Chris Masters left his passport heavy with stamp ink once he left WWE.
India, Qatar, Canada, Tennessee, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom welcomed the powerhouse as he sought a pro wrestling career outside of the sports entertainment giant. The California native didn't stay in one promotion or one city for long, traipsing across the globe, a vagabond in wrestling boots.
During his time with WWE, he won no championships, challenged some of the company's top names from John Cena to Shawn Michaels, and eventually served a 60-day suspension for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. "The Masterpiece" never gained any real traction during his run.
His physique seemed to be borrowed from the ancient Greeks. He was improving in the ring as well as becoming a better showman. It wasn't enough to keep him on the roster.
WWE released him on Aug. 5, 2011.
From that point on, his resume became loaded with independent promotions. He worked for British Championship Wrestling, Qatar Pro Wrestling, Vendetta Pro Wrestling, Dutch Pro Wrestling and many others.
His journey took him as far as Pune, India. The second-largest city in Maharashtra played home to Ring Ka King, a TNA-backed promotion that featured a blend of Indian wrestlers and both TNA and WWE alums.
He introduced himself to the Pune fans as American Adonis. Strutting around the ring, he dared anyone in the audience to try to escape from his Adonis Lock. A folding chair awaited the brave in the center of the ring.
It was a segment pulled straight from his WWE days. This was the angle that Masters was most famous for with Vince McMahon's company.
He brought it with him overseas, changing only the name of the hold from Master Lock. A thin man in a red sweater got the nod this time. Master pointed him out and urged him to take his challenge:
The guy had no chance. This was instead a display of Masters' merciless and bullying tendencies, as he whipped the smaller man around. The story turned strange when a little person in gold chains with stripes cut out of his beard came to the man's defense.
After the kind of silly exchange one often sees involving Hornswoggle or El Torito, Masters tossed him out of the ring.
After a few Battle Royals and singles bouts for Ring Ka King, Masters' trek soon led him to meet fellow wrestling travelers. He battled Montel Vontavious Porter in the Philippines for World Wrestling Fan Xperience on Feb. 4, 2012. Masters collided with Val Venis in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and with Carlito and Shelton Benjamin in Mazatlan, Mexico.
TNA offered him an opportunity, but not a lasting one.
In June of 2012, Masters worked a dark match for TNA, a loss against Robbie E. Several WWE castoffs had found new homes with that company, but not Masters. His path was of the winding variety, taking him from the West Coast to the Deep South, the Middle East to Europe.
One of the places that he didn't just pop into was Preston, England.
Preston City Wrestling hosted Masters on several occasions, pitting him against Chris Hero (who WWE would later release from its developmental system), eventually pairing him with Dave Rayne as the Legion of Boom and having him win the 2014 Road to Glory Tournament. Some of his best work for PCW came against Kris Travis.
They clashed in a Last Man Standing bout, a No Disqualification match and a match that ended with Masters saving his foe from another enemy.
Below a ceiling dressed in a chandelier, Masters and Travis battled in front of a small, raucous crowd. The fans added electricity to the match. They roared every time Travis kicked his foe in the thigh and oohed when Masters hit a spinebuster:
Masters seemed to have a victory in his grasp when he delivered a German suplex, but the Englishman rolled through it and turned it into a pinfall for himself. Rayne then came rushing in with PCW's version of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Rather than watch his enemy lose his championship, Masters stepped in and prevented the cash-in with his trademark Master Lock.
A brief championship reign came later in his journey.
With the vacant Real Canadian Wrestling Canadian Heavyweight Championship on the line, Masters defeated Wavell Starr on Jan. 24, 2014. A tamer crowd compared to the Preston faithful, the folks packed inside the Glengarry Community Hall in Edmonton, Alberta watched on as Starr tried to use Master's own signature move against him.
It didn't work.
Masters broke out of it, applied his own version and soon stood between the ropes with a title belt in his hands. Subdued chants of "Masterpiece" echoed. Masters would lose the championship the very next night to Starr.
Life after WWE offered him moments of triumph like he saw in Edmonton, but they were of course under dimmer spotlights.
His odyssey proved circular when he began to work a lot of dates for California-based Big Time Wrestling. The promotion has showcased familiar names such as Bad Influence, Mickie James, The Honky Tonk Man and Chavo Guerrero. This is where Masters has spent much of his most recent ring time.
In May of 2014, he took on little-known Tony Vargas in a filled gym.
Fans welcomed the former WWE star by giving him high-fives on the way to the ring. The tattooed Vargas barked at the crowd, telling folks to shut up. Masters had to chase him around the ring as the heel hesitated when confronted with battle.
The crowd pulled for Masters to break from the holds Vargas put on him, to mount a comeback. He did both. Vargas escaped the Master Lock once, but not the second time.
The match's final image epitomizes the difference in telling a story like that for WWE and for the smaller promotions of the world. Exposed pipes curved above Masters' head as he celebrated in the corner. A single light in front of a basketball goal pointed down on his sculpted torso. A smattering of applause was his prize.
On the independent circuit, Master has found a home following the end of his WWE tenure. It's not as ornate a home, but that's expected.
It has provided an alternate path for him to walk, his location ever-shifting.
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