Headlocks And Hammerlocks Meant Something, By Johnny Starr

By Johnny Starr

“Headlocks and Hammerlocks meant something.”

Welcome back wrestling fans, The Purest, Johnny Starr here, and last time I left you, I was about to turn my wrestling dream into a reality.

So, there I was, gazing in awe at my first real wrestling ring I had seen in person, what was the next step? Get in that ring and make it real!

The next week, I returned to Vulcans Pro-Wrestling School with one goal, to sign up and become the best thing in Professional Wrestling! Nothing would get in my way (uhh except myself, but that is a story for later).

I made my enquiries at the front desk with an extremely welcoming lady. “Hi, I’m here to enquire about the Wrestling School?” Oh, that is great, hang on one moment”. The lady turned and yelled out into a back office, “John, someone is here about the wrestling school.”

Now I haven’t met many “celebrities “or “TV stars” in my life, especially at the age of 16, so even though I was familiar with who Vulcan was through TV, I still wasn’t expecting the shock I got when he walked out from his office and over to me……I don’t think I had met a human being his size before!

I would be lying if I said my legs did not go a little weak through some sort of fear, or anxiousness, mixed with excitement. Here I was, 16 years old, curly hair, big baggy pants, 5 foot 2, 55kg standing in front of over 6 feet of Fijian muscle, and I MEAN, MUSCLE, HE WAS HUGE! Long dreads and a menacing look on his face. John “Vulcan” Seru, the man who would become my trainer for the next 5 to 10 years, and a man I have known since I was 16, although, I told him I was 18 out of fear of not being able to sign up, sorry John.

We spoke briefly, well, I squeaked out answers to his questions, and was told to come back for a beginner try out a few nights later.

Vulcan’s history in professional wrestling, for those that do not know, is that he was trained at the Malenko Academy in Florida, which meant he held an extremely high regard for chain wrestling and storytelling, and still does till this day. All those that train there now, and did train there, know that headlocks and hammerlocks mean, or meant something to him, more so than any flashy high spot or one-off move that some would say, is not professional wrestling. Most people can do a move or a high spot, but can they utilize professional wrestling holds and techniques, to tell the beautiful story of the squared circle? I think it is a lost art these days. In-fact, I hold my head high knowing that chain wrestling and the techniques I learnt at VCW (Vulcans Pro Wrestling School) shaped and molded who I am now, and all these years later, I am extremely proud of my style and how I wrestle. It took me a while to accept that like there are many different flavours’ of ice cream people like, there are many different styles of professional wrestling people like. The traditional/ chain wrestling style I was taught, is who I am, and will never change, and that is something of which I am incredibly proud.

It is funny though, because when I first started, I couldn’t wait to rip into Hurricanranas and flying head scissors and top rope cross bodies, all of which I would rip into eventually, and would help shape my fist character, but what I valued most without knowing, was the simplistic yet emotional art of storytelling through, well, wrestling.

The first 6 to 8 months of training consisted of “just wrestle” and “squats, sit ups and pushups” as well as regular strength training. Taking bumps and rolls/tumbling was a staple of training, and how we started every night, after our pushups, sits up and quats. I was quite lucky, having a background in Judo, allowed me to adapt very quickly to tumbling, bumping and general movement in ring, which is so critical in this business. If you ask me, I do not know if many students would have the patience to persist with a curriculum like that these days. I tell ya, If I had a dollar for every time, I heard John say, “do it again” or “ok now reverse” (which meant if you gave the headlock takedown previously for example, you would now be the one taking it).

But for 2 to 3 hours, every night in that ring, we would chain wrestle over and over and over and over, again, until it became so smooth and consistent, that we were wrestling on feel, no talk, just pure feel, and body language. I know that training has evolved so much over time and the level of trainers is extremely high, but I find a significant difference in modern wrestling to a more traditional approach, is the ability to “work” and just wrestle. That said, I again acknowledge the different flavours’ mentality, and I respect that, this is just my story, my flavour and my take on the business I love and have been apart of for over 20 years now.

Oh, did I mention along side me this whole time, was my best friend, current tag team partner and soon to be, PWA champion, Mike Valuable? Along side him, was another who shared our vision, who is now retired, his name was The Iron Horse, Chris Kay, and together, all 3 of us, were ready to take NSW, Australia, and maybe even the USA, by storm……

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