By Mike Mooneyham
June 20, 2004
At first glance, pro wrestling and religion might not appear to be a very likely combination. But don’t tell that to Jim Palmer and Andy McDaniel. To the two local pastors, it’s a match made in heaven.
Both longtime fans of old-school grappling, Palmer and McDaniel are joining forces to present a family-oriented weekend of professional wrestling. Palmer’s church, Miles Road Baptist in Summerville, will host Family Fun Night 6-8:30 p.m. Friday. McDaniel, pastor of Betaw Christian Church, has organized the first-ever Community Outreach Event 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Refuge Temple in St. Stephen.
There’s no hidden agenda behind the free events, say the pastors. It’s all about bringing families together for clean, wholesome fun, with some old-style wrestling thrown in for good measure.
“We’re just trying to give back to the community, and at the same time introduce them in a positive way to the Lord Jesus,” says Palmer. “We use wrestling and all the other things simply because it seems to be what people enjoy coming out to see and being a part of. The whole idea behind this is to share with them the love of Jesus Christ, and show them that in Christ you can have fun.”Palmer realized long ago that pro wrestling was a natural hook for many who ordinarily might not attend a church event. He invited former Four Horseman Tully Blanchard to speak at his Sumter church during the early ’90s, and the response was so great that Palmer never looked back.
“Knowing a lot of the old-school wrestlers personally and seeing how they came to know the Lord, I recognized their desire to share their faith. I also saw a growing desire among many people to be able to watch a clean version of wrestling. It has seemed to work very well here.”
Palmer, whose church has become known as the Lowcountry’s “wrestling church,” has brought in a number of current and former wrestling stars to share their testimonies over the years. The list includes names such as Superstar Billy Graham, Ernie Ladd, Ted DiBiase, Tully Blanchard, Sting, Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Greg Valentine, Terry Taylor and George South.
This weekend’s production marks the sixth year for Family Fun Night, which has become one of the more successful events the church puts on annually. Attendance for the event has ranged from 1,000 to 1,500, with the number increasing each year. “This year we’ll probably easily reach the 1,500 mark,” says Palmer.
Not only will the brawn be on hand for the Summerville event, but the beauty will be there as well. Miss South Carolina Jessica Eddins is scheduled to make a guest appearance, and may even get involved in some of the ring theatrics.
Bell time for the four-match Summerville event is 6:30 p.m. Friday, while the St. Stephen program will kick off around 1 p.m. Saturday. Refreshments and items such as ice cream, cotton candy and snow cones will be free, while vendors will provide food for a nominal charge.
Observing firsthand what a huge success the event had been at Palmer’s church, McDaniel decided to organize his own program this year. A newly ordained minister with a relatively small church, McDaniel knew the undertaking was more than a congregation his size could accommodate. So he pitched the idea to several neighboring churches in the St. Stephen area.
“The response was tremendous,” says McDaniel, who helped organize a wrestling legends reunion in Charleston in 1998. “I discussed the plan with a lady at a local Christian book store, and she put me in touch with her pastor, Jeremiah Ravenel. He got so excited about the idea that he asked to host it at his church, which has a large parking lot and plenty of room. We needed a good central location, and this one is ideal since it’s right off Highway 52 leading into St. Stephen.”
Both events will feature such names as Greg Valentine, Jimmy Valiant, Terry Taylor, Ricky Morton, The Barbarian, Lodi and George South, as well as surprise main events for each show. The matches are under the auspices of South’s Charlotte-based Exodus Wrestling Alliance.
The highlight of the St. Stephen event, says McDaniel, will be a special ceremony honoring veteran wrestler and longtime Moncks Corner resident Burrhead Jones.
“He really is a legend and a cult figure in these parts, and we thought this would be a great way to show our appreciation,” says McDaniel. “Everybody knows Burrhead, and we’re going to honor him in a special way. In wrestling lingo, we’re going to really put him over.”
For more information on the St. Stephen event, call McDaniel at (843) 567-2567. For details on the Summerville event, call Palmer at (843) 873-7887.
– Chavo Guerrero Sr. was released from WWE Tuesday after no-showing two consecutive house shows. Guerrero was given notice upon arriving at Smackdown tapings in Chicago. Guerrero dropped his cruiserweight title to Rey Mysterio later that night at the show.
Guerrero, who started with the company in January, had alienated management in recent weeks with his rejection of storyline ideas. The older brother of WWE Smackdown champ Eddie Guerrero and father of Smackdown performer Chavo Guerrero, “Classic Chavo” had worked in recent years as a cab driver and hotel security guard in Las Vegas. He created a well-publicized disturbance earlier this year at the annual Cauliflower Alley banquet where he angrily confronted Verne Gagne and other former stars before being asked to leave.
– The perfectly executed but graphic angle last week on Raw involving Shawn Michaels and Kane was designed to allow Michaels to take time off for the upcoming birth of his second child. Michaels, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, is expected to be back in time for Summer Slam and a probable showdown with Kane.
It now looks like the Edge-Chris Benoit title bout, initially scheduled to take place at next month’s Vengeance pay-per-view, may be put on the back burner, with Benoit defending first against either Triple H or Kane in a possible submissions match.
– Thomas Simpson reports that his protege, independent star Krazy K, suffered a partially collapsed lung in a recent match in Connecticut and will be out until early July. K, who has appeared locally on Carolina Pro Wrestling shows, had been scheduled to be C.W. Anderson’s (handpicked) opponent in Charlotte this weekend for an angle with Ole Anderson. K is scheduled to start with World-1 on their July tour in Florida.
Simpson, by the way, is a College of Charleston alumnus and sometimes indy wrestling promoter who was named 2003 Distinguished Teacher of the Year at the University of South Carolina-Union. Simpson also was a driving force behind the critically acclaimed North Carolina-based OMEGA promotion that spawned such stars as Jeff and Matt Hardy, Lita (Amy Dumas), Shane “Hurricane” Helms and Shannon Moore.
– Jeff Jarrett vs. David Flair in a cage will headline a charity show for the University of Virginia Children’s Medical Center Oct. 30 in Waynesboro, Va. Also on the card: D-Lo Brown vs. Kanyon; Big Bossman vs. Bull Buchanan; The Barbarian vs. NWO Sting; Jerry Lynn vs. Abyss; and Gillberg vs. Doink The Clown.
– NWA-TNA will hold its two-year anniversary pay-per-view Wednesday night. NWA heavyweight champ will defend his title against Ron “The Truth” Killings in the main event. Also on the bill: Kid Kash vs. AJ Styles in an X division title match; Nosawa and Miyamoto vs. America’s Most Wanted in an NWA tag-team title match; Trinity vs. Desire in a stretcher match; and Raven’s tribute to The Sheik.
– A Legends Fanfest will be held Aug. 14-15 at the Clarion Hotel in Fayetteville, N.C. More than two dozen former NWA stars will get together for two days to meet and greet fans. Former Four Horseman Tully Blanchard will be featured in one of two Saturday night VIP question-and-answer sessions. Among the stars already signed include Sting, Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), Ricky Steamboat, Magnum T.A., Ole Anderson, J.J. Dillon, Baby Doll, Dory Funk Jr., Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Tommy Rich, Jimmy Garvin and Precious, Dustin Rhodes (Runnels), The Rock ‘N Roll Express, George South, Bill White and David Isley. Bob Caudle, the voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, will emcee the weekend’s festivities. Tickets are on sale at http://www.NWALegends.com.
Charlotte will host the returning Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest Nov. 26-28 at the University Place Hilton with a special tribute to the early Starrcades. Among those confirmed for the three-day event include Harley Race, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Dory Funk Jr., Paul Jones, Ricky Steamboat, Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Magnum T.A., Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Baby Doll, Jimmy Garvin, The Rock ‘N Roll Express, Greg Valentine, Jimmy Valiant, Sir Oliver Humperdink, George South, Italian Stallion, Don and Rocky Kernodle, Tony Romano and Bill White. Two evenings of VIP question-and-answer sessions will feature Race, The Briscos, Jones and Caudle. Tickets are on sale at http://www.MidAtlanticLegends.com.