Step inside the ring of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA)

The Keystone State Wrestling Alliance has been bringing pro wrestling to Pittsburgh neighborhoods for 20 years. Meet the owner, wrestlers, and fans who make this a very Pittsburgh sport.

by Brian Conway
February 18, 2020

https://www.facebook.com/VeryLocalPGH/videos/570152550236531/

My last pro wrestling experience came in 1995 for Summerslam at the Civic Arena, way back when the WWE was still the WWF. It was a hot, late August night under that silver dome, the night before the first day of school, and this was the ultimate capstone for a 10-year-old boy’s summer vacation: Undertaker won the casket match; Diesel beat King Mo for the heavyweight belt; and Shawn Michaels beat Razor Ramon in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship.

Or at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me. I have only a few flashes of memory from that evening, beyond my chagrin at the four other boys who wore my same “Summerslam 95” shirt to school the next day. Sitting up in the E balcony, I could hardly make out the combat being doled out by the tiny figures below.

The right venue for wrestling

Wrestling, like live music, is better experienced in a small venue. And it doesn’t get much more intimate than what the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance has been throwing down for the past 20 years. When you’re that close, you can feel every clothesline in your chest. Gasp at flying elbows from the top turnbuckle and boo the heels as they antagonize the crowds. Are you not entertained?

Keystone State Wrestling Alliance
Yinza, the Pittsburgh Luchador at the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance Fan Fest

Meet the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA)

Founded in 2000, KSWA counts as alumni George “the Animal” Steele, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and the godfather of Pittsburgh wrestling, Bruno Sammartino. Since 2015, they’ve hosted a popular annual “Brawl under the Bridge” beneath the Homestead Grays Bridge.

If Pittsburgh is their base, Lawrenceville is home, having held shows for years at the Teamster’s Temple, and now more frequently at Spirit.

Yinza, The Pittsburgh Luchador vs. The King, Del Douglas

Very Local sent Pittsburgh Filmmaker Dean Bog to a KSWA match in December. In this video, Yinza, the Pittsburgh Luchador steps into the ring with “The King” Del Douglas.

You can follow Yinza on Twitter @YinzerLucha & Instagram @YinzerLucha

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1m6F5Vhi22/

Saturday, Feb 22: KSWA’s 20th Anniversary Event

The KSWA celebrates 20 years of wrestling on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at Spirit in Lawrenceville.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8fMzlfhDtK/

There are five matches on the card, including two tag-team bouts and a pair of championship fights to cap the evening. Ringside seats cost just $15. Being that close to the action, you’re bound to remember the action for years to come. Who knows, you might even run into KSWA fan Mayor Bill “the thrill” Peduto.

  • WHAT: KSWA’s 20th Anniversary Event
  • WHEN: 7:00 pm Saturday, February 22, 2020
  • WHERE: Spirit Hall (242 51st Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
  • Tickets: General Admission, $12; Ringside, $15.
  • More information: 412-726-1762 or https://www.kswa.net/

 

Video by Dean Bog. Dean is making videos about Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Check out his YouTube channel for more Pittsburgh stories. 

Brian Conway is a freelance enterprise reporter based in Pittsburgh's South Side. He is a member-owner and communications manager at the Work Hard Pittsburgh digital media cooperative.

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