Wednesday, April 16, 2014
A large black wrestling ring towers above the crowd of 450 cheering fans.
The lights go out. Stars flicker across the black-tarp-covered walls. Children wave glow sticks.
It isn’t WWE wrestlers that then take the stage, it’s North Hamilton locals, and it happens every Saturday night in Walker County, Ga.
“We are on the verge of expanding,” said Empire Wrestling co-owner Drew Mullinax. “We are looking to expand to a few towns. Chattanooga was a major area for wrestling in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Our goal is to bring back legitimate wrestling to the area.”
Empire’s Andrew “Southeastern Strangler” Alexander, of the Devil’s Rejects Team, is hoping to intimidate reigning North American Heavyweight Champion Shaun “The Temptation” Tempers, of Hixson. The two wrestlers will go head to head Saturday, April 19 at Empire Wrestling.
“A thorn in my side is Shaun Tempers. He’s not only the heavyweight champ but a former member of the Devil’s Rejects,” said Alexander, who’s managed by Dan Wilson of Soddy-Daisy. Wilson calls himself “The Reverend.”
“Andrew has had plenty of chances at my belt, but he’s simply not good enough,” said Tempers. “I use the ‘hangman’s neck breaker’ where I twist the opponent’s neck on my shoulder. I also use the ‘temperpedic,’ a cobra clutch back breaker. It takes a lot of dedication and experience to know what to do in the ring.”
Tempers’ other rival, Ace Rockwell of Hixson, is known for his ring-corner “stinger splash” and “scorpion death lock.” He likes to do a move he calls “aces high” as well.
“I’ve had WWE tryouts,” said Rockwell, a former Soddy-Daisy High School pitcher. “They want you to connect with people and make them feel like you are one of them. They want you to come out with a larger than life persona. I made good friends in wrestling. It keeps me motivated.”
Overcoming breaking his wrist in three places, Rockwell continues to enter the ring. He is the former Anarchy Triple Crown Champion and has been featured in the PWI 500 top wrestlers three times.