Truly Independent Wrestling is ready to move forward with its shows at the Berkshire Mall. The wrestling organization has fully moved into leased space at the Berkshire Mall to hold monthly wrestling shows.
"We plan on being here quite a while," said Truly Independent Wrestling co-founder Lance Madewell.
Madewell has been into wrestling most of his life. Eventually, he got into the business, working with promoters doing everything from announcing matches to referring to security.
In 2014, he took to the ring in his first match as a wrestler. But it was all out of town and he wanted something back in the Berkshires.
"I wanted to bring wrestling to Berkshire County because when it was here, it was pretty popular," Madewell said.
While working in the industry, he got to know fellow wrestler Scott Fellows, who too had a similar vision to become a promoter. The two tag teamed their efforts last year to organize shows at the Pilgrim Memorial Church on Wahconah Street in Pittsfield.
Those shows brought in more than 100 people, peaking at 180 at the last show, and the fan base started to grow - maybe even quicker than Madewell had initially imagined.
"It is really cool to be out and see people wearing a shirt from our company," Madewell said.
In July, the organization signed a lease at the Berkshire Mall, taking up space in the former Old Navy store. Just days before its first scheduled show there, the town's building inspector raised some questions about the usage. Building Inspector Rick Reid found out about the use and said an engineer needed to submit paperwork for the change in use of the space. Town officials allowed the July show to go on because of the limited time frame but limited the capacity to 150.
A little over a week ago, the wrestling company found itself in front of the Board of Selectmen seeking an entertainment permit, but Reid said the proper paperwork hadn't been filed. That put the company in a time crunch in order to hold Saturday's show.
"We took care of the things the town wanted us to take care of," Madewell said. "We got all of that taken care of plus we have been able to double occupancy."
The Board of Selectmen scheduled a special meeting on Thursday night to approve the license. Meanwhile, the company acquired hundreds of chairs for free from the Union Hall on Tyler Street in Pittsfield to help furnish the space.
On Saturday, at 6 p.m., the show will go on.
The organization has between 15 and 20 wrestlers and hosts a number of matches per night. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children between ages 6 and 12, and free for children under the age of 5. The plan is to hold shows every month, with two in December, and then teach others about the industry — whether it be how to wrestle, how to referee, or how the business is run.
So what can people expect from the show on Saturday? Madewell says, "expect a lot of heart being put into this show and a lot of action. We've been fighting so long for this."
Beyond a show, there will be some concessions and merchandise available. Despite multiple wrestling events going on both in the area and on television that weekend, Madewell said ticket sales have been good for the show. Now with everything in place, he's looking toward the future of growing an even bigger fan base.
It also brings a new use to space inside the mall, which has seen retail shops struggle in recent years.
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