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Wrestling ‘is as much a part of the fabric of Charlotte as great BBQ and NASCAR’

I know what you’re thinking. “An article about pro wrestling? But that’s FAKE!” So is 90% of reality television, but people watch that, too.

Professional wrestling in Charlotte dates back to the 1930s with famous promoter Jim Crockett and his Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Promotion. Renowned professional wrestling announcer Jim Ross said it best:

“Pro wrestling, namely Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, is as much a part of the fabric of Charlotte as great BBQ and NASCAR,” he told me via email.

Fast forward 80 years and the Charlotte area will be making wrestling history again, as WWE NXT hosts its live event in North Carolina April 7 at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center.

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I attended my first NXT show with my younger brother at the University of Central Florida this past January. I had watched a few NXT matches in advance of my first time seeing it live, but with a back catalogue of matches dating back to 2012, there was no way I could be completely prepared for what I was about to experience.

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It’s a very intimate experience. While professional wrestlers on WWE’s main roster perform for near sellout crowds at major sporting arenas around the country on a weekly basis, NXT performs in front of much smaller crowds in smaller venues. As a result, the energy that’s created by both the crowd’s enthusiasm and the performers in the ring is much more concentrated.

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There’s a great cast of characters on NXT’s roster of nearly 70, made up of both men and women. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from former football players and longtime wrestlers who wrested internationally on the independent circuit for years before coming to WWE, to competitive bodybuilders and models. Every one of them are developing their own identities as a professional wrestler, working towards the ultimate goal, a full time WWE contract.

One underrated aspect of watching professional wrestling is the phenomenal shape that all of the competitors are in.

Imagine doing a crossfit workout, running and lifting weights at full intensity for 15 minutes. But instead of lifting weights, you’re lifting other people, and instead of burpees, imagine being picked up and dropped repeatedly, or jumping from 5 feet in the air, and landing on a surface that’s little more than plywood with thin layer of foam.

That’s what being in a professional wrestling match is like.

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For more information on WWE NXT, visit: www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt.

Tickets (starting at $15): Ticketmaster or Stubhub.

Photos: Courtesy of WWE/NXT.

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