The Rag Mag, Volume #6: The SHOOT Project

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

Today, I’ve decided to delve into one of the most intriguing storylines within the confines of SHOOT Project and professional wrestling as a whole. The serialized wrestling show that contains everything from wrestling, to mystery…to murder. Yes, murder. A bloodbath of a spectacle, it’s not to be missed…and honestly, it’s not a three hour show or anything like that…so if you have a little time, give it a watch. Consider it research because you never know who from SHOOT Project might show up in the EWA and visa versa…

While there are many hot feuds, storylines, and an amazing overall story arc hovering above the entire federation known as SHOOT Project, there is one particular story I happen to know quite a bit about, and have been engrossed by…because I remember watching it at it’s inception. It all started in the late 1990’s, nearly twenty years ago. Yes, I was but a young “smark” at the time, but my eyes were glued to the television every monday night…and if you were alive and a wrestling fan back then, so were yours.

Many of the names you find familiar today, such as Cronos Diamante or Marcus Mirage, or at least have heard of in some regard, were once a bunch of kids trying their damnedest at grabbing that brass ring. This particular group, which consisted of far more names than just those two, quickly came to the realization that there was no brass ring to grab…so they created their own. The industry had caught fire, seemingly overnight, and was shooting through the sky like a blazing meteor that almost nobody could keep up with.

The industry found itself in transition, and these kids were the first to take it from side-show clown acts with one silly gimmick after the next to the real, as I’ve come to call it. Wrestling used to be an embarrassing comedy of sorts…but when these kids came out, we stopped laughing at them…and started laughing with them. The drama had suddenly started spilling over into real life, and what we witnessed was amazing.

Keep in mind this all started during what we now refer to as the ‘attitude era’ of professional wrestling. Big tits, lots of skin, middle fingers, sex, blood and hardcore violence were the makeup of the landscape. It was the advent of the crucifixion or other biblical stories come to life in the squared circle, and the death defying stunts were performed live…only not by stuntmen, but wrestlers…or relatives of wrestlers. Yes, I’m referring to the one and only EWA superstar Sahara being thrown off a jumbotron, crashing through the stage with little to no training, and even less regard for herself or her future. Because that was the way of things back then. They were breaking barriers so you could sit there and read this today.

It was all meant to be fun…

And then this new version of SHOOT Project came around and people started dying.

Years ago, a bit of sad story occurred in our beloved sport when Cronos Diamante, known best friend of Marcus Mirage, went through a bit of a tragedy. And when I say a bit, what I really mean is his life was changed forever. While away on a trip, not sure if it was wrestling related or otherwise, his house caught fire and when the smoke cleared, they found his wife and child. I need not say in what condition, I think you get the picture. I’d like to not dwell on this sad fact as to turn this piece into an obituary, but those are the facts, people. Plain and simple. Sadder still, was the fact that Cronos secretly blamed his best friend for this incident for many years before discovering the true story of what had occurred.

Enter Erik Boyer. A name long forgotten within the confines of professional wrestling. A name once ruined by the one and only Cronos Diamante when he architected a career ending series of manipulating moves that got perennial world champion OutKast to end Boyer’s wrestling career. Most of you wouldn’t know this, but Boyer was a rising star that got snuffed out by this specific series of moves back then, and it essentially killed his blooming career.

Something Boyer apparently did not forget, even if we all did.

Why’d it happen? Well, my best guess is because they were a bunch of kids just trying their best…and sometimes there’s collateral damage that slips through the cracks and gets lost along the way. Boyer was one of the few that got lost…while the rest of them moved onward and upward and had glorious careers in the ring.

Anyway, many years passed without word from Erik Boyer. As far as we were concerned, the sun had set on his career and he had disappeared. Not a moment was spent thinking about him. Not by myself…not by anyone. But unknown to all, was that Boyer had been meticulously crafting a revenge plot that all started with the murder of Cronos’s family…which he then let lie for many years before striking again. You think your plot that lasts a few weeks is meticulously planned? Try having the patience Erik Boyer displayed and try it over the span of decade. And now, all of this is coming to its apex within the confines of the new era SHOOT Project.

Cronos Diamante vs Erik Boyer.

Let me ask you EWA guys something…have any of you seen Mirage lately? No? Well, if you tuned into SHOOT Project you’d see why. As Mirage is the final link Cronos has to anything resembling a real friendship, he became embroiled in the quickly escalating murder rampage…and last we saw, Mirage had around a day left to live unless Cronos could do something about it.

INSANE. I know, right? Stakes that high in wrestling?! Like I said, SHOOT Project ain’t for the meek…they’re doing things you’ve never seen before.

So, enough about that, it’s not like those shows aren’t available on-demand…so go fucking watch them. I promise, you won’t be sorry. Stories like this and many others, not to mention the amazing superstars like Kenji Yamada, Isaac Entragian, Dan Stein and the others previously mentioned star on the show. And that brings me to now…in the recent days, I caught up with the one and only Cronos Diamante himself to talk about some of this. How this all went from fun to real…and how SHOOT Project is changing the wrestling world.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk about this…I can only imagine the rage you feel, the thirst for revenge for all that occurred. Do you find it at all ironic that the revenge you now seek is in retaliation for the revenge that Erik Boyer took out on your friends and family over these past years all designed to get back at you?

A: My life is beset by irony of late. The man who Erik Boyer is right now in many respects used to be me. So to say I find irony in the situation I find myself in is a severe understatement. I could sit here and tell you I played a very small part in what happened to Erik Boyer in the end but that would be a lie. I manipulated him into becoming the monster he is today and I won’t shirk from that responsibility. I own that. As for the rage and thirst for revenge, I won’t deny that my thoughts of late have been dark and consumed by an anger I’ve felt only once before in my life. Although it’s worse now, having lost almost everything and everyone dear to me. There isn’t a word for what I feel.

My Reaction: As a person that’s followed the career of Cronos Diamante for over a decade, you can feel it in his words the damage that’s been done. Q: For a story that’s something around twenty years in the telling, is it true that you and Boyer were once friends, or is that merely rumor?

A: We were practically family. Set aside all the hatred, ill-will and revenge on both our parts in the current and you’d find that I legitimately was trying to help Erik Boyer become a superstar in this industry when I found him. I’ve never been one to care about wins, losses and championship belts but I know for most people in this industry that’s paramount. I saw talent in Boyer. Top-end talent. I tried to teach him and guide him to the top. For a time I did. He became a World Champion of The SHOOT Project in Japan. Obviously my hatred for OutKast at the time sullied that effort and transformed Erik into something vile and sinister. I won’t ever forgive myself for what I’ve done to men like Erik Boyer. He’s not the only one but he is the toughest case. But honestly… what most don’t see is how hard I am on myself for every decision I make and of all the decisions I’ve made… The ones that have turned bad, I’m hardest on myself for what happened to him. I just… I set that aside now, ya know? The man killed my family. He killed one of my best friends. No matter how bad I feel and how hard I am on myself for it, it doesn’t feel like it matters any longer. I may have pushed him in this direction but he has to be stopped before I’m the next one in the ground and he moves on to other people he finds guilty of making him a cripple for such an elongated period of time and for making him a lesser man. Making him not whole.

My Reaction: Wherever you are in life…if things are good, bad or otherwise, realize they’re doing to change, and not necessarily for the better. So enjoy what you have while you have it…and if what you have sucks at the moment, do know that in time, all will change. You can feel the regret in his words, and you can’t help but get an ominous sense that when all said and done…the outcome won’t be good. Q: This may be a hard one to answer, but I’m going to ask it anyway. What did you feel after you found out about what happened to your family, only to realize that years later, the man you had blamed all this time — Marcus Mirage — was actually innocent?

A: Betrayal. I felt betrayed by my instincts and I felt betrayed by Marcus himself. He didn’t exactly try very hard to convince me otherwise. He donned that stupid 3M mask and paraded around like a nut blaming himself for what happened on top of me blaming him. Don’t mistake me. I love Marcus Mirage like a brother. He’s the closest thing I have to family now. But you’re asking me how I feel and I can honestly say that no matter how close I am to that son of a bitch, I still feel the sting of betrayal because it should have mattered more to convince me he was innocent than to saunter around like it didn’t matter and ignore it. At the same time I feel deep regret. I should have known better. Maybe he counted on me snapping out of it. That comes full circle back to my instincts. He and I don’t dwell on these things though. He’ll always be my best friend regardless of our history. We are made stronger as family for turmoil like this.

Q: Following up that question, as it stands right now, somehow Mirage got himself taken hostage by this maniac Boyer…do you feel obligated to save him considering the blame you laid at his feet all those years?

A: You damn right I feel obligated and I will save him or die trying. It has nothing to do with the blame I laid at his feet. I’ve been in his home. I’ve shared meals with his wife and daughter. My family… my… *tears begin to flow from Cronos* family, rest their souls, were guests of theirs and our children, our sweet sweet children, played together at both his and my house. I won’t let Marcus be destroyed by Erik Boyer’s rage like Charles was. Whether the wrestling world knows it or not, Marcus Mirage saved my life once upon a time and I won’t let that debt go unpaid.

My Reaction: This is what sets the excitement of SHOOT Project apart from what I’d call a regular wrestling show. The stakes in SP aren’t just about titles, wins and losses…they’re literally about living and dying. Q: Everything you’ve gone through over the years. The loss of your family. Do you feel jealous of Mirage, as if he was the one that deserved all of that pain? After all the heinous things he’s done throughout his career and the fact that up until now he got to walk away from it all with his family intact, his wife now a wrestler in the EWA, and his daughter still breathing…do you feel as if it was you that suffered the brunt of it all?

A: I’m truly happy for Marcus and the family he has. It makes me miss mine all the more but I’m not petty enough to let that turn me into a jealous man. The old me probably would have said yes to that. Alas I’m not that person any longer. Sure there’s some part of me that wonders what the threshold is to incur karmic forces. Make no mistake about it, I believe in karma very much. It’s a bit of a new belief of mine. There’s many villainous acts that Marcus has committed and he’s paid for them in his own way even though he’d never admit that to the general public. The truth of it all, however, is life happens because life wants to happen. I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on my worse enemy, not even Erik Boyer, much less my best friend and becoming jealous is doing just that in its own twisted way. I’m by no means what I would consider a good person. Erik Boyer proves I’m not an evil person. I don’t murder people in cold-blood no matter how heinous some of the shit I’ve done is perceived. I’m a man just like you struggling with the light and dark inside me on a daily basis. Some days the dark blackens my soul and others the light illuminates in a way I wouldn’t think possible. I’m the same man and I’m not the same man I used to be if that makes any sense.

Q: It’s hard to know whether he was a former friend, enemy or both, but recently, VooDoo was quoted as saying, and I’m paraphrasing, “He’s like Lucifer. No, I don’t mean in the bullshit Christian sense, either. I mean Lucifer as in the Lord of Hell. The one who punishes those that do wrong by others. That’s who Cronos Diamante is and always has been.” Taking what he said in this sense, I’d have to say that Lucifer himself also does wrong…and is wrong. Traditionally, he represents the worst of the worst in this world, and is punished in his own right by having to be the one that’s always surrounded by those he punishes. It’s where the song Sympathy for the Devil derives from. If you stop to think about the Devil, and what he’s always around, you have to feel a bit of sorrow for him. It may not have always been this way, at least in your eyes, but do you see this as the person you’ve become? And in any sense, did Erik Boyer have a hand in creating who you are right now?

A: This has always been a closely guarded secret and very personal to me and those I consider members of my inner circle of friends and family. This whole Devil moniker was easy for me to take as my own with how manipulative and conniving I have been perceived to be. But it wasn’t always for reasons to bring men to their knees and beg for mercy. Parents manipulate their children into doing what’s best for them all the time. Take your swimming lessons and I’ll buy you a puppy! Do your reading for school and I’ll buy you a video game! Sure I’ve not been so innocent as to do that in the wrestling world but my point is all the manipulation hasn’t always been for my own gain and VooDoo was one of the few who knew that. He knew I transformed myself into something I wasn’t to keep myself in check so to speak. To lock my true nature in a cage as he was quoted as saying as well, multiple times actually. The simple fact of the matter is I’ve done some very wrong things and committed heinous acts of brutality in my career and while I may regret some of what I’ve done… I won’t apologize for any of it and I embrace every last act because it is who I am if you read between the lines. I forced Alex Brooks to tap for the Rule of Surrender Championship without ever laying a hand on him, by threatening his younger brother. Why? He wasn’t ready and wasn’t fit. I helped him realize that. I helped Erik Boyer crucify OutKast. Why? Sean Kygon for all the good he’s done for this industry literally stole Boyer’s woman out from under him. Greed needs to be punished. I could go on but the point I’m making is, this isn’t the person I’ve become. It’s the person I’ve always been. Unfortunately the cat is out of the bag now and I can’t hide it any longer. Boyer had nothing to do with creating it but he will have a hand in me realizing the full potential. I didn’t want out of the cage I put myself in but he might as well have taken a crowbar to the lock when he took Mirage.

Q: Normally, in these interviews I end with a name association thread, however, in this case, given the current state of SHOOT Project, we won’t be ending this that way. Good or bad, right or wrong…this won’t end well for someone, possibly many. If this ends up being the final printed interview you give, do you have any words you’d like sign off with?

A: The only last words I can offer anyone reading this interview is that when it’s time to walk away, do it. Don’t let your mentality tell you there’s one more thing you can do or one more mountain to climb. My wife asked me to retire and spend the rest of my life with her and my children far away from all this hatred and violence and pain. She told me my war with Mirage back in Legacy would lead me down a path of certain doom. I ignored her. I said I had a little left in the gas tank. Had I listened, none of us would be in this position right now. My family would be alive and we’d be in another country. VooDoo would be alive. Mirage would be safe and not depending on my do or die moment to keep him alive. Accept input from those who care about you and be able to walk away at a moment’s notice for your own happiness and others that depend on you. Otherwise you end up like me, alone and constantly in pain. I wouldn’t wish this existence on a single soul. Be content knowing you’ve at least accomplished something in this industry. Don’t let it take your soul. Don’t let it make you into something you’re not. Be better than that. Transcend.

My Reaction: This is SHOOT Project, ladies and gentlemen…wrestling as you’ve NEVER seen it before. It’s going to be a very sad day when this era ends…and that goes for both EWA Entertainment and SHOOT Project as we know them today. These stars we have right now, from Cronos to Sinnocence, to the likes of Grady Smith, Grace Goeren, Dan Stein and Buck Dresden are the last bastion of what we will soon consider to be a golden era of the wrestling industry. And, quite possibly, the last golden era the industry sees within our lifetimes.

At the very least we’ll all know we were there to see it, and it’s been amazing. Enjoy it while you have it, folks…because odds are it’ll never be this good again.