From Hanover to Japan, from England to Australia, the world of professional wrestling has taken James Gibson all over the globe.

Actually, that’s not the Hanover in central Germany. It’s Hanover, W.Va. — the small community in western Wyoming County to which Gibson is native. But he has been to those other locales, performing in front of thousands of wrestling fans worldwide.

Wrestling has opened doors Gibson never imagined when he was suplexing his friends on a trampoline at the age of 15.

“No, not at the beginning,” Gibson said in a phone interview Thursday. “You set high goals and have high expectations. Sometimes things are going well and at other times you just want to throw in the towel.”

Fortunately, Gibson never did that. He never gave up, not even during the days when he was working in the independent circuits, waiting for his big break. That finally happened in 1999 when he was granted a tryout by now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.

Three years later, Gibson landed a spot with World Wrestling Entertainment. Now you can see him every week on “WWE Monday Night Raw” as Jamie Noble, a technically sound wrestler with an exaggerated West Virginia accent.

Gibson’s journey to the bright lights of WWE had modest beginnings. He and his friends used to wrestle on trampolines or in the gym at Baileysville High, where he graduated in 1996.

Before the days of live Monday night shows, the most ardent of wrestling fans could be found in their living rooms every Saturday evening. Gibson was no different.

“I loved it,” he said. “Every chance I got, I watched it.

“I liked the Four Horsemen, the Rock-n-Roll Express. I was just a huge fan of the (Jim) Crockett (Promotions) era. I watched a lot of that.”

Gibson also enjoyed watching the superstars of WWE — back then, the World Wrestling Federation — such as the Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs.

“For me to pick one favorite,” Gibson said, “would be impossible.”

Gibson was bitten by the wrestling bug, but his interest wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

Upon graduating from Baileysville, Gibson hopped in the car and traveled to Kentucky and Tennessee, anywhere to latch on to an indy promotion. So talented was Gibson that he was given the opportunity to train under the guidance of technical master Dean Malenko.

“It was awesome,” said Gibson, who now resides in Melbourne, Fla., with his wife, the former Angela England — also a Baileysville grad — and their 7-year-old son Gage.

“I didn’t get to do much hands-on training with (Malenko), but at that time Monday Nitro was WCW’s live (TV) event, and the wrestling industry was booming.”

That was enough exposure to earn Gibson a spot on the WCW roster. His in-ring name was Jamie-San and he was part of the Japanese trio Jung Dragons. Gibson, of course, is not Japanese, so he was the only masked member of the group.

Eventually, WCW was sold by AOL Time Warner to WWE, and Gibson made the transition — sans the mask. He was sent to mat legend Les Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Association to work on both his wrestling and microphone skills.

During his time at HWA, Gibson was known as Jamie “By God” Noble — a “little bit” of a tribute to his native West Virginia.

At HWA, Gibson won the circuit’s cruiserweight championship.

The following year, Gibson made his WWE debut and, on June 23, 2002, he defeated The Hurricane for the cruiserweight title on the pay-per-view broadcast “King of the Ring.” His reign as champion lasted nearly five months.

Gibson wrestled in England and Australia during that stint in WWE before he and the company parted ways in September 2004. A month later, however, he signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling and stayed there for eight months before re-signing with WWE, where he has been ever since.

After wrestling on Smackdown, WWE’s Friday night show, Gibson was “drafted” over to Raw June 25.

While he is still wrestling, Gibson has also become heavily involved in the production of WWE telecasts. He will be behind the scenes next Saturday for the annual “Saturday Night’s Main Event” broadcast on NBC, and Aug. 17 for the annual pay-per-view extravaganza “Summer Slam.”

“The WWE is on top of the world,” Gibson said.

And the Wyoming County boy is proud to be part of it.

— E-mail:

React to this story:


Trending Video