Nestled in downtown Belvidere, right next to the Kishwaukee River … sits an old theater first built in the 1880’s.
Despite a sometimes rocky history, the Apollo still contains many of the ornate touches of a time long past: old paintings and even a small balcony.
Maria Martinez bought and renovated the Apollo in 2001, and since that time, it’s hosted many events.
“We do a lot of weddings,” she says. “We do country music. We’ve done some seminars. We’ve done some comedy.”
But, never has she held an event like ‘Extreme Midget Wrestling’ … a touring troupe of pro wrestlers on a slightly smaller scale, promoted as the ‘Baddest Little Show on Earth.
Apollo employee Tyler Bauscher says, “They’ve got character lines, they have their props. It’s just like going to a WWE event, but different.”
There are body slams, flying jumps, and even chair hits .. all done by wrestlers who are around four-feet tall. A promotional tape shows an event packed with personality.
Wrestler Mike Hawk tells fans, “I’m here from Canada to show all these American midgets what we’re all about.”
Another wrestler, Skinny Timmy, says he’s the “… leader of the Midget Mafia. We do what we want, when we want, to whoever we want.”
Bauscher, who works at the Apollo, was the one who got the call from the company which promotes the event. “It was different, but I thought it would do pretty good in this area, they seem to do good everywhere it’s gone.”
And get around they do. Tour dates listed on the ‘Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation’ website include stops at smaller venues in Wisconsin, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, even Utah.
But Belvidere? Martinez sees it as a good opportunity to bring hundreds of people downtown. “Well, I thought this is going to be an interesting event, and I think this town would really need something different to kind of get people to come downtown to Belvidere, and I figured this would be a good opportunity for us, to be able to bring something different.”
So. on a Saturday night in April, the theater will be converted into a wrestling ring, with room for about 600 spectators, and for Maria Martinez, a front row seat.
“I’ll be there … on the ringside,” she says as she laughs. “I think I’m going to enjoy it.”
An official with the ‘Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation’ says they don’t get many complaints about the somewhat politically incorrect wrestling events. Some don’t like the use of the word ‘midget,’ but that’s about it.
The event is April 16th beginning at 8:30pm at the Apollo on State Street in Belvidere. Ticket prices range between $20 and $30.
For more on the event, click on the link below.
You can find information on ordering tickets at this link.