Ring attack

Tyson Hiller, whose real name is Carson Hill, hits a sling blade clothesline manoeuvre on an opponent during an RCW show last year. The Thunder Bay native is looking to resume his pro wrestling career next week amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carson Hill can remember the days when he stole the spotlight in his father’s own real estate ads.

Yes, Carson was that cute five-year-old in those Bunker Hill TV spots which aired in Thunder Bay over 15 years ago. Viewers can remember Carson exclaiming, “Now’s a good time to ask for your new house!”

“That was kind of the first step. Most of the time I was a shy kid growing up,” Carson Hill recalled on Friday. “So whenever we’d go to a restaurant or anywhere public with my Dad, I’d always have people come up and ask me if I was that kid in the commercial.”

A flair for performing, along with athletics, carried on for Carson through his high school days at St. Patrick where he took part in the drama program. He also played house league hockey until the age of 16 with the Thunder Bay Elks 82s. However, his true calling all along was the squared circle. Upon graduation, Carson headed west to pursue his dream that fused sports and entertainment.

And soon Carson Hill, now 21, took up the moniker of “Tyson Hiller” — a rising professional wrestling star on the Real Canadian Wrestling (RCW) circuit based in Alberta.

Hill had been a fan of wrestling during his childhood and attended a few shows locally. In Calgary, Hill hooked up with the Lance Storm Wrestling Academy. Storm is a retired Canadian wrestler who starred in all the big leagues such as World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling.

The session for newcomers was three months of intense training. While it’s widely known professional wrestling is predetermined, the art of putting on a show takes a toll on the body.

“I played hockey growing up. I was decently in shape, but you don’t really take much of a beating in hockey when you get stuffed,” Hill said from his home in Calgary. “When you’re slammed around with whiplash in the ring, there’s nothing like it.”

At six feet and 180 pounds, the Tyson Hiller character is a good guy underdog who relies on his speed to take opponents down. Hiller’s finisher is the power kick to the head — known as the superkick. It is an homage to Storm, who used it as his finisher during his prime.

“I like to have more of an agile style of wrestling. But with these bigger guys, I have to really get off my feet and work the top rope and let the agility get to them,” said Hill.

Hill immersed himself in the wrestling community in Calgary which has world-famous roots. Storm was trained by the Hart family and RCW is a re-imagination of Stampede Wrestling which was started by patriarch Stu Hart. Hart’s sons include WWE legend Bret (The Hitman) Hart and the late Owen Hart.

Members of the new generation of Harts are on the RCW roster along with Hill. Chris Knight has also been instrumental in guiding Hill’s career. Since his debut in July 2018, Hill has competed in 30 matches, travelling to Edmonton and Lethbridge for shows.

RCW had been restoring the popular Calgary wrestling brand throughout

2019 and 2020.

“It’s kind of had a resurgence over the past year. When I went with my classmates in 2018, we went to a show that had around 75 people. We’ve been running shows in Calgary downtown since then and we’ve been drawing double or triple that,” said Hill, who adds he makes up $100 per appearance depending on the attendance.

All that momentum came to a halt in March when the COVID-19 pandemic pulled the plug on the independent wrestling scene. While large companies such as WWE and All Elite Wrestling could afford to hold empty-arena matches, fans are the lifeblood of the indie circuits.

Hill was forced to put his wrestling career on hold. He stuck to training in his house and studying classic matches on TV for ideas to put into his bouts. It wasn’t until last month in Alberta that gyms were open.

The RCW is back in business this weekend with a maximum of 100 fans allowed and 15 to 20 wrestlers due to COVID restrictions. Hill, who has started to practice in the ring again, plans to return to action next Friday in Calgary.

A homecoming isn’t out of the question, he said. Hill is negotiating to get on the card for Canadian Wrestling’s Elite planned return to Thunder Bay in November.

“Last year was my first full year of wrestling. I didn’t really want to rush anything because I still had a lot to learn. It’s been tough so far this year,” said Hill. “Now I want to make a bigger push. My goal for the end of the year is to have a decent title shot or win a

championship and hopefully come to the show in Thunder Bay.”

Away from the ring, Hill plans to attend college in the Calgary area when the classrooms open up after the pandemic. He wants to give professional wrestling a serious look.

The Hill family are Carson’s top fans every step of the way. Members of Carson’s family also accompanied him to attend WWE Wrestlemania 35 in New York last year.

“For me, it’s mostly myself with that. Because really my parents (Bunker and Karen) are super supportive with the wrestling,” Hill said. “They say if this is what I really want to do, then they’ll support me 100 per cent. Before the shows were every two weeks, so I had time to think about having the time to do something with school.

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