One on one with Wrestle Circus’ Al Lenhart

This past Sunday, Wrestle Circus, a new independent wrestling promotion based out of Austin, Texas, hosted their debut show at the Ironwood Hall. Many talented wrestlers were on this card, that had a lot of fans anticipating the debut for months. We had a chance to catch up with Al Lenhart, one half of the owners of the company, and got his thoughts on everything after the debut show concluded. Below you will also find the quick results from the “Opening Act” as well as the conversation I had with Al.

Jordan Len-X defeated Trevor Lee

“Dirty” Andy Dalton defeated Mike Dell

“Hangman” Adam Page defeated Willie Mack

Dick Justice vs Jervis Cottonbelly (1 year time limit) is still going on right now

Scorpio Sky defeated DJ Z, Aaron Solow & Ricky Starks to become the first ever Wrestle Circus Sideshow champion

Laredo Kid defeated Carson

Donovan Dijak defeated Keith Lee

Tony Nese defeated Sammy Guevara

Christi Jaynes defeated Jessica James & Leva Bates

Lance Hoyt eliminated Colt Cabana; Ray Rowe eliminated Lance Hoyt; EC3 pinned Ray Rowe to become the first ever Wrestle Circus Ringmaster champion

H/F: Your first show is in the books. Talk about how it feels now that the show has concluded, the great turnout and the positive reaction that the fans had afterwards.

AL: Honestly, it took some time for things to really settle in. My wife, Lexi, and I, were both really at a loss for words after the event. I just kept telling the guys backstage how grateful I was to all of them for helping put on such an unbelievable show. Without those guys backstage, it would have been a disaster, but there were so many professionals in the back that knew what they were doing. I truly can’t give enough credit to the workers and our fans.

Regarding the turnout – it was beyond expectations. I mean, I knew that we were going to have a solid showing, but then by the end we started to worry about whether or not the fire marshall was going to show up. We really crammed about 415 people into that venue, which made for an amazing environment and the wrestlers really fed off the energy from the crowd. In fact, the crowd was so loud that we had a couple come to the door and purchase tickets about a quarter of the way through at the door just because “it sounded like everyone was having so much fun.”

H/F: What did you learn from the Opening Act?

AL: I could go on forever about the things I learned. It was my first time ever promoting a show, so there were definitely a lot of things that I could have done to be more prepared, but you don’t know what you don’t know until you go through it. With the turnout we had, we definitely needed another bar, more beer, snacks, etc…

There were certain things we didn’t know about our brand new ring until it actually had a few matches on it. The aprons could have been tied tighter, the ropes needed to be tighter, etc… Those are definitely things that we will fix in the future.

It’s funny because early in the day I got a text message from Biss (from Inspire Pro Wrestling) and he told me “don’t forget to breathe.” He was right because there were definitely times throughout the day where I needed to remind myself of his message. Lance Hoyt came up to me during the show and he was like “Man this is going great, are you alright? You look stressed.” It wasn’t so much that I was truly stressed as it was that I wanted the fans to get what they paid for.

And then of course I messed up Christi Jaynes and Donovan Dijak’s music – so that wasn’t too cool of me (SORRY!!!) but I will definitely be more prepared next time.

H/F: I imagine the weeks and days leading up to the event had to be stressful and nerve wrecking. What was going through your mind the morning of the show?

AL: The days and weeks leading up to the show I was actually just really excited because I knew we had assembled an all-star crew. The nerves didn’t really hit me until just a couple hours before the show started and that was mainly because there was just a bunch of last minute touches we needed to finish up.

I wasn’t thrilled with the way the curtain turned out and we left our ring bell in our storage facility. There was a microphone issue right before we went live that almost made us resort to a wired mic and that delayed the show by about 15 minutes. So those things started piling up at the last minute. Again it all goes back to learning and we won’t have those problems again.

Photo credit: Leo Avila
Photo credit: Leo Avila

H/F: I saw that this has been a childhood dream of yours, to own a wrestling promotion, talk about what it means for you to fulfill that dream.

AL: You know, it really meant a lot to me because I came from very humble beginnings and to see this dream come to fruition…. it’s still a surreal experience. To have guys like Colt Cabana and Ray Rowe tell me that we should be proud of ourselves after our first show, it really meant a lot.

Truly I’m extremely lucky because my wife supports this venture and she’s helping me put it together and she wasn’t a big wrestling fan growing up or anything like that, but now she has jumped all in on this project and she’s great working with the talent and coming up with ideas. It’s really nice to have her fresh outside perspective on things, because it helps me tie together a show that “marks” and non-wrestling fans will both enjoy.

H/F: In most cases, fans will normally chant wrestler’s names or catchphrases. How did it feel to have them chanting the name of your company several times throughout the night?

AL: To be perfectly honest, it was a pretty conflicting feeling. I was SO GRATEFUL, but at the same time it was the guys that deserved the praise for going out there and putting their bodies on the line to entertain the fans. I think the fans were just so caught up in an overall great show that it sort of started coming natural to chant “WRESTLE CIRCUS” because their minds were filled with so many entertaining matches.

Again, all the credit in the world goes to the wrestlers and the fans for making the experience what it was on Sunday.

H/F: I’m not asking you to pick a favorite match, that would be unfair, but what are some moments that made you say or think to yourself, “Wow this happened at my show!”

AL: There are a lot that stick out to me so it’s hard to even narrow them down.

Hearing The Bullet Club theme go off in Austin and then looking out at an entire crowd throwing up the “TOO SWEET” hand signal was an unforgettable moment. I think the fans really enjoyed that one and the Adam Page vs. Willie Mack match was one that really jumped out to me as a really great match.

#BROKEN Leva Bates was a lot of fun and again, hearing the crowd chanting “DELETE DELETE DELETE!” was really cool. I’m so thankful to Leva for putting in the work to get that character down and she even checked with Matt Hardy and Reby to make sure they were cool with it before the show. She told me that they really loved the idea and then of course, we had Matt Hardy re-tweet her entrance so that was really cool to see go viral.

Donovan Dijak vs. Keith Lee…. need I say anything more? I mean, if you were at the show you witnessed a match that you could put up there amongst the greatest indy matches to ever take place. Those guys aren’t just “big men” they are incredible athletes and I’m not a big Lebron fan, but while I was watching that match, all I could think of was the poster that says “We are all witnesses.”

And then the main event you’ve got the match starting off with four of the biggest stars in the world sitting on your ring posts just ready to go to war. Four-way matches can be difficult but those guys were just incredible. EC3, Colt Cabana, Ray “Death” Rowe and “The American Psycho” Lance Hoyt? Are you kidding me.

No matter how far WrestleCircus goes (or doesn’t go) this night will always be very special to me and it will be tough to top.

Photo credit: Leo Avila
Photo credit: Leo Avila

H/F: How would you say the crowd was compared to your expectations going in?

AL: The crowd was phenomenal. We have such a great fanbase already and we’re just getting started. I can’t say enough great things about our fans and how they are helping to spread the word about us so quickly.

It’s almost like WrestleCircus has this gravitational pull where a lot of people have taken a special interest in it, so we’re really grateful for that. Backstage the wrestlers were all talking about what a great crowd Austin was and Colt Cabana even posted on Twitter that the crowd we had was exactly the type of crowd he loves wresting in front of.

There was no way for any of us to expect the crowd to be that hot. Dijak even posted that the Austin crowd was “NUCLEAR” all night, and I think he hit the nail on the head with that statement.

H/F: After putting together such a great first card, where do you go from here? You’ve set the bar pretty high for yourself, any pressure to outdo the Opening Act?

AL: Of course there is pressure but we just announced our talent for the November 19th & 20th shows and I think the fans are seeing that more major talent is on it’s way. We want to have a core pool of guys that we use and we just added Chris Hero, Brian Cage, Jeff Cobb, Joey Ryan, Mr. 450, Rocky Romero and more to our upcoming shows, so we think the fans will be happy.

H/F: The next two shows are on November 19 and 20 in Austin and Dallas respectively. When will the venue, time and ticket sales be announced?

AL:Tickets went on sale at 6:00pm on today (October 19th) on our websiteWrestleCircus.com

H/F: We noticed that you are doing two shows a month for the next two months. Can fans expect you to run two shows a month every month?

AL: That’s the plan at least through February of next year. Texas has such a great wrestling fanbase that we aren’t ruling out moving to 3 shows (Fri, Sat, Sun) eventually. You just never know. It will all depend on the demand we get and of course it will depend on making sure the fans keep coming back for more.

Photo credit: Leo Avila
Photo credit: Leo Avila

H/F: Do you plan to do a “big event” each year, kind of like a WrestleMania that the WWE has?

AL: We’ve kicked around some ideas for that already and I think there will definitely be something that has a “once a year” type event, but we haven’t really nailed down exactly what that might be or what that will look like yet.

H/F: Who are some of the wrestlers that you didn’t get to book on the Opening Act that you want to work with in the future?

AL: There’s a lot of guys that we want to bring in and a lot of it just depends on schedules. Pretty much any top name you can think of, of course we would love to have them but guys like Ricochet, Pentagon Jr., Sami Callihan, Cody Rhodes, Will Ospreay, are tough to book because they get booked so far in advance.

We’ll definitely be bringing in all the major players it will just be a matter of time.

H/F: Will Wrestle Circus feature more local talent on future shows and will there be “feature” matches at each event?

AL: Yes and no. There are a lot of great wrestling companies in the state of Texas that are doing a great job featuring the talent in Texas so we will continue to cherry pick what we consider to be top guys from within the state and mix those guys with some of the best talent from around the world.

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Photo credit: Jason Harris

H/F: Will you be crowning more champions in the future? Tag team, women’s, etc.?

AL: You will see a tag-division coming together starting with our November shows and Christi Jaynes picked up a victory at The Opening Act so she is on her way to possibly being crowned as our first ever “Lady of the Ring” (stipulation is that the first women’s division wrestler to score 3 straight victories will win the title).

H/F: Will donuts be given out at future shows? (Our video guy Rudy submitted this question, hi Rudy.)

AL: Assuming that “Supercop” Dick Justice doesn’t eat them all… I mean those two never concluded their 1 year time limit match, so fans should keep an ear out for the Benny Hill theme. Wherever they are, I’m sure they are still hugging/fighting/and eating donuts together.

H/F: Any last words you want to give to the fans of Wrestle Circus?

AL: We really want to thank the fans of WrestleCircus for making us into this overnight sensation of sorts. As I mentioned earlier, the wrestlers really feed off the energy from the crowd so when the crowd is as hot as ours was on Sunday, it makes it easier for the guys to go out and put on great matches because their adrenaline is pumping.

I would just say that if you loved our show, continue to help us spread the word so we can keep growing this business and you never know where we might end up. I think it’s really cool for all of those in attendance that they will be able to say they were there when WrestleCircus debuted at Ironwood Hall in Austin, TX because there is a lot of potential. Please keep coming out to support us and we will continue to put on great shows and continue to bring in the best talent from all over.

Thanks again!

As Al mentioned, tickets for the next two Wrestle Circus events are on sale now! You DO NOT want to miss their events. Be sure to follow them on twitter and Instagram at @WrestleCircus.

Below you can find a preview of our in depth highlight video that will be out soon!

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