For the past seven years some of Mid-Atlantic wrestling's greatest stars have been enshrined at the annual Hall of Heroes induction ceremony.
The Hall was the brainchild of veteran promoter Greg Price, who puts on the popular Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest, an event that honors the stars of the old Mid-Atlantic territory.
But, until now, there was never a physical location for the Hall of Heroes.
That's about to change, though, as Price has plans to unveil a wrestling museum in the Myrtle Beach area.
“It's something that I've been twiddling my thumbs on for three or four years,” says Price. “I just never really pulled the trigger.”
The proposed museum is just part of a major project Price is undertaking on the Grand Strand.
On Saturday night, Price will introduce the “Spring Showdown Series” — three monthly live events on March 7, April 4 and May 2 — that will feature an array of young wrestling talent and wrestling legends.
The shows, along with the museum, will be featured at a venue Price has dubbed the Myrtle Beach Sportatorium.
The location is the former site of a giant warehouse that has been converted into a multi-use facility that includes basketball courts, soccer fields and gyms.
“We wanted to put a wrestling arena in there,” says Price. “It's in a good location — right by the airport, right by the mall and right across from where the old Waccamaw Pottery and Hard Rock Cafe used to be.”
The first three shows will serve as a dry run, says Price, to work out any kinks and begin creating a fan base.
If things go as planned, Price says he would consider running shows on a regular basis beginning next year at the Sportatorium.
“We're starting off this spring in a smaller arena. I had hoped to move into the bigger space to start, but we found out a couple of weeks ago that it wasn't going to be possible. We're going to go in there and do three shows this spring. We'll make some mistakes, but we'll figure out what we're doing wrong and then hopefully come back.”
While Price is excited about the prospect of running Saturday night shows in the tourist mecca of Myrtle Beach, the biggest personal lure was being able to launch a physical hall of fame.
“The intriguing part, and what really sold it for me, is that part of the new arena is going to be a wrestling museum and Hall of Heroes. That's more appealing to me than anything else. That's something that I've had in the back of my mind for the last eight years ... to have a real, live, brick-and-mortar hall of fame-type place where folks can come and visit. I don't know any place like it in the South. Myrtle Beach, being the 'Redneck Riviera,' seemed like the perfect place to do it.”
To that end, says Price, the official name of the venue will be the Myrtle Beach Sportatorium and Wrestling Museum.
“My heart and soul is with these old-timers. The Hall of Heroes is a hall of fame, but I'm afraid Joe Public doesn't know what the Hall of Heroes is. We've got a year to figure it out, but the way we're going to approach it thus far is the Sportatorium and Wrestling Museum. Hopefully that's generic enough to not get confused. Fanfest folks will know what the Hall of Heroes is, but I'm concerned that other folks might not.”
Price said the museum part of the building will include displays and memorabilia.
“The foyer area will basically be like a Hall and a Walk of Fame where each section has everything from murals and pictures of guys on the walls to displays of wrestling gear and memorabilia and stuff like that. It's just an opportunity for somebody to visit a wrestling museum. I really want fans involved and interactive. I definitely want to keep it a free exhibit where we just get people in there.”
Price, who notes that the building will not be exclusive to his group, says other organizations also will use the facility for wrestling shows and various activities.
“We're going to make the arena available to other wrestling promoters. There will be different wrestling there as well as boxing and MMA.”
Price says locating the museum in Myrtle Beach is not a knock on Charlotte, the longtime headquarters of Crockett Promotions and the home for most of his Fanfest events.
Less than a month after the curtain closed on what was billed as the final Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest last August, Price announced that the popular event would return in 2015.
Price, who promoted his first Fanfest back in 2004, said the tremendous response from fans and talent alike helped sway his decision to bring back the event.
The annual gathering has been a labor of love for Price, who grew up watching Carolinas wrestling and later realized that he had witnessed something that was very special and would stand the test of time.
But all things evolve, he says, including Fanfest weekend.
“I'm happy with Charlotte, I'm happy we decided to do another Fanfest this year,” says Price, adding that the future of the event might hinge on the results of this year's gathering.
“It really depends on how that goes on whether that continues or not. It's like a family reunion. So if the changes we made this year are OK, and we can sustain ourselves there, I'd like to keep doing that.”
Price hopes to attract more than just diehard Mid-Atlantic fans to his Myrtle Beach promotion.
“We want to create a touristy-type atmosphere,” says Price, “like the big-fight atmosphere in Las Vegas. We're going to try to push it as not just wrestling, but wrestling in the tourist destination of Myrtle Beach.”
Hence the name “Championship Wrestling Live from Myrtle Beach.”
Price says the host of a wrestling program that airs in the Myrtle Beach area plans to bring a TV crew to the upcoming shows, and Ohio-based videographer John Andosca also will be filming footage for possible future syndication.
Former WWE Diva, TNA Knockout and Playboy model Christy Hemme will be in town and at the show promoting the event.
“We're going to do a lot of stuff around town,” says Price. “But the story is wrestling. Wrestling is what we're trying to sell.”
Don't expect long promos or episodic angles as part of the package. Price is selling this product as being more realistic and more competitive.
“We're even going about that a little different ... as realistic as pro wrestling can be. That's the approach we're going to take. The way we sell it, the way we talk about it, the way the announcers talk about it. They guys are approaching it as a little more serious.”
Price fully realizes that this might not fly with some of the more WWE-oriented fans.
“Who knows if that will ever work? They say you can't put the genie back in the bottle. But it's still wrestling, and we're going to give it out best shot. We'll take a crew of guys that hopefully can produce that type of competition-based show. We have a good group of talent. We're going to try to treat it a little differently.”
“Plus the fact that it's in Myrtle Beach,” adds Price. “We're still selling the Live from Myrtle Beach (angle). At some point, those folks are headed for Myrtle Beach during the year. We want local people there, but we also want the other people that would normally go to Myrtle Beach for spring or summer vacation. We want them to check out that wrestling on Saturday night.”
Price is no stranger to tackling major projects, and he tries to be realistic as possible in assessing the potential for whatever he takes on. But he feels cautiously optimistic about his latest undertaking.
“Of course there's a lot of hope, a lot of dreams, but this is very appealing. I think it has a lot of potential from several different ways of looking at it. I really like the wrestling part and the fact that it's from Myrtle Beach, but also the Museum part, which makes it even more appealing, knowing that not only could people go there on Saturday night for wrestling, but anytime to check out the museum. I'm excited and happy about that, and I look forward to get it going. Hopefully we can get enough people to give us a chance and see what we're doing.”
Price is planning a number of surprises for his spring shows.
“I have big hopes and high expectations. It's going to be a lot of fun.”
Three matches thus far have been announced for the first card on March 7:
Former PWX tag-team champions Team Lucha vs. The Bravado Brothers; former NWA world junior heavyweight champion “The Crown Jewel” Chase Owens vs. Corey Hollis; and “The Thoroughbred” Jaxson James vs. “The Southern Savior” John Skyler.
Others scheduled to appear include Tessa Blanchard (daughter of Tully Blanchard), Mickey Gambino, Lince Dorado, Josh Cutshall and Kameron Kade.
Tickets can be purchased at LiveFromMyrtleBeach.com.
Old School Championship Wrestling will return March 8 at the Hanahan Rec Center.
Among those on the show will be former WWE star Gangrel, Lodi, Sick Boy, John Skyler, The Washington Bullets, Brady Pierce, Eric Bradford, Kevin Phoenix, BJ Hancock, Brandon Paradise, Zane Riley, Scotty Matthews, Cali Casanova, Deandre Jackson, Hexxon, Michael Frehley and Asylum.
Bell time is 5 p.m.; doors open at 4:30.
Adult admission is $10 (cash at the door); kids (12 and under) $5.
For more information, call 843-743-4800 or visit www.oscwonline.com.