Triangle’s GOUGE wrestlers don’t take their craft too seriously

vbridges@newsobserver.comJuly 2, 2013 

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"Andrea The Giant" slings "Red Man" into the boot of her tag team partner "Leather Face" during a GOUGE Wrestling event at Rebus Works fine art gallery in Raleigh.

TRAVIS LONG — 2011 News & Observer file photo Buy Photo

  • Where to see wrestling

    • GOUGE Wrestling will be set up on Hargett Street, in front of The Raleigh Times Bar on Thursday. Matches start at 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

— “Nice Guy” Mickey Gambino admittedly cheated in a match that won him his recent GOUGE heavyweight wrestling championship, but he doesn’t remember exactly how.

“Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory,” said Dane Saville, 29, a Raleigh resident who has played the character of “Mickey Gambino” over nearly 10 years in hundreds of wrestling matches from Philadelphia and Osaka, Japan, to Honolulu and Raleigh. Saville likely used one of his common bad-guy tricks, he said, such as pulling down his opponents’ stockings or using a brass knuckle.

Gambino is one of the many personalities who fill the world of GOUGE (Gimmicks Only Underground Grappling Entertainment) Wrestling, an independent Raleigh-based wrestling promotion that started in 2006, in part, to defy other operations that take fake wrestling too seriously.

“It’s a mixture of old-school pro wrestling with some comedy thrown in,” said GOUGE Wrestling founder Greg Mosorjak, of Fuquay-Varina. “It’s family entertainment.”

GOUGE Wrestling will be part of “The Works,” downtown Raleigh’s Independence Day celebration, and will be set up in front of The Raleigh Times Bar on Hargett Street. The 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. wrestling lineup includes at least seven matches between female wrestlers, luchadores and a title match between reigning champion Gambino and “Jimmy Jack Funk Jr.,” a cowboy with a black hat and leather vest.

While GOUGE does about six shows a year, its wrestlers help fuel other independent wrestling promotions. Promotions across the state range from backyard showdowns to high-profile gigs in Charlotte. Some wrestlers attended training schools, which cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and others sought help from experienced veterans.

Many spend their weekdays in button-down shirts and their weekends in stretchy wrestling singlets.

“Seymour Snott” is really an insurance claims clerk in Cary. “Otto Schwanz” is a high school history teacher in Johnston County. “Count Grog,” a cape-wearing vampire and wrestling manager, is the alias of Mosorjak, an educational analyst at RTI International in Research Triangle Park.

And Saville is looking for work in corporate public relations.

The shows, Mosorjak said, aren’t as scripted as people may think. He will compose the storylines a few days before the event and give the wrestlers their entrance and finish before the match. They rest is up to them.

Mosorjak, 52, started writing a regional wrestling newsletter in Johnstown, Pa., in high school. Over the years, he continued to participate as a referee, a manager and a promoter, most significantly with Southern Championship Wrestling, a Raleigh-based effort that disbanded in 2004 after 10 years.

In 2006, Mosorjak started GOUGE, which has built a local following.

The Seymour Snott character was assigned to Mike Phillips after he enrolled in All Pro Wrestling, a nearly four-year training program in Hayward, Calif.

Instructors told Phillips that he and two other guys were going to be a tag team with nerds.

Minimal pay

Mosorjak said he generally breaks even on GOUGE events.

Wrestlers are typically paid from nothing to $200 at independent events, Saville said, depending on who you are, where you are coming from and how much money is taken at the door.

The only time Saville actually deposited money in the bank, he said, followed a three-week wrestling tour in Japan.

Saville started wrestling as Mickey Gambino in 2004 at a Pittsburgh promotion after spending 10 months in training. Saville brought on tag-team partner “Marshall Gambino,” and they became the Gambino Moving Co. Promoters billed them as “movers with connections.” From 2005 to 2007, the Gambino brothers were booked almost every weekend night in independent shows across the Northeast, Saville said. In 2008 they went to Japan with Tokyo-based promotion Wrestling Marvelous Future.

Saville moved to Raleigh in 2009 after landing a job at a Wake Forest technology services and products company, which he recently left. He still drives back to Pittsburgh about once a month to participate in shows with his tag-team partner.

Fun as the bad guy

Mickey Gambino’s gimmick has evolved into a Jersey Shore, gum-smacking, skirt-chasing loudmouth in a pink sequin jacket.

“I try a nice to be a nice guy in real life, so I love being the bad guy in wrestling,” Saville said. “I don’t know what it is about riling people up. It is just a delight.”

Bridges: 919-829-8917

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