BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – There are multiple personalities which reside within the mind of Christian Sechrist.
Each serves him well as an entrepreneur. And both are essential inside the world of professional wrestling.
It is a symbiotic relationship. So much so that one probably couldn’t exist without the other.
As a businessman, Sechrist is the force behind Mega-Force Professional Wrestling, a Lebanon-based company attempting to put a local spin on the sport’s crossover into entertainment. But Sechrist is also Smasher LeBlanc, a rough-and-tumble, but misunderstood brawler, who can only be brought to life through provocation.
“I’m the guy who puts it all together,” said Sechrist, who answers to the titles of ‘booker’ or ‘organizer’ outside the ring. “I’m the organizer. I call the shots. I deal with all the stress, all the last-minute decisions. Fourteen years into the business, I prefer being a booker because it’s a lot less painful. Taking care of business is a lot easier than getting beat up. You saw me get hit with a chair tonight, and that was a real steel chair.
“Smasher and Chris are two different people,” continued Sechrist. “My character is from Baton Rouge. Smasher LeBlanc was developed on April 20, 2002, during my first match in Red Lion, PA. He’s a hybrid of a biker and a guy at the end of the bar you don’t want to talk to. But he’s a fan favorite because everyone can relate to him. I’m known for my brawling style. I take no B.S.”
Sechrist’s latest professional wrestling show was staged Saturday night at the Lebanon Expo Center, 80 Rocherty Road in Lebanon. Smasher made a brief early appearance, before sliding backstage and transforming back into Sechrist.
The two-hour show featured eight matches, 20 uniquely-stylized wrestlers – from places like New York, Maryland, Ohio and Florida – and an intermission. The event was well attended, with a couple hundred raucous fans making up the audience.
“Our first show was a learning experience,” said Sechrist, referring to Mega Force’s debut performance a year earlier. “I’ve worked hand in hand with a lot of bookers and organizers. I learned from my experiences. The second time, it was a little easier.
“We started in January, contacting all the wrestlers,” Sechrist added. “For four months, we’ve been working on this show. We’re not there yet. We have a lot of stuff to take care of. But the Lebanon Expo Center has been very gracious to us.”
The action inside the rope was fast and furious. Wrestlers absorbed face rakes, hay-makers, eye gouges and head locks. And sometimes that action spilled over to outside the ring, seemingly into the laps of the frenzied fans.
If the goal was to engage the audience – to include them emotionally – the show was a hit. ‘Whipped into a frenzy’ may be a better way to describe it.
“It really is all about the fans,” said Sechrist, himself a master showman. “I wouldn’t be doing it if people weren’t having a good time. If the fans go home smiling, I’m happy. By the sounds of it, everybody is having a blast.
“This is a community,” continued Sechrist. “The (Lebanon) community can benefit so much from this. We’re trying to make Lebanon a better place. We’re one little company. We can make Lebanon what it has the potential to be. The majority of the crowd is out-of-county people, and that’s good for Lebanon. And I’m not blowing smoke.”
Each match included an underlying story line, a plot that made the ensuing battle royal even more interesting. Some pitted good against evil, and good didn’t always come out on top.
To be continued…
“We’re also a creative bunch,” said Sechrist, 41. “We know how to market ourselves and how it will work with the crowd. There is a creative process. As far as the ideas for the matches, that falls on a lot of shoulders. Some of it is insane. But you make it happen and bring it to life. Any promoter or booker will tell his wrestlers, “Hey guys, this is what we want. Bring it to life’.
“It is an art,” Sechrist continued. “At its most basic form, it is an art. You can’t be unimaginative. Creativity is huge. We know how to make a crowd happy, and you always want to end on a high note.”
Poetry in motion. One definition of entertainment is the right blend of athleticism and showmanship.
“One of the major requirements is to be an athlete,” said Sechrist, all of 6-4 and 325 pounds. “There are people who come in off the streets, but you have to be an athlete. You have to be physical. It’s one of the tougher sports out there.
“We do train, and we do learn how to fall,” added Sechrist. “But you still are falling. Wrestling is entertainment, but we need to know how to fall safely. But accidents do happen. We’re tough people. It’s a love. It’s a passion. You’ve got to be mentally tough.”
While certainly a tough sport to break into, there does seem to be a market for this sort of entertainment in Lebanon. It is a market that is, as of yet, untapped and unexplored.
“Our goal is to attract outside people, and bring Lebanon people into it,” said Sechrist. “We want to have more shows, three or four, maybe eight or ten, a year. Get a following and have some fun. We love what we do.
“Wrestling over the past couple of years has kind of gotten a black eye,” continued Sechrist. “Just the way wrestling was portrayed in the (19)90s and early 2000s. It has changed so much. It’s an ever-evolving sport. It has turned into a family affair. And now it’s starting to turn back around to more athletic people.”
It’s a world that has plenty of room for guys like Sechrist – and Smasher, as well.
“That was definitely him,” said Sechrist. “For me, Smasher LeBlanc came from the guy who trained me. He gave me a blueprint of what Smasher LeBlanc is. He has changed (over the years), and he’s evolved into my idea of who Smasher LeBlanc is.”
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