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  Feb. 22, 2000



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The land of hype & gory


DOUG LUNNEY
By DOUG LUNNEY -- Winnipeg Sun
A crowd of about 70 people throws back shooters and sips beer, paying little attention to the empty wrestling ring next to the dance floor.

Promoter and ring announcer Wayne Stanton, wearing a white coat and a black bow tie, climbs into the ring to welcome the audience to some "extremely strange wrestling."

The masked marvel Mentallo gets his kicks from Ronnie Attitude.
The evening will include "cross-gender boxing," a 16-man over-the-top-rope Battle Royal and plenty of humour from Stanton, a former standup comedian.

It's just another Monday night at Bumpers Bar with River City Wrestling providing the entertainment. It's here that young rasslers exchange body slams and drop-kicks, some of them for the first time in front of an audience.

Dry ice billows through the curtain as 303-pound challenger Moses Luke of Seattle, Wash., enters the ring to meet Vance Nevada of Brandon, Man., current holder of the no-holds-barred, Hard Core championship belt.

Theirs is a falls-count-anywhere match that spills out on to the dance floor where Luke, slightly resembling a young Greg (The Hammer) Valentine, gives Nevada a brutal-looking DDT on the concrete floor. He follows it up with a body slam and a headbutt to the groin.

"Ooh, that hurt!" winces a blond in the front row, before Luke pins Nevada to become a four-time Hard Core champion.

By now, the crowd of mostly males in their 20s is well into it, constantly trading verbal jabs with wrestlers. Bad guy Chris Parris hits the ring in street clothes, grabs the mike and tells the patrons he's been sitting out his suspension by relaxing at his condo in Hawaii. Then, he lays a beating on the ref who dealt the suspension.

A slender 130-pound lad dubbed The Big O is greeted by an insulting chant as he appears in black tights and a shiny red tank top. He's joined by his "friend" Slim Chance, who's decked out like the cowboy from The Village People.

There will be several more matches before the night is done and the wrestlers help take down the ring.

The patrons, who also witnessed a female stripper during intermission, go home satisfied the $2 cover charge was well worth it.

Lords of the ring
A look at a few members of River City Wrestling
CHRIS WAYNE

A 27-year-old electrician in his hometown of Grande Prairie, Alta., the 6-foot-1, 265-pounder trained in Lima, Ohio, in 1998 under World Wrestling Federation star Al Snow.

Wrestling a few times a month with River City, Wayne wants to head south of the border where he could keep busy with several closely located independent outfits -- and hopefully catch on with one of the three big leagues.

"Anyone who thinks they're going to make any money when they are starting out is sadly mistaken," he says, preparing behind the curtain for a Monday night card at Bumpers Bar. "When you're wrestling in the independent circuit you're in it because you love it, you want to entertain people. Any money you are lucky enough to make is gravy.

"But having kids come up to you for your autograph, that's gratifying."

NATASHA MACHALEK (MISTRESS MONA LOTT)

An administrative assistant with WAG Canada Leasing in Winnipeg, Machalek is the daughter of long-time wrestling photographer Terrence Machalek Sr.

"I've been in wrestling for 25 years," jokes the 25-year-old Machalek. "I started selling pictures when I was five in the old AWA at Winnipeg Arena. I toured around a lot and was always around the wrestlers."

Machalek has had four matches, all against men.

"I'm looking forward to actually facing a woman one of these days," she says. "I can handle myself. I got hit on the head by Jeff Wallace, and everybody seemed to like that for some reason. They were yelling 'Throw that slut in the ring!' "

Machalek likes being a "bad girl" but admits it has its down side.

"The problem in the business is people confuse the character with who I really am," she says. "You don't get a lot of dates as Mona. You don't meet many guys who like to be beaten up by women.

"(My dad) hasn't come here yet because I told him I'm not ready for him to see this. It's a little risque ... but he's proud of me no matter what I do."

RON KREBS (RONNIE ATTITUDE)

Krebs, an 18-year-old Winnipegger trained by River City's Vern May, is one of the best at getting a rise out of the audience. When not in the ring, he works full time at Warehouse One (yes, wrestling is in his jeans).

He knows he has to add to his 150-pound, 5-foot-11 frame to make a career of wrestling.

"I'm trying to gain 50 pounds in the next couple of years," he says. "If I get the size I've got a really good shot. I catch on to everything really quick, the high-flying stuff.

"If I don't get anywhere by the time I'm 23 I'll pack it in, but this has been a lot of fun and it's worth it."

Being a heel or a baby face is equally as fun, says Krebs, who enjoys performing in front of young fans.

"When you get out there, you're so excited you feel like you're going to pee yourself," he says "I've been places where there's 15 kids in the crowd and they make more noise than 100 people."

Learning the ropes




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