Benefit brings rivals together
GUILFORD LAKE Johnny Gargano and Gregory Iron used to have one of the biggest feuds in their professional wrestling arena, but now they are working side by side.
The two are teamed up for a match scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 13 at the Guilford Lake Grille.
Gargano and Iron are members of PRIME Wrestling, an Ohio-based professional team. PRIME has a one-hour television show that airs on FOX/SportsTime Ohio, the television home of the Cleveland Indians. The match at the Grille will be taped and later aired on SportsTime.
When Gargano and Iron first met in the ring Gargano was defeated. In 2008, he gave Iron a pretty bad beating, according to Iron.
“For a long time me and Johnny were probably two of the biggest rivals in wrestling in 2008 he bloodied me up. We had a long feud,” he said.
Over time the feud died down, mostly as a result of maturity, the wrestlers said.
“Over time Johnny has grown up a lot, I’ve grown up a lot and he’s learned to respect me and accept me for who I am,” Iron said.
Iron has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects the entire right side of his body, but mostly his right arm and hand.
“We were bitter enemies. We kind of like each other now,” he joked. “It shows how much difference a couple years can make.”
Gargano began taking an interest in wrestling at a young age and first entered the ring when he was eight years old.
“It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do, I guess. When I was younger I was a big fan of putting on shows wherever I can, entertaining people wherever I can,” he said.
What draws him to the sport is its “great mix of athletics.”
“A lot of people compare it to the circus almost. There is such a grab bag of different things that catch people’s eye. If you don’t like the tiger you like the elephants, if you don’t like the elephants you like the clowns. There are just so many things you can find fascinating with it,” he explained.
Known as “The Whole Shebang,” Gargano describes his wrestling style as acrobatic.
“I try to wrestle with as much heart as possible. I try to show that I love what I do. If you see the Johnny Gargano match you’re seeing every inch of me, everything I’ve got,” he said.
Irons doesn’t hold back either.
“I do just as much if not more than any other wrestlers that perform in a PRIME Wrestling ring,” he said. Instead of letting his disability affect him, he works with it, and capitalizes on his strengths.
The beauty of this type of wrestling match, Gargano and Iron said, is that unlike WWE events, whoever is watching is getting the full impact.
“No matter where you sit it’s going to be right in your face, right in your lap. There is no way you’re going to miss any bit of the action,” Iron said.
The wrestlers also enjoy interacting with the crowd.
“It’s a very cool experience,” Gargano said.
People who come to the event on June 13 will have the opportunity to meet with the wrestlers an hour before the show.
Tickets are $15 for preferred seating and $9 for general seating and can be reserved at the Guilford Lake Grille or at PRIMEwrestling.com
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Columbiana County.
Jenny Pike of the Humane Society said money raised through the event is already targeted for the non-profit’s medical and veterinarian bills.
Unfortunately, the society has treated some “very serious cases” that have incurred some large medical expenses, she said.
She is pleased an event is being organized to help benefit not only the society but the community.
Prior to the taping, PRIME wrestlers are meeting with members of the Robert Bycroft Workshop in Lisbon.
“We are all about working as a team and we always look to see who else can benefit and how we can make the benefit more far-reaching,” Pike said.
PRIME got in contact with Robert Bycroft upon the society’s suggestion after learning they were looking for different ways to reach out to the community prior to the wrestling match, she said.