Add professional wrestling to the lineup of entertainment at the Astoria Armory.
Pacific Northwest Professional Wrestling is moving into the community space after the recent closure of the Astoria Event Center and will hold shows the last Sunday of each month, starting Nov. 26.
Roger Jaime, who runs the wrestling league and performs under the glam-rocker persona C.C. Poison, said he found out in The Daily Astorian about a week before his last show that his venue for the past decade would be closing. The event center had been operated by Port of Call Bistro & Bar owner Marvin James Sawyer, who was ordered out at the end of October.
“I contemplated retiring, because I’m about 53 now,” Jaime said.
After talking with his wrestlers, Jaime reached out to the Astoria Armory, a nonprofit community center that hosts all manner of low-cost, family friendly entertainment, from Friday skate nights, roller derby and donkey basketball to free holiday meals and pictures with Santa Claus. The venue’s signature draw, the Shanghaied Roller Dolls roller derby team, recently disbanded.
The Armory was immediately receptive to hosting Jaime’s wrestling show, he said.
The cavernous gym at the Armory is exponentially larger than the single-story event center, leaving Jaime to figure out a seating arrangement that doesn’t make the venue seem too empty. Wrestling nights usually draw around 75 attendees a month, including 50 to 60 diehard fans for whom he keeps a monthly storyline going, Jaime said.
“We really gear our shows toward kids,” he said. “There’s no bad language. There’s no blood, unless there’s an accident.”
Jaime plans on retiring from the ring in the coming years, but said he’ll keep on as an owner, promoter and possibly a commissioner character. He also hopes to bring some of his KISS, Poison and ZZ Top tribute bands to the Armory.
The Friends of the Astoria Armory, the nonprofit that runs the community center, has been trying to close on a $500,000 loan with lender Craft3 to purchase and improve the venue. But the building has faced numerous cleanups from historical issues, from asbestos and lead contamination from a firing range in the basement to underground oil tanks. In April, high winds blew off portions of the roof, exposing the gym floor to rain.
Mike Davies, president of the nonprofit, said the lead contamination has been cleaned up, and a new roof installed. The nonprofit hopes to be in possession of the Armory by the end of the year.
Carl Seip, a spokesman for Craft3, said the lender hopes to finish its due diligence soon. The nonprofit could then get a loan to purchase the building.
“This has been a lengthy process, as it usually is when dealing with volunteer nonprofit boards, and certainly in situations with structures that are historic and suffer from deferred maintenance,” he said.