Science and medicine tag-teamed with 10-year-old Joe Frushon and his loved ones to take bone cancer down to the mat, slap a figure-four leglock on it, and force that S.O.B. to tap out. This Saturday, Grand Slam Wrestling holds “Kickin’ It for Joe” at the Nanticoke Armory, a benefit show to raise money for Frushon’s medical bills.
“There are a number of members of our roster and of management that have been affected one way or another by cancer, either through their families, close relatives, or friends. We know exactly how difficult it can be during that time,” GSW owner John Salinas said, explaining why the company wanted to do the show and why it chose to give 100 percent of all proceeds from the event to the Frushon family.
“No matter what happens, even if we take a little bit of a loss, we’d rather see the family get as much as possible.”
In addition to GSW’s established roster of local wrestlers, “Kickin’ It for Joe” will bring former WWE star Matt Striker and Chikara regulars Gran Akuma, Chuck Taylor, and Stigma to Nanticoke. The event also promises a few surprises, both for audiences and for Frushon himself.
“Joe is a big wrestling fan, and I know he’s walking on clouds because this whole thing is for him,” Jim O’Connor, a friend of the Frushons who helped organize the event, said.
GSW isn’t the only local promotion trying to put the machineries of the wrestling biz to charitable use. Two weeks ago, the Schuylkill Haven-based New Era Wrestling Federation held a special show to benefit Autism Speaks. Those who live closer to Hazleton than Nanticoke, meanwhile, can check out Pennsylvania Premiere Wrestling’s “Aftershock” on Saturday.
A majority of the proceeds from the event, which features former TNA star Amazing Red and former WWE stars Gene Snitsky, Headshrinker Samu, and Matt Morgan (also formerly of TNA), among others, will benefit Holy Family Academy in Hazleton.
“A lot of Catholic schools are closing now. They don’t get much funding. Pretty much everything is self-generated,” Paul Bo, PPW’s director of promotions and a father of two Holy Academy students himself, said. “This is a good way for the school to make revenue, and it’s a family show. There’s no (vulgar) gestures or anything like that, so people can bring their kids.”
Giving back to the community is nothing new for PPW. Anthony McKeegan originally founded the company nine months ago for the purpose of putting on a benefit show for Hazleton’s Helping Hands Society.
“Here’s the deal: I’m not Vince McMahon and we’re not WWE. We’re not looking to make money off this. We’d rather continue to build a product that people to love to see. It’s all about the entertainment to us,” McKeegan said.
“We love doing the benefit shows because they give us a chance to show that wrestling’s not all about, ‘Let’s go out there and just watch bunch of guys try to hurt each other.’ They let us give back to the community.”
Until next time, remember: in a world where fact is stranger than fiction, wrestling is as real as anything else.