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Professional wrestling comes to NWA with WCWA


Northwest Arkansas has always been an entertainment hotspot.

Crystal Bridges regularly features world-class works of art, and our local art scene has thrived for years, thanks to organizations like Art Amiss, and of course the efforts of our many talented local artists. Everyone reading this probably knows all about the storied history and promising future of our music scene. Stand-up comedy has been a big deal around here for quite a while now. Lots of successful craft beer breweries call NWA home, and the only cidery in Arkansas, Black Apple Crossing, is seeing success in Springdale.

We’re home to superstar Marvel Comics artist Aaron Kuder, and another Marvel artist, John Lucas (the guy who used to draw DEADPOOL), recently moved to the region. Last year, former resident and University of Arkansas alumnus Nic Pizzolatto filmed Season 3 of his wildly successful HBO show True Detective in Fayetteville.

Despite all this, we’ve never really had a steady local professional wrestling scene here in NWA. That’s about to change, however, thanks to the efforts of Springdale’s World Class Wrestling Association (WCWA). In its short existence, WCWA has demonstrated tremendous promise and could bring a whole new dimension to entertainment in NWA.

Professional wrestling, largely synonymous with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), is a national institution. Since the demise of World Championship Wrestling at the end of the Monday Night Wars in 2001, WWE hasn’t had much major competition. But the independent wrestling scene has thrived.

A number of smaller promotions have gained traction in recent years, and WCWA has the potential to follow suit. WCWA has already held several local events, most recently featuring matches during the Ozark Demolition Derby. Thousands of people attended the event, and WCWA was very well received by the crowd, many of whom sought out WCWA talent after their matches for autographs and selfies.

Wresting tag-team duo The End speak with local radio personality Sunshine Broder at a recent WCWA event in NWA. / Photo: Courtesy, WCWA

Though NWA specifically doesn’t have a ton of wrestling tradition, the Natural State does have some professional wrestling history. Smashing Pumpkins mastermind Billy Corgan bought one of the oldest wrestling promotions, the National Wrestling Alliance (also NWA) back in 2017, and at that time the NWA World Heavyweight Champion was Pine Bluff native Tim Storm.

Storm’s former tag team partner, Russellville’s Matt Riviera, is also quite successful on the independent scene, and both Storm and Riviera were trained by Continental Wrestling Association star Bill Ash at his school in Paris.

Arkansas has also given us the likes of WWE Hall of Famers Bobo Brazil and Sailor Art Thomas, former WWF and WCW Champion Sid Vicious, and Jim Johnston, who served as the primary in-house music composer for WWE for over 30 years. Johnson created countless memorable themes such as the entrance music for WWE Superstars like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and a host of others.

WCWA owner Nathaniel Tatha-Nahandji, WCWA wrestler Dusty Gold, and WCWA announcer Sunshine Broder were kind enough to speak with us about how WCWA plans to write the next chapter in Arkansas wrestling history.

The group has a series of events coming up this summer at the Fayetteville Town Center, with match dates set for May 19, June 16, and July 7.

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Dave Morris is the Features Editor of Shindigmusic. He has written for the Arkansas Times, the Fayetteville Flyer, the Idle Class, and Fayettesound. His academic writing is featured in the book “First Amendment Studies in Arkansas”.

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