scorecardNorth Carolina's Independent Wrestling Circuit Can Be Brutal And Bloody [PHOTOS]
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North Carolina's Independent Wrestling Circuit Can Be Brutal And Bloody [PHOTOS]

North Carolina's Independent Wrestling Circuit Can Be Brutal And Bloody [PHOTOS]
EntertainmentEntertainment3 min read

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Aaron Canipe

North Carolina native Aaron Canipe knew that independent wrestling matches were popular entertainment in the areas near his hometown of Hickory, but he never opted to go, until recently.

Intrigued by advertisements around town promising cage matches and "bring-your-own-weapons" fights, Canipe drove down to the Hickory National Guard Armory for a Saturday night that he called "more entertaining and less expensive than a movie ticket."

Independent wrestling, known as the "indy circuit" to wrestling aficionados, is equivalent to the minor league for World Wrestling Entertainment and other pro wrestling organizations. For fans, a trip to the "indy circuit" can be a way to see the next superstar before they make it to the WWE or a place to see hungry wrestlers put in the extra effort to make a name for themselves and rile up the crowd.

This match was promoted by local wrestling outfit Milestone Wrestling. The promoters are so small that new wrestlers often show up and wrestlers often change their stage names.

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Aaron Canipe

Like the WWE stars that they aspire to, wrestlers take on colorful names and outlandish stage personalities to curry favor with the audience.

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Aaron Canipe

Belton "The House Of Pain" Creedmore is a mainstay on the North Carolina wrestling circuit. He is known as a brutal and vicious competitor.

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Aaron Canipe

The matches attract a lively local crowd. Canipe said he was one of a handful of first-timers, but most of the attendees have been following the matches for some times.

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Aaron Canipe

To drum up interest in the matches, promoters often arrange "bring-your-own-weapons" matches, where wrestlers use a variety of props provided by the audience, such as chairs, tables, light bulbs, and even bats. The results can be dangerous.

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Aaron Canipe

Despite their violent nature, most matches are considered to be family entertainment.

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Aaron Canipe

Making it on the "indy circuit" is extremely difficult. Most matches are so small that wrestlers either fight for free or get paid between $50-100. To make ends meet, many sell merchandise and videos or work other jobs.

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Aaron Canipe

Canipe says that he's positive that wrestlers get hurt during the matches, though he thinks that they exaggerate the pain they're experiencing for the audience's benefit.

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Aaron Canipe

Mike Fury (also known as Chaotic Fury) is part of Death Proof, a straight-edge (no alcohol, tobacco or drugs) tag-team group. They are one of Milestone's biggest names.

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Aaron Canipe

Working on the "indy circuit" is the best way for aspiring wrestlers to build up the experience and fanbase to make the jump to the "pros."

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Aaron Canipe

Wrestlers often advertise the dangerous stunts they do, such as walking barefoot over thumbtacks or using barbed wire webs. Canipe says the craziest thing he saw a wrestler do was tear open cans of soda with his teeth.

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Aaron Canipe

"I had to see it to believe it," Canipe says of the match.

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Aaron Canipe

Canipe often takes North Carolina and Southern culture as his subject, publishing personal projects on his website.