May 12, 2010
Venis pinning hopes of finding next star with wrestling camps
By GREG DAVIS - Peterborough Examiner
Don't slam professional wrestling as fake around Sean Morley.
"It's not fake enough," he said.
The grappler who grew up in Ennismore, near Peterborough, Ontario, has had his share of bumps, bruises and serious injuries in a pro career that has spanned 20 years and has taken him around the world.
Morley, now 39, is best-known for his near 10-year run with the industry leading World Wrestling Entertainment, primarily playing the well-endowed pornography star character "Val Venis."
But his two elbow surgeries and a reconstructive shoulder procedure along with a neck injury that nearly required his neck to be fused are a testament that predetermined match results don't always equate risk-free performances.
Throw in a hellacious travel schedule and he'll admit wrestling isn't for everyone.
"It can wear on you that's for sure, it can definitely wear on you," said Morley whose family moved to Ennismore in the late 1980s.
But the thrill of performing and being able to captivate thousands of fans each night with a mix of athleticism and acting/improv skills are aspects of the business Morley wants aspiring wrestlers to achieve.
Which is why Morely is launching the "Val Venis Pro Wrestling Boot Camps," a series of training sessions spanning Canada and the U.S. which will begin in Peterborough next month.
"It's for anyone who wants to get involved with the sports entertainment industry," Morely told The Examiner from his home in Phoenix, Ariz. "When I started there weren't many schools so I went back and forth every weekend to Hamilton and it was hard. Since there aren't many schools out there, this will give people an idea whether sports entertainment is for them or not."
Morley has already helped mould one local resident into a current star in Peterborough's Robert Roode, who is with Total Non-Stop Action, WWE's main rival company.
Morley hopes his boot camps can help him recruit other future talent.
"This will give opportunities to younger guys and you never know what it might produce," said Morley, whose father Keith Morley managed an autoshop in Ennismore for 11 years and now works with Trentway Wagar.
Morley's first camp, scheduled for June 19-20, will introduce interested men and women over 18 (parental permission is needed for those ages 16-17) to the "very basics" of professional wrestling with a "touch of psychology" or storytelling ability.
"You don't have to have any experience and it's even for people with some experience that want to get back to refreshing the basics," said Morley. "I do it all the time and go back practising. It's the foundation for the skills you build upon and then you can build off of that."
The second weekend, June 26-27, is an advanced class involving more intricate move, holds, setups and execution and "very heavy" on in-ring psychology, the ability to tell a story.
"You can be a phenomenal wrestler but if don't have the psychology down and be able to tell a story in the ring you won't go anywhere in the industry," he said.
But to perform as a porn star turned wrestler?
Morley says he "embraced" the role in what became one of the most controversial characters in WWE history. Even before he debuted in a WWE ring, he appeared in vignettes with real-life porn star Jenna Jameson to hype Venis' impending arrival.
The timing of the character was perfect as WWE's programming began to push the envelope, targeting a male 18-35 audience.
Morley went on to become a two-time Intercontinental title holder and one-time holder of the European and tag team titles during his run with WWE from 1998-2009.
"It wasn't hard to get into the character at all," he said. "It was a fun character to get into. It wouldn't really fit the PG-13 era WWE is in now."
After being released by WWE in January 2009, Morley spent time touring in Japan and with Hulk Hogan in Australia and returned to CMML. Beginning in January he started appearing on TNA's television shows and pay-per-views while remaining full-time with CMML.
However, a scheduling conflict with TNA created issues with his work visa in Mexico so he left TNA and he says he is working on a new visa to perform in Mexico.
Morley wouldn't rule out a return to WWE one day.
"There is a possibility," he said. "I have no plans right now to go back. I want to get this camp up and running and be the guy to go out and scout new talent and see if we can build some new superstars.
"I'm going to open my own school here in Phoenix in the fall. That's one of the reasons to also hold the camps is to try to generate interest and maybe get people to move down here and train in Phoenix."
Morley is in talks with three different venues and has yet to finalize one for Peterborough. The cost is $300 for a weekend or $550 for both weekends if one registers before May 30. After May 30, it's $350 for one weekend of $700 for both. Training will run eight-10 hours per day.
For more information or to register, visit online at prowrestlingcamps.blogspot.com. Sign up and you'll likely discover that wrestling isn't fake.
"For those that say it's fake, it's almost like they don't get it," said Morley.
"Wrestling fans understand that we're suspending belief and sense of reality for a few hours a night. That's our job to take them on a roller-coaster. When you go to a movie and see Arnold Schwarzenegger blow up a car, you don't say 'oh that's fake,' you say 'wow that's cool' and get absorbed into the story line."
Ring the bell. Class dismissed.
NOTES: Sean Morley predicts Peterborough's Bobby Roode is destined to become a major star in professional wrestling. "He's well on his way on becoming one of the best in the business." ...Morley may also plan a one-hour mini camp for those who do not want to partake in the whole weekend camp. "It might be just to take a bump and learn how to do a tie-up and get a feel for how it's like in the ring."
Greg Davis is the Peterborough Examiner Sports Editor. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.