The wrestling business is filled with men who turned to the squared circle after spending most of their lives on the gridiron. From the early days of Bronco Nagurski to the WWE’s Big E, many football players have found a second career and a second chance in wrestling.
Mike Orlando grew up playing football. He played in college and even got a look from the NFL team. Deep down, Mike was never a sports fan. He got into football for one reason: he wanted to look like a wrestler.
Orlando grew up watching the WWE, idolizing the character of the Ultimate Warrior while admiring the technical brilliance of Chris Jericho and Triple H. Orlando recognized the excellence Jericho and Triple H brought to the ring, so when his football days were over, he went to wrestling school to follow in their footsteps.
Orlando’s first stop was Old Time Wrestling in Glassboro NJ. Under the tutelage of former ECW official Jim Molineaux, he learned the basics of how to work in the ring as well as the etiquette of the locker room. Orlando then made his way to the Sanctuare, Jon Patrick Trosky took him under his wing. “This was the deciding factor of my life in wrestling as he took me from a boy playing wrestler and made me into the worker you see today.”
Orlando has worked with a number of stars in his young career including Mike Verna, Dalton Castle, EC3, Chris Masters, and Matt Macintosh, but ask him to name his best match and he’ll tell you, “My best match is yet to happen.” Orlando carries the college football mentality that you are only as good as your last play. He is focused on learning and improving with every opportunity given to him in the hopes it will lead to the ultimate goal: a match at Wrestlemania.
Ask him to name a dream opponent and Orlando goes right back to his days as a fan. “Jericho or Triple H. I’m going to go on a whim and say Jericho and myself would be out of this world. I admire his work so much inside and out of the ring.”
“Mike is a hard worker, with a bright future,” says Thomas Brewington of the Indy Card Mafia. “He has all the tools to make it to ‘the show,’ and has earned everything he’s been given to opportunity to attain.”
Orlando currently holds the Sanctuary Heavyweight Championship, the UPWA Carolinas Championship, and the IWA Vintage Heavyweight Champion. He’s a regular at Sanctuary, ECPW, UPWA, EVOLVE, and CZW. “People can see me work everywhere. You never know where I will show up next. I pride myself with having as many matches a week as possible.”
Time will tell of his Wrestlemania dream can come true. Orlando knows it won’t come easy, and he remains grateful for everything that has happened thus far. “I hope in the next five to ten years I’m blessed to be doing this amazing job on a main stage. I want to make a living off of this forever. As long as I’m doing so, I’ll be happy.”
Fans can follow Mike on his website, therealeliteathlete.com. You can also find him on Facebook and see many of his matches on Youtube.