Shake hands with Hannibal

lessons into practice in the ring as part of the Stampede Wrest- ling circuit. Which is how he got started on what became a part- time career for him as a wrestling promoter. “I noticed that the small-town events were not promoted as well,” he said, obser- ving that sometimes he and other wrestlers would travel several hours to a venue in rural Alberta or Saskat- chewan, often in win- ter, and the number of people sitting in the audience watching the action might not even equal the number of wrestlers scheduled

where he and the other Canadian and Ame- rican ex-pats took on the roles of the bad guys against the home talent during both televised bouts and on tour. In Puerto Rico he began to develop his legend as Hanni- bal, the Apocalyptic Nightmare. Some time on the European wrestling circuits followed. While his Puerto Rico ad- ventures gave him a good grounding in the high-!ying antics of the luchadores style of pro wrestling, he found that the European #ghters relied more on the kind of practical grappling holds and takedown techniques he learned in The Dungeon. Now settled back in Canada, he manages Great North Wrestling in Ontario, organi- zing pro wrestling events for small-town ve- nues. It’s his passion, and, while things get a bit hectic sometimes, he is happy. “I like to spend my time organizing,” he said, with a smile. “I #nd it makes me a bet- ter wrestler.” With more than 1300 bouts under his belt, Nicholson also manages to ensure that the Apocalyptic Nightmare continues to haunt the dreams of the competition. Like the event coming up at the end of August in Hawkesbury when Hannibal, a Canadian championship belt holder, steps into the ring against A.J. Styles, one of champions in the New Japan Pro Wrestling group. “I de#nitely think it’s going to be one of the biggest matches of my career,” Nichol- son said, with a little grin. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what’s going to happen.”


ROCKLAND | By day the softspoken Devon Nicholson works as a behavioural coun- sellor, helping emotionally-challenged residents of a group home. By night and on the weekend he transforms into Hanni- bal, the Apocalyptic Nightmare! The 31-year-old Orléans resident tips the scales at 276 pounds and, with his muscu- lar six-foot-four frame, Nicholson looks like someone who, if facing a zombie apoca- lypse, would just grab hold of the nearest shambling corpse by the legs and use it as a club to smash his way to safety through the rest of the undead horde. He smiles when he notes that The Undertaker was one of his pro-wrestling idols when he was a boy watching the seven-foot-tall giant in action on television. “He was pretty impressive,” Nicholson said. “Really larger than life.” The Undertaker and others like Macho Man Randy Savage were the in!uences and inspirations for Nicholson himself to go into wrestling himself. He was a high school amateur champion, including both provincial and national titles for his weight class, and he had scholarship o"ers from both Simon Fraser University in British Co- lumbia and the University of Bu"alo in New York state to join their collegiate wrestling teams.

Photo : GNW

Hannibal says, “Be there!”You don’t want to disappoint me!

After graduation, however, Nicholson #gured it was time to follow his dream. So he applied for and was accepted into the Hart Brothers Wrestling Academy in Calgary, AB, where he trained under the legendary Stu Hart, one of Canada’s pre- mier pioneer wrestlers and the father of a wrestling dynasty that included Brett “The Hitman” Hart. During his four years in The Dungeon, as the academy was nicknamed, Nicholson learned everything he could about professional wrestling, both the tech- nical and the theatrical aspects, and put his

for the show. “So I asked if I could help with the promo- tion side.” He was told Stampede Wrestling already had its own promotion team. But he was also told that if he wanted to develop his own events with the blessing of Stampede Wrestling, he was welcome to do so. So for the past decade Nicholson has divi- ded his time between being a wrestler and being a wrestling promoter. His career in the ring has taken him down to Puerto Rico

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