SPRINGFIELD, MO. — For professional wrestlers, traveling all over the country performing in front of live crowds is at the very center of what they do. Now that live shows are back, it’s helped careers get back on track and is giving rise to new ones.
It’s been over a year since events like these came to a screeching halt, leaving arenas and event centers vacant.
Barry Linduff is a veteran in this business and knows just how vital crowds are to what they do.
“The thing about professional wrestling is, it’s an art,” said Linduff. “It’s a performance art. To experience the best way you can, you have to have that audience. There is no greater feeling than being underneath those lights and until you’ve been under there, there’s no way to explain it.”
Performing in front of live crowds is how up and coming wrestlers gain experience, get noticed and how some of them make a living.
“You’re used to being paid based on the house or the merchandise that you sold and those numbers went increasingly down and you were having to drive twice as far to get there and everything else,” said pro wrestler and head trainer for Mid-States Wrestling “The Space Cowboy Jason Jones”.
Jones has decades of experience as a professional wrestler and he’s the head trainer for mid-states wrestling. While the pandemic put a halt to live shows, the work put in behind the scenes kept on going.
“We put the time in and we were in the gym two, three nights a week in our training center there at Mid-States and we were doing this because I said, ‘Guys, when it’s time to go, we need to go’,” said Jones.
Some of the people he trains include Chris and Eva birch from Neosho, Missouri, who travel two hours and a half hours to and from Harrison for training sessions. Chris is training to be referee while Eva is hoping to make it as a wrestler.
“I think for me my goals is to first of all, you know get in there and be successful,” said Eva. “Have my first match. Really learn that this is absolutely something that I can do.”
While being in the wrestling industry has always been a dream for Chris, he never actually pursued it until recently.
“I lived in such an area and came from a practical family where you know, education, job came first and things like that,” said Chris. “So I’m getting a lot later start than a lot of people.”
But, better late than never, right? Like Chris, James Pisano’s wrestling dreams were put on the backburner.
“Back in 2014, I was actually going to leave to go to Atlanta to go to a wrestling school down there and then I met my daughter’s mom and family became that dream,” said Pisano.
Now, he’s decided give it another shot. He makes the trip from Mt. Vernon to train at Tiger Pro Wrestling Academy in Ozark. While his main goal is to make it as a pro wrestler, he also wants to be an inspiration to his daughter.
“It’s just something that you only live once and I want my daughter to know to chase your dreams no matter what,” said Pisano.
Head trainer at Tiger Pro Wrestling Academy Terry Zeller said getting booked in live shows is crucial in helping aspiring wrestlers like James get where they want go.
“You have to be seen by somebody and you have to have that special something that they want to get to the big shows up there, the big paying events and stuff like that,” said Zeller. “It takes a lot of independent shows to get in that point in life.”
From established veterans to fresh-faced hopefuls, by being back in front of fans they’re back on track to making their dreams come true.