REAL NAME: Nicole Jackle
BORN: June 23, 1972 in New Westminster, British Columbia
5’2 3/4″ (“Don’t forget the three-quarters!”), 130 pounds
AKA: Barbra Republic, Buffy Republic, Buffy

It’s refreshing to talk to a wrestler who has things in perspective. The wrestling business can be cold, full of broken dreams and promises.

Yet here’s Buffy Republic from the British Columbia-based ECCW who has put her wrestling career on hold to take care of things on the home front and finish her degree in Education.

Buffy. — photos courtesy ECCW

“I’m a strange person in the wrestling business. I’m not normal as any other wrestler would probably tell you, ‘Yeah, any second.’ I have other priorities in my life,” Buffy told SLAM! Wrestling recently.

“It’s a personal preference, and I get into a lot of little arguments with other wrestlers over this whole topic because they don’t understand that what they want is not necessarily what I want. I think they think that every one in wrestling wants the same thing — to make it to the WWF — which is not necessarily the case. It’s kind of irritating sometimes.”

Buffy, who is really 29-year-old Nicole Jackle, is two credits away from her degree. It’s an important accomplishment for her — more important than anything she’s ever accomplished in the ring. “I put so many years into my education. I know I can always fall back on my education, but I worked a lot harder at getting my degree than I did becoming a wrestler.”

Growing up in New Westminster, B.C., Jackle was a big wrestling fan and would go to the WWF matches in Vancouver with her father. Bret Hart was her favourite, never any of the few women wrestlers.

“My Grade 10 yearbook says a lot about ‘Oh good luck in the WWF. Hope you make it in wrestling,'” she explained, recalling that in shop class they would have impromptu matches off the power saw and other lethal weapons. “I never thought nothing of it until a couple of years later when I saw a poster on a pole advertising for an ECCW wrestling show. I had no idea who they were.”

She checked out the ECCW web site and saw that they ran a wrestling school. Soon, she was signing up to work out with chief instructor Michelle Starr (Mark Vellios).

Training was “fun and hard at the same time” and Jackle learned the ropes with men, as there weren’t any other women training at the time. She was pretty athletic to start with, having done a year and a half of kickboxing. Plus she did a lot of Highland dancing and played soccer as a kid.

“I think like everyone, she was a little bit surprised — ‘Geez, this stuff hurts a little bit,'” said ECCW commissioner Dave Republic, who was to play an instrumental part in Jackle’s early career.

“She was one of our only girls at the time, so we kind of fast-tracked her where we created the character of my niece [Barbra],” Republic said. “The gimmick was that she was this young, timid schoolgirl learning the business and I was going to retire and hand over the business to her. Then slowly she became, as her training progressed, she started doing bumps and delivering offensive moves. Then from there, she turned into her own character where she rebelled from me and became kind of a hardcore wrestler.”

Jackle appreciates the way she was slowly introduced into the action. “[It] introduced my character before I was ever in the ring, which was nice. I think I had a benefit over some of the other girls starting later on,” she said.

“We were able to fast-track her because she had some half-decent mic skills and had a good look to her,” Republic said. “From there, her training progressed just as any guy’s would. She had to do A, B, C, and D in order to progress. She was very dedicated to it.”

The niece turning on the uncle was the obvious conclusion to the storyline, and Jackle took the opportunity to drop the name Barbra, which she hated, in favour of Buffy because she was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “People I say ‘Are you the vampire slayer?’ I say, ‘No, I’m the wrestler slayer!’,” she joked.

The highlight of her time in ECCW has been her feud with the Iron Maiden that escalated to virtually unparalleled levels of violence for a North American women’s match. Fans were treated to a Four Corners weapons match and a barbed-wire match.

Jackle wasn’t adverse to the hardcore style — just don’t identify her by it. “It’s one of those things that you don’t want to do all of the time because then people associate you with that all of the time, and I can wrestle also, so you don’t want to get put into one category all of the time. I want to be known for wrestling any style.”

“She’s good. She’s one of the better female wrestlers in the country,” said her trainer Michelle Starr. “She’s been to Japan now and Korea, and there’s a lot of other places she probably could go.”

The week-long tour of Japan with IWA in October 2000 definitely stands out for Jackle as the pinnacle of her career. She fought Etsuko Mita during the tour.

“[It was] not as tough as I thought it was going to be. I heard it’s pretty stiff out there, pretty hard but I think she was nice to me!”

“To get to Japan is hard, it’s one of those places that not many people get to go,” she said. Yet, it’s not feasible for Jackle to go to one of the all-women promotions in Japan because it would require a month’s time commitment, something she is not prepared to give.

Her nine-year-old son is her number one priority. Thankfully, he’s a wrestling fan, and she’s taught him a few moves. “He likes it. He likes watching the shows and stuff. I don’t think he realizes how cool it is to have a mom that wrestles. I think either half the kids don’t believe him or he’s just so used to it now.”

Buffy and Michelle Starr

The other thing that she is trying to work out is a visa for her husband of one year. He’s another ECCW wrestler named Havoc, who is an American. They’ve been married for more than a year, but not lived together yet.

Dave Republic, who besides being the public commissioner, is also one of the powers that be behind the promotion. He is completely understanding of Jackle’s situation. “She has a life outside of wrestling that she’s looking after and that’s the type of stuff that she wants to focus on,” he said.

Her husband Havoc broke his hip doing an Asai moonsault in January while wrestling for ECCW in Washington state. It derailed his wrestling career. At the last ECCW show in Vancouver, WA, Buffy announced she was taking time off. Michelle Starr, who had been a mentor to her in the storylines, called her ungrateful and started roughing her up. Havoc made the save and plans to be back wrestling in July. “We’ve acknowledged that there’s a relationship, more than anything else. I’ve kind of left that up to those two crazy kids to decide on how they want to do it,” Republic said.

“It’s a hard business to be in family-wise and I put my family before wrestling, where I don’t know if everyone does,” Jackle said.

Even the prospect of the WWF potentially calling doesn’t get her that excited. “I’d listen, but I don’t know if I’d necessarily go. I don’t know if I want that lifestyle. I’m in that kind of toss-up. Yeah, the money’s nice but I don’t need everyone to know who I am. That’s not important to me. I don’t need to be famous, I just need to know that I’m good at what I do and I’ve kind of come to that plateau that when I look at other women wrestlers in North America … I can do that no problem.”

Buffy Republic may be out of action, away from the public spotlight. But her heart’s still with her friends in ECCW.

“She’s taking a little bit of a break from wrestling, but she still calls me on a daily basis asking me what’s up,” Republic laughed. “This could be a Terry Funk kind of retirement.”