The Columbia Heights Lions hosted live Minnesota Independent Wrestling (MIW) on Saturday, Feb.11; the featured match was between El Baño and Chadwick Wentworth III (CWIII).
Fans Lindsey Studinger and Johnny Schaffer walked into the packed Murzyn Hall having seen one of these matches previously, and they wanted to see more.“It’s so great to see this community on a scale,” said Schaffer. “This is the undercurrent of wrestling. We see the same faces in the crowd from Northeast as well.”
Children were excited to see the action as they got their faces painted, and got their own balloon animals made by Baby Bingo The Clown. The adults attending were joyous and loud, yelling and heckling the wrestlers after the opening bell struck, and the professionals antagonized the crowd right back throughout the matches.
The first match had Paul Reed face off against Rob Justice. Justice quite notably played into the name by wearing a Ramsey County Sheriff outfit. Each wrestler has a persona and chooses to either be the “heel” as the villain or antagonist, or a “face” or “babyface” that portrays the hero or good person as a fan-favorite to win. Reed won the first match and got plenty of applause as the hero.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Reed reflected between matches. “The energy in this atmosphere makes a big difference in how the match goes and how I perform. Hearing this large crowd roar influences how I attack my opponent.”
Joe Macko announced and energetically introduced each wrestler prior to each match. He also reminded the crowd that he, too, was a wrestler in the past.
In the second match featuring two babyfaces, Nick Pride defeated Downtown Petey Brown in 15 minutes.
Match 3 had NDS taking on King Leonidas and Crixus for the Lions tag team title. The crowd and ring were both extremely loud as 20 minutes of extreme wrestling and body-slamming took place. NDS kept attempting illegal moves and intentionally distracting the referee, leading to disqualification as King Leonidas and Crixus won as fan favorites.
Match 4 was a win for Scott Story over Kyle Pro for the title.
Match 5 was supposed to be the match between Chadwick Wentworth III and El Baño, but El Baño was a no-show. Bill Williams took his place. CWII became the heel and Williams the babyface. Chadwick wore colorful golfing apparel while staring at the crowd and proclaiming, “I’m the best!” and even brought a golf iron into the ring. To the crowd’s surprise, Williams lost to Wentworth III after an intense back-and-forth. Despite the upset loss at the end, the crowd left entertained and smiling.
Nick Pride and Downtown Petey Brown go airborne in the second match at Murzyn Hall. Fans laugh at the antics of the wrestlers. Joe Macko announced the wrestlers prior to each match. Bill Williams takes an opportunity to jump on Chadwick Wentworth III outside the ring. Williams fell prey to Wentworth. (Photos by Nik Linde)