That is what Brian Baez, co-founder of HOG Wrestling School, is hoping, even though none of the wrestlers who have trained at his school have made it to that level — yet. Baez knows that the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is the “big leagues” when it comes to professional wrestling, and he and HOG co-founder and professional wrestler Jonathan Figueroa — who goes by his wrestling name, “Amazing Red” — train wrestlers to make it there.
The HOG Wrestling School is located in a small building at 564 Woodward Ave. that has just enough room for a wrestling ring, a small workout area with a few exercise machines, and a tiny changing room where students get out of their street clothes, put on their trunks and turn into their wrestling gimmick.
Every Tuesday and Thursday Baez and Figueroa give their roster of more than 60 students the basic building blocks to becoming a professional wrestler: how to take a bump (fall without actually getting hurt), running the ropes, how to execute lockups and holds, and how to put on a wrestling match.
Baez’s loves teaching his students because his love of wrestling began at a young age, and has stuck with him his whole life.
“I’ve been watching wrestling since I was 4 years old,” Baez said. “I was one of those kids that used to be hyper and my mom told me that once wrestling went on that was the only thing to make me sit still. So I would watch on Saturday mornings. I loved that it was more physical. Since I was an active kid I liked to fight and at that time, besides boxing, it was the closest thing to fighting. Back then everyone thought it was real.”
When they were both younger, Baez met Figueroa when Baez would put on backyard wrestling shows with his friends, tossing each other onto old mattresses they collected from around the neighborhood.
It was instant chemistry from there.
“We met someone who said that there was a ring in Bed-Stuy in a church,” Baez said. “The guy would let us rent it for a like two hours on Saturdays. I had a couple guys and we got some money together and he let us rent out the ring. We used to record our matches in the ring. So we stepped up from the backyard to the ring: same thing, same moves, but just in the ring.”
Figueroa and Baez then went on to train to become professional wrestlers, working under the tutelage of wrestling stars like Tazz, Bubba Ray Dudley and Mikey Whipwreck; all three were part of the defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). It was here that the duo went in different directions, as “Amazing Red” went on to wrestle full-time and was picked up by the TNA (Total Nonstop Action) wrestling company, and Baez fell out of the loop until he saw Figueroa on TV several years later.
With a little money is his pocket, Baez wanted to open a wrestling school and use Figueroa’s name because of his notoriety, and shortly after that, in December 2010 HOG Wrestling School was born.
“It was hard. We had a lot of heart and dedication to just keep going,” Baez remembered. “And now we are successful and now we have the biggest wrestling school in New York. If we keep going at the rate we’re going, we will have the biggest wrestling school in the East Coast.”
As the wrestling school grew, so did Baez’s aspirations. He wanted to take HOG from just a wrestling school to a wrestling promotion.
The HOG wrestling shows, much like the school, started off slow. For their first show, Baez sold only 80 tickets (mostly to his family and friends). But the promotion has grown exponentially, with the last HOG show drawing over 2,000 fans.
Baez, with the help of Figueroa and his wrestling connections, is able to bring in big names in the wrestling industry to his shows. Performers like Rob Van Dam, The Hardy Boys, The Dudley Boys, AJ Styles, Mick Foley, Rey Mysterio, and many more have appeared at HOG shows.
For their next show in April, Baez said wrestling legends Scott Hall and Kevin Nash — founding members of the group New World Order (NWO) that changed the wrestling landscape in the late ’90s — will be on hand at the NYC Arena in Jamaica.
“We would love to start running shows outside of New York,” Baez said. “This will always be home, but I feel like the opportunities are presenting themselves for us to go out and spread our wings. We have a lot of sponsors in the works right now. [This] is going to be a real good year for House of Glory.”
To learn more about HOG Wrestling School, and their various shows, visit their website HOGwrestling.net.