Joe Dombrowski sent this in:

Friend of Pro Wrestling Ohio Anastasia Pantsios will proudly present her priceless collection of classic wrestling photography in Cleveland this weekend, and PWO will have its presence known at the event as well! Stop by and enjoy countless historic images from professional wrestling’s past, and the future of professional wrestling in the area with PWO!

Full details are below –

Anastasia Pantsios photo show ?On the Mat? opens at Brandt Gallery September 11

?On the Mat,? featuring black and white photos of professional wrestling matches by Anastasia Pantsios, taken from 1985-1989, opens at the Brandt Gallery (1028 Kenilworth Ave., Tremont, 216-621-1610, brandtgallery.org) on September 11, with a reception from 6-10 p.m. during the monthly Tremont Art Walk.

Pantsios was working fulltime as a rock-music photographer, selling her photos to magazines, newspapers, book publishers, bands and record companies around the world, when she stumbled on the world of professional wrestling in early 1985, after inheriting her first television and ordering cable. On Atlanta Superstation WTBS, she discovered Georgia Wrestling, which was promoting a card at Cleveland Heights High School on March 7, 1985. So she went, bringing her camera. The following night she attended at World Wrestling Federation card at the now-razed Front Row Theater in Highland Heights and photographed that as well. She was hooked.

For five years ? until the end of 1989 ? Pantsios traveled from Denver to Chicago to Houston to Charlotte, photographing both the glitzy, made-for-TV productions of the WWF and small, makeshift local promotions held in bars and gyms, shooting the ring action, the interviews, the fans and the private backstage moments.

?At the time, rock musicians were putting increasing onerous, creativity-stifling restrictions on photographers and the more easy-going world of professional wrestling offered a break from that, an opportunity to shoot a performance without limitations,? she says. ?I quickly made connections among the wrestlers and found them to be consummate showmen (and women), as theatrical and eager to mug for the camera as Gene Simmons of Kiss. Soon, I was flying around the country for major events such as Starrcade in Atlanta, the Great American Bash in Charlotte, and the Crockett Cup in New Orleans and Baltimore. Many of those were sponsored by the NWA, a regional wrestling association trying to go national to compete with Vince McMahon’s WWF. Others were very local, like the weekly cards at the Nashville Fairgrounds that I discovered while covering country music events there.?

?Shooting wrestling is very much like shooting rock concerts ? with action that’s sometimes moves in predictable arcs and sometimes erupts spontaneously, the interaction between performer and crowd, the dramatic entrances and exits, and the tediousness of the backstage scene, never as glamorous as fans imagine. The images, like those of a theater or opera production, froze moments in which stylized gestures provided a conduit for emotions that became real in the process of being acted out. Most fans pretty much knew it was ?fake,? but the best wrestlers made you say to yourself, ?I know it’s all staged, but boy, THAT looked real.? They delivered bravura, convincing performances.?

By 1990, the WWF pretty much owned professional wrestling. Pantsios moved on to other things and lost interest in it. These photos, however, have remained among her favorite ?personal? projects (Although many have appeared in wrestling books and magazines, that was incidental). This is the first time she is showing these photos publicly.

?On the Mat? will hang through the end of September. For more information, contact Anastasia Pantsios at anastasjoy@aol.com or 216-932-4835.

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