Jan. 19, 2022 -- Saturday, at historic McArthur Court in Eugene, professional wrestling returns to the Willamette Valley, for the first time since before the pandemic began, when POW! Pro Wrestling hosts “Back from Beyond.” The event is the brainchild of Florence resident Mister Ooh-La-La — that’s his legal name. I saw his Oregon driver’s license — who is the founder, creator, promoter and most importantly, impresario of POW! Professional Wrestling, an independent wrestling promotion out of Eugene.
While most people know names such as Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin or country-wide promotions like the WWE, communities all over the country have smaller independent wrestling promotions that stage bouts in high school gyms, rec centers and armories. Oregon has a long and storied tradition with the sport and has been known as the “island” of independent professional wrestling, since most promotions are found in the South or Midwest.
Thanks to Ooh-La-La, the tradition continues in the Willamette Valley.
While most people don’t have any idea when the inspiration for their life’s passion struck, Ooh-La-La is the exception. On Dec. 26, 1987, Ooh-La-La saw an episode of WWF Superstars. That episode featured Tongan tag team “The Islanders” pilfering the beloved bulldog Matilda from “The British Bulldogs.” Something that night caught his attention.
Ooh-La-La started paying closer attention to pro wrestling. The way the roles you see in everyday life were turned upside down appealed to Ooh-La-La. Like when George “The Animal” Steele faced Randy “Macho Man” Savage. The big hairy monster (Steele) was the good guy and the guy with the pretty girl and sequins on his shiny outfit (Savage) was the bad guy, a bad guy that was using a beautiful woman as a human shield. It was like nothing he had ever seen … and Ooh-La-La loved it.
So began a lifelong love affair with professional wrestling.
Ooh-La-La spent his high school days filling notebooks with the detailed plans for wrestling matches he had imagined in his mind. When teachers thought he was doing homework, he was most likely deciding the order for each individual wrestler's entrance to his own private royal rumble.
First, with an appearance on “The Jerry Springer Show” (youtu.be/IFCM3lvOiX8), then regular appearances on “The Donkey Show,” a now defunct Eugene-based FM radio morning show, Ooh-La-La’s celebrity started to grow.
The obvious next step was to get into the wrestling game himself.
That day finally came when a friend from high school heard him on “The Donkey Show” and gave him a chance to work behind the scenes at a local promotion. He eventually worked his way into the creative process and ended up spending 10 months co-hosting a show called “Portland Wrestling Uncut.” In what would be any wrestling fan’s dream job, Ooh-La-La worked with all-time great wrestlers Rowdy Roddy Piper and The Grappler. After these experiences he was ready to start his own promotion.
Independent wrestling is in a renascence thanks to social media. Anyone can share highlights from a match, pushing the sport to a higher level of popularity than it’s seen in years. Ooh-La-La decided to strike while the iron was hot. He bought a ring, came up with branding, and started scheduling his own shows. His creation would be called POW! Pro Wrestling.
Things were going well for POW! before COVID hit. On March 8, 2020, Ooh-La-La hosted what he believes was the last Oregon wrestling show before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down.
Finally, after nearly two years, professional wrestling is back in the Willamette Valley.
POW! Professional Wrestling returns with “Back from Beyond and into The Pit” at the historic McArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus.
Fans can expect multiple matches and tons of excitement. Some highlights of what they can look forward to:
Fans will see these matches and many more Saturday at historic McArthur Court, 1601 University St., Eugene. Doors open at 7 p.m. and a full bar and food will be available. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at www.eventbrite.com/e/pow-pro-wrestling-presents-back-from-beyond-tickets-210069853587.
COVID policy: per University of Oregon regulations, everyone over the age of five in attendance must present either a valid vaccination card or COVID test with a negative result three or less days before the event. Masks will also be required for anyone over 2 years of age.
For more details, visit powprowrestling.com and www.facebook.com/powprowrestling.