Wrestling

Colt Cabana flies to Hong Kong on two hours’ notice to save the day at Macau wrestling show

  • With Sonjay Dutt stranded on a grounded plane for 14 hours, Jay Lethal calls on his old pal
  • Cabana gets the phone call at 10am – and flies out to Hong Kong from Chicago at 1.30pm to fill in at Extreme Wrestling Entertainment’s debut event
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2019, 12:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2019, 11:28am

When you need a big-name wrestling star to drop everything on two hours’ notice and fly halfway across the world, who are you gonna call? Well, there’s only one person who could fit the bill – enter Colt Cabana.

“At 10am I get a text and a phone call from Jay Lethal saying, ‘Hey, you wanna come to Hong Kong today?’ I said, ‘Sure,’” Cabana recalls. “He said, ‘Ah, nah, the flight’s at 1.30, you won’t be able to make it.’ I go, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Fast forward less than 24 hours and the two Ring of Honor (ROH) legends are sat on a sofa talking to the South China Morning Post ahead of Tuesday night’s Extreme Wrestling Entertainment event at the Broadway Theatre in Macau.

“I had more than enough time, I was hanging out at my house,” Cabana says.

ROH world champion Lethal is having none of it. “By the way, for me that would not have been enough time, that’s not enough notice for such a trip,” he says, laughing.

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Luckily for Cabana, O’Hare International Airport in his native Chicago provides a direct flight to Hong Kong. He jumped on the plane and 15 hours later was in the city, before making the quick journey over to Macau, south China’s answer to Las Vegas.

“He saved the day,” Lethal says, sipping from a petite coffee cup. “What a hero. I would’ve had to go it alone.”

But for the 38-year-old Cabana, “That’s the life of a professional wrestler”.

Indeed, Cabana has landed in Japan and wrestled the same day multiple times, including a 25-minute main event at the hallowed Korakuen Hall for Japanese wrestling promotion DDT last year. He’s also done the long, hard slog to Australia for a fair few shows.

“I think this is just part of the job, it’s not a big deal,” he adds.

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Cabana’s dramatic dash to China all came about because Impact Wrestling star Sonjay Dutt, who was originally set to partner Lethal in their tag team match in Macau, was stuck for 14 hours on a United Airlines plane when his flight to Hong Kong was diverted to Newfoundland because of a medical emergency.

Dutt detailed his and his fellow passengers’ ordeal to major news outlets like CNN and The Wall Street Journal – all the while Lethal was on his lonesome.

“I’m leaving Tampa, Florida, at the same time my best friend, Sonjay Dutt, is leaving Virginia. And we coordinate and talk to each other on the phone to make sure everybody’s flight is OK,” Lethal says.

“Everybody’s flight’s great. We both take off. Unbeknown to me, Sonjay’s plane gets diverted in Canada somewhere. Long story short – I land in Hong Kong to a bunch of text messages from Sonjay saying, ‘My flight got diverted, I’ve been on this plane for 12 hours, blah, blah, blah … I’m not gonna make it’.”

Dutt’s absence left the event organisers with a huge hole to fill, with the American’s face plastered all over the promotional posters for the show as one of the top-billed foreign stars.

“When I realised Sonjay wasn’t gonna make it, I immediately said, ‘Hey, I think I know on short notice who would probably agree to make a 16-hour flight,” Lethal adds.

In stepped independent wrestling legend Cabana, who also performs as a comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe and hosts his own podcast, The Art of Wrestling on iTunes.

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“He needed a partner, and I needed to see Macau for four hours,” Cabana quips. “I’ll wrestle anywhere, I’ll wrestle on the moon.” Lethal jokes Cabana would even make that particular trip on three hours’ notice.

Cabana continues with the comedy, as Lethal tries to control his giggles. “I was asked the other day if as a Jewish man I would wrestle in Pakistan,” Cabana says. “I said, ‘Hell yeah, sign me up’.”

Cabana is a 19-year veteran but is showing no signs of slowing down – in fact he looks in better shape than ever, and continues to make a hectic schedule for himself.

“My calendar is always consistently full,” he says, more seriously. “I’m a commentator for Ring of Honor but I’m also doing some wrestling there.

“I’m going to Japan in February and I’m going to be touring around in America a little bit with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

“I’m constantly working, constantly wrestling, and also doing a bunch of comedy stuff too – 2019 is just busy, consistently for me, that’s the goal and the game.”

Lethal, 33, is also in for a busy 2019, with the wrestling landscape set to shift significantly over the next few months.

Former ROH stars Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks have left the promotion to start up their own company, All Elite Wrestling, which is being financially backed by Shad and Tony Khan, the billionaire owners of NFL franchise the Jackson Jaguars.

That has sparked a scramble for signing up talent from all the major players, including WWE, but Lethal insists ROH will still be in the mix for the best names.

“It’s nothing new – the wrestling business is always going through different phases and eras,” Lethal says.

“To be the world champion at a time right now when it feels like we’re going through a new era … a couple of new faces have arrived, a couple of faces have left, but 2019 is gonna be just like all the past years – Ring of Honor is gonna produce some great wrestling going into the future as well.

“The landscape of pro wrestling is constantly changing and it has to so we can keep wrestling interesting, and one way to do that is to give people something they’ve never seen before, or something they’ve seen before but with a new twist.

“We’re just a company that loves to find the greatest talent out there and put on some of the greatest shows possible.

“That’s what ROH has done and we’ll continue to do as long as we can keep going, we’ll keep putting on the best product we possibly can.”