Kittanning man part of wrestling show benefitting Ford City Summerfest
Rick Marshall is a brooding and merciless professional wrestler from Jerkwater, Pa., who will stand 6-feet 4-inches and weigh in at a solid 270 pounds when he enters the ring at an April 25 event in Ford City High School.
But Armstrong County residents might know him better as Josh Lipkin — a counselor at the Mechling Shakley Veterans Center and assistant coach for the Kittanning High School Wildcats football team.
Lipkin — Marshall — will be part of the show when Big Time Wrestling comes to the high school in an event to benefit the Ford City Summerfest. The night will feature World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame wrestlers Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase.
“I'd love to go out there, turn up the heat and put on a good show for a hometown crowd,” Lipkin said. “I would even consider retiring because I'd get to go have my hometown match and walk away happy.”
Lipkin, 35, started his professional wrestling career five years ago with the now-defunct Allied Powers Wrestling Federation and Throwback Championship Wrestling in Indiana County. He works only on the independent professional wrestling circuit.
“Wrestling hurts, especially when you get into it at an older age like I did,” Lipkin said. “But the nice thing is I can walk away whenever I'd like.”
Although he is listed as an available talent for the event, Lipkin said promoters with Big Time Wrestling have not told him whether he'll be wrestling or accompanying another wrestler to the ring as a tag team partner or bodyguard.
Lipkin said his in-ring persona is the strong, silent type, similar to wrestling superstars Bruiser Brody and Kevin Nash. “Rick Marshall is a bad guy — your typical non-conformist anti-hero,” Lipkin said. “I just try to come across as having an outlaw attitude and try to have a big presence and look like I can't be beat.
“I haven't had many matches, but I've taken on several roles as a bodyguard, manager and adviser, and even worked as a promoter.”
The Big Time Wrestling show is the first major fundraiser for the Ford City Summerfest, said event coordinator AJ Stump. Summerfest replaced the borough's annual Heritage Days when its committee disbanded in September. Summerfest is scheduled July 3-6 in Ford City Park and includes a parade, fireworks, 5K run, craft booths and family activities.
Stump said the committee hopes the show will raise $15,000 from the wrestling event — about half of which will be used to install electrical wiring in the park.
Big Time Wrestling's show is the first professional wrestling event in Armstrong County in 30 years. The last event featured Pittsburgh's Bruno Sammartino at the Belmont Complex in East Franklin.
“It was really popular back then, so we think it'll be a hit again,” Stump said. “If it does well this time, we're going to try to hold it again and turn it into a Ford City tradition.”
Lipkin of Kittanning said he's looking forward to getting to talk to the legends and other independent wrestlers at the Ford City show. He said their stories and advice are an essential part of developing his craft.
“These are some amazing talents who have worked at the highest level,” Lipkin said. “I'm looking forward to sitting and talking with them, to hear how they do certain things in the ring and how to get the crowds into it. It's like getting to sit beneath a professional wrestling learning tree.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org.