Rock N Wrestle – maybe one of the most intriguing entertainment events in Inverness this year – sees music take on wrestling in the Ironworks tomorrow (Friday).
Band booker and musician Steve Robertson explained where the idea for the Ironworks’ Rock N Wrestle night had begun.
"PBW (Premier British Wrestling) owner Ross Watson and myself were talking about what we could do to give wrestling fans in Inverness something different.
"At some point I mentioned being a member of Toby Michaels Rolling Damned – the band’s love of movies, comics and wrestling has never been a secret – so Ross suggested putting the two together and Rock N Wrestle was born.
"We’re got live rock music from TMRD and – for one night only – The Groove Bones becoming the Rock N Wrestle house band plus live wrestling matches featuring some of the UK’s top wrestling stars."
Star wrestlers – including recently-announced special guest American Wolf aka Dave Richards – battle it out for your hearts and minds with rock storm specialists TMRD and house band for the night The Groove Bones.
And organisers want the audience to add to the spectacle.
Celebrate Halloween, they say – come dressed as your favourite wrestler – there will be prizes to be won!
Among the roll-call of wrestlers taking part is Grado who was the subject of a documentary and has recently been cast in a sitcom starring stars of comedy Burnistoun.
Also appearing on the night will be Jack Jester and Davey Blaze who will take part in a heavyweight clash.
The main event sees PBW champion Liam Thompson taking on challenger BT Gunn, now in a threeway with American Wolf.
Grado (pictured above) is one of the true characters of the Scottish wrestling scene – wrestling taking him all over the country in the last week.
"It’s often the full Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Last weekend I was down in London in Bethnal Green, this week I’m up in Inverness on Friday, then I go back down to London wrestling again on Sunday."
It doesn’t leave too much time to get over any injuries.
Grado said: "I broke my ribs back in May and obviously the advice was to stop wrestling for a wee while, but I suppose it’s wrestling stupidity - never ever to listen to the advice," he laughed.
"And it probably prolonged the process of my ribs getting better."
But wrestling’s been Grado’s number one obsession – as a fan – since he was a youngster.
"I’ve been into it since I was about eight or nine, though that’s quite late coming to watching wrestling."
But when did he cross the line from fan to doing the wrestling himself?
"I saw an advert in a wrestling magazine for training and I thought ‘It’s probably a lot harder than it looks’ but I thought I would try it.
"And it WAS a lot harder than it looks.
"I’d be coming home after the weekend with bruises."
He laughed: "But for some reason I decided to stick with it."
Just a teenager, it was always going to be tough.
"I was only 14 or 15 years old and I had to get my mum and dad’s permission to go every weekend – there was only the one school at the time and it was about 30 miles away from where I stayed.
"But there’s a few schools now and more options for people wanting to train these days."
It means that Grado has been training for more than a decade, though he jokes that you might not guess that from looking at his physique.
"You would think that I hadn’t been putting in the time on my fitness – I’ve always looked the same. But my character’s always seen me just winging it – just cowboy it!
"Other wrestlers tend to take it seriously and work out and have a strict regime, whereas I’m more or less the opposite.
"They take it seriously – I’m a happy-go-lucky fun kind of guy.
"I’m fighting a guy called TJ Rage, he’s about six foot two, six foot three, bags of muscles, big scary guy. He’s completely the opposite of me. He’s a serious guy, where I’m more of a joker ...
"He’ll probably try and thump me and knock me about seven shades of Sunday.
"And I’ll be trying to poke out his eye or stamp on his toes!
"You just get in there and get on with it, some people think you go in and compete, but it’s not about competing it’s more like going in and getting your bum kicked – you just come out the other side, though sometimes you don’t.
"For Friday, I’ll be making sure I get plenty of sleep on the Thursday, some of these guys are big boys with some size of hands, I tell you."
There’s footage on YouTube of Grado a while back running a campaign to try and get himself booked to wrestle.
"It was a project for me to try and get booked with a company that organises wrestling. I was on holiday in Vegas and getting people to say things into the camera and I had a Facebook and Twitter campaign – but it was real.
"Since then I’m booked for wrestling every month now and I’ve got on TV a few times and some bits on programmes, so it’s worked out quite well."
So he’s now famous in America?
Without pausing for breath, Grado goes: "Yeah, big time, world-famous now. I’m up there with The Rock and Steve Austin!
"I was in Vegas last week and I managed to bump into one of my wrestling heroes, Bill Goldberg. I’ve got this catchphrase ‘It’s yourself!’ and I managed to get him to say it on video."
And comedy stardom may be on the cards for Grado.
He’s working on a TV sitcom pilot show with Burnistoun’s Iain Connell and Robert Florence – who is no stranger to the wrestling world himself after his bout with the Still Game actor Greg Hemphill that marked the closing of Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall.
And Grado likes the idea of showbiz blending sport and music in the one night with Rock N Wrestling.
"I’ve never heard of anything like it before – it’s quite exciting," he said.
"Quite a lot of folk that like wrestling are into their rock music."
But he’s turned his back on all-out rock for his own entrance music to the ring.
"Mine’s isn’t rock music, it’s Like A Prayer by Madonna, so it’s a bit different. Most people are coming out to hard-hitting metal music, scary stuff, while mine is light-hearted and I come out and have a dance to Madonna."
Anyone who needs a bit of encouragement to try out the night, might want to heed Grado – it could be the start of a whole new career.
"Come along because it’s going to be a little bit different.
"And who knows, once you’ve seen it, you might fancy being a wrestler yourself!"
RockNWrestle is on at the Ironworks tomorrow (Friday) from 7pm.
* To find more about Grado, you can to to: www.GradoWrestling.co.uk and tweet him on Twitter.com/GradoWrestling and you can watch himin action on Grado YouTube and also find the documentary on Grado by VICE at: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/rule-britannia/the-british-wrestler-full-length
* For details of Toby Michaels Rolling Damned, go to www.tmrd.co.uk
* American Wolf - American Wolf aka Davey Richards is currently under contract with Ring of Honor, where he is a former ROH World Champion, but also wrestles for several companies on the independent circuit, including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). Aside from his work in the United States, Richards has also worked internationally, most notably in Pro Wrestling Noah, through ROH’s involvement in the Global Professional Wrestling Alliance, a global organization of cooperative promotions that allow their competitors to travel abroad to other companies, and currently New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he is currently one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Rocky Romero. Richards is a four-time World Champion, having won the ROH and PWG World Championships once and the Full Impact Pro (FIP) World Heavyweight Championship twice, and a five-time World Tag Team Champion, having won the PWG World Tag Team Championship three times in PWG (with Super Dragon twice and Roderick Strong once), as well as winning the ROH Tag Team Championship twice (once with Rocky Romero and Eddie Edwards respectively). Richards was the winner of several tournaments that highlight the top performers of the region: East Coast Wrestling Association’s (ECWA) Super 8 Tournament in 2006 and PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles in the same year.