He grew up watching wrestling in Courtenay. Now Nolan James will be inside the ring Friday (June 24) when the Pure Wrestling Association stages a fundraiser for Comox Valley Special Olympics.
The long journey from spectator to competitor actually began with a long journey – the 132-kilometre trip from his hometown of Sayward to Courtenay.
“I attended the majority of professional wrestling events when I was young at the Native Sons Hall. My parents would drive my best friend and I down every time it was in town. It has always been a goal to perform in the town where I fell in love with independent wrestling,” said James, who is challenging Scott Steel for the PWA Pure Violence Championship tomorrow night.
“I grew up in a generation where martial arts was a big part of entertainment. From movies and television shows like Ninja Turtles to video games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
“I loved the action and excitement so naturally professional wrestling was always something that interested me. But it wasn’t until I was about 13 years old that I was completely hooked,” James said.
“That was when wrestling was one of, if not the, top-rated television show in North America. I was drawn in by all of these huge personalities such as The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho to name a few,” James recalled.
“Attending shows on the independent level definitely gave me a whole new perspective on pro wrestling. The way the athletes interacted with the audience amazed me, and to see people get slammed and defy gravity while jumping off the top rope and steel cages proved to me that ‘fake’ is not a word that should be associated with pro wrestling.”
After several years away from the sport, James’ passion for pro wrestling was rekindled two years ago when he attended a Vancouver Island Pro Wrestling show in Victoria.
“It blew my mind seeing how much independent wrestling had changed and how much more exciting and intense it had become. That night I decided that it was now or never and that I had to be a part of it.
“There was no training facility on the Island at the time so I would take the bus to whatever town was hosting a wrestling event and volunteer my time setting up the ring, working the sound/lighting and doing anything I could to help in exchange for a few hours of training before the show started,” said James of literally learning the ropes.
“In March of this year the PWA Pro Wrestling Academy opened in Campbell River and it was a blessing for me. I had already been having pro matches for a few months by that time but never had the opportunity to train in the traditional sense.
“Since the academy opened I feel my skill level and confidence as a performer has risen. I encourage anyone who has ever thought about training to check out the academy.”
James said the head trainer at the academy, Mike Becherer (aka Eddie Osbourne), has been the greatest help to his career. “He was the first person I met in the business and he introduced me to the people I needed to know to start a career in pro wrestling,” James said.
“An equal factor in helping me was the entire crew at VIPW. I showed up on their doorstep two years ago with no experience and what at the time seemed like an unrealistic dream. I did my best to show them my dedication by working hard and eventually they gave me the opportunity to make that dream come true.”
While he is still developing his own style of wrestling, James said, “I love the technical style of traditional holds and take downs. But I’m not afraid to climb to the top (rope) and punish my opponent with a bit of aerial offence.”
James’ signature finishing move is The Blue Thunder Powerbomb. “It’s gotten the job done in the past, but I know Scott Steel. He has an impressive style himself and is very quick. So I’m going to have to wear him down before I can catch him with a move that big.”
James knows he will have lots of folks in his corner on Friday. “My friends and family have been very supportive as I’ve been reaching for my goals. I don’t know if I could have gotten as far as I have without them,” he said.
For those wishing to cheer James on in his Comox Valley debut and support local Special Olympics, doors at the K’omoks Band Hall open at 7 p.m. and the bell rings for the first match at 7:30 p.m.
PINFALLS Advance tickets are at the Goat 98.9FM in Courtenay … more info is at www.canadianprowrestling.com … a portion of every ticket sold goes to CVSO, plus 50 per cent of the proceeds … the main event will see BJ Laredo try to wrestle the PWA British Columbia Championship away from Krofton … for details about the Campbell River wrestling academy click www.pwacanada.com or contact Becherer at 519-998-8799 or email@example.com …