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Indie Pro-Wrestling, A Look Back: Inside Appalachia

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SHAYLA KLEIN
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This week on Inside Appalachia, we take another look at the world of independent pro-wrestling.

While pro-wrestling is popular across the country and all around the world, the sport has a rich and storied history here in Appalachia. In this episode we’ll take a glimpse at the action, intensity, and drama (real-life and otherwise) that happens between the ropes.

We’ll visit Madison, W.Va., where All Star Wrestling (ASW) draws hundreds of people to most matches and meet Gary Damron who organizes all of the shows. We’ll also talk the inimitable Rocky Rage, a professional wrestler from the area and his switch from local hero to bad guy.

And we’ll learn why Tim Hagen, who used to wrestle under the name of Vance Desmond -- or Violent Vance Desmond, depending on whether he was the villain or the good guy -- decided to turn his passion for the sport into an opportunity to teach young wrestlers.

We’ll also visit Oak Hill, W.Va., where a local TV station aired a weekly show called “Saturday Night Wrestling” from 1954 to 1977. One viewer got so enraged at one wrestler named The Cuban Assassin that he shot his television.

Check out the original story to see more photos.

Listen on SoundCloud

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Roxy Todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Jesse Wright. He and Ibby Caputo edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Molly Born is our web editor. Chuck Roberts, Emily Hilliard and Zander Aloi also contributed to this episode. And a special thanks to Adam Harris, who took time out of his busy Mountain Stage schedule to work on this episode.

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Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2014 and works as the producer for Inside Appalachia. She's the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award for "Excellence in Video," for a story about the demands small farmers face in West Virginia. She also won a National PMJA Award For "Best Feature" for her story about the history of John Denver's song "Country Roads." You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.
Eric is a native of Kanawha County who graduated from Marshall University with a degree in journalism. He has written for newspapers and magazines throughout his career. He is an author, writing both nonfiction and fiction, including a series of thriller novels set in locations around the world. You can reach Eric at edouglas@wvpublic.org