2004-10-12 / Front Page
‘The American Dream’ lives on in Keyport
Wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes headlines local charity event
BY MICHELLE ROSENBERG
KEYPORT — Wrestling legend Dusty “The American Dream” Rhodes and former World Wrestling Federation (WWF) star Chris Candido headlined a wrestling event to raise money for three charities at Keyport High School on Friday.
Hundreds of people crowded into the high school gym to watch the seven-match event.
The event was put on by National Wrestling Superstars (NWS), an independent wrestling promotion based out of Hazlet.
The night of more than three hours of family-oriented wrestling drew in a crowd of approximately 300 people, raising money for Keyport’s First Aid Squad Cadet Program and the Keyport High School Mothers Club.
The High School Mothers Club also organized a raffle and 50/50, in which proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
This is the second year the cadet program and the mothers club have worked with the wrestling promotion. Last year, NWS raised a few thousand dollars for the charities which they split.
“It [wrestling] is fun; its something different. It’s something fun for the people in the town too,” Kenny Krohe, captain of the first aid squad and cadet advisor, said.
“Some people have the misconception that all wrestling is violent, but this type of wrestling is family entertainment,” said Joanne Staeger, president of the Mothers Club.
“Some people think it’s violent, but it’s not. I think the kids see that. It’s good guy vs. bad guy; it’s fun for them,” she said.
“The Mothers Club is about kids. Any way we can try to raise funds for them is good,” Staeger said. “The kids definitely made a strong presence at the event. Hundreds of kids were screaming, laughing and having a good time at the show. Just look around; all you see is the smiling faces of children.”
National Wrestling Superstars is the largest producer of family- oriented wrestling shows, according to NWS promoter Joe Panzarino. NWS puts on about 50 shows a year, with about 90 percent held in conjunction with a charity, Panzarino said. NWS does shows all over New Jersey, and has many loyal fans that appear at all the shows to cheer on their favorite baby face [good guy] wrestlers, and boo the heels [bad guys].
NWS fans got a treat last week when the wrestling icon Rhodes battled a local boy, former WWF (now World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) tag team champion Candido in the main event.
Rhodes, at 59 years of age, is still able to get in the ring and deliver his signature move, the bionic elbow.
“Being able to get in the ring and wrestle is always really fun,” Rhodes said. “I get off on it. I look forward to it.”
“It’s important when you talk about charity,” Rhodes said. “You have to give back to obtain any success at all.”
Rhodes still does roughly 60 wrestling shows a year, and can now be seen on “NWA: Total Nonstop Action [TNA]” on Fox Sports Network.
Candido, who resides in Old Bridge Township with his wife, Tammy, known to fans as former WWF Diva Sunny, has worked on and off with NWS since he was 16.
“This [family-oriented wrestling] to me is a lot of fun. We should be able to sell our product to everybody. That’s how you make a living,” he said.
Candido said that it is nice to work shows that are for charity because the people who are associated with them always show their appreciation, as opposed to the janitor of a building that can’t wait for the event to end and for everybody to get out.
In addition to the two famous names, NWS has numerous talented wrestlers who shed blood, sweat and tears to put on a good show for the fans, and help draw money at the door.
At the Keyport show, Justin Cage, Jason Static, New Wave, Michael Reigns, Shane O’Brien, Mike Kruel, “Powerchild” Eric Justice, J.C. Rage, Shawn Donovan, Travis Blake, Shawn Royal, “Dirty” Dan Petit [DDP], NWS Junior Heavyweight Champion “Debonair” Damian Adams, and Regional Champion TNT were all in action working hard to get a reaction from the crowd and ensure the satisfaction of the fans.
Candido’s wife Tammy, Thunderbolt, Johnny Candido, Dame Dapper Falco and Dapper Johnny Falco also made appearances at the show, along with well known former WCW/WWE star Justin Credible, adding to the over all essence of the event.
The next NWS show will be held on Oct. 23 at the Step Inn Ballroom in Sayreville.
Fans at this event will be treated to a rare appearance by former WWF Heavyweight Champion The Iron Sheik. Also at the event, Candido will take on John “Balls” Mahoney, a Spring Lake Heights native of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) fame, in an extreme strap match. Also, regional heavyweight champion TNT will be holding a two-minute, choke slam challenge, in which any wrestler that can last for two minutes in the ring with him will get a title shot.
“These shows are so entertaining and, for the price of a ticket, they are the best wrestling deal around,” Panzarino said.
For information on purchasing tickets visit www.nwswrestling.com.