A new wave of Maine wrestlers puts a beatdown on the Pine Tree State’s reputation as a pro-wrestling backwater.
By Joel Crabtree
Photographs by Harry Aaron
[dropcap letter=”O”]n a recent Saturday evening, a hundred or so pro wrestling fans filled the banquet room at a strip-mall restaurant in Brewer. Vintage wrestling T-shirts abounded, emblazoned with likenesses of past stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels. Most everyone was drinking bottles of domestic lagers, and most everyone at this once-a-month throwdown was a regular.
Come showtime, the team known as the Maine State Posse burst from behind a curtain and swaggered toward the ring, taunting, striking poses, tugging at their flannel vests. Danny McCormick (aka DangerKid) and Ben Alexander (aka Alexander Lee) stood on the ropes and hoisted buoys — their bludgeons of choice — above their heads while Gyasi Davis (aka Aiden Aggro) waved the state flag. As matches cycled through, the trio stood out among the other wrestlers for how polished their moves looked. They grappled opponents on the mat just as ably as they pulled off the high-flying, body-slamming acrobatics that put an exclamation point on their bouts.
Not long ago, Maine pro wrestling looked a lot less pro. The wrestlers had a reputation among serious fans around New England — the ones who grew up obsessively watching Ring of Honor Wrestling and WWE Monday Night Raw — as beer-bellied, backyard amateurs who could ham it up in the ring but didn’t have the athleticism or technical know-how to warrant following. “It was like this carnival sideshow that you’d go to see, but you wouldn’t come back,” Alexander says.
▲ Posse Profile Left to right
Aiden Aggro 6′, 180 pounds Location: Bangor Instagram: @ThePinePrince Day Job: dealership car cleaner Finishing Move: The Aggro Crag
DangerKid 5′ 11″, 179 pounds Location: Portland Instagram:@IAmTheDangerKid Day Job: direct support professional for developmentally disabled adults Finishing Move: Swanton Bomb
Alexander Lee 5′ 9″, 215 pounds Location: Bangor Instagram:@The.Alexander.Lee Day Job: bartender Finishing Move: The Burning Hammer
Then, a few years ago, the posse became the leading edge of a small but growing cadre of Maine wrestlers who log long hours in the gym and assiduously study their craft. The crew’s breakthrough was a match at the Westbrook Armory, where promotion outfit Limitless Wrestling brings in popular out-of-state talent, consistently filling more than 400 seats with a mix of Portland hipsters and fans in from the hinterlands. After a strong performance, the team suddenly had event promoters from around New England calling to book them.
When they take their act on the road, they embrace their role as ambassadors for Maine’s evolving wrestling scene. “Yeah, we’re going to wear plaid,” Alexander says. “We’re going to swing buoys. We’re going to have a weird accent.” On someone else’s turf, that often means playing the villains. Recently, the trio’s sinister schtick involved antagonizing an out-of-town referee. “He had long, red hair,” McCormick recalls, “and we actually cut his hair. Like, legit.”
“People were maaaad,” Davis adds.
In the ring in Brewer, a wiry wrestler who’d just lost a bout snatched the mic and demanded another opponent. As he ranted, the opening chords of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” thundered over the audio system. The crowd howled as a buoy-wielding Alexander Lee slid between the ropes and into the ring. It looked like he’d make quick work of this one.