Pete Kaasa was at the top of his d aback he absitively to leave the angry profession in 2017.
One of the best accepted performers on the absolute angry scene, the Charleston congenital addled crowds with a repertoire of charlatan aeriform spots and amazing acrobatic ability. As added and added admirers were apparent to Kaasa’s audience-pleasing style, his affairs of extensive the aing akin added exponentially.
Unfortunately, though, Kaasa had to assignment through a cardinal of injuries that would boring derail his advancement advancement in the mat game. While he would acutely appear aback stronger afterwards anniversary injury, Kaasa began to actively anticipate about his approaching alfresco of the angry business.
Kaasa’s aftermost bout in a pro angry amphitheatre was on an Evolve appearance in Texas added than 18 months ago. While advancing to assassinate an aeriform move off the turnbuckle, the additional braiding bankrupt and Kaasa took a awful spill. The aftereffect was a astringent billowing disc amid his C5 and C6 vertebrae.
It wasn’t the aboriginal setback Kaasa had suffered during a six-year career, and he knew it wouldn’t be the last.
“That absolutely took the wind out of my sails,” says Kaasa, who now works as a firefighter on James Island. “It was tough, mentally and emotionally, aggravating to get over those injuries. The brainy hurdles were way added arduous to me than any of the concrete stuff.”
Kaasa had fabricated absurd strides during his about abrupt run in the angry business. He had accomplished aeriform acclamation his final abounding year in the d alive for the admired Dragon Gate advance in Japan. Admirers were in awe of his “Kaasa Tornado,” a aberration of Neville’s amazing “Red Arrow maneuver, and his active “Superhuman Hurricane,” with a nod to Scott Steiner.
“I was assuredly authoritative abundant money to get by and active the activity area you’d biking from abode to abode every day and was alive four to bristles nights a week,” says Kaasa.
But it additionally got Kaasa, in his aboriginal ‘30s at the time, cerebration about aloof how far he capital to booty things in the mat game.
Former pro wrestler Pete Kaasa is now a firefighter at James Island Fire Department Station 3. Photo provided
“I anticipate it was afresh that I accomplished that I maybe bare to retire eventually than I had expected. Activity was arduous for me to advance my akin of bloom and fitness, forth with the abrasion and breach on my body. I was still young, but my anatomy didn’t feel like it,” says Kaasa.
“My anatomy was weak. It was absolutely affliction in Japan. I was demography about six Aleves a day aloof to get by. It wasn’t the best able stuff, but it still was accomplishing a cardinal on my kidneys. My doctor was absolutely annoying about me aback I came aback and my branch levels were all out of whack.”
Along with the concrete and brainy challenges, Kaasa additionally began to feel the claimed ones booty hold.
“My relationships additionally suffered because of it. I activate myself absent to alarm my ancestors less. Aback I Facetimed them, I’d absence them so abundant that it fabricated it harder to alarm them. And that would acquiesce added and added time to go by. That became the accustomed thing, and I didn’t appetite to get to that point.”
Kaasa, now 34, looks aback and knows he fabricated the appropriate decision.
“I anticipate God charge accept been extenuative me for article else.”
Kaasa, who accelerating with a bulk in exercise science from the Academy of Charleston in 2008, capital to be a able wrestler for as continued as he can remember. He took his aboriginal above footfall in that administration aback he began training at the Atlanta-based WWA4 pro angry facility, beneath the apprenticeship of above WWE brilliant “Big Cat” Curtis Hughes, in 2010.
Kaasa, whose charlatan appearance was anon compared by some aggregation admiral to that of “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, breezed through the academy with aerial colors.
He additionally developed a gimmick while there — a blatant appearance accepted as Pete Kaasanova — forth with an absorbing following. He would go on to clarify his abilities at above NWA apple best Dory Funk Jr.’s academy in Florida and afterwards with above mat brilliant Manny Fernandez. While Kaasa began architecture an absorbing resume, aptitude scouts began to booty notice.
“Pete is a aces athlete,” critiqued Funk. “His appearance of assignment reminded me of a adolescent Dynamite Kid aback I aboriginal met him abounding years ago … He’s additionally one of the finest gymnasts I accept seen.”
“He’s outstanding,” echoed WWE aptitude advance and Hall of Famer Jerry Brisco. “He looks abundant central and alfresco the ring.”
Although new to the business, Kaasa had a congenital advantage by bringing a advanced spectrum of athleticism to the table. The absolutely congenital 5-6, 190-pound conditioning fanatic, whose ancestor Gary was a angry champ in the U.S. aggressive in 1970 during the Vietnam War, had competed in gymnastics aback an aboriginal age and additionally was a championship-caliber surfer.
Well-versed in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and acquiescence wrestling, Kaasa bound fabricated an appulse on the absolute angry scene, cartoon babble reviews everywhere he went.
Fans abounding amusing media with posts about the ascent adolescent star. Commented one follower: “If you were watching the Olympics and wondered what it would be like if one of the gymnasts became a pro wrestler, they would attending article like Pete Kaasa. He’s baby but he is additionally absolutely able and can do appealing abundant annihilation in the amphitheatre aback it comes to aeriform spots and flips. He’s every bit as athletic, if not added so, than guys like Ricochet, Will Ospreay and Neville. He has aback started alive for Evolve and I apprehend big things from him over the aing few years.”
“One of the best flyers in the world,” wrote another. “Pete is so absorbing for a guy his size. He isn’t the tallest guy but is apparently one of the best ripped guys I’ve apparent in a continued time.”
Kaasa best up invaluable acquaintance forth the way, assimilation up ability from an absorbing arrangement of trainers.
“Manny absolutely cared a lot about me. He capital to advice me added than himself. It’s a attenuate thing. He never answerable a dime for training. That’s a lot altered than any added trainer you’ll acquisition … abnormally addition who had accomplished the cachet he had.”
Career highlights included his time in Japan alive for Dragon Gate, area he initially fabricated appropriate acknowledgment to a admirable advocacy by above WWE cruiserweight best Ric Swann, and alive with aing acquaintance Chase Amber as an adversary and tag-team partner. The two were billed as Nuclear Kaasarole (Peter “The Superhuman” Kaasa and Chase “Cauliflower” Brown).
Pete Kaasa is belted by brothers Jesse (left) and Michael. Photo provided
“Teaming with Chase fabricated me feel like I should accept been in a tag aggregation my absolute career,” says Kaasa. “If not my brother Jesse, Chase would accept been my aboriginal best for a partner.”
Brown additionally ranked amid Kaasa’s admired opponents, forth with ascendant WWE cruiserweight champ Cedric Alexander and AR Fox.
“AR was basically my training accomplice aback I aboriginal started out,” says Kaasa. “He absolutely helped me advance a lot of that crazy style. He was the guy who I accomplished with all the time. I don’t anticipate I would accept pushed myself as adamantine if it weren’t for him. He pushed me to area I could achieve the goals I capital to reach.”
The high-flying Kaasa tore several ligaments in his abate in 2014 and underwent anaplasty that potentially threatened his career. He was out for about a year, but alternate added focused than ever.
He afterwards suffered a broken beam that acquired him to drain internally.
“I collection from Spartanburg to Charleston, and my dad took me to the ER. Aback I got there, they told me I was advantageous because I could accept possibly bled to death. They told me the appulse on my anatomy was like I had been in a car wreck.”
It was Kaasa’s additional above abrasion in little added than a year. But, like before, he came aback stronger and bigger than ever.
After the final abrasion in January 2017, though, the autograph was on the wall. His time for agee moonsaults and corkscrews off the top braiding had appear to an end.
It wasn’t an accessible accommodation to make, but it’s one that Kaasa acquainted was all-important in adjustment to activate a beginning new affiliate in his life. He larboard it all in the ring, and there was no attractive back.
“I anticipate the capital affair was aloof alive that I could do what the best did. I don’t accede myself the best wrestler, the best abstruse wrestler, but I see myself up there with the guys who were at the top of the aerial aspect of wrestling. It was absolutely a ambition of mine, and I acquainted like I did achieve that alike admitting I ability not accept been as acclaimed as abounding of them. Acknowledgment to God for that.”
Kaasa says he knew he had “made it” aback beforehand brother Michael, who has Down syndrome, told him he was his admired wrestler. Kaasa says Michael, a adherent fan himself, has served as his inspiration.
“I don’t apperceive if he was a bigger administrator than (brother) Jesse, but Michael was one of my better encouragers throughout my accomplished career. He was consistently so blessed aback I got home. You could acquaint that he absent me a lot. Aback Michael told me that I was his admired wrestler, it was the better acclaim of my life.”
It took Kaasa a while to acclimatize to a approved activity afterwards wrestling. There was a aeon of readjustment.
“I absent training for something. I’d deathwatch up every day alive what I was declared to do and cerebration what I had to do to get there. Aback that’s no best a goal, it’s about like you lose your character a little bit. You don’t apperceive how to be. There’s a adage that able athletes die twice. I assumption I acquainted like that.”
“I took a little while to heal. My aing still bothers me, but I got aback into Brazilian jiu-jitsu and concluded up accepting my amber belt, which was a ambition I consistently had.”
Kaasa abounding the South Carolina Fire Academy aftermost October and became a full-fledged firefighter in January. It was article he had never absolutely advised before.
“I wouldn’t say it was consistently article I capital to do, but it seemed like there were air-conditioned aspects of it that would achieve it not the accustomed 9 to 5 (job),” says Kaasa, who drew some similarities to the angry business. “You ability still get some adrenaline, and you can use your concrete abilities to advice your community. That absolutely appealed to me.”
And like wrestling, ante accept to be paid.
“It can be arduous in added means than one. You can accord with danger. It’s additionally arduous because you’re starting article new all over again. You’re like the new guy alike admitting you accept all this history abaft you. It doesn’t bulk that you went to college. It doesn’t bulk that you’re a able athlete. You’re still activity to be ablution floors for a assertive bulk of time.”
A accountant beating therapist aback 2007, Kaasa opened a business in West Ashley, with affairs to backpack to James Island aing month.
Pete Kaasa and fiancée Hannah Rasmussen at Kaasa’s graduation from the South Carolina Fire Academy. Kaasa accustomed the concrete fettle accolade admitting actuality one of the three oldest recruits. Photo Provided
He additionally is about to commence on his new activity as a husband. He and fiancée Hannah Rasmussen were affianced beforehand this year and will be affiliated in October.
The two met able-bodied afterwards his angry canicule had ended. “She doesn’t alike apperceive that activity with me,” he says.
But Kaasa is assertive of one thing.
“She’s the aboriginal actuality that I’ve anytime accepted that I appetite to absorb every distinct additional with. Every moment with her is special.”
Kaasa, a championship-caliber surfer, additionally has gotten aback to the water.
“Shortly afterwards the aftermost injury, I went on a continued cream cruise with my accessory to El Salvador and Puerto Rico. It array of rekindled my adulation for surfing, which had been absent for those six years aback I was aggravating to do article else. It additionally gave me a lot of peace. Surfing was additionally my aboriginal love. I feel actual aing to God in the ocean. That absolutely helped abate the draft of not wrestling.”
Life has appear abounding amphitheater for Kaasa, who finds himself active in the aforementioned adjacency he grew up in. He waxes abstract about area he’s been and area he affairs on going, but not with an attitude of regret.
Everything has happened for a reason, and that includes his angry career. Aback he looks back, Kaasa says he feels maybe those injuries were a assurance for him to displace his course.
“I accept God is attractive over us for assertive affidavit and putting things in your heart. I absolutely accept that.”
Kaasa cited an archetype anon afterwards his final injury. While because whether to acknowledgment to the business, he says a active dream gave him confirmation.
“I had this dream one night area I was taken out of a captivation cell. I was absolutely and absolutely abandoned in this jail. And aback I was escorted out of this captivation cell, I went into an amphitheatre area I performed for bags of people. Afterwards I was taken appropriate aback to my cell. And afresh the doors bound on me.”
That dream, he feels, had a added meaning.
“I acquainted like God was cogent me that it (wrestling) was my brawl and chain. It was befitting me from area I bare to be. I put it as an idol afore people, afore God at assertive times in my career. I aloof acquainted like He was speaking to me.”
Does that beggarly he doesn’t absence the business?
“I do absence it. I anticipate about it every day. I absence a lot of my accompany and seeing bodies at shows. But what I absence best are the fans.”
“It was absolutely account it,” Kaasa says of his angry journey. “I assumption my anatomy tells me that I shouldn’t absence that, but at the aforementioned time actuality able to say I was a able amateur at one time and the adventures I acquired were affectionate of priceless. There absolutely were a lot of activity lessons.”
Reach Mike Mooneyham at [email protected], or chase him on Twitter at @ByMikeMooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.
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