WinStar Derby: They're off!

If Lower Valley residents are suddenly startled by the sounds of loud thuds, slams and crashes this Sunday evening, they need not worry, it only means that wrestling has come to their neighborhood.

After hosting wrestling events for three years, the ALLWA (Alliance Lucha Libre Wrestling Association) will hold its first night of wrestling at the Mission Valley Ballroom and Convention Center at 10600 North Loop this Sunday.

The 10-match card, which will feature 24 wrestlers, is scheduled to get underway at 5:30 p.m.

"Because we feature the traditional Hispanic lucha libre style of high-flying wrestling, we thought we'd move our venue to a location where the Hispanic community could have better access," said Eddie Campa, ALLWA owner and general manager.

"We want to give the communities of San Elizario, Socorro, Clint, Fabens, Ysleta, Tornillo and Horizon some good family-oriented entertainment they could enjoy in their own neighborhood."

Campa said the wrestling card has a little something for everyone.

"Though we feature mostly the lucha libre style matches, we also have some American-style wrestlers."

Although wrestling has always enjoyed a loyal following in El Paso, the sport received an added boost recently from an unusual source.

"Believe it or not, the movie 'Nacho Libre' did a lot to further the interest in our wrestling events, but it also caused a problem," Campa said. "Once the movie came out everybody thought they could be a wrestling promoter and soon we had eight competing wrestling factions trying to hold events around the city."

It didn't take long for reality to set in on the newly formed organizations, of which all but two have dissolved.

As for this Sunday's new wrestling venue, Campa couldn't be happier.

"The Mission Valley Ballroom can seat about 600 people and expand to accommodate about a thousand," he said. "It has great lighting and brand new restrooms. The fans will love this

place."

Of course the ultimate plan for the ALLWA is to return to the County Coliseum, but that takes money.

"We've held matches at the Coliseum and the judging arena next door, but that costs money," Campa said. "We're looking at a way to increase revenue so that we can increase the advertising for our matches.

"My eventual goal is to hold matches in front of a packed Coliseum like they did when I was a kid back in the 1970s. It was a big deal back then to see guys like Ricky Romero, Jerry Kozak and the Funk family."

This Sunday's main event will feature ALLWA champion Mr. Huesos against Lucha Caliente champion Massive.

Plenty will be going on outside the squared-circle as well.

"We have the prize patrol, which throws different prizes into the crowd during all our events," Campa said. "We always give away items like T-shirts, free tickets to other shows and things like that.

"Above all we want to bring the community some family entertainment at a price they can afford."

Doors for the Feb. 25 event will open at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults and are all general admission. For more information call 694-7731.

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