Wrestlers grapple in Linwood event
It may not be the glitzy Monday night event shown on cable television and maybe there weren't the same household names making appearances, but the audience got its entertainment dollars' worth at the city of Linwood's recent wrestling main event.
One wouldn't normally think the small, southern Leavenworth County town would host such an event, but on Feb. 23, more than 100 spectators witnessed "Layin it on the Line in Linwood," a professional wrestling event by Triple Xtreme Wrestling.
The matches took place at the Linwood Community Center and proceeds went to the Linwood Community Library.
On Saturday night, TXW showcased seven individual matches and finished the evening with a Battle Royal.
TXW is a small pro wrestling outlet out of Kansas City, Mo. Wrestler Derek Stone said the federation takes its live shows to small cities like Linwood throughout the year.
"These are the cities that we live in," Stone said.
The TXW wrestlers don't have the notoriety of their cable TV counterparts. Most of them said they have full-time jobs outside the wrestling ring.
Ask any of the wrestlers why they do it and two recurring themes come up in their answers: the love of pro wrestling and the possibility of making it to the big time, the World Wrestling Federation.
"It looks easy on TV, until you try it."
James "The Grizz" Grizzle, 32, is currently the TXW heavweight champion.
Unlike many of the TXW competitors, he has seen the posh market of the big pro wrestling leagues. He said he has worked for the WWF a few times and could again in April.
But since the merger of the WWF and World Championship Wrestling, jobs in the large market are scarce.
The Grizz now wrestles eight to 10 shows a month in small- market cities, waiting for the big break that will put him in every TV viewing household in America.
Like most of the TXW wrestlers, The Grizz said he has always been a fan of pro wrestling. He'll never understand why people criticize wrestling for being fake, he said.
"Anybody that has a feeling wrestling is fake can come out to the wrestling school and see the suplexes and body slams," The Grizz said. "It looks easy on TV, until you try it.
"There's a lot of realism. You'll see some blood tonight I'm sure."
True to The Grizz's prediction, blood was spilled on the forehead of wrestler Sean Knight in the fourth match of the evening.
"It's just for the love of the sport," The Grizz said.
The next Mick Foley?
One is a 17-year-old high school student and the other an 18-year-old college student.
Despite their ages, Brandon Brown, or as his ring moniker suggests, Freaky B, and David Cattin made their professional debuts on Saturday night.
Brown, a high school student at Raytown South in Missouri, made his debut as a ring announcer and Cattin a ring referee.
They both said they want to be wrestlers. Being an announcer and referee are ways to break into the business, they said.
"This has always been a dream and this is the hardest step," Cattin said. "It's just another aspect to learn."
They both said they want to make it big and be like their idol, professional wrestling icon Mick Foley.
"He's like a God," Brown said.
They both know they have a lot of work to do before making it big.
Right now, Brown stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 150 pounds.
"I'm lifting," he said. "It just takes time."
Taking Center Stage
Gage Octane has wrestled professionally for almost two years. He doesn't have to wrestle. He has other avenues to earn a living.
Octane has a bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, most appropriately, in theater.
"I like the showmanship of it," Octane said of professional wrestling. "I've always been a fan. Wrestling is a unique animal. Not everyone likes to watch football. I just like to entertain."
On Saturday night, Octane wrestled The Krow. He looks beyond the night's match and focuses on his larger goal, making it to the WWF.
"I think any individual would like to make it to the WWF," he said. "Right now, I don't make any ill-fated goals. I don't see myself in the WWF in the next few years. It's next to impossible right now.
"I just want to use this time to get better and get prepared. It's how can I market myself and get noticed."
The End Result
For all the bumps and bruises, and sweat and hard work, The Grizz said there is one thing that keeps everybody coming back for match after match, barnstorming small towns with small crowds.
"Hearing the crowd after you win a match or after you win a title is awesome," he said. " Man, being in the WWF in front of 20,000 people is awesome."