Wrestling & MMA

Top WWE superstars, who are kids of CWF stars, talk WrestleMania 36 in Tampa in 2020

Charlotte Flair is second generation in the pro wrestling business, while Natalya Nattie Neidhart is third generation.

Roman Reigns is second generation for sure but also third generation, if including High Chief Peter Maivia on the family tree.

Watching their fathers and family members compete, these WWE superstars know Florida wrestling, especially Tampa, where WWE will hold WrestleMania 36 in 2020.

November is a big month on the road to WrestleMania, and Tampa will also house the WrestleMania 36 on-sale ticket party at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Ford Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena.

The event, free and open to the public, features WWE Superstar appearances, live in-ring matches with NXT Superstars, merchandise, games and an exclusive opportunity for fans to purchase their WrestleMania 36 tickets on-site before they become available to the general public.

Space is limited, so all guests are required to register online in advance at www.wrestlemaniatampabay.com.

Famous fathers

Charlotte, 32, is the daughter of the Nature Boy Ric Flair who had many memorable main event Championship Wrestling from Florida matches, especially in Tampa at the Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory.

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Photo By Jim Varsallone

Reigns is from the famous Anoa’i family, and his dad, Sika, of the Wild Samoans, wrestled there as did Nattie’s dad, the late, great Jim The Anvil Neidhart.

Roman, 33, with his family and Nattie, 36, with hers currently reside in Tampa. The very athletic Charlotte Flair is based in Orlando.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo By Jim Varsallone

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo By Jim Varsallone

Tampa’s historic ties to pro wrestling

Tampa was the headquarters of Championship Wrestling from Florida (1949-1987). Cowboy Luttrell founded CWF and later enlisted Eddie Graham as his protege and predecessor. Graham was named to the WWE Hall of Fame posthumously in 2008.

Long before other pro sports consistently engaged the Tampa/St. Pete market, pro wrestling entertained thousands each Tuesday night in Tampa at the Fort Homer W. Hesterly Amory and occasionally the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg. TV taped Wednesdays at Tampa’s Sportatorium.

Prior to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, WWE provided a training facility in Tampa (October 2007-August 2012) and ran shows with its developmental talent throughout Central and North Florida under the FCW banner.

Charlotte Flair and Roman Reigns were part of FCW, before the transition to NXT and the WWE PC in July 2013.

CWF at the Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory in Tampa

Championship Wrestling from Florida at the Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory featured many top talents and historic matches and moments.

How about May 14, 1974 at the Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory with the birth of The American Dream Dusty Rhodes.

Another at that famed armory, circa Aug. 21, 1979, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA title.

On Feb. 11, 1969 there, Dory Funk Jr. defeated Gene Kiniski for the NWA title.

Where the armory sat is now the Tampa Jewish Community Center South Campus. Organizers approved a CWF Wall of Fame inside the facility dedicated to the memory of CWF.

Check out this story: CWFWallofFameFundrasieratTampaJCC

A few years ago, Reigns participated in a CWF Legends Fanfest to helps raise funds for that special wall to honor the CWF legends, including family members.

Gridiron Gang

Reigns starred in football at Escambia and Pensacola Catholic high schools in Northwest Florida and collegiately at Georgia Tech. He spent NFL time briefly with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, before signing with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. After one season with Edmonton, he hung up the football cleats to pursue the family business.

Nattie’s dad excelled in the shot put, and he played football, too, for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, before transitioning to professional wrestling at the historic Stu Hart Dungeon in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Vince McMahon ties to Orlando, Tampa, Football

Tampa is one of eight cities chosen for an XFL team in this American pro football league’s reemergence which also kicks off in 2020. The team will compete at Raymond James Stadium, beginning Feb. 8, six days after Super Bowl 54 in Miami Gardens.

Almost two months later, Tampa gears for the Super Bowl of sports entertainment with its first WrestleMania, under the auspices of WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon.

Orlando housed an XFL team during the newly formed league’s only season in 2001 at the Citrus Bowl, which welcomed two Wrestlemanias (2008 and 2017). The current version of the XFL is owned by McMahon via Alpha Entertainment.

Family wrestling trees

FLAIR: *Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) - David Flair (David Fliehr) - Reid Flair (Reid Fliehr) - Charlotte Flair (Ashley Fliehr) - Fifi (Wendy Barlow).

NEIDHART: *Stu Hart - Bret The Hitman Hart - Owen Hart - Bruce Hart - Dean Hart - Keith Hart - Smith Hart - Jim The Anvil Neidhart - British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith - Davey Boy Smith Jr. - Natalya Nattie Neidhart - Tyson Kidd (TJ Wilson) - Teddy Hart.

REIGNS: *High Chief Peter Maivia (Fanene Anderson) - Lia Maivia (Ofelia Fuataga) - Afa The Wild Samoan (Arthur Anoa’i Sr.) - Sika The Wild Samoan (Leati Anoa’i Amituana’i) - Rocky Johnson (Wayde Bowles) - Yokozuna (Rodney Anoa’i) - Rosey (Matthew Anoa’i) - Roman Reigns (Leati Joseph Anoa’i) - Fatu/Tonga Kid/Tama (Samuel Fatu) - Umaga/Jamal (Edward Fatu) - Rikishi (Solofa Fatu Jr.) - The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) - Samu (Samula Anoa’i) - Manu (Afa Anoa’i Jr.) - LA Smooth (Lloyd Anoa’i) - Gary Albright - Jacob Fatu - Jimmy Uso (Jonathan Fatu) - Naomi (Trinity McCray) - Jey Uso (Joshua Fatu) - Nia Jax (Lina Fanene) - Sean Maluta - Lance Anoa’i.

WrestleMania 36 On-Sale Ticket Party

WrestleMania, WWE’s annual pop culture extravaganza, comes to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

To celebrate the event, the official WrestleMania On-Sale Party will begin 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Ford Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena.

The WrestleMania On-Sale Party will feature WWE Superstar appearances, live in-ring matches featuring NXT® Superstars, merchandise, games and an exclusive opportunity for fans to purchase their WrestleMania 36 tickets on-site before they become available to the general public on Friday, Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster.

The WrestleMania On-Sale Party is free, family-friendly and open to the public.

Space is limited, so all guests are required to register online in advance at www.wrestlemaniatampabay.com.

Join WWE, Amalie Arena and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission for live in-ring matches, WWE Superstar autograph signings, kids’ activities, music, and more.

WWE Superstars scheduled to appear include Nia Jax, Ruby Riott, Alicia Fox, WWE Legend The Boogeyman and WWE Hall of Famers Kurt Angle, Mark Henry, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart.

(Talent subject to change)

Gates for the WrestleMania On-Sale Party will open at 4:30 p.m., and the event will run from 5:30-8 p.m. Parking is available in the surrounding parking garages and is subject to City of Tampa hourly weeknight rates.

WrestleMania 36 tickets will be available for purchase beginning at 5 p.m.. Bags larger than 12x12x12 inches, backpacks or wrapped packages are not permitted.

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Jim Varsallone covers pro wrestling, something he’s done since his college days in the late 1980s. Spanning four decades, he currently covers WWE (Raw, SmackDown and NXT), Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground, MLW, WOW, FSCW, AEW and the South Florida indies. He also writes MMA -- mostly profile stories and video interviews with American Top Team talent in South Florida. As for pro wrestling, he writes feature stories and profile pieces, updates upcoming show schedules in South Florida, photographs the action and interviews talent (audio and video) -- sharing the content here and via social media on his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel: jim varsallone (jimmyv3 channel).
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