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Native wrestler supports VFD fundraiser

September 25, 2012
By STEPHEN HUBA - For The Weirton Daily Times ( , Weirton Daily Times

NEWELL - Sunday's "Mountain State Madness 3" professional wrestling show will be a homecoming of sorts for Chester native Michael Paris.

The 2005 Oak Glen High School graduate has gone on to make a name for himself on the professional wrestling circuit, even garnering a profile on the documentary "Slammed: Inside Indie Wrestling," which aired last year on the National Geographic Channel.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, Paris, who goes by the ring name Zema Ion, will return to the area for a fundraiser for the Newell Volunteer Fire Department.

Promoter Billy Johnson, of New Cumberland, said this is the second time Paris, 25, will be on "Mountain State Madness."

"He's an Oak Glen graduate who's gone on to bigger and better things," he said. "It gives a little local flavor to the show."

Paris, whose Filipino mother still lives in Chester, describes himself as the "first Filipino male model of wrestling." He began wrestling professionally at age 17 in Ohio and West Virginia.

Paris joined the Pittsburgh-based International Wrestling Cartel, presenter of Sunday's benefit show, in 2004, assuming the name of Shiima Xion. He still wrestles under that name on the American independent circuit and in Mexico.

Paris also wrestles as Zema Ion for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where he is the reigning X Division champion. When he's not wrestling, he's a journalism student at West Virginia University.

Johnson said Sunday's show at the Wells Building on state Route 2 "will be different. It will be the largest in terms of number of matches and people. ... It's a very entertaining show."

A jockey agent at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, Johnson began bringing "Mountain State Madness" to Newell in 2011. Sunday's show will be the fourth to benefit the fire department, he said.

Professional wrestling has generated about $3,000 for the fire department so far, Assistant Fire Chief Tim Steele said. "It does pretty good. It bring the community out," he said.

Organizers sold about 200 tickets for a show earlier this year.

"This is going to be our biggest show yet," Johnson said. "As we get closer to the show, more interest is being generated."

Tickets are $15 for ringside seats and $10 for general admission and can be purchased by calling 330-853-1605 or visiting the Web site: Children under 10 get in for $7. Tickets also will be sold at the door.

One ticket holder will win $200 in a cash drawing, Johnson said. Some ticket holders also will have an opportunity to get their picture taken in the ring with stars of the show, he said.

Steele said proceeds from the wrestling show will go toward the fire department's truck fund. The department is purchasing a new pumper truck that is scheduled for delivery in November.

The department also is holding a 2013 Jeep Wrangler and $5,000 cash giveaway to raise money for the truck fund. Tickets are a $25 donation, and the drawing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 21.

"Ticket sales are picking up," Steele said. "Each day, we have people coming into the station and other locations to buy tickets."

A direct mailing the department did to Newell residents in August "was a huge step in giving our ticket sales a boost," Steele said.

(Huba can be contacted at

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