By Jon Gagnon
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Frankie Villa is used to hearing about how he won’t make it; and how hard it is to be a professional wrestler.
Villa, a 19-year-old resident of Tonawanda, a.k.a. the “The Fabulous,” just doesn’t care.
He has had hopes of becoming a professional wrestler since he was 14 years old. From his time spent working security next to Hulk Hogan during a Buffalo TNA show, to wrestling head-to-head against former WWF Intercontinental champion Shane “The Franchise” Douglas.
Villa’s most recent venture is the TNA Gut Check Challenge on Spike TV. He is entered into a pool along with wrestlers across the country and anyone can go online and vote for him. If he makes it past the first two rounds he will earn a trip to Orlando, Fl. and wrestle on Spike TV with a chance to earn a contract with TNA.
“My goal is to make it on TV just to say I did it,” Villa said. “When I first broke into the business that was the one goal I set for myself. At least if I reach it just once, it doesn’t matter what anybody has to say. If I got to that point no one can tell me I didn’t do anything because I know I reached my goal.”
Villa came in first place in the challenge on the show’s initial run, but due to a problem with the voting system online, TNA was forced to restart the competition.
Villa is used to overcoming the odds because he has been proving skeptics wrong every step of the way; including his father, Frank Villa.
“My father was entirely against me being a wrestler,” Villa said. “He never wanted that for me, but me being a rebel child and a dream seeker, I just continued to keep it going and I pushed the envelope to keep training and say to myself, ‘I know you can do it.’”
Villa’s cousin Steve Villa, a.k.a “The New York Nightmare,” has been a professional wrestler for the past 20 years. Steve was in agreement with Frank and refused to let Villa be a part of wrestling in his younger years because of the injuries and risks involved.
“I don’t want any harm to come to (my children), I was just concerned that, God forbid, something would happen,” Frank Villa said. “I was more in fear of the safety aspect of it. He wants me to go to his matches to watch him, and I don’t know if I can watch someone pick my son up and throw him down without jumping out of my seat.”
When Villa was 14, Steve Villa decided to take him and his siblings on a trip and told him they were going to see the ‘opera’. To Villa’s disbelief, when they arrived at the destination it was a professional wrestling event and Villa was able to see his cousin wrestle for the first time.
“It was a huge surprise for us,” Villa said. “As a little kid I was the happiest child in the world at that moment, I was shocked.”
From that moment he knew that wrestling was going to be in his future, despite his father’s concerns.
Villa began his career at a young age and whenever he returned home from a show, he kept it a secret from his dad. Though when he was in the ring, his father was in his mind. Villa said he could hear his father’s voice in the back of his head during matches, reminding him to remain cautious. But when he was 16, things with his father started to change.
Villa was a part of the security team for the legendary Hulk Hogan at a TNA event in Buffalo. He wasn’t a part of the show, but stood next to Hogan as he made his entrance into the arena.
As his father gained acceptance of his dream, Villa’s career started to blossom, though it hasn’t come easy. He has spent time traveling up and down the East Coast on his own dollar, spending some nights sleeping in his car. Now, he has made a name for himself.
Villa said he is humble and grateful for the support he has gotten from his hometown.