Source: Michael Treadway of San Diego Union Tribune
RANCHO BERNARDO — Professional wrestler Adam Pearce lives a typical middle-class life. He is a loving father and devoted husband with a mortgage and a car payment.
But when Pearce goes to work, he’s family man no more. Most weekends he’s Scrap Iron, a pro wrestling villain and three-time National Wrestling Alliance world champion.
At 6 foot 2 inches and 245 pounds, Scrap Iron has been finishing opponents with a jumping piledriver for 15 years. When he is not wearing his unitard, he spends time with his 3-year-old son, Jake, and his wife, Sarah.
Pearce, 33, did not grow up with dreams of entering the ring. Like many kids growing up in the ’80s, he watched pro wrestling with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. But in high school in Illinois, he lived and breathed football.
With an offer to play for Southern Illinois University awaiting him, he was diagnosed with acute muscular compartment syndrome the summer before his senior year. The membrane surrounding his leg muscle groups stopped growing while the muscles continued to expand, and it required surgery on both his legs. “I had to learn to walk all over again,” Pearce said. “It was rough.”
After his diagnosis and surgery, football was out. He lost 70 pounds and became depressed. But during that time he rekindled his love of pro wrestling. He met professional trainers Sonny Rogers and Randy Ricci and found a physical outlet to replace football. He found a new career path as well.
In May of 1996, a few weeks before he graduated high school, Pearce had his debut match as a professional wrestler in Chicago. Shortly after he took the name Scrap Iron from one of his colleagues because he thought it would suit him better.
He spent the next few years on the road making a name for himself. “As a wrestler you’re an independent contractor. It’s about self-promotion,” Pearce said.
He was offered his first contract in 1999.
Professional wrestling, now understood to be performance art, has had two major waves of popularity in the United States. From the late ’40s to the mid-’50s, wrestling was a staple of prime-time television lineups. Its popularity faded, and it wasn’t until the ’80s when wrestlers such as Andre the Giant helped bring it back to the spotlight.
During the year, Pearce travels across the country. He will wrestle Sunday at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus for a potential fourth NWA World Championship.
While on the road, he can hardly wait to get back to his condo in Rancho Bernardo. “When I come home, it’s hug my wife and kid and show me where the home cooking is,” Pearce said.
“It’s a unique life for sure,” said his wife, Sarah. “We make sure we find time for each other and our family. But I couldn’t have asked for a better father for Jake.”
Pearce and his wife are expecting a daughter in early September.
Pearce’s favorite match is one that he actually lost in 2008. In front of a sold-out crowd of 3,000 in New York City, he passed his championship belt to a babyface (or good guy) named Brent Albright in a match he was scripted to lose. Albright pinned Scrap Iron to the mat and twisted his arm behind him. The already-raucous crowd went nuts.
“As a performer that’s it, that’s want you want,” Pearce said. “You want to go in there and give the people their money’s worth and come out of there uninjured. It was as beautiful a night as I’ve had in wrestling.”
Pearce does not plan to wrestle forever. In the next year he plans on finishing his degree in communications from the University of Phoenix.