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Pro wrestling is back for smackdown in Marshalltown

Contributed Photo — Pro wrestler “TJC” soaring and scoring at RUGGEDpro Wrestling’s last live wrestling event with fans in attendance held in March of 2020.

Action will return to Marshalltown this weekend when professional wrestlers enter the ring performing in front of a live audience for the first time in a year.

RUGGEDpro Wrestling will host “RuggedMania 2” at the Salvation Army Gym on Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a bell time of 6:30 p.m. The event has a limited capacity of 100 fans, with required masks and social distancing.

Owner and promoter of RUGGEDpro Wrestling and pro wrestler himself Austin Fouts said the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone in the pro wrestling business.

Starting RUGGEDpro Wrestling at the beginning of 2019, the promotion was only just getting off their feet with a few events when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. RUGGEDpro Wrestling had their last live show in March 2020, and have been live streaming shows without fans in attendance since.

“It seemed like as soon as we started getting our traction rolling, we shut down,” Fouts said. “But I’ll tell you what, Marshalltown has been super supportive. I couldn’t be happier being in Marshalltown with these great people, being able to start something like this.”

Contributed Photo — Owner, promoter and co-founder of RUGGED pro Wrestling Austin Fouts is gearing up for the return of pro wrestling to Marshalltown.

At first, Fouts was worried about the reaction pro wrestling would receive locally, but the popularity of events and positive reception RUGGEDpro Wrestling received made Fouts wish he had started the promotion sooner.

“A lot of people don’t like change, and something like pro wrestling isn’t something Marshalltown has had any association with prior,” Fouts said. “I was super excited to see once we actually got there, how warming and inviting the town has been. It’s truly been inspiring.”

The last RUGGEDpro Wrestling show with a live audience sold out the Salvation Army Gym.

Some pieces to the success of RUGGEDpro Wrestling have been their welcoming environment and family-friendly atmosphere, Fouts said. Pro wrestling promotions have historically been notorious for shady business practices and undesirable working environments.

“We don’t put up with any politicking or bullying of any sort,” Fouts said. “We’re a place in the wrestling community people want to be.”

When envisioning what RUGGEDpro Wrestling would be, Fouts wanted to steer away from edgy content potentially steering away youth and families, opting for family-friendly shows appropriate for any age.

“I worry about a lot of the youth in Marshalltown, I felt like there weren’t too many options to keep people out of trouble,” Fouts said. “Pro wrestling is a show, it’s a safe conduit for people to export energy and enjoy something while not being out causing trouble in town.”

For those curious or confused about pro wrestling, Fouts said attending a pro wrestling event is something everyone should try at least once.

“It’s probably one of the most unique, electric experiences you’ll ever have in your life,” Fouts said. “If you’ve watched it on TV don’t let that be your only judgement. You’ve got to be there and feel the crowd.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased at eventbrite.com by searching “RuggedMania 2.”

Matches booked for the show include a six-way “Rise to the Top” ladder match, RUGGEDPro Wrestling Champion Nicky Scent defending his title against challenger Jaysin Strife and “Midwest Dream Match” Bo Gott versus JJ Garrett.

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Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.

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