A FORMER Bradford Bulls Academy star says he is ready to take his "massive opportunity" to climb up the wrestling ladder as he starts his pursuit for a top title in his debut bout.

Luke Menzies, 32, now lives in Orlando, Florida, as he pursues a career in World Wrestling Entertainment, a world away from his childhood as a student at Spen Valley Sports College in Liversedge.

He stays true to his West Yorkshire roots in his wrestling persona. Named Ridge Holland, he walks to the ring wearing a flat cap, calling himself the Bother Causer and using Northern Grit as a hashtag.

He has now made the switch from the WWE-run NXT UK spin-off promotion up to the NXT group, where he will make his debut next Wednesday.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Details of Luke Menzies', AKA Ridge Holland's, debut match for NXT next weekDetails of Luke Menzies', AKA Ridge Holland's, debut match for NXT next week

Mr Menzies’ debut will be in a triple threat contest, where all three wrestlers compete in the ring at the same time, against Damian Priest and Oney Lorcan. This is an NXT North American Championship qualifying match, with the winner advancing to a ladder match on August 22, where the vacant title will go to the first man to climb up to grab the belt.

Mr Menzies’ debut was teased in a preview video on this week’s NXT programme where his character was introduced to the wrestling fans.

In the video, former rugby league star Menzies in his Ridge Holland character says: “Growing up in Yorkshire, England, you either go to jail or you fight your way out.

"My way out was a sport built on malice. Unfortunately, they said I was too violent.

"Ask anyone I have been on the field with, ask anyone I have been in the ring with, they don't leave the same.

"NXT this is your warning. Ridge Holland is coming for the North American Championship."

Menzies told the Telegraph & Argus: "It's a massive opportunity, not only to debut, but to possibly go on to challenge for the NXT North American championship.

"It’s definitely getting thrown in at the deep end, but pressure is a good thing and it’s just the beginning.

"I just try and take things day by day and opportunity by opportunity."

Mr Menzies still has strong roots in the Bradford district as his father, Alan Menzies, who used to play rugby league for Odsal Sedbergh, lives in Shipley.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus last month, he said: "I dish out my own version of Northern/Yorkshire grit in the squared circle.

"There's a slight Peaky Blinders influence along with a dash of Jack the Ripper and Bill Sykes from Oliver.

"I'm immensely proud of my Yorkshire roots, my boots have 'Made in Yorkshire' stitched into the back of them.

Sometimes people in the States can't understand me and don't get my sense of humour but that's tough. It's me and I can't change my spots

Mr Menzies switched to the ring after playing as a rugby league prop for clubs including Batley Bulldogs, York City Knights and Toronto Wolfpack between 2007 and 2017.

His father played for Odsal Sedbergh and then Birkenshaw so he says it was inevitable that he would become a Bulls fan.

He then went on to chase his dreams of a career in the ring and had a tryout with WWE after six months and is now based in Orlando at the WWE’s Performance Center and one day wants to feature on its biggest annual show, WrestleMania.