Much like the territory days of yore when territories had huge Superstars who never transcended to the national mainstream stage (and thus into the canon of wrestling history with the accolades they deserved), the indie circuit has also garnered it’s fair share of Legends. Names like Mike Quackenbush, Mikey Whipwreck, Steve Corino, and the recently retired Necro Butcher have all carved monumental indie careers but for whatever reason never made the jump to any of the “big leagues” with any resounding legacy to speak of. Now that doesn’t mean their careers were any less spectacular, but it does mean that in generations to come, their accomplishments will never be held to the same level of recognition as such Superstars as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Booker T or Rob Van Dam. One such wrestler who has been an instrument of devastation for the better part of the entire 2000’s is PWG icon Super Dragon.
At first glance to the uninitiated, Super Dragon – real name Danny Lyon from Orange County, California – may not exactly scream indie wrestling legend. Generic martial arts gear with a somewhat routine lucha mask, his appearance could be any of a hundred different luchadores from AAA or CMLL trying to break into the North American indie mainstream. But his resume of the past nearly 20 years boasts some remarkable achievements and stunning victories by decimation, that warrants the Google search and education of his past matches.
Watching back on Super Dragon’s past matches, one is immediately drawn to the stiff severity of his moves. At first glance, one would think he was sloppy and dangerous, shooting beyond the world of kayfabe and taking his opponents lives in their hands with reckless abandon. But you’d be wrong. There’s a grace and an elegance in his brutality, a finely honed skill and creating an illusion of violence that can make the most hardened fan cringe more often than not, all without needless bloodshed or leaving a trail of injuries – it’s as if you combined the fluid grace of Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart with the innovation of violence of Tommy Dreamer into one perfect instrument of destruction. Recently a friend of mine, CHIKARA enthusiast Blake Hellheart, claimed that Super Dragon was the true IndieTaker – not the Tombstone Piledriver applicated by The Young Bucks, but the true indie version of the Undertaker. His entrances were always full of anticipation, his character was hellbent on the eradication of his opponent, and throughout his career, he has toppled many an indie legend (and a few notable mainstream Superstars).
THE EARLY DAYS
Super Dragon began his career at the World Power Wrestling School, where he was trained by lucha libre wrestler Martin Marin (better known as El Genio). Marin brought traditional Mexican lucha libre to California in the mid-90’s and Super Dragon’s style and appearance were a direct influence. He had a brief tryout with WCW in 1998, but it was joining California’s Revolution Pro Wrestling (not to be confused with the UK promotion of the same name) that Super Dragon really began to turn some heads. He remained a loyal member of RPW’s roster until it folded in 2004, where he collected the RPW Lucha Libre Heavyweight title and twice won RPW Junior Heavyweight gold.
In 2002, he joined the ultraviolent world of Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), where his affinity for violence and his crushingly stiff workstyle made him a natural fan favourite. His tag team match with longtime rival and partner Excalibur versus the young duo of El Generico (now WWE’s Sami Zayn) and Kevin Steen (now Owens) at Cage of Death XI in 2004 is the stuff of legend. In 2005, he even captured the CZW World Heavyweight Championship.
THE PWG 6
While his wrestling resume is impressive to say the least, perhaps his greatest achievement was being a member of the PWG 6. In 2003, six indie wrestlers, Super Dragon along with Joey Ryan, Scott Lost, Excalibur, Top Gun Talwar and Disco Machine, created Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), a bold new indie promotion to rise out of the ashes of the collapse of the top level of wrestling, following the end of ECW and WCW. TNA, Ring of Honor and CHIKARA also sprouted around the same time, but PWG has maintained a level of excellence and prestige to this day that few can lay claim to. Their annual event Battle of Los Angeles has become the preeminent indie circuit tournament in North America and every year assembles a card of the “Who’s Who” of North American indie, with a few select UK, Japan and European offerings as well.
Super Dragon was a force to be reckoned with in his own promotion, defeating Frankie Kazarian for the PWG World Heavyweight title in 2004, before losing it to AJ Styles four months later. He’s done better in the tag team division, where he’s held the straps six times, twice each with B-Boy and American Wolves‘ Davey Richards, and once with Excalibur and Kevin Owens.
THE HIT LIST
Super Dragon may not have conquered Brock Lesnar, laid the smackdown on The Rock, or even ended the streak of The Undertaker, but he’s left a lot of huge names around the world a quivering mess in the ring thanks to his brutal curb stomp (which is a standing inverted Indian lock surfboard into a double face stomp) to his devastating finisher, The Psycho Driver. Here’s a look at some of the names Super Dragon has defeated around the world.
In Japan, he’s been on the winning side against Japanese legends like The Great Muta, Kaz Hayashi and Fuego Guerrero.
His North American victims include the likes of Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, BJ Whitmer, Eddie Kingston, Samoa Joe, Adam Pearce, Colt Cabana, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Chris Sabin, Jack Evans, Roderick Strong, Ricochet, Matt Sydall, Rocky Romero, The Young Bucks, and The Kings of Wrestling (Cesaro & Chris Hero). He’s been there and done that, to some of the biggest names the indie scene has developed in the past 15 years, most of whom are now household names to wrestling enthusiasts everywhere.
WHERE IS HE NOW?
That’s the big question isn’t it? For someone who was such an imposing force on the indie scene from 1999 to 2012, he mysteriously dropped off the circuit, seemingly without a trace. While it’s likely he’s traded his death mask for the daily rigors of running a major indie promotion (he’s one of three of the PWG 6 who still owns the company, alongside Excalibur and Joey Ryan), the disappearance of Super Dragon just added to his mystery. His surprise return at PWG BOLA ’15, after nearly 3 years away from the ring, created a pop unlike anything PWG had heard in years. Super Dragon returned as a heel, allying with PWG World Champion Roderick Strong and PWG World Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks as the newest member of the faction Mount Rushmore 2.0. But just like the deadly silence of his return, he was gone again. It’s been just over a year and Super Dragon hasn’t been heard from again.
Will we see Super Dragon in the ring again? Hard to say. He’s only 36 years old, so he could still have some mileage left in the tank, but his legacy of brutality wasn’t just focused on his opponents. As terrible looking as some of his moves on his opponents have been, he’s no stranger to taking his dose of medicine either. Could untold injuries be the reason why we’ve only seen him back once since 2012?
Only Super Dragon knows the answer to these questions. And until the lights go out and return to expose the masked man of death in the ring, a curb stomp away from the Psycho Driver, that we’ll have any answers. In the meantime, do yourself a favour and immerse yourself in the Legend that is Super Dragon.
Main Photo: prowrestlingguerrilla.com