I’ll admit it: I’m a lapsed pro-wrestling fan. As a child of the 80s I watched the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)’s Hulk Hogan battle Andre the Giant and delighted at World Championship Wrestling’s epic feud between Ric Flair and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
I had pretend pro-wrestling leagues featuring my G.I. Joe characters (Snake Eyes, of course, was the World Champion). For people who sneered that it was fake, I responded with, “How can they fool all those people?!” I gave up wrestling the first time when I discovered they had altered footage to show people cheering for Hulk Hogan when live they were booing (my first experience with “fake news” was pro-wrestling!). I briefly returned during the Attitude! era with Stone Cold Steve Austin and quit for a second time when the now-renamed WWE bought out all their competition.
These days, my 5 year-old son only knows about pro-wrestling from Scooby-Doo cartoons (the Undertaker does make an impression at that age). I haven’t really thought about introducing him to pro-wrestling; larger shows such as the WWE have large, LOUD displays of pyrotechnics and feature characters that may be questionable. And of course, there’s that whole violence (even simulated) thing. Last but not least, I know who addicting this stuff can be.
So it was with some trepidation that I learned of a local pro-wrestling promotion, Rocket City Championship Wrestling, had an upcoming show. I had never been to a show this small… would it be something like the movie The Wrestler, filled with extreme violence and lurid characters? Would my son be able to grasp that is just a show; that the wrestlers’ conflict is simulated and not intentionally hurtful? Would he be able to grasp the complex morality tale of good versus evil? And most importantly, would he appreciate the skill and athleticism needed to pull off a great lucha-libre style fatal four way match?
But Is it Kid-Friendly?
I can say without a doubt that my fears were unfounded; RCCW put on an excellent show!
RCCW’s owner and promoter, Barry Kohlhoff, prides himself on running a clean, family oriented show. Kohloff himself is a former wrestler and has been involved in the business for 20 years. He started the promotion only a few months ago (December 3rd was their first show) after seeing a lack of reputable promotions in the area, Barry set out to create an independent wrestling promotion that treats its workers fairly while putting on a great show for its fans.
RCCW has since grown into a top regional promotion with over 40 wrestlers from across the South competing. Kohloff insists on a clean show; you won’t find wrestlers swearing (indeed, some wrestlers were suspended for a rude gesture postmatch) nor will you find bloody barbed-wire matches. When used (sparingly, only in one match), weapons are carefully selected for their safety and “shock” theatrical effect rather than actual damage.
A Typical Match
The event featured an 8-man tournament to crown the first RCCW heavyweight champion; the eventual winner proved to be a behemoth named Eddie Toon. The night started with a fatal four-way match – 4 wrestlers fighting at once – that got the crowd heated instantly. The venue was cozy and dominated by the wrestling ring; it was almost a sell-out crowd and the audience (many of which were children) were clearly into all the matches and wrestlers. They were part of the performance as well, vociferously cheering the “babyfaces” (good guys) and taunting the “heels” (bad guys).
Having never seen wrestling live before, my son was confused by the rules. We also did not know any of the characters, but the crowd and the wrestler’s mannerisms, gimmicks, and person soon clued us in on their good/bad status – my son loved the masked wrestler King Garuda the best and the hilarious Boxcar Brawler was a close second. The favorite match and moment was the opening brawl in the 8-man tag tournament between the Omega Virus against the Wyld Family, Chris Rage & Jay Blade.
Rocket City Championship Wrestling Details
When: RCCW events happen on a bi-weekly basis (1st and 3rd weekend of every month); 7 PM
Where: Events take place in Hazel Green behind Cosmos Fitness (map)
Cost: Tickets start at $10 (ringside seats are a few bucks more).
Rocket City Championship Wrestling on Facebook
This review was originally published in 2017 & has been updated.
Photo credit to RCCW Facebook Page
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Sam Chow was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. A 5th grade field trip to Space Camp started his lifelong love of technology and engineering. He juggled working in Huntsville while studying for his engineering degree at Mississippi State and moved here full-time in 2001. He and his lovely wife Connie were married in 2006 and currently have a five year old and a nine year old, a dog, and a cat. In his spare time he enjoys training and watching mixed martial arts, watching old foreign films, reading, and video gaming.