TNA Wrestling to take the Maryland Theatre stage

Pro wrestling organizer says there's nothing like seeing the real thing live

January 12, 2011|BY TIFFANY ARNOLD |
  • Jeff Hardy leaps into the air to clobber his opponent with his face during a TNA wrestling match. TNA founder Jeff Jarrett says "Nothing replaces being there live."
Submitted photo

The wrestlers heading to The Maryland Theatre's first-ever wrestling match want to body slam their way into the crowd's hearts.

And if ticket sales are any indication, it might be love at first smack.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, better known as TNA Wrestling, will host four bouts during a two-hour event at the historic downtown Hagerstown theater Sunday, Jan. 16. Marci Howes, who handles publicity for The Maryland Theatre, said tickets for ringside seats, perched on stage around the ring, sold out weeks before the match. Few floor seat tickets were still available as of Tuesday afternoon.

"They must have made good Christmas gifts," Howes said.

TNA wrestling airs Thursday nights on Spike TV. Its roster includes Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Mick Foley -- though none of these wrestlers are scheduled to appear at The Maryland Theatre on Sunday.

Still, wrestling fans should note that Kurt Angle is billed as the "guest referee" for Hagerstown's TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match with Mr. Anderson and TNA's founder, "King of the Mountain" Jeff Jarrett.

The other scheduled fights include a tag-team match between Motor City Machine Guns and Generation Me; a TNA Knockouts Championship Match featuring the dames of TNA, Madison Rayne and Mickie James; plus, there's a three-way match among Kazarian, Brian Kendrick and Robbie E.

The Hagerstown match falls early on a TNA world tour, which will end with a Gut Check wrestling workshop — more like a TNA tryout — in London.  

The Herald-Mail caught up with TNA founder Jeff Jarrett, whom you may remember as the country music-singing wrestler who smashed guitars over his opponents' heads. He left Vince McMahon's World Champion Wrestling (WCW) (now World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) to launch TNA Wrestling in 2002.

Lately, Jarrett has been doing triple duty as a wrestler, promoter and family man keeping the Jarrett family's wrestling legacy alive -- the clan has been in the wrestling business since the 1940s. Jarrett, 43, of Nashville, Tenn., has been wrestling since he was 18 and was trained by his dad, Jerry Jarrett.

"This is a tough business that you'd better have a passion for," Jeff Jarrett said. "You've got to want to do this, almost for free. That doesn't pay the bills, but you've got to want to do this."

The TNA tour is Jarrett's attempt to maintain a foothold with a splintering audience and discover wrestling's next big thing, something he said the industry has lacked since Mike Tyson's foray into professional wrestling in the late 1990s, and, before Tyson, Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania of the '80s.

"I don't think there's a defining moment for the 2000s," said Jarrett, adding that producing such a moment would require the stars to align — or in this case, the synching of handheld devices, social media and the Web.

"On my iPhone, gosh, I watch my YouTube clips, I can watch my favorite show. There's so many methods of delivery, it's not just the television any more," Jarrett said.

Let's face it: The days of the captive TV audience are gone. The so-called "wrestling wars" between TNT and USA Network are over, Jarrett said. The prospect of having wrestling matches air at the same time on two different channels, as it happened with the wrestling wars, would not elicit more than a shoulder shrug among today's TV viewers, who could watch one and let the DVR handle the other.

But instead of looking to the sky to see what the stars do, Jarrett said he has decided to look down onto the mat, taking his show on the road.

"Nothing replaces being there live," Jarrett said. "Absolutely nothing."

If you go ...

WHAT: TNA Wrestling Live

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16. Doors open at 5 p.m.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

Tickets for $25 are still available; $55 tickets for box seats and ringside seats on the stage have sold out. Few $40 were available as of Jan. 11. Purchase tickets from The Maryland Theatre box office, by phone at 301-790-2000, or from the theater's website,

MORE: www.tnalive

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