A dozen years ago, the 14-year-old boy’s eyes were glued to the TV as he watched professional wrestling with his dad.
Now, 2012 Elida graduate Zachary Green is on the verge of entering the ring as a wrestler in World Wrestling Entertainment. It’s hard to imagine what his father, the Rev. Robert Green, who died in 2009 at the age of 57, might think about it all.
“It’s extra special because it’s something my father and I used to watch back in the day all the time,” Green said. “When he passed away, my love for sports entertainment grew to the point to where it’s at now, to where I chased this dream. I’ve finally made it here.”
On Dec. 2, Green signed with the WWE and started training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. That’s where he’s learning the tricks of the trade from the best in the business, getting stronger, more agile and more able to make the matches look as natural as possible.
“You’re preparing your body to be able to take the hits and survive the falls,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult. It’s tough. I feel sports entertainment doesn’t get the respect it deserves. These are definitely the hardest workouts you’ve ever had in your life.”
It hasn’t been the straightest of lines for Green, 26, who won a Western Buckeye League wrestling championship in the 152-pound class as a senior. He was a collegiate cheerleader for a while and moved on to competitive cheerleading, where he learned how to “take to the sky,” as he says, and do the acrobatic parts of his new job. He fought as a mixed martial artist for a while.
Then he went back to his boyhood love, professional wrestling. He started going by “Wentz” in the ring because of his physical similarities to Fall Out Boy musician Pete Wentz and because he’s “emo, an alternative kid,” Green said.
He was deeply inspired by The Hardy Boyz wrestling team, he said, because they’re “very charismatic, very colorful, and they did all the high-flying and took all the risks.” He hopes to model his own wrestling career after John Cena’s, since Cena entertains in the ring and remains a role model outside it with his charitable work.
Green won numerous titles at lower levels, including the Rockstar Pro Wrestling champion and Combat Zone Wrestling Wired Champion.
The tattoos all over his chest and arms tell a tale all their own. “The Legacy Lives On” is etched along his collarbone. The state of Ohio’s outline with crossbones is inside his right arm. “Be Strong Believe” is on his left arm, with the cross in it. He even has an homage to his mother, Jackie Brown, the emeritus pastor at the former Calvary Chapel of Praise, now called Celebration Church, with “MOM” on the front of his right arm.
Along the way, he made a friend — more like a “brother,” Green said — when he joined a tag-team duo with Deveon Everheart Aiken, who wrestles under the name Dezmond Xavier. They wrestled together as “The Rascalz” in Impact wrestling, and the magic brought both of them to the WWE at the same time.
They hope to be able to perform together as a tag team, but all that’s up to the management at WWE. For now, he’s just doing his best to hone his craft, work on his strength and conditioning and hopefully make it into the ring some day.
Wrestling also introduced him to Kimberly Frankele, of Dayton, who wrestles under the name Kimber Lee. The couple wed earlier this year.
Now, he’s excited to see what the next phase looks like.
“I’m just a kid from Lima who dreamt of sports entertainment in the WWE,” he said. “Now I’m here, living my best life. I’m living the dream, as corny as that sounds. But I’m here, I’ve made it, and I can’t wait to see whatever happens next.”