Written by: ‘Duke’ Kieran Burns, retired 20 year Pro Wrestling Ring Announcer
After continuing Ring announcing for AWF live events as well as doing NHPW shows in Perth and Supanova ComiCon events around Australia, my confidence had grown in what I could do and I really felt I was an integral part of the Australian Pro Wrestling scene. Being a ring announcer, you learn to not only control the ebb and flow of a live show but you learn the best ways to help get a wrestler over with the audience.
I was not just ring announcing but hosting the entirety of these shows and conducting interviews live in the ring as well as backstage for DVDs we’d produce. I was travelling, staying in crappy motels, sleeping on lounges of wrestlers after the shows and developing friendships with wrestlers right around Australia. I was fast losing count of the amount of road trips and plane rides but loving every moment of it as I tried to keep getting better at what I did.
I came to find out that Mana The Polynesian Warrior who owned and promoted New Horizons Pro Wrestling that I worked for in Perth, had worked out for 3 of his favoured and upcoming wrestlers to go to the USA and train and work with Headshrinker Samu at the Wild Samoan Training Centre and work on his WXWc4 live shows. Samu had taken over the Pennsylvania promotion of his father Afa The Wild Samoans WXW after Afa had moved to Florida. I was so happy that Tama, Percy T and Chris Cannon were getting this chance and I thought that at a later date, perhaps I could represent NHPW in a similar fashion further down the line. TNT and Mana had both prepared me well as well as getting to announce for promoter Adrian Manera on his WSW International Tours that had some of the best international wrestlers featured.
I felt I had good grounding to eventually take what I’d learnt overseas and continue to break the mold of what an Australian ring announcer could achieve. I had developed a friendship with Headshrinker Samu at Mana’s last show and had continued our conversations on line. In 2012 after much discussion with both Mana and Samu, they decided along with booker for WXWc4 , Supreme Lee Great, that they’d give me a chance to go to the USA and work on WXWc4s biggest yearly show, Sportfest, as well as a few other live shows. Samu would open his home to me and I would meet his wrestlers and trainees at the famed Wild Samoan Training Centre and this would provide me with an opportunity to sit under the learning tree, gain experience on overseas shows as well as taking whatever I could to make our shows better back home.
I flew the long plane ride to the USA , arriving in Allentown Pennsylvania to begin what would become a solid month of learning and shows. I’m not one to tell embarrassing stories but upon getting off the bus in Allentown, I was due to meet Samu at the Boston to head for a well needed rest. Not seeing Samu, I was approached by two Puerto Rican ladies who said they were going to take me to where I needed to go. Being naive and thinking Samu had organised alternative transport, I got into their car and we got on our way. After some very awkward conversation where I found out these two ladies worked for a strip club. I started to sense all was not right when I received a call from Samu asking where I was. I told him his two friends had picked me up. He then said he had no such friends and that I’d been picked up by complete strangers taking me God only knows where. I then demanded the girls drive me back to the bus stop who were initially reluctant.
Were they trying to rob me ? Was I being kidnapped? Who knew !!! I convinced them that my friends would be back there and that I could tell the car I was in and what streets we were taking so they drove me back. I got back to the bus stop to find a laughing Samu and him asking me what I was doing going off with two strangers, that I could have been robbed or killed. I still to this day dint know if it was a rib or that my naivety nearly put me in trouble (laughs). Needless to say, lesson learned !!!
After laughing off the incident back at Samu’s place, I got some well needed rest and figured it was all up hill from here. I would go on to meet Samu’s student at the school, work a live event on commentary featuring former WWE star Gene Snitsky and Samu’s brother Afa Jnr (former WWE star and former team mate of Randy Orton, Manu) and would gain an insight into WXWc4s live shows. The next weekend came time for the WXWc4 Sportsfest Show. This event was like their Wrestlemania, featuring a stacked card and some of the best of WXWc4’s roster and the best of the North Eastern USA independent scene. I was due to announce just one match which would be Sami Callihan vs ‘187’ Homicide for the NHPW Art of Fighting Championship. I’d worked with a visiting Homicide at NHPW in Perth and he held their title at the time.
We were both friendly so it was cool to see a familiar face and have him and Samu introduce me around. Other than that match, I got to do commentary with WXWc4 commentator Salamander Jones which was a great learning experience. Getting to know and see Samu’s son Lance Anoa’i work was also a reward as he was a 3rd generation wrestler with loads of potential. He is now currently one half of the MLW Tag Team Champions in a new version of the Samoan Swat team with his cousin and son of The Tonga Kid, Jacob Fatu and also Juicy Fanau. Due to doing really well announcing, Samu not only said he should have gotten me to ring announce the whole event but that he’d get me to co announce the next show with his current ring announcer Xavier.
We both had a ball sharing duties for the show and I quickly was falling in love with this opportunity and working in the USA . Towards the end of my trip, Samu said he was more than happy with my work. I fit in really well and staying with his family had integrated me into staying there really well. He invited to come back in a few months time to road trip with he and his family plus a host of other WXWc4 talent from Pennsylvania down to Florida to work his father Afa The Wild Samoans WXW Wild Samoan Tag Team Tournament .
I knew this was an honour and that it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Getting a chance to work for a legend and WWE Hall Of Famer was a chance to really prove myself. I’d need to go home and do all I could to return within 3 months.
Things were only getting better, my dreams were coming true…