|Meet Officer Colt Cabana|
|Written by Mike Kane|
In the 1980's and early 1990's, mainstream American professional wrestling featured an abundance of cartoonish characters. These included rappers and rock stars without musical talent, men who simulated poultry, as well as a supply of unlicensed dentists, plumbers, garbage collectors and clowns. One occupation, however, that wrestling took a variety of approaches on was law enforcement.
The men who have played these roles are compelling both inside and outside the ring.
Del Wilkes, a former All-American college football star and criminal justice major at the University of South Carolina, transitioned into wrestling and found success as “The Trooper”, a no-nonsense good guy in an era where the lines between fan favorites and the bad guys were clear. Wilkes worked as “The Trooper” in the former American Wrestling Association from 1988 – 1991.
When asked about The Trooper’s appeal, Wilkes notes that the character’s commitment to abiding by the law and willingness to do things the right way brought a positive reaction from fans. Wilkes also found fame working in Japan, where he worked for the legendary Shohei “Giant” Baba.
He initially brought The Trooper gimmick to Japan for a brief tour, but Wilkes said that he was too inexperienced at the time. He would later return wearing a mask as his most famous character “The Patriot,” and became a regular in Japan for some time.
Above: Scott Colton, a.k.a. Trooper Colt Cabana has taken up the tradition of law enforcement characters in professional wrestling.
But severe injuries led to both retirement from the ring and an addiction to pain killers. Wilkes “became (his) own doctor” during this time, leading to arrests and a term in prison.
Wilkes credits this time, as well as the rehabilitation and medical services that he received, as being instrumental to his recovery. He urges others facing similar problems to set and pursue goals and place their recovery first.
Wilkes says, “You can do it! It gets easier once you get a more normal life back again.” He now works in auto sales in his hometown of Columbia, SC, and is very happy with being home and working for a good company.
One of wrestling's most famous “heels”, or bad guys, was portrayed by the late former Cobb County, Georgia prison guard Ray Traylor, a man spoken highly of by his peers as a kind and generous person.
His “Big Boss Man” character was among the biggest rivals to Hulk Hogan during his run in the former World Wrestling Federation.
The Boss Man, who would also have runs as a good guy, passed away in 2004 due to a heart attack at the age of 41. Wilkes, who worked with Traylor in Japan, recalls Ray fondly. “He was a big ol’ country boy. He was easy to get along with, and hit it off with everybody.”
Most pro wrestlers make their livings not from television shows, but from travelling up and down America’s highways, and performing all over the world at independent wrestling shows and internet pay-per-view events.
Scott Colton is a 31 year old wrestler, entrepreneur and Chicago native who has taken on a law enforcement character in an interesting place: a wrestling league owned by the rap group Insane Clown Posse called Juggalo Championship Wrestling.
Granted, his Officer Colt Cabana persona (above) is a brutal bad guy, rivaling a character named “Weedman.”
However, Colton, whose weekly podcast, The Art of Wrestling, features in-depth discussions with his wrestling colleagues about their lives and dreams, himself has a positive view of law enforcement as well as of the face-painted rappers.
Colton says, “I've never done a drug in my life and I obey the law at all times because I believe in law in order. The ICP family has taken me in as one of their own and I couldn't be more grateful. They get a bad rap a lot and it's upsetting because they have a real positive vibe and send out a whole issue of positivity.”
Colton, the current National Wrestling Alliance world champion, is open to feedback from law enforcement professionals on how to improve his character.