Elbow drop and other wrestling moves coming to Concord

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor columnist

Published: 08-24-2023 5:07 PM

Sometime in the 1980s, Mica Roberts, known as Owen Brody inside a wrestling ring, saw a man named Macho Man Randy Savage perform his signature flying elbow drop on Saturday morning TV.

The Macho Man jumped from the top rope and crashed his elbow into the gut of the poor opponent, who never stood a chance in the pre-scripted world of big-time professional wrestling.

“Big influence,” Brody said by phone from his home in Vermont. “I was 5 and I remember telling the kids in kindergarten that I wanted to wrestle.”

These days, Brody, 39, wrestles in the Atlantic Pro Wrestling (APW) division, a minor-league circuit filled with grapplers who had hoped to reach the level of the Macho Man, in height spring-boarding off the top rope and stature as well. Some still have the dream.

Those who don’t reach the WWE – the latest identifying acronym for the top circuit in the world after decades’ worth of alphabet soup titles – compete in divisions like the one coming to Concord on Saturday, billed as the Capitol City Collision, at the Faraday Function Center on Airport Road.

Concord has hosted theatrical wrestling in the past, mostly at Everett Arena.

“These are Monday through Friday regular employees with a dream of the WWE,” said Michael Morse, a payroll accounts manager who lives in Auburn and owns the APW. “They’re there for one reason: they liked it so much that they did it on weekends, something of a hobby.”

Morse paused, then said, “It’s more of a passion.”

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When you leap from the top rope, soar eight to 10 feet in the air and smash your body onto a helpless opponent lying on the canvas, it certainly is more than a hobby.

Injuries occur, pain is a constant, and the best protection these men and women have are the techniques they learn during training, like how to best absorb the energy created when one big guy lands on another.

“Yes, you can get hurt,” Brody, who’s 5-9, 195 pounds, said. “There’s a lot of risk each time. You have to learn that stuff, to land on crash pads and then landing on people.”

Brody’s worst injury was a ruptured eardrum, suffered when he was kicked on the side of the head. “Poor placement,” Brody said.

He trained and instructed at places like the Twin State Wrestling Academy, held in a giant barn that staged events in warm weather only, since it had no heat.

Brody graduated from Windsor High School in Vermont in 2002 and learned the ropes from Steve Bradley, who made a name for himself in the Manchester area and even advanced to developmental programs attached to the WWE.

Bradley never realized his full potential, however, dying at age 32 under mysterious circumstances in 2008, found in a Manchester parking lot from what some suspected was caused by a heroin overdose.

Before that, however, Brody learned from the best. “I learned the fundamentals all the way up, footwork, diet, exercise,” Brody said. “Then I learned the ins and outs, how to do promos and conducting interviews.”

Meanwhile, Morse advanced from the organization’s social media promoter to its owner in 2018. The APW has since expanded, first staging events from its home base in Newburyport, Mass., and then branching to Maine and the Granite State, with cards in Derry, Rochester, Nashua and Hillsboro-Deering Middle School, part of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration.

APW cards continue to draw 150 to 300 fans, Morse said. Saturday’s capacity is 150, with about 100 tickets, priced from $12 to $20, already sold through pre-sales. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. and action starts at 6:30. Morse expects a sellout.

Two more APW cards are scheduled for next month in Derry. Saturday, fans will see wrestlers named The Politician, Fancy Ryan Clancy, Cowboy Steven Stetson, Ike and, of course, Owen Brody.

They’re not recognizable to most. Not like the old days, which featured Bruno Sammartino, Haystacks Calhoun and Chief Jay Strongbow and continued through the years with stars like Hulk Hogan, King Kong Bundy, The Rock, The Undertaker and Rick Flair.

Meanwhile, Macho Man Randy Savage was one of the best and most influential wrestlers ever, dominating in the 1980s and ‘90s.

A YouTube video shows Brody speaking into a microphone, looking mean and threatening, raising his voice. He’s also shown flying in midair, elbow-ready to crush the poor guy on the canvas.

“It’s the flying elbow off the top rope,” Brody said. “Just  like the Macho Man used to  do.”

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