Of Heels And Babyfaces

Pro wrestling is making a comeback in Hawaii with classic good and bad guys

Steve Murray
Friday - June 16, 2006
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Joe Roland and family enjoyed an evening watching wrestling
Joe Roland and family enjoyed an evening watching

There are two things you need to know about professional wrestling in Hawaii.

First, that it exists. After years of struggling, wrestling is once again gaining fans by combining talented performers with show-manship that embraces local culture while never forgetting its most important audience, the young fans.

Second, the skill level in Hawaii Championship Wrestling is better than you think. Many wrestling fans view the independent promotions - meaning anything outside the WWE, T.N.A Wrestling or ECW - as companies that operate with lesser talent and bland characters. But those who recently packed the house for a show at Tropics, a family entertainment center at Schofield Barracks, would beg to differ. Chairs were rarely used - except by the wrestlers - and youngsters crowded the isles to high five the wrestlers as they entered the ring. Even the moms and dads couldn’t help themselves and joined their kids in cheering their favorites or jeering those they didn’t care for.

There was a lot of both.

In one form or another, professional wrestling has been in Hawaii for nearly 80 years. From the first N.W.A. Hawaii Heavyweight champion in 1935, Wildcat Pete, to the glory years of Lord “Tally Ho” Blears, Ripper Collins and Curtis “Da Bull” Iaukea, to the current stars like Kaimana, J.T. Wolfen, the Nightmarchers and Rock Star >Tony Blazejack photo Throws and slams are still part of the fun, as Big Daddy Frank demonstrates Ricky Thunder, wrestling has continued to thrill local audiences with a mixture of athletic skill and theatrics. The newest version of the sport, HCW, got its start in 2003 when WWE Hall of Famer and Punahou grad, Don “The Rock” Muraco teamed up with television producer Linda Bade in an effort to bring back the days at the old Civic Auditorium. So far, it’s working. But unlike some more well-known organizations, HCW does not feel it has to tittilate with adult themes to bring in the fans.

Throws and slams are still part of the fun, as Big Daddy Frank demonstrates
Throws and slams are still part of the fun, as Big
Daddy Frank demonstrates

Joe Roland, a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army, brought his 10-year-old son, Joe, to the show along with other kids from the neighborhood and their fathers. They were looking for something they could do as a family, and to a person, they said they found it.

“Some of the stuff that I saw on TV is like that (too risque), women running around half naked, and that might not be appropriate, but here at the Tropics I feel better about bringing them here because this place caters to kids. I don’t think I would take them to other events.”

And providing family-style fun is the whole idea behind HCW.

“We try to be family entertainment. We don’t have women coming out in thongs and stripping down butt naked,” said crowd favorite Kaimana, who immediately reveals why he’s Chick Tested, Mother Disapproved by saying he reserves that sort of thing for the end of the night. “You can’t just go for the 21 and over crowd. They are just going to get used to the T&A and you’re gonna lose them in a bit. The young ones will always be excited. They will always be entertained and will always be there.”

A House of Pain: Last Man Standing Match.

Rock Star Ricky Thunder vs. Nightmare. Rock Star got the crowd going with a series of quick one-arm take downs, but Nightmare stuck to his game plan by working on the injured back of his opponent with the steel chair

Joe Roland and family enjoyed an evening watching wrestling

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