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Wrestling crew celebrates two years of beatdowns.

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Cleveland’s Absolute Intense Wrestling celebrates its second anniversary at tonight’s Absolution 2. Legendary grappler and WWE commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler battles former ECW Champion Steve “King of Old School” Corino in the main event. It’s the first time the two icons have met in the ring. “It’s surprising,” says AI Wrestling co-owner Nick Brashear. “Given their backgrounds, you’d think their paths would have crossed before.”

Absolution 2 weighs in as the wrestling crew’s biggest event and represents an arrival of sorts for the company, which was started by friends who grew tired of unscrupulous promoters and the independent wrestling circuit’s lack of professionalism. At first, matches were staged at Peabody’s while “concerts were going on in the other room,” recalls Brashear. Those were adult-oriented events. The group now promotes more family-focused ones, like today’s bash in the Flats. Brashear attributes his company’s success to its willingness to pump up events. Unlike many independent wrestling organizations, AI Wrestling’s outings feature story lines, video screens, and flashy productions -- just like the big boys. “We want to make sure there’s something for every kind of wrestling fan,” he says. Today’s lineup includes more than a half-dozen traditional, hardcore, and tag-team matches featuring several homegrown fighters -- like Peabody’s security employee Raymond Rowe. Says Brashear: “The talent in Cleveland has never been better.”
Sun., May 20, 7 p.m.

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