The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and organizers gearing up for the eighth Induction Weekend say things are looking better than ever.
Various events for the weekend include the induction dinner and an opportunity for the public to meet inductees. Those events sold out months ago despite their being moved to larger venues.
The dinner, to be held Saturday, May 16, will be at the Perthshire Banquet Facility, Hall of Fame Director Tony Vellano said. The space holds 300 people and Vellano said he has been turning people away for the past month. The Perthshire maxed out its space at 300 people.
Also, this year’s meet-and-greet was moved to the Riverfront Center to accommodate more people and has also sold out.
This is typical for the Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend, as people from all over flock to Amsterdam to be in the presence of their heroes.
This year’s inductees include Evan “Strangler” Lewis, Wladek Zbyszko, Billy Graham, Jay Strongbow, Randy Savage, Paul Orndorff, Antonio Inoki, Mark Lewin, Don Curtis, Lou Albano and Donna Christantello.
“There is quite a list of nice wrestlers showing up here,” Vellano said.
Vellano said he would like to see more people get involved with the weekend and organize spinoff activities that take advantage of the influx of people to the city, such as golf outings, charity runs, a parade or other fundraisers.
“There is so much more we could do, but I can only do so much,” he said. “We could make this a really fun weekend and have the city look forward to it.”
The area’s hotels are certainly benefiting. America’s Best Value Inn in downtown Amsterdam is at capacity for Induction Weekend, and the Super 8 Motel on the South Side has only a few rooms left.
Vellano said he wishes he could find a larger space for the induction dinner in the area.
“The Hall of Fame is supposed to be about bringing people into the town as an attraction,” Vellano said. “For me to have to send money back because we can’t find a place big enough defeats the purpose.”
Professional wrestlers are also starting to show up in town promoting various events associated with the weekend.
Pro wrestler Scott Campione visited the students at Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy on Monday to promote a show put on by East Coast Pro Wrestling on May 15.
“We’re different than, say, the WWE; we’re a more family-oriented show, no swearing or anything,” Campione said.
About 1,000 tickets were printed for the show, which will be held at the school’s gymnasium, and Campione said about 600 tickets have already been sold.
Jacob Gonzalez, 12, also a seventh-grader, was among the crowd gathered around Campione, asking questions and getting paper napkins signed. Gonzalez said that his room is full of wrestling paraphernalia and he also wants to go to next weekend’s show.
Austin Kellogg, 12, a seventh-grader at Lynch, had the back of his professional wrestling T-shirt signed. Kellogg said he is a big fan of professional wrestling and plans to attend the show.
The show will benefit the school as well. For every advance ticket sold, $2 will go toward the school. Also, the high school lacrosse team is working the concession stand and will receive 100 percent of the profits.