Wrestling with the future, Tommy Mack is eying the big time 

  • Tommy Mack gets spotted by his trainer Cayle Richardson as he works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday, March 25, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tommy Mack works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday, March 25, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • ABOVE: Tommy Mack is spotted by his trainer, Cayle Richardson, as he works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday. Mack will take on National Wrestling Alliance champion Nick Aldis on Sunday during Injustice For Brawl 2 at Concord’s Everett Arena. LEFT: Mack, a graduate of Laconia High School, is shown during an event at the Whiskey Barrel in Laconia in 2015. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Tommy Mack works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday, March 25, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tommy Mack works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday, March 25, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tommy Mack is spotted by his trainer, Cayle Richardson, as he works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Tommy Mack works with his trainer Cayle Richardson as he works out at the Heavy Metal Gym in Laconia on Monday, March 25, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 3/25/2019 3:43:23 PM

Tommy Mack isn’t done chasing big-time wrestling.

He still has an eye on the Vince McMahon-led WWE, the organization that produces millionaire stars and events with Super-Bowl-like popularity.

It’s a long shot for Mack after 15 years in the business. And it’s a long shot at age 37. But when you’ve beaten someone named The Abyss, who’s 10 inches taller and more than 100 pounds heavier, anything seems possible.

“The love of the wrestling business that I fell in love with as a little kid,” Mack said, explaining why he does what he does. “There’s no other way to put it. It’s not like I’m getting rich doing it.”

We talked in an upstairs office at Everett Arena, where Mack, who’s 5-10, 220 pounds, will try to take the National Wrestling Alliance championship from Nick Aldis of Britain on March 31. 

Tony Atlas, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, will wrestle that night as well, adding a dose of credibility and prestige to the event. But Mack’s match for the title is the main attraction, a local promotion for a local draw, featuring a Laconia High School graduate.

The WWE will attract 75,000 fans at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for WrestleMania 35 the weekend after this local event. Mack and co-promoter Bill Trevor hope they can draw 1,000 fans and put the Everett Arena on the map as a regular stage for this circuit, a feeder system to the WWE. The National Wrestling Alliance is an independent organization, focusing on regional competition. Graduates include Ric Flair.

 “We’d like to have maybe four or five shows a year,” Mack said. “We’d like to have a show heading into Bike Week.”

By day, Mack is a stonemason who’s busy outside in the warm weather and builds fireplaces inside when it’s cold. His late father started the mason business that his son now runs, and it was his father who brought little Tommy to the Boston Garden in the late 1980s to watch wrestling heroes like Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

Mack was hooked.

He attended a WWE event in Lowell when he was 17. Fliers were handed out promoting a wrestling school, a place to learn how to fall and punch and inflict crowd-pleasing pain by incorporating certain moves like the Boston crab or the figure-four leg lock. That’s when the victim’s legs resemble a tangled, pretzel-like mess.

Mack put that flier away in his junk drawer before pulling it out a few years later and taking out a personal loan for $2,000 to attend the academy. Classes were held twice a week for about four months.

Mack has been a pro since 2005 and has been promoting events since 2010. His signature move is the spear. He gets a running start, leaves his feet and smashes his shoulder into his opponent’s chest.

In his early days, before the internet and social media, he shipped out VHS tapes to get noticed. He’ll always recall his first match, held in Dover, against Rock ‘N Roll Mark Vincent.

“I had no nickname then,” Mack said. “It was just little old Tommy Mack and someone saying, ‘Get out there, kid.’ ”

His nickname was Heart Attack Tommy Mack when he fought the aforementioned Abyss for the first time in 2014. Mack was the hometown favorite, wrestling at the Tower Hill Tavern at Weirs Beach, packed to the rafters with a few hundred hometown fans.

The Abyss was 6-foot-8, 350 pounds. The match was billed as no disqualification, meaning a garbage can and a long, cafeteria-style wooden table were legal. Nothing, really, was illegal.

Momentum shifted, as it often does in these matches. Mack was thrown out of the ring, over the top rope. He then crunched a garbage can over The Abyss’s head, leaving a huge dent in the can and quite possibly in The Abyss’s head, too.

But then The Abyss body slammed Mack onto a table, breaking it. He reached for a black bag under the ring, with tacks inside. He spread them on the ring floor, then slammed Mack on top of them before pinning him for the three count.

“It hurt,” Mack said. “It was even worse picking the tacks out of my skin.”

The rematch, in 2015, was held in a steel cage, marking the final time Mack wrestled as Heart Attack Tommy Mack because his father had died from a heart attack shortly before the match.

Again, there was a garbage can and a table, but this time, in the highlight of his career, Mack jumped from the top of the cage, spread his arms like a bat, bellyflopped on The Abyss, then pinned him.

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was there signing autographs. Snuka had made that jump, the one from the top of the ring, famous in the 1980s, to be copied ever since.

The ref counted The Abyss out. Heart Attack Tommy Mack had his revenge. The bar went nuts. Both matches are available on YouTube.

Mack never hesitated when asked to recall his most important match. He had never jumped from the top of a cage before, and in fact had no practice doing it.

Once up there, he realized he had no choice but to finish the job. He had to jump. 

“When you get up there,” Mack said, “with the whole place screaming for you, you better damn well do it. I would have been booed out of the bar.”

The past few years, Mack has been wrestling as the Master of Mayhem, describing the meaning as a wrestler who is “unpredictable, crazy win or lose.”

He’s been used as a prop in the background on Monday Night Raw and Smackdown, wearing a gold boa and dancing in a conga line, part of the colorful, zany world of pro wrestling.

He’s wrestled around New England, in high schools and bars, mostly in front of a few hundred fans. This time, in a bigger venue, he hopes for more. The card is being billed as the In Justice For Brawl 2, with the first in this series held last March in what Mack hopes will be an annual event in WrestleMania fashion.

Mack is calling the upcoming card the biggest independent wrestling show in state history. He says it’s the first time a National Wrestling Alliance title fight will be held in the Granite State.

Tickets in advance are $30 for floor seats, $20 for general admission, and $35 and $25 at the door. Some proceeds will benefit veterans and their families through an Easterseals program called Veterans Count.

If you go, you’ll see a wrestler named Cousin Larry, who appears on the promotional flier wearing an open-buttoned flannel shirt on top of overalls. You’ll see Billy Gunn, soon to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and Tony Atlas, who’s already in. You’ll see a Nashua fighter with Ken-doll looks named Tyler Nitro.

And you’ll see the Master of Mayhem, a wrestler with a shaved head, dragons and skulls on completely tattooed arms, and a goatee that extends several inches off his chin.

Mack knows time is not on his side, but, hey, once upon a time the guy flattened a behemoth named The Abyss. Jumped from the top of a steel cage. Squashed him like a bug.

Anything is possible, right?

“The WWE is what keeps me in shape,” Mack said. “It keeps me motivated. Even at my age.”




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