Crusher Gary Key had the knack for being a heel, as a throwback to the days of Buddy Rogers, Baron Leone and Don Arnold. In fact, he may have very slightly resembled Leone in mannerisms, with a long cape and glowing hair.
Coming from California where he was trained by Jesse Hernandez and Billy Anderson, his first wrestling-connected activity in Phoenix was not an actual show. He came in with a crew to help take part in The Empty Ring play in Phoenix, which Superstar Billy Graham and Jake Roberts did in a church. He played a ":fan: sitting in the "stands" as Jake Roberts demolished Anderson and then went about to proclaim the joys of Christianity during this 1996 extravaganza, The stage play, actually held in one of the area mega-churches with a ring set up on the altar, drew some 6,000 people. This, however, is the topic for another blog on another day.
Key was back a few months later while making an appearance for AAA promotional efforts. He was seen on the opener in a big show held at the Phoenix Colosseum, Though he was the first match on the lineup, his was one of the better showings of the day.
Key would make other appearances in Arizona in the 1990s for varied groups, but the bulk of his showings were in California instead, where he received a bigger push and could unveil his talents as a villain