Pro Wrestling Deacon of Doom: Rev. Brian Diggs
Talk about an "altar ego." Brian Diggs is a United Methodist minister who tried wrestling as a hobby and is now known as the Deacon of Doom. Diggs throws out punches and prayers, and has found a new way to share God's message.
(Salt Lake City, Utah)
(Referee counts man out, bell rings)
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "I'm a professional wrestler. My character is the Deacon of Doom. I think as a Christian minister there's always God work going on."
(Sound of wrestling match)
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "My name is Rev. Brian Diggs. I am an ordained United Methodist pastor in the Rocky Mountain Conference of The United Methodist Church."
(Music, Brian ambushes fellow wrestlers)
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "What I'm trying to do is to show that you can be a fun person and be a religious person. I have several props. My first prop was&ellipsis;I called it the Book of Doom, which is kind of like the Deacon's Bible. I would open it up and 'A reading from the book of First Concussions or Second Lacerations.'"
(Music, sound of wrestling match)
"I always introduce myself, 'Ladies and gentlemen, and now for the event you've all been waiting for. Tonight the Deacon weighs in at a heavenly 186 and three-quarter pounds of body, sculpted by the angels of heaven. I am the Deacon of&ellipsis;' And I hold the mic up and they all shout out 'Doom.' And of course they boo me after that."
(Woman yells "Boo!")
The Rev. Brian Diggs: 'I went through a divorce. And I'd always been a pro wrestling fan. I was gonna do one match. Kind of a bucket list kind of thing. Hang the boots up and say, 'I did it.' Then I had my first match and I realized that this was something that I loved. Not just the action in the ring or the character development and the entertainment. But I really loved the camaraderie with my wrestling buddies as well."
Los Mochis Paco, Ultra Championship Wrestler: "Deacon, he's a good guy. He shows you the right way. He keeps you on the right path."
Junior X, Ultra Championship Wrestler: "I know that I would love to go and, you know, like see Deacon preach and do what he does outside of the wrestling ring, you know."
(Rev. Diggs preaching) "When those people in John, Chapter 6 finally found the Jesus they were looking for, they were more surprised than they ever could have been."
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "Everybody within the congregations that I've preached at or served here in Utah, they find it (for the most part) pretty hilarious."
Woman leaving church: "You talked about Jesus and I loved that. (Thank you) How bout' that?"
Roberta Schamenski: "As a preacher he was fabulous. Very inspiring sermon."
Roberta Schamenski, Hilltop United Methodist Church: "It was surprising because you don't expect it&ellipsis;a pastor to be a professional wrestler, you know. Maybe a birdwatcher or a beekeeper, but not a wrestler."
(Sound of wrestling match)
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "I haven't had anybody come up to me and say, you know, this is un-Christian or you shouldn't be doing this, or pastors don't do this kind of thing. Generally folks think it's kind of a fun hobby. And in fact, many church people have come to watch me wrestle."
Topher Mehlhoff, Hilltop United Methodist Church: "I think professional wrestling is a legitimate form of theater and entertainment. So I'm cool with it."
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "You know, I don't really try to evangelize with pro wrestling. At least not in the traditional sense of evangelization."
(Diggs to friend) "Loved your Facebook post, bro."
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "I was just talking to one of my friends here who works here at UCW. And he actually Facebooked me and said ' Hey, man, I've been thinking about going to church. Where should I go?'"
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "I have gone to the hospital and visited and prayed with fans of UCW wrestling. I think of one man who's a veteran. He's in his 80s. And he was in the hospital, pretty serious condition. And his family comes to all the wrestling shows and so does he. Visited with him, had a prayer with him. It was the day of the show and he said that he had told the doctors that he would not be in the hospital today, that he was leaving, whether they liked it or not. And sure enough that night Mr. Westerfield was in the crowd boo-ing me like he always does."
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "I think one of the things that I'm most proud of to be United Methodist is our history with (besides potlucks), is our history with service. Wesley said, 'The world is our parish,' and we're gonna reach out to all kinds of people all over the world, doing all the good we can, to all the people we can, as John Wesley said."
"One of the things that I think is so important for Christians in general is to be friends with non-Christian people, or people who don't profess to be a part of any (quote) 'organized' religion."
Fan to female wrestler: "Why don't you go back to C Street?"
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "You know, one of the things I always say is that the wrong question to be asking is 'How do we make Jesus relevant to people?' In fact, I think we should turn that upside down and we should say, 'How do we make ourselves relevant to Jesus?'"
"Scripturally speaking, Jesus didn't walk up and hand out tracts, 'Here are the 5 spiritual pathways to&ellipsis;to have a more successful you as long as I'm your life.' He said to his disciples, 'Drop your nets. Follow me. I'll make you fish for people.'"
Deacon prays over group before match: "Let us pray. Gracious God, thank you for this evening."
The Rev. Brian Diggs: "He gathered a community of people together who followed him, who left their old life and were transformed by his grace."
(Roar of fans)
Steve Neilson says to group: "Get ready to rock and roll. I'm gonna turn on the stage lights."
(Voice of the Rev. Brian Diggs) "I'll be the champion God has called me to be."
Diggs says he considered other wrestling personas like the Archbishop of Anarchy, the Monsignor of Mayhem, and the Priest of Pain, but thought the Deacon of Doom sounded better. And he says despite the choreographed style, professional wrestling is dangerous business. Diggs broke his leg a few years ago in the ring.
2014 Update: Brian Diggs is now serving fulltime as the Director of the UMCOR West Office and Depot in Salt Lake City and can be reached at email@example.com or 1-801-973-7250. And he's doing sports announcing rather than wrestling. He says "it's easier to get out of bed in the morning."
This story was first published on September 26, 2012.