Wrestling up-and-comers to strut their stuff at PWX Wrestleplex
A McKeesport-based professional wrestling promotion is accepting new recruits and will showcase two advanced trainees this weekend.
Pro Wrestling eXpress Wrestling presents “When Worlds Collide” on Saturday at the PWX Wrestleplex at 2125 Beacon St. Bell time is 7:30 p.m.
Academy standout Canon Jones Jr. takes on PWX Heavyweight Champion Chris LeRusso in the main event, but there is another bout that could steal the show.
Clinton Crooks battles Brandon K. for the PWX Television title.
Brandon K. is the wrestling name of Jason Clements, 36, of Dunbar. Clements is the head trainer of the academy, along with trainer Dean Dolton, 32, of Elizabeth.
Clements trained Crooks for two years. He said this is Crooks' biggest match to date, and plans on giving him all he can handle.
“This is his test,” Clements said. “I'm going to give him a lot to deal with. I expect him to listen. The things I have planned for him are not going to be easy. They're going to be out of his wheelhouse, so to speak. I want to see how he handles it. I want to see how he holds it together.”
Clements and Dolton, who is known in wrestling circles as Dean Radford, have 15 trainees.
Both instructors have more than 13 years' experience and have performed throughout the U.S., Canada and overseas.
The academy began with the promotion's inception 20 years ago at the old Eastland Mall.
Original trainers were B.A. Briggs and Jimmy Valiant. Clements and Dolton took the reins about two years ago.
The Wrestleplex is the former St. Stephen's Church fellowship hall and school.
It features a full-time wrestling ring, promo rooms where trainees can develop their characters, a weight room and other amenities.
“I like to do it because I want to train the next generation correctly,” Clements said. “There's a lot of bad wrestling schools out there. We like to train safe workers who know what they're doing. There's a lot of bad wrestlers on the independent (circuit) right now.”
Dolton said he and Clements' “are both on the same page” when it comes to instruction and share a lot of knowledge gained through their careers.
“That's what it really takes to run a good professional wrestling school,” Dolton said. “Anybody can just take money from somebody and then you go get on a show and break your neck. You're going to move at your pace, and you're not going to get on a show until you're ready.”
Clements, who studied health and fitness at Slippery Rock University, said trainees go through rigorous workout sessions.
The academy is open at the Wrestleplex from 2-10 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.
Wednesday features advanced classes for wrestlers close to making their show debuts.
Dolton credited the academy's success to PWX promoter and McKeesport native Jim Miller and his investments in the city.
Applicants must be at least 16 years old and have medical clearance from a physician and written permission from a legal guardian to train, and be at least 18 years old to wrestle professionally.
Everyone goes through a tryout to gauge the physical and mental toughness of an individual, and no previous wrestling experience is required. It includes doing 20 laps around the building, 150 squats, 150 pushups and 150 situps within 20 minutes.
“Our tryout isn't to have somebody fail,” Dolton said. “Our tryout is to see somebody give 100 percent at what they're doing. There are some people who don't finish the trial. We'll still give them a chance, but we're going to give them a diet plan and a workout schedule. It's one thing to show up every week and learn how to be a professional wrestler. It's another to personally push yourself to be a professional wrestler.”
The non-refundable $200 tryout fee is applied to the total $1,800 cost of the training program for those accepted into the academy.
Trainees are recommended to have health insurance.
Dolton said they are not contractually bound to perform for the company upon graduation, but they will always be a part of the PWX family.
Olympic Gold medalist and pro wrestling icon Kurt Angle trained at the academy years ago.
Notable alums include Quinn Magnum, Mad Mike, Scottie Gash, JR Mega and the late Sean “Shocker” Evans.
The academy occasionally hosts seminars with some of wrestling's big names such as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and Global Force Wrestling founder Jeff Jarrett, the Great Samu and “Intrepid Traveler” Paul London.
Most academy trainees are featured on PWX's Futures series, similar to how World Wrestling Entertainment showcases its up-and-comers through its developmental branch NXT.
The next Futures show is 7:30 p.m. April 11 at the Wrestleplex.
Saturday's show has a lot of PWX's main roster competing. Other matches include Mad Mike vs. Jack Pollock for the PWX Three Rivers title, and the PWX Tag Team title is up for grabs in a three-way fight between the Hellfire Club, the Enforcing Officials and Pride or Die.
Advance tickets to Saturday's show are $12 for ringside, $10 for general admission and $6 for children 12 and younger.
Tickets at the door are $15 for ringside, $12 for general admission and $6 for children 12 and younger.
More information is available online at prowrestlingexpress.com.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965 or email@example.com.