From avid fan to seasoned up-and-comer, Chris Dillon outlines his road from The Rock to Maritime wrestling sensation as ‘Dynamite’ Dylan Davis
St. John’s own Chris Dillon answers his phone on an unremarkable Monday morning. He’s on a bus to Toronto, a trip that can be described as a mix of business and pleasure in that, when you speak of Chris Dillon, his life’s work and passion are indeed one and the same.
When Dillon reaches the destination on that particular Monday or the end of a road trip across Atlantic Canada or even the Eastern United States, Chris Dillon the man becomes ‘Dynamite’ Dylan Davis, a professional wrestler.
Whether it’s before a packed CLB Armoury here at home in St. John’s to a hero’s welcome, across Canada and America as one half of Da B’ys tag team with (former) partner Max Power, or the salty sailor solo act, Chris Dillon is one of the brightest prospects to grace the squared circle to ever call this province home.
“I went to a live WWF event at the old Memorial Stadium when I was very young. After that wrestling was a huge part of my life,” Dillon begins, explaining that pro-wrestling was a common thread between him and his father after the divorce of his parents.
“My dad would rent every WWF pay per view, and we would watch it religiously. We would even wrestle in the rec room in between matches. Wrestling was something my Dad and I shared and it helped us really bond.”
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And while father and son time brought out the allure and spectacle of professional wrestling to the foreground, it was Dillon’s mother who encouraged her son to take the next leap in his fandom.
“My grandfather used to own a restaurant where my mother worked. There was also a guy there named DJ Malone who wrestled in CEW (local promotion Cutting Edge Wrestling) as “Thanatos”. He told my mom I could train locally to become a wrestler. I couldn’t believe it. So my mom went to Play It Again Sports and got me all kinds of hockey and elbow pads and shin guards.
“I’ll never forget what my mom has done for me throughout my career, even before it started. She’s literally supported it since day one. I look back and wonder how she did it because it was never a dull moment with me around,” Dillon laughs.
“When I was younger, it was wrestling in my backyard and me taking over the TV for RAW every Monday and Smackdown every Thursday. My friends and I would go to Empire Theatres to watch the pay-per-views all the time. There was this one time where I had no one to go with and was super upset, so my mom took me to Don Cherry’s for a steak and a brownie sundae and sat with me for three hours to watch The Great American Bash, and she wasn’t exactly a fan (laughs).
“My mom wants me to grow up, but she still continues to support my dream and always reminds me of how proud she is. And my parents have always supported me and the choices I make and they allow me to trust the process and believe in the path I chose. Words can’t describe how much they both mean to me.”
After roughly three years of training and paying his dues refereeing local matches, Dillon, under the ring persona ‘Hip Hop’ Dylan Davis, made his pro-wrestling debut for Republic Pro Wrestling in 2008. From there he would work his way through the local circuit, learning under established veterans Tyson Dux and Mike Hughes for the now-defunct Legend City Wrestling.
“My first few years were so nerve-wracking, because you spent those years trying to prove yourself to the guys who are higher up,” Dillon admits. “Those first five years were definitely the ones where I felt out of place, but since 2015 I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in that atmosphere.”
Soon becoming a fast fan favourite, Dillon’s never-say-die attitude between the ropes and ability to resonate with audiences soon propelled him to the top of local cards. Rechristened ‘Dynamite’ Dylan Davis, Dillon’s in-ring persona and ‘gimmick’ has evolved from the early ‘Hip Hop’ to a Brit, fisherman, and salty sailor as an homage to the late, great Newfoundland wrestling icon Sailor White. And while his profile grew here at home the opportunities to grow and advance his career required some drastic changes.
QUITE THE CHARACTER
In 2016 Dillon would move to Halifax, a necessary step to expand his career and allow for more frequent bookings across the Maritimes, Eastern Canada, and even the United States.
“We just hop in the car and we’ll drive to New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, or even New Jersey. So it’s definitely easier to get out there when you’re off the island,” Dillon shares. “I was told for years if you want to make it big then you have to move. I was sort of hanging onto home for a while until I made the big move.”
From the use of ‘Newfie’ slang, and dawning a Sou’wester, Dillon proudly represents his home province across venues and before enthusiastic audiences on a nearly full-time basis.
“For years I never understood what it meant to be a character. I always wanted to be that cool, serious guy,” he admits. “When I moved here Markus Burke gave me the idea to sort of wear the raincoat and hat and really play around with it. At first, I hated the idea and thought it was the worst thing ever. But then over time fans started to get behind the stuff and actually it turned from what I thought was a big joke to something that now today is my alter ego.
“In the early shows, I don’t think they understood the gimmick. I would come out and say ‘yes b’y’ and all that stuff and they never understood. But a year later I go do the hand clap and everyone claps along,” Dillon shares. “I think people definitely accept us more now for who we are.”
And for those rare occasions that Dillon does get to perform before fans in his home province, his growing profile, coupled with an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder philosophy, always make for emotionally powerful events.
“It’s something you can’t put into words to come home and have people understand what you’re doing and say you’re doing great, that you’re always on the road and people see your work,” he shares. “I’m on the road so much and I don’t think people notice me at all. But then you come home and people really come out of the woodwork. It’s nice.”
LIVING THE DREAM
Chris Dillon is making the most of his shot at living a boyhood dream that many would dismiss as foolish or beyond reach. But then, grabbing that brass ring, much like hoisting world titles, require guts and a decent dose of blood, sweat and tears paid. When the bright lights shine and curtain call rises, ‘Dynamite’ Dillon gives it all and then some.
“Wrestling for me was a shot to be someone that you’re not,” Dillon explains. “When I was a kid, I was a little heavier. Wrestling was my shot to be somebody different. I’ve made friends and have done things I never would have thought I would because of this story.”