Childhood passion takes shape
It takes years of training to pull off a high-flying head-scissors takedown and look good doing it. Reporter Esther Lauaki met ringside with one of New Zealand's top women's professional wrestlers to find out how she does it.
You'd better watch your back if you ever meet Cheree Crowley in the ring.
She's a Greenlane-based graphic designer by day but the 24-year-old moonlights as a professional wrestler.
Miss Crowley, whose ring-name is Evie, kick-started her career five years ago at Impact Pro-Wrestling at a Three Kings gym.
She's earned championship titles at home and abroad including her latest at the Pro Women's Wrestling Alliance Championships in Australia in September.
Miss Crowley says her character Evie reflects her bubbly, free-spirited personality "but amplified".
"My first gimmick was as a cheerleader because I was so bubbly. I got over that and wanted to be taken seriously. I'm still bubbly but in the ring I like to make it look aggressive."
Breaking into the pro-wrestling scene which stages fights monthly and puts on shows at pop-culture festivals around the country wasn't in her plan.
It was a childhood obsession that just took off, she says.
"I always watched wrestling with my younger brother when we were little and I just got really hooked on the storylines and the action. I used to watch Chris Jericho and Dwayne Johnson, ‘The Rock', was always my favourite because I'm part Samoan, so he was my main guy. He was just the man.
"A friend of mine knew I was really into wrestling and asked me if I wanted to try it out for myself . . . I was in training for six months before I got in the ring to perform, learning moves and getting stronger so you're able to pull off a match.
"It can take a year or two and some don't even cut it. You first learn the basic tricks of the trade like strikes and grappling. As you move on you watch more and pick up things you want to do," she says.
She's studied Japanese fighter Kenta Kobayashi to add more aerial moves to her repertoire like the yakuza kick and a high-flying head scissors.
There aren't many women on the wrestling scene in New Zealand with only four females out of 30 fighters on the Impact roster.
Miss Crowley says the strict fitness and diet regime puts many people off.
"A lot of people think we're just models who get in the ring and playfight but they don't realise that a lot of training goes into this sport. It's down to the individual to keep fit, turn up to training and make sure they look good."
Auckland City Harbour News