You've seen it on television in all its theatrical splendour but a Napier-born live professional wrestling promoter is bringing it to Hawke's Bay tonight.

"When I was a kid I loved all the fights and excitement on TV so I decided to give it a go when the opportunity presented itself in Auckland," says David Gerbault whose IPW (Impact Pro Wrestling) Centennial Brawl will begin at the Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre from 7pm with doors opening at 6.30pm.

The athleticism of the wrestlers and the code's "creative outlet" struck a chord with Gerbault after he had shifted from here to Waikato University and then on to the City of Sails in 2004 to live his dream.

The 39-year-old, who also will be on the card, is a former national champion who goes by the stage name of "Sir Mr Burns". His "hard-hitting, high flying, unpredictable" maiden event here boasts bringing the best from New Zealand tonight, including six former or current national champions.


"It's a bit of a big deal for Hawke's Bay getting this quality of show but also to have that training school, only the second one in the country."

Gerbault had opened the doors in Napier in July this year to his second IPW training school — the first is in Auckland. He has enticed 10 students, predominantly from Wellington, Manawatu and the Bay. A couple of outsiders have settled here.

"When I was growing up in Hawke's Bay I had wished there was something like a training school here when I was a teenager so I'm stoked to provide that opportunity for young people now."

He says the IPW schools have groomed Dakota Kai and Travis Banks who are currently wrestling for WWE in the United States or Japan. Another exponent, Toa Henare, wrestles for New Japan Pro Wrestling.

To add spice to the night, incumbent national heavyweight champion (140kg) Jamie Tagataese, who has never been beaten, is issuing an open challenge for his belt.

"Jamie is undefeated in a 681-day stretch and he's in line for an American or Japan stint," he says of the 24-year-old Aucklander. "It's natural talent to become a New Zealand champ in such a short time."

"The Deal" Dal Knox, of Napier, is in a co-main event in which the fans who buy tickets online can vote to decide if his match will be a submission match — that is, a "last man standing affair" or a "falls count anywhere" one.

"It's a wonderfully athletic form of entertainment so there's nothing like seeing it live in person because it's interactive and the crowd is expected to be part of it — to get involved, to yell, to shout, to boo, to cheer so it's a lot fun and a big night out," says Gerbault, a former Taradale High and Pirimai School pupil.


"I played rep cricket and soccer growing up here but took up pro-wrestling in my adulthood."

He stresses IPW is like most professional codes that embark on a mission to entertain with athleticism. Silumlation is woven into the performance.

Gerbault says it's a part-time sport because exponents tend to have jobs on the side.

"I used to work as a fundraising manager for World Vision."

He advises youngsters who have a passion for something to chase it. They can flick his club a message on Facebook for the next try out early next year.

He relishes his time in the Bay, especially this time of the year, when he also can catch up with his family.

He is settling here with his partner and her child.

Tickets will be available from eventfinda and at the door.


■ Jamie Tagataese issues open challenge.
■ Dal Knox v James Shaw.
■ The Young Nats (Sir Mr Burns, Nico Dandy) v Manalanche (Ben Mana, Adam Avalanche) tag team clash.
■ Alfred Valentine v Liger.
■ Candy Lee (ex-NZ women's champ), Jake Sheehan, Taylor Adams, TKD in four-way match.
■ "Rufguts" Roddy Gunn v Matty Short.