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New Vancouver Island school wants to help you wrestle with your dreams

360 Wrestling Academy in Campbell River helps recruits realize their sports-entertainment dreams
360 Wrestling head trainer Mike Becherer, ring name Eddie Osbourne, displays the proper way to do a spot, with assistant trainer Nolan James during class. Photo Edward Hitchins/Campbell River Mirror

It’s not exactly the bright lights and glamour of WrestleMania, but a mid-week evening earlier this month brought out some curious eyes to a ring on the north end of Campbell River.

The 365 Wrestling Academy celebrated its open house from April 3 to April 7, and founder Michael Becherer has a feeling that professional wrestling — much like a Campbell River Storm game in late November — can become a huge part of the city’s local sporting culture.

“When I started out, I had to move to Ontario to do this,” said the 39-year-old Campbell River native, who wrestles professionally as Eddie Osbourne. “So to be able to come back home and to be back with my family and to give back to pro wrestling, on my Island and in my city, is pretty special.”

On this particular Wednesday night, trainers Corey Van Dyk – known in the ring as “Haviko” – and Nolan James put the new recruits through the motions of drills and maneuvers they might have to perform in the ring, in what are known as spots.

“I have memories of a being a kid where everyone loved wrestling,” recalls the 37-year-old James, who is rehabbing torn knee ligaments and has been on the shelf for about 18 months. “Story lines were so interesting, and that’s what really hooked me. For me, it was more of the athletic guys that could do different things as opposed to out-powering everybody.”

Professional wrestling has roots in the sports world as well as theatricality. While the athletic abilities and maneuvers are very much real, the show, much like a live play in a theatre, is scripted. This isn’t the first time Becherer has attempted a wrestling school in town either, as Van Dyk was one of the original school’s first graduates.

“I’m just getting started in the training aspect,” says Van Dyk, who saw his first show in Campbell River, and thought having been laid off, he might give it a go. “I’ve worked with Eddie (Mike) for many years. His methods and the way he likes to train and I want to help him make a lot of new students wrestlers.”

With his re-establishment in Campbell River, Becherer hopes he can help the next generation of performers come from Vancouver Island in a few years.

“If you ask 100 people here in Campbell River that there was a wrestling school, maybe one or two might know. Those might be friends and family,” Becherer says. “It’s just getting the word out. I think we can have a great culture here, we can have a big family and grow more people into this family and this culture.”

READ MORE: Victoria’s Chelsea Green making Wrestlemania debut on Sunday night

Edward Hitchins

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