Wrestling with success
jamie brown firstname.lastname@example.org EVANS Head's own pro wrestler, Hadley Zadras, was once saved in the ring by his eight-year-old son Jaxon a moment he will never forget. It was during the International Wrestling Australia Trans-Tasman titles in 2002, at Yamba, that ZZ Hook, as he is known on stage, was lying unconscious on the mat thunderstruck by Australian heavy weight Gregory Pexx. The Pexx was about to claim victory, Jaxon, then eight, climbed the ropes and challenged the big man. "I'll do to you what I just did to your father," the ominous wrestler roared and with that young Jaxon hit hard below the belt, winding the big bruiser enough to give dad time to recover. "And the rest is history," says Hadley. Nowadays, Hadley trims locks at Julies Hair Biz (he learned the trade on tour with his pro-wrestling mates), attending to customers at Beachside Bargains, and leading a Presbyterian youth group on Friday nights. Originally from Bondi, Hadley was lured to the North Coast 18 months ago. He still wrestles, travelling to Sydney every three months to shoot a weekend of action at Fox Studios, helping create a new IWA series that will start screening in July on Pay-TV. And next January he plans a tour of the North Coast, with a likely appearance at the Evans Head RSL. But how did he get involved in the most colourful sport of professional wrestling? "I was bouncing at a night club in Canberra, it was Halloween night, and I had crazy make-up, a Mohawk and stylised beard," Hadley recalls. "This short man came up to me, he was an American guy from the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, [now the WWE] and he asked me: 'Dude, you look like a pro-wrestler. Do you like the lifestyle?' "I loved wrestling as a kid. I loved it, I lived it. Then this fellow said, 'the Yanks are coming out to Australia in six weeks time and we need some good Australians to go on tour'." All of a sudden, Hadley was in pro-wrestling school learning the ropes, as well as how to act, and before long he was on tour, sitting in a big bus, rolling across Australia, surrounded by his pro-wrestling heroes, Sabu, Gothic Knight, HHH and the rest. "I had to pinch myself," he said. "In fact, to this day I still pinch myself when I'm in the ring. I just can't believe I am doing this." Wrestling school proved to be an eye-opener, with traditional Greco-Roman and Olympic wrestling moves taught, along with a healthy dose of gymnastics. But most importantly, contestants were taught the value of entertainment. "They told us, 'If you want to win a match, go to boxing school. We're here to entertain the fans'," Hadley said. There are a few tricks to the trade, like how to roll and tumble. A spring under the centre of the matt makes a huge difference on those body slams. But when seven-foot Thunder grabs him by the neck, raises his struggling body high into the air and slams him back to earth, Hadley says the grimace on his face is for real. "It is hectic," he said. "It winds you. It leaves you breathless."