The fast-paced world of local wrestling might seem like a crazy one, but its coming return offers DJ Stewart a much-needed sense of normalcy.
“It gives me something to be really excited to work on,” said Stewart, owner of Journey Pro KC, announcing the return of the Kansas City wrestling company’s live shows, which found themselves down for the count amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Events are expected to return July 30 — some 78 weeks after the final bell and with a new, all-ages venue (the result of a partnership between Journey Pro and Kansas City-brewed Blip Roasters).
“I’ve been riding motorcycles in Kansas City for the last six years or so. I started going to Blip and met Ian [Davis, founder] at their very first location in the [West Bottoms] and just really loved the vibe,” Stewart recalled.
“… I’ve been going up there every Sunday for years now and I’ve always made the joke to Ian, who has become a friend of mine, ‘One day I’m going to put a wrestling ring in this place, man.’
“One day my business partner Walter [Fulbright, managing partner] met me up there and fell in love with the space, so I walked inside and we started a real conversation.”
The rest is (soon-to-be) history, Stewart continued, noting the space is set to host new and fan-favorite local wrestlers in matchups that include Seishin versus Kayla Kassidy; JJ Garrett versus Cole Radrick; Graham Bell versus Jeremy Wyatt versus 1 Called Manders; and Kenny Alfonso versus Devin Thomas.
Tickets for the return event sold out in 85 minutes, Stewart said, noting Journey Pro has a total of 10 events lined up for the season.
Click here to view a full list of coming Journey Pro matches or to learn more about its lineup of Kansas City-born wrestlers and worldwide recruits.
Additional changes to the Journey Pro experience are expected to include the addition of live, local music, new food and drink options, the addition of local media personally Hartzell as a ringside commentator, and the ability for fans to tune in from home via Twitch, Stewart said.
“Everyone [at Blip] has been so amazing and I truly feel it is one of the coolest places in all of Kansas City. It’s totally a dream come true to combine two things that I love so much,” he said. “Pro wrestling in Kansas City is alive and well and we plan on making it the best that it can possibly be. All-inclusive, all entertainment, all out fun.”
Click here to read more about the beginnings of Journey Pro Wrestling and its commitment to creating an environment that elevates and celebrates LGBTQIA2S+ athletes and athletes of color.
The return of Journey Pro events also coincides with strides in Stewarts long-fought battle against brain cancer, he noted.
“I am off of chemo now. I am no longer wearing [a] device on my head. [Everything] falling in line around the same time that Journey returns has been an absolute blessing,” he said.
“Both things for me kind of feed off of each other. I use the positivity from Journey to fight my health battle and I use my health battle as motivation to make Journey amazing every way I can. … What we do [is] something really cool and really special and I’m really, really proud of it.”