Men in tights, women in skimpy shorts, and fans in a beer-drenched uproar -- local professional wrestling organization Elite Xtreme Wrestling (EXW) has all three hallmarks of its "sport" and more.
Founded by former minor league baseball players Brian Barnett and Derick Neikirk, EXW offers the same entertainment as the megalith WWE, but on a smaller scale. There are characters, story lines, ring entrance music, smoke machines, and numerous women, from the ring valets to the EXW dancers.
Neikirk and Barnett, who wrestles as Tyson Tyler, have both wrestled in the WWE, and they try to incorporate everything they know into EXW. The pair held the debut of EXW's weekly wrestling event this past Sunday, June 6, at the Julio Cesar Chavez Campones building (dubbed the EXW Arena for the evening) in Mesa. About a hundred fans showed up to see an impressive array of thunderous slaps, body slams, and flying turnbuckle leaps.
We caught up with Barnett and Neikirk at the arena and exchanged some quick Q&A before everybody started exchanging blows.
Is there anyone from pro wrestling you'd truly hate to meet in a dark alley?
Barnett: Derick Neikirk. He's the best wrestler in the United States that's not under contract. We've wrestled each other. He's hit me harder than anybody else ever has in my life.
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Derick, do you have a ring name?
What do you look for in wrestlers?
Neikirk: Bigger, stronger, and faster is not always better in this business, because it's a performance. You've got to have charisma, and your character has to be right on. You can be the smallest guy in the world, but if you're the most entertaining person I've ever watched, I'd give you a shot in EXW. Big guys serve their purpose, but the high-flying guys are popular, with kids in particular, because they do stuff you really don't see all the time.
For people who've never been out to an event like this, what should they expect?
Barnett: This is WWE to a smaller scale. It's everything WWE fans want to be, but the WWE won't let them be. We are true to our name. This is Elite Extreme Wrestling. Our guys are elite, and they're very extreme. From the women to the men to the storylines, Derick and I have created something that's going to be very, very entertaining week in and week out. The WWE programming is watered down. This is fresh.
EXW live events take place every Sunday at 5 p.m. at the EXW Arena, 1300 South Country Club Drive #105 in Mesa. Tickets cost $5. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/elitextremewrestling.