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  • Writer's pictureJennifer McGraw

Pro wrestling returns, and the fans love it

Jennifer McGraw/THG ShoreStar wrestler Primal Fear roars at the crowd before competition. More photos on Page 12.

Nestled in the Hammonton community lies Camp Tuscaloosa, but on July 22, it became Camp Chaos. Hosted by ShoreStar Wrestling in partnership with StandAlone Wrestling, the three-hour professional wrestling event brought the community together for something they haven’t seen in ages.

For $20, families gathered for an afternoon of games and other activities. Local vendors lined the entrance, including the favorite Wholly Bowls and Fruta Mex.

Fifteen minutes before the first bell, the kids rushed to the ring to get as close to the action as possible. The rules for the evening were simple - cheer for whom you want to win and friendly boo who you don’t. After that, it was showtime.

No stranger to the community and Camp Tuscaloosa, professional wrestler Sam Seitles and his wife Lisa brought something to Hammonton it hasn’t seen in years.

“It’s amazing to see all of this support, especially because we want to bring something to Hammonton that hasn’t been here in years,” Lisa said. “To see everybody come out for this is just amazing.”

The matches kicked off with two teams of three by the names of “Cowboys from Rio” and “Bad Company” facing off. Electricity filled the crowd as kids were bantering with the wrestlers and referees. Both teams delivered punches until a Hulk Hogan-like character stole the show. With his help by delivering the final blow, Bad Company won the first match of the evening.

The fun continued with a “scramble games” match, in which the spectators got in on the action. Four wrestlers who go by Ron Voyage, Magic, Joe Clean and the later declared antagonist winner Eric Corvis let the children get in on the action by throwing water balloons at them.

The evening continued with a series of one-fall wrestling matches, where one opponent must pin the other to the mat and has one round to do so. Some matches were purely entertaining, but others had underlying lessons that kids could learn about being healthy.

Leo Sparrow, the proclaimed Earth Belt Champion and spinach connoisseur, took on Tommy the Moose. What seemed like Moose having the edge in the competition, Sparrow came fighting back. With one bite of his spinach, he delivered a series of wrestling moves that landed him as a repeating champion.

The next match, another with the importance of empowerment, was the ShoreStar Women’s Championship. Another one fall match, Dark Angel attempted to take the championship from defending winner Angel Metro.

Sam Seitles spoke on the inspiration these wrestlers can have for others.

“I mean, wrestlers can be role models. I know I learned a lot about how to live my life through guys like Bret Hart and some of my other favorite wrestlers,” Sam said.

“So when I go out there, I think about that. If I’m the good guy, I give it my all, show love to everyone, and I do what I can to send everyone home with a smile on their face.”

While guests came for the high-energy matches, a Monarch butterfly stole the show between matches. It perched on the rope as if to reinforce Muhammad Ali’s motto “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Before the final match, Everest and “Odd Soul” Vinny Cenzo, accompanied by his Cool Ranch Doritos monster, got the crowd hyped up once more. Some might think the “Odd Soul’s” monster was an infraction, but it actually served to inflict damage on Everest just enough to defeat him. Clearly not a crowd favorite win, one guy held up a sign that said, “If Everest loses, we riot.”

Nonetheless, the “Odd Soul” is just happy to see this level of excitement about wrestling being back in Hammonton.

“It’s definitely been close to a decade and it wasn’t our specific group, Shorestar, back then.” Cenzo said. “Any time when a place goes through a drought, it stinks. Especially when you’ve developed an intimate relationship with people who have 10 shows every month in that area. So, for me it feels like a full circle feeling. It’s exciting.”

The excitement led up to the final match with Sam taking on his former partner, “The Tech Alchemist” David Mercury. In a back and forth battle, it looked like Mercury creeping closer to being the winner. With the support from the crowd, Sam ended up fighting back and winning. The crowd roared as the children rushed the ring to cheer on Sam’s victory.

“I mean most of these people aren’t wrestling fans, but they came out anyway to support.

They got into it and boy did they pop loud during many parts of the show and I’m happy to say that they popped loud when I got that one two three, “Sam said on his post-victory.

From the moment Sam saw his first wrestling match, he knew he wanted to be apart of it. At five years old, he fell in love with the sport and started competing when he was 18.

“I did it for 10 years and I loved it, but you get kids, you get a career, but sure enough, about a year ago, my kids told me they wanted to see me in the ring,” Sam said. “And I decided, why not? And I’ve been having a blast ever since.”

Though he took some time away from the ring for his family, one of his motivations to get back to the ring was to win for his son, Casey, battling Type 1 Diabetes.

“He wanted them to, you know, see him in the ring and win the championship belt to support our son Casey with Type 1 diabetes and give it to him because he’s a champion for living with Type 1 diabetes.” Lisa said. “And so he got back into it and then we thought why not bring wrestling to Hammonton.”

After the event, Lisa was elated to see such a positive turnout for the wrestling event.

ShoreStar Wrestling hopes to continue providing something fun for the community.

“It means so much to my husband, Sam, who’s a professional wrestler himself. And he’s making his comeback after, I think, 12 years or something out of the ring.” Lisa said. “So to come back and do this in front of the town and his family and his friends, it means everything.”


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