This is part three of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school.
The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is now home to Grindhouse Academy. The wrestling school was founded by Arena owner 2 Tuff Tony and Rudy Switchblade, two men with very different backgrounds and unique perspectives on the business of pro wrestling. Tony and Rudy wanted to create a place where anyone with a love of pro wrestling could give it a shot without spending a fortune up front.
“Nobody’s getting rich here,” says Tony. “The students play $10 an hour. That’s $5 an hour for each of us. We’re here because we love it, and we want students who love it as well.”
Only three of the seven students were in the ring the day I visited the Academy, but they all exuded the love and passion Tony and Rudy share for wrestling.
Zach Pittman is a Michigan native who wanted nothing more growing up to be a wrestler. When he had the opportunity, he moved to Louisville in the hopes of training at OVW. Pittman works at Ford, and his hours didn’t match up with the training schedule at OVW, but he found another way to pursue his dream at the Arena.
Pittman began his training with Mitchell Huff at the Arena before the transition to Grindhouse Academy took place. He’s now ten months in, and itching to get in front of a live crowd.
Matt McKechnie is a local who grew up around the business. “My dad worked security for wrestling promotions at the Gardens and OVW, so my baby pictures are like me and Jerry Lawler and other wrestlers.” Matt started training in June of 2016 with NWA and switched to the Arena in January.
Hollie McKechnie was the third student at practice and the newest student in the building. She was literally on day two when I met her and had been welcomed with open arms by trainers and students alike. Hollie had worked as a manager and a valet, but in doing so, she saw the value in learning how to actually wrestle and take a bump. Training also gave her more of a chance to spend time with her husband Matt. “I already have the bumps, the bruises, and the aches, but it’s all going to be worth it!” she says.
Zach, Matt, and Hollie rave about Grindhouse. “They work with my schedule,” says Zach. “I work weekends and day shifts, so it’s nice there’s a place I can come and train when it’s convenient for me.”
“It’s a really encouraging,” says Hollie. “No one gets really hard on you. Everyone is always supportive.”
Matt added, “I’ve been to a place with free training, that I now realize wasn’t really training. Tony and Rudy are very versatile, and they are always willing to work with your schedule.”
Fans can get their first glimpse of the Grindhouse students on June 17 when the Arena will present the student show. Students will go head to head with one another as well as other wrestlers from the area, giving them their first real taste of what it’s like to be in front of a live wrestling crowd. You can expect to see more information about the show, along with promos from the participants, popping up on social media as the event draws near.
“These kids love doing promos,” says Tony, who acts like a proud papa when talking about his students.
“They will be ready,” adds Rudy. “We will get them ready for their first real matches.”
The Arena is located on Spring Street in Jeffersonville. Contact 2 Tuff Tony on Facebook for information about booking the building as well as Grindhouse Academy.