Wrestling Journal Entry #4

Hair-Flipping DDTs when you don’t have long hair…

After going through the basics of chain wrestling, we had more exciting things coming up, like takedowns and the exciting high impact moves. I remember the first time I properly executed a single leg takedown, I gasped and dramatically threw my hands up to my mouth because I genuinely thought I hurt my fellow trainee. Leigh’s exact words were “You were doing well until that.” Other takedowns learned included an arm drag, a side headlock takedown, and a snapmare. I am quite the fan of a snapmare.

After going through some takedown revision, we were ready to learn some awesome high impact moves. This was the week I was most excited for. Some of the moves taught to us include a snap suplex, a scoop slam, a DDT, a standing suplex, and a hip toss. Of all of them, I was most looking forward to the DDT. As I performed my first ever DDT, my leg unwillingly kicked out and I delivered the move safely. Coming up from it, someone made a comment about how “my DDT looked like Maryse’s”, to which I followed up with “I’ll do a proper Maryse DDT next time”.

And I did. Complete with dramatic hair flip and hand gesture. I’m mildly disappointed that I wasn’t told that it was a keeper, but should I need a quick move to hit in the middle of a match, I am going to pull out my hair-flipping DDT like it’s going out of fashion.

Inspiration

SABLE AT THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2004

Surprise, surprise. More references to Sable.

At the mere idea that I could be a professional wrestler, my mind ran rampant with ideas for wrestling gear. I imagine that a character like mine wouldn’t wear the standard trunks, kickpads and boots, so I had to think out of the box to get my character through simply through an outfit.

Enter the Queen of everything, Sable. At the Great American Bash in 2004, Sable wrestled Torrie Wilson in what I think to be an instant classic, but that’s because I’m extremely bias. Here, Sable wore what I think to be the most iconic wrestling gear by any female wrestler in the history of any company. What could only be described as “a catsuit with a fur hood”, Sable donned a red and black long sleeve bodysuit with shorts that went up her butt, that had a large hood attached to it.

To make it better, the Queen walked out with the hood up, strutting with a confidence only she had, and then took the hood down whilst sexy dancing. Like come on. How can you top that? Soz not soz Torrie.

I had to have something like this iconic piece of gear. Enter Paradise Gone, a clothing label that I was going to commission into making me something equally as iconic.

My first APWG show and the merge into the main class…

Prior to starting at APWG, I had never been to an indy wrestling show before, so I had no idea what to expect. During my training, I was unable to make the first show I would’ve helped out at due to pole dancing commitments, but I was going to make sure I could attend the second one.

Since this business is all about paying dues and earning respect among those who have been there longer than you, us rookies helped load the ring into the truck, take the ring down at the venue, set the ring up, and also help out in any way we could during the day. The rookies also got to train running the ropes and taking the corners, meanwhile all I could think of was how this was my first time in a wrestling ring.

I know Kelly Kelly despised running the ropes so I was pretty scared to take it, knowing that ring ropes are basically wire covered in tape. And I understand why she hates it. Because they hurt. A lot.

As the show was beginning to start, I was in charge of social media (Instagram, more specifically) and security. Experiencing my first indy wrestling show as actually amazing. I enjoyed every second of it, made all the more better by the fact that I knew the people on the show. And, more than anything, it made me hungrier to get in the ring and perform in front of friends, family and fans.

My time in the introductory course was up, and it was time for the rookies to merge into the main class to learn some more and train with the guys who have been around longer. I was disappointed to see that of the 12 people that started with me, only me and one other guy Dylan hung around consistently. But the show must go on, and that meant more time with the more experienced guys, and more attention from Leigh and Diego.

One day at training, Diego made me do something I had feared doing: a top rope move. I can hang upside down on a pole with one leg five metres in the air and feel completely safe and secure, but leaping off the top turnbuckle which would barely be 1.5m off the canvas terrified me. We built a stack, did a crossbody onto a training partner, and then the stack would get higher and higher. I was in over my head, but the support of the wrestlers I trained with got me through it, and I was able to deliver convincing crossbodies, each from different heights.

– by Nikki

Wrestling Journal Entry #3

Bumps and Rolls and Wrist Locks, Oh My…

We were told on week one that week two (bumps week) would be the hardest training session of our wrestling careers. And to buy knee pads and also elbow pads if you felt the need. Like how else am I meant to take that besides “I AM GOING TO DIE”. After Bree and I went on a trip around the world (or what felt like it anyway), we finally found knee pads the day before. Which meant I was ready to take on bumps week.

Now that I look back at it, I shouldn’t have been so scared of taking bumps. In fact, I quite enjoy taking bumps if I’m going to be honest. But as I braced myself for bumps week, I was terrified. I was in on my own head, anxious, scared, and didn’t want to do it. But I did it. Back bumps, front bumps, flip bumps, handstand bumps, jumping back bumps, the lot. It hurt like hell. But the day after felt like I had been hit by a truck.

In the first half of my introductory course, we learned rolls – front roll, dive roll, back roll, left shoulder roll, right shoulder roll – and revised them a lot. We also learned basic transition holds from a lock up, including wrist lock, side headlock, hammer lock, rear waist lock, including how to reverse them.

One thing that I notice, and that will forever be a thing, is angles. As a wrestling fan, I thought you could just slap on a headlock and Bobsuruncle. But when you’re actually wrestling, you need to be wary of angles in the ring, and also the placement of feet, or footwork. Which makes sense, really. Why would you put someone in a wrist lock near the ropes and face the corner when you could do it in the middle of the ring and face the audience?

Inspiration

MY PARENTS

Growing up, I was raised in believing I could do and be anything I wanted. This is because my parents raised me well. They have never pushed me to something I didn’t want to do – well, besides play spot when I was clearly a dancer, but I have forgiven them for that – and they have been proud of everything I do and excel at.

When I first made the decision to start wrestling, I withheld that piece of information from them, fearing that they would say I was “wasting my time” or “you could be doing something better with your time, like pursuing journalism”. I think it was a week or two after my first day at APWG that I told them, and their reaction could honestly be summed up in two words: “Oh okay”.

Needless to say, I shouldn’t have doubted their unwavering support of me in everything I do. I can pursue this dream of mine because of them, and I thank them every day for allowing me to do what I love.

The day I realised I can’t punch to save my life…

After some bumps, rolls and chain wrestling revision, we began to learn new exciting things, like splashes and strikes. Some of the splashes we learned included a standard jumping splash, a senton (or for Dylan, the Senton of Death), elbow drops, leg drops, and elbow drops to the leg.

It’s now that I will mention what a keeper is. When Leigh or Diego or any experienced wrestler tells me that a certain move is a keeper, that means I did it well to the point that I need to keep it and add it to my move list. My first keeper was a leg drop, which was initially not something I had in mind of adding to my moveset, but if Leigh thinks it’s a keeper, then I will keep it.

Strikes week is easily described as the second worst day of training in a wrestler’s career. Basically, you pair off, and hit each other with different strikes until it’s time for the next one. Also we had Diego and Drew Fulton walk around and give everyone a strike so we could get used to it. The strikes learned were punches to face, chops, forearm smashes to the head, clubs to the back, kicks to the leg and the shoulder, boots to the face/shoulder, clotheslines, back elbows, and dropkicks. While none of them were keepers, I had good feedback stating that I had big body language, which would help with my wrestling down the track.

Also, I can’t punch. Diego’s exact words were “Throw a punch, Nikki!” to which my response was “I can’t!” Forearms? I’m good with. Clotheslines? Relatively decent. Punches to the face? Would rather die.

– by Nikki

Keepers added to moveset: Leg drop

Wrestling Journal Entry #2

My first day…

Words cannot begin to describe how nervous I was to start this journey. It was very out of my comfort zone and a small part of me wanted to turn around and go home. For starters, I am a bit of a germaphobe who doesn’t like other people touching me, especially if I’m not comfortable with them. Wrestling involves lots of different people touching you and there is no way around it. So you’d think I wouldn’t be okay with it. But I didn’t want to be a quitter, especially at something that is so me.

My wrestling journey starts at The Australian Pro Wrestling Gym, where the training is held at Fit 4 All Gym in Penrith, NSW, training with Leigh Leslie and Diego Retamales. I walked in and saw the advanced class training, and a bunch of curious newbies watching them, and again I saw another opportunity to turn around and leave. I was even messaging a friend in the carpark, asking her why the hell I was doing this. But Leigh caught me, asked me if I was here for wrestling. I nodded my head, and stood awkwardly as we watched these people wrestle around with each other.

There was no turning back. I was locked into it now. After the initial sign up to the gym and to APWG, it began. At the beginning, there were about 12 of us eager to learn. Leigh inducted us on the general basics of pro wrestling and also what to expect when it comes to indy wrestling in Australia and around the world.

One of the most important things I took from my first induction week was the etiquette of respect in the wrestling business. You don’t just turn up, wrestle, and then leave. You get to the venue hours beforehand, help set up the ring, and do anything and everything you can in assisting to make sure the show goes as smoothly as possible. Also, when you turn up to training or to an event, it is imperative that you shake everyone’s hand and introduce yourself if necessary. Again, not a fan of touching people, especially shaking hands because hand shakes transfer the most germs between people so this was very out of my comfort zone, but I had to get used to it.

We didn’t do too much physical work on the first day. We learned the basics of a lock up – again, out of my comfort zone, especially getting so intimate with someone I had literally just met – and also the framework of taking back bumps and front bumps.

Inspiration…

KURT ANGLE

In my opinion, if you want to be a great wrestler, you need three things: athleticism and the ability to wrestle well, microphone skills and cutting excellent promos, and a great character and the ability to play said character effectively. Kurt Angle had four of those three.

While Sable will always be my favourite wrestler, when it comes down to the whole package, I can comfortably say that Kurt Angle was the best professional wrestler to ever step foot in a ring, and will probably always be the greatest. People will argue and say that The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart are the best, and arguably so, but in my opinion, Kurt Angle trumped all of them. Kurt was well-rounded and was good at everything, not just certain things.

If someone were to ever ask me who my dream opponent would be, I would say Kurt Angle. He could honestly wrestle a broomstick and put on a five-star match. My favourite match of his would have to be him vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21. Watch it for yourself and try argue with me that Kurt isn’t the GOAT.

Stay tuned to my wrestling journal, as week two of my introductory course nearly made me break down in tears.

– by Nikki

Wrestling Journal Entry #1

This is the start of my wrestling journey.

You know me as having several different titles: blogger, author, pole dancer, vegetarian, journalism graduate. And now you can add another to the list: professional wrestler.

Come enjoy this ride with me as I take on one of the toughest tasks of my life, and enjoy every little moment of it along the way.

The backstory…

I grew up watching wrestling. The earliest memories I have of wrestling go all the way back to 1997. While I watched both WCW and the then-WWF, the latter was my preferred viewing choice. The earliest memory I have of WWF was in 1998 in what I thought to be a groundbreaking storyline – Sable vs Jacqueline over the newly re-instated WWF Women’s Championship. To me, Sable was it. She had the looks, the athleticism, the charisma – everything a WWF superstar needed. The fans loved her. I loved her. And I wanted to be just like her.

It was because of Sable’s influence that I finally decided to embark on this journey to become this crazy thing they call a pro wrestler. I will put in 110% in my wrestling training and nothing less will be acceptable. I will travel the world in my efforts to become the best wrestler I can be. And most importantly, I will become a WWE superstar.

Inspiration…

SABLE

As mentioned previously, my biggest inspiration to become a pro wrestler was Sable. She was originally hired to be arm candy, but her star shone so bight that they had no choice but to make her into the ultimate superstar. As she made her switch from valet to wrestler, she proved her doubters wrong by becoming a strong and powerful force to be reckoned with.

How someone could command the attention of everyone in the room amazed me. I wanted to have the same power as she did. Sable wasn’t the best “wrestler” by any means, but she will always be remembered as one of the greatest superstars to ever step foot in a WWE ring. In my opinion, if Sable ever had an ego backstage, she had every right to. She was, simply put, amazing.

What I may lack in the physical department – I’m not the most strong or athletic by any means – I can make up for in personality and character. Just like Sable.

The training…

I went on my two last US trips to try and find myself and figure out where I fit in this world. While I had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, and I did truly enjoy the industry, I never thought that journalism was my passion. It was something that I was good at, and that was it. And I had feelings that journalism wasn’t the right fit for me, so I took a break from it, worked a lot, and went travelling to find myself. When I got back from my trip at the end of 2016, it dawned on me that I was 24-years-old and I was still young and fit, and these were my “yolo years”. And the answer to what I was meant to do with my life was the same answer I had when I was seven-years-old: pro wrestling.

I had always wanted to try out pro wrestling, but was too scared to go by myself. I tried to drag friends along with me before, but it never worked out. But I was a grown ass man. I could make a decision like this for myself by myself. One quick Google search later, and I had stumbled upon The Australian Pro Wrestling Gym. Long story short, a few e-mails later, and I had officially signed up to an introductory course to pro wrestling.

– by Nikki