This month’s entry is going to be a bit different.
Previous entries focused mostly on the in-ring work of the subject, especially in the case of Masato Tanaka and Satoshi Kojima. While Chuck Taylor is a top-tier wrestler in the ring that’s not really why I think he’s being slept on. That said, I’ll still compile a list of match recommendations for Chuck at the end of the article. So with that out of the way, let’s talk about Sexy Chuckie T and how he’s one of the best character workers of his generation.
But first, we need a career summary.
Training in his native Kentucky in 2002, Chuck got his start in independent promotions in Illinois and Tennessee, while still under 18 years old (Kentucky’s wrestling licenses required the recipient to be at least 18). In 2006, he made his debut in CHIKARA, where he was a mainstay of the promotion until 2018. He had his head shaved, won the promotion’s Campeonatos de Parejas title twice with Johnny Gargano, competed as Mr. Azerbaijan, and even lost his ring name to Stokely Hathaway, forcing him to run through a litany of alternate names like Scoot Tatum and Rich Mahogany before settling on just wrestling under his real name, Dustin.
In 2008, Chuck debuted for Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) and was a consistent player there as well, capturing the PWG World Championship twice. For the bulk of Chuck’s career, this was the pattern: show up at a prominent indie promotion and just stick around for years and years. CZW, IWA, EVOLVE, Dragon Gate USA, if you were a fan of indie wrestling in the 2000s, you have probably seen more than one Chuck Taylor match. He even had a few matches in TNA in 2016.
In 2013, he formed what would become his most popular tag team with Trent Beretta (or Trent? or just Beretta, depending on the promotion) as the Best Friends. In 2017, thanks to this team with Trent, Chuck ended up working shows for Ring of Honor and, eventually, New Japan Pro Wrestling where he joined the Chaos and befriended New Japan ace Kazuchika Okada, whom he calls Lil Kazu.
They worked with both promotions until 2019 when they, along with fellow CHIKARA lifer Orange Cassidy, jumped to AEW. There, Chuck and Trent have been one of the promotion’s top tag teams, challenging for the tag team titles multiple times and garnering a 5-star match from Dave Meltzer in their Parking Lot Brawl with Santana and Ortiz. As of late, with Trent injured, Chuck has been teaming with Cassidy in Best Friends’ feud with Miro and Kip Sabian. He was forced to be Miro’s butler for a time. They challenged Miro and Kip Sabian to a wrestling match via handwritten note like they were high schoolers asking their crush “do you like me?”
If his CHIKARA tenure didn’t make it clear, Chuck Taylor’s primary role on a card is as a comedy wrestler. He’s a goofy guy who names his signature moves things like Sole Food or The Awful Waffle and gives a goofy grin to the camera after hitting his Falcon Arrow. He calls people “Spooky Perverts,” and is best friends with a man who has Bill Murray’s face stamped on one kneepad. In other words, he’s exactly the sort of wrestler who names himself after a shoe and has to live with that mistake for going on 20 years in the business.
Chuck Taylor’s also shockingly hardcore.
Recall that I mentioned Chuck was a mainstay of CZW, one of the many who attempted to take ECW’s hardcore crown after 2001 (and arguably the one that most succeeded). Recall also that his 5-star match was a parking lot brawl. Chuck Taylor the character is mostly a joke, but he’s a joke whose signature moves include at least two different types of piledriver and whose best matches have more than a few hardcore bouts among them. As goofy a guy as he is, there’s a grit and toughness to the character that’s stuck with him for as long as he’s been a wrestler.
But if that’s all he were, I wouldn’t really be talking about him. If all he had were his invisible grenade spots and the Awful Waffle and a shockingly good record in hardcore matches, he’d be a great comedy wrestler but not as good as, say, Colt Cabana or Toru Yano. In wrestling, it’s said that the best characters are just the performer’s actual personality turned up to 11, but somewhere in his long, storied indie career, Chuck Taylor just… stopped playing a character. More accurately, after a career of doing gimmicks like Men of Low Moral Fiber with short-haired Kenny Omega and The Kentucky Gentleman, he took his real-life personality, and instead of turning it up to 11, he kept it at about a 5. He and Trent started calling each other by their real names (Dustin and Greg) and cutting promos like this:
In my view, Chuck Taylor’s character became that he was tired of being Chuck Taylor, but his name and brand have been so firmly fused with that name and character, he can’t change it anymore. Even when he and Trent insist on using their real names in their promos and merch, Justin Roberts still announces them as Trent? and Chuck Taylor on Dynamite. As someone who’s seen a lot of “meta” gimmicks through the years, I think that’s a legitimately fascinating take on the concept in wrestling.
There’s a promo from early January of this year that I can’t find an official clip of where Miro goads Chuck into agreeing to a match, and Chuck’s annoyance and fatigue in that promo came off as exceedingly real. He didn’t want to kick Miro’s ass; he just wanted this Bulgarian hypebeast to leave him and Orange Cassidy alone. You could argue that all wrestling promos should convey a desire to wrestle a match and build hype for that match, and by that metric, it failed. Chuck Taylor, the face, didn’t really want to wrestle Miro and just agreed to do it to get Miro to shut up, but as a fan, that weariness really resonated with me because I’ve definitely had conversations with people where I agreed to whatever they were asking of me just to get them out of my face. And that, to me, is what great wrestling promos are supposed to do. More than selling tickets or building hype for a match, it makes the audience feel what the wrestler feels, whether that’s righteous anger at a heel or triumph at finally winning the big one or, in this case, burnout from dealing with a douchebag. It was a small promo, which is probably why AEW hasn’t posted the clip anywhere I could find, but I think it really worked to sell Chuck’s character.
I don’t think Chuck Taylor is some unsung genius of professional wrestling. He’s never going to be seen on the same level as a Kenny Omega or a Jon Moxley. But I think that a lot of the more traditionally-minded fans and critics see the grenade spot and the physique and tend to write him off as not worth their time. Conversely, fans more willing to accept the sillier side of wrestling will focus on longtime friend, partner, and meme Orange Cassidy and kind of ignore Dustin. What I see in Chuck, however, is a consummate professional wrestler. He’s someone who gets wrestling as a medium’s primary purpose is: to entertain the fans. Whether it’s giving PWG one of its greatest moments by beating Zack Sabre Jr. for the PWG World Championship or teaming with The Swamp Monster, Chuck Taylor is a consistently entertaining performer with a decade plus of highlights and moments to appreciate. So check him out, watch his promos and matches. They’ll be some combination of silly, awkward, absurd, and occasionally badass, but no matter what, I believe you’ll be entertained.
SINGLES MATCH RECOMMENDATION LIST
huck Taylor vs. Ricochet Guerrilla Warfare (PWG), Chuck Taylor vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (PWG), Chuck Taylor vs. Johnny Gargano (PWG, EVOLVE, and DG USA), Chuck Taylor vs. PAC (AEW), Chuck Taylor vs. Keith Lee (PWG), Chuck Taylor vs. Trevor Lee (PWG), Chuck Taylor vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Samuray del Sol (EVOLVE), Chuck Taylor vs.Claudio Castignoli vs. Mike Quackenbush (IWA-MS), and Chuck Taylor vs. El Generico Street Fight (PWG)
TAG TEAM AND TRIOS MATCH RECOMMENDATION LIST (by Promotion):
- CHIKARA:Team F.I.S.T. (Friends in Similar Tights) (Chuck Taylor, Icarus, and Gran Akuma) vs. Team Uppercut (Claudio Castignoli, Bryan Danielson, and Dave Taylor); Team F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano) vs. The Colony; Team F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor and Icarus) vs. The Colony Hair vs. Hair, Team F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor and Icarus) vs. The Super Smash Brothers vs. 3.0 vs. The Future Is Now; and Team F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano) vs. Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada
- PWG: Best Friends vs. Young Bucks; Best Friends vs. Kevin Steen and Adam Cole; Best Friends vs. The Inner City Machine Guns; Best Friends vs. AR Fox and Rich Swann; Chuck Taylor, Kenny Omega, and Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Adam Cole and Young Bucks; and Cedric Alexander, Chuck Taylor, Jeff Cobb, Tommy End, and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brian Kendrick, Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, Sami Callihan, and Tommaso Ciampa
- ROH: Best Friends vs. Young Bucks vs. War Machine, The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Best Friends, Best Friends vs. Young Bucks, Bullet Club (Kenny Omega and Young Bucks) vs. Best Friends and Rocky Romero
- NJPW: Best Friends vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano, War Machine vs. Best Friends, Best Friends vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi, and Any Multi-Man Where Chuck Teamed with Okada
- AEW: Best Friends vs. Santana & Ortiz Parking Lot Brawl, Best Friends vs. Lucha Brothers, Best Friends vs. Adam Page and Kenny Omega, Adam Page and Kenny Omega vs. Best Friends vs. Santana & Ortiz vs. Young Bucks, Best Friends vs. FTR