Part violent, choreographed ballet.
And on Sunday afternoon, it’s an event that makes its Evanston debut. Professional wrestling.
“When I think of pro wrestling towns,” says promoter Lolo McGrath, who lives here,”Evanston is not one which comes to mind.”
But despite that, or, perhaps because of it, McGrath is presenting a seven-match wrestling extravaganza, called “Crossing the Line,” at the Palmhouse, 619 W. Howard St.
“I prefer a challenge,” McGrath says. “I don’t know if it’s going to work in Evanston, but I want to shake things up a bit.”
The promoter concedes that in an a community packed full of PhD’s, some may look down on an event with participants nicknamed Max the Impaler and Hoodfoot.
But McGrath, who has promoted matches in other parts of the country, including Washington, D.C., says either with confidence or with pro wrestling bravado, “if I can get Washingtonians to go to wrestling, I think I can get Evanstonians to go.”
Each wrestler is a character, some good, some bad.
The outcome of every match is determined before the participants step into the ring.
But, says McGrath, “I never use the word fake, because the hits are real.”
“I know who’s going to win, but I don’t know how they’re going to get there.”
McGrath agrees with one wrestling expert’s analysis (Note — that expert is a friend of your reporter who works for WWF, the big-time pro wrestling circuit), about one-third of fans believe the matches are real, one-third are not sure, and one third know it’s just a show.
But, McGrath says, if you attend, put aside any highbrow attitudes, because “the second you buy into it, the second you’ll enjoy it.”
McGrath also says the events are “gay friendly.” LGBTQ+ individuals are stereotyped enough in real life, so McGrath wants both wrestlers and fans to feel comfortable attending or taking part if they are gay.
About half of the wrestlers are local, the other half are from out of town.
And unlike the huge arenas where mega-circuits hold their events, at Palmhouse, McGrath says, “you can make eye contact with the wrestlers.” And they can see you, too.
McGrath also says it’s important to make sure the wrestlers know how to stay as safe as possible while throwing each other around.
“I don’t just let anyone into the ring. They have to know what they’re doing so no one gets injured.”
Palmhouse Pro Wrestling, “Crossing the Line,” is on Sunday from 4-9 p.m. Tickets start at $20.
Each match, McGrath says, is “a mini-play. Or not. Some just say let’s pummel each other.”