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Kate Carney gets shot at television

Unlikely wrestler's confidence soars as her career rises

Kate Carney will soon be coming to a TV set near you.

Carney, who was profiled as “The Battling Barrista” in an October 2015 article in The Lake Oswego Review, has signed a deal with the West Coast Wrestling Connection, the premier wrestling association in the Northwest, and her matches will be shown on television beginning in mid-March. Every Saturday night at 11 p.m. on station KPDX, Carney will be wrestling both women and men for the edification of wrestling fans.

This is the kind of sweet opportunity that has been dropping into Carney’s lap ever since she made her surprising decision to become a professional wrestler over two years ago.

“I’ve been graced with so many opportunities in my short career,” Carney said, “and I’ve been able to live up to them every time.”

Every wrestler needs a gimmick, and Carney’s gimmick is that she looks absolutely nothing like a wrestler. She is a lovely young woman who looks like she wouldn’t hurt a fly. When she wears her dark framed glasses she looks like the English teacher she once wanted to be.

But when she comes flying across a wrestling ring and flattens an opponent by throwing a forearm into their neck, you realize first impressions can be crushingly wrong.

Just ask Kassius Koonz, a very large, hairy redneck who makes a bull in a china shop seem discrete. At their recent clash, Koonze stood in the ring and roared while Carney came dancing out through the entrance, high fiving every fan in sight and blowing kisses. It seems she would have a better chance against a fire-breathing dragon than this gargantuan goon. In case you were wondering, Kassius Koonz is a man.

You might have expected Koonz to launch Carney to the moon. Instead, he was left writhing in defeat in the middle of the mat as Carney leaped out of the ring and did a merry victory dance. As theater, this quite outclasses Shakespeare or even David and Goliath.

Even after two years in the game, Carney still vastly enjoys it when people find out she is a professional wrestler. Like the people at Chuck’s Place, where Carney works as a barista, who ask her to point out the lady wrestler who works there.

“When people get so surprised it’s funny,” Carney said. “I always love it. It’s a great icebreaker when I tell people ‘I’m a pro wrestler.’ Some don’t believe me.”

Carney will never be confused with Andre the Giant, but at age 24 Carney is making much headway in this crazy, colorful, violent, outrageous sport. She is performing in more and more top venues, including a six-month gig in South America where she gained a big following. Carney received many drawings of herself wrestling, lots of letters from gushing little girls who she inspired to become wrestlers, and one marriage proposal, which Carney politely turned down.

Now, with her TV deal set, her fan base will be much larger.

“I’m fast,” said Carney, listing her keys to success. “I have to be fast on my feet, especially in inter-gender matches. I have to be quick and think on my feet and use my size to my advantage. I try to roll around to stay out of people’s reach. Then I hit them with a good, hard strike when it matters.”

When the lights go on at the ring, Carney can be as brash as any wrestler. But it has taken her a while to build the inner steel she needs to be successful.

“It took me a lot of time to develop,” Carney said. “I wasn’t always this confident. I mostly gained confidence from wrestling. I’m not the best. I have a lot to learn. But I’m pretty good. I feel pride when I get respect from people who have been part of wrestling decades longer than I have.

“The thing I like the most is the feeling I have after a match that has gone well.”

The TV gig with West Coast Wrestling Connection will surely widen the audience that appreciates Kate Carney. Soon, she anticipates performing in the redhot wrestling market of Las Vegas, and national and international opportunities could well beckon.

Carney is not setting a ceiling on what she can accomplish.

“If I don’t make it as far as I like, that’s on me and my dedication,” she said. “I don’t think there is anything outside myself that can hold me back.”