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God Wants You To Be in a Full Nelson: Couple brings a Christian touch to pro wrestling

ADRIAN, Mich. — from Judge Tuff Love whips his opponent into the ropes, waits in a predatory stance and then body-slams him. Both wrestlers crash into the mat, making a noise rivaled only by the simultaneous screams of approval from the audience.

Aside from winning, Love has one other goal when he gets in the ring.

“We want people to realize that when they come here, they come to see a good show,” he said.

When the “Judge” steps out of the squared circle he becomes William Love, co-founder of Total X-Treme Wrestling Entertainment. This Adrian-based outfit hosts shows at the Lenawee County Fair and Event Grounds every other Saturday. Each event costs $5 and includes everything you might see in a televised wrestling match. But there are a few exceptions.

“This is a Christian-based organization and we don’t allow any profanity or obscene gestures,” Love said. “We tell our guys, ‘If you do that, then you’re done.’ ”

Love said wrestlers can get their point across without using indecent methods like wrestlers in mainstream organizations. His wife, Sharon, said they don’t want to be a bad influence to children in their audience.

“There’s good and evil in life, and we portray that,” she said. “But we don’t want parents to take their kids home and worry about them repeating what they heard in the ring.”

The Loves came up with the idea for TXWE six years ago. William Love, who hails from St. Louis, had an extensive background in the sport. He met Sharon while she lived there.

The couple decided to move to Adrian, Sharon Love’s hometown, and start their own professional wrestling organization. William Love said he enjoys the city and doesn’t plan on taking his show anywhere else at the moment.

“I like Adrian,” he said. “We want to stay here and keep doing events.”

William Love’s love for wrestling started at a young age. He recalls watching pioneers like Dick the Bruiser, Bobo Brazil and the Honky Tonk Man, among others. He said meeting these grapplers on a few occasions showed him that they’re real people just like everyone else.

In addition to competing against other wrestlers, William Love trains everyone involved in TXWE. He said he wants to make sure his protégés know exactly what they’re doing when they step in the ring.

“Being a trainer isn’t just about training — you’re a father figure,” he said. “You want to make sure all the moves get done like they’re supposed to without anyone getting hurt.”

Although the wrestling in these matches is choreographed, William Love said mistakes and injuries still happen, even to experienced professionals.

“One of our friends got hurt pretty bad one time,” he said. “If he would’ve landed an inch off it would’ve snapped his neck.”

William Love offers training for absolutely no cost at all. He said his decision is based partly on the current state of the economy and mostly on his own experience.

“When I learned in St. Louis, I was trained for free,” he said. “Basically, I’m returning what was given to me.”

For William Love, being able to educate people about how to lock up and perform high-impact moves and then seeing them execute these maneuvers in the ring is a gratifying experience.

“If you want to learn, come my way and I’ll show you how to do it,” he said.

William Love said his wrestlers aren’t limited to his organization. He said they’re free to compete anywhere they desire as long as they’re present for TXWE events.

“I tell my guys to go other places and get more experience,” he said. “The more experience they get, the better it will be for them.”

Sharon Love handles TXWE’s business outside the ring by promoting events and getting the word out. She said that, even though she does not possess the 300-pound, muscular physique her husband does, she still has factors that make her intimidating to the wrestlers.

“I set up the rules and everybody has to follow them and be safe,” she said. “If they don’t, they see the Vince McMahon side of me.”

McMahon is the chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. who is not shy about confronting wayward wrestlers.

The Loves want to offer fans unique and refreshing ideas as opposed to the common story lines of most wrestling organizations. One of their innovations is the “X-Treme belt,” which is awarded to whoever performs the most extreme move of the evening. The fans make the decision as to who wins the belt.

J.B. Hamblin, who goes by the moniker “Rampage,” said he enjoys the involvement of the crowd.

“There’s a lot of interaction with fans,” said Hamblin. “It’s all about the kids and family.”

TXWE shows run most of the year, but will reduce to one show a month for November and December and no shows in January or February. Sharon Love said the arena in which they compete isn’t well insulated, and the welfare of families has to be taken in consideration.

“I don’t want people having their kids out in the cold,” she said. “I don’t want people to risk driving out on icy roads.”

Sharon Love said the November and December shows have a holiday theme. Instead of paying the regular fee to get in, spectators can either bring canned food or a toy. Everything collected during these two shows will be donated to charity.

“We’re not in this business to make money,” she said. “We do this to entertain the crowd.”

One particular value William Love tries to instill in his wrestlers is the belief that they should compete for the love of the sport and not for superficial reasons.

“I tell the guys, ‘If it’s not in the heart, don’t do it,’ ” he said. “If you’re in it for girls, fame and fortune … if it happens it happens, but while you’re in here, have fun.”


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