STOOD at passport control in Orlando International Airport, Batley lad Luke Menzies waited unaware that he was about to receive the news that he had waited a lifetime for.
The former Batley Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams forward had just visited the WWE Performance Centre in Florida to undergo a medical examination with the worldwide wrestling company.
Menzies made the switch from rugby league to wrestling at the start of 2017 in the hopes of becoming a WWE superstar.
And now it’s about to happen.
The 30-year-old signed a contract with the WWE over one year ago but was unable to obtain a visa from the United States government, putting his dream on hold.
The WWE prospect had even sold his house and was left devastated when his initial visa application was rejected.
The Dewsbury-born athlete has been making a name for himself on the independent British wrestling circuit for the last year and just two weeks ago his second visa application was granted.
“I was flying back and I was literally waiting in the airport to go through passport control and I got an email to say my visa had been approved,” Menzies told The Press.
“There was no better time really, after waiting for 12 months and initially getting rejected – I could’ve cried, to be honest.
“After loads of hard work and loads of pressure on my family, it was nice to finally get approval.”
After having his first visa rejected Menzies’ biggest hurdle was re-convincing his friends and family that his dream could still be realised.
He will move to Florida with his wife, Stacey and his nine-month-old daughter, Isla.
Menzies has been with Stacey for a decade and after years of struggle in the rugby and wrestling worlds, he is proud to be giving his family the chance of a new life in America.
“I never let myself enjoy it, I was always thinking that anything could happen. So I just kept wrestling on the British scene and tried to focus on being a better wrestler rather than thinking about the WWE,” he continued.
“I just kept guiding myself, it was a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ kind of situation, and it didn’t seem real until it had been approved.
“I fly out on July 11, I am sure it will feel real then. I am keeping a lid on it, I am kind of reserved about it because this last year has been a bit of a trial, and it’s been quite tough.
“I am trying to keep myself in my shell and I just want to go out there and get to work really.
“Once I get out there I think it will all kind of hit home.
“It is also about showing my family and friends that I could make it happen, especially my wife because she sacrificed a hell of a lot, giving up work and things like that.
“We have got a young child, so I had to show even more faith in myself.
“It was more about reassuring them that everything would be okay, I didn’t really know everything was going to be ok but I had a good feeling that if I worked hard it would happen, and it has.”
At the beginning of 2017, Menzies had already been sold on one North American dream as he signed for Canadian rugby league outfit Toronto Wolfpack.
The 30-year-old former rugby player had initially decided to quit rugby league after being released by Salford Red Devils following a number of injury problems.
However, after playing just one friendly game for the Wolfpack Menzies was invited to a WWE trial in Orlando.
“I signed for the Toronto Wolfpack because playing rugby was all I had ever done in order to pay the bills, it was like a safety net for me,” he said.
“So people said to me ‘why are you doing it?’ They had their little jibes and poked fun at me but now everyone can’t believe it is happening.
“I don’t care who you are or where you’ve come from there’s a good chance that, as a kid, you watched wrestling.
“And I’m kind of living every kid’s dream, everyone has come full circle and the jibes and poking fun has gone and most people are just saying good luck.
“I have won people round, it is kind of good, a stick it up ‘em kind of thing to people who said ‘it’ll never work, what are you doing?’
“It’s good that I’ve put in enough hard work to have changed people’s perception of it.”
Menzies is under no illusions about the size of the task that awaits him once he makes his move across the Atlantic.
But he is adamant that he will be able to make it to the very top of the WWE with the right work ethic.
“If you go into this sport not wanting to be the best then there is no point in starting.
“The opportunities for British wrestlers to get to WWE and be seen on a massive platform is the best that it has ever been.
“Eventually I will work up to NXT house shows, NXT TV and then onto the main roster, that’s kind of the pathway but how soon it will happen and how it will happen I don’t know.
“If they think I’m ready and if I impress, if they have got something for me creative wise then the sky’s limit.”
Menzies’ coach Marty Jones, who made a name for himself as a professional wrestler in the 1970s and 80s, believes the former Batley player has what it takes to reach the top.
“I’ve not told him this or discussed it with anybody but I think they (the WWE) can see the potential in him that I can see,” said Jones.
“And I can see him going straight to the top very quickly. He’s got the attributes, the sporting background and he’s fearless, I think he’s three-quarters of the way there.”
Menzies will be joined by another one of Jones’ prodigies, Dewsbury man Amir Jordan, who has also signed a contract with the WWE.