns out it’s simply from having a good time the night before.
Colt asks Kenny about a bar he was once part owner of in Worcester, Massachusetts along with a stake/steak joke from the host that doesn’t really land with his guest. Kenny informs Colt that the bar venture was just a small and temporary thing. Something that he dabbled in following his time with WWE after he saved his money while with the company.
Dykstra informs Colt that growing up poor and having to move from place to place with his mother made him the way he is today and why he is so good with money. Both Kenny and Colt agree that in the business those who were poor when they were younger and suddenly have money after becoming pro wrestlers either go crazy and spend it as fast as they earn it or are sensible and save it, learning from how they had to live when they were children.
Kenny recalls being told to get paid to do something you love to do at the age of 11, and since he loved wrestling that’s when he decided he was going to become a wrestler. He cites Bam Bam Bigelow as being the first professional wrestler he was a fan of.
At the age of 12, Kenny convinced his older brother to drive him to WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut convinced that all he had to do was apply to become a wrestler. He tells the story to Colt and remembers thinking that he would be on Raw within a week.
“I’m gonna walk through the door, I’m gonna ask for an application, I’m gonna fill it out, I’m gonna get interviewed. Vince is gonna realize I’m good, and I didn’t think too much beyond that because how would he know? And I’m 12.”
Kenny describes that on arrival to Stamford he approached the front desk and requested an application from the woman there. Dykstra goes on to tell Colt that the woman explained to him that’s not how it’s done and that he would need to go to wrestling school and train. Cabana then reacted to the story, surprised that the woman at the desk didn’t find a 12-year-old boy thinking he could apply to become a pro wrestler the slightest bit adorable.
Dykstra continues the story of his path into pro wrestling by telling Colt that his trip to Stamford was followed up by him returning home and researching schools, eventually finding Killer Kowaolski’s school at the age of 13.
Colt and Kenny go off on a slight tangent at this point where they get in to how the two of them both had shoplifting phases when they were kids.
Kenny tells the story of how he went down to Kowalski’s school at 13 and told him that he wanted to become a pro wrestler. Despite being told to come back at 18, he convinced Killer to take him on providing he could get written permission from his mother along with $2,200. He returned the next day with the note and the money, which he had saved over a number of years.
Dykstra speaks of his time training at Kowalski’s school as Colt attempts to get his head around a 13-year-old training with a bunch of grown men. Kenny also names some of the wrestlers he worked with at the school such as A-Train and Kronus.
Despite the massive age difference between himself and the rest of the wrestlers at the school, Kenny describes that there was still a camaraderie between himself and everyone else.
Colt tells a story of when he began training at the age of 18 and sharing the ring with a 40-year-old guy who he had nothing in common with apart from them both training to become wrestlers.
Kenny would record absolutely everything he did at Kowalski’s school and send the tapes to WWE.
He had his first match at the age of 13 under the ring name Ken Phoenix. It was a battle royal at a local show where he accidentally stood on the head of Doink the Clown.
Colt asks Kenny how he handled himself in the locker room when it came to being a teenager and whether he would get star struck. Kenny replied with “not really” and that he would just sit, watch, and take it all in.
Working as enhancement talent for WWE
One day Kenny got home from wrestling school and Doctor Tom, from WWE, had left him a message asking to call him back. He had seen his tapes and asked him to come to shows the following week. At this point, Dykstra was only 16 so Tom told him to subtract two years from his date of birth when he signed the papers.
Kenny tells Colt that he would take time off school to work for WWE and was even on television a lot of the time, working with wrestlers like Rodney Mack and Ultimo Dragon. Turns out teachers at his school had seen him on TV, and his head teacher agreed to let it slide as long as he could keep up an A-B average, as wrestling was technically work.
Colt and Kenny then attempt to figure out whether Dykstra is the youngest person to ever wrestle on WWE television. They agree that the only wrestler who may have been younger than him was Jeff Hardy but they can’t decide for sure.
Kenny starts listing wrestlers he worked with as a 16-year-old enhancement talent for WWE, naming Tajiri, Lance Storm, Goldust and Stevie Richards, leading everyone he worked with to believe that he was 18.
When he wrestled with Lance Storm on Sunday Night Heat they were given nine minutes, which was much longer than he had ever been given before and was worried that he had so much time to screw something up.
Following that match, he was asked by JR if this was something he wanted to do and was told by Ross that he just wanted to see where he was at mentally.
Kenny then recalls a tag match he had with Billy Gunn and Bob Holly. After watching them put the boots in on his partner, he tagged in and hit Holly back as hard as he had been hit.
“So he tagged me in, and Bob hit me. You don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes, so then I hit him back immediately just as hard as he hit me. And then he hit me again and I hit him back and he let me come out a little bit and get some. And then from there, it was just like, easy easy. And after the match he even shook my hand and was like that’s good, I’m hitting hard, hit me back hard too, that’s how I want it.”
Colt and Kenny then go on to discuss their own separate views of Bob Holly and that despite having a tough demeanor in the ring, he’s actually a really nice guy.
Kenny describes to Cabana how he learned the backstage politics of the business. That he would watch the more established performers and that way learned how to earn their respect.
Dykstra then tells Cabana that at WrestleMania he had ‘Druid Duty’ and Colt reveals that they have something in common as he himself was once a druid for an Undertaker entrance at a different WrestleMania.
Getting his first WWE contract and being sent to OVW
Dykstra then tells the story of being called in to John Laurinaitas’ office to be told that WWE wanted to sign him to a permanent contract and send him to OVW. It was then that he revealed his true age and Laurinaitas had to wait for him to graduate from high school later that year. He graduated from high school June 7th and his first day at OVW was June 14th.
Kenny describes to Colt that there was never any doubt in his mind that he was going to make it as a wrestler, but wanted to go to college as he knew he couldn’t wrestle forever and injuries always happen.
While at OVW, the next oldest wrestler there after Kenny was Chris Masters at 21.
Kenny recalls a meeting with Jim Cornette at OVW where Jim asked if he was a heel or a baby face. Although Dykstra said heel, Cornette saw him as a face so Kenny went into business for himself. Despite being told by Cornette that he was a face, after losing a match he was told by Jim to be mad and took it to another level. Dykstra threw a tantrum and wrecked things at ring side, ultimately turning himself heel in the process.
Colt compares Kenny wrecking the ring side area to a time when he attempted to go into business for himself but got fired for it rather than saw his career furthered like Dykstra.
Spirit Squad and singles run
Cabana asks Kenny if Spirit Squad was where he envisioned his WWE career ending up. At first, he thought Vince was joking when he suggested male cheerleaders to them. As soon as they knew he was serious they all agreed to do it to the best of their ability.
All five of the men who would become the Spirit Squad were all brought in for a meeting at the same time, and to this day, Kenny is not aware why it was him and the four others that were chosen for that role. Kenny recalls Taz at the meeting chuckling to himself when he heard the initial idea for the Spirit Squad.
After Spirit Squad came to an end, Kenny describes how he tried to convince WWE to send him back to OVW so that people had a chance to forget about him. Instead, they had him wrestling just a week later as Lenny Dykstra.
Colt exclaims that despite that, Kenny did get a push at first when he became a singles wrestler. Dykstra remembers beating Ric Flair the same night that Triple H re-tore his leg and was then told by Arn Anderson that they’d now need to put Ric with Shawn Michaels, abruptly ending his feud with Naitch. Following that he worked with Carlito for a little while and then Bobby Lashley, who he worked with in OVW.
Kenny tells Colt a story of how he lobbied for a match on Raw with Bobby and after getting it and putting on a great bout, on their return to Gorilla there was a standing ovation, but he quickly realized all the attention was focused on his opponent.
Colt quickly asks about Kenny’s recent return to WWE under the Spirit Squad gimmick and whether he’s still with the company. He replies that he’s still on the website and his texts are still being returned, which is a good sign.
He then refers back to his original run with WWE explaining that he was a victim of when the company releases a lot of talents all at the same time. In the build to him being released, he says he could see it coming as he was only working dark matches and house shows.
Colt questions why Kenny didn’t go straight to the independent scene following his release from WWE, and he explains that he had known nothing but wrestling from the age of 13 onwards and wanted to experience the ‘real world.’
During his time away from the ring, Kenny taught people about business; how to set up their own and run them. He still does that and is looking to do the same with inmates in prison, teaching them and helping them to survive once they’re released.
Kenny describes how he doesn’t like working to make someone else money, which is why he enjoys working for himself and teaching others about running their own business.
Colt responds by saying he understands that way of thinking, but also thinks it does sound a little greedy. Dykstra then tells him how he sets up his business talks, breaking down the cost of renting out a hall and selling tickets to his business seminars. Cabana describes it as indy wrestling without the ring.
Cabana then begins winding down the interview by asking Kenny to plug anything he’d like. Dykstra then goes into detail about a children’s book he has recently gotten published as well as fitness competitions that he runs along with how you can follow and contact him via social media.
Colt then closes the show following the conclusion of the interview, revealing that Kenny made a surprise appearance on ROH television last week. That’s followed by Colt’s own social media plugs along with where you can find his merch, his upcoming appearances and where you can find the podcast.
Kenny Dykstra is not a pro wrestler I knew a lot about before listening to this interview. I merely knew him as a member of the Spirit Squad, but it turns out he is so much more and his rise in the business is absolutely fascinating. To anybody reading this who is on the fence about listening to this episode of Art of Wrestling because you don’t think Dykstra is that interesting a personality, I urge you to do so. Just because he didn’t have a spotlight shone on him for an extended period of time doesn’t mean his pro wrestling story isn’t worth telling. So often Colt digs out these hidden gems to keep his podcast fresh and relevant and this interview with Kenny is no different.
About the writer
Josh Coulson is a journalism graduate from Bristol, England. He has been a pro wrestling fan since the age of 10 and truly fell in love with the business during the build to WrestleMania X-Seven, citing the rivalry between Austin and The Rock as what really got him hooked. Other than wrestling he is a keen soccer fan and a long suffering supporter of his local team Bristol City. You can find him @BristolBeadz on Twitter.