After a brief verbal exchange in the middle of the ring, “Chubbs” was kaboshed over the head with a folding chair wielded by “Manslaughter.”
It was the start of another Friday night of professional wrestling in Corydon.
Pro wrestling? Here?
The “Inferno Wrestling Federation” holds its matches at the 101 Building (just west of Big Indian Creek on S.R. 62). The IWF used to stage its mayhem at the EDVACT building, and before that there was an eight-month stay in Mauckport.
The IWF is the brain child of president Dale Blan of Brandenburg with assistance from vice-president Monty Preston. Every Friday night at 8, the IWF stages a seven-match show full of body slams, choke holds, flying power bombs, and, of course, blood.
Real blood? Yes. Real pain? That depends on who you ask, and which side of the ropes you’re on.
For the wrestlers, there’s a bit of sting delivered with every slap across the chest or, as in Chubbs’s case, a crunch with a chair. But for the most part, the blows are fairly soft or near-miss. Leaps from the top rope onto a poor soul laying on the mat are cushioned by a forgiving surface that resembles a stiff trampoline covered by a black tarp.
From the spectators’ point of view, the moves are believable, well, partially believable, but undoubtedly the hard-hits (see Chubbs) are what draw most of the “Oooooohs!” and “Aaaaaaahs!” from the crowd, seated a few feet away from the ring in two or three rows of chairs.
Sometimes there’s crowd participation — unintended participation — when the wrestlers sling each other out of the ring and onto the seats, which tends to part the spectators like the Red Sea. Other times, like for this Friday, for example, the crowd is encouraged to participate by bringing “weapons” for the wrestlers to use, such as 2x4s and the like. (Sorry, no guns or knives. After all these guys do have some standards.) There will also be a Battle Royal along with several title bouts.
The highest attendance at an IWF match is 109. On Friday, about 60 patrons (who paid from $8 to $6 each for their seats) were on hand. The number fluctuates from week to week, Preston said.
Two grapplers in the IWF’s 18-member organization are from southern Harrison County, but they preferred not to be specific about their hometowns because they want to avoid “Ring Rats.” That’s what wrestling groupies are called. It’s one of the hazards of the, uh, profession.
Justin Sane, “The Psycho Punk” who allegedly hails from the Mansfield Asylum, and The Eastside’s Jon “The Prodigy” Rock both saw action on Friday. Sane, a 5-7, 165-pounder with bleached blonde hair, lost his “U.S. Title” in a three pin-fall match against Tim Ripley. Rock, at 6-1 and 275 pounds, tripped up Junk Pile the Clown for a win. Though Sane and Rock are considered “bad guys,” Sane showed a soft side in shaking Ripley’s hand after his loss.
Sane, 17, and Rock, 20, have been competing for almost a year. Sane said he’d like to move up to a bigger organization one day while Rock’s content to stay where he’s at in the business.
“It was a boyhood dream of mine to do something like this, but if I never go any farther, I’ll be okay with it,” Rock said.
From time to time the IWF holds the gory, but surprisingly popular, “hardcore” wrestling. Hardcore involves fighting with barbed wire-wrapped plywood sheets, destroying tables, smashing fluorescent bulbs on your opponent’s head, using thumb-tack-loaded bats and — believe it or not — staple guns.
Some people (like Blan) don’t like that style of entertainment. But the fans, and most of the wrestlers, do.
When a hardcore bout is held, usually at the end of the night, some people get up and leave.
“That’s their choice. I can understand if that’s not something they want to see,” said Preston, “but a lot of these teenagers like it. We have a lady who films for us, and she leaves, and sometimes some of the older people step outside, too. It’s entertainment of a different style, but it’s something that not everyone thinks is entertaining.”
Last Friday, the Regulator, a 6-7, 300-pound mountain, battled Manslaughter in a hardcore bout. After both had been stapled, tubed, barbed and bloodied, Manslaughter, who’s 6-9 and weighs over 400, pinned his opponent. (It’s unsure whether the stick came because of opportunity or because there was nothing left to destroy.)
Neither Rock nor Sane has ever fought hardcore. They say the pain in regular bouts is enough in their chase for title belts.
“It’s all about the pain, and how easy it is to handle it,” Sane said, sanely. “Some things hurt a little bit, but you just keep going. That’s how you get your title shots.”
Rock chimed in: “You have to go out there and bust your — every night. It’s all about what you put into it, and if you put in a lot and show you really want it, you’ll get your title shot. You just have to earn it.”