LIHUE — Noah Gusman is a fan of professional wrestling.
He grew up watching the likes of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Bautista, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kane.
“When I was a kid, I took a real interest in it,” Gusman said Wednesday. “I watch it. I was like, ‘Wow, that was cool.’”
Gusman, 25, of Lihue, now walks a similar path and aspires to be a pro wrestler himself.
As a youth, he participated in wrestling and jiu-jitsu classes with the Kauai Police Activities League.
His thought of doing real matches was sparked from his friends and training partners Ross and Marshall — sons of Kevin Von Erich, who is part of the Von Erich wrestling family that was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame.
“His dad guys used to wrestle for World Class Championship Wrestling, WCCW, in the ’80s. They were really big in the south,” Gusman. “They currently live on this island. I went to school with Marshall, actually.”
He added: “I’ve been trying to do it on my own for, like, two years. They (the Von Erichs) asked the promoter of they could give me a shot out there. That’s how I got my first opportunity.”
Gusman, who graduated from Kauai High School in 2010, had his first taste of in-ring action last month when he and other flew to the Mainland for a couple of shows in Oklahoma.
Under the promotion Imperial Wrestling Revolution — whom Ross and Marshall Von Erich are the current tag-team champions — Gusman made his debut in a 15-man battle royal in an event in Ardmore, Oklahoma on Oct. 7.
He took to the ring under the name “The Kauai Kid” Noah Kaho’omana and performed in front of a crowd of about 2,000.
“I had a crash course with the boys. Because the battle royal was my first match, I didn’t really need to know any moves,” Gusman said. “Just punching and kicking, and throwing people out. I used a lot of high impact moves for my first match. I’m still inexperienced with the slams and stuff, and keeping the other guy safe. But I got it down, mostly.”
He added: “It was really nerve-wracking. My heart was pumping. I couldn’t really focus. Like, ‘OK, what do I do now?’ … On top of that, their dad introduced me to some of the fans, so I could hear someone chanting my name out there. That was the sick part for me.”
The week after, Gusman went to Weatherford, Oklahoma for another event. This time, he was in a singles match with IWR veteran Mantego Seeka.
The singles match, he said, was in front of a crowd of about 1,500. Gusman lost via pinfall.
“The guy I was working with, he took care of me,” he said. “He did most of the planning for me. While we’re out there, we’re just fighting back against each other. He’ll just call it in the ring most of the time. And then the finish, of course, was planned.”
He added about his first singles match: “Because the battle royal has so much people in it, the eyes aren’t really on you. It’s just whatever’s happening at the time. But for the singles match, it’s just you and they guy. All eyes are on you two, especially if you’re the good guy. I was the good guy.”
Now with some experience under his belt, Gusman — who’s listed at 6-feet tall and weighing 215 pounds — will soon return to the ring.
He will be featured in an upcoming show under Oahu promotion Action Zone Wrestling, which is set for Nov. 21 at the Kroc Community Center Gym in Ewa Beach.
There, The Kauai Kid will face off against Bobby “The Lightning” Bolt.
“I got acquainted with the promoter on Oahu, Daryl Bonilla,” Gusman said. “Then from that, I was just trying to get a response from him for a debut. After I came back, he saw my singles match and asked if I could come out.”
Gusman hopes to one day be in the headliner of a show. He expects it will takes years before it happens, but he’s willing to pay his dues, he said.
“That’s my real goal — to main event a promotion,” he said.