The name of local Black and Brave Wrestling Academy has an even bigger ring to it with one of its operators making it to the big-time of the World Wrestling Entertainment. Black and Brave Wrestling Academy is run by Colby Lopez, who wrestles in the WWE as Seth Rollins and wrestled in local Scott County Wrestling as Tyler Black. Lopez in joined by Marek Brave in the academy’s operation. The wrestling school is two weeks from finishing its sixth session and has graduated between 40 and 50 wrestlers, who train at QC Crossfit in Moline and wrestle with SCW at the Walcott Coliseum. Some of the school’s students wrestled during Thursday’s Quad Cities River Bandits game in a ring set up on the concourse in left field at Modern Woodmen Park. Lopez and Brave started the school as a way for people who were interested in wrestling to get their start.
While other professional wrestlers have wrestling schools, Black and Brave is the only school run by a WWE star. “I am partial to the way I came into the industry, as a fan from the Quad-Cities to being able to work my way from ground zero all the way to becoming WWE champion,” Lopez said. “I find that historically it has created the best superstars. It’s the way I did things, and this is how I know how to teach kids how to do things.” The school teaches the rigors of the business and introduces students to the life of professional wrestling. “It’s a nice punch in the gut with physical fitness,” Lopez said. “I think it’s a great avenue for people to get their feet wet in the independents before jumping into the WWE.”
The gym also gave Lopez a place to rehabilitate after tearing his ACL, MCL and meniscus in early November. He returned to the WWE ring in late May, just over six months after the tear. “I spent some of my rehab in Birmingham, Ala., some of it at Plaza Physical Therapy in Davenport. But, it was nice to have the school in session during the time I was off to be around the industry without having to be a huge part of it,” Lopez said. “I had my own space to do my own thing when I wanted to. It was nice to have home time to be able to sleep in my own bed and cook my own breakfast and do Quad-Cities things.” The average recovery time for athletes with a torn ACL is six to nine months. Lopez originally wanted to return by WrestleMania in Dallas, which was four months after his injury.
“My target was always to be back by WrestleMania; that was always ambitious, but it set the wheels in motion. It really pushed my work ethic,” Lopez said. “Anyone who watched my rehab knew I wanted to get back as soon as possible. That’s just how I do things. Six-and-a-half months is pretty good for that surgery.”