Tomboy days long behind SHIMMER's Cat Power
RICHARD KAMCHEN – SLAM! Wrestling
|Cat Power wraps herself in the flag of Cape Breton. All photos courtesy Cat Power.
Catherine Power has come a long way from the small town girl who had pro wrestling dreams.
"I'm definitely more mature and understand certain things a little bit more," said the 25-year-old Sydney, Nova Scotia native. "Like I need to be very patient in this business because in my opinion it's very hurry up and wait. I'm much more open to things that I wasn't before. Coming in I wanted to be the female Kurt Angle and just wrestle and not wear make up and just be plain, and I've learned from girls like Traci Brooks that we can be beautiful and still be athletic and kick some butt."
Her first steps down the path to professional wrestling began when she was three and wanted to be cool like her eight-year-old brother. Since he watched wrestling, so would she. Fast-forward to WrestleMania 18 at Toronto's SkyDome, where Power realized where her future lay.
"I went with my buddy Christian who was really big into wrestling at the time too and it was surreal to be there. When I came home, I was a couple of months away from graduating high school, and I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life."
But Power was also aware of social pressures to be "responsible" and she forced herself to give college a try. It did not take long, however, for her to conclude she was on the wrong path.
"I was wasting time and money and I left after my second year and moved to Windsor, Ontario to attend the Can-Am Wrestling School," Power said, noting that her mother made sure to check owner and head trainer Scott D'Amore's credentials first. "My mom embarrassed me by asking him all these questions but she was just being a mom."
"She called one day and I spoke with her and her mother," D'Amore recalled. He remembered Power's mother being particularly worried because Power had previously attended a less than reputable school out east. "She was rightfully so a concerned mother. She and her daughter had been taken advantage of once by somebody who took some of her money, and proceeded to really not give her much in the way of help in her training."
With any anxieties having been eased, Power moved to Windsor in 2004, showed up at the school one night with her money, and proceeded to get her dream career underway.
"She didn't show up in bad shape but certainly required some work to improve her flexibility and conditioning," said D'Amore. "When she showed up she was a little bit of your East Coast small town tomboy, so one of my concerns was beside teaching her how to wrestle, we're going to have to teach her a little bit how to be more of a city girl. But the thing that struck me the most was the fact that she's a hard worker and had a good attitude -- she was very dedicated."
Tyson Dux, one of her assistant trainers, found Power's determination laudable.
"As far as training goes, she was not the most athletic, but she had a big heart and a no-quit attitude, and she worked extremely hard for everything she got," Dux said. "She has really made a huge leap in her training this year, not only in the ring but in the gym, and she continues to work hard at both. Her only negative is that she is way too hard on herself and puts on a ton of pressure to be the best. Her negative has made her good and if she keeps going she will be great."
Power noted that all her trainers provided something unique to her development: D'Amore excelled at making things as simple as possible; Dux focussed on improving her strengths; and Johnny Devine proved instrumental in moulding her look and promos.
"He (D'Amore) is so good at picking out how to make the basics better. I've said it before, but when it comes to that he's got built-in radar," Power said. "Tys and I have much the same style and background because we're both East Coasters. We just kind of clicked right away and he knew exactly what style I should base myself around. He knew I'd never be a high flier so he gave me stuff that looks great but isn't outside of my abilities."
"Cat is an East Coast kid, like me, who moved to Ontario at a very young age, like me," said Dux. "She was given nothing and has done it all on her own, like me. I see a little bit of myself in her, and it reminds me of the struggle and the excitement of training and turning into a pro wrestler."
Jennifer Blake, who wrestled Power in Ontario, called her "a really nice girl who genuinely loves wrestling."
"I think the fans enjoy our matches. We both have very different styles and they seem to mesh nicely. I think Cat's size makes her unique and I love it when she utilizes it."
The five-foot-ten Power said she achieved one of her goals very early in her career when her greatest fan, her mother, witnessed one of her matches.
"My mom and my brother both got to see me wrestle back at home in the North Sydney Forum where I used to go watch wrestling as a kid and it was amazing. It's kinda corny but it was like a dream come true to wrestle there in front of my family."
About eight months after first starting to work shows, Power sent some of her tapes to SHIMMER, but was turned down for being too inexperienced.
D'Amore said Power's perseverance got her foot in the door at SHIMMER.
"So many people send you e-mails or send you packages in the mail that they eventually all blend together. But when somebody's willing to get in a car and drive three, four, five, six hours to a show knowing they're not on the show, actually you've already told them 'no'... and sometimes it takes doing it a few times. But if there's openings, you're often going to give opportunities to people like that because it shows a hunger," D'Amore said. "She's a good kid. She's a hard worker and she's kept fighting through while she's seen a lot of other people come through and get opportunities."
Eventually, promoter Dave Prazak invited Power down to have a tryout, sending her SHIMMER tapes to watch before she came down. Power ended up getting in the ring with Allison Danger, whom she admired and had requested by name.
"When I got down there, I ended up working with her for my tryout and after the match she shook my hand and said, 'Welcome to SHIMMER.' She didn't have to do that, and I thought that showed so much class and that's something that I'll always remember," Power said.
Power, who wrestles as Haley Rogers (a combination of her mother's family surnames) on the indy circuit, would create a variation of her real name and become "Cat Power" with SHIMMER. She said her tenure there has been "awesome," and stressed that she has been making the effort to lighten up and not be so hard on herself.
"This past taping was the first time that I went down there and let myself just have fun and not take things so seriously. I tend to psyche myself out because I want things to go perfect every time and they can't. So I just said that I'm going to do my best and leave it all out in the ring, and after all three tapings, when I came through the curtain, I had a smile on my face. I had fun."
Power was recently listed as number one on the G.L.O.R.Y. wrestling Hot 100, a list determined by weekly website visitors.
"I'm not surprised that she is G.L.O.R.Y.'s number one and that she works at SHIMMER," said Dux. "She has earned it, and she will continue to build a good reputation and healthy career."
For the near future, Power insisted she wanted to gain more experience before sending tapes of her work to any of the bigger promotions, and hoped to land bookings in Europe and maybe even Japan. In the meantime, she continues wrestling, and between shows, trains at Can-Am to keep her work polished.
"The Motor City Machine Guns and Petey Williams, and guys like that still come in some to work on their stuff... we have people that graduated 12 years ago that come by on a regular basis," said D'Amore. "Back in the old days, if you were wrestling seven nights a week, you really didn't have a lot of time for training. Your training was in the ring every night of the show, but that's not the case any more. It's a vastly different industry, and it requires coming in. And not just maintenance training, but also working on new techniques, and getting accustomed to different styles depending on where you're going to be in the world."
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Winnipeg correspondent Richard Kamchen can be e-mailed at email@example.com.