“Shakespeare with violence”

“Shakespeare with violence”

Graham Hughes stands over Lance Havoc at a recent wrestling event in Auckland. Hughes will be competing at Ngaio Town Hall on Friday. BY MANIACS UNITED

Ngaio Town Hall will be the epicentre of New Zealand wrestling tomorrow as New Zealand Wide Pro Wrestling hosts some of the country’s top wrestlers.

Chief wrestling officer Phil Woodford said the event would feature a number of entertaining matches.

“From 7 pm there will be four singles matches, a girl’s tag-team match, and then the main event is going to be a battle royale for the He Toa Cup which will consist of 10-12 guys in the ring.

“To eliminate someone [in the battle royale] you have to throw someone over the top rope, and both of their feet has to touch the floor. The winner is the last man standing.”

The current He Toa Cup champion, Kartik from the Hughes Academy of Professional Wrestling in Auckland, will defend his title.

Woodford admits that audiences are usually a little surprised when they witness their first wrestling event.

“Of the New Zealand crowds, they’re a little bit stand-offish at first because they aren’t used to going to something where you are actively encouraged to cheer, boo, and interact with everybody.

“If you go to a rugby match, everyone stands there and claps politely when a try is scored, but in wrestling, it’s like going to a play where the actors will yell at you, and you’re encouraged to yell at them.

“It’s like Shakespeare with violence.”

English born wrestler Graham Hughes, who is also known as ‘The Standard Hero”, will be one of the wrestlers showcasing his skills on Friday.

Hughes has been wrestling for nearly 18 years and got into the sport by chance. “I was really lucky. My sister was doing dancing, and when my dad was waiting for her he saw a wrestling ring in the building, and he went and inquired.

“It ended up being one of the most prestigious training schools in the world at that time, called the Frontier Wrestling Alliance Academy, based in Portsmouth, England.”

“I was a little bit too young to start training, but they let me anyway when I was 15.”

After years of competing as Hughes has suffered his fair share of serious injuries, however, his passion has never wavered.

“When you look at it from the outside, you probably think, gosh, these people are nuts! Even after 18 years in the business I still get goosebumps when I walk through the curtains. Hearing the crowd boo or hearing the crowd cheer it’s just stronger than any drug. It’s such a rush. Iit’s almost impossible to step away.”

Tickets will be sold at the door for $20, or $17 through the Eventfinda website.


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