Wrestling enthusiasts in Surrey have a new home to learn their craft and an opportunity to study under Gorgeous Michelle Starr, a local legend with 25 years of wrestling experience under his belt and the head of All Star Wrestling.
The organization's wrestling school, the In-Pain Asylum, now operates out of Suitela Fight Club in Newton, at #20-12468 82nd Ave. It originally opened in 1999 as the House of Pain in Langley and later moved to a kickboxing studio in Whalley and more recently in the Bridgeview area.
Early this year, after a few months of onand-off training, the school needed a new home, one with its own weight room and ring. Starr found the Suitela Fight Club and restarted weekend classes last month.
"We do a little warm-up first, get the heartbeat going up," said Starr, emphasizing the importance of stretching and cardio.
"The key is to teach these guys things without them getting hurt.
"The ring is super hard, it has very little give. This one has a spring, but it doesn't seem to work."
Alex Bradley, a 20-year-old student who's trained for the last year, said, "People do get hurt from it, but that's why we come here."
The In-Pain Asylum presents students, as well as instructors, opportunities to practise moves and learn from each other.
"When I come here and train with the guys in the class, I learn things too," said Starr. "Just because I'm the teacher right now doesn't mean I can't learn from my students."
Starr has performed in locally and internationally, competing in such places as Japan, England and Mexico. He portrays a flamboyant character, known for making lewd body movements.
"I'm kind of like a Goldust type of character," he said. "At a more adult-themed show, you'll see me doing maybe some pelvic thrusts, mounting guys, maybe when I go for the pin, I'll put my crotch right in their face. It's quite controversial."
His character used to be hated by crowds because of his moves, but is now beloved for them.
"They look forward to seeing me put my groin in someone's face," he said.
Students pay $2,000 each for four to six months of training and go through an interview process to determine how dedicated they are to becoming professional wrestlers.
The In-Pain Asylum is designed for people who Starr and his colleagues believe have a shot at wrestling in such big name promotions as World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action. He noted that people with mental or physical handicaps have to be left out of the registration process.
"We don't want to rip any people off," he said. "Most guys don't make it to the big time. Most guys find it too hard, and quite frankly, just give up. It's not easy and we're not going to make it easy on you."
At the same time, the school does try to give applicants a fair chance to prove themselves.
"You can't discount everybody," he said. "Some guy who you may not think has what it takes may excel partway through and become the star student."
Billy McCoy, 23, grew up idolizing such '90s wrestlers as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Sting, and decided to pursue professional wrestling at the In-Pain Asylum in July 2011.
"I'd watch the mash-up videos before their matches and it just gave me goosebumps," he said. "I want to be able to give people that feeling."
Starr and others have told the class how difficult it is to make it into the WWE and TNA, and the students take that seriously.
"It's what we all want to do. I'd be wasting my time if I wasn't trying to make it as far as I can go," said McCoy.
Fellow student Sean Icon, 23, said, "I'm a fourth-generation wrestling fan. I was fully hooked by the time I was in preschool and decided that was what I wanted to do.
"It's all that I've ever really built my life around."
Wrestling requires dedication, but to anyone who has the drive to become a professional in the business, Starr and the students invite them to try out.
"If you love it and you have the passion for it, it's going to pay off in the end," said Bradley.
For more information, visit aswcanada. com or email Starr at allstarwrestlinginc@ hotmail.com.