Indie wrestling puts headlock on Atlanta

Pro wrestling has a long and storied history in Atlanta, but the scene seemed to be out for the count until recently. Industry powerhouse World Wrestling Entertainment held its annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view on Jan. 31 at Philips Arena and announced the following day that its biggest sports entertainment spectacle, WrestleMania, will be at the Georgia Dome in 2011.

But the next few days show that an independent wrestling scene is also re-emerging, with big shows by Platinum Championship Wrestling and LegendsMania, the city’s biggest fan festival. Here’s a look at what each has to offer.

Platinum Championship Wrestling

Headed up by indie wrestling veteran Stephen Platinum (the alter ego of Stephen Scarborough, formerly of the wrestling parody show “Brawl!” at Dad’s Garage), PCW began holding Friday night shows to sell-out crowds at the Academy Theatre in Avondale Estates in January. With a more comedic and theatrical approach than you’ll find on televised wrestling, PCW’s cast of characters includes the likes of pseudo-skinhead Dwight Power and the Warhorses, a stable of masked wrestlers who fumble their way to defeat despite their manager’s motto of, “I’m Johnathan Davis Wynn, and winning is what I do.”

Leading into the crowning of the first PCW champion on March 26, the promotion begins monthly competition at Eyedrum on March 16. With aerialists, cupcakes and other spectacles, PCW’s Eyedrum debut will take on an even more surreal, circuslike feel.

“Eyedrum is a funkier, artsier venue, so I want to have a different feel for that show,” says Scarborough. “Our top 12 people will be going at it to see how things shake out. Whoever wins those matches will face each other at the March 19 show at the Academy Theatre, with the first champion crowned at the March 26 show.”

LegendsMania

Despite Atlanta’s wrestling heritage, the city has never had the type of fan festivals held in other cities on the East Coast. But LegendsMania gives wrestling fans an opportunity to interact with industry legends one-on-one.

Friday night’s opening party features performances by local ‘80s hair metal cover band Iron Mullet and stand-up comedy by WWE Hall of Famer “Luscious” Johnny Valiant.

With a tag team theme, Saturday’s festivities include autograph sessions and a Q&A with legendary teams such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, the Midnight Express with Jim Cornette, Demolition, Road Warrior Animal with “Precious” Paul Ellering, and many more.

“We’re also setting up where fans can actually cut a promo with their favorite wrestlers,” says show producer Tom Harriman, “so you can give your spiel about who you’re going to beat like they do on television.”

Event preview

Platinum Championship Wrestling

8 p.m. Fridays. $8. Academy Theatre, 119 Center St., Avondale Estates. 404-474-8332, www.academytheatre.org.

8 p.m. March 16. $8. Eyedrum, 290 Martin Luther King Drive S.E., Atlanta. 404-522-0655, www.eyedrum.org.

Explorewww.platinumchampionshipwrestling.com

LegendsMania

8-11 p.m. Friday. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. $20-$400. Sheraton Gateway Hotel Atlanta Airport, 1900 Sullivan Road, Atlanta. 404-319-0801, www.legendsmania.com.

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