Head butts, hair pulling, even wedgies were accepted strategies Sunday at the TNA Impact Wrestling tour stop in Bowling Green.
|Two TNA Imapct wrestlers collide inside the ring during a show at BGSU’s Stroh Center (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
“I’ve liked this since I was little,” said Josh Konesky, of Fremont, as he waited for the show to begin. “I’m just a big kid.”
Konesky said he soured on WWE wrestling when it lost some of the integrity of the sport. TNA is more “pure” wrestling, he said.
Patrick Lockwood, of Oak Harbor, with his 8-inch long hair spiked into pink and green rows, agreed that TNA has other big time wrestling programs beat.
“You have more of the old school wrestlers here at TNA,” he said.
As fans found their seats and bought wrestling merchandise, Dlo Brown waited in a side room for the show to begin. Brown, a former wrestler himself, now is TNA’s lead agent, putting matches together.
The wrestling matches are a mixture of sport and entertainment. “We are the best of both,” Brown said. “I’ve been a fan since I was a kid.”
People generally watch TNA wrestling for three reasons — the action, the scantily clad women wrestlers, and the fine-tuned choreography — though Brown said they avoid that word in the business.
“I think they like the strategy that goes on in the matches,” he said, using the preferred terminology.
The matches are a mixture of theatrics and reality.
“Guys can get hurt,” Brown said. “You can’t fake gravity.”
Brown described the physicality of the sport like this. “Go lay in bed, and roll off onto the floor. Then repeat that 30 times.”
Fans closely follow the exaggerated personas of their favorite wrestlers, like “The Charismatic Enigma” Jeff Hardy, “The Cowboy” James Storm, and “Velvet Sky.”
A good name can go a long way with fans, Brown said.
“Joe the Paperboy isn’t a good thing for TV. Joe the Terminator is better,” he explained.
|TNA wrestler Devon chokes another wrestler, Jeff Hardy, during the final cage match.
The longevity of wrestlers varies.
“Some guys last one week, some 10 years” in big time wrestling, Brown said.
The fans also vary. It used to be big time wrestling fans were associated with the NASCAR crowd, but not anymore. Brown said he has been at matches where fans in bib overalls are sitting next to fans in Armani suits.
“We play all over the world,” he said.
The wrestling rules are as follows — anything goes. While the outcome of the match is pre-determined, “everything from bell to bell is as real as it can get,” Brown said. As the evening goes, the matches get dirtier — culminating with the steel cage match.
The wrestlers can kick, punch, scratch, “whatever the ref doesn’t see is fine.” There is one unwritten rule, however. “We don’t like to kick in the ‘man region.’ That’s just not a sportsman-like thing to do,” Brown said.
The fans hooted at the exaggerated moves, of the wrestlers ricocheting off the ropes, stomping on each other, putting each other in headlocks, and climbing up the corners and pouncing on opponents.
Some matches featured wrestlers the fans loved to hate. Such was the bout between the tanned, blond gel-haired, rhinestone-studded, muscle-bound tough guys from New Jersey pitted against a pudgy sweatsuit-clad opponent from Chicago.
“I think it’s really funny,” said 8-year-old, Ryder Doane, of Fostoria, who got to sit ringside as a birthday gift. Doane’s favorite wrestler is Hardy. “He’s a daredevil.”
Jenny Thompson, of Perrysburg, prefers the top female TNA wrestler, Velvet Sky. “I love how the females show that we’re not all little prissy things. We’re tough girls.”
While fans yelled and music pounded, some preferred a more subdued form of entertainment. Backstage, security people had the TV tuned into the red carpet arrivals of stars at the Academy Awards, and verbally sparred over their favorite Oscar picks.