Tomorrow’s wrestling stars in El Paso today

El+Tiburon+and+El+Ilegal+shake+hands+before+their+match.
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Tomorrow’s wrestling stars in El Paso today

El Tiburon and El Ilegal shake hands before their match.

El Tiburon and El Ilegal shake hands before their match.

Jason Green

El Tiburon and El Ilegal shake hands before their match.

Jason Green

Jason Green

El Tiburon and El Ilegal shake hands before their match.

Jason Green, Staff Reporter

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Is it a sport? Is it entertainment? Whatever it is, it is a hit with the fans who come out to see Xtreme Cruces Wrestling. About 150 fans turned out for a recent event at a party hall on the east side of El Paso. The crowd was ecstatic. They were there to see their favorite local wrestling stars.

There is a strong history of professional wrestling in the El Paso-Juárez-Las Cruces area and the wrestling bug bit Andy Palafox at a very young age.

“Wrestling is something that I have wanted to do since I could remember,” said the muscular 28-year-old Palafox, who goes by the ring name of Awesome Andy. “My first memory of wrestling was WrestleMania 6 (in 1990) and in particular Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior. After seeing that I was hooked.”

Awesome Andy has performed all over the country and the world and has even been to the pinnacle of professional wrestling, World Wrestling Entertainment—the world’s largest sports-entertainment company.

“That was something that I thought would never happen,” Palafox said. “Not that I doubted myself, but just for the simple fact that WWE is the biggest wrestling company in the world.”

Palafox wrestled WWE Superstar Kofi Kingston on “WWE Superstars,” a weekly television show produced by WWE in 2012.

“I have also had numerous non-televised WWE tryout matches, where I competed against current WWE superstars before WWE TV tapings,” Palafox said. “I have traveled to South Korea, Japan, Mexico and the majority of the major cities in the U.S.”

Palafox has been wrestling in XCW since the organization’s inception in 2007 in Las Cruces. After adding a championship belt, tag team belts were soon added. Now the organization does shows monthly in El Paso with a running storyline, much like the ones seen on television with WWE.

Palafox is one of the biggest draws on the independent professional wrestling circuit in the United States. Robert Martinez, part of the XCW creative team, has nothing but the utmost respect for Awesome Andy.

“Andy is one of the hardest working guys on the independent scene,” Martinez said. “There are three things, in my opinion, that make this man a true professional—he’s hard-working, dedicated and humble.”

On Sunday, May 3, Awesome Andy and other local professional wrestlers will be in El Paso for an XCW show at Barnett Harley-Davidson as part of Sun City Bike Fest IV. The show will begin at 11 a.m.

In the current storyline, Martinez, formerly the ring announcer for XCW, leads the faction known as The Devil’s Rejects. Made up of XCW champion Aydan Colt and tag-team champions The Deans of Chaos, the team is constantly trying to tarnish and deface the company.

“This isn’t your abuelo’s taco stand Lucha Libre. You’ve got three stars that have been overlooked for a long time. All it took was for one genius—that’s me—to recognize that these men are money,” Martinez said without breaking character from his sunglass-wearing, arrogant XCW persona. “It’s lonely at the top, but the Devil’s Rejects like it that way.”

When it comes down to the sports or entertainment question, Palafox understands that the mystery around professional wrestling has been diminished by television shows and movies such as the 2008 critically acclaimed film “The Wrestler.”

In simplest terms, professional wrestling is entertainment performed by incredibly gifted athletes.

“The sad part is that the movie is about 90 percent true. The old guy in the back that doesn’t want to give it up is something we see a lot,” Palafox said. “Wrestling is a natural drug, so it’s hard to kick the habit.”

The wrestlers in this weekend’s show may be sore or injured, but they are far from the washed-up wrestler played by actor Mickey Rourke.

Local wrestlers such as Palafox, Danny Gee, Dom Vitalli, Gabriel Gallo, LuchaStar, Ryan Dean, Super Chaos and Aydan Colt are up-and-coming young stars who are still working hard to make it to even bigger and better pay days.

Just recently, local wrestler Oscar Vasquez, who goes by the ring name Magno, signed a contract with WWE. He will be appearing on the WWE NXT television show with the ultimate goal of appearing full-time at WWE events around the world.

Magno has wrestled numerous times for XCW. Palafox already thinks he may know the next wrestler to follow in his footsteps.

“Even though he is a villain, keep an eye out for the XCW Champion Aydan Colt. He is a natural in the ring and he is going to have a long successful career,” Palafox said.

If you are looking for entertainment this weekend—and possibly a chance to see future WWE superstars in person—Barnett Harley-Davidson is the place to be on Sunday.

“There is not many times you can watch live entertainment for $10,” Palafox said. “This weekend’s show will have a mix of high flyers, heavyweights, heroes and villains–so it’s something for everyone.”

Jason Green may be reached at [email protected]