Liberty grads return to school as professional wrestling champs

Liberty grads return to school as professional wrestling champs
Nick Kortises, Nick Taylor and Pat Strietz will perform at Liberty High School as part of ACA wrestling. (HANDOUT)

When Nick Taylor, Pat Strietz and Nick Kortises attended Liberty High School, few of their classmates could anticipate they'd return as "Skull," "Pat Anthony" and "Rayburn," the current champions of Adrenaline Championship Wrestling, a Maryland-based professional wrestling company.

ACW began in 2009 in Annapolis, under the management of promoter James "Jimmy Dream" Morris. This Saturday, the group will hold its third "Chaos in Carroll County" competition at Liberty High, with three Liberty graduates as title belt holders. Nick "Skull" Taylor is the current ACW heavyweight champion, while Strietz and Kortises hold the tag-team titles as Pat Anthony and Rayburn, respectively. In addition to the champs, Andy "The Winner" Vineberg, of Eldersburg, will be on hand as heavyweight challenger Louis G Rich's manager.


In addition to local wrestlers and wrestlers in the ACW stable, "Chaos in Carroll County" will feature Olympic gold medalist and former WWE performer Kurt Angle, as well as TNA wrestlers Mr. Anderson and Mickie James.

Strietz said he and Taylor first met in gym class at Liberty when he was a senior and Taylor a freshman. He said Taylor had overheard him talking about professional wrestling, struck up a conversation, and the two have been friends ever since.

Taylor, who graduated in 2007, said he began attending independent wrestling shows in high school and was always curious about training. After graduation, he met up with a wrestling trainer, Claude "Ruckus" Marrow and made his debut in Real Championship Wrestling in 2009. Today, Taylor trains the next generation of wrestlers and currently has about 10 students under his tutelage.

Strietz said the year after Taylor began training, he joined his friend preparing to become a wrestler.

"It was a grueling process. I was 225 pounds when I started. I was training outside in an outdoor ring in the summer. I went down to about 185 when I had my first match," Strietz said. "You've got to get in shape if you're going to do this."

Strietz said professional wrestling isn't for everyone. It requires charisma and athleticism. He described the job as a mixture of being an athlete and an actor.

"My first-ever wrestling show was Wrestlemania 12, and in that, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels wrestled for 62 minutes straight. I was captivated for the entire match" Anthony said. "I've been hooked ever since."

Each of the performers said professional wrestling made its mark on them early on. Morris said wrestling is now his absolute passion.

"When you're a kid, it's just like an active cartoon. As I get older, I realize it's just the best form of entertainment ever," Morris said. "It's got athleticism, acting, sportsmanship, drama and action. It can bring you up; it can bring you down. It's just like any movie.

The ACW performs throughout the state. Vineberg said the indie circuit provides wrestling fans with opportunities they don't otherwise have at larger shows.

"I love this business. It's a man soap opera and it's out of control," Vineberg said. "At WWE, the fans can't interact with the talent. Here, you can go up and meet them. WWE is so corporate and so big. ACW is the premiere promotion in Maryland. Our whole mission is to have fans walk away feeling like they've really experienced something."