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|Local promoter living his pro wrestling dream|
Growing up in West Monroe, Josh Newell watched in awe as the greats in professional wrestling performed year after year at the Monroe Civic Center.
Today, Newell owns and operates his own wrestling company, Bayou Independent Wrestling, located in West Monroe.
"As a kid I grew up watching guys like 'Dr. Death' Steve Williams and the Rock N' Roll Express in Mid-South Wrestling," Newell said. "WCW (World Championship Wrestling) came here once or twice a year before they went out of business in 2001. Now the area rarely gets a big show even once a year."
Two years ago, Newell jumped head first into the pro wrestling business with the goal of making a little money while giving a great wrestling show on a regular basis to Ouachita Parish.
BIW had their first show at the West Monroe Recreation Center on May 31, 2007. Last Sunday, the company held its two year anniversary show. The group has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
As BIW has had some staying power throughout the years, their popularity has grown.
The company has run 22 shows over its two-year run out of the area. The promotion has performed in cities such as Arcadia, Saline, and Coushatta as well as just completing a very successful debut in Natchez, Miss. last Saturday.
"We want to bring as much top wrestling talent as we can to Monroe," Newell said. "When we first started up, my thought was to make enough money to survive and see where it goes. I thought if we could tap into just 30 percent of what Mid-South used to cash in on in Monroe in the 1970s and 1980s we would be fine."
Such pro wrestling stars as "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, Doink the Clown, Sonjay Dutt, Skandar Akbar, Danny Hodge, Danny Wolfe, Lane Rock, and Jay Lethal have wrestled for local fans recently in a BIW ring.
Local wrestling fans have not been as supportive as some markets for BIW. Newell stated that West Monroe shows are generally less attended and the crowds are not as rowdy compared to many other cities.
"I have tried to get the word to everyone in the state that no one puts on a better show," Newell said. "One thing everyone will note is that we have some of everything in our shows. We just have to find a niche in the business and continue to appeal to a wider audience."
With pro wrestling on the national scene going more adult-oriented, BIW has thrived on keeping every show they have family friendly for all ages.
"One piece of advice Steve Williams had for me was to keep it open to all ages," Newell said. "No profanity or racy stuff like in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or what you will see on TV."
Mixed Martial Arts has recently stole some of the television ratings and ticket sales thunder from the pro wrestling industry in the last eight years and the trend continues to grow in favor of MMA with each passing month, Newell said.
"The wrestling business goes in cycles. Right now we are in a down turn and we have to keep plugging along and keep working hard for the fans," said Newell, who is also a land surveyor.
BIW will return to the West Monroe Boys & Girls Club on July 26 with a BIW Southern Championship bout pitting champion Steve Anthony versus former Ring of Honor star Vordell Walker.
Anthony has been the top performer in BIW for the last four months and will be making his third title defense in West Monroe.
Doink The Clown, a former WWE wrestler, will be in town that afternoon as well to entertain local fans.
For more info, visit BIW's web site at bayouindependentwrestling.vze.com.