Eureka citizens boo and jeer as the loud music kicks in. Boyce LeGrande, a pro wrestler, walks in with a stride of confidence and pride, mocking the audience as he makes his way to the ring.
As soon as LeGrande hits the ring, the Humboldt State University band plays the HSU anthem, which is the music for the next pro wrestler, Rocket Boy. The crowd cheers as the wrestling local walks around the audience, giving high fives, waving and dancing with the Humboldt Lumberjack axe. Rocket Boy steps into the ring with LeGrande and gets ready to fight for the title of Pacific North Coast Champion.
Video by Luis Lopez.
The Rumble in the Redwoods pro wrestling event was held at the Redwood Acres in Eureka. Joe Sousa is the host of the event and oversees the pro wrestling scene. It was his idea to get the HSU band to play music for Rocket Boy.
“I wanted to give more cred to the people of Humboldt by having someone like Rocket Boy represent their county,” Sousa said.
Many of the wrestlers in Rumble in the Redwoods are from different parts of California. One pro wrestler at the event is Modesto resident Daniel Torch, which is both his real name and stage name. Torch loves being involved in the pro wrestling scene and has been doing it for eight years.
“I come here looking for a fight,” Torch said. “I’m the bad guy when I’m in the ring. Everyone loves seeing a good bad guy on stage.”
Rocket Boy, or Brett Walters, is an HSU alumnus who graduated with a degree in communications in 2015. When he’s not wrestling, Walters works in an office.
“My wrestling background is not something I bring up when I walk into job interviews,” Walters said.
Since 2012, Walters has been involved in the pro wrestling scene and trained with other pro wrestlers.
“The people who have mentored me through my wrestling career [have] been Lethal Logan X, Bo Cooper, Seth Skyfire and Robbie Phoenix,” Walters said. “When I walk into the ring, I become a totally different person.”
The match the audience anticipated most was the fight between Boyce LeGrande and Rocket Boy for the North Coast Championship belt. The match stipulations were a best of three. The stakes were tied at one with LeGrande, winning once by pin maneuver and Rocket Boy once by submission.
Video by Luis Lopez.
However, at the end of the match, LeGrande won the Pacific North Coast Champion title after Rocket Boy stayed out of the ring for too long, therefore being disqualified.
Even with the egotistical persona LeGrande gave off, he still showed sportsmanship to Rocket Boy.
“I came to the ring thinking it would be a cakewalk, but instead [Rocket Boy] gave me a challenge,” LeGrande said. “You have a lot of heart.”
Walters said the feeling he gets when he steps into the ring is indescribable
“This is therapy for me when I hear the crowd cheering,” Walters said.