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UWA teens aim to impress hometown
By DEANNA CLARK - Brockville Recorder and Times


Jen Grattan, aka Portia Perez

BROCKVILLE - There's something about Jen Grattan most would never guess.

The fresh-faced high school senior looks like your average teen ... that is until she dons her two-piece leather outfit and jumps into the wrestling ring.

"One of my best talents is speaking on the microphone and making fun of people.

"I'm mouthy," Grattan says of her wrestling persona with the Universal Wrestling Alliance (UWA).

"My trainer (Dave Dalton) based my character around that. That's how I became a villain," the petite 18-year-old says.

When Grattan becomes her stage character Portia Perez, her personality is markedly different. The teen works at angering the crowd and the more boos she gets from wrestling fans the better.

"There's not going to be much reaction if they don't hate you," she says. "I take certain aspects of my personality and amplify them."

Grattan, who has been a licenced wrestler for about 18 months, is a high school senior at St. Mary Catholic High School in Brockville, Ontario, and one of three local young people working with the UWA.

Allan Irish, of North Augusta, and Phil Plume, Prescott, have been in the business for a couple of years. All three train together in Ottawa and this summer they will tour together in eastern Canada with UWA.

The UWA has a show Saturday, April 30 at The Legion Royale, 231 Maloney Blvd. West, in Gatineau, Quebec, headlined by Bobby Roode vs A1. But the highlight for the trio will be their first appearance on home turf when the UWA hosts a show May 28 at the Brockville Memorial Centre.

"We're all really excited about it," says Plume, who attended South Grenville District High School. It's a chance for friends to see him perform, he says.

"I used to not tell anyone," Grattan says of her wrestling, partly because people didn't believe it.

"They'd say I was too small and say it was for people who aren't smart enough to get real jobs," says Grattan.

The trio admits they're not earning big pay right now and most wrestlers, unless they become famous, have other jobs too. That doesn't take away from the desire to get out in the ring, they say.

Grattan has wanted to be a wrestler all her life. She recalls having a Hulk Hogan poster over her crib as a child.

"It's all his fault," she says jokingly of Hogan.


Allan Irish aka, Taylor
Irish, 20, and Plume, 19, are childhood friends who have shared a lot of interests, including wrestling.

Plume, whose stage name is the Prodigy Zack Storm, said he got the bug for wrestling when his brother rented Wrestlemania and he watched it dozens of times. Before he knew it, he was going to wrestling schools, including the Wrestling Formation School and the Battleground Academy.

Irish, known by fans as Taylor (a good guy), started wrestling in his backyard. He later trained in Gatineau and now has a replica of his trainer's ring in an outbuilding at his family's North Augusta home.

Prior to the Brockville show, Plume and Irish will do a two-week tour in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

"We're hoping to get noticed," says Plume. "I want to entertain people."

They insist training is essential and wrestlers must be licensed. It's not easy to not hurt people while appearing to slice and dice them, they say. Injuries, despite training, are common.

"You have to be driven," Irish says. "The bumps, the bruises, the pain would get to anybody.

"You don't learn how to fake fight. You learn how to walk through a match step by step," adds Plume, who typically plays a bad guy who makes his long-time friend Irish look good in the ring.

"I go out there and make such an ass of myself that they have to cheer for him," says Plume of Irish.

It takes a lot of work and perseverance, they say.

"As to why someone would do this, I really don't know," says Irish, who recalls getting wrestling figures as a boy. "We all grew up with it," he adds, recalling how they would practice in his backyard.

"An English teacher told me once I could do anything I wanted to if I worked hard enough. She told me you don't have dreams for no reason," says Irish, and wrestling is his dream.

"I can't explain it at all," adds Plume of why he is willing to risk injury in the ring in the name of entertainment. "I've been asked that by 25 people."

Grattan says wrestling is her life. "I can't ever remember not wanting to do it. It's part of who I am.

"We don't really think about why we do it. We just have to."

RELATED LINKS

  • Universal Wrestling Alliance web site


    Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!


  • Order ROH: Second Anniversary Show Double DVD

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared in the Brockville Recorder and Times Thursday, April 21, 2005.