More than a musclehead
The "little fat kid" from New Plymouth will soon be hitting elbow drops and slams alongside his heroes in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Matthew Wilson – aka Max "The Axe" Damage of Kiwi Pro Wrestling – is flying to Los Angeles on Thursday for the chance of a lifetime.
He will try out with the WWE at two television tapings.
The 22-year-old was still getting his head around the good news he received on Sunday.
"It's the biggest opportunity anybody has had in New Zealand for a long time, so I'm not just doing it for me," he said.
In his fifth year as a professional, Wilson had himself arranged to train with small Los Angeles independent promotion Empire Wrestling Federation, including matches this Sunday and March 14.
He informed Kiwi Pro Wrestling boss Rip Morgan, who got in touch with some old contacts in WWE to arrange the try-outs.
"There was a few back and forth emails. At the moment I know as much as everyone else," Wilson said.
He marvels at how things have progressed in the past year since New Zealand wrestling made it back to mainstream television with Off the Ropes on Prime TV.
Wilson then won the championship on the January 31 episode, and is now off to the bright lights of WWE.
He admits he never thought he'd get such a break – even though that's what everyone aspires to do. "Doing the runs, the training, the shows – when you're in front of 50-100 people you wonder `is this going anywhere?'
"But as you get more opportunities it enters your head and you're motivated more. It's one hell of an opportunity and hey, if it doesn't work out it's still something I can say that I've done."
Born in New Plymouth, Wilson attended Moturoa Primary and then Francis Douglas Memorial College.
A self-confessed "little fat kid", he said he didn't hit his stride until age 15 when he started lifting weights, as his body filled out to the imposing 1.95m (6ft 5in), 119kg it is today.
Quite at odds with his fearsome wrestling persona, Wilson went to Victoria University to study a Batchelor of Commerce, and now works for National Bank in central Wellington.
"I'm not just a musclehead you know," he laughs.
The last New Zealanders to wrestle for WWE were Luke Williams and Butch Miller – the Bushwhackers – 14 years ago.
As the sport continues to increase its profile in New Zealand, Wilson estimated there are nine or 10 Taranaki-born wrestlers working for one of the three local promotions in Wellington and Auckland.
"Maybe it's something in the water."
Taranaki Daily News