Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The State of Pro Wrestling in Maine

I wrote a few articles for a local publication here in Maine that was to feature articles about current and the history of Professional Wrestling in Maine, it lasted 1 issue. This is an article that was published in issue 1.

I love professional wrestling.  A lot of people have that moment when they first remember tuning into wrestling, a match or angle that they saw that made them the fan that they are.  For me, I don’t remember not watching wrestling.  My dad was a fan and between watching it on television and all the video tapes he would rent at the video store I was always watching wrestling.   My dad took me to my first wrestling live event when I was 10 in 1989 with WWF at the Cumberland County Civic Center. 
I was aware that there were different wrestling federations and different levels of wrestling.  On my TV I got WWF, NWA, AWA, UWF, and ICW.  International Championship Wrestling really showed me that there were different tiers of wrestling. One Saturday I had watched WWF Superstars where Iron Mike Sharpe was easily defeated in his match, directly after Superstars on the local channel was ICW and the opening match featured Iron Mike Sharpe who easily defeated his opponent.  I used to call the jobbers bums when I was a kid, I qualified Mike Sharpe as a bum, so to see him win a match all I could think was that there were bums for the bums!!   This was my first foray into Independent wrestling.
My first independent wrestling live event was March 16, 1997 at the Edward Little High School in Auburn.  It was the second ever event for EWA: Eastern Wrestling Alliance and it was run in conjunction with the original “Boston Bad Boy” Tony Rumble’s Century Wrestling Alliance.  It was a fantastic show!  It featured Maverick Wild, Knuckles Nelson, “Big” Rick Fuller, Vic Steamboat, Tony Atlas vs. Abdullah the Butcher in a bloody affair and the main event was The Public Enemy vs. The Power Twins in a crazy extreme rules tag team match!  In the last 17 years I have been to over 200 Indy shows with no end in sight!  I have a list of every wrestling show I’ve even been too with the full results to most of the events.
Eastern Wrestling Alliance would go on to dominate Independent Wrestling in Maine for the next 5 years first in the Lewiston Area then making a home at the Stevens Ave Armory in Portland before relocating to Massachusetts.  While at the Stevens Ave Armory EWA had developed quite a following regularly drawing 350 – 400 fans until the events of 9/11 and the EWA lost their venue.  They tried to run after that in the Portland area but never regained the footing they had at the Armory. 
During that run Tony Atlas would run a few shows under the names USA All Star Wrestling & Atlas Pro Wrestling even though he had TV on local channel 9 he never ran with any consistency and the quality of wrestling, for the most part was sub-par.
In 2002 Maine Event Wrestling and Rampage Pro Wrestling came to Maine with MEW sticking to the Waterville & Portland Area and RPW in the Bangor area.  Both leagues only lasted a couple years then New Wrestling Horizons debuted.  NWH would eventually run weekly in Buxton and consistently run monthly shows in Fairfield, Oakfield, and Caribou with spot shows everywhere in between over the next 5 years.  NHW would undergo a couple name changes as AWA North Atlantic and finally the North American Wrestling Association.  NAWA still exists today running 1 show a year an annual fundraiser for Bonny Eagle High School, the next one being September 26th.
Independent Wrestling Entertainment and NWA-On Fire both debuted in 2008 with IWE calling Brewer their home base and NWA On Fire, now called Wrestling On Fire, operated by the famous Savoldi family (they promoted the previously mentioned ICW) would rotate running in Springvale, Augusta, Mexico, Rockland, and more.  Both leagues also ran the Community Center in Fairfield.
                IWE is still going strong today and has arguably taken over as the number 1 league in Maine.  Running multiple shows monthly consistently in Brewer and Fairfield with other shows around the state from Old Orchard Beach to Island Falls and everywhere in between. 
                Wrestling On Fire ran strong in Maine before switching operations to New Jersey popping up in Maine occasionally for Fair shows.  On Fire Wrestling is returning to Maine this September with 2 joint shows with IWE on the 13th & 14th, then Lewiston on the 15th finishing with the Farmington Fair on the 16th.
                Massachusetts based Big Time Wrestling debuted in Maine at the Augusta Civic Center on March 27, 2011 to a staggering crowd of 1800 fans. They have returned to various venues through- out the State and although they have not drawn a crowd of that magnitude since they run a few shows a year bringing in stars of yester-year much to the delight of those who attend.
                The newest group on the block is MainEvent Wrestling that debuted on October 4, 2013 in Dexter.  Still in their inaugural year they have run half a dozen shows, primarily in Bangor & Fairfield area.  In April they brought us AJ Styles, this September Christopher Daniels with big shows coming in October and November.
In the last 17 years there have been many groups come and go popping up for a single to a few shows including: All Out Mayhem, Global Independent Wrestling, Wicked Good Wrestling, Pro Wrestling America, Intergalactic Wrestling, Primer Inc. Presents, Live Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling America, Wrestling is Awesome, Ultimate Pro Wrestling, Yankee Pro Wrestling, NWA New England, Top Quality Wrestling, Global Wrestling Promotions, All Star American Wrestling, Vactionland Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Experience, and more. 
Maine fans have also been treated to, in that time, 2 shows from WCW, 1 from TNA & Chikara Pro, and numerous WWE events.
The State of Independent Pro Wrestling in Maine is good right now.  There is healthy competition between IWE & MEW with both federations using a different roster of workers with minimal cross over bringing fans unique shows.  IWE is more established and is running more shows, however, MEW is operated by a seasoned promoter who is slowly building their fan base and most likely will gradually run more and more shows as time goes on.  Selfishly I want to see all promotions draw big crowds and make a lot of money so they will run more shows so I can go to wrestling more often, because I love Professional Wrestling.

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