By day, they are just a bunch of ordinary guys who go to work just like everyone else. But at night they transform into characters with names like “The Natester”, “Chaos”, “Havoc”, “Blade”, “Zero”, “Chris Crazy”, and “Maliki”. They are the wrestlers of XWE.
Salinan Nathan McClanahan is the president of XWE Entertainment, a grass-roots professional wrestling organization based in Salina. By day, McClanahan is a hotel manager. But when the tie comes off, the tights come on and McClanahan transforms into his alter-ego “The Natester”.
Earlier this week XWE presented one of what have become quarterly events at the Salina Bicentennial Center. Several hundred fans gathered for “Most Wanted”, an evening of high-flying professional wrestling. “Most Wanted” had everything a wrestling fan wants. There were leaps off the top rope, drop kicks, body slams, flips, flying elbows, and more. Even Santa got in on the action, and took down a would-be attacker.
McClanahan tells KSAL News that the XWE started back in 2001. “We were four friends really into wrestling,” he says. It all started in a backyard. They staged matches, using a trampoline as a ring.
When a few other friends joined in the action, they decided to step up their game. McClanahan says that they started to take training to hone their skills, and stay safe.
The group started to add sets, and special effects, to their backyard performances. They also recorded them for playback on Access TV of Salina.
The early shows had maybe a dozen or so people, watching in a backyard. As the popularity started to grow, so did the enthusiasm and dedication of the wrestlers. Eventually the shows became too big for a backyard, and that’s when the XWE really moved to the next level.
McClanahan says that they invested in a real wrestling ring, and moved the shows to the Bicentennial Center. “Our fan base just kept growing, so it was time to take that next step,” he said.
The XWE events, just like big-time professional wrestling, are a multi-media presentation. The shows are a mix of theater and athleticism.
The XWE has a roster of 10 – 12 performers. The wrestlers dress the part of their character, either a hero or villain, and play their role. Along with the performers, there are about 25 working stage hands that help. “We’re one big family, we’re very close,” McClanahan says.
At its most simple level, the XWE is an ongoing battle between good vs evil. “It’s a soap opera,” McClanahan says with a smile.
While some of the things that happen in the ring aren’t as real as they might appear, one thing that is real are the bumps and bruises that the wrestlers sustain. McClanahan says that the worst injury so far has been a broken nose. “I didn’t get my hand up in time, and got hit in the face by a title belt,” he said.
Looking to the future, McClanahan would like see the expansion of the XWE continue. He would like to take the show on the road, and put on regional events. And there is an even bigger dream. “Of course, we would all like this to become our full-time profession,” he concluded with a chuckle.
The next XWE event in Salina is “Road to Glory”, January 31st at the Bicentennial Center. Tickets are on sale now.
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