James Goins, otherwise known as “Cory Kastle” to wrestling fans across the United States, was getting ready for one of his biggest shows ever when his life took a sudden turn for the worse.
On the same day Goins was to take part in a Pro Wrestling card at the Reading Phillies game last August, the Lawncrest native had a seizure in the shower, fell and hit his head on the bathroom sink.
“Usually what I do is, turn the music up really loud and lock the door. I’m home alone normally,” Goins said.
Luckily, he did not have his music on, and the door was unlocked during the time of the seizure. Goins said his mother happened to be home from work and found James wrapped up in the shower curtain on the floor, suffocating. She immediately called 911.
Goins was sent to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, where doctors found out what had caused the seizure. Goins suffered from arteriovenous malformation, or AVM for short. AVM is caused by a group of blood vessels that are abnormally interconnected with one another. Pressure from the tangled vessels in the brain can often lead to headaches, migraines, and if not treat early enough, death.
University of Penyslvania neurologist Dr. Eric Zager said Goins is now cut off at this point in his career, not being able to compete for another five months.
“Dealing with AVM, Goins needs to be out of work for at least a year, so he can certainly start preparing to wrestle again around August or September of this year,” Zager said.
Goins had to go through a craniotomy operation, where part of the bone in his skull was cut through, in order for the vessels in his brain to be untangled.
“A cluster of veins forms in the brain, which causes a bleed in there and patients have the craniotomy procedure to relieve stress, which can be life threatening,” Zager said. “I told James to prepare to stay in the hospital for 30 days, but he was walking and talking in no time, which was a great thing. He was out of there in four days.”
Some of the effects after having a craniotomy surgery done, include loss of hearing and speech, but Goins said he was lucky to come out with all of his physical attributes in tact.
Wrestling since the age of 15, Goins was in a spot in his career where he was finally catching a wind of success, before being diagnosed with AVM. “I was starting to get main event spots on shows, and involved with many of the major storylines with different promotions that I was working for,” Goins said.
Being the top draw, or moneymaker, for many of the independent wrestling promotions in Pennsylvania, Goins was to earn a shot at the Heavyweight Championship of Pottstown based promotion, World of Professional Wrestling, known as WPW.
Dedicating his life to performing, Goins started to look into another facet of entertainment. Because he won’t be able to step back into the ring for a while, Goins turned to a less painful way to entertain his fans.
Goins booked himself into comedy competitions since recovering from his surgery, including the “Suburban Last Comic Standing” competition, local comedians compete to be the funniest person in the Philadelphia suburbs. Goins competed in the final round of the competition on Sunday. Not expecting to even win the first round, Goins came in 3rd place during the final round of the competition, held at Jerzee’s sports bar, in Glenside, Pa.
“I’m just lucky because, some of the other people left are paid to do comedy, and to be in my position after what has happened to me is humbling,” he said.
Fellow professional wrestler and longtime friend Rich Feinberg was shocked to hear about his friend’s condition.
“I feel bad that he won’t be able to do what he loves for a while, but at least the surgery went well, and he is alive today. It could have been worse,” Feinberg said.
About 300,000 Americans live with AVM, and only about 32,000 realize it. Like Goins, people who have AVM are born with the condition and don’t find out about it until it shows up in their autopsy after they are deceased.
“It just so happened that I had the seizure and found out about it, but some people can live there whole life not knowing about it,” Goins said.
After a follow-up visit to Dr. Zager next week, Goins hopes to be cleared to go on with his life without anymore life-threatening trouble and come up with new material to showcase at comedy clubs around Philadelphia.
Matthew Flowers and Maryline Dossou are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.