Darryl Peterson (October 3, 1961) is an American musician, actor and professional wrestler who wrestled in World Championship Wrestling as Maxx Payne and in the World Wrestling Federation as Man Mountain Rock.
Peterson became involved in wrestling in grade school when he transferred from football to amateur wrestling as result of a personality clash with the football coach. His amateur career was halted by a motorcycle accident in his junior year of high school. After playing a high school wrestler in the 1979 Buena Vista Pictures release Take Down with Lorenzo Lamas, Peterson married and had a child. He began working in the construction industry, but decided after two years to return to amateur wrestling.
Peterson earned wrestling scholarships to junior college and then to Iowa State University, competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In 1985 he was an All American and placed fifth in the NCAA competition. The same year he also won the Gorriarian award for having the most amount of falls in the least amount of time at the tournament. Every match he won that year at the NCAA's, he won by fall. After graduating, he relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. While working as a security guard, Peterson was introduced to professional wrestler Red Bastien by his wrestling fan boss, and decided to train with him.
Peterson worked for the World Wrestling Federation in March 1986, and put together the steel cage used in the main event of WrestleMania 2. With his training complete, Peterson debuted in June 1987 and soon after travelled to Japan to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he trained in the New Japan Dojo alongside fellow gaijin Chris Benoit for five months.
In 1988 Peterson developed the character "Max Pain" (short for "Maximum Pain"), a sinister, grungy, Jimi Hendrix-loving heavy metal guitarist. His original idea was "Lucifer Payne", but he felt that this was too foreboding. Peterson used the name "Max Payne", hailing from Hell's Kitchen, New York nationally in the US as well as in Europe and Japan. The character had a neo-noir look and feel, as far the live theater of professional wrestling would allow. The name Max came from the 1980s Coca-Cola spokesman Max Headroom, and Peterson later added an extra "X" at the suggestion of a friend. As of 2006, the darker Rock and Roll theme Peterson used is now quite popular compared to the flamboyant colorful styles used by other wrestlers earlier in Peterson's career.
Following a short stint with the Universal Wrestling Federation, Peterson debuted in the Tennessee-based Continental Wrestling Association. He quickly began pursuing the CWA Heavyweight Championship, and on February 8, 1988 in Memphis he defeated Jerry Lawler to take the title. Peterson then went after Lawler's AWA World Heavyweight Championship, but was unable to take the more prestigious title from Lawler. He forfeited the title to Brickhouse Brown on May 23, but won the title once more on June 27. His second reign ended on July 10 when he was defeated by Phil Hickerson.
Peterson left the CWA after a year before returning to Utah, where he opened his own promotion, featuring wrestlers such as Louie Spicolli. Peterson also made an appearance under his real name as a jobber in a February 1989 episode of WWF Prime Time Wrestling, losing to Bret Hart. After his employees began to leave the territory, Peterson applied for a job with WordPerfect. Soon after, he received a phone call from Benoit, who invited him to join an upcoming tour of Germany. Peterson received his plane ticket to Germany half an hour before he received a job offer from WordPerfect, so decided to join the tour. He spent six months in the German Catch Wrestling Association as Heavy Metal Buffalo, and won the vacant CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship on December 19, 1992, defeating The Warlord in Bremen. He vacated the title the following year when he returned to America.
World Championship Wrestling (1993-1994)
WCW booker Bill Watts was impressed by Peterson's amateur credentials, and hired him in 1993, with Peterson relocating to Marietta, Georgia (WCW was based in nearby Atlanta). Peterson's first pay-per-view match was the February 21 SuperBrawl, where (as "Maxx Payne") he played the National Anthem on his guitar before challenging Dustin Rhodes for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship, substituting for the injured Ron Simmons. After Rhodes locked him in an abdominal stretch from which he was unable to escape, Peterson pushed the referee over rather than submit and was subsequently disqualified.
At the June 17 Clash of the Champions, Peterson shot Johnny B. Badd in the face with a confetti gun (Badd's "Badd Blaster"), scarring him so badly that he had to wear a mask and forcing him to forfeit their scheduled match. This led to a match at the July 18 Beach Blast, which Peterson lost. They faced one another again at the August 18 Clash in a mask versus guitar match, with Peterson putting his beloved guitar on the line in order to unmask and therefore humiliate the mutilated Badd. Badd won once more and took Peterson's guitar.
Peterson took part in the WCW Jesse "The Body" Ventura Strongest Arm Tournament in late 1993, but was eliminated in the first round by Sid Vicious. On November 20 Peterson was entered in the Battlebowl, a tournament which saw randomly-assigned tag team partners work together in order to progress to the Battlebowl battle royal (the winner of which received a ring). Peterson was partnered with 2 Cold Scorpio, with whom he lost in the first round to the formidable team of Stunning Steve Austin and Ric Flair.
Turning face, Peterson formed a tag team with Cactus Jack towards the end of the year. At Starrcade 1993 they defeated Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce, and at the January 27, 1994 Clash they defeated The Nasty Boys. They faced the Nasty Boys once more, this time for the WCW World Tag Team Championships, in a Chicago Street Fight on Spring Stampede 1994, but were defeated in a brutal brawl.
During his and Jack's feud with The Nasty Boys, Peterson had become increasingly unhappy with their stiffness and insistence on controlling the match. During their brawl at Spring Stampede, (Nasty Boy) Brian Knobbs and Peterson did not cooperate on a fall, and Knobs broke his shoulder as a result. After the match, WCW President Eric Bischoff shouted at Peterson for hurting Knobs, and Peterson responded in kind. As a result, Peterson was subsequently buried. He was fired from WCW soon after, although he did help Jack and his new partner, Kevin Sullivan, decisively defeat The Nasty Boys with a well-placed guitar shot.
World Wrestling Federation (1995)
The morning after he was released by WCW, Peterson was contacted by wrestler Rick Rude, who convinced WWF owner Vince McMahon to hire him. Peterson was renamed "Man Mountain Rock" by the WWF, making his debut in February 1995. The Rock character was considerably more upbeat and less gritty than the popular Maxx Payne character, and did not achieve the same success. Debuting on an episode of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Man Mountain Rock played a large electric guitar shaped like the WWF logo. Rock would come to the ring during a commercial, with the arena going pitch black and ring announcer Manny Garcia saying "Ladies and Gentleman, Man Mountain Rock!" Rock would then play his "ax" (electric guitar) while pyro burst off. Rock would frequently state, "If it's too loud, then you're too old!" Vince McMahon, then a commentator, would often comment that Rock "rocked the house". In the latter part of his WWF tenure, Rock's music incurred the wrath of the veteran Bob Backlund, then playing the part of a cantankerous heel crusading against the younger generation, who objected to the music Man Mountain Rock was playing.
Peterson had suffered several injuries during his amateur career, and had hoped to secure a backstage position with WCW. When he moved to the WWF, he asked to be made an announcer, but his request was denied. His career in the WWF met with several disruptions, including a serious hernia, an addiction to pain pills and downers and a marijuana habit, which ultimately led to his release in October 1995.
While working for the WWF, Peterson filmed several hours of behind-the-scenes footage with a video camera which he often carried. Peterson often claimed that he would release a documentary called "The Thing that Should Not Be" or "The Real Maxx Payne" based on the footage, but never did. The footage reportedly contained scenes showing substance abuse and solicitation.
Max Payne lawsuit
In July 2003 Peterson filed a US$10 million lawsuit in the United States district court for Utah against Rockstar Games, 3D Realms, Gathering of Developers, and Remedy Entertainment. Peterson accused them of stealing his ring name Maxx Payne and his neo-noir theme for the protagonist of the video game Max Payne. The case was settled out of court.
Peterson worked briefly for NWA Mississippi in 2000, and on October 7 he defeated Bob Serio for the NWA Mississippi Taped Fist Championship. He later vacated the title.
On April 17, 2004, Peterson addressed an audience in the Schubert Theater at the Western States College for the Performing Arts in Gooding, Idaho, talking about professional wrestling.
Peterson continues to be involved in film projects.
Movies and television appearances
- Take Down (1979) as "Ted Yacabobich"
- Touched by an Angel (February 1, 1998) as "Cato"
- A Town Has Turned to Dust (1998) as "Pig Iron"
- Rogue Trip (1998)
- The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999) as "Muscle"
- Touched by an Angel (January 9, 2000) as "Man #2"
- Nobody's Baby (2001) as "Truck Driver"
- Paradise (2004) as "XL"
Championships and accomplishments
- Continental Wrestling Association
- National Wrestling Alliance
- NWA Mississippi Taped Fist Championship (1 time)