KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Shane Chess, a wrestling referee from Kingsport, Tennessee is featured in the new Netflix series “Wrestlers.”
Chess followed his dream of being in the wrestling business and became a referee around five years ago.
“I’ve been a fan of wrestling literally probably since they brought me home from the hospital,” Chess said. “My dad always watched it, so I was a fan my whole entire life.”
He said when he was younger, there were not as many opportunities to get into the business.
“One of my sons got into the business and they needed a referee,” Chess said. “So, I just decided hey I’ll try it and referee.”
Chess trained with WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Morton on his referee skills.
“I had some WWE tryouts and COVID kind of slowed that down a little bit,” Chess said. “So, I went to Ohio Valley Wrestling.”
Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) is a company based in Louisville, Kentucky. They have trained many notable wrestlers, such as John Cena, Dave “Batista” Bautista, Brock Lesnar, Beth Phoenix and many more have trained there.
“We were building it back up [OVW] and they had a change of ownership and they came to us with the idea of a Netflix series,” Chess said. “And we were like, ‘okay, well, this is interesting.’ “
Chess with OVW started filming last year for the Netflix series titled “Wrestlers.” They had to keep quiet about the series and didn’t know for sure when it would be released. Then, the trailer was released last month showing a September 13 premiere date.
“I guess it had gotten 2.2 million views the week before the show came out,” Chess said. “And then once the show came out, it’s been insane. It’s taken off.”
Chess said the show has been featured in magazines, the Today Show, and that they’ve made top five shows to watch lists.
Chess said the show is about wrestlers following their dreams and says everyone can relate to the show whether they enjoy wrestling or not.
“It’s about us following our dreams to the WWE or AEW or IMPACT,” Chess said. “But it shows the ups and downs of life. You know, life is not easy and we all have our ups and downs. We have the good moments and the bad moments and that’s what it’s really about. It’s about the human condition.”
He said many people in the show gave up a lot to follow their dreams. He encourages everyone to watch the series and said the last episode was a special moment for him.
“I’ve been told it’s a tear-jerker,” Chess said. “It was an emotional evening for us because being a fan and just seeing the reaction of the crowd.”
Chess teaches at NetPro Studios in Kingsport and also referees live on Thursday in Louisville for OVW. You can watch the matches live on FITE TV.
A live wrestling event will also take place at NetPro studios at The Beautiful Bobby Eaton Arena on October 15 by Innovate Wrestling.
Chess said he continues to try out for referee opportunities. He said he wants people to understand that it’s okay to follow your dream no matter what it is.
“It’s okay to go after it,” Chess said. “And I’ve heard Steve Harvey say this ‘sometimes if you’ve got a passion for something, sometimes you’re in a plane, you just have to jump and your parachute will eventually open’ and ours opened and so your parachute will open.”