Key Peninsula resident Matthew Brickles is in seventh heaven since he discovered pro wrestling matches at the KP Civic Center.
“I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was 8 years old,” Brickles said. “I love the action and the way the guys are performing for us. The guys (wrestlers) are all local and ever since I first went to their show last year I’ve been hooked on it.”
The monthly matches organized by Jeremy Dilley, 27, showcase the group he founded called Northwest Pro. He’s been presenting shows at the civic center since July 2013.
Dilley, whose stage name is JD Mason, currently lives in Gig Harbor, but he grew up on the Key Peninsula.
“I went to Vaughn Elementary and KPMS,” Dilley said. “I went to Peninsula High School two-and-a-half years and finished up at Henderson Bay.”
Dilley started wrestling while he was at KPMS then continued during his freshman and sophomore years at Peninsula. “But then I had to have reconstructive nose surgery so I had to take a break,” he said.
He’s been wrestling professionally since he was 17.
According to Dilley, there’s a difference between the Greco-Roman style of wrestling in high school and pro wrestling.
“In the Greco-Roman freestyle, it’s all about competition and being the best you can be and helping your team win points,” he explained.
Pro wrestling, by contrast, is all about the performance.
“It’s about working with a partner to put on the best show you can put on. It’s not about going out there and hurting your opponent or seeing your opponent get hurt,” he said.
Dilley compares pro wrestling to a circus and a live-action movie fight.
“You’ve got the good guy and the bad guy. There’s someone you’re going to like and someone you’re not going to like.
“You really have to work the crowd. If you’re out there just wrestling for yourself, the crowd is going to know,” he said.
The rules require that you have to hold your opponent down for three seconds, he explained.
“You can get disqualified for low blows, or if you’re outside of the ring for more than 10 seconds you’re out,” he added.
The KP shows usually feature 10-15 NW Pro wrestlers every month and usually run about an hour-and-a-half. “It runs about the same length as a movie,” Dilley said.
Attendance has grown to more than 100 people at the monthly events.
“It’s good family entertainment. You can bring your kids and not worry about what they’re going to see. It’s not especially violent because safety is priority No. 1, 100 percent. Every time,” he said.
Dilley is especially pleased to see so many people in the civic center.
“I like to try to draw people to the civic center and try to bring more attention to that place. It’s been around for a long time and they do a lot for the community.
“And everybody loves the venue – everyone from the camera guys to the wrestlers to the fans. It’s old, but not too old,” he said.
Dilley and his wrestlers train three days a week in the ring, “and the rest of the time I expect them to work out on their own,” he said.
When he went to wrestling school, he learned a lot about the business of professional wrestling.
“They opened my eyes really quickly,” he said.
“When I was first starting out I trained in all the different styles and I wanted to go to Japan and Mexico.
“But wrestling is a very cutthroat business with constant politics. I discovered that I like running the show more than the actual wrestling. It’s a hard business and a very cutthroat business –– way more cutthroat than politics,” he said.
Still pro wrestling attracts a lot of athletes.
Francesco Holt –- aka Frankie Sky –– has been training with Dilley for about two years.
“I first saw JD down in Oregon. He was training in the ring and the first thing that went through my mind was ‘I want this guy to train me. I want to be taught by him,’” Holt recalled.
Holt has some advice for would-be wrestlers:
WANT TO GO?
The next NW Pro wrestling event takes place at the KP Civic Center on Mar. 7. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., the show starts at 7 p.m. The event is free.
“If you’re planning to get into wrestling, don’t think it’s going to be easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I knew coming into it that it was going to be hard, but I never expected the amount of effort and work you need to put into it. But if you really love and have a passion for it, it’s worth it. It’s really cool,” he said.
And, said Dilley, one thing that pro wrestling is not, is “fake.”
“A lot of people use the word fake and I hate it,” he said emphatically. “It drives me crazy because I’ve had tons of injuries, blown out knees and I’m only 27.
“I want people to have a respect for what we do. In a way it’s an art form,” he said.