Professional wrestling tries for a comeback

Charlotte was once a major hub for professional wrestling in the Southeast.

A local wrestling promoter is hoping to reclaim some of the area’s former glory by broadcasting homegrown independent pro-wrestling on televisions across the Southeast once again.

On Saturday, Premier Wrestling Xperience – better known as PWX – tapes its first televised event at Concord’s Cabarrus Arena. “It’s All About Me” will air live on internet pay-per-view at www.highspots.com and, beginning July 6, portions of the event will air on The CW network throughout the Carolinas as “Midnight Mayhem.”

The series will air Saturdays at midnight in outlying areas like Hamlet and Rockingham, and as far away as Myrtle Beach and Columbia. But PWX is still working on a television deal in Charlotte.

“It’s All About Me” boasts commentary by former WWE Superstar and North Carolina native Shane “Hurricane” Helms and several stars from both PWX and Ring of Honor Wrestling. Among matches on the card: PWX champ Caleb Konley faces Ring of Honor’s Kevin Steen in a steel cage; Charlotte native Cedric Alexander will take on fellow Ring of Honor star and ex-TNA wrestler Jay Lethal.

“This is a dream match,” says PWX promoter Tyshion Williams. “They’ve never wrestled before and Cedric idolized Jay Lethal.”

PWX, which operates out of High Spots – a Charlotte-based internet retailer of all things pro wrestling that also houses a wrestling school – had been putting on events at recreation centers and suburban VFW halls, but its profile was raised last year when it crossed into mainstream venues better known for concerts than sporting events.

“When we went to Neighborhood Theater, everything changed for us,” says Williams. “Once we moved into NoDa, we had a different identity there. The crowd has actually grown.”

PWX currently puts on semi-regular events at Tremont Music Hall and other regional venues.

Williams, who has worked in High Spots’ video department for nine years and promoted his first event in 2005, has been interested in wrestling since childhood.

“The problem is I’m short,” he says. “I didn’t think I could be a big-time wrestler. I like writing everything and putting it together. Now I’m up until two or three in the morning thinking about how I can make it better.”

PWX isn’t alone. It shares talent with Wrestling EVO ( www.prowrestlingevo.com). EVO features some of the same names from Saturday’s “It’s All About Me” card in its Friday “This is Wrestling” live event at Concord’s El Patron Night Club.

Meanwhile, Matthews-based Xtreme World Wrestling ( www.facebook.com/xtremeworldwrestling) holds matches at Club Hush on Independence and at Kate’s Skating Rink in Indian Trail. A little further out, there’s Columbia-based Wrestleforce ( www.wrestleforce.net).

The shared goal is for indie wrestling in the Southeast to thrive again.

“It’s really hard to get shows on TV,” Williams says. “The next thing with PWX is trying to get sponsored. You need somebody that can really bank you. Charlotte used to be known for professional wrestling. Maybe not in my time, but maybe we’ll be able to put it back on the map for professional wrestling again.”