Meet the pro-wrestlers of Auckland (+photos)

By Troy Rawhiti-Forbes

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes is a Content Loader at nzherald.co.nz and trains as an independent pro-wrestler. Below he answers questions about the sport and here explains the pro-wrestling scene in New Zealand.

Herald: What exactly is pro-wrestling?

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes: Modern pro-wrestling as an entertainment form is an evolved form of the travelling carnival sideshows and the strictly competitive amateur bouts of the early 20th century. The modern sport took shape after the advent of television, as networks in the United States found that the pro-wrestling industry provided affordable content for the new medium. Wrestlers and promoters began to realise opportunities for gimmicks with broad appeal which would be used to put bums in seats. Eventually, the entertainment aspect became just as important, if not more, as the athletic contest.

Herald: Is it a sport or is it entertainment?

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes: Both. Pro-wrestling is alternately known as "sports entertainment" because it includes elements of athletics and theatrics. A successful professional wrestler is one who is able to attract live audiences and merchandise dollars. Attributes expected of a headlining wrestler include an above-average level of athletic prowess or physical size, and well-developed dramatic skills, including microphone delivery and a talent for spontaneous interviews. If a wrestler has mass-market crossover appeal, they'll be a superstar. In the world of pro wrestling, competitors like these come along only once a decade at best. Think of Andre the Giant in the 70s, Hulk Hogan in the 80s, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the 90s and John Cena in the present day.

Herald: How did a troupe come about in New Zealand?

Troy-Rawhiti-Forbes: Auckland's resident pro-wrestling "promotion" is Impact Pro Wrestling. The company was formed in 2003 by a group of wrestlers who had previously trained under the late Steve Hodgson at Mania, an Auckland-based gym which specialises in training female martial artists and stunt actors. After a year of fundraising, IPW purchased a custom-built wrestling ring and opened its training facility with monthly shows beginning soon after. In 2006 IPW achieved its first long term goal by earning a weekly slot on Alt TV's lineup. IPW Ignition airs each Thursday night at midnight. We have about 25 pro-wrestlers in Auckland and around 35 in Wellington.

Herald: How many people do you get along to a bout now?

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes: IPW attracts an estimated average of 150-250 people to each show, depending on venue size and location. Most independent promotions in the United States attract audiences of around 150 people.

Herald: Do wrestlers get hurt?

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes: Yes. Common points of injury for wrestlers are the knees, shoulders, lower back and neck. Muscle tears and ligament damage occur occasionally, and there aren't many wrestlers in the business who haven't suffered at least one or two concussions. There is always a likelihood of serious injury, and wrestlers whose careers extend beyond ten years can consider themselves fortunate.

Herald: Where can people catch a pro-wrestling bout in New Zealand?

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes: The North Island is very well served for professional wrestling. IPW covers the Auckland region and occasionally forays into Northland and the Waikato. Two Wellington-based promotions, New Zealand Wide Pro Wrestling and Kiwi Pro Wrestling, serve the lower North Island. There is no recognised promotion in the South Island as of yet.

The next bout is:
IPW Unleashed 2007

Saturday October 27, 2007 2pm. Doors open 1.30pm.

Freeman's Bay Community Centre

52 Hepburn St, Freeman's Bay, Auckland

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