THE STORY OF MATT, JEFF, SHANNON, SHANE, AND THE FORGOTTEN BEETLE
by Marty “Cham Pain” Garner
My name is Marty Garner, and my friends call me The Forgotten Beetle. I’ve been in the wrestling business for 15 years now. I’ve worked under the name of Cham Pain on the Independent Wrestling Circuit for the majority of that time. I have appeared on ECW, WCW, and made numerous appearances on WWE. I am writing this because I am at a crossroads in my life. I am no longer satisfied working Independent shows for little or no compensation. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the business and that is why I do this crazy thing we call Professional Wrestling. You see, I don’t want to go to my grave without working for one of the major companies full time. That’s why I need your help.
In 1991, I was working out in a small gym in Vass, NC when I met this young, musclebound kid by the name of Matt Hardy. He was telling me that he had a wrestling federation based out of his backyard. He asked me to come check them out. I showed up one Saturday while they were having some matches and almost chuckled. They had a round trampoline with four small trees around it for ring posts and garden hoses for the ropes. There was black plastic enclosing a sizable area with the “ring” in the middle, which made up the so-called “arena”. Matt’s younger brother, Jeff, had painted graffiti on the plastic arena walls. There was a young kid who was only 11 years old, and really small. The kid was the referee who stayed outside the ring calling the match, who you may now know as Shannon Moore. After a little encouragement, Matt talked me into working a match. It was the most horrible match anyone had seen. Matt came out in baseball pants, no shirt and barefooted, wearing a Jason mask. I came out wearing paper thin, white sweat pants, a pink tank top, a do-rag and shades, and of course, my white tube socks. After I defeated my opponent, that was it….I was hooked. If wrestling was crack, I’d be Pookie from the movie New Jack City.
After a short period of time, we met an older, burley, country man by the name of Kenneth Morgan who I referred to lovingly as “The Wooly Booger”. He was a gentle, silent man who happened to have a wrestling ring. The ring he had was hard only on the sides with a long, rectangular trampoline in the middle. Matt and Kenneth worked out a deal that we would work some shows at the local fair using his ring. When I arrived at our first show at the fairgrounds, we only had 5 guys for the show. Matt was in a bit of a tizzy. Since I was an aspiring rap artist, I told Matt I could go out and kill some time either rapping or doing stand up comedy. I actually went out and performed one of my songs, and was really pumped after that. Each wrestler there worked two or three gimmicks that night, but we got through it. The first match I had in Kenneth’s ring was just like the first match I ever had. Same opponent, same clothes, same finish. It was awesome! It’s so funny to look back on those times, bouncing around on a trampoline, having a wrestling match in front of a crowd. It’s kind of embarrassing when the boys see those old tapes, but also, it makes me very proud.
We actually converted Kenneth’s old trampoline ring into a regular ring. Our federation name was the New Frontier Wrestling Alliance, the NFWA. In 1995, Matt went into business with a guy named Thomas Simpson. Thomas was the money man and Matt was the promoter of our new federation called the Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts, OMEGA. This was a local organization out of Moore County, NC that groomed many of the wrestling superstars you know today. Such as Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Shane Helms, Joey Abs, Joey Mercury, Steve Corino, Bo Dupp, Jack Dupp, and of course me, Marty “Cham Pain” Garner. That’s first name Cham. Last name Pain. The best kept secret on the Independent scene. This was the time when myself, Matt, Jeff and Jason “Joey Abs” Ahrndt started making sporadic trips to WWF shows. This was a big deal for me personally, because now my family and friends thought I was on the cusp of making it to the “big show”.
In 1998, we were getting ready for a show in a local armory in Southern Pines, NC when Matt got a phone call. I was standing next to him when he got the call. He had a strange look on his face as he hung up the phone. It was a look of disbelief. Then I saw a smile emerge. When I asked who it was, Matt said it was Jim Ross and they wanted him and Jeff at RAW the next Monday. I remember being happy for Matt and Jeff, but at the same time, I was very envious of them. The show had a different feel to me because our leader was leaving us. The last show Matt and Jeff did in OMEGA was at Shane Helms’ old high school. Shane and his partner, Mike Maverick, were baby-faces and Matt and Jeff, for the first time ever, were heels. Matt and Jeff really played up the WWF thing, and how they were going to be rich superstars and leave all this behind. The crowd hated them for the first time ever and they proceeded to have one of the best Indy tag team matches that I’ve ever witnessed. As I was watching the match, I remember the sadness I felt. Even thought no one said it, I knew OMEGA was finished. We tried to keep it going for a while, but without Matt, we were lost. He always handled everything from booking to storylines, set up, sponsorships, etc. He did it all. It wasn’t long after that when Jason Ahrndt got a call from WWF to work as Joey Abs with the Mean Street Posse. Now, I’m excited because everyone, including myself, thought I’d be the next to go.
After OMEGA, I still worked Independent shows, but they never held a match to what we had. I knew I needed to get my face on T.V. somehow, so I hit the talk show circuit. I did Sally Jesse Raphael, Montel Williams and Jenny Jones. I almost appeared in Playgirl Magazine, but my ex-fiance really disapproved. I was brainstorming how to get a job with a major company. So, myself, Murray “Bo Dupp” Happer, and Mike Maverick came up with a plan. We were going to be a family of rednecks from Lizard Lick, NC named The Dupps. I knew a guy that works for a T.V. crew out of California who said that his buddy could do a video for us. I wrote the script for the video. My name was Puck Dupp. Mike was Jack Dupp. Murray was Bo Dupp and my girlfriend at the time was May Dupp. The video was hilarious and it didn’t have any wrestling on it at all. We submitted the video to ECW and got a call back from Tommy Dreamer who said he loved it and wanted us to come up for a tryout. Tommy told us when we got there that was one of the funniest, most original tapes they had ever received. They watched it 7 times in the locker room that night. We did our tryout and they put us to work for a while. Tommy pulled us to the side one day and told us we were getting ECW contracts in a couple of weeks. I was excited and called my fiance. Before I could tell her my news, she broke up with me, over the phone. The other Dupps weren’t riding with me at the time, due to a misunderstand that had occurred between us, and I had to drive home alone with that on my mind. It was the best news and the worst news all in one day. What do you do? The next week the other Dupps missed a couple of ECW shows. On the third day when they finally showed up, I asked where they had been. They said Stamford, CT. I asked, “WWF”? They said, “Yes. We got jobs”. I said, “We got jobs?” They said, “No. WE got jobs.” I was only one day away from being immortalized on the ECW video game-but that didn’t happen. Without the other Dupps involved, I was out of luck and out of the job that I’d always dreamed of. The contract never came. My money was running out, so I had to leave ECW and come back home. I had a couple of small bites from WWF but they never actually worked out, which still left me on the Independent circuit.
A couple of years later, at a local show in Raleigh, NC, a man named John Root approached me about doing some video game stunt work. He worked for Epic Games who are the creators of “Unreal”, “Unreal Tournament”, and “Unreal Warfare”. He used my motion capture for both of the good guys on the game “Unreal Tournament 2003”, and used Mickie James as the baby-face female. It was a lot of fun and it paid really well. About a year after that, John Root moved to another company and flew me to California to do some motion capture stunt work again. While I was in California, one of the guys at the studio asked me if I knew Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I said, “Yes, but I haven’t seen him in a couple of years.” I met Rock when I was doing some T.V. matches for WWE and we created a friendship. We went to the set of the “Run-Down” that night and as soon as Rock saw me he started quoting Cham-Pain lines. The guys that were with me thought that was the coolest thing ever! Rock told me to stay that weekend and go to a big wrap up party for the movie. I met Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake at an after party in Hollywood. It was a blast! That was in January of 2003. In March 2003, I went to WrestleMania in Washington State to watch my buddies, Matt, Jeff, Shannon, and Shane perform. While I was there, Rock got in contact with me. The next couple of days I hung out with Rock and his family. It was a lot of fun. I asked Rock if I should I go backstage at WrestleMania or should I just sit in the crowd (He told me later that when I asked him that question, it broke his heart). He looked at me and said, “Man, you’re coming with me to WrestleMania.” The next morning, Rock, his cousin, and myself walk out of the hotel doors into a sea of screaming fans. After we got in the limo, Rock pulls his shades down slightly, looks at me, and says, “You ain’t never seen no shit like that, have you?” I looked at him and said, “Nope. Not in Vass, NC.” We all got a laugh out of that and went on to WrestleMania. In May of the same year, I got a call. It was Rock. He said, “Marty, you’ve always been my boy. You’ve never asked me for anything but advise and I appreciate that. Now, I want to ask you something. How would you like to work for me on an upcoming movie?” I felt my legs get weak and my eyes tearing up as goose bumps covered my arms. I tried to man up and sound strong when I said, “HELL YES!!!” He told me in the beginning that it wasn’t a full time gig. I told him that would be fine. I traveled halfway around the world with that guy, attending movie premiers, the CMA’s (front row), the Super Bowl, and a long list of many things that I was very blessed to be a part of. We were in Prague in 2005 on the set of “Doom” when I got a phone call from my mom. She asked if I remembered a particular girl from my past, and I said,”Yes, but why?” My Mom said, “Because the girl claims to have your child.” I said, “I haven’t seen that girl in 11 years.” Mom said, “He’s 11 years old.” I then flew home to take a DNA test. As fate would have it, it was truly my son. After discovering the truth, my son became a wonderful part of my life, and I love him more than I could ever tell you. Ironically, that was the last time I ever worked for Rock. We still keep in touch and will always be really good friends.
People still seem to always ask me if I could autographs from Matt and Jeff for their kids. I don’t mind asking for that, but at the same time it still bothers and hurts me. It seems just like yesterday that we were all together, wrestling in OMEGA, and now they’re WWE Superstars. It’s kind of like I’m The Forgotten Beetle. You know, the member of the Beetles who got lost on the way to the big show, right before their US debut. Suddenly, the band was recreated, with one less member. Please don’t think that I’m bitter, because I’m not-I’m more driven than ever. I just want to say how proud I am of all my friends who have gone on to have successful careers in professional wrestling. I still occasionally work for the WWE, with my most recent appearance being April 25th, 2008, on Smackdown against Vladimir Kozlov. Now more than ever, I want my name on the full-time WWE roster. That’s where YOU come in. If you believe in my cause, help me flood the websites of WWE and TNA requesting that Cham Pain be added to their roster. If you attend any WWE or TNA shows, please show your support by making signs and chanting loudly, “HIRE CHAM PAIN”. I refuse to be denied of my dream. It’s time to get the band back together. Thanks for taking the time to read my story, and I hope you’ll help me make my a dream a reality.
Marty “Cham Pain” Garner