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Final N.S. competitor eliminated
The last Nova Scotian in a national pro wrestling competition didn't make it to the finals but says it was a great learning experience, and he'd do it again.
Jeff Ferguson, 25, was eliminated from the Lutte Académie (Wrestling Academy) competition following his semifinal match at Montreal's Club Soda on Aug. 20.
However, the Halifax resident said he was “stoked” to make it to the semifinals, an accomplishment no one can ever take away from him. It meant a lot to meet and work with such talented wrestlers and he felt all the interactions he had along the way were wonderful.
“The biggest learning experience I took away from Wrestling Academy is you never know what to expect until your name either does or doesn't get called,” said Ferguson, who wrestles under the name The Upperclassman Jefferson James.
Ferguson advanced following his May 7 quarter-final match, where he teamed with Salsa King Jon Gonzales and K.L. Shock to take on The King Brandon Bright, Eli Surge, and Tomer Shalom.
His Aug. 20 semifinal was a three-way match against Jesse Bieber and Gonzales. Ferguson said it was a challenging match where he had to have eyes in the back of his head.
“Despite a few errors, the crowd was very electric and made the match that much more enjoyable,” Ferguson said.
He now plans to focus on his overall health, continuing to improve with every match booking, and perhaps most importantly being “happy with myself.”
Ferguson, who now has six years of professional experience, said he would “absolutely return” to the competition next year if the opportunity presented itself. If he gets picked again, Ferguson plans to increase his intensity on the mic and in the ring. He said he'll make sure he doesn't come up short and that he walks out a winner.
Lutte Académie is a national competition initiated by Canadian wrestling icon Jacques Rougeau. The 2023 finals will be held at Club Soda in Montreal on Sept. 17.
Three finalists, two male and one female, will receive a $10,000 prize and three months' training at the Nightmare Factory in Atlanta, Ga. Trainers there include All
Elite Wrestling (AEW) star Q.T. Marshall, wrestling legend Daddy Ass Billy Gunn and WWE superstar Cody Rhodes.
Considering his own elimination, Ferguson predicted the two male finalists will be Bieber and Bright. His pick for the female finalist is K.C. Spinelli.
Ferguson has upcoming matches for New Breed Wrestling on Sept. 23; and Red Rock Wrestling on Sept. 29.
Rougeau said the Aug. 20 semifinal was perhaps the best show they've had in their two seasons. The competition is getting more intense and has piqued interest throughout the wrestling world.
“In wrestling, you have good nights, sometimes you have bad nights, and once in a blue moon you have nights like we had,” he said.
ENCOURAGEMENT AND ADVICE
Rougeau said they grow to love their contestants as they
advise them and work closely with them toward improvement. When he sees them reacting positively to that coaching and experiencing professional growth, it's “heartbreaking” to see them get eliminated.
When asked what he thought of Ferguson's Aug. 20 performance, Rougeau said he did great, and he's thankful the responsibility of judging belongs to Marshall.
“We don't always have the same choices, me and Q.T., so I'm not sure I would have
taken Jefferson James out of the competition,” Rougeau said.
He said Ferguson is very good at what he does, and his character has grown on them. He described Ferguson as a gentleman and said he's very professional, always seeking advice on how to improve. He finds Ferguson very coachable and encourages him to reapply this fall to come back and be part of the 2024 competition. Rougeau said one piece of
Ferguson advice he would give is to hit the gym hard and work on building his strength and physique. Rougeau said he is against the use of anabolic steroids and recommends taking a natural approach to building mass and muscle tone.
He said Ferguson doesn't need to add a lot of bulk but working on this aspect could improve his chances if he returns to the competition next year. Rougeau said Ferguson's confidence, look, attitude, ring presence, and interviews are great.
“He has everything. He's a total package. He just needs a little more mass. That would be my advice to give him.”
BROWN INVITED BACK
There were two other Nova Scotian wrestlers involved in the 2023 Lutte Académie competition, Coldbrook's Brett Stubbert, a.k.a. The Juggernaut Thad Howatt, and Cogmagun's Cody Brown, a.k.a. Lil' Blay. Both were eliminated following their respective June 4 quarter-final matches.
Rougeau said he is inviting Brown and his tag-team partner in The Mutiny, Giant Orion, to return to Montreal for the finale in September to square-off against each other in a one-on-one match. Orion was also part of the 2023 competition, having been eliminated in the quarter-finals following his bout against Clutch Jessie V.
Rougeau said he could envision Brown and Orion putting on a great match and he wants to give each the opportunity to perform in front of Marshall, who is a vice-president of AEW and Nightmare Factory trainer.
Rougeau said he believes that whatever Orion may currently lack, the trainers at the Nightmare Factory could give him, and he has the rest of the tools to make it to the big leagues. Brown has already wrestled his first match for AEW, in Regina, Sask., in
When asked about the upcoming opportunity at the finals, Brown said, “I'll be there.”
For more information on Lutte Académie, or to watch videos of the shows, visit www.wrestlingacademy.ca