York-born wrestler makes career in professional world
In front of thousands of screaming fans, Hulk Hogan and Bill Goldberg faced off at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the World Championship Wrestling world title on July 6, 1998.
Though Goldberg took hit after hit, he mustered enough strength to get up, flip Hogan upside down and pin him for a quick victory.
Among the roaring crowd was a young BJ Walker, amazed by what he saw.
"You can't hear yourself scream, let alone talk, that crowd's going so crazy," said Walker. "I knew right then and there I was going to be a wrestler."
Twenty years later, Walker, known as "The Icon," has made a professional career in wrestling, winning various titles and making appearances on WWE's SmackDown and SummerSlam.
And most recently, Walker starred in his own documentary produced by three York residents, part of their start-up company Washington Winnona Images.
Miles Murdaugh, the founder and CEO of Washington Winnona Images, asked his two partners if making a documentary was possible, to which the company's CFO Cisco Soto told him to "shut up."
"Let's not focus on what we don't have, let's focus on what we can do," Soto said.
Filming for the documentary began in March and just wrapped up with final editing cuts last month.
It will primarily focus on the life of Walker and the adversities he faced as he made his dreams happen in wrestling.
Walker, originally from York City, grew up idolizing his father, Brad, a wrestler for World Championship Wrestling.
"It's like Thor being your dad," Walker said.
Though not allowed to wrestle in high school, Walker eventually pursued his dream and competed in his first match in November 2013.
Now, Walker's an independent wrestler who fights across the East Coast.
Most recently, he competed in Harrisburg as the first-ever Central Pennsylvania winner of the "Money In The Bank" competition.
The competition, in which a briefcase is hung in the middle of a wrestling ring, requires participants to fight their way to the top of a ladder and claim the briefcase for themselves.
Though theatrics are a big part of the job, Walker said his favorite part about wrestling is the energetic crowd.
"I get a rush out of that," he said.
Growing up, Walker said there were no local celebrities who ever came to his community. As someone in the spotlight now, Walker wants to change that.
He's made several visits to York Hospital spending time with children.
"When I was on TV, I got my ass kicked all the time," Walker said. "And I came back to York and everybody was crazy about it."
Though briefly appearing on WWE shows, Walker said he'd eventually like to get to the level where he consistently works for the company.
"My body will give out before my heart does," Walker said.
— Reach Tina Locurto at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.