Wrestling returns to Wahconah Park with Jerry Lawler, Rey Mysterio
Jerry "The King" Lawler and Rey Mysterio (Rey means "king" in Spanish), are tops at what they do, and have done it for many years. These true kings of wrestling will help headline Northeast Wrestling's "Wrestling Under the Stars," set to return to Wahconah Park on Friday.
Beginning at 4:30 p.m., meet and greet with the show's stars, which also includes Cody Rhodes, Booker T and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. The wrestling will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the ring set in the middle of the infield.
This is the second year the show is being put on at the park. Last year, a crowd of 1,500 was in attendance, so bringing it back was a no-brainer, according to Kristen Huss, general manager of the Pittsfield Suns.
"It's a great event," Huss said. "Wahconah Park is a great venue to watch it in. We're very excited to host it again. Fans will be entertained." She also said that she hopes this will become a yearly event.
The show is presented by Northeast Wrestling, whose promoter, Michael Lombardi, started the promotion over 20 years ago.
"It's good for the area. There's nothing else like it," said Lombardi. "At last year's event, there were different generations. Kids, five, six, seven years old, through grandparents were there. Everyone had a great time. It's a nice, family-friendly event for the Berkshires."
One of the featured wrestlers, Rey Mysterio ("King Mystery"), is an acclaimed high flyer who made his wrestling debut in Mexico in 1989 at the age of 14. A master in the lucha form of wrestling, his moves are gymnastic and effective. He is especially known for the "619," where he thrusts his torso through the ring's ropes directly at his opponent in order to throw them off.
Mysterio is one of the major players on El Rey Network's "Lucha Underground," where the soap opera-like stories and their colorful characters intertwine through a world of underground wrestling in Boyle Heights, Calif. The show has become somewhat of a cult hit with wrestling fans.
Another king, Jerry "The King" Lawler, has been a wrestler since 1970, and has won 168 championships, more than any other professional wrestler.
"My first match was in December, 1970," Lawler explained in an interview with The Eagle. "I was 21 and got knocked out. I went a year without wrestling."
After that, he went back into the ring and ultimately earned his moniker by defeating an opponent who already had the nickname, "The King."
"You're looking at the kid that's gonna knock you off your throne," Lawler told his opponent, and when he did, the opponent said, "You're the king!"
The moniker is fitting since Lawler is from Memphis, Tenn., the "City of Kings," and recently honored Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock `n' Roll,' on the 40th anniversary of his death.
Lawler is also a fan of the works of Norman Rockwell and enjoys visiting the area.
"One of my favorite places to visit is Stockbridge," he said.
Another great moment in the history of Lawler's career, is when he took on the late comedian, Andy Kaufman in 1982. Kaufman, a would-be wrestler who was looking to be a bad guy and fought mostly women, wanted to find a place in which to wrestle. He found the place as well as his match in Lawler.
"`You need to step up and wrestle a man'," Lawler said he told Kaufman. During their match, Lawler did one of his famous moves, the pile driver, a move that sends an opponent head-first into the ground. This move sent Kaufman to the hospital and into a neck brace, and the match was named one of the top 100 moments in TV history.
In 2007, Lawler was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame by "Star Trek" star William Shatner.
Lawler still loves getting into the ring and will continue to do so until it no longer is fun.
"I'm long past enjoying the travel," he said. "Traveling eats away at you. It gets old quick. But I will continue to wrestle for as long as I can, since I still love actually getting in the ring."
This love will be seen firsthand Friday when Lawler shows his stuff as he takes on Cody Rhodes, a young wrestler from a huge wrestling family. His father, the late Dusty Rhodes, and brother, Goldust, both fought Lawler. Now it's Cody's turn.
"Cody will have extra incentive, thinking he will make his dad proud," said Lawler.
In this title match, Rhodes will also be defending the championship that he holds, the Ring of Honor. "That makes this match even more interesting," Lawler said.
No matter who wins the matches, the fans will win the night because, according to the promoter, Michael Lombardi, "there's nothing like watching wrestling under the lights!"
Tickets prices start at $20 and can be purchased at www.northeastwrestling.com, the Wahconah Park box office or by calling 845-564-0931. They will also be available the day of the show.
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