Monster Mania: Bring your monster masks to the WOH Wrestling ring

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BENNINGTON, VT — No, it's not Halloween yet, and this isn't a costume party.

Still, you better start digging through the attic for your best monster, ghoul, or general purpose bad guy get-up because WOH Wrestling is coming to town.

Its professional wrestlers want you to do just about everything to ham it up, have a good time, and get into each match — except jump in the ring while they're fighting.

WOH (World of Hurt) Wrestling will feature "Monster Mania," its first ever appearance in downtown Bennington, on Friday night, starting at 7 p.m., at the Masonic Temple on Main Street, just two blocks east of the clock at Four Corners, where U.S. Rt. 7 and Vt. Rt. 9 intersect.

Former National Miss 2013 Kelly Slingerland, now director of marketing for WHO, said fans are encouraged to join the wrestlers that evening in the theme of "Monster Mania."

Translation: Dress up if you like, or put on makeup or masks or all of the above, as long as it gets into the spirit of the wrestlers' monster personas.

"This is all about great entertainment, and having a good time," Slingerland said. "Ringside seats have already sold out so the general admission tickets remaining are running a very affordable $15."

The converted space inside the Masonic Temple, depending on configuration, will take up to 150 spectators, promising that there won't be a bad seat in the house.

"We do a lot of big shows with big stars," Shane Alden, WHO owner and president, said. "We just did one at the Glens Falls Civic Center with names like Rick Flair and Bret Hart. We couldn't bring that here because of the size of the building, but we are still bringing some well-known wrestlers"

Alden went on to say that a scheduling conflict at a larger arena closer to Halloween threatened to cancel "Monster Mania," so he decided instead to bring it to Bennington ahead of time, as it has traditionally been one of the WOH Wrestling's most popular shows annually.

"Monster Mania" will feature seven matches, with some names familiar to fans of big-time wrestling and TV. One contest will be a female match featuring WWE and Queens of Combat star Deonna Purrazzo.

WOH Wrestling in its current form is the brainchild of entrepreneur Alden, who assumed its helm in 2005.

Alden grew up in Fort Edward, N.Y., where he played football and was heavy into weightlifting, no pun intended.

Recently, he bought a house in nearby Hoosick, N.Y., and said he wanted to do something positive by bringing wrestling to Bennington and "shake things up with a little excitement."

"I had my eye on Bennington as a good location, and now I'm a neighbor, right in Hoosick," Alden said. "I think an evening of wresting would be perfect for the early fall. So far, everyone in town has been fantastic about WOH bringing our show here to the downtown."

One downtown denizen who agreed with Alden was Duane Greenawalt, a Bennington CPA who, with wife Betsy, owns two successful local businesses: HolyCow Frozen Yogurt on Main Street, and Hathaway's drive-in theater in North Hoosick.

HolyCow is the local sponsor for WOH "Monster Mania," and Greenawalt said the fit with Bennington was a good one.

"There are quite a few professional wrestling fans in the area," Greenawalt said. "I hear the conversations all the time, and thought it was a good idea to sponsor 'Monster Mania.' Shane is to be commended for wanting to bring an event with so much positive energy and fun right here in town. More people should be investing in the downtown in this way."

Greenawalt added that after Friday's night event, there will be a fan "meet and greet" with Purrazzo and other wrestlers at HolyCow Frozen Yogurt. A ticket stub from that night's show will get you a 20 percent discount, too.

Alden knows that for his event to succeed, it needs local audiences to become part of the action, hence the encouragement for fans to come all dressed up if they like. He also revealed that at the show's intermission, fans will get a chance to talk to the wrestlers and take selfies with them.

A professional wrestler himself for the past 15 years who has been in WWE shows and made multiple TV appearances, Alden said that he has a passion for bringing wrestling to the masses on an intimate level.

"WOH has events all over the region," Alden said. "Let me tell you, it doesn't get much more intimate than the Masonic Temple in Bennington."

Intimate indeed, especially if wrestling ghouls roam the rink and monsters occupy the rest of the venue. Doors open at 6 p.m. Don't be late.

IF YOU GO ...

What: WOH (World of Hurt) Wrestling will feature "Monster Mania"

When: 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23

Where: Masonic Temple on Main Street, Bennington, Vt.

Tickets: $15

Info: 518-260-8759, or visit facebook.com/wohwrestling


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