Phelps County natives among competitors
South central Missouri will soon play host to a professional wrestling event.
The National Wrestling Alliance has a show called “Missouri Rising” scheduled for Jan. 11 in the St. Robert Community Center starting at 7 p.m., with doors set to open at 6 p.m.
Tickets to the event, which features wrestlers from several states in the central part of the U.S., but also a handful from Phelps County, start at $8 for general admission tickets purchased in advance and $10 at the door.
Ringside tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
Rolla will be represented by Deven Spade and “Showtime” Shane Somers.
Jeffrey “Evan Money” Morris, of St. James, will also be in the ring.
Morris said he thinks the event is something a diverse group of people could potentially enjoy, and he hopes to see some familiar faces, with a strong turnout of locals.
“Anyone from children to senior citizens will enjoy the show,” he said. “We don't do bloody matches or use barbed wire or anything of that nature. We also are not allowed to swear during the shows, so it's good for kids.”
Morris said he first became interested in wrestling when he was a young boy, and things took off from there.
“I remember when I was 6-years-old, looking up one day and watching (World Championship Wrestling), and thinking 'wow, forget being a Power Ranger; I want to be like them!'”
He said he began training regularly to become a professional wrestler in 2006.
In September 2008, he was ready and entered the ring as a competitor for the first time. His first match was in Woodriver, Ill., competing for the Metro East Championship Wrestling organization.
“That night was the most nerve-racking night of my life, but also the most exciting moment of my life,” he said of the first time he competed for MECW.
Even now, years after that first bout, he said he still feels the same whenever he's about to fight.
“If I didn't still feel nervous or excited when I got into the ring, then that would mean I didn't feel the passion or the fun for the business,” he said.
Morris, who is now known to his fans as “Evan Money” Morris, said he was originally not planning on this being his long term stage name.
“I came up with 'Evan Money' as a joke name for my debut because I figured everyone would think my first match bombed, so I didn't want to be remembered as my name forever, but it somehow stuck, and they loved me,” he said.
After he was involved in a serious car accident a few years ago, he decided to make his stage name more meaningful and personal, which is how his actual last name of “Morris” became part of his wrestling persona.
So, instead of using “Money” as his last name, it became his middle name.
Morris said he has enjoyed his time working with the NWA so far.
“I officially debuted for NWA in March of 2013 when NWA Central-States Championship Wrestling debuted. The president of the NWA, Bruce Tharpe, has been extremely good to me and extremely supportive of all I've done so far,” he said.
“He has told me he sees so much potential in me, so the NWA definitely keeps me motivated.”
However, even though he is grateful to work with the NWA, he said his end-goal is to make it as a regular World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler.
He also recently completed a tryout for the New Japan Pro Wrestling organization.
For short-term goals, the most obvious would be winning his match Jan. 11.
He'll face off against Mitch Johnson for the NWA Affliction Heavyweight Wrestling Championship.
And competing for and winning a championship belt won't be anything too new for Morris, who has won several championships throughout his tenure as a wrestler in multiple circuits, including MECW Great Plains Champion, Independent Hardcore Wrestling Illinois Champion and Pro Wrestling Epic United States Champion, among others. However, even though he's had some high-pressure, big wins in the past, in August, he fell to former WWE superstar Rob Conway in a match for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.
“I lost to Conway in August, but it is safe to say I used that match as motivation to better myself and that I am better than what I always thought I was,” he said of his contest against Conway.
He said wrestling has taken a great deal of training– currently around three hours every day– as well as a financial investment for travel and to register for shows, but it has all been worth it.
“What motivates me is my passion for the business and wanting to succeed at my dream and my life goal,” he said. “I've been training since the age of 13, and my passion still grows stronger.”
Morris' advice for aspiring wrestlers wanting to follow in his footsteps?
“Do things the right way. Don't use drugs such as steroids or pain killers to push yourself further,” he said. “Get proper training, and if you don't trust that you can do something in the ring, don't do it. And, of course, don't try it at home.”
To learn more about the upcoming NWA event, go to www.nwa-ccw.com/tickets, or call 573-202-4334.