Ring Name: Lash LeRoux
Other Ring Name(s) Used: Mark LeRoux
Nickname(s): Ragin' Cajun
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 225 lbs
Original Hometown: Lafayette, LA
Current Hometown: Oxford, AL
Favorite Active Wrestler: "Diamond" Dallas Page
Favorite Retired Wrestler: Ted DiBiase
Toughest Opponent: Perry Saturn
Finisher: WhipLash / Bourbon Street Blues
Ring Debut: 6/98
First Opponent: Perry Saturn
Won or Lost: Lost
Career Win-Loss Record: 12-9
Trained By: Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker / WCW Power Plant
Career Before Wrestling: Freelance Artist
Wrestling Background: Alabama State Junior High Champion two years in a row, and went on to place 5th and 3rd in State, consecutively, in his 10th and 11th grade years.
According to DDT Digest records, LeRoux was 0-5 in WCW matches covered by DDT Digest in 1998 and hasn't fared any better as we've moved into 1999. Despite his unimpressive record, he has managed to impress us at DDT Digest with his ability. As (just barely) a cruiserweight, he has been able to muster very little offense against larger opponents. Yet against opponents closer to his weight class, he has shown some tremendous offense and demonstrated great skill. His breakthrough performance came during the 10/3/98 edition of WCW Saturday Night. Despite losing to Lenny Lane, LeRoux was efficacious connecting on an unorthodox Michinoku Driver, a flying headscissors and a missile dropkick. Since then, LeRoux has picked his spots. Even in matches where he has taken a sound beating, he has shown flashes of brilliance, even surviving almost being snapped in half by the Steiner Recliner. Here is a list of LeRoux's performances as covered by DDT Digest:
Get your drop-kicks at the WCW tryouts, where aspiring wrestlers pin their hopes and dreams.
"LET'S GO, FATBOY! SHOW ME SOMETHING!", booms Power Plant Wrestling instructor Dewayne "Sarge" Bruce, getting right up in the face of one of the 15 pro-wrestling hopefuls he's marshaling through a brutal calesthenic drill.
It's the first day of the three-day tryout that Turner Broadcasting's World Championship Wrestling conducts each month at their training center in Atlanta, and the veins in Sarge's wide, flat forehead and the cords along his neck are already popping. Ten minutes into the drills, and he's got Billy Crawford panting and grimacing. Sarge grabs the poor slob by the neck of his incongruous Hard Rock T-shirt and yanks him through a push-up. "LET'S GO, LET'S GO! YOU'RE SLACKING OFF HERE!"
Sarge is built like a tree stump, with a flattop crewcut and Popeye arms, and he's dressed in a sleeveless gray sweatshirt and gray sweatpants that are tucked into rubber-soled black paramilitary boots. "YOU CAN'T BE TIRED ALREADY! WE GOT ALMOST THREE WHOLE DAYS OF THIS LEFT!"
But Billy Crawford has skipped too many workouts and not enough meals, and he's paying for it now, paying big time, trying to keep up with the murderous pace of squats and push-ups, the flips from stomach to back, back to stomach, up, down, over and over, with no breaks, no time to rest or recover.
"UP!" Sarge bellows. The men jump up to his command. "DOWN!" They fall to the floor. "PUSH-UP! BELLY! BACK! UP! DOWN! BACK! BELLY!" He's got them moving at a killer pace, and his assistant trainers are walking around, berating them: "BUTT UP! LET'S GO! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOT!"
Each of the 15 hopefuls -- guys in their twenties who are required to be at least 5' 9" and 180 pounds -- has plunked down $250 and paid his own way to Atlanta. They are here because they love pro wrestling, or someone told them they looked like a pro wrestler, or they didn't make it as a pro footballer or pro hoopster and want to stay in athletics, or simply, as one hopeful, Aaron Aguilera, puts it, "...because it seems like a cool thing to do and I know I don't ever want to work a regular nine-to-five job." Aguilera saved up the money to come here by pulling a ricksaw around Orange, California, all summer.
If he or the others can make it through the three days, they might -- MIGHT -- get invited back to a six-month training program at Power Plant for which they'll have to fork over $3,000. It's still a long way from becoming the next Diamond Dallas Page or World Champ Bill Goldberg, but both of those WCW stars trained at Power Plant. So it's a long shot, but it's a shot, and the hopefuls have come from Texas, Massachusetts, Canada, and elsewhere, taking time off from construction jobs, post office jobs, security jobs, scraping together the money for the trip whatever way they could.
Money and time are the least of the personal cost, though. These are tough guys -- or at least guys who think they're tough. They certainly look tough. Pumped-up muscles, elaborate tattoos, earrings, Fu Manchu mustaches, long sideburns, bleached hair, bald heads. The problem is, nobody told them -- or they couldn't imagine -- just how brutal this tryout was going to be, how much abuse they'd have heaped on them. Sure, they'd all seen pro wrestling on TV. But what kind of shape do you have to be in to perform a bunch of choreographed moves and contortions?
The answer is -- the best shape of your life.
The survivors of these tryouts -- if any -- will embark upon a grueling regimen in which they're taught everything from how to get into a ring to the various holds (the hammerlock, the arm bar, the head-and-arm takeover, the Suhito throw) to ring movement and spectacular flying maneuvers to what to do when they get hurt, as well as how to act in front of the camera.
"It may not look that hard when you're watching it on TV," says Power Plant director [Jody] Hamilton, who used to wrestle under the name of The Assassin and now looks like Jackie Gleason, only bigger, "but you have to be in incredible shape to do the things that professional wrestlers do in the ring. Your body is subjected to the kind of punishment that would put a normal man in the hospital."
"The reason we're so tough on these guys," says Sarge, "is because it's a rough business. Once you get out there, nobody wants to hear excuses."
As the mural near the door to the airplane hangar-size facility says, "PAIN IS TEMPORARY, PRIDE IS FOREVER". And for these dreamers attending this tryout those are words to live by, because Sarge and his assistants will subject them to a kind of pain they've never even dreamed of. You wanna be a professional wrestler? Badly? We're gonna put you through three days that will make Marine boot camp look like Club Med.
Billy Crawford, the guy in the Hard Rock T-shirt, doesn't really stand a chance. He's not the only one struggling to keep up. Just the most obvious.
"Stay with me!" Sarge shouts. "I ain't holding nobody's hand! We're serious about this! You keep screwing up, it just means we start over from the beginning! Now, let's go. ONE!"
"ONE!" fifteen voices respond, bodies pushing up.
"TWO" they echo.
"HEY! Knees off the ground. KNEES OFF THE GROUND! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?"
Crawford can't do it, can't support his weight. He raises his chest off the mat, but his lower body stays planted.
"C'MON, PUKE," one of the assistant instructors screams in Crawford's ear. "C'MON, YOU FAT DISGUSTING PIECE OF BLUBBER!"
Crawford tries again, but his body won't cooperate. He's soaked in sweat, his face a scary high pink.
"Okay, roll over on your back!" Sarge commands. "Wave your arms and legs! NOW TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE!"
"TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE!"
"I'm a cockroach," Crawford whispers.
"I'm a cockroach, SIR!"
Surprisingly, Crawford isn't the first to quit. Dan Quick, a chiseled 29-year-old electronics contractor who's 6' 5", 270 pounds, with a shaved head and red goatee, suddenly gets up off the floor in the middle of yet another set of push-ups and heads toward the door.
"WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?" Sarge yells after him.
Quick waves off the question and keeps walking.
"SHOW SOME HEART! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?"
One of the trainers goes after him, but Quick is through. "I got other things to do," he says, striding toward the exit.
Outside the building, he says, "I wanted to check it out, but it's just not important enough to me." He shakes his head. "I guess I should have done more cardio work and more push-ups."
Billy Crawford leaves not long after, head bowed, muttering apologies and vowing to come back another time. A half hour into the first day, two guys have already quit. But Sarge is relentless. He makes the survivors place over-turned buckets behind them; the idea is to hit the bucket with your butt during each squat. Fifty squats. Then dive to the floor for 50 push-ups. Then jump back up. Then dive to the floor again. Roll to the back. Belly. Back. Fifty more push-ups. Fifty more squats. No rest. No water. Just keep going.
Eddie Salim, a 275-pound bar bouncer from Canada, with a shaved head, superhero chest, and Elvis sneer, falls behind on a set of squats, standing, trying to catch his breath.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
Salim stands there, hands on hips, too tired to answer.
"DID SOMEBODY TELL YOU TO TAKE A REST?"
He doesn't respond.
"WHERE'S YOUR HEART?"
Salim looks at the trainer sullenly. "I got heart. You think I don't got heart?"
"THEN SHOW IT! SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!"
Challenged, Salim hisses, "I'll show you what I got. Let's take it out on the street and I'll show you what I got."
"YOU WANT TO TAKE IT OUT ON THE STREET, YOU PIECE OF SHIT? YOU JUST CAN'T KEEP UP!"
Glowering, Salim starts doing squats again, in time with the rest.
"YOU OWE ME, PUKE. GIVE ME 50 MORE!"
Salim continues to do his squats.
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
Faintly, Salim begins counting them out, starting at one.
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
Salim struggles to continue, but he's exhausted. His magnificently muscled body is betraying him, and he can't seem to accept the fact that he's not up to this. He turns his anger on his tormentors, talking back to them when they get on him again, finally walking away from the mats in a huff. Sarge shouts, "GOOD! GET THE HELL OUT!" and one of Sarge's assistants, Lash LeRoux, who's built on the same scale as Sarge, squat and powerful, his sideburns cut into the shape of L's, spelling out his initials on his cheeks, yells after Salim, "You're just not man enough to do this!"
Then Salim mumbles something under his breath that sends Sarge over the edge. Suddenly he's up in Salim's face, jaw to jaw, and Salim backs down almost right away, all 275 pounds of him, and begins apologizing. Sarge won't hear it. He banishes Salim, tells him to get out of his sight. Salim watches Sarge go back to his spot on the mat, realizing his tough-guy act isn't going to cut it here, won't intimidate anyone. He slinks off down the hall. As he passes [Jody] Hamilton's open office door, the director motions him in.
Meanwhile, Sarge drives the remaining guys through neck rolls, an exercise that involves forward and back bridges in which the upper body is supported with the head, not the arms, and the neck is rotated to and fro. When one of the hopefuls collapses to the ground, Sarge barks, "I hope you don't think this is tough. This is a rest position. This is when you're supposed to catch your breath."
The group heads out to the parking lot next, into the 95-degree heat and Southern humidity for forward and backward wind sprints and sideways shuffle-step sprints. They cover the football-field length of the lot a couple of times, then drop for more push-ups and squats on the sizzling asphalt.
Eddie Salim approaches the group in the middle of this. Apparently [Jody] Hamilton has had a talk with him and has agreed to let him continue. Sarge sees things differently. "I don't have time for this shit!" he says. "Guys with an attitude, guys who can't keep up."
One of the other assistants, Mike Hayner, a compact, powerfully muscled man who is half Hawaiian and half Samoan and wrestles in the WCW under the name Prince Iaukea, cousels Salim to jump back in. "Don't pay any attention to Sarge. Just get back in there -- and be a man."
"I know I made a mistake," Salim says. "I just don't like getting hollered at."
"You gotta ignore it," Iaukea says.
But when Salim tries to rejoin the drills, Sarge waves him away. A compromise is arrived at: One of the assistant trainers will work with Salim alone. The assistant keeps Salim outside on the hot asphalt, running him through squats and push-ups until he pukes. By the time Salim is allowed to rejoin the rest of the group, his attitude is a bit different, his anger whipped out of him.
By 12:40, when a lunch break is called, there are 10 survivors, including Salim. Forty minutes of rest and Sarge puts them back to work, mercilessly intent on whittling the number down. A new drill is added, called Running the Gauntlet. It goes like this: You jump into the ring through the second and third strands of rope, then bound across the ring, bounce off the ropes (which are actually made of three-quarter-inch steel cable), take two giant steps back across the ring, then flip headfirst so that your back smacks against the canvas. Then you roll out of the ring and run to the next of three rings to do it all again. After two circuits of that, it's out of the ring for push-ups and squats -- which now seem like a breather.
Sarge and the other trainers are still giving the guys, especially Eddie Salim, a lot of heat when they lag behind or mess up. They've also dubbed a couple of the wannabes with nicknames. 24-year-old Aaron Aguilera has been christened "Scarecrow" for his loose-fitted hip-hop demeanor and stringy thatch of orange-dyed hair; and Kevin Tilton, a swarthy, ponytailed, rock-solid 25-year-old firefighter and paramedic from Atlanta, is now "Zorro."
After a half hour of Running the Gauntlet, Eddie Salim quits for good, humbled, apologizing to the same guys he had previously sworn at. He's soon followed out the door by Shawn Lockett, a street performer from New Orleans who was game but not in good enough condition.
Now, as they move into a 1-on-1 wrestling drill -- not the theatrical pro type but the sweaty, grunting, knee-scraping college kind -- the men are forced to dig even deeper into their well of diminishing energy. It seems especially cruel that they should have to torture each other this way. But this whole day has been spiced with sadism, and the trainers continue to taunt them.
"DON'T JUST LIE THERE! FIGHT TO GET AWAY!"
"We don't need no Jell-O wrestlers!"
"I think I saw this in a sex manual!"
"C'mon, Scarecrow, did that damn hair coloring go to your brain?"
To add to this humiliation, Prince Iaukea and Lash LeRoux, who are fresh, get into the ring and basically rub the guy's exhausted faces into the dirty mat.
At 3:30 PM, beaten up, physically exhausted in a way they can't even describe, the 10 survivors are excused for the day, to go back to their motels and try to recover so they can do it all over again in the morning.
Of the 10, only 7 show up for the next day's dose of punishment. Before it begins, Brad Spinks, a 24-year-old from Denton, Texas, who played linebacker for North Texas State, is doing stretches outside the low-slung warehouse building. "I sat in a hot bath for a couple of hours last night," he says in his soft drawl. "But I don't know if it helped. I'm hurtin' something awful."
Brad has the right look for the WCW: tousled light brown hair with just the forelock bleached lighter ("What's the matter, couldn't afford to bleach the rest?" one of the trainers shouted at him the day before), a wispy blond goatee, and tattoos on his calf and biceps that he designed himself (he graduated from North Texas State with a degree in art). He has always been a fan of pro wrestling, which he describes as "soap opera for men." But "if anyone thinks wrestlers aren't athletes," he says, " let 'em come through here. I played five years of college football, and two-a-days don't come close to this."
Does he think he's going to make it?
"I've never quit anything in my entire life," he says. "I'm not about to start now."
Brad's legs are scraped and his arms are bruised, but he's in better shape than some of the others. Juan Velasquez, a stocky 24-year-old postal worker from Far Rockaway, New York, walks up looking his knees are made of wood. "I don't know how I'm gonna do it," he says. "Last night, I just lay there in my motel in pain. All night long I debated with myself. Should I come back? My mind was saying Yes, and my body, No." Yes won -- but for how long?
Kevin Tilton, aka Zorro, took some painkillers when he got home, but that didn't stop him from cramping up. "I was on the floor screaming," he says. "I'd massage one muscle and another would go into spasm. I cried for hours."
One of the trainers, a wrestler named Hardbody [Harrison] who has his name carved in his hair, tells the walking wounded that they'd better stretch out, 'cause they're gonna need their legs. "I don't know if you believe in God or what, but whatever your faith, in a few minutes your ass is going to belong to Sarge."
Two minutes after this prophecy come true, with Sarge, running them through warm-up neck rolls, Steve Richards, a 24-year-old ex-footballer who looked like one of the better bets to persevere, gets up and leaves. Sarge and the other trainers are stunned. "Unreal -- can you believe that? During neck rolls?" But Richards says he just wanted to see how he felt -- and he didn't feel good.
Not long after his exit, Mark Horner, a 29-year-old graphic designer and bartender from Los Angeles, bows out. Sarge is going at the same breakneck pace he set yesterday, and these guys are just too beat up from the day before to take it.
Juan Velasquez is really struggling. Hardbody gets in his face, a shark to blood. "WHAT KIND OF SISSY ARE YOU?"
Juan tries to stay with the group, but he can't, and eventually, shaking his head, done in by his body, he starts walking away. Sarge drags him back. Every time Juan tries to bow out again during the next few drills, Sarge drags him back. Finally, after the sixth or seventh time, he resists Sarge's efforts. He's done.
"I keep dragging them back because I don't want 'em to get home and feel like they didn't give it their best shot," Sarge explains.
It's 11 AM now, and only four of the original 15 are left: Brad Spinks, Zorro, Scarecrow, and Sonny Siaki, a recent football-playing graduate of East Carolina University, who happens to be Prince Iaukea's cousin. As Sarge continues to drive the four of them through drill after drill, driving them beyond the seeming limit of human endurance, one begins to wonder what it is that keeps them going. In the end, it's probably not the dream of wrestling, or the money they might make, or the chance to live an exciting life, it's just plain old-fashioned character. As Lash LeRoux says, "You find out a lot about yourself when you go through something like this."
Near the end of the day, Zorro rolls out of the ring in the middle of Running the Gauntlet, finds the nearest garbage can, and blows his lunch into it. Less than a minute later, he climbs back in the ring and continues anyway. The last test of the day -- a push-up position held for two minutes three separate times -- has a new wrinkle: The four survivors are told that if anyone messes up, he's going to have to watch while everyone else does 50 squats. "This is about not letting down your team," says instructor Mike Wenner.
Both Brad Spinks and Zorro cramp up in the middle, but they scream their way through the two minutes, refusing to hit the ground. Their teammates are spared the additional squats. Weary high-fives are exchanged around; they've all made it through the second day. As the four towel off, Scarecrow looks at the trainers who are scattered around the gym working on wrestling moves and pumping iron. He says, "So do these guys just hang out here all the time?"
"Don't tell me you're getting second thoughts now," says Spinks with a smile.
Scarecrow shows up the next morning -- day three -- and he and the guys are full of gallow humor.
"I puked another couple of times last night," says Zorro, "but at least I didn't cramp up."
"It hurts to breathe," says Scarecrow. "It hurts to talk."
The four of them have bonded the way survivors do. It's obvious by now that none of them is going to quit. During the rope-running drill, Zorro either pulls a rib muscle or tears cartilage. He screams in pain but keeps going. Sarge orders him out of the ring and tells him to walk around all three rings as a substitute drill. Zorro runs.
A few minutes later, only an hour and a half into the third day, Sarge and Mike Wenner and the rest of the trainers congratulate the foursome: The ordeal is finally over. They've made it.
In the private evaluation meetings that follow with each of them, director Hamilton tells them what they can look forward to if they decide to come back for the six-month program. He tells Scarecrow they'll bulk him up, and Sonny that he'll actually need to trim down a little. When Sonny asks if [Jody] thinks he has the looks or the talent to succeed in this business, Hamilton doesn't sugarcoat it: "At this point," he tells Sonny, "I don't see superstar potential, but I do see a place for you in this company."
"This is the first class we've ever had" he adds, "where I invited everyone who survived the three days to come back. But I see something in each of the four of you that makes me think you have what it takes."
Back outside Hamilton's office, the four gather and high-five each other again. They discuss the future -- night-job possibilities in Atlanta and maybe rooming together when they come back. Zorro says that he can probably get them jobs working as bouncers or doing club security in town.
More immediately, they make plans to celebrate. Someplace with women and champagne. Scarecrow clears his throat a bit sheepishly and says he isn't going to be able to make it.
"What do you gotta do?" Sonny asks.
"I'm seeing this girl."
"Girl? When did you have time to get a girl?"
"She was my waitress at breakfast this morning. She asked me out."
"Check him," Sonny says to Brad and Zorro. "We're all taking Advil, can barely get out of bed, and he's busy making dates."
Zorro and Brad shake their heads.
"Just tell me one thing," Sonny says, trying to keep a straight face. "This girl, this waitress, did she have all her teeth?"