Bulls pro wrestler a world champ

Manawatu Standard - - NEWS - SAM KILMISTER

A Ran­gitı¯kei pro wrestler has de­feated a WWE su­per­star to be­come the top tal­ent in the United King­dom.

Travis Banks, who was raised in Bulls, won a world ti­tle shot against WWE UK cham­pion Pete Dunne this month, in front of 2000 scream­ing fans at Alexan­dra Palace in Lon­don.

The win sees Banks pick up the Progress Wrestling World Cham­pion belt for the first time, af­ter leav­ing New Zealand eight years ago to pur­sue his dream of crack­ing the WWE.

It was an ex­tra spe­cial mo­ment for Banks as his par­ents, Chris­tine and Ed­ward Bligh, were in the crowd.

Chris­tine Bligh, who works at the Bulls BP, and Ed­ward Bligh, a grounds­man at the Ohakea Air Force Base, both jumped in­side the ring to cel­e­brate with their son post match.

It caps off a me­te­oric rise to fame on Eng­land’s in­de­pen­dent wrestling cir­cuit for Banks, who be­came the first New Zealan­der to win the UK’S most pres­ti­gious ti­tle.

Banks’ feud with Dunne had been a long-run­ning sto­ry­line, with the two fi­nally clash­ing headto-head af­ter six months.

Wher­ever he goes, English sup­port­ers have taken to Banks’ ex­cep­tional, fast-paced per­for­mances, and his bat­tle with Dunne didn’t de­vi­ate from the norm.

The pre­vi­ously un­beaten Dunne threw the kitchen sink at Banks, in­clud­ing in­ter­rup­tions from two other wrestlers, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven, who tried to dis­tract Banks.

How­ever, a lion clutch fin­ish­ing ma­noeu­vre spelt the end for Dunne. Ef­fec­tively a ‘neck breaker’, the move saw Banks wrap both hands around Dunne’s face and pull back, ap­ply­ing pres­sure to the neck and shoul­der.

‘‘He [Dunne] is prob­a­bly the big­gest tal­ent still work­ing in the in­de­pen­dent cir­cuit to­day,’’ Banks said.

‘‘This win for me now means I’m recog­nised as a world cham­pion and fi­nally, af­ter eight years of hard work, makes me a big name on the in­de­pen­dent cir­cuit.’’

There’s no rest for the wicked though. Banks is due to per­form in Amer­ica soon.

‘‘I’m al­ways go­ing to be climb­ing my way to the top no mat­ter where I go.

‘‘I’ve worked too hard to stop now.’’

PHOTO: TRAVIS BANKS/SUP­PLIED

Bulls wrestler Travis Banks with his par­ents Ed­ward and Chris­tine Bligh, who trav­elled from Bulls to the United King­dom to watch him win the Progress Wrestling World Cham­pi­onship belt.

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