For more than a decade, North Carroll High School was host to the bodyslams, larger-than-life personalities and pinfalls of professional wrestling at the annual MCW Pro Wrestling Spectacular. Though the school is now gone, a former North Carroll student is working to start a new tradition and bring pro wrestling to her new home at Manchester Valley High School.
Junior Sarah Blanton serves as president of the Manchester Valley Future Business Leaders of America, an organization designed to give students hands-on experience working in business and taking ideas from concept to reality.
She said their adviser, Thomas Davidson, had mentioned working with the MCW — a Maryland-based professional wrestling promotion founded in the late 1990s — in the past, and said the idea immediately appealed to her as an opportunity for the club.
"People in Hampstead know what this is," Blanton said, "so there was a built-in interest. Now that North Carroll has closed, I thought this would be a neat way to keep up tradition."
The Autumn Armageddon, as it's called, will be held Saturday night at the high school. The event will feature title matches between the MCW stable of wrestlers, including former North Carroll graduate Jeremy "Trick Knee" Kimble and an in-ring appearance by two Manchester Valley coaches, Tom Goretsas and John Piper.
In addition, the event will host matches featuring former WWE stars including Koko B. Ware, Melina, Joey Matthews and Kevin Nash, who is also known for an acting career with credits in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze," "The Punisher" and "Magic Mike XXL."
Prior to the event, there will be meet-and-greets with the former World Wrestling Entertainment stars.
MCW promoter Dennis Wipprecht said he's had a passion for professional wrestling since he was 4 years old and watched matches featuring Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund with his grandfather on Saturday mornings. Wipprecht said he started hosting his own backyard wrestling shows when he was 14 and put on his first professional show when he was 19.
"I thought it was going to be easy, but we've had our ups and downs," Wipprecht said. "We've hosted shows with 1,500 people and we've hosted shows with 100 people. If you don't put in the work, you're not going to get results."
Despite Blanton's instant interest in putting together the show, she said she had very little experience with professional wrestling before.
"I had never heard of MCW, but I knew the WWE because my little brother watches it," she said. "I didn't know they did this kind of thing."
Blanton said the most difficult aspect of getting the show off the ground was convincing the school system that a night of brutal battles for in-ring supremacy was an appropriate school-sponsored outing.
"The hardest part was just getting the whole thing approved," Blanton said. "[Carroll County Public Schools] Central Office didn't want to be associated with violence or other things that wrestling could represent. In the end, we got it off the ground, though."
Despite the choreographed violence in the ring, Blanton said the entire experience has been an incredibly educational experience for her and the rest of the FBLA members. She said, compared to many schools in the region, Manchester Valley's club is particularly small — they currently have about two dozen students, while other schools she's seen have upward of 200. Despite their small size, they were responsible for every aspect of getting the event off the ground.
"The adults are only allowed to guide us. We have to figure out how to do it all ourselves," Blanton said. "We had to look up where to advertise, who to advertise to. We had kids in the accounting classes look over the money and fundraising parts of it as well. It's a lot of work. I don't think we realized how hard it would be."