The First Match: By Johnny Starr

Written By: Johnny Starr

“I had no direction of character, no understanding of story, but I was going to hit that ring and do every move I knew!”

Look out wrestling world, here, we, come! There was just one problem, where do we start?? You see, we were still training 3 or 4 times a week, in ring, grinding to perfect our craft, the gym had made its way into our training program too by this stage, an often over looked yet arguably more important part of any aspiring professional wrestlers training routine, whether it be cardio, resistance, or strength training, but we were lacking the key ingredient, show experience and wrestling/working in front of an audience.

Back around this time, the opportunities were far and few between and there were very few professional wrestling promotions running in Sydney, or most parts of NSW and surrounds for all I knew. This was 20 years ago! There may have been 2, 3, maybe 4, promotions, running monthly, if that, fast forward to 2024 and there are that many promotions running on the same night at times! Some would argue how over booked/crowded Sydney is now in the wrestling scene, and it is a good argument to be had, but it can also encourage brands to be better and work harder, so I can see good and bad in it.

Back to my predicament, the good news was, this was about to change, as I was about to have my very first professional wrestling match! In a car park, outside my training school…

Whilst this has a very video game mode feel about it, it is quite common for many wrestlers starting out, to have their first matches in car parks, gymnasiums, basketball courts, halls, its almost a badge of honor, almost.

I cannot recall exactly how long I had been training at this stage, but I know it was well and truly 6 to 8 months in, maybe even 1 full year, but a solid 6 to 8 months of 3 to 4 times a week, 2 to 3 hour sessions as well as hitting the gym and trying to diet as best as I could at that age (more on that later, as this formed a big part of what I believe held me back, my own choice though).

So, I geared up to have my first match in the car park at VCW, with one of the other students, who was at the top of the class ladder with me doing my absolute best to topple him off. Like any un-educated rookie, I chose a random metal song I liked at the time as my theme (POD set it off, for those playing/reading at home) my attire consisted of a red bandana (because Vulcan wore one and he was my trainer, yeah corny but true) an Allen Iverson jersey, black oversized baggy parachute style pants, moron skater shoes and some home-made Hardy Boyz style arm wear, which was leggings I bought and cut holes in. I had no direction of character, no understanding of story but I was going to hit that ring and do every move I knew! What is funny is that I probably told a nice story of the 2 brand new rookies, vying for the top spot at the school, both equally as technically gifted as the other, however I had the high-flying advantage, and my opponent had the strength advantage.

With Vulcan as our referee, we worked probably an 8-to-10-minute match, with me going down to a sit-out spinebuster type move, that I bumped horribly on my upper tail bone…. but I got every move I knew in!! Hooray for me!

But I did it! My first match, done, dusted! Oh, and Mike and Chris did some rookie display thing, but anyway….

This was also my first exposure to the one Achilles heel in professional wrestling in Australia, ring crew. Yep, that’s right, the one thing everyone hates doing. If you are reading this, and you are a professional wrestler in Australia, Sydney especially, don’t sit there shaking your head, you know I’m right. Search your heart and soul, you know it to be true. I don’t know if there is ever a time have enjoyed it, but its part and parcel of what we do and will never really change, someone will always have to set up the ring and pack it down and tramp it to the truck, it’s the business brother!

But the match itself, looking back, formed a lot of who I would become now, once I realized, chain wrestling, an even start, a high spot, a cut off, some heat, some hope spots, false finishes then take it home.

In an ever-evolving sport or business, I still love this simplistic yet traditional approach to my matches, it’s just what forms me as a worker.

The one thing that stood out, I wanted more. It consumed my thoughts at work and anywhere I was, I was bitten by the bug, well, truth be told I was bitten by the bug well before, but even more so now.

Good thing I didn’t have to wait too long, as I was told we would be wrestling at an upcoming festival in the local skate park. The festival was called red 3, and I would be wrestling in a tag team match, against one of NSW’s best in Greg Stekker, my partner would be my trainer, John Vulcan Seru……what!

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