Featured image by New Photography
When NVB landed on the scene, he was there to make his name known.
‘I remember clearly the moment that made me fall in love with wrestling. Watching Sable finally capture the women’s title at Survivor Series ’98 was like seeing everything that I wanted as a fan finally coming true, Nikki reminisces. ‘I had been following the Sable VS Jacqueline rivalry since it began and had become a huge fan of Sable. I even remember when Jacqueline cut off Sable’s hair and attached it to her own. I thought that was the craziest thing ever!’
Nikki Van Blair is a fresh face on the Australian scene, but definitely one to watch. His first in-ring moment took place in APWG (Australian Pro Wrestling Gym) Bondi Rumble, in July 2017. He had his first singles match in September of that year, against Scott Free. ‘That was when NVB was born…. Nikki Van Blair is a confident, sexual, rich bitch,’ Nikki adds, ‘I call myself “daddy’s little angel”, and that is actually very true in real life.’
‘If I have any sort of problem, instead of trying to fix it myself, I call my daddy.’
Nikki has always enjoyed creative writing. In 2014, he graduated university with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, but something was missing. He says, ‘Getting the degree was almost like a secondary thing to me. No shame against journalism, I just wasn’t that excited about it. I had to ask myself, “What have I always wanted to do?” The answer to that, was to become a wrestler.’ So, Nikki put his journalism goals on the backburner and started chasing wrestling, while managing to write a couple of romance novels on the side. When it came to getting them published, he laughs, ‘That was one instance where I was like, “Daddy, can you work this out for me please?”’
Nikki’s style is inspired by his dance background, then, pole dancing. he explains, ‘I grew up doing contemporary and jazz, then transitioned into pole dancing. I have been doing that on-and-off for around five years. The way I move in the ring is very reminiscent of how I move on and around the pole.’
‘I love wrestling and I love the technical side. If you ask me who my favourite male wrestler is, I’ll say Kurt Angle,’ Nikki says. However, his love for the Divas Era and ownership of sexuality shines through in his work. ‘I looked up to Sable, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson. There’s not so many women like that now, but there’s Scarlett Bordeaux, and even Mandy Rose still has a bit of that “I’m hot and I know it” kind of thing going on.’
It was only a matter of time before Jason Dewhurst and NVB would find each other. ‘Jason was at APWG when I started training. I think our pairing was destined to happen, because we were very similar to each other from the moment we met. When APWG had this tag tournament, it was naturally assumed that I would tag with him, and that’s basically when the Plastics started.’
‘When I walk out as NVB, I’m confident. But, when we walk out together we have this double dosage of confidence.’
‘I would like to mention how great it is that in all the locker rooms that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, everyone is super welcoming. Jason and I are a handful in the ring, so you can probably imagine how crazy we get backstage. All the guys and girls, they don’t treat us any differently.’ Nikki’s experience reflects a growing diversity and culture of understanding in Australian pro wrestling, a warm sentiment for fans everywhere.
Nikki strives to bring something different to his local scene, through his character and ring work. ‘I don’t shy away from my heritage. I’m Maori, Samoan and Irish, and I’m proud of all three of those things. So, I try and incorporate as much of that in as I can,’ he says. It might not be on-the-nose, but from power moves, to the occasional stink face, Nikki strives to incorporate his culture into his wrestling at any given opportunity.
Not only as an individual, his culture plays a bigger role in how he connects to wrestling through community. Roman Reign’s leukemia announcement shocked the wrestling world – It was one of those rare, but not rare enough moments where the emotional struggles of a performer leaks through the cracks, finding a way out from behind the curtain. Nikki was profoundly affected by the announcement: ‘I was absolutely devastated. I had tears in my eyes as I was watching him speak. I felt for him because I have that cultural connection to him.’ While Nikki might not have ever met Roman, wrestling has ways of connecting us that we might not even realise.
Nikki has been fortunate enough to work closely with one of his wrestling idols, former WWE Women’s Champion Melina. ‘After Sable left WWE, I needed a new favourite. Melina became my number one for a long period of my high school years.’ Melina took part in a tag team match with the Plastics at Wrestling GO in October, and Nikki still can’t believe it happened. ‘I remember talking to her about this. It’s crazy that I watched her at a live event – it was her and Mickie James against Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson – then all these years later, I was teaming with her in the main event of a sold-out show in Blacktown, New South Wales. I still can’t wrap my mind around that.’
‘I still think it’s so crazy how we message on Instagram like friends now. I never would have seen that coming!’
After WWE Evolution (WWE’s first all-women’s pay-per-view event), Nikki, a long-time women’s wrestling supporter, had a lot to say about the aftermath of the event. In the same year that WWE held their first women’s Royal Rumble event in January, Nikki hopes the momentum rolls on post-Evolution. ‘With the Royal Rumble, WWE now need to do that every year. They can’t keep saying, “It’s the first ever Royal Rumble, Hell in a Cell, All-Women’s pay-per-view” and then not keep at it. They need to keep producing women’s pay-per-views and main events regularly, otherwise, all the hype is for nothing.’
Nikki’s Wrestling Idols
Sable is number one, plus Melina, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson. I’m also a really big fan of Effy. I think he’s doing great things for LGBT performers and people. I obviously have to say my tag partner Jason Dewhurst. And Alex Irvine, I don’t have enough words to describe how much respect and adore him.