Story by Jeff Gard/jgsportsmedia.com
Growing up in Port Hope, organized sports weren’t his thing. He wasn’t involved in the drama club, either.
Still, professional wrestling – a cross between athletics and drama – became a passion for the wrestler known as Vaughn Vertigo.
Vertigo had a friend locally whose aunt, Trish Stratus, was one of the top superstars and is now a WWE hall-of-famer. He wasn’t familiar with her, at first.
“Eventually I rented a WWE video game that had her in it and I was like ‘oh wait, that’s my friend’s aunt. That’s really cool,’” Vertigo recalled.
He began watching WWE shows Raw and Smackdown on a weekly basis. That was around 2006 or 2007.
“I started doing my own backyard wrestling in my backyard, which I don’t recommend,” Vertigo said. “I basically did that until I was 14. I found a wrestling school in Toronto and my dad was willing to drive up every Saturday for training classes. “That’s kind of how I spent my high school life. I didn’t do any sports in high school, I wasn’t a part of drama club or anything. I played soccer as a kid and stuff like that, but I never really gravitated to it.”
Wrestling was different, even if he couldn’t wrestle at shows until he was 17.
“I would pretty much do every job on shows I could,” he said. “I would referee, I would help set up the ring, I would film the shows. I would do every job in-between except wrestle because they thought I was too small and they were worried about insurance and stuff like that…obviously I was a kid.”
Once he was officially able to step foot in the ring, Vertigo began wrestling across Ontario both as a singles competitor and as part of the tag team Fight or Flight with his partner Gabriel Fuerza.
Vertigo’s schedule eventually included shows in the U.S., such as in Rochester and Buffalo. Around 2017, he started getting booked for tours in the United Kingdom and then Germany and Italy. In 2019, he was starting to make a good part of his living off of wrestling by competing in 90 matches. He also does videography work.
This year he was continuing his momentum until the COVID-19 pandemic began. He was actually wrestling in the UK and Germany in early March when he had to return home abruptly.
“We started realizing the border was going to shut down. I had four more weeks of a tour left,” Vertigo said, noting he scrambled to book a flight to return back to Canada for about $1,200.
“It was a mess, but I made it home thankfully,” said Vertigo, who has been back in Port Hope.
Having a hiatus from his regular wrestling schedule has been challenging and not just financially.
“Creatively, it’s been awful,” he remarked. “We just had to find different ways to keep busy. I was so used to that schedule and spending my Friday, Saturday, Sunday on the roads traveling somewhere to do a wrestling show with my friends. Now that’s just gone. I haven’t had weekends (available) since I was 17. It’s very odd.
“Half of my income is wrestling. The other half is videography so I’ve kind of been able to pick up that side more during the pandemic.”
His goal is to make a living wrestling and feels “like I was really starting to get there before the pandemic hit,” Vertigo said. He wants to compete in Japan and spend more time in Europe, perhaps with a three-month tour in the future. Mexico is also a destination where he hopes to step in the ring.
During the pandemic, Vertigo has combined his previous backyard wrestling experience with his videography work through the creation of his YouTube channel Backyard Pro.
“We’ve been trying to think of ways to reach our audience without actually having the audience there,” he said. “The idea was to take real professional wrestlers from Ontario and put them in a backyard area. If you’re familiar with backyard wrestling, it’s untrained wrestlers essentially, so we wanted to try kind of a parody of that, but we took actual wrestlers to do a backyard show.”
Vertigo has produced, filmed and edited the show and it’s available at www.youtube.com/BackyardPro, though he recommends viewers be 18+ as it’s intended for a mature audience.
Another project Vertigo is excited about is an online Christmas Eve wrestling show with Go Hard Professional Wrestling. He filmed part of the show and will have a match as well that has yet to be announced.
“You can expect a Christmas holiday show from pretty much all the best Ontario independent wrestlers,” Vertigo said. “We’ve all been starving to do something creative so we filmed this complete Christmas holiday show funded by the fans for the fans back in November and we’re releasing it December 24.”
The show begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday at www.youtube.com/CrossBodyProWrestlingAcademy.
Looking ahead, Vertigo can’t wait to return to wrestling in front of fans, especially since his schedule now includes a number of local shows in Cobourg through Northumberland Pro Wrestling, which unfortunately had to cancel events this year.