This is part one of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school.
2 Tuff Tony knows there are people who don’t share his vision for pro wrestling. He knows because someone keeps trying to shut him down. But in the words of the long time veteran, “They only make me stronger.”
Just two weeks ago, the Clark County Health Inspector received another phone call about The Arena, located on Spring Street across from Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana. While some promoters might have told the inspector where to go, Tony welcomed him, as he always does. He gave the inspector full access and complied with the one request given.
“He asked me to put in a sink,” said Tony, who demonstrated the brand new plumbing in the Arena’s tiny concession area.
Tony may have one or two detractors, but wrestling fans, promoters, and the workers themselves are raving about the Arena. It’s a work in progress that has taken a lot of time, money, and move, but Tony is proud of the work that has happened. In addition to the new sink, there’s a wider, easier-access entrance in the back to allow for more accessibility for the disabled. The DJ booth has been re-designed and re-built, the downstairs locker area is constantly evolving, and one of three murals is nearly done on the wall behind the DJ.
Tony opened the Arena because he saw a need. Over the past few years, multiple promoters have tried to run in a variety of buildings, from the former Production House in New Albany, to the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, to Jammerz Rollerdrome in Clarksville. The Arena was conceived as a place where anyone could come in and, for a low price, put on a show. The Arena has the ring, the DJ booth, the locker room area, and the concessions area. It’s up to the promoter to bring the people, the wrestlers, the music, and the food.
The Arena now has three regular promotions running on a regular schedule. OSWA runs every Sunday afternoon. IWA Mid-South runs on Thursday nights. Pro Wrestling Freedom Runs on the second Friday night each month. The building has also hosted special events sponsored by Terry Harper, several Girl Fight women’s shows, and Chikara Pro Wrestling.
“One of the promoters told me he didn’t like seeing other guys’ fliers hanging up in the Arena,” says Tony. The solution: Tony put a drop down curtain over top of the cork board that holds show fliers, so promoters can cover up the other fliers during their own events.
The newest occupant in the building is Tony himself, along with partner Rudy Switchblade. Together they have begun a program called Grindhouse Academy. “Grindhouse is a place where anyone who wants to become a wrestler can give it a try,” he says. “We don’t require a large deposit up front, and we don’t take your money and try to run you off the first day. It’s low priced to give anyone a chance to give this a shot and see if they have what it takes.”
Tony’s had a few trainers in house since the Arena opened its doors, but Rudy Switchblade brings a new level of experience and knowledge to the program. “He’s been to OVW, Japan, Mexico. He knows a lot that I don’t, and he’s a great teacher.”
Grindhouse Academy meets a few afternoons every week. Interested students can contact Tony on Facebook to get more information on times and fees. I’ll share more about all of this, Tony’s partner, and their students as the week goes on.