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Fresno to Host Upstart Pro Wrestling Event for National TV Audience



MJF is the AEW World Heavyweight champion. AEW comes to Fresno on January 18. (Image: AEW)
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In its three-plus years of existence, All Elite Wrestling has established itself as a legitimate pro wrestling promotion. And the group is headed to Fresno in January.

Not since the demise of WCW in 2001 has the WWE experienced a strong challenger to its pro wrestling business. AEW has weekly shows on the Turner networks, plus regular pay-per-view cards.

The TV tapings come to Fresno, live (well, at least on the East Coast) on Wednesday, Jan. 18 for “Dynamite,” on TBS followed by the taping of “Rampage,” which airs on TNT Friday nights.

Bell time is 4 p.m. at the Save Mart Center for warm-up matches, followed by the live show at 5 p.m.

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster, starting at $29. As of Monday, several remain. Only handful of ringside seats are left, some selling for as much as $935.

Fans on Facebook have expressed excitement.

AEW Stars

No card has been announced, and probably won’t be until a week before. Several of AEW’s top stars are featured in TV and radio advertisements, with the dreaded “card subject to change” disclaimer.

The AEW roster features wrestlers fans consider best in the world. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, the brash, arrogant Long Island native, won the group’s World Heavyweight championship last week. He draws comparisons to Rowdy Roddy Piper because of his antagonistic mouth.

Friedman also landed a role in the upcoming movie about the Von Erich wrestling family, “The Iron Claw.” MJF will play Lance Von Erich, the black sheep cousin of the group.

Other stars include Darby Allin, the tag team of FTR: Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler, and “Hangman” Adam Page.

Several names with WWE experience also regularly perform with AEW: Chris Jericho, Bryan Danielson and Claudio are a few that come to mind.

And, of course, the Hall of Famer Sting, who is 63 and still looking great.

Brian Cage, the muscle-bound fighter, once called Fresno his home.

Brian Cage, who once called Fresno home, is on the AEW roster. (Image: AEW)

Non-WWE Visits Rare

How rare is a major non-WWE promotion coming to Fresno? Very.

Records from The History of WWE, the biggest tracking website of wrestling results, lists only two WCW cards — in 1989 and 1997, both at Selland Arena.

The last show, June 27, 1997, drew 7,000 fans. The Outsiders: Kevin Nash & Scott Hall, defeated Lex Luger & The Giant by disqualification in the main event.

The show also featured Ric Flair, Randy Savage, and Rey Mysterio Jr.

Fresno has a long pro wrestling history, dating back to the 1920s. Local shows were taped at the Ch. 47 TV studios in the 1960s, with talent booked from Roy Shire’s San Francisco-based promotion. The WWF (now WWE) started coming to town in 1984, and promoted a card at the Save Mart Center as recently as September.

At least two smaller promotions, Lucha Xtreme, and Best in the West, regularly run cards in and around the Central Valley.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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