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Elk County has been a land of firsts for Nick Mirra.
Mirra debuted in 2009 and won his first match here, then won the CWF (Championship Wrestling Federation) Allegheny Mountains Championship last year in the area.
Now, he defends that title for the first time Saturday as he is scheduled to face âHot Stuffâ Chris Marx at the Ridgway Rumble put on by CWF as a benefit for the Bodien family. The show is slated to start at 7 p.m. at the Central Hose Company along North Broad Street in Ridgway.
âTo be going back on Saturday, I will say that I have been going crazy for about a year pitching to go back up there,â Mirra said. âBeing the reigning Allegheny Mountains champion has been tough. When youâre a champion, you think of defending your title, you think of successfully winning the title and you think about representing the area as its champion. Itâs been really tough not having that. This Saturday, I finally get to fall back into that role. I finally get to be the Allegheny Mountains heavyweight champion. It is incredibly exciting and I honestly have been waiting for this day all my life. Iâve never been a champion before, this is the first title Iâve ever won and it all comes up to this Saturday. Weâll see what kind of champion I am.â
Mirra won the title over Marx at March Madness 2010 held at the Johnsonburg Fire Hall. In 2009, Mirra won his first match over a wrestler called âThe Masked Express.â
âThose memories from last year, I think those started when I debuted in CWF as Nick Mirra,â Mirra said. âI want to make it clear that CWF is my home promotion. This is where I made my start, the promotion that gave me opportunities to build confidence. I busted my tail.
âMaking my debut in the area was extremely sentimental to me,â Mirra said. âYou donât wrestle your first match twice. It was a big crowd, I think the fans really got a good reaction from me. They really liked the positive energy that I brought into the arena.â
Mirra had also wrestled and defeated âReal Dealâ Ian Jordan along with Zubov, who Mirra called an âindy legend.â After his win for the title, Mirra was surrounded by area youth who wanted to be a part of Mirraâs special moment.
âWhen the ref handed me the title, it was one of those things where I melted,â Mirra said. âThe debut doesnât happen twice, winning your first title doesnât happen twice. Basically, put the meaning of both together and thatâs what came out. One little kid jumped in the ring and the rest followed. It was one of the most rewarding moments, one of the greatest moments of my life in everything, not just wrestling.â
Mirra wasnât the only one who felt that championship win was extraordinary.
âIn the finals when Nick Mirra pinned Chris Marx, it was magical,â Bill âPowerhouseâ Hughes said. âYou saw how the kids, they just flocked to the ring. It was just one of those surreal moments where all the kids were in the ring celebrating with Nick. That wasnât planned, it just happened. The kids love Nick up there, heâs very popular up there. Iâm sure heâs going to have some support come Saturday.â
Hughes sees the potential from the young wrestler.
âWhen he picks up more of the nuances of the wrestling business, heâs going to really turn a lot of heads,â Hughes said. âNickâs a big part of what weâre doing currently and heâs going to be a big part of our future. That night last year when he won that tournament, the Allegheny Mountains Tournament, defeating three wrestlers, that helped put him on the map.â
Uncertainty was prevalent with Mirra when he made his debut two years ago.
âMy first match was against The Masked Express, who was a former tag team champion,â Mirra said. âI remember standing backstage after I watched him go out. I was nervous. To me, I was putting myself into a zone. I didnât know how the fans would react to me. I didnât know if theyâd laugh at me, think I was a joke. When the music hit and I went through the curtain and it became crunch time, I said to myself, âItâs now or never, Nick. You got to really go out there and show these people that you belong here.ââ
Mirra steps into the wrestling ring with wrestlers who are usually bigger than him. A majority of the wrestlers are listed on CWFâs website as weighing more than 230 pounds. Mirra said he was 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 160 pounds entering his debut match.
âAll my life, people have told me that I was too small to do anything,â Mirra said. âI really didnât have too much going for me other than probably the biggest heart in independent wrestling. When I want something, I want it. I take nothing away from The Masked Express, a veteran when it comes to CWF wrestling. I hooked his leg after a move that I came up with. It was really nice, it was a good confidence boost.â
Mirra said he spends time working on his agility and quickness to counteract the size of his fellow wrestlers in the ring.
Mirra said he expected to face Marx Saturday and knows Marx is a tough opponent. He expects fans to be in for a treat.
âThe show on Saturday is huge,â Mirra said. âIâve been waiting for over a year for this night. When bell-time hits, everyone in that building can count on Nick Mirra being backstage just waiting for his moment. Itâs an emotional roller coaster for me there. I donât expect anything to change.â