Alex Shelley returns to Ring of Honor wrestling after the toughest time of his life

first_img“He didn’t have to write that. It was just a really kind thing to read. Just from anybody. It doesn’t have to be Will Ospreay. Just to hear that or see someone go out of their way to move the muscle in their hands to actually type that out. I really appreciated it.”It is those close bonds that Shelley truly appreciates at this point in his life and career.“I think that’s one of the beauties of the day and age we live in,” said Shelley. “People can say that. I would have never been able to say that when I was coming up in the wrestling business to a guy like Reckless Youth. There’s no way to do that. I think that’s one of the things that’s really cool about the industry as a whole right now.” Shelley’s year away from wrestling was the toughest point in his life.“I was in school full-time studying for a career in physical therapy and I can’t describe the kind of stress that I put on myself by doing that and trying to wrestle full-time with Ring of Honor,” explained Shelley.“My head just wasn’t in a good spot in terms of producing the type of wrestling I’d be most proud of.”FOUR TITLE MATCHES WILL TAKE PLACE AUGUST 9TH IN TORONTO AT #SUMMERSUPERCARD !! WHICH TITLE MATCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST?!!!JOIN US LIVE!!🎟 LIVE FOR #HONORCLUB !— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) August 5, 2019Shelley knew he needed to take a break to earn his degree. It just so happened that his contract with Ring of Honor was also coming to an end at the same time.But he knew he needed to finish what he started when it came to school. Personal matters made it harder as he went through a divorce at the same time he left wrestling. Many parts of his life were out of his hands as he lived in guest rooms or a hotel while working 10-12 hour days at a hospital for no money.Shelly admits that there were dark days filled with anxiety and depression, where he was losing his identity not being able to do something he loved: pro wrestling.“Everything snowballed and came to a head and I realized there’s only so much I can control,” said Shelley. “That’s what it came down to is literally every day, waking up and thinking I’m just going to do the best I can today.“I’m going to weather it. It’s not going to kill me. I’m going to get through it and it’s going to be really awesome at some point but it’s not right now.”MORE: Predictions for the entire WWE SummerSlam cardBetter days were on the horizon as he earned his four-year degree and life got back on track for the 36-year-old.“My mental state is really good,” said Shelley. “I got through the hardest period of my life and I grew from it. You’re kind of forced to grow from it or you’re not. You can choose not to and you can just become depressed and trapped in whatever your reality is but I feel pretty good about everything, wrestling included.”Almost a year to the day since stepping away from wrestling, Shelley returned to the ROH ring, teaming up with Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham to beat ‘The Kingdom’ made up of Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia. He was officially back.“I can’t describe the feeling I’ve had being around the guys at Ring of Honor,” explained Shelley. “I missed those guys a lot. We’re talking some of these guys I’ve known half my life and, to me, that’s crazy and when I left a year ago, I didn’t know if I would see them again because I didn’t know where I would land if I went back to wrestling. It’s really cool for me to see everybody.”Shelley had plenty of success in tag teams, including as one-half of the the Motor City Machine Guns alongside Chris Sabin and becoming a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champion during his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling.Now he’s looking to grab a major singles title – the ROH world championship – against Taven at Summer Showdown. The event will stream live Friday night starting at 7:30p ET at and on the ROH app.Typically there is some angst going into a match, but Shelley only has high praise for the polarizing champion.“Your Legend vs My Legacy”— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) August 7, 2019“I think he’s awesome,” said Shelley. “I know that’s not a very good pro wrestling answer to give but I really do think he’s awesome. The guy has worked all over the world and I find a lot of similarities between myself and Matt Taven in terms of where we left our mark.”He’s gone to CMLL and he’s been a star down there. He’s gone to New Japan and I know for a fact he impressed some of the officials there. He’s a guy who has sacrificed a lot for wrestling and I really respect that.“Yeah, I get it, he’s kind of a d—head but at the same time, you can’t deny the guy has put the work in. He really has and he performs at the highest athletic level. I can’t say enough good things about him. I hate to gush all over him because he’s champion and I want to beat him.”Shelley is in a better place in his life than he was not too long ago. But the return to wrestling comes at the right time, when him expressing himself in the ring can further help his healing process.“Freedom to express yourself and the freedom to be yourself, I think everybody wants that. Everybody wants to be loved for who they are in the end. Everybody wants to be accepted without having to try to put on some sort of facade.”As it relates to wrestling, I’m just looking forward to the challenge and then, conceptually speaking, approaching things in a different manner. Having new ideas, having new forms of attack.“As far as having a new life and a new state of mind and having a new career path and having a new way to approach wrestling, yeah, fine, let’s burn it all to the ground and build it back up.”Shelley would love to wrestle full-time again but wants to give physical therapy a real chance while continuing his career in the ring. After all, helping people also aided in his own personal issues.“Honestly, working in physical therapy at that point was a godsend, just being able to help somebody learn to walk again,” explained Shelley. “These people are debilitated, they’re in pain and to be able to put their problems ahead of my own, put them at the forefront and help them feel less pain or feel like they’re not trapped inside their own body was probably what I looked forward to most for 8-10 months.”Shelley credits his friends in wrestling across the globe, including the likes of Chris Sabin and Jay Lethal to Karl Anderson and Kazuchika Okada, for providing support or simply checking in on him during those dark days.Plus, he came across a note from Will Ospreay that had a profound effect on him.“He just talked about how he watched me growing up and I thought that was really kind of him,” explained Shelley. “It was right after I left wrestling. It talked about me having an impact on him. I have met Will maybe a half dozen times and he’s always been really nice but we’ve never really had a chance to sit down and really bond. Alex Shelley is returning to wrestling after a year-long hiatus. Shelley will challenge Matt Taven for the Ring of Honor world championship on Friday night at the Summer Supercard event in Toronto, Canada.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearlast_img

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