By Moses Leos III
It’s hard to imagine anyone attempting to bully 6-foot, 4-inch, 300-pound professional wrestler Jax “Godzilla” Dane.
His ability to deliver clothesline punches and leap off of turnbuckles is enough of a deterrent to make the most coal-hearted bully think twice.
But as a child, the wrestling veteran admits he was once bullied. For Dane and many of his wrestling counterparts with Pro Wrestling Texas, using their platform to promote their anti-bullying campaign during events held at Pinballz Kingdom in Buda is imperative.
“It’s telling kids, ‘Hey, I understand what you’re going through. It’s not going to be the end of the world,” Dane said. “Let’s come up with a way to fight this battle together, and let (kids) know they have someone in their corner.”
The origins of the wrestling group, formerly known as NWA Branded Outlaw Wrestling, began in San Antonio.
Ohio native and wrestler Ray Rowe said the organization has relied “heavily” on their anti-bullying, anti-drug campaign.
But it was through the work of Dane and David Schultz, owner of the wrestling company, that the two worked to bring the company to the Hays County area. The two met with the owners of Pinballz Kingdom and worked a deal to hold monthly wrestling matches.
“We loved the community. It all spiraled together, a perfect storm that happened,” Rowe said. “We looked at places in South Austin, Buda and Kyle. That was our demographic.”
The wrestling company held its first event in Buda in September. It’s since been committed to its campaign, which also extends to the events themselves.
Restrictions on using foul language is a common announcement made to fans during matches.
It’s due in part, according to Dane, to the “negative stigma” people associate with professional wrestling. He said professional wrestling holds violence, blood and other elements that “you or your family don’t want to be a part of.”
Rowe, who said he has dedicated his life to professional wrestling, said the sport is an “art form that transcends one genre or one medium.” He added that wrestling could be “so many things based on what the target is.”
“That’s not what we’re doing here. Here, we’re family friendly, no-foul language, no excessive, no over-sexuality,” Dane said. “It’s a family friendly, less-than-PG-13 environment where people can come and have a great night of family entertainment.”
The importance of their campaign, according to Dane, is to raise awareness of the changing shape and form of bullying.
With the advent of social media, Dane said cyber bullying has become a more prevalent issue in schools. While the social media can be a tool, Dane said it could be a “vicious thing.”
“Bullying is different when I was a kid … or when parents were kids because there wasn’t anything like social media,” he said. “There is no face-to-face (interaction). It’s more rampant now because it doesn’t have to take place face-to-face like when we were kids.”
Pro Wrestling Texas has also worked within the community, including reaching out to youth groups and sports teams in the area.
As their cause centers on anti-bulling, the wrestlers are not shy in displaying their physical talents in the ring.
Rowe said all participants of Pro Wrestling Texas have gone through at least one to three years of rigorous training. He added everyone in the business is considered a professional athlete.
Dane, who said he never suffered an injury while playing collegiate basketball, said the physical aspect of wrestling is brutal, and that he’s ruptured a plantar fascia and dislocated a shoulder.
“This is definitely a ‘don’t try this at home’ type thing,” Rowe said. “Or don’t do this without serious professional training.
But both say the reaction to not only the wrestling, but also their messages, has been positive. Crowds attending the event have steadily grown. Dane said the organization hopes to draw up to 1,500 patrons to its events in Buda in the future.
“Like a lot of things, you start planting seeds. You know it takes a little time to get things rolling,” Rowe said. “We’re at the crest of the wave. We’re seeing the ground-swell of support.”