“The kids are our future” is an oft-used phrase. In the case of 16-year-old Nick Wayne, it’s more than true.

Nick Wayne was born into a wrestling family, and in the ring long before he could walk. His father is the late Buddy Wayne, and his grandfather is Moondog Ed Moretti.

Moondog Ed Moretti, Buddy Wayne and all swaddled up is Nick Wayne.

It’s an understatement to say wrestling is his passion, nothing else compares. Even when he’s at Cascade High School, in Everett, Washington, the idea was his courses, such as weightlifting, auto shop, Spanish, would compliment his passion. Everything to this point has been for his love of professional wrestling.

Born in Seattle, Wayne had his first paid gig in wrestling as a referee for a match  … when he was in fourth grade. He’d had plenty of experience previously at his father’s wrestling school.

Buddy Wayne (born Steve Finley) wrestled for more than 30 years, having bouts across the country, and doing occasional work for WWF, WCW and other bigger promotions. Given his skillset, a wrestling school made sense. His son never officially enrolled, but was always there, watching, absorbing.

“Growing up as a kid, I would always go out there and watch him [his dad] teach the students, I was so mesmerized by that,” Wayne told SlamWrestling.net, over the phone after a day of school “no matter where I was, there was always some type of wrestling.” After spending so much time watching the chain wrestling, the brawling, the exercises and drills, and studying wrestling videos, young Nick felt like it was the moment to finally try it on his own. Initially, he would “mess around in the ring” trying out the moves he had seen. At age nine, he convinced his father that he desperately wanted — more than anything else in this world — to fully be a part of the training training. Buddy couldn’t say no.

They trained and trained, and then, on June 17, 2017, Buddy died of a heart attack, at his wrestling school. He was 50.

Nick Wayne, age 12, made his in-ring wrestling debut two months later.

“Some people worry about age, but guys like Rey Mysterio and Eddy Guerrero, they started training really young as well,” Wayne said. “Mysterio started at 16. When I was very young, it wasn’t a problem, and it’s not now.”

As one of the most in-demand pro wrestlers based in the Pacific Northwest, Nick Wayne is proving that age doesn’t matter to the promoters either, and his schedule is full, including opportunities on the rising Game Changer Wrestling platform.

Nick Wayne.

To Nick, age does not matter. He has wrestled opponents who are twice his age, like Petey Williams, Alex Shelley and Logan James. Plenty are bigger too, as Nick is 162 pounds, 6-foot-1, still growing into the man he will be.

But boy oh boy, can he fly. When it comes to high-flying maneuvers, he just does it, often the day of, no practice runs. “It’s something I know how to do now. I keep it in my back pocket,” he downplayed “it’s amazing because some of it is very high risk.” Using the trampoline when he was younger allowed him to face certain fears of falling, and gave him confidence to do it in the ring.

He inspires to be like very well-known wrestlers Will Ospreay, AJ Styles, KENTA, Rey Fenix, and Ilja Dragunov, and studies them and their moves. In fact, facing Ospreay is a dream. “He’s the man. He’s crazy,” said Wayne

On Saturday, February 12, Wayne faces the legendary “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels, in the main event for DEFY at Washington Hall in Seattle. It’s for the Interim DEFY championship, which Daniels currently holds.

It’s Wayne’s face out there on the poster. “I’m going in the match with a lot of pressure on myself,” he said “One, because I’m sharing the ring with a legend like Christopher Daniels. And two, it’s the DEFY world champion, the Defiance I look at them as my family. I want to be able to make them proud. I’m nervous and confident to go,”

He’s been on DEFY shows before, but this is the first main event — and the company’s fifth anniversary show. DEFY promoter Matt Farmer has known Wayne — and Buddy — for a long time. He’s happy have to him on the show while he still can. “This recent surge in popularity has got him traveling a lot. I think he’s getting overwhelmed a bit. It’s crazy as he’s been a major demand,” said Farmer.

Consider the list. Wayne is currently the BICC wrestling champion, based out of Bellingham, Washington, and has been to other promotions, such as Black Label Pro, Violence and Suffering Wrestling, Dream Wrestling, WAC, Prestige Wrestling, DOA, West Coast Pro, Raise the Bar, SFW.

One of his favorite matches, from November 2021, was against Joey Janela which lasted over 30 minutes, his longest bout to date. [Watch it here.] Wayne won by submission. The wrestling move called the ‘Spanish Fly’ was high-risk, especially off the top rope, but he hit it just right.

There are plenty of clips of Wayne and his moves in the ring, and “unheard of” gets thrown around. There’s his Spring-ward cutter out of the corner, which is his finishing move, and he does a unique Fugiwara arm bar. “I like taking risks,” said Wayne “I’ve taken a lot of risks with the Spanish Fly off the second rope and onto the floor, I’ve done the Spanish Fly off the top rope through a door.”

Nick Wayne with his parents Buddy and Shayna.

Nick isn’t the only one who grew up in the business. His mother, Shayna Edwards, did too. Since 1978, Shayna was raised by her aunt, Dale Giovannetti, and Moondog Ed Moretti (Ed Giovannetti). Moondog said that Shayna “spoke Carny” — an inside wrestling secret language — “since seven or eight-years-old” and has always been “very smart to this business.”

Buddy’s death rocked the family, but together, mother and son got through it. Shayna is his biggest supporter when it comes to wrestling, proud that he is travelling to do what he loves, showing what he can do in and outside the ring. To be who he wanted to be. His family is one big hug of proudness.

Nick, however, does not want to ever hear that wrestling is fake. He can quickly detail the multiple jaw kicks he received, the broken nose in December, the scar on his eyebrow. All are real. One time he wrestled Atticus Cogar, he got skewers in his head and bled. His vision changed once because he got hit in the head. “You know when you get up too fast and see static-y stuff,” he said “my vision turned a very light tin orange, I rolled to the outside and splatted on the floor, my vision went back to normal. It was weird, it’s like I saw an Instagram filter in real life.” adding that included blackouts. He heard the haters, dismissing his injuries, as a kid looking for sympathy. He transformed the vitriol into fuel to keep pushing himself farther. It was extra motivation.

At the end of January, Game Changer Wrestling had a major pay-per-view, The Wrld On GCW, at the Hammerstein ballroom in New York City, and Wayne was scheduled to be on it. At the last minute, he was pulled, not allowed to participate, because he was not 18. Wayne had new gear made and plenty of innovative ideas for the show. He doesn’t know exactly what happened, but was told that, three or four days prior, someone emailed the athletic commission about his age. Wayne made the best of it, enjoying New York City, watching his friends perform.

Still, there are plenty of people in Wayne’s corner. Especially Grandpa Moondog.

Ed Moretti visits with his grandson before a show in northern California in 2021.

“He’s loved the business all his life, there has been nothing else. That is Nick’s impressive and solid past. His entire family, and fans he doesn’t even know he has, are so proud and impressed by him, and he’s making his mark in the business at a very rare early age. This is Nick’s present. He will be working with a very seasoned and highly regarded veteran of our sport, one that will take him to his limits and will be his litmus test on his status in the business,” said Ed Moretti. “I truly feel that Nick will now realize what he has in store for himself. He has a shot at becoming an international superstar, this I believe is my grandson’s future.”

And the new outfit Nick Wayne didn’t get to use at The Wrld On GCW pay-per-view? It’s light blue, purple and white — and it’s debuting Saturday against Christopher Daniels.

— with files from Greg Oliver

TOP PHOTO: Nick Wayne reaches out to Starboy Charlie. Twitter photo