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Rough and tumble: County’s wrestling scene a family affair

Jim Scolman photo

Randy Zellers (left) is grabbing Chris Marx (right) from behind as Marx tries for a “rope out,” grabbing at one of the ring ropes to end his anguish, during a bout of the Round 16 FightNite at the Combat Cathedral, Saturday, Jan. 19 in Marysville.

EVERETT — Every family has its conflicts. But it takes a special kind of family to rely on planning their quarrels as public events.
That’s life in the ring for the dedicated owners and mostly semi-pro wrestlers of the Snohomish County-based promotion Combat Pro Wrestling (CPW).
“We’re not just family in the business, we’re family outside of the business,” said CPW’s co-founder Yvonne Seeber, 43, of Everett.
Seeber started CPW two years ago with her longtime boyfriend Jeff Kulms, 38. Seeber, a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, had previously co-owned a different wrestling promotion. She said wrestling is in her blood. Ex-wrestler Kulms took some convincing before agreeing to the idea.
CPW uses its family dynamics to help drive the storylines. Kulms does most of the story planning and decided that the main arc involves pitting Team Yvonne versus Team Jeff. The wrestlers align with factions based mostly on whether their character is considered a babyface (good) or heel (bad).
Kulms said he transforms into his ring persona. “It’s all pretty much character I’m a happy-go-lucky person,” he said. “But when I get into the ring it’s pretty much 100 percent straight jerk, it’s all about me.”
Scott Dutton, 41, of Everett, became the third partner in owning CPW after wrestling with the promotion under his ring name Seds. He is always on Team Yvonne.
“We try to make it fun,” he said. “Throw the family feud element into any wrestling show and people eat it up.”
The owners said their wrestling promotion was designed to be family friendly. “Basically, language you hear on television,” Kulms said. “We don’t want too low cut of tops, I know sex sells but who wants to sell it to a four-year-old?”
A lot of the wrestlers started out as fans wrestling with their friends in the backyard while growing up. Dutton said most kids figure out right away after jumping off of something and knocking the wind out of themselves whether they want to do it again. “With me, it was ‘I want to do it again and I want to go higher’,” he said.
Getting into the ring allows the wrestlers to express themselves through their character.
One of the most popular wrestlers is Jack the Snack. He’s actually Richard Nash, 34, of Marysville and his character is dressed in a singlet that looks like a slice of pizza. Jack throws snack cakes to children in the crowd, while walking down to the ring during his entrance, set to “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” titled “Eat It.”
“Fans love him, he’s just so noticeable and out there and very unique,” said Nash’s wife Nora. She goes by the name Mrs. Snack and works at the event’s merchandise table selling shirts and stickers. “Kids just love him, especially since he throws them food.”
Craig Walker, 36, of Snohomish is known in the ring as the Weekend Warrior. The family man plays a dad character that antagonizes the kids in attendance. “Half the time I’ll gut buster someone over my knee,” he said, “and I’ll scream at the crowd, ‘This is what your parents should be doing.’ And I’ll just start spanking the other wrestler.”
These guys have day jobs.
Walker said that when he was supposed to interview for his current job driving a truck full time, he told his prospective new boss that he couldn’t make the interview because he was supposed to perform in front of a sold-out crowd in Seattle at The Showbox. His soon-to-be boss reportedly laughed and said that this was the best excuse he’d ever heard to not come in for an interview. Walker brought video footage to the interview the following week and they had a good laugh.
“Jack the Snack” also drives full time for a living.  He said that as he gained experience in wrestling at one point he realized he was also technically a professional entertainer. “‘Professional’ in the sense that I get flipped a couple of bucks to go out and make a goofball of myself in front of people,” he said.
Demetri Bell has been CPW’s ring announcer since its inception. Bell said he appreciates the family atmosphere because he’s been watching wrestling since childhood. “I believe every child should have the chance to see the hero come into the ring to vanquish the bad guy,” he said. “To see the eyes of the kids light up and see them rushing to meet the wrestlers, that’s what this is about.”
Co-owner Dutton said that one of his biggest challenges is explaining what exactly CPW does, because a lot of people hear the word wrestling and automatically think of high school wrestling on a mat with no ropes. “If you’re not a wrestling fan you don’t know,” he said. “But if you’re walking through a fairground and you see a guy on the ropes do a backflip off the top and crash onto another guy, then you’re probably going to stop and look at them.”
CPW has held its last two events at its self-proclaimed Combat Cathedral, which is actually the Living Room Coffeehouse located at 1636 4th St. in Marysville. Admission to shows is donation only. CPW posts event highlights and the dates of upcoming shows on its Twitter and Facebook pages.
CPW’s nickname for the building stems from the coffee shop’s location in a converted church. Its next event there will be March 9 at 6 p.m.
CPW’s Seeber said because the shows are donation-only that sometimes they lose money after paying the wrestlers. But the sense of family the wrestling promotion provides is what’s important.
“We love it, that’s why we do it,” Seeber said.



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