SPECIAL REPORT: Indie Pro-Wrestling in Kentucky

CENTRAL CITY, Ky. (WBKO) -- Macho Man and Hulk Hogan made a name for themselves decades ago, and to some it may seem like much of the industry has been left behind.

But for others, 2019 marks another year of growth, as the world of independent pro-wrestling makes an impact in Kentucky.

The World Wrestling Alliance, based out of Muhlenberg County, got its start in the backyard of a pair of brothers -- Chris and Ray Waddell.

In the span of under 10 years, those shows transformed into a travelling promotion with shows in Owensboro, Evansville, and more. They are working with their own ring, and set, built up by a dedicated crew.

"We sink a lot of time and effort. Every wrestler you see on this show, nearly every wrestler, has a job backstage. Building the entryway...setting up the ring, taking down the ring," explained Drake Hicks, a wrestler who runs video for the company, and otherwise known as Drake Jaxon, the General Manager.

For hours, the team works together on Saturdays to put up stage lights, a fully-equipped ring, merchandise, concessions, and the like.

Of course, they're also practicing their moves together in preparation for the show ahead.

"We really expect when people show up here that they can fully indulge into our shows," Chris Waddell said, the owner and promoter of WWA. "If the people lose the ability to suspend that disbelief during the show, then we've lost the people."

In case you missed the memo -- yes, pro wrestling follows a script and a story line. Fake isn't really a fair word though to describe the action seen during the show.

"I play this character but It takes a toll on my body. I've got scars to prove it," said wrestler Tony Frank, otherwise known as Superior Tony Evans. "We are athletes and we are, in a way, actors. So it's a perfect fusion between the two -- sports and entertainment."

According to Ray Waddell, it's not just the physical stunts in the ring that draws people in.

"You can teach anyone to do the moves, but you can't teach anyone to know how to connect with the crowd. And I feel like that's the most important thing," he said.

By the time the show gets started, it's easy to tell this entertainment is just as exhilarating for the fans as it is for the wrestlers.

"The adrenaline rush -- it's -- before you step out of the curtain, you're setting at a zero on the scale," Chris Waddell said. "And the moment you step out --- *snaps* you immediately go to ten. That's how it is. It's like an immediate rush; there's no slow build."

In a sense, it's also therapy for both those in and outside of the ring.

One dedicated fan of WWA, Miranda Shelton, called the matches a "stress reliever."

"It's the escape," Frank explained. "You can have a bad day at work, you can have bad stuff going on in your family life, you can have any stress kind of stress going on, but when you step in those ropes and the lights are on, you're someone else."

"You can be that escape for other people. You know, you can really give back to other people, and I love it," he said.

In a place like this the energy is infectious, what with the flashing lights, playful jeering from the audience, and painful-sounding slaps on the floor of the ring.

It's an outrageous show of good versus evil, but at the end of the day, the act is still an act.

"Behind the curtain is a group of amazing people, and those people all want to succeed in doing something together," said Chris Waddell.

It's a passion for this team.

"It's a dream come true. I'm 24, almost 25, getting to live my dream since I was a kid," Franks said.

"And then I see the kids out here that are the same size that I was, same age, they got the same little look in their eye, and that's what I want to give to people."

"Some of the most hated people in the company or most loved -- people they view as superstars -- are just humble people, who are showing up to try to get this wrestling company to the next level, and they're all working together to do it," said Chris Waddell.

The World Wrestling Alliance plans to continue expanding -- increasing their presence on their YouTube channel and hopefully getting to TV someday.

To watch their channel, click on this link. To find out when their next shows are, you can check out their Facebook page.

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