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A-Town beat down

Platinum Championship Wrestling stages a theater of the scars

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With his own money and reputation — as well as some of those on PCW's roster — on the line, Platinum hopes for more than moderate success without looking like a second-rate WWE.

"I don't think we compete [with WWE], not in a meaningful sense," he says. "They are the juggernaut of the industry, but I really don't factor in any other wrestling group when figuring out stuff for PCW."

Local wrestling's next chapter

Tragedy and triumph. Power and glory. These are the building blocks on which pro wrestling was originally erected. A big part of that foundation was established right here in Georgia. Many of the industry's legends, including Jake "The Snake" Roberts, the Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Ric Flair, were part of Georgia Championship Wrestling in the '70s and '80s. Through a complicated series of political and business moves — as well as an alphabet soup of acronyms — GCW evolved into the Ted Turner-owned World Championship Wrestling. During the '90s, WCW rose to challenge WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation) in a national prime-time ratings battle known as the Monday Night Wars. The groups also competed for live event attendance and merchandising revenue.

When WWE purchased WCW in 2001, the national wrestling landscape changed dramatically and fans were left with essentially one outlet. Though PCW's presence is not the threat to WWE that WCW once was, the two are definitely vying for the attention of local fans as of late.

Platinum hopes to woo more and more WWE fans by sticking to the historical model of "wild and woolly" shows that emphasize "the emotional and the personal."

"The history of wrestling in Georgia is an integral part of the wrestling business in general," says Platinum. "The stripped-down, simple feel to the shows helps stick to a style that an older Georgia wrestling fan would feel comfortable with."

Having recently graduated from one to two weekly shows (Platinum began hosting bouts at the Jungle in June), PCW, which began as the Platinum Wrestling Alliance in 2001, has become one of the country's most active indie wrestling organizations.

While WWE was at Philips Arena for its blockbuster Smackdown event July 6, PCW was putting on one of its most over-the-top shows to date, which concluded with a clash between the Violent Majority, the Konkrete Gorillaz, Shane Marx, Sermon and McClendon that caused the locker room to empty, and left Holmes bleeding after having a bottle smashed over his head. While WWE's Philips Arena show drew upward of 10,000 fans, the crowd at PCW's early July match drew a crowd of about 80 — large by PCW standards.

It's unlikely WWE is even aware of PCW's existence. But as WWE approaches its largest annual event, the April 2011 WrestleMania XXVII at the Georgia Dome, PCW is building toward its own big show: Sacred Ground: Chapter One at Kennesaw State University on Sept. 25.

For Platinum, it's the event that could put him on the map, or make PCW tap out if the event fails to attract the 5,000 fans he's hoping for — a far cry from the dozens that attend the weekly shows.

Confirmed to appear at Sacred Ground are some of the biggest names Platinum has ever worked with, including former and current, respectively, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling personalities Awesome Kong and Samoa Joe.

After hearing of Platinum's criticism of TNA, Samoa Joe issued an open challenge to PCW's wrestlers. Davey Richards and Roderick Strong from Philadelphia-based Ring of Honor, known for its less theatrical and highly athletic take on pro wrestling, are also scheduled to appear. And in perhaps the biggest announcement in recent indie wrestling history, there will be a title vs. title match between the champions from the National Wrestling Alliance — the country's oldest wrestling organization — and PCW. Rumor has it that another major indie promotion will throw its champion into the fray as well.

"This is definitely going to be a proving ground for PCW," says its current heavyweight champion "The Natural" Shane Marx, a working-class hero type whose appearance eschews the sleek and oiled bodybuilder image of more mainstream wrestlers. "Being PCW champion has been the biggest honor of my career. But the NWA title is one of the most prestigious in the business and I've been following its history since I was a kid."

With original entrance music and theme songs, video vignettes and recaps, character illustrations and in-ring training from respected wrestler Jay Fury, PCW is finally beginning to hew closer to WWE's style than the average indie federation in terms of production and entertainment value. And with a weekly TV show on People TV that will begin airing July 25, Platinum's goal to draw big pro-wrestling crowds — while maintaining his indie and artistic sensibilities — seems attainable.

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