Featured Image by New Photography Studios
Jason Dewhurst comes from a long line of athletes and entertainers. His uncle was Samoan boxer and a welterweight and middleweight New Zealand champion, “Firey” Fred Taufua. His cousin, is none other than Bobby Tuigamala from Season 2 of Gladiators. With that in mind, Jason makes one thing very clear, ‘I want to stay here in sports entertainment. I want to build my own road to success.’
The 26-year-old started wrestling three years ago in late 2015, but a lot has changed since then. Jason had plenty to think about when he created his current persona. He reflects, ‘It takes time to find your niche. I tried the whole typical Samoan savage. But, people always told me that I was very flamboyant and feminine.’
Queer characters have been scattered through pop culture’s past for generations, and wrestling is no exception. “Gorgeous” George brought a flamboyant gimmick to the public eye, forcing audiences to reconsider what to expects from their wrestlers. Despite its campy nature, many problematic examples spring to mind in modern queer representation. Goldust’s “androgynous” presentation provided shock value in an era all about edginess. Billy and Chuck’s matrimony made a joke of gay men. Hardcore fans refuse to see their champion of champions, Kenny Omega, emasculated as one half of the Golden Lovers.
As a gay man, Jason allowed pop culture and his own heritage to inform his new character. ‘[We] Polynesians have a lot of drag queens [and queer people] in our culture. In Samoa, we call them “Fa’afafine”. I told myself, “You sing and dance, you’re a bit of a diva… Why don’t you go watch some other drag queens?’
He studied a lot of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and make-up tutorials; Sometimes, he practiced putting on make-up during his overnight shifts at the sex shop.
‘It was funny, I thought, “This is exactly like wrestling! You put your costume on, you glam up and then you go out and perform.”’
Jason cites American TV series The Bad Girls Club as the source of the grit behind his glamour. ‘I’m glamorous, but I’m also a boujee hood bitch from Western Sydney. I was able to fuse that all together to create the Samoan Wrestling Diva.’
The Samoan Wrestling Diva debuted in January of this year, and Jason finally got to show his hard work to his family. ‘Growing up, sometimes you’re just in denial. I grew up in a Christian family with a single mother…They knew I’d been going through a bit of a gimmick disorder. I was so nervous, but happy to be able to show them what I’d came up with.’
‘I’ve always known I was a bit of an outsider, but I have my other queens.’
Wrestling locker rooms often carry the “boys club” stigma. Along with tag partner Nikki Van Blair (together, they form the Plastics) and a couple of his queer peers, Dewhurst is unapologetic and at home at Wrestling GO in Sydney. ‘I think I take up the most space backstage with my make-up girl. We take up like a quarter of the locker room. Whoops.’
‘The queens and I will be pumping Cardi B and twerking backstage. We’re like, “Come and join the party” …Wrestling GO have really allowed me to showcase my true form in wrestling. Shout out to the Whelan family for everything they’ve done.’
‘Wrestling is allowed to be fun. People can suck the joy out of it when they say, “You have to be a serious wrestler.” But doesn’t anyone have fun anymore?’
Jason chased his dreams all the way to the Fale Dojo, Bad Luck Fale’s wrestling training school in New Zealand. Established in 2016, Fale brought his learnings from his time in Japan back to South Auckland. Many Australians have flocked to his doors to reap his sought-after wisdom and training. Here, Jason found solidarity in the company of his Polynesian mentor.
He looked further to wrestling itself to find his point of difference. Much like his close friend Candy Lee, Jason stands by the stars of WWE’s Diva’s Era. ‘Candy and I are very vocal about how much we love girls like Candace Michelle and Torrie Wilson. Someone who inspired me growing up was Victoria. She was the muscle of her group. That’s how I relate to her; I’m pretty, but I’m also that bitch who’s gonna fuck someone up.’
With this in mind, Jason jetted off to A Matter of Pride, a wrestling promotion dedicated to showcasing the world’s LGBTQ wrestlers and allies. ‘The girls have Rise and Shimmer and Stardom [various popular women’s wrestling companies around the world]. Matter of Pride was my platform. I need to give thanks to Rick Cataldo for opening his doors to a stranger. He’s been doing this since he was 14 and has such a big wrestling brain. He has an important story to tell.’
‘One day, I want to have my own LGBT wrestling show in Australia, to showcase more LGBT talent and allies who support the cause.’
Efforts to represent and make queer people feel welcome have improved the accessibility of professional wrestling across the globe. Jason is one of many Australians taking the historically male gaze and turning it on its head. ‘The women and the freaks have often been the ones providing entertainment. I feel like that’s who we are, me and the queens. We’re the freak show. We’re different and that intrigues our audience. We stand by it. Because it’s us.’
‘I don’t want to be a typical wrestler, wrestling for the regulars.’ Nikki and Jason sing and dance in their matches, bringing an added element of entertainment to the mix. It’s captivating and opening doors for a new audience. ‘I’m trying to reach out to those who come to shows here and there. I want to turn them into regulars. Bring your girlfriends!’
Jason’s Wrestling Idols
Lei’D Tapa and Nia Jax are role models of mine. They’re both two awesome powerhouses with Polynesian roots.
I’d say Melina is a real LGBTQ ally. I love Victoria, just because she’s such a bad bitch. [I could name] lot’s of Divas: Kelly Kelly, Torrie Wilson, Maryse, Vickie Guerrero and Laycool.