Minor league athletics can come across as a carbon copy of a carbon copy of a carbon copy of a carbon copy of a carbon copy of a carb…
The Nth-generation version is so far removed from the original, it pales in comparison so much, it usually calls for the ultimate performance-enhancing drug: beer.
That’s not necessarily the case with Riverworks Wrestling.
Professional wrestling is absurd and over the top. It’s visceral. It’s easy to understand and it’s guilt-free. Those elements translate to great entertainment at any level.
Riverworks is home base for one of Buffalo’s professional wrestling outfits. The wrestlers hold events there, they train there, and they even hold a wrestling school that accepts all comers.
Recently, I went to Riverworks to meet up with the wrestler known as Dr. Leo Hardwick, an old friend of mine from the local garage-punk scene. Walking up to the practice ring, tucked under a few of the facility’s massive iron girders, the sounds of bodies slamming and feint howling grew louder and louder.
In turns out, these guys aren’t the oily roid-raging hulks you see barking on national TV. They’re the barman, the cable guy, the dude who sits next to you at the Bills game and the guy who clearly spends hours in his mom’s basement playing an old Halo game. If there’s a legal version of Tyler Durden’s Fight Club for the everyman here in Buffalo, this is clearly it.
Dr. Leo (not a licensed practitioner) explained to me that wrestling’s All-American simpleness appeals not just to the audience, but also to aspiring local performers.
“The best thing about wrestling is that it’s all visual and very easy to grasp,” he said. “You don’t need a Pokemon booklet to know who’s who and what’s what.”
Riverworks Wreslting is also about more than just body slams and macho posturing. The wrestling organization recently held an event that celebrated the legacy of local wrestling icon Ilio DiPaolo with proceeds going to Children’s Hospital and the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund.
The wrestling organization has many events planned into the future and they are open to having aspiring wrestlers join their ranks. Held three times a week, practice sessions are designed to reprogram the body’s natural physical reactions.
Between double clotheslines in the ring in front of us, Dr. Leo told me the first 45 seconds of a match takes about six months of training to learn.
“Everything that you do in a wrestling match is so not natural,” he explained.”You have to force your body to do it. Just falling backwards, your body says ‘no’. Even falling forwards, your body says ‘no’. So you have to beat the instinct out of you.”
In addition to the big events and regular practice schedule, RiverWorks Wrestling now has a weekly TV show on WBBZ. The programming will develop storylines, build up characters and feature wrestling matches. The show’s storyline will ramp up to each big event at Riverworks.
“The goal is to have the very best family entertainment in the area,” Riverworks Wrestling founder Jason Daniel told me.”We have the content, and as word keeps spreading and things get bigger more people will know about it. With the television show, that’s going to make it even better.”
For more info on Riverworks Prodessional Wrestling and updates on future events head to their Facebook page.
The next event for Riverworks Wrestling is:
Friday August 19th
Doors at 6pm, Opening Bell at 7pm
$25 Upper Balcony/ $20 Ringside/ $15 General Admission
@ Buffalo RiverWorks – 333 Ganson St, Buffalo, NY 14203