A FORMER Bradford Bulls Academy ace turned wrestling star has spoken of his battle to overcome a 'freak injury' to continue pursuing his Stateside dream.

Luke Menzies, who wrestles under the character name Ridge Holland, broke and dislocated his left ankle, dislocated his knee cap and ruptured the patellar tendon on his right leg in a wrestling match.

He suffered the injury on an episode of World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) NXT programme, where Holland brawled with fellow wrestlers Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch after defeating the latter in a match.

As he caught Lorcan leaping over the top rope to deliver a cross-body move, Holland suffered the injuries and he had to be stretchered out of the arena.

Menzies, who was sidelined in October last year, is recovering from the injury, which is expected to take six to nine months from when he sustained it, meaning he could be back in the ring by this summer.

It came as a blow to Menzies as his Holland character was starting to make waves in NXT - the organisation which often proves a springboard to becoming a superstar for the main WWE roster.

Menzies says he hopes to return to action after being given a couple of high-profile matches, challenging for an NXT North American Championship match in the weeks before his injury.

Menzies, 32, who now lives in Orlando, was a former Spen Valley Sports College in Liversedge student, who stays true to his West Yorkshire roots in his wrestling persona.

As Ridge Holland, he walks to the ring wearing a flat cap, calling himself the Bother Causer and using Northern Grit as a hashtag.

Menzies said: "My injury happened when an opponent dived out of the ring onto me, as I tried to catch him I broke and dislocated my left ankle and dislocated my knee cap and ruptured the patellar tendon on the right leg. It was a freak injury.

"The recovery is going well, the medical staff are top notch and have got me well on the road to coming back."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

His rehabilitation from injury has also led to Menzies looking back on his breakout 2020 in the wrestling business and looking ahead to what this year has to offer once he returns to the ring.

He added: "2020 was bitter sweet. Just as I was showing everyone who Ridge Holland was, and letting them know what Yorkshire grit was all about, this injury happened.

"My hopes for 2021 are just to get back, bigger and better then 2020 and take it from there."

Menzies says he would love to have the chance to wrestle in front of UK crowds, especially in his native Yorkshire, whenever that is possible due to the constraints of the pandemic.

He said: "Obviously there’s an excitement of possibly coming back over to the UK to perform (hopefully in Yorkshire) but the goal at the minute is to just get back to throwing people around and rattling a few teeth.

I know it’s tough over in the UK at the minute with lockdowns. My message is for people to stay strong and, of course, thank you for their continued support

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.

His Twitter page previously featured a black and white photograph of Albert Terrace in Saltaire.

Menzies added: "Ridge Holland is just an extension of me. He keeps himself to himself, likes to be physical when the time is right and doesn't mind causing a bit of bother if the mood takes him.

"The hat he wears is an homage to Yorkshire heritage and the hardworking fellas that Yorkshire is synonymous with.

"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."

Away from the wrestling ring in the States, Luke own sporting past in rugby league started in Bradford. He went on to play as a prop for clubs including Batley Bulldogs, York City Knights and Toronto Wolfpack between 2007 and 2017.

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