• 48°

Ring dreams

Editor&39;s note: This article ran on Friday, April 4.Sitting on a bench that once was used as a church pew, with a backdrop of a wrestling ring, Ken Dotson and Adam Jackson talked about the sport they&squo;ve loved since childhood.

But most fans who sit in those seats on Saturday nights don&squo;t know Dotson and Jackson by those names. At American Pro Wrestling (APW) on Highway 221 in Spartanburg, those fans know Dotson and Jackson as &dquo;Jaxon&dquo; and &dquo;Loaded Gunz Ken Magnum.&dquo;

Both wrestlers graduated from Polk County High School and currently live in Sunny View. They will be wrestling in front of friends and family Saturday night at a fundraiser for the Polk County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The event begins with an autograph session at 5:30 p.m. featuring Ole Anderson and Ivan Koloff.

Discovering the dream

The journey began for both wrestlers early in life as they developed their love for wrestling when they were children.

In fact, Jackson&squo;s first big memory of wrestling came in 1990 with Wrestlemania VI. Two wrestlers from that event in Toronto, Canada will be on the bill on Saturday night. Demolition Ax and the Barbarian will be a tag team and both wrestled in Wrestlemania VI.

The two friends (unless they&squo;re inside the ring) really got into wrestling in high school.

In 1997 and 1999, Jackson and Dotson put on a wrestling match in the Polk County High School talent shows. In 1997, Dotson beat Jackson in front of the high school crowd. In 1999, Dotson won again, but this time it was a four-way match.

Even then they were just playing around. And then four years ago, the duo took their first steps toward living their dreams.

Realizing the dream

Jackson and Dotson began learning how to wrestle under the tutelage of American Pro Wrestling, owned by Jerry Bragg, whose ring personality is Chief Jay Eagle.

It was here in the &dquo;American Coliseum&dquo; that they honed their skills and began to work the Saturday night crowds.

Both were very &dquo;green&dquo; when they first walked through the doors, Bragg said.

But, he said, they both worked hard at their craft and are some of the top wrestlers in his promotion, which is comprised of more than 100 wrestlers.

Dotson, in fact, is the APW World Heavyweight Champion.

&dquo;He&squo;s got the look,&dquo; Bragg said. &dquo;He&squo;s got the body and the charisma. He&squo;s got natural microphone ability. He&squo;s got it all.&dquo;

Loaded Gunz comes out to the Nonpoint track &dquo;Bullet With a Name.&dquo;

In the ring, he&squo;s sure to finish you with his move, &dquo;the Ricochet.&dquo; It&squo;s a version of the &dquo;RKO&dquo; used by Randy Orton or the &dquo;Diamond Cutter&dquo; used by Diamond Dallas Page.

But he also might finish you off with the microphone as he rattles out his favorite line, &dquo;You should never play Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.&dquo;

And character development is important, Dotson said, as he tries to keep his character fresh and relevant all the time.

&dquo;One of the hardest parts is character development because the saying is now that there&squo;s nothing original in wrestling,&dquo; he said. &dquo;Just trying to keep your character personal to you is important.&dquo;

For Jackson, it&squo;s all about the air. While his favorite wrestlers in the past have been old schoolers like Terry Funk and Jake &dquo;the Snake&dquo; Roberts, Jaxon tends to relish moves that are more like The Hardy Boys, who learned the trade with Bragg.

&dquo;I like to come off the ropes,&dquo; Jackson said. &dquo;That&squo;s part of the excitement.&dquo;

His finisher is generally a neckbreaker or a flying headbutt, but the &dquo;Ram Man,&dquo; which is a variation of the
spear, is gaining support with colleagues.

While the moves and the flying around the ring is fun, the pair have grown just as accustomed to the crowds.

APW is a family event, Bragg said, and he&squo;s got a loyal crowd that files in every Saturday night to keep up with the story lines and their favorite wrestlers.

And that&squo;s what it&squo;s all about for Jackson and Dotson, they said.

&dquo;Being in front of the fans,&dquo; Dotson said. &dquo;It&squo;s an adrenaline rush.&dquo;

That adrenaline is a huge part of it, Jackson said. The adrenaline grabs hold of you and sucks you in, he said.

&dquo;You get hooked on it,&dquo; Jackson said. What&squo;s next?

APW has been a training ground for professional wrestling for years. Promotions like Bragg&squo;s are where wrestlers get their starts.

Bragg has put a few big names into professional wrestling in 30 years or more in the sport. The biggest names have been the Hardy Boys and the One Man Gang.

But is that what Jackson and Dotson are expecting?

&dquo;I&squo;m kind of just going with the flow,&dquo; Jackson said.

When Dotson first started, he wanted to take it somewhere, he said. He wanted to be discovered. But now he has a wife and a child and he&squo;s just taking it one day at a time, doing what he loves, he said.

&dquo;My goal is to just keep doing it, keep enjoying myself and to have fun,&dquo; Dotson said.

As for Saturday night, the duo&squo;s giving fans no clues as to what the outcome will be.

The two will be wrestling on a card that includes Demolition Ax, the Barbarian and an autograph session with wrestling greats Ole Anderson and Ivan Koloff.

But as for who&squo;s good and who&squo;s bad and who will win, you&squo;ve got to be at the show to find out, Dotson said. The finisher

From two kids who grew up loving wrestling and who discovered their friendship and love for the same sport while attending the same church, Dotson and Jackson are living their dream.

They can say that they did this, Jackson said.

&dquo;You grow up watching it, but when you get involved in it, it&squo;s in your heart,&dquo; Dotson said.

They&squo;ll both be living out their dreams on Saturday night when they come to the ring in front of a hometown crowd.

That&squo;s what makes it all so sweet, they both agreed.

&dquo;We were seniors in high school telling people we were going to wrestle,&dquo; Jackson said.

They live that dream over and over, Dotson said.

&dquo;So every Saturday night when I&squo;m standing in the curtain room and my music&squo;s playing, with the crowd out there ready to kill me, it&squo;s my dream,&dquo; he said.