Orlando wrestling promotion Mayhem on Mills — though steeped in an undeniable love for the larger-than-life myths, weirdness and, yes, mayhem of pro-wrestling — is far from your proverbial daddy's version of pro-wrestling, with healthy doses of weirdo humor, surreality and over-the-top match stipulations, all drenched in a defiantly punk sensibility.
Even among the unique and flamboyant talents on the MOM roster, long-running champion Troy Hollywood stands out. For someone who's only been wrestling for a few years, he has the look and athleticism that makes a main eventer, as well as solid fundamentals learned from Ring of Honor and TNA vet Jay Lethal. Hollywood is a versatile student of the game; he'll play the good guy or, when needed, heel it up to the point of unplugging an unsuspecting kid in the audience's video game. (He wasn't paying attention!)
The day Orlando Weekly talked to Hollywood, he was off to Tampa to wrestle GCW's For the Culture showcase as part of Wrestlemania weekend. This weekend, though, Hollywood defends his belt in a three-way dance against equally promising young talents Treehouse Lee and Saieve Al Sabah as part of MOM's second second anniversary (the actual anniversary year was 2020, but we know how that year went). If you want to see future stars of the squared circle giving their all in front of a rabid crowd, there's few better ways to spend a Sunday outdoors.
How was your Mayhem comeback in March?
That match was pretty special, just being out there in front of people again, the fans screaming, going crazy. That always gives you a good feeling. I wrestled Hunter Law, who happens to be a great friend of mine. But sometimes in wrestling, we wrestle our friends, because we have to. He put up a good battle, but I'm still the champ.
That first Mayhem show since the pandemic seemed to have a family reunion vibe.
Yeah it did. My guy Drennen who runs it, he was at my first match ever. That was back in 2015, and in 2018 when [Mayhem] started, he hit me up and was like, "Would you like to do this show?" And, of course, I'm a wrestler, I want to get out there and compete.
So we do the first show and some noise happens. The second show happened, and then you kind of get into a rhythm with the shows. We had this little warehouse — Orange Studio — and we used to pack that thing out, man. I've definitely missed that place. ... Hopefully we can just keep it growing, keep it tight-knit, keep the family close. If anybody on the outside wants to come in and wrestle, of course you can, as long as you understand that this is a group of people that actually care about each other..
How long have you held the belt?
I've been the champ for two years, and it's amazing to me, I always try to make my next match the best one, just so people can go home and go, "Man, how is he going to top that in the next match?"
I want to send people home with a great feeling of not only "wow that was a good match" but for the entire show to be ... nobody phoning it in, everybody wanting to be there and wanting to compete. I love our locker room for that. But I let everyone know, no matter what show this is, I'm looking to steal it! I know you're going to go out there and try your best and that's good, but I'm definitely gonna steal the show because I want my match to be the best!
What made you want to become a wrestler?
Mick Foley made me start watching wrestling. Me and my dad were in the living room years ago, and he turns the television to wrestling. ... I see a guy getting pushed off a cage and falling into this table, but that wasn't even what got me, there's people in the background going nuts! ... So of course you sit there and you watch, and then you get interested and it starts to become an obsession and it starts taking over your life.
I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a wrestler because the area I lived in — not knowing at the time that Florida is a hotbed for independent wrestling — where I come from, you know, it's basketball and football, and if that doesn't happen then you figure it out from there. Lo and behold, there was a wrestling school, Jay Lethal had one five minutes from my dad's house. And the rest is history, as they say.
How important is it to interact with the audience during matches?
Very important. During a live show I'm not wrestling for a camera — the people at home — I'm wrestling for you right here. It's basically like doing a comedy club. You have an audience that doesn't know who you are, so you have to go out there and immediately grab their attention, or they're going to be looking at their phone, they're going to be looking at other people or they're going to be talking during your set. You never want people talking during your set.