Wrestling is not fake! At least not to Big Hoss who carries around a dented metal chair used on his head during a match. The folding metal weapon was used on his head and he has a nice bump to prove that not all of the show is an act.
The match did not take place in some swanky big-city arena with bright lights and flashy stars televised for all of the world to see. Instead, four flood lights illuminated a ring in the back of Weekend's Pub in Goose Creek where area wrestlers gather twice a month to fight for a couple hundred fans.
Welcome to the world of Old School Championship Wrestling.
The name says it all according to promoter Joe Blumenfeld. No fancy decor or bright lights, just wrestling like it was in the old days. The setting does harken back to an era before big television budgets. A stage surrounded by metal folding chairs, florescent lights and pool tables in a room stripped of advertisements and neon lights. The scene looks more like a back-alley fight club than a professional wrestling event.
I remember as a child watching my favorite wrestlers, The Von Eric's battled the Fabulous Freebirds every Saturday night. It was like a ritual as we tuned in every week to see what would happen next... like a soap opera for boys. I couldn't get enough of the high-flying antics. Soon, we realized wrestling was as real as Santa Claus and moved on.
On Sunday evening, I was a child again. I was taken in by the crazy characters running around on stage as they stirred the crowd into a frenzy. They wore wild costumes and went by names like Big Hoss, 'The American Nightmare' Sixx and The 'Insane' Asylum.
The crowds cheered and booed, heavy metal music blared from speakers and two guys seated at a table with the bell gave commentary as they watched.
Without the glitter and glitz, this was the real deal. There was smack talking and arguments with the fans, heavy hits and flips and leaps off the top rope. Nothing was spared as the wrestlers put on a show for the crowd.
The antics in the ring were equally matched by those out of the ring. Crowds screamed and taunted the wrestlers as sidekicks strolled around getting in arguments with others in the audience. At one point, a wrestler was thrown into the crowd. Some reacted with fist pumps and anger while others broke out cameras to record the moment.
One group of guys, known as the S**t Talking Section, have been coming to the events for over a year. Jonathan, Darrell and Terrell love wrestling and even ordered their own belts to carry around at the arena. When not handing beer to the wrestlers or yelling insults, they show off the belts to others and pose for pictures like they were part of the entertainment.
The crowds come from all around the Lowcountry to watch their favorites. At intermission, they flock to the wrestlers looking for autographs and pictures. Children scan tables along the back wall as vendors sell action figures of wrestling greats along with t-shirts and caps.
Some of the wrestlers like Josh Magnum of Augusta, Georgia sell their own pictures and shirts. His wife sits at a table filled with pictures, DVDs and shirts she made while he signs autographs next to her. During these hard times, he said, wrestling is all he has and this is how he makes his living.
Not all wrestlers consider this a full-time job. Micah 'Malachi' Cox lives in Hanahan and is a heating and air technician when not in the ring. He has always been a fan of wrestling and hopes to sign with a big name like NWA someday and quit the day job.
Cox is not the only one with hopes of making it big. Eric Milford of Augusta, Ga. has been wrestling for six years as 'The American Nightmare' Sixx but has been a fan since age 4. His grandfather first introduced him to the sport and he has dreamed of being a star ever since. He said wrestling with the smaller organizations is like paying dues and waiting to be called up to the majors.
The list is long for those wanting to go pro. Hoss 'Big Hoss' Furman is a bouncer/assistant funeral director/power lifter when he is not wrestling. Known as the strongest wrestler in the world, he hopes to sign with WWE soon. A large man, he can bench 800 lbs. No wonder a chair was used to stop him.
Whether they have dreams of making it big or not, these guys love what they do. Fabulous Playboy Bob Keller of Columbia has been wrestling for 14 years and says he loves the energy.
Getting out in front of the fans and doing what he does gets the adrenaline pumping, he said. Whether playing the good guy or the villain, the energy he gets from the crowd makes it a lot of fun.
Soon the event is over and wrestlers come out to talk with fans and have a beer. The once bitter rivals now laugh and talk together as they make plans for the next event. Fans come looking for autographs from those they jeered earlier.
Old School Championship Wrestling made me a fan of the sport once more.
For a couple of hours Sunday night I remembered what it was I loved about
wrestling, from the antics to the acrobats.
Who said you can never be a kid again?
For more photos from the event go to Seen It.
Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.