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NWA Wrestling bringing its family brand to East Texas

Jan. 16, 2013 at 10 p.m.

NWA Ark-La-Tex is making its presence felt in a big way with the ringing in of 2013, and wrestling's oldest sanctioning body is looking to make a name for itself in the East Texas area for years to come.

It all begins on Saturday night at the Gilmer Civic Center, as fans have the chance to see old school wrestling with a new age attitude. Prices are $12 for ringside seats, $10 for general admission and $2 off for military with ID. Doors open at 6 p.m., with bell time at 7 p.m., and the card is subject to change.

Concessions will be available, while fans can purchase merchandise and get autographs and pictures. CMT's Bayou Billionaires from Shreveport have reportedly already secured their front-row seats.

"My phone has been burning up the past few weeks with people wanting ringside seats," said promoter Phillip Sullivan, who is hoping to have the 500-seat arena filled to capacity. "I've posted no fewer than 1,000 posters and flyers across the East Texas area, because I want people to know what we're about."

NWA plans to put on a family-oriented show with no alcohol or cursing and lives by its moniker of simply wrestling and leaving the glitz and the glamour to the WWE. It proudly promotes a product with a combination of professional wrestling, shoot fighting and the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

There will be plenty of big names in attendance, including NWA World Heavyweight Champion Tokyo Monster Kahagas from Japan, the uncrowned World Tag Team champions Cowboys from Hell Cedric Craine and second-generation wrestler Scott Putski along with Devil's Reject Captain Spalding, a trio which were in Marshall promoting a tryout for local wrestlers on Dec. 1 at D-Rocks Gym. They've sent an invitation to Kings of the Underground for a future match but have yet to receive a response.

Others on the card include former WWE star Rodney Mack (nephew of the late Junk Yard Dog), Killer McKenzie, second-generation wrestler Ron Sullivan and 19-year-old, up-and-comer Barrett Brown.

"Barrett is one of those we feel can be a high-flying sensation," Phillip Sullivan said. "He's one of the hottest commodities right now in wrestling and has a heart of gold for both the fans and the business."

Four area wrestlers are also planning to make appearances in "Big Money" Hank James, Killer Khan, Justin Sane and Sean Cordova. Sullivan hopes it all adds up to fans leaving hungry for more action.

"The thing we want to heavily stress is how important it is to have a family base and a fan base," Sullivan said. "We want parents and their kids coming out to watch what we plan to be a good show."

Sullivan is also quick to point out his appreciation to the Gilmer City Council and Chamber of Commerce as well as Civic Center personnel for their outpouring of support. There are already two other events booked in Gilmer for March 23 and June 29, and Buckeye coaches and players plan to attend Saturday.

"I've dealt with the city on and off for the last decade and wrestled there," Phillip Sullivan said. "They have diehard wrestling fans– not sports entertainment fans. We're very excited to bring this to them."

There is also a show planned for June 1 in Sulphur Springs, where the Rock 'n' Roll Express is on the card, while noted wrestler Kevin Von Erich's sons Ross and Marshall are also pondering joining the NWA.

Sullivan labeled what is expected to be "The Showcase" event in Marshall on Sept. 7 for the "Boo" Benefit fundraiser, which also took place locally last August. "Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan and "Polish Power" Ivan Putski have been linked to be in town, while wrestling's oldest fan will be honored.

Phillip Sullivan has spent 17 years in the wrestling business as a competitor and promoter who adds he hasn't officially retired from the ring. He wants to bring the Ark-La-Tex product back to life.

"I do my best to listen to our fans when it comes to telling me what they want to see and not have us dictate to them what they're going to watch," Sullivan said. "They're the people who are paying us to perform, and they want to see wrestling, not a talk show. Our guys put their boots and tights on, walk to the ring and wrestle. We want them to watch our brand and leave the arena wanting to come back."



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