Austyn Pagano settled into her father Joe's lap in anticipation of the spectacle about to unfold in the ring before her: a live pro wrestling event.
"I just did 20 sit-ups today," said Austyn, 7, of how she got prepped for the action. She brought her own championship belt and was sporting a T-shirt featuring the Bella Twins of WWE women's wrestling fame.
But this wasn’t at the Nassau Coliseum, a frequent venue for pro wrestling events. It was a sunny Sunday on the North Fork, as Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. held the inaugural LuchaRumble at its tasting room in Peconic.
Lucha — short for lucha libre — is an acrobatic style of pro wrestling popular in Mexico for decades. The event name was derived from Lucharitos, a pair of wrestling-themed restaurants in Greenport and Aquebogue that brought in food trucks so the 300 fans in attendance could munch on tacos while watching the action.
The outdoor show featured stars of the Long Island-based Fight the World, known as FTW, pro wrestling promotion. For grapplers who have squared off in assorted Elks Lodges, National Guard armories and nightclubs in search of pro wrestling glory, a ring located between a beer tasting room and a vineyard was a welcome change from high school gyms and church basements.
Costumed combatants plied their trade using classic moves such as body slams but were willing to brawl on the outside when necessary to get the win.
As Fabio Caruso, 36, who wrestles as the Sicilian Slammer and has been with FTW for five years, explained, “You have to get a feel for what they like around here.”
In the end, chair demolition proved to be his choice of expression.
He chose two beaten-up opponents in the crowd, made sure all the kids sitting close by were well out of the way and spiraled into his foes as white seats became bowling pins and fans cheered him on.
WWE commentator Corey Graves fired up the crowd before the matches and stayed to hang out with fans. He echoed Caruso’s thoughts about finding success.
“You learn to read the crowd as opposed to react to the crowd,” Graves said. “It’s something only experience can really provide.”
Ernie Osiris, known as The Burning Desire, made the crowd go wild while beating Drew Justice and Big Cuzzo. His finishing move was a somersault power bomb, but he refers to it as the “Sonny-set bomb,” in reference to his son's name.
As Osiris left the ring, some fans behind the seats chanted “Thank you, Ernie!” for a job well done.
The owner of the restaurants, 38-year-old Marc LaMaina, said he grew up watching such matches at the American Legion in Greenport. He worked with the brewery to create Lucha Lager, which debuted for Cinco de Mayo.
“How lucky is that?” LaMaina said. “To actually make a living out of something you love is not normal in these times."