McKeesport-based pro wrestling group to hold main event Saturday
A McKeesport-based professional wrestling promotion will have its largest show of the year this weekend.
Pro Wrestling eXpress will present its 21st anniversary show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Wrestleplex at 2125 Beacon St.
Jim Miller co-founded NWA East, PWX's former name, with Sean “Shocker” Evans in 1994.
Evans, who was raised in McKeesport, was Miller's neighbor and trained in the old Eastland Mall, the wrestling promotions' original home.
Evans went on to a successful wrestling career until his death in October 2007 from throat cancer. He was 36.
NWA East moved shows from Eastland to Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park, where it presented some iconic matches despite low-hanging fans over the ring, and using a makeshift locker room and entranceway with sheets and plastic picnic tables.
It changed its name from NWA East to PWX in October 2011 when it moved from the pavilion to the Wrestleplex — the former St. Stephen's Church fellowship hall and school.
The site was thoroughly renovated into what many fans have called the best wrestling venue in the Mon Valley.
Miller said recent upgrades include new lights and ringside seats installed just in time for the anniversary.
“We're going to be full, but there's always room for more,” Miller said about the expected crowd.
More than 700 wrestlers passed through the PWX ropes throughout the years. The anniversary show tends to bring back the legends like Quinn Magnum.
Magnum was among the first training classes in the organization and had his first major match the summer of 1996.
“I could see it lasting 21 years,” Magnum said. “I didn't see myself lasting 21 years in it.”
Magnum does a lot of behind-the-scenes work including booking talent, and occasionally laces up his wrestling boots.
He was involved in a grudge match at last year's anniversary show with Payton Graham.
The match exploded into a six-man tag-team match with Magnum, The Great Samu and Samu's son Lance Anoa'i battling Graham, Jack Pollock and Stryder.
Magnum's team was victorious. It was Samu's last match after 35 years of wrestling.
“It was pretty cool to be a part of that,” Magnum said.
Magnum, 42, of McKeesport is scheduled to make an appearance Saturday along with other members of the Circle of Respect, PWX's version of a Hall of Fame.
He likened the anniversary show to the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment.
“It's our local version of WrestleMania,” Magnum said. “The way we look at it is to celebrate another year of the organization being around. It's kind of a way to end the year and begin a new one. I think that's what brings a lot of people back for those kind of shows.”
Other special appearances include a visit from JB Destiny and three-time heavyweight champion Scotty Gash.
Magnum said PWX's continued success belongs to Miller and the young talent.
“His determination and drive to keep it going, I think that's first and foremost,” Magnum said. “Second is the drive and determination of the wrestlers involved. The (PWX Wrestling Academy) is the lifeblood in keeping things going, making local stars the fans want to see. That's the three main things really.”
Matches slated for Saturday include a PWX Three Rivers title match between Pollock and Graham.
PWX Television champ “The New Hope” Bryan Bowers battles “The Bev” Bobby Beverly.
Kato puts his career on the line against Stryder in a Last Man Standing match. Gory and “The Reaper” Matt Conard compete in a Four Corners of Hell match.
“Fitness Guru” Clinton Crooks takes on “One Man Militia” Matt Justice. PWX Futures Cup will be decided between Sonny Vice against “The Gavel” David Lawless.
The largest match of the night is a gauntlet match for the PWX Tag Team title. Competing teams are Martial Law, System Elite, The Hellfire Club, The C, The Enforcers and the team of Nick Nero and Ace Austin Highley.
“Classic” Chris Helmsly battles a mystery opponent in PWX trainer Dean Radford's challenge.
Finally, the PWX Heavyweight Title will be up for grabs between Ganon Jones Jr., Cassidy Stone, Pollock and Anoa'i.
“I think we're going to have a packed house,” Magnum said. “I think (the fans) are going to be in for a few surprises during the course of the night.”
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or email@example.com.