Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at all of the amazing talents working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers, some are indie prospects hitting their peaks, while others are names to be on the watch for! In this edition, we look at the macabre jester of the weird, Michigan’s Danhausen.
For years, Detroit’s Donovan Danhausen has been working on breaking out the Midwest indie scene, but it’s only been in this past year – as he became simply Danhausen and adorned himself in a Joker-esque ghoul face – that he’s finally become one of the breakout performers of 2019.
Danhausen got his start in the Michigan indies, after joining a then co-worker at a local wrestling school. Lucky for him, it was House of Truth, where he was trained by two former Ring of Honor stars in Truth Martini and Jimmy Jacobs. “My now close friend Woodrow (at the time a new co-worker) brought up that he wanted to become a wrestler with me in the break room, I told him I did as well but had no idea where to go or how,” he told British Wrestling Revival in 2015. “He told me he’s been looking into the House of Truth and it all grew from there. In a few words, training with them would be Tough but well worth it. Those guys are geniuses.” Soon he began to work for Metro Pro Wrestling (MPW) out of Wyandotte, Michigan in 2013.
By 2015, he was working in the Midwest and Southeastern indie scenes, working regularly with the likes of Inspire Pro in Austin, Texas, St. Louis Anarchy, Chicago’s Freelance Wrestling and DREAMWAVE, and in Florida with Full Impact Pro (FIP) and FEST Wrestling to name a few. In 2016, he captured his first singles title with the FIP Florida Heritage Championship.
He continued to work the towns, adding Ohio’s Rockstar Pro, Illinois’ Glory Pro, and Indiana’s Black Label Pro in 2017 to his circuit, as well as breaking into the Southwest Ontario scene in the Canadian indies, with Destiny Wrestling, Alpha-1, and Superkick’D. In DREAMWAVE, he joined the Deep Six stable, working alongside Arik Cannon, Christian Rose, Ruff Crossing, and Brubaker, while in Florida with FEST, he allied with Awaken, featuring Leon Scott, Wolfe Taylor, and Jonny Vandal.
In 2018, he joined Ohio’s Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), where he began to make the change to the character that has captivated the Social Media world of pro wrestling. More and more he began working as Danhausen A.D., and he soon found himself in a new faction, The Production, lead by Derek the Director. Alongside other members Eddy Only, Frankie Flynn, Colby Redd, and Magnum CK, The Production continues to be a big presence in AIW.
But in the past year, the more macabre Danhausen got, the more he began to outshine every stable he was attached to. “Honestly, I think people are more open to just being themselves rather than trying to be what they think people want them to be. It’s fun and less stressful,” he told Fansided earlier this year. “My character came from the frustration of trying to please everyone else by trying to be something I’m not. I was sick of just being a guy who wrestles, I didn’t care anymore what people thought of me, I just wanted to make sure I was enjoying what I loved doing again. Inspiration wise, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Batman (1989), What We Do In The Shadows, The Simpsons, Conan O’Brien.”
He continues to work the Midwest heavily, becoming a bigger attraction with Black Label Pro and working with AAW and Bizarro Lucha, while also working with the likes of Beyond Wrestling, Southern Underground Pro (SUP), and Limitless Wrestling. All the while, his Social Media presence exploded. It became tough to take part in wrestling Twitter without seeing people adding -hausen to their profile names, or sharing photos of Danhausen’s work – and his infectiously large smile. “I had posted a picture of me pulling another wrestler’s (Bobby Beverly) mouth apart while in a surfboard stretch, and captioned it “I want to eat my opponents’ teeth” and it grew from there. People wanted to see it. Teeth gross me out. I want my enemies to share my disgust. The rest is a mystery, but I will say thank you, Clayton.”
Danhausen has recently paired up with two other enigmas in the world of the US indies, teaming with EFFY is Gaytanic Panic, or alongside WARHORSE in Warhausen – with the latter, the duo has recently been given their own WrestleMania showcase, Wrestlevania, as part of the Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) Collective in Tampa in 2020.
A solid in-ring wrestler, Danhausen has shed the “Kid Courageous” gimmick that launched him so many years ago and embraced a dark side that is both uniquely refreshing and comfortable in its familiarity. He’s developed a cult-like status in the US indies that grows exponentially every day, with an Armyhausen of the Dead following his every movement. With WARHORSE and EFFY at his side, look for Danhausen to break out even bigger in 2020.
Check out our full list of previous Indie Watches, showcasing emerging talent from around the world!
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