North Texas Daily

Against the ropes with Denton’s XCW Wrestling

Against the ropes with Denton’s XCW Wrestling

June 15
12:50 2012

Ashley Grant / Senior Staff Writer

Flying off the ropes, the Lumberjack extends his arm, his fist connecting with the face of the Boston Teabagger, sending the Revolutionary-era warrior headfirst onto the mat.

The chokeslams, gutbusters, bulldogs, sleeper holds, clotheslines and elbow strikes practiced by members of Denton’s Xtreme Championship Wrestling Institute are more spectacle than back-alley brawl, but the mental and physical challenges of professional wrestling are very real.

“These guys are getting slammed on about a half-inch of padding, wood and steel,” said Nite Davis, owner of the recently-opened institute at 3737 Mingo Road. “The physical toll on the body after being in a wrestling match is equivalent to being in a serious car wreck because of the impact on their spines, joints and heads.”

From 2000 to 2009, XCW toured the North Texas circuit. Davis, who wrestled professionally for 12 years, said wrestlers would subject their bodies to varying degrees of physical punishment with weekly shows from Decatur to Oklahoma City.

A tanking economy forced an end to the hard-hitting shows – with the exception of rowdy, beer-soaked fan appreciation performances at Cool Beans Bar and Grill held once a year, the last in April – but the training only intensified, first at various gyms in the area and now at an official location.

The doors to the new XCW Wrestling Institute opened in January, offering classes and workouts to those interested in learning the skills and techniques necessary to become professional wrestlers.

It’s hard to imagine seeing names such as “TheBoston Teabagger” or “Big Sed” stamped on a jersey, but Davis said the men and women of XCW train and work at their craft like athletes in any sport.

“Right now we just train guys and girls who want to become professional wrestlers,” Davis said. “It’s a huge investment for those who are serious about it. The first year of training alone will run close to $1,500.”

On a typical Tuesday night at the institute, James “The Boston Teabagger” Roberts and “Big” Sed Ware warm up. Standing in opposite corners of the 18-by-18-foot ring, the two casually hurl a 10-pound medicine ball back and forth.

Roberts, who dons a Revolutionary War-era tricorne hat and colonial garb for shows, said he had been training with XCW since 2009, but initially had a hard time figuring out if professional wrestling was for him.

“It seemed really vicious and I’m not going to lie –it scared me at first,” he said. “I realized I needed to get over it if this was something I wanted to do and decided to go after it.”

Since he began training, Roberts has been in five shows, describing each performance as the perfect combination of entertainment and athleticism.

“Having fans cheering you on and holding the crowd in the palm of your hands is a great feeling,” he said.

About 500 people came out for XCW’s April show at the “Beanstock” celebration at Cool Beans Bar and Grill. Dozens of Roberts’ fans – goaded on by the teabags the colonial warrior passed out beforehand – could be seen chanting “Teabagger” during his bout.

Each professional wrestler develops their own character and persona, and storylines pitting “good guy” fan favorites against “bad guy” villains-you-love-to-hate can become as intricate as the violent, choreographed matches. Chairs, chainsaws, cups of beer, samurai swords and other props are regularly integrated into fights.

The fact that the outcomes of professional wrestling matches are rehearsed and predetermined does not detract from the authenticity or intensity of the sport, where injuries are common, Davis said.

Beginners at the XCW Institute are not even allowed to step into the ring for a match until they have trained for at least one year, he said.

Developing the hard shell necessary to withstand the heavy impact day in and day out is key during the first 12 months.

During the first six weeks, beginners aren’t even allowed in the ring, which Davis said makes the XCW Institute different from a lot of other places.

“Being in the ring is something that should be earned not only by hard work, but by everyone else here voting on whether or not a person deserves to be in there,” he said.

Davis said the institute was open to anyone willing to sacrifice their bodies and put in the time and money.

Along with showing trainees the ropes, XCW Institute puts on a “wrestling clinic” about every two months. The clinics feature different hosts, usually performers who made it to the mainstream circuit. The hosts share personal experiences, give advice and sometimes train with students at the institute.

Davis said he hopes to open another location, also in Denton, sometime next year, with the eventual goal of resuming weekly shows.

The camaraderie and the sense brotherhood among wrestlers at the institute makes it stand out from other wrestling organizations, said Sed Ware.

Ware, who has been with XCW for seven years, said he welcomes those who think they have what it takes to endure the intense training offered by the institute.

“Anybody who wants to try it out can come on,” he said. “We’ll show you a jolly good time.”

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