Jessica Hilton out of the ring, the Arm Collector in it, Mary Konstantopoulous spoke to the local pro wrestler about the magic of the ring.
Like many other women of her generation, Jessica Hilton’s interest in her chosen sport came through developing a shared love of that sport with her dad and her brothers when she was growing up.
“I have two older brothers, so each weekend they would be watching the wrestling on television with my dad and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it; I wanted to change the channel and watch something better,” said Hilton.
“But one day, I started watching it, got really invested in it and then my brothers grew out of it. But I never did.”
Hilton was 10-years-old when she decided she wanted to be a pro-wrestler but she wasn’t sure whether this dream would be possible in Australia due to lack of visibility. Once Hilton discovered that there was pro-wrestling in Australia she committed to the sport and today, she continues to pursue that passion as part of Pro Wrestling Australia, Sydney’s leading pro wrestling company.
Pro wrestling is a sport like no other in that it combines tremendous athleticism with showmanship.
It was that combination which attracted Hilton to the sport in the first place. Growing up she was extremely athletic and did both team sports and individual sports, but also really enjoyed acting, pursuing musical theatre at school.
“If I wasn’t going to be a pro-wrestler, I wanted to be an actress,” said Hilton.
“Pro-wrestling was the best of both worlds.
“I am still a very creative person and really enjoy art. I think wrestling is its own magical art form because you are creating something really fantastic in the ring.”
Each pro-wrestler has a character. For Hilton and the other athletes at Pro Wrestling Australia there is the opportunity to develop that character and take ownership over their appearance and their characteristics.
For Hilton, her character is called ‘The Arm Collector: Jessica Troy’. That moniker has come from Hilton’s signature move which is the fujiwara armbar. This finishing move is a key part of the story that Hilton tries to tell in the ring.
“I’m a very technical wrestler, so I hone in on a body part and almost pick it apart,” said Hilton.
“I tell that story within the match, I work down my opponent via their arm.”
When I ask Hilton what her character is like she tells me that she is a little bit sweet, but a little bit psycho. Kind of like her. Her character in the ring is an enhancement of herself.
When you watch Hilton walk out to compete, you’ll also hear her walk out to her own custom music called ‘Arm Collector’. That music belongs to Hilton and was created specifically with her character in mind.
What you may not know when you are watching Hilton walk out is that the 10 minutes before a match are the hardest for her.
Whilst there are elements of pro-wrestling which are staged and created for theatre, it still demands athletic excellence from its competitors. Despite any staging, it is still Hilton’s body that is hitting the floor when she is performing.
So there is certainly an element of fear and severe nerves before she walks out and begins the performance.
“I’m confident within myself in doing the actions and the moves, but for some reason the nerves really hit me before a match,” said Hilton.
“About 10 minutes before you go on stage, you feel the worst you have ever felt and I always vow that it will be my last match.
“But then when you are out there and performing, you realise why you love it so much.”
That adrenaline through performance sustains Hilton for a couple of days and helps her distract from the pain her body is in following a performance. That pain tends to last for a couple of days.
“Most of the time when I have finished competing, I am covered in bruises,” said Hilton.
“You need a magnesium bath the next day because even though competing really pumps you up, I still have to throw my body at the floor during each performance.”
Given the size of the market here in Australia there are still barriers for men and women to compete in pro-wrestling, but for Hilton one of the best things about being part of the Pro Wrestling Australia family is that there is support for their male and female athletes.
“At PWA, we really focus on breaking down barriers,” said Hilton.
“It’s not male wrestling and female wrestling, it’s just wrestling and all of us are wrestlers. There’s no need for differentiation.”