On August 1st, 2002, “The Messiah” William Welch headed to a place most wrestlers become accustomed to over the course of their career: the hospital. But his injuries were not the result of a wrestling move gone wrong. Rather, they were the result of a heinous attack in his home. Was this just a chance break-in? Or was it a hired hit ordered by a vengeful boss?
“The Messiah” William Welch
Xtreme Pro Wrestling had only been around a few months when William Welch made his debut for the company.
Welch debuted in November 1999 under a mask as “The Blunatic,” where he would lose a match to Nicole Bass.
A few weeks later, on December 18th, he’d debut a new persona: a holy man among the extreme known as The Messiah.
XPW owner Rob Black once described the character as a heel Jesus, and Welch quickly became one of the most despised villains and one of the most signature stars in the company.
When XPW "invaded" ECW Heatwave 2000, The Messiah stood with his roster mates and lived by his motto: "XPW BORN XPW DEAD."
By 2001, The Messiah held both the XPW King Of The Deathmatch Championship and XPW Heavyweight Championship while simultaneously holding the title of leader in XPW.
Many fans believed that The Messiah would be XPW forever, but everything would change just three months into his double championship reign.
Farewell to The Messiah
On August 25th, 2001, The Messiah was scheduled to team with Rob Black in a tag team match against Sabu and Josh Lazie. The rules set for this bout were if Sabu lost, he would have to leave XPW forever.
In the end, Sabu lost his job when he and Josh Lazie lost to Rob Black and… "White Trash" Johnny Webb?
The storyline reason for The Messiah not being involved in the match was shown in a video at the event’s start. The clip showed The Messiah (though many have claimed that it wasn’t really him) telling Rob Black that he needed to go back to Heaven and would no longer wrestle.
The legitimate reason behind The Messiah no-showing the event was that he had supposedly slept with Rob Black’s wife Lizzy Borden and was fired from both XPW and its parent company Extreme Association.
Initially, The Messiah refuted these claims. However, he would later admit that he did, in fact, sleep with Lizzy.
And just like that, the man who not only was holding two XPW championships but had once been looked at as the Tommy Dreamer of XPW was gone.
The Messiah would become a solid draw for companies such as CZW and EPIC Wrestling in the year that followed.
At the same time, XPW would anger fans with things such as a “buck naked” match between Lizzy Borden and Veronica Caine that no one could see due to the lights being out and telling XPW fans that legal action would be taken if they posted anything non-XPW on their site.
On July 20th, 2002, XPW hosted a show that saw Shane Douglas defeat Johnny Webb for the XPW Heavyweight Championship. At this show, word got back to Rob Black that The Messiah was in the crowd with fellow wrestler Sick Nick Mondo.
According to people at the event, Rob Black was livid.
It was just another night of playing video games at his home in Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, California when two intruders entered the home of “The Messiah” William Welch.
Welch would tell America’s Most Wanted in 2002 that when two men entered his home, he assumed that they were with his roommate.
"I even said, ‘Hey, whats up?’ and they even said, ‘Hey, whats going on?’"
As Welch played his game, he saw the two men pointing at him in the reflection of his television.
"In the corner of my eye, I saw them lock the door," Welch revealed. "As soon as I saw that, I got up. That’s when they jumped me."
It was a real-life handicap match, and when one of the intruders got Welch to the ground, that’s when he saw the other bring out a weapon scarier than any he’d seen in a match.
"I saw a pair of gardening shears," said The Messiah, "and my thumb popped right off!"
The Messiah would try to escape. However, without his thumb, he could not unlock his door.
The attackers would hit him with a chair and a fish tank before attempting to cut off another appendage.
"One of them got on top of me and started pulling my belt," explained Welch. "Now whether or not he was trying to cut off my [manhood], I don’t know."
Welch, fortunately, was able to fend off the attackers, and soon they were gone.
When describing the suspects to the police, Welch explained that they were both African American, in their mid-20s, about 6 feet tall, and weighed roughly between 230 to 250 pounds.
When America’s Most Wanted went to the offices of Extreme Association to get word from Rob Black, they would be locked out, and Black refused to comment.
Just 30 days after his gruesome attack, The Messiah was back in the ring, competing in CZW’s Tournament Of Death.
Welch would even cut a promo on his attackers and the person behind the attack at a September 14, 2002, CZW show, telling the crowd, "I am not saying who did this," when showing his missing thumb the fans, "but you know something? Everybody tune into America’s Most Wanted on September 21st. Maybe you’ll get a good idea."
Welch would eventually end 2002 holding both the CZW Iron Man and CZW World Heavyweight Championships and wrestle for many different companies before retiring from in-ring competition in 2011.
Welch is now married with two daughters and was inducted into both the CZW and SoCal Deathmatch Hall Of Fames in 2019.
Despite America’s Most Wanted alluding to Rob Black being behind the attack, Black was never charged.
He and Lizzy Borden would eventually be forced to shut down XPW when Extreme Associations was indicted on obscene charges from their adult entertainment videos.
When asked by Vice.com about the attack in 2014, Rob Black claimed that all fingers pointing at him was nothing but publicity.
"Wrestling is never what you believe," Black would say. "We had people who bought into the story and got publicity out of it."
The two men who attacked The Messiah have never been found.
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