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Pro wrestling fundraiser honors fallen teen, benefits Mt. Washington Rec Center

 

Last updated 11/23/2022 at 9:43am

Tim Steiner

Shawn Blanchard has Justin Sane in a submission move and tries to distract referee Mark Charles III.

"Tanner would have loved this," said John Macellaro Saturday Night at the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) fundraiser to benefit the Mt. Washington Recreation Center. The event was held in memory of Tanner Morton, a 16-year-old who was shot and killed while walking near Mt. Washington Park in 2020. Morton spent a lot of time at the recreation center, and Macellaro thought that entertaining his friends and others would be a positive memorial.

Fans packed the gymnasium for seven matches that ranged from high-flyers to brawlers and everything in between. And they cheered and booed, bought 50/50 and raffle tickets throughout the night.

For many years, Mt. Washington and Mt. Oliver were areas that frequently presented professional wrestling fundraisers on church properties and gyms. This event was the first for the KSWA in its 22 years as the city's official independent organization.

It was a homecoming of sorts for wrestler Shawn Blanchard. He wrestled in Mt. Oliver at the old VFW there nearly 25 years ago and his grandmother lived in the borough. He wrestled long-time foe Justin Sane, and came away with the victory in an entertaining match.

Wrestlers from "The Regent" Joshua Kavod and "The Devil's Favorite Disciple" Sin Born took to the mat, as did the 400-plus pound Man-Child. Another unique behemoth, the Beastman, left the ring, walked to the concession stand, grabbed a slice of pizza, and ate it in the ring as he battled "The Mind Eraser" Remy Levay.

The KSWA holds dozens of events in and around Pittsburgh, and many of them are fundraisers like this one for the recreation center. Macellaro didn't charge children to enter the venue. "It's not about the money, it's about having fun," he told the crowd.

The evening was also a fun night for Tony Lutz. A now-retired independent wrestler, "Mad Dog" Lutz spent many days grappling in matches in Mt. Washington and other South Pittsburgh venues. He was recognized from the ring, as was "Irish" Red Walsh, another athlete who lives in the Mt. Washington area.

City Councilwoman Theresa Kail Smith, who also attends matches when the KSWA performs at the American Legion in Sheraden, was on hand to watch the festivities.

The Mt. Washington event was devised when Macellaro saw a similar event some time ago in Sheraden. He wanted to bring something family-friendly to his non-profit. He spoke with KSWA management and the date was set.

Families of all ages filled the seats. Included were a group of residents of Citizen Care, an independent living facility in Coraopolis. That group of fans, sometimes a dozen or more, frequent the wrestling shows throughout the city. Children and their parents, as well as some fans who talk about Bruno Sammartino with unparalleled esteem all took in the event.

The main event of the evening was a showdown between current Golden Triangle Champion, Yinza, "the Pittsburgh Luchadore" versus "The Professional" Harley T. Morris, a bleached blond bad guy in the vein of Gorgeous George. The fans boo Morris with gusto and cheer the masked Luchadore who approaches the ring as "The Pennsylvania Polka" blares out of speakers.

It was all in good fun, and Morris was pinned to the delight of the crowd.

Macellaro wasn't sure about how much the fundraiser took in, but he is already talking to the group about a follow-up show next year.

 

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