Wrestlemania hits the mat in Oak Harbor
July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:36 PM
"Oak Harbor High School graduate Todd Baumgarter has found his calling in life.He dresses like a Chippendale stripper, does a little dance, picks fights with a crowd of onlookers and then wrestles around on a mat with other oversized men.He's a professional wrestler.Baumgarter, who now goes by the name Skag Rollins, got the chance to work in his hometown last Friday night when Extreme Championship Canadian Wrestling rolled into town.A crowd of about 30 at the Elks Club sat in folding chairs surrounding the elevated ring. There were a few families with pre-teen boys, a group of teenagers, some lone men and several grandmothers.Sue Zeilstra and Sherri Deckwa fall into the latter category. Deckwa admits she came to the match for one simple reason: I like the hard bodies.My grandson got me into it, said Zeilstra. The men have to be in really good shape to be that athletic. It's just plain fascinating.Steve Jacobs brought his son, Kyle, to the match to share his own love of the pseudo-sport.I've been a wrestling fan since I was a kid, he said. Back then it was Jimmy Superfly Snooka and Chief Jay Strongbow.But Friday night, it was newcomers in the ring, with the likes of Skag Rollins, Lumberjack Bubba, Buffy and Bam Bam Bambi, Brian Bedlam, Jason the Terrible, Dr. Luther and Average Joe.The wrestlers were able to bring out the worst in the crowd with ease. Buffy, a young woman dressed as a cheerleader, baited her older competitor Bambi by saying, Come on granny. The audience quickly joined in and started blasting her with insults.Few cheered when the spandex-clad, chubby Bambi defeated Buffy.Skag Rollins, a 330-pound master of irony, strutted out to the song Hot Stuff and immediately starting insulting the audience.All Oak Harbor has is a bunch of ugly, fat, disgusting human beings, he said. There's nothing Skag Rollins hates more than fat people.I call women switches because I can turn them on and get them off, he added.But after a lengthy match with Lumberjack Bubba, including a lot of fighting outside the ring in the crowd, Skag was defeated and lay in mock unconsciousness on the mat.This is what I want to do with my life, Baumgarter said in an interview after he was revived with ice.He says he got the idea to become a pro wrestler after he went to a match in Burlington. When the wrestler Michelle Star grabbed him by the shirt and insulted him, he instantly knew what he wanted to be.Baumgarter trained to become a wrestler last summer at the ECCW House of Pain in Canada, sort of a college for pro wrestlers. After learning to do gorilla presses, pile drives, power bombs and other moves without killing anyone, he's on the road with a troupe of wrestlers who travel all over the state and British Columbia to perform.Baumgarter admits that this type of wrestling is in no way a sport, but is a type of choreographed entertainment. The personalities are an important part of the show, which is why each wrestler plays a character. Engaging the audience is essential, he says, even if it means making them hate you.Baumgarter's Skag is a Chris Farley-like stripper playboy. There's also Jason the Terrible, who is an obvious take off of the hockey-mask-wearing killer from the Friday the 13th horror movies. Like the movie character, he doesn't say a word. But inexplicably, he fights with a series of roundhouse kicks instead of a knife.Brian Bedlam wears face paint to look mean. Dr. Luther is some sort of obscene head-banger. Average Joe is, well, average. Right now, Baumgarter said the job of being Skag Rollins doesn't pay much. In fact, with the poor attendance at the Oak Harbor event, he said they were basically working for free. But he hopes to work his way up in the wrestling world and someday to join the bigtime World Wrestling Federation.For now, there's always the fame.I was shopping in Burlington and a guy recognized me, Baumgarter said. He said, 'Aren't you that wrestler guy?' I couldn't believe it.You can reach staff reporter Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 675-6611. "