As I was perusing the Facebook Marketplace for things I could not afford, bookmarking things I hoped maybe I could work in the budget, a certain item caught my eye.
A signed WWE VIP chair and at a very decent price, located in Nanaimo and signed by my favorite wrestler! On the WWE website (not signed) they go for over $100 plus and then there’s shipping on top of that too.
I MUST HAVE!
I enquired, as I knew I’d be getting some extra cash in the upcoming week or so, not 100% sure when, but still figured I might be able to budget it in.
The guy was very nice about it, said he could deliver if he still had it when I got paid.
But of course, an item like this I had to ask how he acquired it.
“I bought it a year ago, these chairs were given to everyone who got front row tickets in 2018.” “Being a pro wrestling referee has had some perks.”
Wait, what? I’m talking to a professional wrestling referee? He showed me a few photos he had of himself in uniform (and street clothes) of himself with some well-known wrestlers!
Here is Joshuah Ruckstuhl’s story in my interview with him.
How did you fall in love with wrestling?
Some of my earliest memories involve a love of wrestling in some capacity. My earliest match that I can remember watching is a WCW match that had Raven coming down to the ring with a shopping cart. I was only allowed to watch WCW as my parents deemed it the family friendly wrestling alternative. But as most children do, in my high school years I stopped following wrestling. That lasted 10 years before on a quite night I attended a independent show on the East Coast. I’ve been in love ever since.
What is the local scene like in Nanaimo?
The independent wrestling scene as a whole across North America was in a boom period before Covid struck and put all event to a stand still. Most wrestlers have not been in a wrestling ring since early 2020. But here on Vancouver Island there are plenty of options for those fans who want to witness some fantastic independent wrestling. We have two main promotions that run which are called “365 Pro Wrestling” and “Vancouver Island Pro Wrestling“.
You can see upcoming 365 Pro Wrestling shows August 27, 28, 29th live from the VIEX right here in Nanaimo. And in September VIPW makes their return to action on September 24th in Langford and September 25th right here in Nanaimo at the Centennial building. Check out both companies Facebook pages on how to get tickets today.
How did you get into becoming a referee? What is your story?
After seeing the above mentioned independent show I quickly went right to the internet on how to become a professional wrestler. I found a school in Saint John NB where I was being taught by a wrestler who goes by Dick Durning. After a few weeks of training I was going to help out at a show when the referee didn’t show up and I filled in, and right then and there it was love at first mat smack. I quickly just focused on referee training and set out to work.
How were you able to connect with WWE?
Unfortunately I am still seeking that connection with WWE, but my advice would be for anyone who is looking to get into the wrestling industry in any capacity is to try and find a mentor who is in a position where you would like to see yourself. I quickly learned this lesson and put in the work sending out match tapes and messaging anyone who was refereeing in larger companies, not to seek out a mentor but just to get a critique and have other eyes looking over my work. One of the messages I got back was from WWE Smackdown referee Jason Ayers where we developed a friendship and he became my mentor. To the point where anytime he was on the East Coast of Canada I was going to try and get to that show and just be able to soak up as much information as possible.
If you would have asked me that question 3 years ago the answer would be a resounding 100% yes without hesitation. But as I grow older and now have a family, the answer isn’t as instantaneous. Would I like to work one show with a larger company to show my daughter 10 years from now “Look what Daddy did?” of course. But I am fine working in the local BC scene and making this a desired spot for wrestlers to want to come and wrestle for the amazing BC audience.
How do you feel the pandemic has changed wrestling?
I feel that the pandemic has changed the whole world and we really haven’t seen how that change has affected live shows yet. I do believe that these sort of live events will be more sought out once the full ramifications of COVID have passed. I believe that we could see a boom in the local wrestling scene and have new fans coming to shows who have never been to a live wrestling show before.
To the naysayers: what do you say to those who comment on wresting being fake?
Everywhere you go you will find people who differ in opinion on this matter, but I believe that the stigma that goes with wrestling being “fake” is starting to subside. Where else can you get compelling story telling, gymnastics, heart stopping action all rolled into a fight. Granted its not going to be for everyone but don’t count out professional wrestling until you give it a chance.
Do you have any long-term goals for your career in the wrestling business?
Back in the East Coast of Canada I started a promotion with 3 friends within the wrestling world and its called “Kaizen Pro Wrestling” it can be found on all major social media as well as all our events can be streamed on www.independentwrestling.tv Out on the East Coast we also have a large training facility where wrestlers from all over Canada or the world can come and train to enhance their craft and I would like to be apart of something like that out here on Vancouver Island because there is no where like that available on the island. Also, I have my own wrestling clothing brand called “Ring Loyals“. We are a clothing brand that focuses on the love of pro wrestling and all those whether fans or wrestlers dedicated to the craft of professional wrestling. Currently wearing our apparel is; Carlito, Chris Masters, Leyla Hirsch, Evil Uno, and Colt Cabana among many others across North America.
What do you think of the women’s division of wrestling in general and how it has evolved? And do you think Nanaimo has a women’s division and/or should have one?
I believe that most women involved in the industry can handle themselves in any position they are put into. We are seeing the term female wrestlers going by the wayside and making way for just the universal term wrestlers. If you attend a VIPW or 365 show here on Vancouver Island there’s a strong chance you will see Rhea Von Slasher taking on the BEST wrestlers that the Pacific North West has to offer. She along with Bambi Hall, Liza Hall, Sloan, and Kat Power all killing it and having match of the night caliber matches no matter who their opponent is. In my opinion id love to see us lose the term women’s division and just see all wrestlers as just that “Professional Wrestlers”. A lot of people use WWE as the measuring stick for this movement but without the independent wrestling scene this women’s revolution wouldn’t be as close to how evolved as it is.
Anything else to add? Any advice for anyone wanting to go into the industry?
The simple answer is if you want to get into the industry is seek out a mentor and get PROPERLY trained.
Check out VIPW, 365 Pro Wrestling, and Kaizen.
Also check out my wrestling clothing apparel line Ring Loyals at; www.ringloyals.com
Sadly, no I did not get the chair. But I met an amazing guy who has great things coming for his future and has already started a legacy for himself in the independent wrestling scene.
Kristy O’Regan/ email@example.com