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By day, Jade Priest is a panel beater, grinding away like the rest of us. As night falls and work shuts up shop he becomes someone quite different, clad in leather tights, a beast ready for battle in the ring.
Jade “The Beast” Priest becomes a pro wrestler.
It all started when Jade was just a boy in Wainuiomata, and used to watch wrestling on television with his older brother. “I became hooked,” he says, on “moves that were too irresistible not to try at home, as much as they always say not to.” Jade began wrestling at twelve and it wasn’t long before The Beast was born. “The name was something catchy,” he says, “something that flowed. Nowadays it’s literally what I get called by everyone inside and outside of wrestling.”
Pro wrestling is best described as soap opera meets martial arts. Jade says it’s a sport filled with personalities and characters, all telling a story. The crowd has someone to boo at and someone to cheer. It is high-energy and highly entertaining.
Family and his culture have been a big motivator for The Beast. The tights he wears are in the colours of the Māori flag, and his family has followed him to shows up and down the country. “The support from family, friends and fans motivates me to work harder in the ring. It gives me just that much more motivation and adrenaline to make a wrestling show great.”
When asked what he thought the public ought to know about wrestling, Jade says, “The falls we take are not fake at all.” Injury is common in this sport, as athletes are ragdolled, flipped, and crashed. Each wrestling move has a name; Chokeslam, Fujiwara Armbar, Koji Clutch, or, Jade’s signature move, the Nui Nose Crusher.
Wrestling in Wellington has long been a subculture and with a new brand, Capital Pro Wrestling, the sport appears to be growing. Jade says, “if word can get around to more people in Wellington… it’s bound to take off and hopefully we can grow the numbers, whether it’s fans or recruiting new trainees.”
The Beast wants to wrestle all over the world and has his sights set on Japan. For the time being, however, he’ll stick to the Epuni community hall.