Regional | Entertainment

Māori wrestler pursues WWE dreams in Mexico

Niwa McIlroy is on a mission to become the world's first Māori WWE fighter. Currently pursuing his dreams in Mexico, the 23 year-old is the first NZer ever to sign with Mexico's largest and oldest lucha libre professional wrestling promoters.

Being tossed and kneed in the face is no pleasurable experience, but for hearty nāti Niwa McIlroy it's a dream job.

"The fact that's it's like entertainment and sport together is like pretty much what attracts me to it. I like the characters and I like the physical stuff as well" says McIlroy.

Also known by his stage name 'Johnny Idol', this year the aspiring WWE wrestler journeyed to Mexico where he picked up a contract with famous lucha libre associationn, CMLL.

McIlroy says, "When I tell them I'm from NZ not many people know where it is, some people think it's in Europe. But yeah it's pretty cool being the only NZ wrestler here. I think I'm the first NZ wrestler to wrestle for this company and like Mexico so it's pretty cool."

And the only Māori at that. Niwa's passion for wrestling started from a young age watching WWE on tv and then performing in local shows at age 13. But his wrestling journey hasn't been all smooth sailing. "When I first got here I didn't know anybody. I started working small companies in front of 30 people for like $10 a night and I was struggling quite a lot, I wasn't eating that much, but I was trying to make my dream happen.," says McIlroy.

Now he's performing in front of crowds of 20,000 a night; a lifestyle he says is dedicated to training day and night. McIlroy says his rugby background has been a huge help. "Sometimes I wrestle like 5 nights in a row or 4 nights in a row so it's pretty like demanding on my body and stuff so I kind of gotten use to it now and I guess when you love something you kind of just brush it off I guess."

No magic trickery involved, the stunts performed are all real. So a warning to all, do not try this at home.