Justin Credible has seen the peak of the mountain top and the bottom of the barrel.
Born Peter Joseph “PJ” Polaco, Justin Credible has seen a rollercoaster of highs and lows in and out of the ring. From winning the highest prize in ECW to being an underutilized talent to his struggles with addiction. This is the surprising story of the rise, fall, and rise again of Justin Credible.
Justin Credible: Early Life and Career
He’s not just the coolest; he’s not just the best; he’s Justin Credible!
Justin Credible was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on October 16th, 1973.
Credible’s parents migrated from Portugal three years before his birth. He is fluent in both English and Portuguese. His middle-class upbringing involved him playing many sports throughout childhood and adolescence. Surprisingly, amateur wrestling was not one of them.
Justin became interested in pro wrestling around the age of 10. Witnessing Hulk Hogan pin The Iron Sheik for the WWE Championship made him fall in love with wrestling.
“When I was around 16, I would take the mattress off my parent’s bed when they were at work and use it to wrestle on. That didn’t make them very happy,” Credible laughed while sharing in a 2019 interview with Chris Van Vliet.
PJ began his pro wrestling career after reaching out to Bruce Hart.
Training in the Hart Dungeon
The legendary Hart Dungeon was no longer in operation then, but The Harts still ran a wrestling school in Canada.
The future Justin Credible saved up enough for the $2,500 class and a plane ticket and headed North.
He trained under Keith Hart and Lance Storm while at the school. Of the dozen wrestlers enrolled in the class, Polacco was one of only two to graduate.
Credible’s first handful of matches was for Hart’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Pro Wrestling promotion. After that, he could step in the ring with such talents as his main trainer, Lance Storm, and Chris Jericho.
After his time in Rocky Mountain, Credible would head back to the States and start appearing on some small indie shows. While he was grinding away, getting his career off the ground, he attended a WWE (then WWF) live event. This would lead to his first real break in wrestling.
His First Break in Wrestling as PJ Walker
“I just said, ‘Hey. I’m one of the wrestlers,’ and they let me through. I stayed and watched the whole show, and after the match, I walked up to a guy I saw in a suit and tie, and I shook his hand and introduced myself, and it turned out to be Tony Garea,” Justin Credible remembered.
Garea was a retired wrestler turned road agent for the WWE. He would tell PJ they would need talent for a new show they were launching called Monday Night Raw.
PJ Walker made his WWE debut on Raw, where Lex Luger defeated him. He would continue to work as an enhancement talent for WWE part-time throughout 1993-1994.
During this time, he managed to win over IRS as PJ Walker. He was hired as a full-time talent by WWE in late 1993.
As Aldo Montoya in WWE
WWE offered PJ Walker his first real gimmick in wrestling in 1996 as “The Portuguese Man Of War” Aldo Montoya because of his Portuguese background.
It was designed to appeal to Portuguese and Brazilian fans. The gimmick saw PJ in green and yellow ring gear with a mask that looked like it should have covered a completely different body part.
Justin Credible Shares Thoughts on His Aldo Montoya Character
Though maybe not as well remembered amongst wrestling fans today, Justin Credible still holds fond memories of his role as Aldo Montoya.
“Aldo Montoya was a great character,” Credible remembered. “It was the first time I got to be on national television, and I was very excited about that.”
He continued, “I think the Aldo Montoya character was unique and is something people still remember. It’s a part of wrestling history, and I’m glad to have been part of it.”
About the Aldo mask, he stated, “The jockstrap on my head was something that Vince McMahon came up with; he thought that would be a great idea for a mask.”
However, Aldo Montoya would not be long-lived. PJ requested his release from WWE in 1996 because his bookings were reduced to only twice a month.
This would turn out to be a blessing in disguise for him.
ECW Birth of Justin Credible
After his WWE release, Polaco was signed by Paul Heyman and would head to the land of extreme in Philadelphia for his ECW debut.
He first wrestled under the short-lived moniker of PG-187 before reverting to PJ Walker.
Then the trajectory of PJ’S career took off with the birth of Justin Credible.
At this time in ECW, Credible’s star would indeed start shining. With his kendo stick, cut-off t-shirt, jean shorts, catchphrases, and a new brash heel persona, he was embraced by the often hostile Philly crowd that loved to hate him.
Justin Credible would have his in-ring debut by defeating Jerry Lynn using his new finisher, the “That’s Incredible,” a Corkscrew Tombstone Piledriver.
He would then go on a two-month undefeated streak that Mikey Whipwreck would finally end. However, the two foes would have an intense rivalry afterward, and Credible would continue to climb the ECW ranks.
It was 2000, and next up for Justin Credible in ECW was the formation of the Impact Players.
This was the tag team of Credible and his mentor and trainer, Lance Storm. The pair would dominate the ECW roster in singles and tag team competitions. It wasn’t long before The Impact Players were two-time ECW Tag Team Champions.
This was only Justin Credible’s first taste of gold in ECW, as he would become ECW World Heavyweight Champion later that same year.
Credible had memorable feuds in his time in ECW with Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Jerry Lynn, Mikey Whipwreck, Shane Douglas, and many others.
According to Credible, this was one of if not the favorite part of his career. When asked about his run in ECW, he reminisced, “My time in ECW was the greatest time of my life, I got to work with some of the best wrestlers in the world, and we put on some of the best shows in wrestling history.
“ECW was a wild and crazy place. It was like a family, but a family that fought and bled together. ECW was a place where anything could happen. We pushed the envelope, and we broke the rules, and that’s what made it so special”.
The Fall of ECW
Unfortunately for Justin Credible, his stock was rising while ECW was financially declining.
Wrestlers’ paychecks were bouncing, and they would soon lose their TV deal and owner Paul Heyman.
Heyman would begin working for WWE as a commentator, and WWE would eventually buy out both ECW and WCW.
On the demise of ECW, Justin reflected, “There was a lot of mismanagement, a lot of money issues, a lot of creative issues, and it all kind of just came to a head at the same time. I remember times when we weren’t getting paid for weeks on end, and we were just kind of hoping things would turn around.
Recommended: 10 Wrestlers Who Turned Scraps to Gold in ECW
Back to WWE
In 2001, WWE rehired Justin Credible with a slightly watered-down version of his current gimmick intact.
He would go on to have decent success in his second WWE run.
He became part of “The Alliance” angle that saw former WCW and ECW wrestlers face off against WWE’s Superstars. He even won the WWE Tag Team Championships with “X-Pac” Sean Waltman as part of the X-Factor stable with X-Pac, Credible, and Albert.
Credible would also win the now-defunct WWE Hardcore Championship eight times.
WWE, however, never really saw him as a main-event guy. This, along with his growing addiction issues, would eventually have him demoted to small shows like WWE Sunday Night Heat before the company releases him.
He seems to have mixed emotions about his time in WWE as Justin Credible.
“I have no regrets about my time in the WWF(E). It was a stepping stone in my career and helped me grow as a performer. I was really excited to be in the WWF. It was a dream come true for me, but I quickly realized it was a political environment, and it was hard to get noticed.”
Struggles With Addiction
As with many professional wrestlers of his era, Credible would start using painkillers and drinking to cope with the pain and toll wrestling had taken on his body.
This developed into an addiction that he struggled with for years.
He has been arrested on multiple occasions, and at one of his low points, he was even filmed at a show inebriated. Worse, even he had been very vocal in judging others, like Scott Hall, on their addiction issues.
In 2018 he was arrested three times in four months on multiple charges.
He has been in and out of treatment programs but never gave up on his sobriety.
Very open and honest about his battles, he stated, “I’ve lost everything to my addiction. I lost my family; I lost my friends; I lost my career; I lost my house; I lost everything.”
He continued, “Addiction is a disease, and it can take hold of you and never let go.
“I’m not ashamed of what I went through because I know people out there are going through the same thing. I’m grateful for the people that helped me get sober, and I’m grateful for every day that I wake up sober.”
Losing His Home in Tragic Apartment Fire in 2023
Unfortunately, a March 6th, 2023, fire in a Waterbury, Connecticut, apartment complex caused four families to be displaced, including the family of former ECW World Heavyweight Champion Justin Credible.
Each of the families affected was provided assistance by the Red Cross.
Present-Day Justin Credible
Justin Credible is now sober and considered a legend by the ECW faithful and wrestling fans.
He has persevered through many relapses and setbacks, including the loss of his home.
Credible stays active on the independent wrestling scene after a brief retirement in 2015.
He may not get all the credit he deserves for his contributions. He has an autobiography titled “Just A Dream To… Justin Credible” for those who want to dive deeper into his life and career. His love and passion for pro wrestling are undeniable.
One thing is for sure; his journey has been just incredible.
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