by: David Ham Updated:
SEATTLE, Wash. - A bill that could loosen restrictions on professional wrestling in Washington state is gaining momentum.
House Bill 2573 passed unanimously in a committee, and is expected to be voted on in the house by next Tuesday. It's sponsored by Rep. Zack Hudgins.
Wrestlers said a combination of high fees, and safety requirements make it almost impossible to put on wrestling events.
"Each individual wrestler has to be licensed just like an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter has to be licensed, we have to get a blood test and a physical. In order to put on a show, you have to pay a booker's fee, you have to pay a percentage of the ticket, in addition to some sort of fee that involves the tickets. We have to have paramedics on site the whole time which, if our sport is done correctly, then no one gets hurt any way," said Michael Leveton, who is a Lucha Libre Volcanico wrestler.
Because of all of the restrictions, the traditional Mexican wrestling group can only afford to put on three shows a year.
"It becomes a pretty tall order for a small organization," said Leveton.
"These laws are from a time when wrestling was considered a real athletic event," said Josh Black, who ran Seattle Semi Pro wrestling from 2003 - 2008.
Unlike MMA fighting, wrestling is staged.
"We're not going out trying to hurt each other, we're not going out looking for blood," Leveton said. "We fit somewhere in between theater and an athletic competition."
"We sold out the club every month, and it was really successful, and we were getting bigger it was moving to another club and then we got a cease-and-desist order. We got shut down and we just rolled it up," said Black.
He and other wrestlers still practice hoping lawmakers will change the rules.
"We're going to be training and learning how to wrestle no matter what. If we can't put on shows, we can't put on shows. We're still going to train," said Black.