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Couple hope to breathe life into Lawrence pro wrestling scene; show set for Saturday

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Cheyenne and Deek Hansen want to bring a fresh form of entertainment to Lawrence. With down-the-road hopes of providing a training center for pro wrestlers, they’ve launched a wrestling promotion that will host a show in Lawrence this Saturday.

Premier Independent Wrestling’s “Aftermath” starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 20, at the East Lawrence Rec Center, 1245 E. 15th St. 

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“COVID really hit everybody in the stomach and not a lot of events obviously ran and we’re trying to bring some normalcy back and do something different besides a concert or a movie,” Deek said. “It’s a pro-wrestling event kind of like the stuff you see on TV like WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and AEW (All Elite Wrestling). It’s just like that but on a much smaller scale.” 

Saturday’s show is the second of three PIW shows to take place this year. The first was in April at Lecompton High School, in Perry, where Deek graduated in 2015. 

“If you think about it in a movie sense, all of the shows can be standalone … every show, you can go to and not know anything from the last show,” Deek said. 

Deek and Cheyenne met in 2016 at Extreme Wrestling Center, an independent professional wrestling school in Raytown, Missouri. Deek started training at the center in 2015, right after graduating high school. Cheyenne — a second-generation wrestler whose father, Bill Cravens, wrestled as “Sarge” — trained under him. 

The Hansens got married in 2020, and they now have a 14-month-old daughter named Mara. 

Derek holds Cheyenne in a chin lock during a 2019 match in Osawatomie. (Contributed photo)

“We were kind of struggling after she was born,” Cheyenne said. “We were thinking, ‘We are never going to be able to wrestle.’ … Deek’s been training since 2015, and it’s really hard to just give it up.” 

But the Hansens wanted to show their daughter that “life doesn’t end after kids.” Cheyenne, who wrestles as Ashley Scott, won’t have a match Saturday, but she will be there with Mara.

Deek will wrestle on Saturday as “Thicc Deek.” His opponent has not yet been announced.

“It’s my own personality cranked to 10,” he said. “I just go out there and have a lot of fun doing what I do.” 

Deek said one of the headliners in Saturday’s show has been feuding with another PIW wrestler since the April show in Perry, “Fight for the KAWS.” 

“We are trying to keep them separated as much as possible because it’s getting kind of heated behind the scenes … so we actually had to give them separate locker rooms,” Deek said.

“They just had a simple match at the first show, and Ryan Cole, he actually choked (Kenny ‘Zombie’ Jones) out and we had to get security out and actually pull them apart because we almost had to call an ambulance for Kenny.”

The feud could continue at Saturday’s show. Jones is set to face Bobby West, but Cole — “The Unbound Barbarian” — will be at the show. 

Kenny “Zombie” Jones will face Bobby West at Premier Independent Wrestling’s show, Aftermath, set for Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 in Lawrence. (Venomous Designs / Contributed image)

“I guess it depends if Ryan and Kenny behave themselves,” said Jason Mortis, PIW booking manager. “They haven’t shied away about how much they don’t like each other. And Ryan has already shown that he doesn’t always follow the rules. So we’ll have to see if they can keep their distance from each other.” 

Jones, of Kansas City, has been wrestling professionally for 15 years, but this will be his first show in Lawrence. 

This week alone, he will have had shows in Vail, Colorado, and Lincoln, Nebraska, before his performance Saturday. Passionate about wrestling since age 4, he rattles off the names of some big-time wrestlers he has trained with: Tracy Smothers, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton of The Midnight Express, Tommy Snow, and  JC Thunder. 

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In the past five years, Jones said he’s experienced growth of his own reputation in wrestling circles, especially in the Midwest. 

“It took me to stop trying to be a character,” Jones said. “I go through the crowd … I’m in the crowd, and I just want to party and have fun and I want the crowd to realize they’re a part of that party and the fun I’m having in the ring.”

Though he’s able to book bigger shows in more faraway arenas, Jones yearns to stay in the Midwest to wrestle locally and support people like Deek and Cheyenne, who are helping Kansas wrestling thrive. Lawrence hasn’t had a wrestling scene in more than 15 years, he said. 

Cheyenne and Deek hope to revive Lawrence folks’ interest in wrestling. 

“We are the only ones that run in Lawrence, and we just wanted to bring wrestling back here,” Cheyenne said. “This is our hometown now.” 

And the East Lawrence Rec Center will provide an intimate space for wrestling, Deek said. 

“The thing, you know, you don’t get with (WWE) is that you’re sitting far away from the ring; this one, you’re right there,” Deek said. “There’s not going to be a bad seat. … The front row, you could touch them if you were just to reach over.”

General admission tickets are $10, available at this link, and kids 10 and under are free as long as they have an adult in attendance. People can pay $5 extra for 5 p.m. early entry, but otherwise doors open at 6 p.m, with an early-bird show starting at 6:40 p.m. 

Venomous Designs / Contributed image The poster for Premier Independent Wrestling’s “Aftermath,” set for Aug. 20, 2022 in Lawrence.

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Chansi Long (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, has a bachelor of science in mass media from Baker University and a master’s in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. She’s been published in the Washington Post, River Teeth and Brevity. She was honored to be named Kansas Writer of the Year by the Winfield Arts and Humanities Council in 2016 for her essay “Lovesick.”

Read more of her work for the Times here.

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