Night of pro wrestling slamming into Iowa City with Hawkamania XII

Iowa’s pro-wrestling scene will be put on display Saturday night at SCW Pro’s Hawkamania.



Naomi Hofferber, Arts Reporter

WWE fans rejoice — Iowa City is set to get its own taste of pro wrestling this Saturday at Hawkamania XII.

Hawkamania, a play on World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hulkamania, is hosted by SCW Pro, a wrestling organization that tours eastern Iowa and the surrounding area. Most of SCW’s wrestlers come from the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy based in Davenport, which is owned by Marek Brave and WWE wrestler Seth Rollins.

Pro wrestling differs widely from traditional Olympic wrestling, as it blurs the lines between sport and entertainment.

“Ours is a spectacle: we try to make everything as big and loud and colorful as possible, just to make sure everybody is getting their money’s worth,” Brave said. “Ours would be a nice mix between going to a sporting event while also going to some sort of live-action play or something to that effect.”

Along with the high-flying moves or nearly gymnastic feats, a big piece of what makes pro wrestling so entertaining is the wrestlers themselves, each of them taking on a specific persona.

For former Hawkeye football player Steve Manders, this character is the Cornbelt Cowboy.

When Manders began pro wrestling after graduating in 2017, he soon traveled to Dayton, Ohio to hone his skills by hitting the road with other pro wrestlers, traveling and wrestling nearly five nights a week.

“I was basically like a roadie, to a degree. I was hopping in with top independent wrestlers, and then driving from Canada to Florida to wherever,” Manders said. “When I was doing all that, I created this other character.”

Out of a lonely-road lifestyle, the Cornbelt Cowboy was born.

Manders drew inspiration from Iowa cowboy Buffalo Bill and on-screen cowboy John Wayne. He typically takes the ring donning a gold cowboy hat, cowboy wrestling boots, a brown leather jacket, a cowbell and a bull rope.

He said growing up, he had always been a fan of wrestling, watching legends such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, and Sting, but had only seriously considered doing it after meeting up with former Hawkeye football player and WWE wrestler Ettore Ewen, also known as Big E, who told him about Black and Brave.

“I was like, ‘Man, if I want to do this, it’s right in my backyard. I might as well do it,’” Manders said.

Joining the Cornbelt Cowboy for Hawkamania is wrestler Travis Mascho, better known as his wrestling persona Travis Titan.

Mascho said his character leans toward the more superhero type, wrestling in tights, to fit the name Titan.

“Everyone says I look like a babyface,” he said with a laugh. “I just look like a good guy, no matter how many times I’ve been like, ‘Ah, you know I can be mean.’ I’ve always wanted to do what’s best for everyone, and I’ve always wanted to help people the best that I can.”

Mascho said he wants his character to be a good example and a character for people to look up to. For him, it’s the characters that draw him into wrestling.

“There’s so much you can relate to in these characters that are going through a certain thing in the wrestling world compared to what you’re potentially going through in real life,” he said. “It’s not about the moves for me — being able to do this cool backflip or this cool front flip. It’s always been being able to create that connection that’s been so captivating.”