Given his appearances on Zack Ryder’s “Z! True Long Island Story,” it was only a matter of time before Dennis Haskins appeared in a pro wrestling ring.
The actor who played Principal Mr. Belding on the TV sitcom “Saved by the Bell” made his debut at the Pro Wrestling Syndicate’s “Saved by the Ring Bell” show last month in Rahway, N.J.
Haskins, the Big Bopper, not only served as the guest commissioner and enforcer but also delivered a “Stone Cold” stunner to wrestler Devon Moore after the main event between PWS champ Kevin Matthews and Sami Callihan.
The beloved television principal felt the deviant deserved something far worse than a week of detention. The move made headlines. Not bad for his first time.
“I have Zack Ryder to thank for my pro wrestling debut,” Haskins said. “Zack used to train with Pro Wrestling Syndicate a long time ago. Pat Buck, who is one of the partners down there, is a friend of his. He asked if I was interested, and I said, ‘Sounds like fun to me.’ I also knew the Big O was going to be there, from the “Z! True Long Island Story.”
“Plus, I found out that Velvet Sky was going to be there, and she and I had been in touch with each other. So it sounded like a lot of fun and something I had a lot of fun doing. I’m a fan of wrestling. The real icing on the cake was meeting Matt Hardy and finding out that we are from the same neck of the woods. He’s from North Carolina, and I’m from Tennessee, so it turned out to be a great night.”
Haskins made sure to arrive at the venue early and was open to ideas concerning his involvement in the night’s proceedings. He says it was Matthews who taught him the stunner earlier in the day.
“I wanted to make sure I understood what they wanted from me and what the night was going to be,” he said. “One of the wrestlers who help with a lot of the work asked me if I wouldn’t mind throwing a stunner. I said, ‘Wow, I don’t know. Show me what I have to do.’ I tried it, and people who were around the ring watching was saying, ‘Don’t practice anymore. Don’t do it anymore. Wait until tonight.’ It worked out alright.”
What made it even more memorable was Haskins came in a suit. He didn’t expect to get physically involved, as he was booked in the authority figure role. When it came time to do his job, Haskins wasn’t above getting physically involved. After all, you’re talking about a guy who once broke up a fight between AC Slater and Zack Morris at the fictional Bayside High.
“I had to settle a dispute between two of the wrestlers,” Haskins said. “I ended up being the guest enforcer for their match later. Then, in the middle of the night there was a time match with Matt Hardy and his opponent Tony Neese, who is a real good guy out of TNA. They ran out of time right at the end of the match when there was almost going to be a pin. I said, ‘Come on. You have to great wrestlers here. Matt, you want to wrestle? Tony, you want to wrestle? Ring the bell. Let’s keep this thing going.’ Fans were chanting five more minutes, and it was really a great match. It was kind of fun to be the guy who got to extend it.
“Then at the end of the main event, there wasn’t a winner. However, the heels (bad guys) started picking on the faces (good guys). I had to get reinforcements in the back, which included Big O and Tony and a couple of the guys. At the end, they wouldn’t stop. They were finishing him off. I said, ‘You know what? Let’s finish this thing.’ Then I gave him the stunner.”
Haskins was impressed by the operations of his first independent wrestling show and the passion to entertain.
“I thought they did a great job all around. I got to say this wasn’t WWE, but there were several former WWE wrestlers involved like Matt Hardy. All these men and women involved love wrestling. We had like 1,000 people there, which was a big plus for them. I found out that their website hits went from 3,500 to 10,000 as a result of my being there. Everyone there was there because they love pro wrestling, and they wanted to see good matches. That is what they got, and they got me as a bonus. I was telling someone the other day that I went just to have a good time, and the whole world found out.”
The stunner generated a ton of buzz, but Haskins hasn’t heard from the originator of the movie, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
“Let’s hope he doesn’t get mad at me for using his move because I have a lot of respect for ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin,” Haskins said. “He led the way and set the tone. It was paying homage to him.”
Since the appearance, Haskins has received interest about appearing at more wrestling shows.
“I told them to give it a little time, and we will see what works,” Haskins said. “I didn’t start all this. I went on Zack Ryder’s Z! True Long Island Story and the fans were starting to push for me to be the new general manager of Raw because they didn’t like John Laurinaitis.
“He became a fantastic heel. Those guys are on the road five or so days a week, and my passion is to act. This is like a bonus for me to do this every once in a while. If I get to do this every once in a while again, that would be fun, knowing that my main thing is to act. I was on ‘Mad Men’ this year. I was on ‘Victorious.’ I was on ‘Young and the Restless’. I did a movie with Jon Lovitz. It was really fun to do.
“The fans know I’m a true wrestling fan, that I’m not a mark who is trying to make something off of them. The best compliment I got the whole night was from Matt Hardy, who put out a tweet that in my heart I’m one of the boyz. He spelled it b-o-y-z. As fans may or may not know, the wrestlers are called ‘the boys.’ I got chills from that. What a really nice thing to say. I’m out of shape and 61, but it’s pretty cool to be able to do things like this.”
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• For information on Pro Wrestling Syndicate, visit www.ProWrestlingSyndicate.com.