The following report of Real Pro Wrestling’s debut episode on PAX TV – shown this past Sunday at 4 p.m. EST – is courtesy RPW Home Office reporter Matt Krumrie. A replay of the show can be seen on Fox Sports Net at 3 p.m. EST this Wednesday:
Report From Episode 1
A new league of superhero’s made its long-awaited and highly-anticipated television debut Sunday.
Real Pro Wrestling, which features many of America’s top freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers competing for $250,000 in prize money, was shown Sunday across the nation on PAXTV. The league consists of eight teams made up of seven different weight classes.
It’s real wrestling with no scripts, no fake blood (but plenty of the real stuff), and no room for crybabies. This is about real athletic competition, and for the wrestling community, a chance to finally showcase to the rest of this sports-crazed society just what the world’s oldest sport is all about.
Sunday’s debut episode featured competition in the 121-pound weight class, showing highlights of the four quarterfinals matches, and the complete semifinals matches. Tim Johnson provided play-by-play, while 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist and 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist Rulon Gardner and 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist Nate Carr provided commentary, analysis and opinions. Gardner provided solid information on what each wrestler needed to do to win, while Carr wasn’t afraid to express his opinions and speak his mind.
On the mat there was no one more dominant than Sammie “The Bull” Henson of the Pennsylvania Hammer. Henson, a 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist and two-time NCAA champion at Clemson, has a motor that doesn’t stop, and he proved it Sunday. Henson outscored his two opponents 28-0 to advance to the finals. He defeated Tim Dernlan of the Minnesota Freeze 15-0 and Mike Mena of the Iowa Stalkers 13-0, showing those who have followed his career – and those watching for the first time – why he has been one of the most successful American freestylers in recent history.
Henson advanced to the finals (the nine-week series will highlight the quarterfinals and semifinals of each weight class before concluding with the championship finals of all weight classes), where he will meet Teague Moore of the Oklahoma Slam. Moore, who had knee surgery four months prior to the taping of RPW Season I, was in peak physical condition and advanced with an 8-2 quarterfinal win over Jeff Prescott of the New York Outrage, and a 14-11 semi-final victory over Eric Akin of the Texas Shooters.
“I’m not even supposed to be here,” Moore, a three-time All-American at Oklahoma State and 1998 NCAA 118-pound national champion, told sideline reporter Tom Erickson. “I just had knee surgery four months ago. My doctor told me to stay home, stay in bed. But I’m here, I couldn’t resist the fun.”
While the debut episode was about showcasing the wrestling skills of the competitors, it was also about introducing the personalities of the sport to the casual fan, getting to know who these athletes are behind the scenes. Cameras followed wrestlers to their homes, to work, and while training. Interviews provided a glimpse of each individual’s personality and any little quirks that make them unique – such as Mena’s love for coffee and caffeine.
“I’m a java king,” the man known as “Super” Mena told the camera. “It’s what I do, I drink coffee and I beat people’s butts.”
Akin showed his serious side and talked about his passion for the sport of wrestling.
“You have got to love what you do,” he said. “And I love wrestling…All my opponents are people I care about, but when I get on the mat, I don’t like them.”
Akin, who turned 34 in February, was shown at home with his family, where his wife said when she first met the four-time Iowa State All-American and 2001 U.S. Open champion that she thought he was a “cute little obnoxious guy.”
Cameras also followed Moore to his job where he works in the financial services industry for The Meltzer Group Mass Mutual Company in Massachusetts.
On the mat the action was fast-paced and intense. Texas Shooters coach Brandon Slay, a 2000 Olympic freestyle Gold Medalist, was ejected for arguing a call during the semi-final match between Akin and Moore.
Sunday’s episode was the first taste of a new professional sports league in America. Real athletes, competing for real prize money based on performance – not past history. It’s as real as it gets. And it’s finally here – your new league of superhero’s.
Sunday’s Results (121 Pounds):
Sammie Henson (Pennsylvania Hammer) technical fall over Tim Dernlan (Minnesota Freeze), 15-0
Mike Mena (Iowa Stalkers) dec. Lindsay Durlacher (Chicago Groove), 12-7
Eric Akin (Texas Shooters) dec. Matt Azevedo (California Claw), 7-4
Teague Moore (Oklahoma Slam) dec. Jeff Prescott (New York Outrage), 8-2
Henson, major decision Mena, 13-0
Moore, dec. Akin, 14-11
Henson vs. Moore
California Claw; Chicago Groove; Iowa Stalkers; Oklahoma Slam; Minnesota Freeze; New York Outrage; Pennsylvania Hammer; Texas Shooters.
Upcoming TV Schedule (check local listings for more information)
Pax TV: April 3, 10, 17, 24; May 1, 8, 15.
Fox Sports Net: Wednesday; April 6, 13, 20, 27; May 4, 11, 18, 25.