It’s Brooklyn’s WrestleMania!
Five Borough Wrestling returned to the American Legion gym on Avenue N on Feb. 17, boasting a jam-packed card of talent and hard-hitting stars.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. standout Matt Striker served as the night’s general manager while local wrestling favorites Darius Carter and Matt Verna entertained the jam-packed crowd and added a bit of local flair in the ring.
Striker said he tried to keep a local focus on the evening, bringing together wrestling fans from across the city.
“That’s the Brooklyn way,” said Striker. “That’s what separates us from all of the rest of the world. We lift each other up. Just look at how our neighborhood is structured. From our local corner stores to stoops where everybody hangs out, togetherness is our motto. And I try to extend that into my approach professionally, because that’s how I was raised, and there are certainly worse ways to be.”
Striker didn’t just sit behind a microphone all night — he also got into the ring. The former “SmackDown” commentator squared off against Carter in a pre-match event and the pair also fought in a grudge match right before intermission. Striker didn’t fare well in the later fight, falling to Carter and immediately announcing a leave of absence from the company.
But the highlight of the night came when Mario Bokara “the Croatian Sensation” defeated Fire Ant in a hard-fought match. Bokara played to the crowd throughout the fight, showcasing his brash attitude and raw athleticism — and his thick accent. He was happy with the victory, but Bokara was even happier to see the young fans engaged, determined to liven up the audience throughout the match.
“I think that’s what I strive to do every time I perform,” Bokara said. “The goal is to have everyone leave and remember your match, and remember you especially.”
Bokara said he enjoyed his first experience with Five Borough Wrestling and was impressed with what the group is doing to spark interest across Brooklyn and New York City.
“Everybody has been nothing but respectful here,” he said. “From the stacked card they have with wrestlers from around the area, to the crowd which was a full house, I certainly think Five Borough Wrestling can grow even larger, and if they invite me back, that’s great too.”
The night also included a “Suicidal Six” match, pitting six different wrestlers against each other in the ring as they all fought to pin one another.
Brooklyn native Mike Verna defended his Five Borough Wrestling Heavyweight crown, defeating Warbeard Hanson in the finale, but it didn’t take long for him to be challenged again. JT Dunn leapt into the ring almost as soon as the final bell sounded and the pair exchanged a few heated insults and even a few more hits.
Dunn won’t get a shot at Verna’s title quite yet. First he’ll have to take down Brooklyn’s Bull James, while Verna is set to defend his belt against Lucha Underground star Joey Ryan when Five Borough Wrestling returns to the American Legion on April 14.