You shouldn't have any trouble locating Dangerously Intense Wrestling's weekend smackdowns inside the sprawling SwapSmart in North Phoenix. Just follow the sound of all the screaming fans and blaring rock anthems that echo throughout the gigantic indoor flea market every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The noise seems to get louder each week, as a growing number of local wrestling fanatics are flocking to the newly launched promotion's action-packed events to cheer wildly as costumed competitors beat each other senseless in the ring.
Promoter and owner Nick "The Sickness" Wilkinson has been astounded by the response, despite the fact that DIW's a grassroots operation on a shoestring budget that's barely a month old.
"The fans have come and screamed their brains out at every single show we've done," Wilkinson says. "It doesn't matter that we're new or run things at an indoor swap mart, they've really been into us. We put on fast-paced, action-packed shows filled with fun and excitement."
There's also plenty of blood, over-the-top theatrics and goofy gimmicks to get professional wrestling fans excited.
Wilkinson explains that the promotion's name features the phrase "dangerously intense" for a reason: Their style of in-ring action features a variety of high-flying and skull-crunching moves. Although most of the maneuvers are choreographed and the match outcomes are pre-determined (as is common in professional wrestling) Wilkinson wants the hits to look, sound, and feel like they're painfully real. That includes throwing plenty of steel chairs into the mix (natch).
"I want DIW to offer aggressive moves and to look like a combat sport," he says. "I'm not talking about really gory and ultra-violent hardcore wrestling, but a lot of aggression, physicality, and painful-looking stuff getting thrown down. The action is intense, it's hard-hitting, and we keep the pace quick."
Wilkinson also hopes crowds will get into DIW's extreme and off-the-wall characters that compete in each match. His roster of 15 different wrestlers range from such goofy grapplers as Team Techno (who come to the ring waving glowsticks and dancing to electronica) to a 7-foot-1 behemoth called Yetty (who wears fur pelt decorated with as a costume).
The main bad guys (or "heels," in wrestling slang) of DIW are Rave Michaels and The New Kliq, a group of good-looking and arrogant scoundrels who taunt the audience and cheat to win.
Meanwhile, these villains are usually opposed by such heroic wrestlers (or "babyfaces") as Cody "High Alert" Baker, Shot Saxon, and Mac Havok.
While such characters might not be as well known as the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment, Wilkinson says DIW's shows have the potential of being just as fun as watching Raw or Friday Night Smackdown on TV every week.
"A lot of our guys are just starting out in the wrestling world, so we don't have a lot of the kind of bodybuilder types you see in WWE," he says. "Others are in their 40s, work at Village Inn, and aren't gonna ever go to WWE. But that doesn't mean they can't be passionate about what they're doing every weekend. And if our wrestlers are passionate, hopefully the fans will continue to be passionate."
Wilkinson is also pretty passionate about wrestling to say the least. The Philadelphia native's been participating in the business for more than 15 years and has helped behind the scenes with such renowned promotions as Ring of Honor and the now-defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling.
After spending several years with the Valley's Real Deal Pro Wrestling, Wilkinson decided earlier this year to strike out on his own ("This is something I just had to do," he says.)
DIW is one of six different independent promotions locally, but Wilkinson isn't afraid of either competition or failing.
"It's good to have competitors and I feel we're only gonna get bigger and better. As a friend of mine told me, the worst thing I can do is fail," he says. "Besides, our shows are only two bucks and we're making sure that fans get every ounce of their money's worth."
Dangerously Intense Wrestling takes place at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at Swap Smart, 5115 North 27th Avenue. Admission is $2. Click here for more info.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.