NEWS

The Strange and Dangerous World of Independent Wrestling in Florida

And don’t you dare call it fake

WHAT ARE YOU CALLING FAKE? "Everything we do is predicated on reality," says USWA heavyweight champ Jon Davis, who hails from the Westside 
Posted

Sun., Jan. 12, 8 p.m.

Edge Concert Hall, 845 University Blvd. N., 
$15/$30 ($20/$35 day of show), 
$40 (VIP, $45 day of show)

Fri., Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Snyder Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd., 
general admission: $10/$5 (kids under 12); 
ringside: $15/$10 (kids under 12)

Sun., Jan. 12, 8 p.m.

Jon Davis' finishing maneuver is called Three Seconds Around the World. It begins as an Argentine backbreaker — him standing with his opponent sprawled face-up across his shoulders, kind of like a classic fireman's carry. And then he spins, dervish-like, seemingly endlessly, disorienting his foe while building centrifugal force, which he channels through his arms, lifting the other guy up into the air, using the momentum to turn him around in mid-air — and then he drops him, seven to eight feet straight down on his head and upper back, while using his own weight to drag him downward even harder.

No one kicks out of Jon Davis' finisher — not even "the Kentucky Gentleman" himself, the great Chuck Taylor. Their match at EVOLVE 21 in June was one of the year's best, and helped put Jacksonville back on the map as a pro-wrestling town. (Several hundred people attended; thousands more bought the DVD or watched it online.) The two men battled throughout the former Plush Entertainment Complex for 18 minutes, with no count-outs or disqualifications, until the bitter end, when Taylor took Davis' finisher onto a pile of steel folding chairs, and that was that. Visually stunning, physically impressive, technically difficult and dangerous even for trained professionals. Do not, as they say, try this at home.

Davis, who hails from the Westside, is a monster of a man: 34 years old, 6 feet tall, 272 pounds. He wasn't always that big, of course. Twenty years ago, Davis was just another skinny teenager at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a hub for wrestling activity in Northeast Florida dating back to the 1960s, watching the Manichean battle between the heroic and thickly muscular "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith — his favorite wrestler — and the villainous "Ravishing" Rick Rude. A few months before that iconic match, on Aug. 29, 1992, Davey Boy had faced down Bret "The Hitman" Hart in London's Wembley Stadium. "Right after the match," Davis says, "I told my friend Josh, ‘I'm gonna be a pro-wrestler,' and his mom immediately said, ‘You'll never be big enough.' "

She was wrong. Eleven years later, Davis is a mainstay of the indie wrestling circuit, and strong enough to hit his finisher even on men much larger than he is."Jon is an incredible talent who constantly grows as a performer," says EVOLVE chief operating officer Sam Hamaoui. "He should be in the WWE sooner rather than later."

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