Exclusive: DJZ discusses the injury that almost killed him, his second chance, working with Scott Steiner
Exactly a year before I conducted this interview, the Impact Wrestling crew was down in India for a set of tapings and one of the topics of conversation among the men and women of the roster was how DJZ couldn't be there because of the injury he had sustained in Mexico.
Fast forward 365 days and DJZ gave me a harrowing first-hand account of how he almost lost his life because of the said incident. He warned me before the interview that his story was a long one. Then, he commenced on a spine-chilling tale of being alone in a foreign land, at the mercy of medical practitioners who valued money over his own life.
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DJZ was in Mexico City wrestling for a promotion known as The Crash when a 450-splash completely knocked the wind out of him. All DJZ remembered was that he was not able to breathe, following the match.
I just lay there on the floor and couldn't even get up. And that's when I knew it was pretty serious. I couldn't even sit up. One hour goes by and I'm still not feeling good. Finally, another wrestler discovered me and asked me 'are you okay?'
I had to be honest and tell him that I was not. It was in that moment that he told me that I look as white as a ghost.
DJZ was subsequently rushed to a hospital and administered some medicine that made him feel okay for a moment. He was released from the facility but soon discovered that his troubles were far from over. Returning to his hotel, DJZ fainted on the bathroom floor. Hours later, he woke up with a throbbing head, from knocking his head on the floor when he fainted.
When they encountered him, the hotel staff believed that DJZ was drunk. The wrestler had to use his limited knowledge of Spanish to convince them to call for an ambulance. And even though the hospital was only a mile from the Hotel, it would arrive 45 minutes later. 'I could have walked to the hospital quicker than the ambulance arrived', DJZ said jokingly.
I get into the hospital and it's immediately like we're not going to see you until you give us $500. Thank God for credit cards, which by the way I'd just paid off. As the night goes longer, I experience more pain. And they inform me- 'the pain you're experiencing...it's internal bleeding. It appears as if you've ruptured your colon.'
The doctors gave him an 80% chance of being okay, and also informed him that there's a 20% chance that he may die. If he did live, the doctors said he may have a colostomy bag for the rest of his life. DJZ added that he understood why the doctors behaved the way they did, owing to the fact that he's American. But at times, it did seem like they valued his money over his life!
Right before the surgery starts, they tell me they're not going to start the surgery until I pay them $2000. And I'm like- 'Are you kidding me? $2000 is more important than saving my life?' When I asked them this, they couldn't even answer me. They just looked at the floor and couldn't even look at me.
DJZ paid the money and the surgery that followed was a successful one. But he informed me how he lost 2 litres of blood during this whole experience. That's half the blood in the human body. While nobody believes this fact, he has the paperwork to prove it.
But it didn't end there. They wouldn't let me leave the hospital until the full balance had been paid for. This is crazy. I almost became a prisoner of the hospital in Mexico City. I'm very lucky that The Crash paid for half of my hospital bill. They didn't have to do that. I'm sure most wrestling companies around the world would not have done that.
When he returned to the US is when it hit him. He couldn't wrestle, so he couldn't make any money. And that's when the panic attacks began for him. He had to be rushed to the hospital for a suspected heart attack, that eventually turned out to just be a panic attack. Eight weeks after his surgery, he returned to wrestling because he didn't have a choice.
It would be two more months before he was officially cleared by doctors to wrestle. DJZ began medicating himself with alcohol after the matches because that was the only thing that made him feel better at all.
The story does have a happy ending, however. DJZ currently holds the Impact Wrestling Tag Team Championships with Andrew Everett. And he beat Eli Drake as well as the living legend Scott Steiner for the titles.
It's very intimidating working with Scott Steiner. Scott Steiner is an intimidating guy. He's a powerful guy. For me who's half his size and half his age, to get into the ring with him...it's not easy. It was very painful. I was very sore after that match.
Thankfully, the harrowing tale he narrated has a happy ending. DJZ believes that he's been given a second chance to achieve something big. He does not know what it is. At the same time, he's grateful to be given a chance to wrestle again.
People have often asked me why I would come back after suffering such a traumatic injury. Is it worth it? Why am I given this second chance? Is it worth it? I don't know. But the only thing I can think of that I've been given a second chance at life and wrestling isbecause there must be something more for me to achieve. I'm going to stick around Impact Wrestling and stick around professional wrestling to find out what that prize is, what I'm here for.
DJZ does not know what the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is. He believes it could be a Championship run or maybe something else. But until he achieves his goal, DJZ will soldier on, come what may!
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