Lynne Hermansen
Not everyone gets to live out their childhood fantasies.
This, however, is not the case for two Gardner brothers.
Jake and Ryan King grew up idolizing the professional wrestling style of the 1980s and 1990s along with shows such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
They said they were partly inspired in life by a charismatic Grandfather who they never met because he died young and their Dad who helped them build their first wrestling ring.
“It was some of the funnest times we ever had,” Ryan King said.
Both brothers said their favorite wrestler was Mick Foley because of his character and storytelling as an underdog character.
“This guy will do anything,” Ryan said.
Mick Foley is a retired wrestler at 57 years old these days and is best known for his character Cactus Jack Manson. He is also a four time world champion.
Jake King said he wished they had stuck with it after middle school, but they picked up their love for wrestling again when they began traveling in high school on the professional circuit with some of the same people who trained John Cena.
Jake said wrestling came natural to him as a non-athlete and he has gone from loving the higher impact flying moves to the technical and psychological aspects.
“I was always good at falling down and not getting hurt,” he said.
Ryan said he also agreed and loved having the fan reactions.
“It was so great,” he said. “So we kept playing up the bad guys. You’re always trying to reach people in the back row and be as expressive as possible.”
Jake said after years of being on the professional wrestling circuit they took a few years off for a break. Then in 2020 right as the pandemic hit they decided to start their own wrestling group and teach wrestling with the hopes of putting on a good show for the community.
“We didn’t know at first if we wanted to start from the ground up,” Jake said.
Ryan said they realized they had a cool thing going. They were able to purchase supplies before the supply chain issues “went off the rails.”
The brothers have spent the last two years building a ring on their private family property and teaching anyone 18 years old and older who was interested.
“In 2020 we thrived,” Ryan said. “It lit a fire with us, and we have had so many good ideas.”
Jake said it became an every day project for them and they learned a lot about starting and owning a business.
The brothers said they started Trailblazers Championship Wrestling for a family-friendly wrestling feeling that is for the people and not the business and an inexpensive alternative way for Gardner residents to have fun.
Jake said it had been a labor of love for them the last two years and they didn’t think they would get to this point.
“We have really enjoyed it and it has been something to look forward to,” he said. “We didn’t think we would put on shows at first.”
Ryan said they take pride in the ring they built and they are focused on putting on a good 2.5 to 3 hour event that is affordable.
“We are focused on putting on a good show,” he said.
Jake said they want even non-wrestling fans to think it is cool and have fun.
“It is telling stories about people,” he said. “It’ll be a great way for the town to have fun. I think people need to see it first then I feel people will get into it.”
Ryan said everyone has a story about how they used to watch wrestling or used to attend wrestling matches, and they want to bring back that experience.
“It’ll be as real as fans want it to be,” he said. “It’s most important to have fun. It’s telling stories about people and creating connections.”
Their first hosted event is July 30 at the Army National Guard building on Old 56 Highway in Olathe. Wendy Morris, known as The Wonderful Wendy, will be the ring announcer.
The brothers said their goal was to keep the events close to Gardner as there were not a lot of event venues in Gardner that would accommodate the space they needed. They said right now the armory is the perfect venue for them and Southwest Johnson County.
“We want to stay in this area and give people something to look forward to,” Ryan said.
Jake said their goal right now is to host monthly events to keep the memories of the last event’s character stories fresh and alive with people.
In between events they will continue to teach basics to new students and retrain the basics and fundamentals to seasoned wrestlers. They said practice is important because you catch a lot of bad habits and it is always good to refresh skills.
The brothers said they always liked helping people and now they get to guide and mentor them on a deeper level.
They currently do not have a wrestling program but teach students based on drop in fees to keep the business going and is open for males and females 18 years and older.
Jake said many of their students do not have athletic backgrounds but progress well physically and mentally with balance and self-confidence. They are respectful and have a ton of fun.
“It’s about building relationships and being a part
of something special,”he said. “It’s being at the starting point of a dream.”
“My favorite part is when you see the lightbulbs go off,” Ryan said. “There is so much more than just the moves.”