Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – June 13, 2001
By Nahal Toosi
It’s fake! It’s real!
Barring a miraculous surge of support, Mid American Wrestling is getting tossed out of its longtime home, the Knights of Columbus Hall in West Allis. The head of the group that runs the hall confirmed Tuesday that leaders planned to stop renting the facility to the group.
The move is a response to the many people who complained about the wrestlers after a Journal Sentinel profile of the league on Sunday.
“We have decided that enough’s enough,” said Jerry Falk, outgoing president of the Columbus Club. “We’re concerned about the image that it creates for this group.”
The 8-year-old league has traditional wrestling matches, but it was the hard-core matches — the kind where the wrestlers make one another bleed using tacks, barbed wire and other instruments — that has really riled people. The league has staged shows at the hall once or twice a month since 1995.
It brings in about $15,000 a year to the hall.
Mid American promoter Carmine DeSpirito said he sees a change of venue as a positive opportunity. The league will not fold, DeSpirito said.
“It’s a PR situation that the Knights just don’t care to deal with, and that’s their prerogative,” DeSpirito said. “It’s sad in a way, because the fans are used to it. But maybe in a way they’ve become too used to it. I may need a building that’s more exciting.”
Since the article ran on Sunday, several people have called the Milwaukee Archdiocese, the hall and the Journal Sentinel to decry the wrestlers and the Knights of Columbus.
Even the archdiocese sent a letter to the fraternal organization chiding it.
“We were simply raising a concern that the message that was sent by the type of wrestling matches that are there seem to be counter to the message that the Knights of Columbus stands for, which is respect for life and humanity,” said Barbara Anne Cusack, archdiocesan chancellor.
Money is the main reason the Knights have allowed the wrestlers to use the hall. The club earned dollars from its concession stands and various fees it charged the league.
Mid American has posed few problems for the hall, keeping a fairly low profile. West Allis police have never had any complaints about the activities there. The matches – however gory – are largely improvised but involve preordained endings and trained independent wrestlers.