The genre of professional wrestling has undergone an evolution and metamorphosis throughout its history. From the sideshows in its most primitive stages to the early days of television, which made the legendary Gorgeous George one of the most popular athletes in the 1950s, sports entertainment has thrilled audiences in all its forms. As far back as Ed “Strangler” Lewis and Jim Landos packing stadiums in the 1940s up until the amazing streaming technology of today that allows fans to watch live cards from around the globe, the grappling arts retains a headlock on its audience.
It’s often said that the unique business that combines drama and athleticism is its own brand of entertainment. The squared circle is the stage and that literal canvas of the ring is where these skilled artists get the opportunity to paint an athletic picture for the audience.
It’s because of this parallel that WrestleRex, a concept from the mind of world-traveled, Sam Adonis, has steadily become one of the most intriguing events on the Pittsburgh wrestling calendar. A venue that hosts several music acts on a regular basis, The Rex Theater on the south side provides an actual stage for a cast of international performers not often seen in the region.
“I have been working at The Rex on-and-off as security for 12 years. We had always kicked around the idea. Anytime I was in Pittsburgh, so many people asked when I was wrestling downtown, but there was never an opportunity. The idea of creating an event that appeals to non-wrestling fans that want to come have a good time made The Rex a no-brainer. Now we are four shows in and the scene is really growing,” Sam Adonis explained.
The brother of WWE’s Corey Graves, Adonis is a lifelong fan that chased his dream, and his dedication matched with his in-ring ability took him around the globe as a truly international star. After finding himself as a performer in the UK, Adonis went on to work full-time in Mexico for two years for CMLL, where he’s scheduled to return next month. South of the boarder is where he was really able to hone his craft, working main event matches at the legendary Arena Mexico for the diehard Latino audience. A rudo, Adonis antagonized the Hispanic crowds as a foreign villain, battling lucha legends during his tenure in one of the longest running organizations in the world. He defeated the legendary Blue Panther in a hair vs. hair match, before he eventually had to sacrifice his own hair after a bout with Negro Casas, a visual that was reminiscence of the late, Art Barr, who was an American villain in lucha libre in the early-90s. Adonis’ notoriety in lucha libre took him on tours for All-Japan Pro Wrestling, the group founded by the iconic Giant Baba. Adonis considers all of this experiences very critical to his success and part of the inspiration for the WrestleRex events.
“My traveling has definitely made my perspective on wrestling different to almost everyone. I’ve been able to learn through trial and error of not only myself, but of other wrestlers and promotions in many different countries and cultures. That’s why I feel what we are doing at The Rex works. It’s a melting pot of all of it,” Sam commented.
With names like Pentagon, Rey Fenix, La Parka, Hornswoggle, Super Crazy, Bull James, and Gangrel as alumni, WrestleRex became known a standout event that brings international talent with a mixture of Pittsburgh’s best stars to a concert type atmosphere with fans surrounding the ring while a light show brings the glamour as the competitors make their way to the ring.
“WrestleRex is unique because there’s something for everyone. I believe wrestling has become too much of a niche and only appeals to diehards. Wrestle Rex is standing room only with a party atmosphere, featuring some of the top talent on earth for everyone to enjoy,” Adonis commented.
On Thursday, February 27th, WrestleRex returns to the stage with another card of global stars as they are paired with the iron city’s best talent. Joe Doreing, one of the top gaijin or foreign talent in All Japan, returns to the theater for another rare American appearance, as the talented grappler works extensively overseas. The lucha influence will be back on stage as Hijo de Dos Caras, Templario, and Audaz are scheduled for the show. One of the fastest rising independent competitors, Danhausen will also compete. The western PA are will also be featured as The Mane Event, the best tag team in the area are scheduled, as well as Facade and Sam Adonis himself. One of the top acts on the marquee is former ROH, Impact, and WWE star, Matt Sydal. The sum total of all of these stars create a true buffet of pro wrestling.
“It’s such an up close and personal experience. This is not like anything in Pittsburgh right now. It’s such a mixture of styles of wrestling all on one show,” said Bobby Williams, widely-regarded as the best referee in Pittsburgh and one of the event organizers.
While the steel city is known as much for its wrestling as for the steel it produced, Pittsburgh has an extensive and storied history of the industry. Bruno Sammartino, the Italian strongman and real-life super hero to many will always be the standard of the area. But names like Shane Douglas, Kurt Angle, and Corey Graves have also went on to represent the region as well. Now Sam Adonis proudly showcases Pittsburgh as the wrestling city that it is with this very unique event at the Rex Theater.
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Until next week
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