AIWF wrestling tags in for Hillsville at October 22 debut

By David Broyles -

Seasons aren’t the only event subject to the cyclic. For instance, Independent wrestling is set to return to Hillsville on October 22. This time though, Indy wrestling is tagging in for the community.

The event will be held at the VFW Post. Gates are scheduled to open at 4 p.m. with activities including live music, food, face painting, a “meet and greet” with wrestlers and a clothing drive with bell time set for 7:30 p.m. Ringside tickets are $7 and bleacher seats are $5 per person.

Allied Independent Wrestling Federation Promoter Dean Puckett said the Mount Airy, N.C.-based group has been spoiling for years to get a chance to take Hillsville by storm. (Made possible through a partnership with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1115 and its Young Guns.)

“We actually have a lot of fans in the area familiar with us from Mount Airy,” said Puckett. “Wrestling has phases, which is why I think there is increasing interest in Indy wrestling. The best way to put it is interest comes in cycles. The last few years have been really good for us. Anytime you come to a new town it’s like a new baby. We can nurture it. We come in with new ideas; meet new people. The number one reason we do what we do is our wrestlers have a passion for entertaining people. They will come in (to Hillsville) at the top of their game.”

Puckett said the card for an evening of AIWF wrestling typically includes 10 wrestlers. (The debut in Hillsville plans to feature more than 15.) The headliners include “Lodi versus Tyson” with other AIWF personalities “Rusty Shank,” “Johnny Blast,” “Scrap Yard Dog,” “Yasha and Kevina” and “Sgt. Stryker” in various other matches. Special intermission activities are also planned.

“Lodi versus Tyson is something to watch. They put on a good match together. It’s something special when Lodi comes to town,” Puckett said. “All I can say is come prepared to be entertained, a little bit shocked and leave with something to tell people about. You never know what to expect. We’re like the military except we adapt and entertain.”

Promoter and local voice for the AIWF, “Mr. Young Gun” said the clothing drive effort will be spearheaded by Hillsville business “The Wooden Nickel.” Participants may purchase clothing offered in a tent on site and the garments will be used to help local homeless community members. The Carroll County High Junior Officers Reserve Training Corps honor guard will raise the colors as The National Anthem is played before the opening match. A variety of local vendors will also have their products available for participants.

“We have fought a lot. I’m really looking forward to coming to Hillsville and beating him up again,” said Lodi, a veteran of the ring. “I’m that old dog that comes around and keeps the young guys in line.”

He admitted that anything can happen when big bodies collide in the ring and said his first year he had five serious injuries. Lodi said he is often amused by fans (some with college degrees) who ask how getting a chair bent over your head doesn’t hurt.

“I ask them have you ever heard me say it doesn’t hurt,” Lodi said. “Where do they get the not hurt part from. I grew up on a farm watching wrestling with my family. I do this because I actually, truly love entertaining people. The only reason I’ve been in wrestling for 21 years is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The wrestling mat is my testimony to young kids.”

Young Gun Mike Lara confirmed the Post will also be taking donations, (in a 55-gallon drum). He said the money will go to help defray medical expenses for a veteran and his family. Lara declined to identify the vet, citing privacy concerns. He said he will undergo surgery to remove Improvised Explosive Device (IED) shrapnel from his feet and proceeds will go to help defray the cost of surgical boots which will allow him to walk again.

“This is not just a (few) people thing. It’s for the entire community,” said Mr. Young Gun. “This is for families. Our wrestlers pride themselves on being a family act. It’s all P.G. It’s not what you’d think. It’s not just violence. Everyone will have a chance to meet our wrestlers as they show up in their cars. We’ve got lots of surprises in store.”

Lara said an extreme amount of local support has come in already for the upcoming event with practically every business on Main Street helping in some way. Local platinum sponsors include The Town of Hillsville, Hair Shack, NightWatch Haunted Jail, Hillcrest Florist, Harrison’s Gun & Ammo and VFW Post 1115. Other local sponsors include The Wooden Nickel, Jackson Insurance, 304 North Main, Dana’s Hair Salon, The Time Factory, State Farm Insurance and Omega Office Supply.

“We didn’t want just one business. We wanted everyone in town to be a part,” Lara said.”Our area is so great about helping. They aren’t thinking if they’ll help. They just want to know how they can help. My dream is that families in our community can come out, enjoy the show together and maybe it will spark an interest on which they can build.”

David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.

By David Broyles