He’s been wrestling in the city since he was in high school. Now, this Northeast native is returning to the arena where he practiced wrestling professionally.
They say practice make perfect.
If that’s true, Rory Gulak must be a very good wrestler.
Ever since he was in high school, the 27-year-old has spent a lot of time in the wrestling room. He became an accomplished wrestler at Northeast, and when he graduated, he continued to work as a coach throughout the city.
He wasn’t just practicing Greco-Roman wrestling.
When he was 14, as he was wrestling for Northeast, he also entered the world of professional wrestling. He was following in the footsteps of his brother, Drew, who also competed at Northeast and at the same time worked to become a pro wrestler.
“It was hard, I’d say it was harder than wrestling for Northeast because in high school wrestling, I was always going up against guys my size,” said Gulak, who estimates he weighed about 100 pounds when he entered high school. “When I was learning how to be a pro wrestler, I was going against whoever was there, and some of the guys were huge. I was in there doing it against guys who were twice as big as me or more.
“We would go after wrestling practice to the ECW Arena in South Philly. I would work with my brother, whoever was there. It was hard, but I loved it.”
Gulak will make his return to the former ECW Arena, now known as the 2300 Arena, on June 10 when he competes for Wildkat Sports Wrestling. The show also includes former WWE wrestler Stevie Richards, an Abraham Lincoln grad, Scott Hall and Luke Hawx, the owner of the promotion who recently had a starring role in The Fate of the Furious.
“I’m really excited about it because Luke works so hard for this, and he only gets guys who can wrestle,” Gulak said. “It’s at the arena. The fans there love wrestling and they expect good wrestling, and Luke knows that. He works so hard at bringing the fans what they want.
“If you’re a person who likes wrestling and you’re not sure if you want to go, I would suggest checking them out on YouTube. They’re nationally known because people who watch it love it.”
Wrestling has been in Gulak’s blood since he was a kid. He grew up taking his lumps from his older brother, who recently signed with World Wrestling Entertainment and is often featured on Monday Night Raw on national TV.
While Drew is tearing it up with the biggest promotion in the world, his brother has not only been starring in independent federations throughout the East Coast, he’s been helping future wrestlers, both pro and amateur.
During the day, Gulak is the wrestling coach at South Philadelphia High School. This year, he helped guide senior Miles Lee to a fifth-place finish in the PIAA state tournament. It was the highest showing ever for a Public League wrestler.
And just like when he was in high school, Gulak would rush from high school wrestling practice to the CHIKARA wrestling school, 4711 Wingate St. in Holmesburg. There, he would continue to hone his craft while helping the next generation of wrestlers learn how to wrestle.
“I think teaching helps you get better because it reinforces things,” said Gulak, who has wrestled for CHIKARA and CZW in the Philadelphia area. “I was happy when I was able to help. I’ve had a lot of people help me, and I’m glad I can do the same for others.”
Wrestling is Gulak’s passion, but he’s looking to diversify. He is looking into becoming a police officer, but he’s not giving up his dream of wrestling.
Making it to Wildkat, especially on a show as big as the promotion’s Philadelphia debut, helps put him on the right track.
“When I talked to Luke about wrestling, I was really excited because I know if Luke asks you to wrestle for him, he knows you’re going to do well,” Gulak said. “I can’t wait. I know we’ll have a lot of people there. Anyone who loves wrestling should go.”
Gulak likely will be wrestling in a singles match. Until Drew signed with WWE, he and Rory were known as the Amazing Gulaks. And while a reunion won’t take place at the Wildkat show, there’s a good chance the brothers will reunite sometime on the biggest stage of them all.
“I love my brother and I’m so happy to see him wrestle with WWE,” Gulak said. “I love seeing him there because he’s worked so hard. He put in so much and he deserves everything he got. I loved tagging with him, but I wasn’t upset to see him go. I was happy.
“I would say now more than ever, there’s a chance anyone can go to WWE because of the things they’ve done. I would love to go, but I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.”
He’s also happy to see what happens on June 10.
“Everyone is excited about Wildkat coming here because Philadelphia loves wrestling, and Wildkat is going to be great,” Gulak said. “When Luke asked me to wrestle here, I know (Stevie) Richards will be there. It’s not a Philly company, but there are a lot of guys with Philly ties, and they know what Philly fans want. I know anyone who goes will be happy with it.” ••
For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, visit wildkatwrestling.com.