The Millennial Rebel’s Colton Kelly is a rare breed among Albertan professional wrestlers.
In an era of wrestling dominated by high-flying stunt wrestlers and in-ring technicians, Kelly’s niche has always been found in the ruthless brutality of hardcore wrestling. As both one of the longest-tenured roster members of the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, and one of the youngest, Kelly penchant for violence has established him as one of the most imposing figures in the province’s independent wrestling scene.
It’s a love that was fostered early, says Kelly.
“Hardcore wrestling always seemed to be the coolest, most inventive form of wrestling to me,” he comments. “Growing up and watching wrestling in the tail end of the ’90s, the most interesting matches always seemed to involve more hardcore wrestling. It can have the same purity to me that a 5-star technical classic can have to another person.”
“The potential drama and tension that a well thought out hardcore match can have can make or break the legacy of any wrestler,” he continues. “From (Mick) Foley going off the side of the Hell in a Cell to Abdullah the Butcher sticking a fork in the head of his opponent, hardcore wrestling can push the very brink of reality to a point that makes this world as unbelievable as it can be.”
While best known for his brash in-ring style, however, 2019 has seen the emergence of a new Colton Kelly. While his in-ring brutality remains unmatched, a more calculated Kelly has emerged; look no further than the brutal attack facilitated by he and his Millennial Rebels co-founder Kenneth Anthony on Michael Richard Blais.
“My focus is no longer on (being) petty,” he comments, “(but) to move on to infiltrating the main event scene and positioning myself as a top guy.”
It’s a transition that’s been a long time coming.
Like Father, Like Son
Both physically and proverbially, there are few more imposing figures in the history of Alberta independent wrestling than Tex Gaines. Billed at 6’2 and over 300 pounds, the monster is highly regarded not only for his in-ring storytelling but his penchant for brutality. Throughout a 20-year career, Gaines gained a reputation as not only one of the most respected workers in Alberta but the most violent.
“I don’t have a first memory of my dad wrestling,” comments Kelly on his legendary father. “It always just was. There are moments that stick out further in my head than others, like the time he had his eyebrow burst to the point in hung past his eye, or when he power bombed “LiveWire” Matt Richards through a table in the inaugural Mayhem title tournament. There are a lot of moments that stick in my mind.”
In 2001, Gaines co-founded the Prairie Wrestling Alliance with Hercules Ayala and current PWA CEO Kurt Sorochan. It wasn’t long before Kelly’s own eyes started to turn towards the world of professional wrestling.
Becoming Colton Kelly
However, Kelly’s wrestling career wasn’t something that Gaines was initially supportive of.
“(Wrestling) was always left up to my own decision,” Kelly explains. “Essentially, (Gaines) told me no for fourteen years until I looked it up myself. It was quite the opposite of pressure.”
“Once I found my own trainers and started to prove myself, he was on board.”
From the beginning, Kelly strived to separate himself from his famous father’s legacy. While proud of his lineage, he states emphatically, it was important to build his own legacy.
“I get compared to my dad a lot in-ring and in real life. I get told a lot that I move like him and that I can have a tendency to behave similarly. I’ve crafted my move set to have little homages to him but I do my own thing in the ring. We share tendencies but I’ve always strived to do my own thing.”
“I had to earn my own respect as my own individual,” he continues. “Nothing’s ever been handed to me because of who I am by birth. That’s a big thing for me; making sure any credit I get is credit I’ve earned and deserved. I don’t ever want to hang my shoulders on someone else’s legacy.”
“Obviously, the influence from my father is there, but really, I’m just a hardcore kid.”
A Reputation for Violence
“My job is not to make people happy,” says the co-founder of the Millennial Rebels. “It’s to go in, win matches, tear peoples’ limbs apart, and make some children cry.”
It’s a role that Kelly’s excelled in since making his debut in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance. Over the course of his career, the bruiser has put on some of the most violent matches in the promotion’s history. Battles with the likes of the Slammer, Aiden Adams et al have earned Kelly his reputation as one of the top young talents in Albertan wrestling today.
“I like doing things that I probably shouldn’t do to myself,” he continues. “I like hurting people. Nothing’s pretty about what I do; even my high-risk stuff, there’s nothing graceful or glorious about it. It’s just impactful.”
However, it was a match against blood rival “The Thickness” Reid Matthews that, in Kelly’s words, set the stage for the transition Albertan wrestling fans are currently witnessing.
“I feel like I proved myself in the Last Man Standing match against Reid Matthews,” Kelly espouses. “We had what I feel is one of the purest Mayhem matches in the last little while. I was incredibly focused on becoming the Mayhem Champion last year before I broke my ankle and I continued to focus on that title when I came back. What I learned coming out of that brutal feud is that my focus should be higher.”
The Growth of Colton Kelly
It’s a statement Kelly obviously took to heart. Since March 23rd’s 18th-Anniversary show, the Millennial Rebel has shown a renewed focus on not only being one of the top stars in the PWA but the top star. While violence is still an essential part of his repertoire, Kelly comments, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to establish himself as the top dog in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance – even if it means giving an unwanted haircut in the case of Michael Richard Blais.
“While I’m not one who will ever shy away from taking things to a more extreme extent,” he says on his recent change in attitude, “it no longer feels necessary to pursue being a strictly hardcore wrestler.”
It’s been a transition, he says, but one well worth making.
“At first, I did feel a sense of urgency to carry on and pursue more hardcore wrestling,” Kelly admits. “However, my ceiling is becoming higher and higher. I think the fact that I can’t be boxed in will continue to push the boundaries of what people expect out of me.”
Just don’t expect too much to change.
“I think that at the end of the day, the essence in which I wrestle will always stay the same.”