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Pro wrestling returning to Henry County

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The wrestler's adrenaline pumps as he hears the crowd from behind the front-lit curtains. "When you walk through the curtains, that's when the adrenaline hits you, and it doesn't stop until you leave the ring," said Rodney Begnaud, a professional wrestler with Universal Championship Wrestling (UCW), Inc.

Professional wrestling fans in the Southern Crescent soon will be able to experience a similar rush, when UCW makes its Henry County debut on Oct. 9. UCW's "Fall Brawl" will begin at 7:30 p.m., at the Jason T. Harper Events Center Outdoor Arena at Heritage Park, 95 Lake Dow Road in McDonough.

Officials with the wrestling company, which has offices in Atlanta and Miami, Fla., said the three-hour event is part of efforts to bring wrestling back to the grass roots level.

"This is a family-friendly show," said UCW Vice President Ron Gossett. 'We have great story lines, and it's just a lot of good clean fun for the entire family. This is the wrestling everyone enjoyed, back when they watched on TBS, with WCW [formerly World Championship Wrestling].

UCW's mission, according to Gossett, is to bring its professional wrestling show to smaller venues and keep ticket prices low, in an effort to bring as many fans to the shows as possible. He said the live taping will be televised later on Fox Sports Net and CSS Sports South.

"We will continue to tour the smaller venues," Gossett said. "It's the same big stars with affordable tickets."

The UCW official noted that Fall Brawl's 20-man roster will include familiar names like Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell, Brodie Chase, Scotty Wrenn, Chris Hamrick, Billy Gunn, Reid Flair, and Rodney Mack, otherwise known as Rodney Begnaud.

Begnaud said he received his current ring name, Rodney Mack, while wrestling on WWE's Raw. He previously went by the ring name, Red Dogg.

Begnaud is the nephew of famed professional wrestler, Sylvester Ritter, The Junkyard Dog, with whom he trained in his early years growing up in Lafayette, La. He said the professional wrestlers, who will star in Fall Brawl, all have a story to tell about their paths to becoming professional wrestlers, beginning in childhood.

"Pro wrestling had always been a lifelong dream of mine," Begnaud said. "Wrestling is who I am. It lets me express who I am as a human being. It's something in my veins."

The professional wrestler of 14 years said he enjoys the physicality of professional wrestling, in which he uses his training in jujitsu and other mixed martial arts.

"I've wrestled in barns, I've wrestled in back yards, and I've wrestled in Madison Square Garden," continued Begnaud. "Each match, to me, is like the Super Bowl."

UCW's Fall Brawl is expected to draw slightly larger crowds than Begnaud's backyard matches, according to UCW's Ron Gossett. He said the event will include a special guest, Atlanta Radio Personality, Steve "Southside Steve" Rickman, and fans will be able to get autographs before the show and during intermission.

Gossett said advance tickets can be purchased at the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department's Heritage Park Office, located at 99 Lake Dow Road in McDonough; at Horsetown South, located at 4583 Bill Gardner Pkwy., in Locust Grove; and at CJ's Hot Dogs, located at 593 Jonesboro Road in McDonough. Tickets also are available online at www.UNIVERSALSUPERSTARS.com.

Tickets purchased prior to the event are $12 for general admission, and $20 for ringside seating. Advance tickets are $5 for children, ages 6-to-12 years, and there is no charge for children under 6.

Tickets at the door the night of the event are $15 general admission for adults and $25 for ringside seating. A $3 discount is offered for those with Henry County, U.S. military, or school identifications, who purchase tickets at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and bell time is 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (770) 656-8299.