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Beyond WrestleMania: Four More Hardcore Wrestling Events This Week

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Even with all its glitz and glamour, WrestleMania simply isn't going to appeal to everyone. And we're not just talking about those who think wrestling is stupid. In fact, it's because of the added spectacle (and subsequently increased ticket prices) that many hardcore wrestling fans have been turned off by this Super Bowl of wrestling.

Whether you prefer the grappling of old or you're more into the Fight Club-like atmosphere of smaller promotions like Ring of Honor, you're going to find plenty of fringe events to cater to wrestling fans of any kind wherever WrestleMania goes. So if you'd rather not spend hundreds of dollars on tickets to the official WrestleMania events (or if you're just a wrestling junkie who has to see it all), here are some lower priced and harder-hitting alternatives.

Battle of the Belts

South Florida-based NWA Ring Warriors is known for putting on quality

wrestling matches that honor the tradition of the National Wrestling

Alliance while also helping establish younger wrestling talents. But

when it kicks off WrestleMania weekend with Battle of the Belts March 29

at the Fort Lauderdale National Guard Armory, it looks to be a

history-making event.

In a card stacked with past legends and current stars including "The

Prince of Darkness" Kevin Sullivan, the vampire Gangrel, NWA World Tag

Team Champions the Dark City Fight Club and Vordell Walker, it will be

hard to pick just one standout match. But in the main event, "Scrap

Iron" Adam Pearce will defend his NWA World Heavyweight Championship

against an unknown challenger from Ring of Honor (see below) hand picked

by ROH executive and legendary NWA manager Jim Cornette. And in the

finals of the Ring Warriors Grand Championship tournament, "The Marquee"

Bruce Santee will square off against the Giant Titan, who at seven feet

and 315 pounds definitely lives up to such a moniker.

Showdown in the Sun

Known for creating a spectacle based more on in-ring one-ups-manship

than on pyro, production value and celebrity appearances, Ring of

Honor's edgier style has become a proving ground for future stars like

WWE Champion CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. But

even as more and more of its top competitors move on to WWE's greener

pastures, the ROH roster is still filled with young talent ready to

prove itself to a different breed of wrestling fan.

Taking place at Fort Lauderdale's War Memorial Auditorium March 30 and

31, the Showdown in the Sun Internet pay-per-views are headlined by a

triple threat match for the ROH World Championship between defending

champ Davey Richards, "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong. Each

of these competitors is scheduled for singles action the next day,

meaning whoever comes out of the first night with the title has to

defend it just a few hours later at the second event. These events will

also see return of former WWE star Lance Storm, and there will be a fan

fest prior to Friday's matches where all of ROH's stars will be on hand

to meet fans and sign autographs.


Held independently from WWE's WrestleMania festivities, WrestleReunion 7

will be at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach March 30-April 1.

This convention features vendors selling wrestling memorabilia and

dozens of guests, ranging from Championship Wrestling Florida

legends like "Diamond" Dallas Page, Mike Graham, Carlos Colon, and "Mr.

Florida" Paul Jones to personalities from all walks of wrestling life

such as the Honky Tonk Man, Road Warrior Animal, former Playboy cover

girl Maria Kanellis, and former NBA oddity Dennis Rodman.

WrestleReunion will also feature live wrestling from Dragon Gate USA

(see below) and a Saturday afternoon wrestling show paying tribute to

CWF, featuring the likes of James J. Dillon, Kevin Sullivan, LeiLani Kai,

and Nikita Koloff. Other wrestling-related entertainment includes a

Friday night Q&A with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and former National

Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion Colt Cabana's $5 Wrestling

Live, a Mystery Science Theater 3000-like comedy show where Cabana and

comedian Marty Derosa provide commentary for past wrestling moments.

Following Sunday's autograph sessions, fans can reserve luncheon tables

with wrestling stars like Matt Hardy, Big Van Vader, Tito Santana, and

others before catching a bus to WrestleMania at 4:15.

Dragon Gate USA

This Japanese-influenced promotion offers a more athletic, faster-paced

alternative to what you'll find on most wrestling shows. DGUSA is

running three Internet pay-per-views during WrestleMania weekend,

starting with a March 29 event in Hollywood called Heat. A joint

effort between DGUSA and Combat Zone Wrestling, Heat will feature top

indie talents such as Low Ki, AR Fox, Uhaa Nation, Pinkie Sanchez and

Sami Callihan.

Held in conjunction with WrestleReunion, DGUSA will also hold two

additional shows at the Deauville Beach Resort: Open the Ultimate Gate

2012 on March 30 and Mercury Rising 2012 on March 31. These shows will

see the previously mentioned DGUSA talents being joined by the likes of

hardcore legend Sabu, Dark City Fight Club's Jon Davis indie standout

Arik Cannon.

--Jonathan Williams

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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