In wrestling circles, he’s known simply as Rhino.
I’m not sure any man has ever boasted a more appropriate moniker.
The man behind the so-called manbeast is Terry Gerin; a six-foot- two, 270-pound mountain of a man, who is built just like a, well, rhino.
Rhino’s finishing move, The Gore, resembles a spear, in which he barrels opponents over, his head down, burying his shoulder in their midsection, essentially snapping them in two along the way. Imagine a football tackle, minus the equipment and at twice the speed.
I say “spear-like” because Gerin is quick to point out that there is one distinction between his Gore and a spear, which was most recently made famous by Canadian WWE Hall of Famer Adam (Edge) Copeland.
“If I hit someone with a Gore and they kick out, then it automatically becomes a spear because nobody’s ever kicked out (from) the Gore. That’s the difference,” he deadpanned over the phone this week. “The fans know right off the bat … if they kick out, they’re like ‘oh, that was just a spear.’ There is a big difference,” added the Detroit native, only half kidding.
It quickly becomes evident while talking with Gerin that he absolutely loves what he does. He is as chatty and knowledgeable about his profession during conversation as he is intense and fierce in the ring.
Pro wrestling made an impact on Gerin’s life early on. In fact, after watching WrestleMania II, Gerin couldn’t get enough.
“I just started watching wrestling on TV and I was hooked,” he said. “As I got older, and I grew, I was into sports and stuff like that (at school). I wrestled in high school.”
From there, the Michigan native sought out a place to train to become a professional wrestler in nearby Windsor, ON. Gerin soon began training at the Can- Am Wrestling School under Scott D’Amore, a Canadian wrestler, manager, promoter, booker and entrepreneur.
Nearly 15 years later — and following successful runs in Extreme Championship Wrestling, WWE and Total Nonstop Action, to name a few — Gerin loves the business as much as ever.
“To be honest with you, I just got off a 10-day loop … a lot of driving, a lot of flying and stuff like that,” he said. “I didn’t mind … not having a day off — well I did have one day off for travel. We’re talking about getting an hour of sleep and then waking up at midnight to leave at 1 o’clock in the morning to drive to Toronto to fly out. When you get to where you’ve got to get to, you’ve got to drive another five hours … right after that show, you’ve got to drive five hours back … I could have went another week before I would have needed a day off.
“Some people, it bothers them. Some people it really doesn’t. That’s where you learn the wrestling business … travelling in the car with the boys talking about it.”
Be that as it may, this columnist suggested that even the most road-tested, loyal and ambitious wrestler has to have those days where you just aren’t yourself. How does one overcome those days, knowing full well that fans have paid good money to see a headliner such as Rhino?
“You make it work,” Gerin offered. “Just like a plumber goes to his job, or a guy comes home after an eight-hour day of work — physical labour or mental labour — and you have to be a dad or a husband. You just do. My whole life I’ve done.
“I started working at a young age, cutting the neighbours’ grass. Then when I was 11, I was allowed to get a paper route, and I started delivering papers. On my 14th birthday — in Michigan you can legally work and collect a paycheque when you’re 14 — and on my 14th birthday, I’ll never forget, it was my first job, I started bussing tables.”
Gerin’s next pro wrestling job comes in a few weeks when he makes history, along with his close friend and fellow wrestling legend Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer, who writes a column for the Whig, is set to launch his own wrestling promotion, House of Hardcore, and his old buddy Rhino will be among its headliners. Coincidentally, Copeland will also be on hand for the House of Hardcore opener.
Saying Gerin is looking forward to the Oct. 6 event in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., may be a slight understatement.
“I’m so excited, I’m driving in the week before,” he revealed. “I’m going to Dreamer’s house, I’m kicking down the door if it’s not open, and I’m going to say ‘Hey honey, I’m home. What’s for breakfast, what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner?’ depending on what time of the day I get there.’ ”
I know he was joking, yet, I’m still unsure.
“I’m actually really excited,” Gerin added. “I haven’t been to New York for a while. I’m going to hang out, get to the gym, tan, train, focus [on] Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
“The Mid-Hudson Civic Center. There’s a lot of history in that building,” he said, adding that the building has housed reunion- like shows before, but none of this magnitude.
“I believe in this one,” he said. “I know Dreamer has … [put together] a really good show. If anybody knows how to book a show, it’s Tommy. I’m excited. It’s going to be a packed house.”
Gerin is not the only one excited.
“There is a big buzz about it now,” he said. “I get asked everywhere I go from the fans and a lot of the wrestlers. ‘Hey, can you get me on that show?’ When wrestlers want to get on a certain show, you know it’s really going to be successful. It’s going to be a success and a hit.”
What can fans in attendance at the inaugural House of Hardcore show expect?
“To see some of the guys from ECW who can still go,” Gerin said, along with “some new guys, some stars of today and tomorrow and yesterday … a good mix … Definitely some holy s–t moments and some moments where you’ll laugh. It’ll definitely be very exciting for the fans.”
Still just 36 (he’ll celebrate his 37th birthday one day after the House of Hardcore show), Gerin believes he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
“I’m still young; I started really young,” he said. “I love going on the road. People are like ‘oh, when are you going to retire?’ [I’ll retire] when I start hating it, and I haven’t.
“You’ve got to remember, you can’t just hire someone off the road with, what, 17, 18 years of in-ring experience,” he said. “And I stay in good shape. I just had a main-event [Internet]-pay-per-view match with Kevin Steen in Montreal for Ring of Honor and I felt [the match] came off really good. And that’s after nine days of being on the road, alot of travelling. I went out there and I hustled.”
Gerin, who underwent cervical fusion surgery to repair two herniated discs in his neck in 2001, credits his longevity to knowing his limits. And if you’ve had the privilege of seeing the so-called “manbeast” perform, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, delicate about his in-ring style. He’s rough, he’s tough, he’s rugged and he’s mean.
But clearly, he’s also smart.
“I’ve learned my body,” he said. “I’ve learned travelling. I’ve learned when I can take a nap and when I can’t. I’ve learned to reserve my energy and when not to. You can be dragging ass … but I’ve learned. That comes with growing up, maturing. I know when I’m going to be off. I know what’s (within) my abilities and what’s not. I know if I’ve got 15 minutes to sleep — when can I take that? and how will that help me?”
For his part, Gerin is honoured that Rhino will be a part of history when House of Hardcore debuts.
I asked him where he sees the promotion going after the Oct. 6 debut.
“It all depends on how much fuel Dreamer’s got in his tank to do the business part of it,” he said. “He did it for years with ECW and he worked well with WWE and worked a lot with their talent. For a while, he was just working with the talent. He definitely knows the ins and outs of wrestling and he’s very valuable to the wrestling business. I consider myself very valuable to the wrestling business, too.”
No argument there.
There is no doubt in his mind that the inaugural show will be special.
“It’s going to be great. It’s going to be exciting and it’s going to make a little chunk of history.”
For his part, Gerin would like to be part of House of Hardcore should Dreamer decide to take his promotion beyond its debut.
“It’s always a treat to be part of something special. I definitely would like to be part of something special. And I definitely know it will be something special.”
It undoubtedly will.
In wrestling circles, he’s known simply as Rhino.