DICKINSON, N.D. -- The sound of '80s music roared over the PA system, as fans poured into the Stark County Fair Ground on Aug. 10.
Chants from the crowd grew louder with each passing minute. Anxiously they waited for the event to begin, as kids peered around with wide-eyes and excitement. Suddenly a loud and booming voice cut through the chatter like a hot knife through butter as the crowd cheered drinks held high. Rushing forward to barriers, younger fans stretched over metal fencing with outstretched hands in hopes of receiving a high five from the burly wrestlers making their way to the ring. Over the weekend and for the first time ever, Dickinson got to experience the Midwest All Pro Wrestling.
A circuit wrestling organization, the MAPW had performed in Fargo in years past, but for the first time were making their way to the Western Edge of North Dakota. MAPW is owned and operated by Nick Dinsmore, more famously known by his wrestling gimmick of "Eugene." A former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar, Dinsmore has coached and trained all over the country prior to launching MAPW.
First hired in 1999 at the WWE developmental center in Louisville for Ohio Valley Wrestling, he started teaching a classes. Shortly thereafter, he was brought on to coach at the WWE performance center in Orlando for the NXT program for two years. By 2015 he had moved to Sioux Falls to start his own company, teaching his lessons throughout the region.
“All the wrestler in the show are students of mine. I'm evaluating their performance to see when to pull their ‘Geppetto strings’ to elicit reactions at the best point,” said Dinsmore. “The whole show is really good, it's just nitpicking stuff like turning your face to the left, standing a little taller -- its minor little things.
Dinsmore added, "It's really about whether the people are having a good time.”
One of Dinsmore's students is Gentleman Jack, one half of the tag-team duo Top Notch Security. From Valley Springs, South Dakota, and they claim to be the best tag-team in MAPW.
“We will do whatever it takes to secure a win,” Gentleman Jack said.
The two friends started in April of 2018, and have since competed in more than 40 matches together. Like a lot of people, they became fans of wrestling as kids at the early age of six-years-old. They both remember sitting in the front row for local shows much like the one they perform in today. They got their chance to perform after attending a 2-day camp with Midwest All Pro Wrestling on what they said was "a whim."
“We knew if we didn't do it now, were never going to.” Gentleman Jack said “We been going full bore ahead ever since.”
Gentleman Jack gave his admiration to the entire MAPW organization and explained the importance of having “top notch” performers and training.
“The best part about this, are the people we are with in Midwest All Pro Wrestling. The entire roster, the management of Dinsmore, AKA Eugene and his wife Stephanie Dinsmore, has been great,” Gentleman Jack said. “It is a family. Even when new people join, they are immediately welcomed in because these are people that we have to trust with our bodies, our safety, with our lives. If there isn't trust, we can’t do this in the best of our abilities.”
In the directors seat, Dinsmore constantly focuses on the performance from behind the curtains. With his approving smirks and the occasional nod, he watches as his performers complete body-hurdling moves to the roar of the gathered crowd.
“Its awesome doing this. I got to meet a bunch of cool people from all over the country and slam them in the ring,” John Macklefield Long said. “It's one of the best feelings in the world to get a reaction from the crowd...I can’t really explain it.”
A reaction from the crowds is exactly what they got, as fans went crazy in matching the energy exuded by the wrestlers. Long-time wrestling fan and Dickinson resident, Dusty Frank, talked about how important it is for the fans to get into the excitement to help make the matches more lively.
“This is a great thing for the Dickinson community, especially with the new fairground; it's beautiful out here. It's great they came out here to put on an extraordinary show,” Frank said. “If you're not a wrestling fan, come out anyways. I have an odd feeling that you'll be glad that you did. You'll be hooked.”
After the final match, a battle royal broke out and saw an victor emerge -- Mr. Fit Bit, whose real name is Austin Schmidt.
The wrestlers met with the entire crowd following the event to take photos and accept praise for the incredible show. Some kids, that were obviously not familiar with wrestling, have grown to appreciate the quasi-sport and quasi-entertainment spectacular -- one brave lad,proclaiming himself as, Carter "The Destroyer" Noles, even tried to drop kick Eugene.
“We only made three or four pit stops along the way. All we did was talk about wrestling, talking, ‘what if we do this or what if we try that?’ I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this,” said Gentleman Jack. “Definitely want to come back, the eight hour drive was rough, but it's a lot of fun out here.”