JAMES NORWOOD is set to make his debut — in the WRESTLING ring.
The Ipswich striker and massive WWE fan has been knocking League One defences Stone Cold with five goals already this season.
And on Wednesday he is set to feature in a charity wrestling event in Harwich after becoming an internet sensation for his goal-celebration GIFs on social media, mimicking his WWE heroes.
His take on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s famous beer drinking act has had nearly 1.5million views.
It involved him bashing two opened beer cans together above his head before pouring the booze down his throat.
While another, depicting his all-time hero The Rock performing the People’s Elbow move, sparked a response from the great man himself.
The Rock — the world’s highest-paid actor Dwayne Johnson — tweeted: “Great form brother! #norwood #heartstopping #elbowdropping.”
Norwood, 29, was then contacted by the International Pro Wrestling League, inviting him to host and perform a “Norwood Mania” event to raise money for Cancer Research.
The Rock is my idol. I also love The Undertaker and Big Show because they are so huge they make big guys look so small.
The striker, signed from Tranmere in the summer, said: “I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was ten. I used to watch Wrestlemania, Raw and SmackDown.
“The Rock is my idol. He’s unbelievable and you see what Dwayne Johnson has gone on to do — it’s incredible. It shows how good he is in whatever field he participates in.
“I also love The Undertaker and Big Show because they are so huge they make big guys look so small.
“As a kid, I used to play-act them by jumping off beds at home.”
Most clubs post a GIF image of their goalscorer doing a celebration when they net during a game.
But Norwood said: “We got told we were filming some GIFs for social media. I thought everyone’s GIF was going to be the same so wanted to try something different.
“A couple of days before we went to Peterborough, I thought ‘Stone Cold’ and gave it a go.
“I scored and it went out. It got nearly 1.5m views. I thought, ‘I’m under pressure to keep it up now’.
“So I spoke to the media guys and they said it was great exposure.
“I did The Rock’s People’s Elbow and when the club posted that after I scored against Bolton it went mad.
“Then I woke up to a tweet from Dwayne Johnson himself. It was surreal. He’s got nearly 14m followers, he’s a top movie and wrestling star and whatever else. It’s mad The Rock has seen it and responded.
“I’d love to meet him. That would be a dream.”
Norwood Mania in Kingsway Hall has almost sold out, with tickets costing as little as £10.
It will stage six bouts with the Ipswich ace performing in one and possibly refereeing.
He laughed and said: “They’ve told me I’m the ‘guest enforcer’ and will even be refereeing or be in the main event.
“I was asked to choose a charity and picked Cancer Research. My dad suffered throat cancer but, thankfully, came out the other side.
“But I lost a team-mate at Exeter, Adam Stansfield, to the disease. Also I played with Hull’s Andrew McDonald in the England C team and he’s just been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“So it’s something close to my heart.”
Norwood has recorded several more GIFs for future goals.
He added: “The fans love it. I’d like to see more players do fun things.”
The hitman loves having a laugh and on his second day at Ipswich, he appeared in front of his team-mates wearing only the club chef’s apron.
He said: “The gaffer, Paul Lambert, was having a staff meeting and our club chef, Adam Gooderham, was outside playing with the lads so I thought I’d give him some banter.
“It was obvious he wouldn’t like the idea of me wearing his apron naked!
“I don’t care who I’m in front of, I’m always happy to have a laugh. This club got relegated last season and the last thing you want is everyone feeling down. So characters likes myself, the skipper Luke Chambers and Cole Scuse are old enough and wise enough to keep spirits high.”
Norwood could be excused for forming a tag team with Kayden Jackson, as the duo have already been involved in 12 goals so far.
Jackson, who has scored four and set up one, loves having a strong physical player in Norwood, who has two assists, to feed off.
He said: “It’s massive to be playing with someone like Nors, who can hold the ball up and win headers. Last season I was isolated on my own.”
And Norwood is hoping for an even bigger celebration GIF.
He said: “We’re aiming for the title so that GIF can become a sensation too.”Derby and Cardiff players flee pitch as emergency evacuation hits Championship clash less than an hour before kick off
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