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Former WWF/WWE wrestling star Hillbilly Jim (left) high-fives Truran Faull, 4, of La Salle before a Dreamwave Wrestling show Saturday night in La Salle’s Knights of Columbus hall. The local wrestling organization continues to draw large audiences for its monthly shows. NewsTribune photo/Matthew Baker
With pile-driving power and acrobatic agility the Dreamwave Wrestling crew continues to sell out shows in La Salle.
Legions of fans filled the Knights of Columbus hall in La Salle on Saturday for the second show of the 2013 season.
“This is our last show before our biggest event of the year,” Dreamwave founder Jay Repsel said referring to their “Anniversary IV” show in April.
When Dreamwave began they performed 11 shows in the first year. Since then Dreamwave has grown to include various performances at outdoor events and outside La Salle. Repsel said they expect to put on about 18 shows this year. He credits La Salle’s location at the nexus of interstates 80 and 39 for making it easily accessible for fans and wrestlers who travel from around the state and beyond to take part in the monthly shows, allowing for Dreamwave’s continuing success.
“This is a wrestling hub,” Repsel said.
Long before the show starts, fans begin filling the KC hall stairwell.
“When I was a kid that’s the way wrestling was,” said Jim Morris, better known as Hillbilly Jim, as he considered the crowds of local fans showing up to see the performance.
The Kentucky-bred professional wrestler first appeared in the WWF in the mid-1980s when Hulk Hogan quickly befriended him. He continued to wrestle and participate with the WWF and later WWE for many years.
It’s long been a regular part of Dreamwave shows to bring back former stars to meet local audiences and occasionally participate in shows.
“I never get tired of it,” Jim said. “I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I enjoy it as much as I used to.”
He said it remains a remarkable experience having people remember his wrestling exploits so many years later.
“If you can be remembered for anything in your life, that’s pretty amazing,” he said.
Jim currently hosts “Hillbilly Jim’s Moonshine Matinee” show on Sirius XM satellite radio’s Outlaw Country channel.
While bringing in well-known wrestling stars may not be as necessary in drawing a crowd as it once was for the local wrestling organization, Repsel said it remains an important part of the show.
“Our fans who come out every month ask for it,” he said.
Among those fans are Chris and Vicki Faull of La Salle, who arrived early Saturday night with their son Truran, 4, to meet Hillbilly Jim.
“We enjoy watching the wrestlers and it’s something we do as a family every month,” Vicki said.
Although Truran is too young to have seen Hillbilly Jim, or any of the other visiting stars, wrestle in his prime, his parents show him classic video clips and collect autographed photos that he can appreciate later.
“It’s a family thing,” Chris said. “A lot of the wrestlers do it all for the kids.” Repsel said he stresses with the wrestlers that the shows are supposed to be “PG” rated so that fans of all ages can enjoy them.
After four years of sustained popularity, Dreamwave Wrestling shows no sign of failing.
“It’s been surreal and it’s not going to end anytime soon,” Repsel said.