Some of professional wrestling’s biggest names have wrestled at University of Oregon’s McArthur Court, including André the Giant, Nature Boy Ric Flair, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Rocky Johnson.
On Saturday, Jan. 22, the next generation of professional wrestlers takes over Mac Court when POW! Pro Wrestling has its first show since the start of the pandemic. In addition to crowning the first-ever POW! Champion through a 30-man rumble, POW!’s “Back from the Beyond” also features a variety of matches — from a no-rules rematch to an internet championship belt match.
“POW! presents a little bit of everything,” says Brian Zane, who is POW!’s commissioner, creator of the YouTube channel Wrestling with Wregret and the new public face of POW!. “But we want to be more of a circus. We want to show that we’ve got the strongman, the freaky acrobats, the comedy, all of these things. And that’s what wrestling at its best can be.”
Previous POW! wrestling shows have definitely had some circus elements. At the last one, March 8, 2020, wrestlers Drexl and Funny Bone had a no-disqualification match, meaning there were no rules. And the two took advantage of that. They smacked each other with folding chairs, used a staple gun and had thumbtacks on hand.
The match ended with a move from the top rope of the ring. With a wooden door propped on a steel chair and Drexl laying on it, Funny Bone sat on the top rope, about to leap onto Drexl. But Drexl surprised Funny Bone and used a piledriver maneuver to put Funny Bone headfirst through the door.
On Jan. 22, the two sort of have a rematch — but with a little help from friends. Funny Bone, partnered with the high-flying acrobatic Jaiden, takes on Drexl and his tag team partner Dr. Kliever.
Zane, a UO alum, works full-time for his Wrestling With Wregret, a commentary show with about 322,000 subscribers that he says takes a humorous look at the “silliest and worst of wrestling.” As the new POW! commissioner, he’s the public face of the promotion, he says. “My job is to tell the people what’s going on.”
And his channel has its own championship belt, too, meaning there might be two new champions crowned Jan. 22 in Eugene: Zane’s Wrestling With Wregret YouTube championship is on the line.
The current champion, Gentleman Jervis, is a fun loving, happy-go-lucky character, Zane says. Jervis is a darling of the internet wrestling community, a big deal considering how rabid those fans can be about wrestlers they hate. In a Christmas Eve episode of Wrestling With Wregret, “Verified” Steve Migs “tricked” Jervis into defending the championship.
But the main event of the Saturday show will make history for POW! It’s a 30-man rumble, the winner of which will become POW!’s first-ever champion.
Called the “Rumble to Wregret” after the YouTube channel, the rumble has more to it than just throwing your opponents out of the ring. When the final four wrestlers are in the ring — after 26 others have been tossed over the top rope — the only way to be eliminated is by a three-count pinfall or by submission, Zane says.
And it’ll be Zane’s job as commissioner to deliver the championship belt to that winner. Commissioners, like wrestlers, often fall into the good “face” or bad “hell” categories, though with the added drama of being an authority figure.
Zane says he’ll be as objective as he can in announcing winners. But there seems to be some foreshadowing when Zane says he’ll sometimes make a decision unpopular with fans. “I hope they’ll be the right decisions that get the right results,” he adds.
Before COVID chokeslammed the world, POW! had been hosting shows at the UO’s Gerlinger Hall. The only time POW!’s ring was used during the pandemic was as the setting for an Oregon Health Authority TV commercial on social distancing, where two wrestlers were six feet apart from each other.
POW!’s return to live events at the Mac Court is a big deal for Zane. It’s a venue that is remembered as a place with the acoustics to amplify a loud basketball audience and has hosted a long list of acts, from Elvis to then-Sen. Barack Obama to Lil Wayne. And when POW! is at the Mac, he wants the event to be a place where everyone is welcome.
“We want this to be a place where you’re able to express yourself creatively and to leave with a big smile on your face,” Zane says. “That’s what POW! is all about — wanting to give you exciting, dynamic entertainment.”
POW! Professional Wrestling’s “Back from the Beyond” is 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 22, at McArthur Court, at 1601 University Street. Available ticket prices start at $20. Visit POWProWrestling.com for more information.