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    Pubcrawl Podcast

Local pro wrestlers balance life in and out of the ring

Posted by flairwhoooooo on March 14, 2010

By MOLLY BECK (molly.beck@sj-r.com)

A masked man ducks into the ring, a cape flying behind him.
Red covers his eyes, and white knee-high boots meet his fire engine-red spandex pants. His tiny T-shirt that’s embroidered with “DTM” — short for Dan The Man — covers his pecs and not much else.

Dan stands tall, chest puffed. The cape comes off and the crowd cheers.
That is, until a man in black appears from behind the curtain. He makes his way toward Dan, the crowd’s hero, with the intent to destroy, pausing just long enough to be welcomed by one of his few admirers — a 70-year-old woman named Darlene.
Despite being at least 60 pounds lighter, protagonist Dan The Man welcomes and tackles the man in black, bracing himself in the center of the ring. Dan’s nemesis, known only as TRIPC to the clamoring crowd, is rendered lifeless in a mysterious feat of overcoming basic physics.

The combatants — whose real names are Dan Gusler and Alex Larson — compete during the third match in a 2 1/2-hour professional wrestling event that fills Lanphier High School’s basketball gymnasium with boisterous applause and dangerous theatrics on the last Saturday night in February.

While there’s not always a promise of payment (with the exception of gas money to out-of-towners), the wrestlers work for New Midwest Wrestling — a minor-league pro wrestling company based in the Springfield area that has at least a dozen wrestlers who balance their love of the show with raising babies and working full-time jobs.
As Dan and TRIPC kick, body slam and throw each other around, Darlene Molenda of Springfield watches from her usual post at the east side of the ring — resting comfortably in a motorized wheelchair and audibly reacting to each deafening blow. She’s too enthralled with the action to speak.

Husband Chris Sible, 42, sits at her side

“Wrestling mimics life. We’re always at conflict,” said Sible, a wrestling fan since he was a boy and Ric Flair was a first-time heavyweight champion. “There’s so many similarities between (wrestling) and life.”

Is that true?

To read the rest of this click here

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