After watching Fred Yehi stomp his wife unconscious, Jonathan Gresham gets revenge this Friday at NOVA Pro Wrestling’s 11th Dimension.
It’s a rematch six months in the making – the referee had no choice but to stop the last battle between Yehi and Gresham. Scheduling conflicts prevented a second bout since then, but at Pumpkin Spice Lariats in October, Gresham’s wife Jordynne Grace tried to settle the score. Unfortunately, Yehi snapped again, kicking Grace repeatedly in the head until Gresham made the save.
“It’s not just an athletic rivalry anymore, it’s something personal,” says Mike King, promoter of NOVA Pro. “You beat up my girlfriend, so now I’m going to beat you up. There’s nothing more fun, nothing more interesting to see on a wrestling card than a personal issue.”
King and his father launched NOVA Pro in September of 2015, bringing a consistently-running wrestling operation to Northern Virginia for the first time since the 1990s. An avid tape trader, King’s father introduced him to Memphis wrasslin’, puroresu and the indie scene. From the time that he was 6 years old, King spent every weekend traveling to independent shows in Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia, Chicago or North Carolina.
“I never wanted to get in the ring,” he says. “I always saw myself doing something else, whether it was announcing, promoting or booking.” Even with an associate’s degree in business management, King says there’s no education that can prepare you for the pro wrestling industry. From marketing to accounting to human resources to writing the shows, promoters have to be a jack of all trades.
In Virginia, there’s an extra task: adhering to the policies of the state athletic commission. More intrusive than other states, Virginia requires a wrestling license and a promoter’s license, as well as a 30-day advance notice before running a show. Commissioners show up at any time to check each wrestler and monitor the event, keeping an eye out for blood.
“You can’t bleed in Virginia,” King says. “If someone bleeds, we have to stop the match. At first, it harmed the creative process, but you get used to it after a while. Blood certainly enhances, but you just have to find other creative ways to enhance the story.”
One of the major ways that NOVA Pro has kept fans coming back for more has been its growing women’s division. As the popularity of women’s wrestling has soared over the past few years, King has increased the number of women’s matches on each show. “A lot of places have one women’s wrestler and then a rotating cast that they bring in to face her,” he says. “With us, we have a full-fledged division. Jordynne Grace and Veda Scott and Brittany Blake and so many others are here almost every month.”
At 11th Dimension, a reference to Julian Casablancas’ hit song about an alternate universe, there will be a traditional Survivor Series match featuring 10 of the best women on the indie scene. Faye Jackson leads Jordynne Grace, Brittany Blake, LuFisto and Mia Yim against Veda Scott and her partners Deonna Purrazzo, Laynie Luck, Sahara 7 and Allie Kat. “It’s different for some people to see 10 women on a card in a placement such as the main event, but it’s going to be a really beautiful match,” King says.
A stacked roster has become the norm for NOVA Pro: previous shows have blended established names like Sonjay Dutt, Cedric Alexander and Donovan Dijack with up-and-coming talents like Logan Easton LaRoux, Arik Royal and Chet Sterling. The company’s rapid success has compelled King to add more shows next year, possibly 15 or 16.
“We have a very reliable fan base, about 100-150 fans come to every show no matter what we put on the card,” King says. “That kind of confidence is hard to gain especially in this area where they’ve seen so many companies come and go.”
11th Dimension takes place Nov. 24 at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, VA.
For tickets, go to novaprowrestling.tumblr.com.
NOVA Pro will be collecting unwrapped toys – for every toy donated, the company will donate a toy as well. Every toy you bring earns you a raffle ticket for a NOVA Pro prize pack.