Wrestler Damian Chambers prepares to drop ‘the bull killer’ on an unsuspecting Arnold

The Columbus-born athlete will participate in a handful of events during this weekend's Arnold Sports Festival, including the Impact Wrestling Gut Check on Sunday

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Damian Chambers

Amateur pro wrestler Damian Chambers has developed a devastating finishing move. 

Known as the ushigoroshi, it’s essentially a modified standing suplex, with Chambers hoisting his opponent up on his shoulders and then driving them down toward the ground, bringing the back of their neck down on top of his knee. According to Chambers, the highly technical move was developed by Japanese pro wrestler Hirooki Goto, who first unleashed it in a match against Hiroyoshi Tenzan, known as “The Raging Bull." (Tenzan was injured in the process, and ushigoroshi translates roughly to “bull killer”). 

“You want to make sure that you’re protecting everybody as best as you can, but you also have to put some stank behind it, too,” said the Columbus-born Chambers, 32, who will participate in a handful of wrestling events at the Arnold Sports Festival this weekend, including the Impact Wrestling Gut Check, set to take place at the Columbus Convention Center Hall B on Sunday, March 6. “A big part of wrestling is trust, whether you’re trusting yourself or trusting the other person. You have to figure out what your body is capable of, or you have to train your body to become capable of those things.”

The ushigoroshi is a move that would have been unthinkable for the wrestler to attempt even just two-and-a-half years ago, when Chambers started training in earnest at Rockstar Pro Wrestling in Dayton, Ohio. At the time, Chambers was still playing semi-pro rugby, and he was initially uncertain about making the pivot to a different sport. But the love for wrestling, initially sparked when Chambers discovered the WWE at age 7, rekindled when he joined his brother in attendance at a live WWE event at Nationwide Arena three years ago.

“We went, and I immediately fell in love with it again,” said Chambers, who recalled watching wrestlers such as the Undertaker and Ronda Rousey grapple on that night in Columbus. “After that happened, my brother drilled it into me for six months straight, like, ‘Hey, man, let’s go do this.’ … And it took me a little bit of time, because I wasn’t done with rugby yet. But then eventually, one day I was like, ‘Alright, let’s do this.’”

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When Chambers started training, he was told it would be a solid year before he could compete in a live match in the ring, a time in which he was expected to master the basics, such as how to grapple, roll and “bump,” or fall, with the correct technique. But Chambers, aided by his background in athletics (he grew up playing football and wrestling, in addition to the years spent on the rugby pitch, which included suiting up for Ohio State in college), proved a quick study, earning his first opportunity to step into the ring just six months into training, on Dec. 27, 2019.

Chambers said he still gets nervous before every match, but he’s now developed a trigger that helps him find the needed focus in the form of his introduction music: “You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)” by Bullet for My Valentine. Of course, he hadn’t yet developed that switch prior to his first match, when he was ushered into the ring by what he described as “this ‘Godfather’-esque music." (Chambers is Italian, and his wrestling buddies introduced the soundtrack as a means to rib him.)

“I was just like, ‘What is this?’ And I couldn’t get any of the nerves to go away,” Chambers said, and laughed. “But after the match started, the training kicked in for me, and I was able to take what I learned and just translate it. But I’m sure it was not good.”

In professional wrestling, developing an in-ring persona can be every bit as vital as mastering technique, with perspectives often pursuing one of two routes: becoming a heel (villains such as Andre the Giant, the Million Dollar Man and Kane) or a face (heroes such as Hulk Hogan, the Rock and Rey Mysterio). Chambers, though, sounded less concerned with theatrics and choosing a particular heel/face route, recalling a fondness for wrestlers such as Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero, who made a mark on the sport through some combination of physicality, technique and intensity.

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“The athletic side of things was never an issue for me … but the performing part took a little more time, and I’m still not great,” said Chambers, who has, on occasion, practiced making faces at home in the mirror, perfecting looks that can better sell the moment to those seated in the back of a gymnasium. “When I was on the rugby field, I was really good at channeling anger and aggressiveness, so that’s how I portray myself in the ring. When it’s go time, it’s freaking go time, and I’m not standing down from anybody, just like I never stood down from anybody playing rugby. … Basically, what I do is turn myself up to 12.”

While Chambers initially hesitated on switching over to wrestling, prodded to give it a go by his brother, who has since quit the sport, he’s since dedicated himself fully to the pursuit, often getting in the ring three days a week in addition to tailoring everything from his workout regimen (he’s in the gym six days, and does yoga on at least three) to his diet, describing eating as “a full-time job.” “I eat five meals a day, so I’m always cooking,” said Chambers, who started the morning of our interview with an omelet consisting of five egg whites and two whole eggs cooked up with spinach, garlic, onion and tomato and eaten alongside a couple of ounces of raspberries and some almonds. 

Coming into wrestling, Chambers had relatively modest goals. But, weighing the growth he’s shown in the ring over the last couple of years, he’s started to establish some bigger career aims. 

“I want to be seen as a guy who can do it all. I want to be able to talk at anybody. I want to be able to wrestle with the best. As for the platform I do that on? Impact would be a huge goal for me,” said Chambers, who will have his shot this weekend, with Gut Check serving as an audition for the league. “Japan would be a huge goal for me. Mexico would be a goal for me. All Elite Wrestling, maybe that will someday be a goal for me. WWE, who knows? Maybe that’s an eventual goal for me. I have little, tiny goals, and then I try to build up to bigger ones. … I’m not where I want to be yet, so I need to keep working my hardest to get there.”