Grappling for glory

Atherton wrestler Joseph Whittaker, who appears under the stage name Joe Vega, putting a chinlock on his opponent Kevin Lloyd
Atherton wrestler Joseph Whittaker, who appears under the stage name Joe Vega, putting a chinlock on his opponent Kevin Lloyd

A GROUP of grapplers from the borough are dreaming of wrestling fame and fortune Stateside after applying for a place on a top TV show.

Five competitors who regularly get in the ring at the Grand Pro Wrestling shows in Hindley are hoping to impress leading American company Impact Wrestling and secure places on its British Boot Camp 2 programme.

Kevin Lloyd from Golborne, Leigh wrestler Hamish Campbell who is better known to fans as Noah, Tyldesley competitors Alex Walmsley, also called Cyanide, and Lana Austin and Atherton performer Joseph Whittaker aka Joe Vega all travelled to London to try to impress the experts from across the pond.

The five were put through their paces for the first time at the York Hall in Bethnal Green and will now spend several weeks in the capital training and nervously waiting to see if they will make the final cut.

Wrestlers who are successful in the auditions will be flown to the United States where they will compete in front of the TV cameras to make the final roster for Impact Wrestling, one of the biggest pro wrestling franchises in America.

Grand Pro Wrestling media officer Kevin Moss said: “This will be a life-changing experience if they make it. They will get to experience life as a proper professional wrestler.

“Over here it’s more a hobby whereas in America you will get paid to do appearances, paid for promotional work and paid to train. It’s a case of goodbye to the nine-to-five job and hello to being a big star.

“So far it’s been a very successful audition, everyone has been speaking positively about the first event. They wanted to see how well the wrestlers could get their characters across, so they had them performing in front of a crowd and talking to through a microphone.

“They will get judged by a panel of three people too, it’s a bit like the X Factor for wrestling. They are probably a lot harsher in wrestling circles than they would be on TV though, there’s no Louis Walsh on this panel.”

So far the results of the auditions are being kept tightly under wraps, with Impact Wrestling using social media to warn people not to tell anyone the outcome of the event in advance. If the borough’s grapplers get through the gruelling audition process they will find themselves on television screens on both sides of the Atlantic as the boot camp will be shown on Challenge TV in Britain and Spike TV in the USA.

Further fame awaits those who make it beyond the competition as Impact Wrestling’s weekly shows are filmed in locations around the world in front of large crowds of devoted fans.

The five competitors will return to Wigan after their exploits in London to perform at the next Grand Pro Wrestling show, at what may turn out to be a night for bidding farewell to their fans in Hindley before boarding a plane to America.

The Thunder Brawl, which takes place at the Rose Club on September 5, will include a 30-person royal rumble-style match and an unpredictable bout involving British champion El Ligero against Tyldesley fighter Ashton Smith and two other competitors.

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