Independent Wrestling Promoter Entertains Central Illinois
There are probably quite a few people who could name the most popular professional wrestlers of the past 30 years. They would know Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and The Rock. Many of those same people, though, might not know that there are tons of wrestlers working independently who provide the same kind of action-packed entertainment all across the country.
Renegade Wrestling Organization (RWO) brought such an event to Springfield, Illinois on June 1 with its June Justice promotion. The program featured fights with some of the favorites of the sport, including RWO Heavyweight champ Jonathan Napier, Robby McCann, Kaos and RWO US champ Chuck Rich with a main event bout between Gavin Alexander and Tracy Smothers.
RWO formed earlier this year to “give the fans the best live entertainment in Springfield and Central Illinois.” They specialize in enjoyable family oriented shows that “lack the blood and weaponry” of their competitors and are safe for children to attend. The organization also has a commitment to the community, and works with several groups including the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America and the American Cancer Society.
Carol Burge, wife of RWO owner Joseph Burge, says theirs is more than a money-making endeavor.
“[We want] to provide fun-filled entertainment for the community [and] give them things to do as a family. We work with [community] organizations to provide helpful information to [our patrons]. Our goal is not just to make money, but to help make [people] aware of certain [establishments] out there.”
Smothers, the evening’s most decorated wrestler, has been wrestling since the early 1980s and belonged to several wrestling organizations before hitting the independent circuit in 2001. He’s won eight heavyweight titles and over a dozen tag team championships with various partners, and once wrestled an un-muzzled bear.
Smothers went on to win his bout against Alexander, and Burge believes their match was one of the most memorable of the night.
“The highlight of the event was the match between ‘The Human Hate Machine’ Gavin Alexander and Tracy Smothers,” she says. “They ended up having a dance-off during the match, which was hysterical! And, meeting Smothers was also very memorable. He was a very nice man with a great personality. But, in all honesty, the whole event was very memorable and fun, and [we are] very proud of all the people that work for us.”
Burge says they promoted the event through social media and word-of-mouth, and feels that Facebook really helped them pack the house. She offers some sound advice for all event planners.
“Planning an event can be very time consuming and hectic at times, but having other people help makes it a lot easier. [My main advice would be to] try to have a lot of patience, in the long run it makes it a lot easier and less stressful.”