July 21, 2007
Wessman show joins wrestling’s two
By Rick Lubbers
Does amateur wrestling — with its half-nelsons,
chicken wings and cradle holds — have much in common with
professional wrestling and its sleeper holds, pile drivers and chairs
across the back?
Wrestling and wrasslin’ — that’s
amateur and professional grappling for those who don’t know
the difference — will not share the ring tonight at Superior’s
Wessman Arena, but a portion of the proceeds from the professional
wrestling card will go toward high school and youth wrestling in
the Twin Ports.
The two wrestling disciplines aren’t often
mentioned in the same breath, but show promoter Dave Sabick said
more amateur wrestlers are prolonging their careers by jumping into
the professional wrestling ring. So when the 22-year-old Duluth
Denfeld graduate decided to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from
the card, youth wrestling seemed a logical recipient.
“When you first get into pro wrestling,
they tell you not to watch amateur wrestling because it kind of
messes your whole technique up,” Sabick said. “Now,
you have a lot of amateur wrestlers — guys like Brock Lesnar
and Scott Steiner — who have made it and have done quite well.”
Lesnar and Steiner won’t be mixing it up
tonight, but Sabick has assembled an evening featuring several well-known
current and former pro wrestlers for bouts and appearances, including
Baron Von Raschke, Adrian Lynch, Nora Greenwald (aka “Molly
Holly”), “Wild” Bill Irwin, Heavy D (sshh, don’t
tell anyone that this is actually Sabick’s wrestling identity),
Cameron Steele, “Superstar” Steve Stardom, the Dark
Wolf, Arik Cannon, Zakk Neo, Josh Calisto, Jay Chaotic, Allison
Wonderland, Ben Sailor and Mike Rollins.
The two featured matches will be Duluth’s
own “Wild” Bill Irwin against Adrian Lynch and Ann Brookstone
vs. Christy Hemme, with guest referee Molly Holly.
While the wrestlers battling in the co-main events
are well-known to pro wrestling aficionados, others on the card
still hope to make their way to the “big ring” for a
major wrestling organization such as World Wrestling Entertainment.
Sabick hopes this event — and the others he plans to organize
— will boost the aspirations and careers of several local
and regional independent pro wrestlers, who dream of one day entering
the ring for the WWE, winning a battle royal and wearing the heavyweight
Sabick runs in pro wrestling circles in the Upper
Midwest. When someone mentioned how difficult it was for many of
those wrestlers to advance to big-time grappling, he decided to
put a show together to aid their cause. Although the event at Wessman
is his first, Sabick hopes others will follow if tonight’s
show is a success. He’s hoping 500 to 800 will show up at
the venue that holds 2,400.
“There’s a lot of guys who have been
busting their butts for years,” he said. “There’s
a lot of athleticism out there that no one knows about. They need
a stage, they need to show what they’re capable of doing.
And, hopefully, they will have enough work where, down the line,
the WWE will show up.
“A lot of them have what it takes; a lot
of them are better than what you see on television. It’s all
in who you know. WWE does not see you unless they call you and ask
you to a tryout.”
Sabick’s calling the event Heavy on Wrestling
— a play off his pro wrestling moniker and the show’s
emphasis. He recognizes the irony of a professional wrestling show
benefiting the “real thing,” but it’s a nice gesture.
Youth and high school wrestling are very popular
across the country and in the Midwest, but in the Northland they
struggle for attention during a busy winter of prep hockey, basketball
and cross country skiing. And the few schools that actually carry
the sport — Grand Rapids, Cloquet, Superior and Northwestern,
among them — often struggle to raise funds for youth and high
So, wrestlers who are used to making single-leg
takedowns should cheerfully accept the charity of those who would
rather body-slam their opponents.