Pro wrestling comes to Brainerd April 24
Pro Wrestler Franco Varga said it will be a great match with Aero Boy, as it will be an international clash that should occur in Madison Square Gardens in New York City. “People are surprised that we’re doing it in Minnesota of all places,” Varga said. “But it’s just one of those things where the stars lined up and we're here. We're doing it for all the fans in Brainerd ... This is a big match, but we're doing it for the first time in Brainerd at the Brainerd Exchange.”
To all the Brainerd lakes area wrestling fans out there, hold onto your seats as for the first time ever — a professional wrestling entertainment event is coming to Brainerd.
North Star Pro Wrestling is hosting the event, which begins at 7 p.m. April 24 at the Brainerd Exchange at the Northern Pacific Center. Doors open at 6 p.m.
General tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and under. Ringside tickets are limited and are $25. Tickets are available at the door or purchase tickets in advance at bit.ly/3sb8UvO .
There will be three hours of wrestling entertainment, closing with the main event between superstars Franco Varga versus Aero Boy. Other professional wrestlers performing are Selina Rose, Ashley America, Lexi Steel, Desi Deratta, Jayden Dominic Rose, Isaiah Moore, Theo Storm and Bowie.
“The show is pro wrestling so it's hard-hitting, action-packed and there will be many ‘oohs and ahhs,’” said James Young, one of the organizers of the event with North Star Pro Wrestling. “There will be all the things that come with pro wrestling so there will be body slams and power bombs and all those sorts of things. It's also very family friendly. This is something you can bring your kids to, you can bring the grandparents to, you can bring anyone of any age to come and enjoy this.”
Young said there will be five or six matches for this first-ever organized event with North Star Pro Wrestling.
The Brainerd Exchange will have its beverage and food concession stands open and the wrestlers will have their merchandise for sale as a memento of the event.
Young said COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, as they are following all the Minnesota Department of Health public health measures. The event will not exceed the mandated capacity and organizers will enforce social distancing and people will be required to wear masks.
People who attend will be screened for temperature and asked basic health questions prior to entry into the Brainerd Exchange.
Anyone experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19, such as a fever, chills, loss of taste of smell, cough, shortness of breath, headache or muscle aches are asked to not attend.
“We want to make sure people, first and foremost, are safe and that the only thing they take away from the event are some good memories of having a good time,” Young said.
Anyone who is unwilling to adhere to these guidelines will be asked to leave the venue.
Young of Apple Valley said a few friends who worked for wrestling companies formed North StarPro Wrestling. His partners are John Rockhold from Missouri and Jake Mueller from Woodbury, Minnesota.
He said they wanted to have their first event in Brainerd as wrestling events typically have stayed in the Twin Cities Metro area. Young said the Brainerd Exchange is a large venue that has a beautiful setting, perfect for the wrestling matches.
“Brainerd just kind of stood out to us as it’s a really great place with a great community up there,” Young said. “Brainerd is a place, I think, where pro wrestling would do quite well."
“We’re excited to host the event and see what kind of feedback we get from people and hopefully do another show is our goal.”
The independent wrestlers coming to perform in Brainerd’s event come from all over the region and country and include men and women. Young said the main event is Franco Varga versus Aero Boy, a Mexican professional wrestler. Young said Varga is one of the best and brightest stars on the independent wrestling scene today and has wrestled extensively in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond.
The main event
Varga, who resides in Philadelphia, agreed to a phone interview Sunday with the Brainerd Dispatch, as he was on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina, to film a wrestling TV show. Varga said he has been wrestling for nine years. He was “just a football guy on a scholarship, eating ramen (noodles) and doughnuts” when one of his buddies wanted to go to a local wrestling tryout.
“I wasn’t huge on wrestling at the time.” Varga said. “But I went with him to support him. Plus I was in the gym all the time and thought I may as well put these muscles to use. There were 14 guys who showed up (in Colorado) and I was the only guy picked for it. And then I fell in love with it immediately.
“It was an awkward ride home with the guy as that was his dream, it wasn’t mine really and he didn’t get picked ... but we still talk today.”
Varga started with a small company in Colorado run by a WWE legend named Les Thatcher and then moved on to a company called Ring of Honor. He then began wrestling in front of a few WWE coaches and was sent to Puerto Rico to wrestle in front of a professional wrestler he grew up watching — Carlos Colon, a now retired Puerto Rican wrestler.
“I was over there for about six months and that’s when I really learned to cut my teeth into the business, learned how everything works and I got a lot better,” he said. “I decided I did not want to go the traditional wrestling path, I wanted to travel the world. I’ve been to almost every state ... Canada, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan and of course Puerto Rico.”
Varga, who is 33 and grew up in New York City, was with a company called Ohio Valley Wrestling and then began doing TV wrestling shows across the country.
When asked if the wrestling is real or fake, Varga said many people ask him this question. He said it is 75% physical and 25% theater/entertainment. He took some acting classes back in school, which helped him flourish in his career.
“You can’t just grab an acting major in college and throw them in the ring,” Varga said. “This is one of the hardest things, a lot of people don't make it. A lot of football guys, a lot of actors, a lot of people think going into pro wrestling is easy. But there are a lot of things that go into it, like the footwork, the actual connection with the crowd. All that stuff is a lot harder than people think.
“... It’s definitely an art within itself.”
Varga said as an independent wrestler, he was involved in 180 shows a year, pre-COVID-19. He said he can be as busy as he wants to be, as he makes his own schedule.
When asked to describe his character, Varga said, “I’m Franco Varga, I’m the biggest wrestler ever. ... He’s an international star, he’s a giant in his own mind and he’s normally the biggest wrestler in the room. ... He’s a bad character for the most part. He’s a 300 pound 3-year-old who doesn’t want to share and he wants his own way. And he’ll throw a fit until he gets his way. That is basically my character.”
Varga said it will be a great match April 24 with Aero Boy, as it will be an international clash that should occur in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“People are surprised that we’re doing it in Minnesota of all places,” Varga said. “But it’s just one of those things where the stars lined up and we're here. We're doing it for all the fans in Brainerd. ... This is a big match, but we're doing it for the first time in Brainerd at the Brainerd Exchange.”
Aero Boy, who was unavailable for an interview, is known for signature moves called Canadian Destroyer, Lung Blower, Psycho Driver and Kudo Driver, according to The Internet Wrestling Database website. He began his wrestling career in 2003 and is 30 years old.
JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.