THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING
By Vern May
Local wrestling fans will be lined up around the block on Friday night at the Cloverdale fairgrounds to catch an intimate glimpse of one of the top rated wrestlers in the world today. This week marks the first appearance of Vernon’s Adam Ryder since being ranked in Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine as one of the top 500 wrestlers in the world.
He’s not at all what you’d expect. Dressed sharply in a suit, Ryder looks like he’s headed to a fancy dinner in an upscale hot spot – his shoes shined and collar starched. The last place you’d expect to find him is among the rabid working class ticket buyers sitting ringside at the wrestling matches. Yet, this will be a typical Friday night for the 27 year old who has been on a campaign to dominate the sport of pro wrestling for most of his adult life.
Originally from Smithers, BC, Ryder started his journey toward grappling greatness in 2008, training in a Calgary training class of fourteen hopefuls under the tutelage of WWE alumnus, Lance Storm. Of his classmates, only one other aspirant is still pursuing a ring career in the game — Australia’s Tenille Dashwood, who is seen on WWE television under the name Emma.
Upon his graduation from the Storm school, Adam hit the road in 2009, paying his dues in matches from Vancouver Island to Hudson Bay, overcoming the odds as a lithe 215 pounder in an industry dominated by heavyweights. From good natured ribbing from locker room vets dubbing him solely as “the new guy” for his entire rookie year, to brutal hazing by insecure peers who were threatened by his potential from the outset.
Though dedicated to his goals between the ropes, Ryder wisely assessed the risk involved through a career in sport and the importance of a diversified portfolio. He enrolled in the business administration program at Thompson Rivers University and has successfully juggled both pursuits for the past three years. Often, Ryder could be found poring over textbooks in the drafty back halls of arenas, clad in spandex and ready to switch gears at the sound of the ring bell.
His hard work is starting to pay off with international media attention and an elevation to the top of the marquee. Securing a ranking of 477 in his first listing in Pro Wrestling Illustrated, the magazine describes Ryder as a “quick footed competitor is a superb counter-wrestler with good instincts.” Less than 5% of all Canadian wrestlers secure a listing in the magazine over their entire career, for Ryder to be listed with just under 200 matches to his credit is an impressive feat.
Recognized by his peers as one of the most versatile wrestlers competing today, Ryder has seen action against a wide array of opposition, particularly excelling in the high flying cruiserweight division, holding the All Star championship for that weight class on multiple occasions over the past four years. However, he has also proven that he can mix it up with the heavyweights and along that vein, he has his eyes on the heavyweight championship, currently held by another former WWE star, Gangrel.
Very few wrestlers in the past generation have been able to successfully compete in two weight classes simultaneously. In fact, in the Pacific Northwest over the past 20 years, only two wrestlers have adeptly done so – the late Adam Firestorm, and the semi-retired Disco Fury.
Industry insiders from across the country and into the United States are sitting up to take notice of this 27 year old who is starting to attract attention from some of the most influential players in the industry. Fans are encouraged to catch Adam Ryder in action while the opportunity allows on local cards. All indicators are pointing to a bright and prosperous future in the sport.