The wrestling debut of Alcoa High School’s Brian Nix was looking strong last year when his partner, a menacing masked man known as The Enforcer, knocked an opponent cold in the center of the ring and tagged Nix, signaling the football team’s defensive coordinator to enter the squared circle and take the pin.
Nix held his man for the referee’s three count. But when he turned to celebrate the victory, The Enforcer and The Executioner — Nix’s other mysterious masked partner in the six-man tag-team rumble — suddenly knocked him to the canvas and delivered an awful beat down, raining kicks and punches on Nix’s body and head.
For good measure, the two masked men punctuated their unexpected “heel” turn by pulling out and donning a pair of Maryville High School football jerseys, hurling taunts at the Alcoa partisan crowd.
But in spite of the boos and hisses — and the apparent drubbing of one defenseless football coach — the events of the evening were all in good fun, staged by local wrestlers, police and school officials in service of a good cause. The event was the first annual Shop with a Cop Fund-raising Wrestling Show, a production of the Fraternal Order of Police Bud Allison Lodge.
Look for all the fun and mayhem to happen again this year, when the FOP and East Tennessee Championship Wrestling stage the second annual show on Saturday at Alcoa Middle School gym. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for kids 5 to 12. Children under 4 get in free. Proceeds will go toward the FOP’s Shop with a Cop program, a charitable effort whereby local police officers take disadvantaged children to Walmart to purchase Christmas gifts.
The fundraiser is the brainchild of ETCW co-owner and Alcoa Police patrolman Roger “The Enforcer” Rex, who says he’s been a Blount County lawman for 18 years, and a wrestling fan since boyhood. He founded ETCW about a year ago, along with partner Greg “The Executioner” Muse, an old friend and an established local grappler.
“We had been talking, doing some training together,” Rex said. “We had both been wrestling with another organization, but last December, we decided to branch out and run our own promotion.”
An old-school wrestling aficionado — an avowed fan of 1970s wrestling champ “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and his running buddies, a quartet of roughneck bad-boy grapplers known as The Four Horsemen — Rex began his own part-time wrestling career two years ago, learning the tricks of trade from his friend Muse, a 25-year veteran of small-town wrestling.
“A lot of wrestling is just learning how to take falls, learning to take the bumps, learning how to work the crowd,” Rex said of his grappling apprenticeship. “People say that wrestling is fake. Well, I tell them I’ve suffered a second-degree shoulder separation in the ring. My partner has a bad back now, he’s injured it so many times.”
A Blount County Sheriff’s deputy for the first nine years of his law enforcement career, Rex has spent the last nine with Alcoa Police. He says his avocation is a source of some amusement for fellow officers. “They all think I’m crazy,” he laughed. “They joke and go on about my wrestling. We have a pretty good time with it.”
Shop with a Cop is a decades-old charitable effort employed by police departments across the U.S. The local program will see officers take qualifying children to Walmart for shopping trips in early December.
Last year’s wrestling event raised $3,481 for the program, which treated more than 70 area children for Christmas 2013. Rex hopes to top both numbers this year, having set a goal of raising more than $5,000 with the Nov. 13 wrestling match.
As the public face of ETCW, Rex says that many local wrestling fans know that Roger Rex, upright Alcoa city patrolman, is the alter ego of The Enforcer, ETCW’s burly masked marauder and noted heel (slang for a wrestling villain). Nonetheless, he likes to play it cagey when the subject is broached by some of his diminutive followers.
That’s what happened recently, when The Enforcer made a promotional appearance at Middlesettlements Elementary School — where, not-so-coincidentally, Roger Rex’s son Conner attends second grade.
“As soon as they saw me walk in, some of (the students) ran up saying, ‘You’re Conner’s dad,’” Rex says. “I just looked at them and said, ‘Who’s Conner? Who’s Conner?’
“The wrestling goes over really well with the kids. They love it. As soon as I walked by, they knew that I’m the one who will be wrestling their guidance counselor this year at Alcoa Middle School.”