Years of wrestling pain not going down the drain

Saturday is the big night for wrestler Brent La Plante, a.k.a. BJ Laredo, as he steps into the ring at the Mellor Hall as a kind of hometown hero on an ECCW card. - submitted
Saturday is the big night for wrestler Brent La Plante, a.k.a. BJ Laredo, as he steps into the ring at the Mellor Hall as a kind of hometown hero on an ECCW card.
— image credit: submitted

Cowichan, get ready to rumble!

Pile driving, leg twisting, and body slamming: Brent La Plante couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday night.

La Plante, who is known in the WWE-style professional wrestling community as BJ Laredo, is fighting his nemesis Azeem the Dream at the Vancouver Island Championship match of the Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling card on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Mellor Hall on the Cowichan Exhibition grounds.

La Plante lives in Nanaimo but works in Cowichan so he’s hoping to be a fan favourite on the receiving end of more cheers than jeers.

“I’m hoping to bring this title home,’’ he said. “I have a lot of friends and family in the crowd who will go nuts.”

La Plante stands six-feet tall and weighs 262 pounds but he has been a fan of professional wrestling since he was a child, something his father shared and supported from an early age.

“It’s been a lifelong dream,'' he said. “My heroes were Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man, the people who had the big persona and the larger-than-life personality. I was two years old when my dad took me to my first wrestling show in Vancouver. My dad was a big fan.''

When he was in his late teens, a friend invited La Plante to try out in Vancouver at the Slam Academy where fledgling wrestlers are trained by professionals to wrestle on the main stage.

“We were trained by local guys who have honed their craft for 10 to 15 years. You go through a lot of pain. They put you through the ringer.”

La Plante traveled to and from Nanaimo every weekend for a year to complete his training. Seven years later, he has a persona he embodies in and out of the ring.

“BJ Laredo is just a cowboy-style character I wanted to do. I grew up with the nickname BJ for Brent Junior. It’s like a second personality. It’s another whole character. You have to believe in yourself in order for people to believe in you.”

La Plante said the local wrestling community is close-knit with six competitors on Vancouver Island.

“It’s kind of a brotherhood, especially when you travel to other cities with them.”

Close, but still competitive.

“We’re all pretty big guys. I’m not afraid of them even if they are bigger than me. You’re always competing for that top spot.”

La Plante is now a family man with a daughter of his own, who will be at the upcoming championship match.

“She went to her first show when she was six weeks old. We don’t know how she’ll react.”

Family responsibilities have made it more challenging for La Plante to make a career out of wrestling, but he’s happy being a local legend.

“I’m not in it for the money or fame. I’m in it because it’s a passion.”

ECCW is the longest-running professional wrestling group in Canada.

Doors open at Mellor Hall Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The first bell sounds at 8 p.m. and admission is $15 general or $18 front row. Wrestling fans also get a chance to see multiple-title winner and ECCW poster child Scotty Mac battle it out in an anything-goes street fight with Cremator Von Slasher, among others.

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