GLADSTONE — A superstar, a Luchadore, an English gentleman. These are the characters that turn this gym into a pro wrestling spectacle.
“We use wrestlers from all over the country. We’ve used guys that have been on WWE. Rhyno, who just lost the WWE Smackdown Tag Team championship, was one of our regular wrestlers. Sabu from ECW was with us almost full–time a few years ago. We use independent wrestlers from all over the country,” UPW Co–Founder Peter Sischo said.
Upper Peninsula Wrestling, or UPW, was founded back in 1999 by U.P. natives Peter Sicho, Rick McCarty and Brett Webber, better known as Peter B. Beautiful, Slick Rick and Supreme Brett Powers.
“We have the soap opera aspect. We tell the stories. But then again, we have the high–flying, hard–hitting wrestling action. Everything that you love about professional wrestling, you can see locally here at UPW,” said Sischo.
They began doing just a few shows a year, to being able to do a show once a month for the past five years. They used to be based out of Escanaba, but they moved to Gladstone back in 2014. UPW also goes on the road, which includes traveling to places like Ironwood and Crystal Falls. And they’re fanbase includes fans of all ages.
“I’ve come to just about every single one since I was about 12. It’s just really exciting. I get to see really cool action that I don’t get to normally see,” UPW fan Case Sprinkle said.
“That’ really what it’s all about when it comes down to it. It’s the kids. To see them looking up to you, when you really realize it and you notice it, it makes you step up your game even more,” Rick McCarty said.
Many of the wrestlers have traveled across the country doing shows, but they find UPW to be very unique.
“The crowd, the atmosphere, the building itself. There’s a lot of character in this establishment that you don’t get in a lot of other places. Sometimes the smaller, more intimate settings give you a better platform to showcase your abilities and take these people on a wild and, if I may say, ridiculous ride,” pro wrestler El Ridiculoso said.
“It’s a different crowd. Definitely one of those atmospheres where the people love it up here. We get a lot of consistent people coming to every single show, and I think that makes it cool because you make that connection with them,” said former UPW Heavyweight Champion Brock Hall.
Saturday’s Winter Warfare was a special one that saw the in–ring retirement of Peter B. Beautiful, as well as Slick Rick defeating Brock Hall for the UPW Heavyweight Championship. And that kind of unpredictability is what keeps their fans coming back.
“You really never know what you’re going to get. We’ve had legends just pop in because they have the same passion that we have. And that’s what we like to do because you really never know what you’re going to get. Just come out and engulf yourself into it and I almost guarantee you’re going to enjoy it,” said McCarty.
The next event is UPW Pro Wrestling: Fight Night, which takes place on February 18th. For ticket information, head to their Facebook page UPW Pro Wrestling.