In “The Wrestler,” Mickey Rourke portrays an aging fighter, performing on the weekends for an independent promoter in an attempt to recapture his past glory.
“They featured a lot of footage of an organization (Combat Zone Wrestling) that we partnered with in the past,” said Jim Perry, co-owner of Defy Wrestling. “Their title changed hands in our ring last summer.”
Perry and his partner, Matt Farmer, are among the throngs of independent promoters forming companies, booking shows and arranging tours as pro wrestling’s Off-Broadway agents.
“Right now, especially in the United States, there’s a huge resurgence of independent pro wrestling,” Farmer said. “It’s more of an open field now, where all of these companies are trading talent.”
Independent wrestlers, like barnstorming ballplayers and indie label touring bands, are generally edgier than their mainstream counterparts.
“The WWE, they present this cartoonish, corporate professional wrestling product,” Farmer said. “At Defy wrestling … it’s like alternative rock to pop rock.”
Farmer and Perry are bringing their show to the HUB Sports Center in Liberty Lake on Saturday.
It’s an all-ages event, with family packages available as well as a special preshow meet and greet with the wrestlers. Doors open at 8 p.m. True Legends Grill will host an after party.
The main event on the seven-match card will feature Brian “The Machine” Cage vs. Travis “Flip” Gordon.
WWE veteran Cage is a 265-pound behemoth.
“He is an animal,” Perry said. “When you think of what a pro wrestler is, he’s the archetype.”
Former Spokane resident Gordon, who weighs in at 187, is a combat engineer with the National Guard.
“One week a month, he’s in the Army,” Farmer said. “The rest of the month he’s out there, wrestling around the world.”
The biggest name on the card is former UFC star Matt Riddle, who compiled an 8-3-2 record in the octagon between 2008 and 2013. Riddle finished his UFC career third in takedown defense percentage and eighth in total strikes landed.
“Like Brock Lesnar or Ronda Rousey, (Riddle) jumped into professional wrestling,” Farmer said. “He’s turned into one of the best, fastest rising stars.”
“It was important to us to bring some of the best to Spokane,” Perry said. “And those three … they really are some of the best in the world”
Riddle will take on the “Persian Prodigy,” King Khash. Also appearing will be former WWE heartthrob Antonio “The Promise” Thomas, SCHAFF, Jorel Nelson, “Classic” Cody Chhun, Guillermo Rósas, the masked León Negro and local tag team partners C.J. Wilson and Jackson Price.
Pro wrestling is a mix of sport, spectacle and performance art. To succeed, a wrestler has to master all three disciplines.
“There is … a peppering of Cirque du Soleil,” Perry said. “When I’m backstage and I’m looking at how these cats are blocking out their matches, and figuring out their moves, it reminds me of a dance recital.”
“It’s mostly improv,” Farmer said. “But we don’t hold back when we hit each other.”
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