Graphic designer by day, Bellevue native Justin Nottke spends his free time pursuing his dream as a professional wrestler.
For nearly a decade, the 2004 Bellevue High School graduate has honed his craft taking part in matches throughout the Midwest. Now living in Chicago and performing as a turn-of-the-19th century vintage bare-knuckled character, Nottke is planning a special homecoming event called An Extravaganza of Wrestling Exhibition, taking place Sept. 29 at the Huron County Fairgrounds.
The lineup includes burly roughnecks, mustachioed pugilists, dastardly masterminds, brash southerners, lady wrestlers, tactical shooters, masked luchadores, circus acrobats, and English gentlemen. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. That’s why Funcoast.com talked to Nottke for a better understanding of this oddball affair.
So in a nutshell, you’re bringing your wacky wrestling friends back to the area where you grew up?
Basically, yes. I’m bringing home my wacky wrestling friends from all over to Ohio.
What’s the concept behind the Extravaganza of Wrestling Exhibition?
I’ve wrestled all over the Midwest. It just seems like a lot of the shows are run-of-the-mill. If you go to one you’ve pretty much seen them all. There’s some really great talent but it’s all the same kind of format. In the past year, I kind of changed my character to a vintage bare-knuckled fighter. I always had the idea to run my own show. I’ve always been just on the talent side. I never really promoted my own show and I kind of got the itch to try it once. My girlfriend suggested doing a throwback event. People love nostalgia and gimmicks. So I decided, why don’t we try to do a show where all the characters are like re-enactors from the turn of the 20th century?
Has there ever been an event like the Extravaganza of Wrestling Exhibition?
As far as I know, I’m pretty in tune with what’s going on as far as wrestling is concerned, I’ve never seen anything like it. The closest thing is in Detroit they’ll do kind of a circus-themed show where they’ll have sideshow wrestling.
So far, what kind of excitement is there for Extravaganza of Wrestling Exhibition?
It’s been a really good reception. We have a good amount of sponsors and supporters for this show. But wrestling attendance is always kind of up in the air. Because we’re doing something different, we’d like to get a few hundred people in there but we’re in a barn in the fairgrounds. Hopefully we’ll attract 200 to 300 people.
For the professional wrestling fan out there, what’s the appeal of Extravaganza of Wrestling Exhibition?
A lot of the guys on this show have either appeared on WWE or certain spot shows or are prime talent on the independent scene. A lot of guys travel all over for shows. So this is an amazing group of talented wrestlers but at the same time they are amazing characters. What we’re doing is trying to take it as far back as we can. Still, there will be a lot of action relatable to this time period and it’ll be very entertaining for fans.
Extravaganza of Wrestling Exhibition takes place at 3 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Huron County Fairgrounds’ Pickworth Building in Norwalk. Tickets are $10 per person.