Local pro wrestling league making an impressive comeback
JANESVILLE Cynics scoff at professional wrestling.
Those cynics, however, should not try a double arm-bar takedown, pile driver, Greco-Roman knuckle lock, full nelson, reverse suflex or figure-four leg lock at home. Only a trained professional should attempt a jump off the top rope, hit or miss.
Jake Sailing, a 1998 Janesville Parker High graduate, was traveling up Newville Road to classes at the Madison Media Institute several years ago when he couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I did a double take,” Sailing said.
Sailing’s eyes riveted on a wrestling ring in a resident’s backyard. A bell rang in his head.
“I was 15 when my friends and I built a wrestling ring of sorts in my backyard,” Sailing said. “It was just goofy. I had a love for it.’’
Sailing, 31, and his teen buddies made up a wrestling league and called it the Professional Wrestling Only Outdoors Federation (PWOOF), which they shortened to the Janesville Wrestling Alliance.
They filmed the matches and had fun pretending to be pro wrestlers.
School, maturity and an interest in girls ended the JWA until Sailing saw that ring.
After a little arm-twisting and help from his friends, Sailing bought the ring, and the JWA was back.
“I promised the former owner I’d give him a JWA t-shirt and a ticket to a show,” Sailing said.
Since buying the ring, Sailing has staged several shows, including at Redneck Fest and Rock Around the Block. Sailing has put on shows to raise money for the Red Cross and the United Way.
“Irish” Andy Anderson, “The Cowboy” Tyler Baggins, Jayson Kross, Alex Burdick, “The All-American” Michael Mack and Dave Broski are JWA headliners.
“It’s all local people,” Sailing said. “We are looking for more wrestlers to train.’’
Training rules don’t include running along the Lake Michigan shore shouldering a barrel of beer in the tradition of Reginald “Crusher” Lisowski.
Anderson, 33, a Janesville native and a computer programmer, learned his craft through a wrestling school.
“I was fortunate enough to get to know the right people and get into a pro wrestling training school,” said Anderson, who is an Appleton Fox Valley Tech graduate.
Anderson traveled to Cary, Ill., three times a week for training.
“It takes a lot of heart,” Anderson said of becoming a wrestler. “It’s just really all about heart and putting on a performance. I’ve trained for 11 years. Hell, I’m still training.’’
Anderson said the JWA has a lot of upside, and Sailing is working hard to build an entertainment format.
“It’s a good thing,” Anderson said. “It keeps getting better and better, and people are starting to recognize us.’’
Sailing said the JWA is about entertainment and not “crazy idiots that bash through tables.’’ He is working toward building a venue that can be used for fundraising and general entertainment for all ages.
Several local sponsors, including Gray Brewing Co. in Janesville, are working with Sailing on promotions combining local bands with JWA matches.
“I want to give back to the city,” said Sailing, who owns a video and film production business. “We need to organize more entertainment in Janesville.’’
The wrestlers pay their dues, Sailing said, adding that a good show requires trained wrestlers who know what they are doing.
“It’s called taking your bumps,” Sailing said. “You’ve got to do it properly.”
Sailing knows you can’t fake good entertainment.