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LI's Brian Myers gets up off the mat with Impact Wrestling

Brian Myers, known by many wrestling fans as

Brian Myers, known by many wrestling fans as former WWE wrestler Curt Hawkins, at his Create A Pro Wrestling Academy in Hicksville on March 21, 2019.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Like many other Long Island teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Myers is taking precautions to make sure his students are safe — or as safe as they can be while having their bodies pummeled by their classmates.

Myers—the Glen Cove native better known to many wrestling fans as Curt Hawkins— is the founder of the Create A Pro Wrestling Academy in Hicksville, where he and other instructors have been training future generations of professional wrestlers for six years. After being forced to shut its doors for more than three months, CAPW is back up and running with new safety protocols in place, including temperature checks of all students.

"It was frustrating for me, as an owner, because financially it was very difficult," said Myers, who tried to keep students engaged through online discussions and "tape studies" of famous matches. "I'm just glad to have a place where I can go and train and my students can keep sharp . . . The cardiovascular uniqueness of pro wrestling — falling and getting hit and getting back up — it's just not going to be replicated in any other workout. So that was the toughest part."

The temporary closure of his wrestling school wasn’t the only financial hardship that Myers suffered during the pandemic. After working for WWE for the better part of the last 14 years, the 35-year-old was released from the company in April as part of a slew of budget-driven roster cuts that included his longtime partner, Long Beach native Matt Cardona (also known as "Zack Ryder").

Myers said he was "shocked" that WWE would let him go, especially given that the company reported record profits during that same quarter.

"I felt like it was a pretty cold maneuver," said Myers, a two-time WWE tag team champion. "That being said, I don’t care. I’m not going to live in the past. And I’m a true believer that everything happens for a reason."

That reason became apparent in July when Myers, using his real name, joined Impact Wrestling and was quickly elevated to the main event scene — even challenging for the company’s world heavyweight title in August. Myers came up short, but he could get another title shot by winning a 20-man "Call Your Shot" gauntlet match at Impact’s biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory, on Saturday in Nashville.

The event, which will air live on pay per view, features newly-crowned champion Eric Young — another star picked up by Impact after being let go by WWE — defending his title against Rich Swann.

"I'm having a lot more fun and I'm surrounded by my friends. And they're having fun," Myers said of his new role on Impact, which was formerly known as Total Nonstop Action, or TNA. "It’s just such a much more healthier environment. And it's made me a happier person, to be honest with you."

Impact has taken on a new look and style since being purchased by Anthem Sports in 2017 and debuting last year on AXS TV.

"There's a lot there for a wrestling fan. I just think people have given up on Impact, because of years past. And we need them to find it again and give it a chance and see that this is a different product . . . There’s something there for everybody. So I can't sing the praises of it enough."

New York Sports