Middle Village school hosts wrestling fund-raiser

By Joseph Staszewski

St. Margaret’s and East Coast Professional Wrestling are hoping to make a formidable tag team while trying to raise money for the Middle Village grammar school.

The New Jersey-based wrestling promotion organization will put on a show in St. Margaret’s Parish Center starting 7:30 p.m. Friday night with food sales and a portion of the ticket money going to the school. It is something ECPW starting doing in 2006 and this is the first time it will wrestle for a Catholic school in Queens. With schools closing around the city in recent years any help is important.

“It’s kind of a very unorthodox pair, the Catholic Church and professional wrestling,” said wrestler Tony Biella, who will take part in the six-man tag main event. “It doesn’t seem like it jives. It does and it does very well.”

The organization also uses wrestling at schools as a chance to reach out to its kids. It traditionally sends wrestlers to the school prior to the event to promote it, to remind them this isn’t something they should try at home and to speak on the importance of getting an education. They also talk to the older kids about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.

ECPW owner Gino Caruso stressed that fans who come out should not expect the “sports entertainment” you see on television with WWE or Impact Wresting. ECPW puts on a family friendly show that is modeled after professional wrestling in the 1980s. There is no profanity, no bleeding or excessive violence.

“If you really need that then you don’t know what professional wrestling is about,” Caruso said.

Fans will see good vs. evil storylines and plenty of colorful characters. Former WWE superstars Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Greg the Hammer Valentine will also compete on the card. St. Margaret’s Principal Dr. Phillip Franco said the emphasis is on this being a event with tickers at just $20.

“You have to be innovative and creative, both in turns of fundraising and marketing,” Franco said. “You have to be local oriented. You need something to show that you are kind of set apart”

Events like these hit home for Biella, a New York City Police officer and tag team partner Ben Bongiorno, who owns boxing gyms. The pair grew up in Brooklyn and went to Catholic grammar school, high school and college.

“We provide a vehicle for these schools to fund-raise in a very unconventional way,” Biella said. “There is only so much a kid is going to do to enjoy a bake sale. A plant sale, what are you going to do, a card night? This is something that the kids can wrap their arms around.”