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Two groups bring wrestling to the Ozarks

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by Melissa Wilson

SBJ Staff

Wrestling fans now have two local choices for watching muscled men in costumes annihilate one another with piledrivers and body slams.

Extreme Wrestling Federation will hold its first matches at the Double J arena in Humansville Feb. 27, showcasing such wrestlers as "Hardcore" Dexter Hardaway and "The Extreme Superstar" Adrian Michaels.

Meanwhile, World Legion Wrestling has held matches and been televised on TCI Channel 36 out of Remington's, 1701 W. Republic, for seven months. Its matches feature such stars as Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and "The Atomic Dogg" Steve Sharp.

WLW was formed in cooperation with the National Wrestling Alliance by former Disney animator David Marquez, who is now president of WLW's parent company, Squared Circle Inc., and Harley Race, former eight-time world champion who has also worked as a wrestling booker and manager.

Other WLW key personnel include Commissioner Karl Lauer and announcer and Executive Producer Gordon Solie.

EWF promotions executive and co-owner Matthew Sisco, who also wrestles professionally, hatched the EWF plan about a year ago with his wife, Amber, and another partner, co-owner and Commissioner Charles Ruark.

"The whole thinking process started about five years ago. ... I grew up watching professional wrestling, and it's something I always wanted to be involved in. Finally, I got the chance and met the right people," Sisco said.

Sisco said professional wrestler Jerry Vickers pointed him in the right direction when Vickers heard of Sisco's plan to begin a new wrestling federation.

Vickers "gave me the right names and phone numbers of the people to talk to, and I went to Florida and trained for about three months to learn more about the business aspect," he said.

Sisco said most people don't realize how much is actually involved in the business of professional wrestling.

"Just to give you an idea, you've got to get a building first, then a state promoter's license, permit for the event and a surety bond. You've got to make God- knows-how-many phone calls to get wrestlers for that night, then you've got to make sure they get paid," Sisco said. Sisco said security and "ring girls" are also needs that must be met before a match.

Sisco said the Humansville arena was chosen for several reasons, among them its capacity of 2,500 and its central location.

"There are so many smaller towns around Humansville we draw people from ... we draw people from as far off as Fort Scott, Kan.," Sisco said.

Popularity and talent are two qualities Sisco looks for in the wrestlers he recruits for EWF matches. Buddy Landel, one of the wrestlers to compete in the Feb. 27 match, has been wrestling for more than 15 years and holds 15 championship titles.

Sisco said he is now supplying all of EWF's pre-match financing, but once the matches begin, revenue will be generated mainly through concessions, ticket sales and sales of T-shirts, pictures and other souvenirs.

Sisco's goals for EWF include being televised and opening a wrestling school on his property north of Springfield.

"We'll train wrestlers in our own facility, which will be called the EWF Training Center, then arrange matches for them," he said.

Sisco said he's trying to get the word out about EWF through radio spots, fliers and news releases, and he hopes to begin scheduling autograph parties for fans after the matches begin.

Originally from Harrison, Ark., Sisco worked as an assistant manager at an office supply store and wrestled in various venues around the state before beginning EWF.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Matthew Sisco

Occupation: EWF

promotions executive and

co-owner

Age: 25

Number of years in

Springfield: 1

Goals: To get EWF televised and open a training facility

Other biographical info: Sisco, who also wrestles professionally, has held five championship titles.

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