GREENFIELD — A local promoter wants to pack the house at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts on a monthly basis, but what he’s promoting may surprise regular patrons of the historic Greenfield theater.
Alex Bolton and his wife Kaetlyn run Frontier Elite Wrestling, which promotes the kind of shows made famous by professional wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage decades ago.
Wrestlers with ring-ready names like Luke Savage and Dalton Love took the ring on the Ricks stage on Sept. 23, when 55 fans came out to see the show.
Bolton has no doubt the crowds will grow considerably once word gets out that professional wrestling has come to town.
“I have goals that I want to sell the Ricks Centre out, and it has almost 400 seats. I want to sell it out continuously and eventually outgrow the theater,” said Bolton, who lived in Greenfield a few years before moving to Knightstown.
Bolton said wrestling fans will appreciate that he brings in some of the best pro wrestlers “from all over the country to put on the best show in central Indiana.”
The 28-year-old promoter fell in love with wrestling at an early age, when his grandma would take him and his siblings and cousins to pro wrestling bouts in Indianapolis.
“My grandma was a big wrestling fan and loved to take us when we were little,” he said.
Historians say wrestling is one of the oldest forms of combat sport, with its origins dating back 15,000 years.
Wrestling as a performing art came about in the 19th century through the rising popularity of strongman shows, which evolved into the form of amateur wrestling now practiced throughout the world.
Wrestling as a form of entertainment got a big boost in the mid-1980s, known as the second “Golden Age” of wrestling, when cable television made wrestlers like Hogan and Savage household names.
Bolton — who still gets as excited about wrestling as he did when he was a kid — got involved with Frontier Elite Wrestling last year through a wrestler known as Rampage, a longtime family friend.
Bolton now runs the company with his wife while Rampage manages bookings and talent relations.
The two men joined forces to rejuvenate the wrestling promotion company last October and held their first show at the Ricks in January 2023.
It was there that Bolton met Tony Seiler, who manages the Ricks theater.
When the theater was closed for several weeks over the summer for renovations, including the installation of all new seats, Seiler agreed to let Bolton hold his monthly wrestling shows outside his Greenfield Music Center shop.
“We’ve been running pretty consistently with one show a month,” said Bolton, who brings in independent contractors to wrestle at each show.
Much like the wrestlers from the Golden Age of wrestling in the 1980s, Bolton’s crew takes on distinct personas and entertains the audience with personal storylines, often putting characters into camps of good versus evil.
Bolton still gets fired up talking about the times his grandmother would take him to wrestling matches, where he was able to shake hands and score autographs from some of the biggest names in the business.
“As much as the wrestling business has changed in the last 40 years, it’s stayed the same,” he said. “The wrestlers are telling a story. That’s the name of the game. They get the fans intrigued.”
Rivalries dominate the ring, where so-called “good guys” and “bad guys” go head to head from match to match.
There’s plenty of women wrestlers too, said Bolton, who made sure to focus on women wrestlers to appease his 9-year-old daughter and the overall female fan base.
“There’s a lot of great female talent out there. We have at least one women’s match in every single show,” he said.
Next month’s show features an all-female tag team match, featuring Alexis Littlefoot, Thunderkitty, Nurse Mika and Lexi Green.
Each of Bolton’s shows feature anywhere from 15 to 20 wrestlers competing in a variety of different matches, including one-on-one singles matches, two-on-two tag team matches and triple threat matches, which features three different wrestlers all battling it out at once.
Bolton thinks the Ricks theater is an amazing venue for the bouts, which take place on the stage while the audience watches from the seats in the auditorium.
“The Ricks Centre is an absolutely beautiful building,” he said. “It’s a beautiful setting, and the acoustics in the room are great for a professional wrestling event. The body slams sound really good. I couldn’t ask for a better venue.”
With fans showing up and the company’s Facebook page now drawing more than 500 followers, Bolton is hopeful that more and more people will turn out for the monthly matches, which he intends to keep booking throughout the year.
The next show is Saturday, Oct. 22.
Tickets cost $10 for generation admission, $12 for preferred seating and $15 for VIP ticks, which are in the first six rows.
The box office opens at 3 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m. at the Ricks theater, at 122 W. Main St. in Greenfield.
Advance tickets are available at Greenfield Music Center at 1215 E. Main St.
For more information, visit the Frontier Elite Wrestling page on Facebook.