The Independence Day Weekend has traditionally been an opportunity to publish stories of traditional Americana. One of my more memorable Independence Day Weekends was in 2006. I was working in “The Circus”, more accurately stated I had been part of promoting a Pro Wrestling Event at the Baker County Fairground in Macclenny, Florida. The Main Event was Tully Blanchard -vs- “The Lone Star” Dustin Rhodes. Other Pro Wrestling Legends on hand were The Midnight Express, the Rock -n- Roll Express, The Hollywood Express, Glacier, Malia Hosaka, Lexie Fyfe, Big Bank Barfield and there were many others. We drew a capacity crowd, which was very rare for World One Wrestling South but when you bring one of the original Four Horsemen and Dustin Rhodes, Beautiful Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condree, Ricky Morton, Robert Gibson and the others previously named, that’s one heck of a special event. It drew a lot of people to the Fairgrounds for their traditional July 4th celebration. The show was followed by Fireworks, courtesy of the Macclenny Fire Department. It was a great time and I’m proud to have been a part of it. I was the only photographer at ringside to capture some priceless images that I will always treasure.
What was a state of the art sports camera back then is now beyond obsolete. I never upgraded my gear. I dropped out of the Circus when hard times fell upon me. Now by way of an unplanned series of events, I am being pulled back into the Circus life. Back to silliness of the highest order. How could this be?
A few months ago I attended a Pro Wrestling event at a Bar out at Jacksonville Beach. It was a great show, right in the middle of Spring Break. It had the feel of one of the shows WCW would do live from Panama City Beach during Spring Break, way back in the day. It drew a big crowd, was a great show and made a lot of money for the bar owner. It’s a very simple money making formula. Typically on any given weekend that Bar doesn’t begin to draw a crowd until after 9pm. There was a big music festival going on out at the beach that weekend and the Marquee that was high on the building advertised a Pro Wrestling Show with a Bell Time of 7pm. That meant that by 6:15 people were starting to show up. The sight of the ring outside in the parking lot was drawing them in like flies. Those people immediately started ordering drinks and wings and running up a tab. The bar owner had that show more than paid for before it even started. All of the people involved in the show got paid much better than usual too. You make money by creating value and the value of that show was easy for the owner of The Ritz to discern.
A few blocks from The Ritz is the bar that my co-worker Tony works at on the weekends. It is the most historic Gay Bar in the Jacksonville area and its owner is a sharp businessman. He sees the value in having a Pro Wrestling event at his Bar and I have been trying to find a promoter who will do it. Some promoters just did not know how to handle this business opportunity. Then I reached out to my old buddy, former WCW Superstar Crusher Knoph of the Insane Wrestling Alliance. He has got talent from as far away as Canada ready to fly in for this event.
There is one technical issue that has to be overcome. The deck area where the ring would be set up has such a layout as to not be able to accommodate a large crowd once the ring is there. Nonetheless it could be done. Anything that limits crowd size will limit income for the Bar. Inside the Bar is a series of large television screens that are all tied together. We can pipe the show in from off the back deck for those who won’t fight the crowd to get back there. The only thing that is needed to make that happen is someone with the experience and the equipment to shoot HD Video from ringside. I have the experience but not the equipment. I am thinking about getting the equipment in spite of the fact that I will have to dip into Halloween funding for that. When I get a camera it will be official. I will be back in the Circus. It will help me get some exercise. It could be that there is someone in my life who would prefer that the only Ring I get near had a Diamond in it but this is a legitimate Show Business opportunity that could lead to things much greater than Diamonds.
Here in the short video below you see the aforementioned Ricky Morton, Robert Gibson and Crusher Knopf in action at a WCW show way back in the day…