It’s a Friday night and I’m in the backstage dressing room of Platinum Championship Wrestling (PCW) 30 minutes before showtime. The excitement level is building. I observe some of the wrestlers’ pre-fight activities–everything from face painting and adjusting their masks to picture sharing and joking around. I scan the room and notice a large pair of eyes leering back at me. The eyes are from a shoulder-wide tattoo mural on Goth’s back. He’s in the mirror applying face paint. I approach with caution.
“So your character does what exactly?” I asked.
“I beat the living s--- out of people.” Goth said.
“Can I quote you on that?”
“Absolutely!” He replied.
Goth was serious about that declaration. “Between weight training, mixed martial arts training, cage fighting, bouncing and wrestling—this is what I do. I’m not a 9-5 guy. This is my life,” he said.
Welcome to PCW.
Hulk Hogan, Steve Nash, John Cena and The Big Show are some of the top-rated superstars from pro-wrestling corporations such as World Wrestling Entertain (WWE) and Total Nonstop Action (TNA). More soap opera than sports, these two companies are at the top of the food chain in this billion dollar a year industry. Stephen Platinum, head of Platinum Championship Wrestling (PCW), and his team are looking to snatch the spotlight right here in DeKalb County, and introduce the world to its brand of wrestling.
I was introduced to PCW while looking for performances at a local theater. I met with the charismatic Platinum backstage before a Friday night show in Avondale Estates. The 38-year-old Hawaii native is both well-spoken and well-educated. He holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Hawaii and was a former college professor. But his passion is wrestling.
“I love it. I’m good at it. And, it’s the one place where I felt I could make a humongous difference,” Platinum said.
In 2001, he opened the Platinum Wrestling Academy, a wrestling school in Atlanta (home base of now defunct World Championship Wrestling). After a few years and some financial roller coasting, Platinum closed the school and found himself a nomad. He traveled to venues, bringing with him his own wrestling ring. He rented space to promote and hold matches under the PCW label. It wasn’t until November 2009, that PCW found a stable home at Academy Theater in Avondale Estates.
Since January 2010, there have been matches every Friday night at the Academy Theater. The space is what some would describe as cozy. There is just enough space for the ring, a few rows of seats and a narrow walkway—so the action is literally in your face.
Platinum doesn’t thinks wrestling translates well to television, which is why WWE and TNA feel like a soap opera. “Wrestling is meant to be a live medium,” Platinum explained.
PCW has wrestlers, not TV stars. They’re not broadcast on national TV and wrestlers such as “The Natural” Shane Marx, Scott Steele, The Phantom and Geter aren’t household names (yet), but don’t mistake this for some underground, indie wrestling.
“If we had TNA resources, we’d put them out of business. They can’t hang with us!” Platinum proclaimed. “I hate the word ‘indie’ …the implication is that we’re less.”
As Platinum explained, unlike the completion, matches at PCW aren’t scripted move-for-move. He wants his guys (and gals) to work it out in the ring and feed off the crowd.
While at PCW I met other colorful characters that night such as manager “Screamin” Marty Freeman, quite possibly one of the snazziest dressers at PCW; tough-as-nails female wrestler Pandora; the energetic Aisha Sunshine; the very disturbed Jamie Holmes and the talented musician/wrestler Najasism. And in case you’re wondering everyone goes by a stage name–even Stephen Platinum.
After Platinum gave a rundown of the nights’ events he sat backstage feverously glued to the monitors, yelling commentary as the action unfolded. Meanwhile, with camera in tow, I took position ringside, with fellow photographers Dean Hesse and Brook Hewitt, as the matches begin. It was loud. It was fast. Bodies were tossed back-and-forth across the length of the ring and slammed to the unforgiving mat below. I struggled to steady myself against the ring apron as the ring post shook.
The fans, who ranged from children to seniors, cheered and jeered the performances that took place in and out of the ring. First-timers Al Stilo of Lawrenceville and his son Dominic, 6, were positioned a row back from the ring. Dominic said that he liked seeing the live action wrestling better that playing it on his video game. Seasoned fan and Atlanta resident Jessica Doward, 27, said that she liked that the wrestlers “give it their all.” “It’s not all giltz and glam…you can talk to them afterward, and they will give autographs,” Doward added.
Since this is a smaller, intimate setting there is much interaction between the wrestlers, fans and even the staff. I thought I would be immune from the taunting. But, I soon discovered that not everyone wants their picture taken; as Harmm yelled, “No pictures” as I attempted to take Mason’s photo. The fourth wall was broken.
The storylines might be predetermined. But the moves are real. And, the action is live. You have been warned.
Matches are every Friday at 8 p.m. at Academy Theatre, 119 Center St., Avondale Estates; Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at The Jungle, 2115 Faulkner Rd., Atlanta. For more information, visit www.platinumchampionshipwrestling.com or call (404) 474-8332.