“If you build it, he will come”- Field of Dreams
That iconic line was whispered in the 1989 sports drama as Kevin Costner wandered around a cornfield. Based on the W.P. Kinsella novel, the film chronicles the reemergence of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his disgraced teammates that threw the 1919 world series. The Costner character loved the game and did eventually build a stadium for those players to have one more go around the baseball diamond. The movie was so wholesome and enduring that art imitated life in recent years when an actual MLB game was played at the site where the production was filmed.
The lesson being that with enough passion and dedication, anything is possible.
Much like other avenues in the sports genre, professional wrestling is based on incredible athletics and the emotional investment of those in attendance. The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat translate from the field, the ice, and the canvas.
For a group of diehard wrestling fans, they had such a passion for the over-the-top spectacle of the sport that it wasn’t uncommon for them to jam into a car, zigzagging across the country to attend the best cards possible, considering that there’s nothing quite like the energy of a live event. This Pittsburgh crew were thrilled anytime they heard the opening bell, but something was missing for them. As fun as jammin’ to tunes in the car on the road is, why not bring these stellar cards to their hometown?
Pittsburgh, a region known almost as much for its wrestling as the steel it once produced, has such a storied history of the grappling arts. Names like Bruno, Angle, Douglas, Graves, and others decorate the story of the iron city in the ring. As many chapters as there are in the history books for Western Pennsylvania, many have looked for the area to shine in the future as well.
That group of diehard fans look to make that happen, as Enjoy Wrestling will finally get its chance to debut in front of a live audience this Friday at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall.
Kurt Hackimer, Maxx Gregg, Taylor Gregg, and Scotty Swemba are the minds behind the concept of Enjoy Wrestling, promoted as a progressive professional wrestling company that aims to be inclusive of athletes and fans from all backgrounds. The common theme from everyone that is slated to be in attendance at The Grand Hall, both performers and fans, is a love for the sport.
“Maxx works for FEST Wrestling in Gainesville, FL as a color commentator and as his exposure to the wrestling business grew, those conversations became more serious. The wheels really started moving when Scotty, who does graphics and video for FEST, moved to Pittsburgh and expressed interest in getting further into the wrestling business,” explained Kurt.
The discussions of creating the brand of wrestling they wanted to bring to their hometown wasn’t just water cooler talk or some pipe dream, with two of the pals with their foot already in the door, the foursome put their heads together to conceptualize not only the brand, but also it’s eye-catching logo, which Swemba designed. Keeping the operation local to stay true to the to initial vision, the Enjoy team went to the Pittsburgh-based Commonwealth Press group to handle the production of merchandise. Hackimer cites the printing organization’s support from the early stages of the Enjoy concept and the fact that the press workers are unionized as just a few of the reasons the merchandise aspect of the brand has been successful.
“It really pops on merchandise and legitimatizes us as a brand. Several of my friends who aren’t wrestling fans wear our merchandise and frequently comment about how many compliments they get while wearing our t-shirts,” Kurt commented.
By 2019, the pieces started to come together on paper, but the wrestling business is known for its barriers to entry, with the costs of licensing, equipment, and numerous other trivial aspects that most fans don’t think about when they enthusiastically cheer for the action that is eventually presented in the ring. The concept of Enjoy was developed on a very grass roots level so the management team decided to test the waters with just how far the DIY approach could take them, launching an Indiegogo campaign with rewards tiers based on the promise of tickets to future events and the already impressive selection of merchandise. Kurt expected some level of support from his tight-knit group of friends and family, but even he was surprised by the amount of people that contributed to the start up fund of the progressive project.
“When we launched the Indiegogo campaign, we were already sure that Enjoy was going to happen in some capacity. We just needed some startup funds to get us going, but we were blown away by how successful the campaign was. It gained steam organically, just our friends and family pitching in and sharing the link on Facebook, mostly. A lot of people just believed in our vision and were excited for the brand of wrestling that we intended to produce,” Hackimer noted.
But even with such a level of dedication and support, Kurt and his pals realize how much of a learning experience this entire project will be when “Night Movies” sounds its opening bell this Friday.
“The learning curve is pretty steep. There’s no guidebook or anything for running a wrestling event. You just kind of have to ask a lot of questions and put yourself out there. Fortunately, we had a lot of people willing to help us along and let us know how things are supposed to be run,” he explained.
Originally penciled in for a May 2020 debut, Enjoy, similar to every wrestling group in the world, was impacted by the COVID shutdown last year and plans were shelved until progress was made with the virus numbers. In an attempt to give its supporters some content to help them get through such an exhausting period, and to give independent wrestlers some work, Enjoy held a pair of “Canned Heat,” its Youtube series, tapings on a closed set with a strict plan of safety measures. COVID testing, social distancing, and a very limited number of people were on the set for what provided an introduction to fans for the Enjoy brand.
“Our decision to put our content on YouTube goes hand-in-hand with our stated mission to bring new fans to professional wrestling. Most of our friends and family members aren’t going to spend ten dollars for a subscription service just to watch our product. We decided that best way to get new eyes onto Enjoy Wrestling and expand our brand is to make our content easily digestible and readily accessible,” Kurt said.
“Debuting a promotion during a pandemic is an incredibly daunting task – and having that promotion actually gain a fanbase and momentum is something remarkable. We have a very rich independent wrestling scene in this region and Enjoy Wrestling is an exciting addition. In a short amount of time, they have managed to carve out a unique space in the wrestling landscape. I have no doubt we’re going to see something special this Friday,” said Emily Fear, popular co-host of the Grit & Glitter podcast.
With all the proper paperwork filed for their promoter’s license and a foundation in place with its Canned Heat series, “Night Movies” becomes the focus for the management team. True to its mission statement, Enjoy will bring an array of all-star talent to the steel city for an inclusive and diverse presentation for an event nearly two years in the making. Enjoy champion, MV Young, who returns to his home turf after a stellar few years wrestling in New York, will defend against Max, one of the true standouts anywhere in wrestling today. Another title defense is on the card as the charismatic and newly-minted Internet champion, Effy will defend his FEST Wrestling championship against Billy Dixon, an athlete many consider to be the next breakout star on the independent circuit. Commander James Stephanie Sterling brings their team to compete in an eight-person tag team match. In an ode to lucha libre, Edith Surreal and Ziggy Haim will square off in a hair vs. mask match to settle a rivalry that began during the previously mentioned Canned Heat tapings. Newly-signed All Elite Wrestling star, Lee Moriarty will have a proper sendoff to TNT when he competes against Darius Lockhart. With even more bouts on the stacked card, the event has generated anticipation for everyone from management to the fans that will be there to witness it.
“We’ve also got the debuts of Saieve Al Sabah, Savannah Evans, Rob Killjoy, PB Smooth, and Veda Scott as they square off with established Enjoy Wrestling talent. And, of course, we’ll have a couple surprises for everyone too. It’s going to be a huge violent party and everyone who attends is guaranteed to have a blast,” Kurt said enthusiastically.
“Enjoy wrestling is bringing a different type of wrestling to the Pittsburgh scene. There are many different styles and flavors. However, you can expect The Runway to continue to makeover the professional wrestling scene at Enjoy Wrestling,” Calvin Couture added.
“Enjoy is a phenomenal new wrestling company that figured out how to grow and develop its brand before its debut show. The YouTube episodic shows compliment the live shows and are filled with unique and accomplished talent from all over the country. Enjoy creative, management, and ownership have a clear vision and understand their product and market. They are easy to work with, love wrestling, and are crystal clear in what they expect from the talent and the fans. While the company is still in its infancy, the vision and future for this company is primed for success thanks to its consistency and amazing production and product. As cliche as it sounds, it is a company that can and will allow a broader audience to enjoy the beautiful sport that is professional wrestling,” said David Lawless.
Despite the fanfare and the success so far, Enjoy stays grounded in its grass roots approach. Their ring, which was driven from Tampa, Florida last year, is stored in Scotty’s garage next to boxes marked as holiday decorations. As cliche as it might sound, Enjoy Wrestling is quite literally for the fans and by the fans. Kurt and his crew of wrestling fanatics wanted a more diverse and inclusive brand in the Pittsburgh area so instead of waiting for someone else to make a half-hearted attempt, they brought this wild project to reality.
Important Night Moves update:
***WEAR A DARN MASK!***
For the safety of everyone in the building, we're requiring fans to have their mouths and noses covered by a mask unless they're eating/drinking.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Let's have fun! pic.twitter.com/3M8b4pr2iL
— Enjoy Wrestling (@EnjoyWrestle) October 1, 2021
“We implore you to tell your non-wrestling-fan friends about Enjoy. There were so many people at our small taping in May who said they had never seen independent wrestling live before that day. That’s what we’re after. When we run an event, we want the building to be full of wide-eyed folks who have never even considered attending an indie show before. We want college students, punks, and neighborhood locals to buy tickets, feel comfortable, and experience the brilliance of professional wrestling because, when it’s done well, there is no better form of live entertainment. If you come see Enjoy Wrestling, you’ll see the LGBTQIA+ community well represented. You’ll see more than just one or two people of color. You’ll see women competing against men on equal footing. And all of it will be done with flare, style, and production values beyond what any Pittsburgh promotion has exhibited previously,” Kurt concluded.
This Friday night at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall looks to be the starting point of a new chapter in the lengthy history books of professional wrestling in the steel city. Wrestlers and fans from all different backgrounds will be brought together by the common theme of a passion for professional wrestling so it’s very fitting that the same passion is what took the Enjoy concept from notes scribbled on paper to a reality inside the squared circle.
You can follow Enjoy Wrestling on Twitter @EnjoyWrestle
To buy Enjoy Wrestling tickets and merchandise, you can go to https://www.compressmerch.com/collections/enjoy-wrestling
To watch the Canned Heat series, You can subscribe to the Enjoy Wrestling Youtube page https://www.youtube.com/EnjoyWrestling
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta