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BY JEFF FALK

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By day, he’s a well-spoken, mild-mannered promoter/business man focused on crunching numbers and all the other details that insure everything comes out right. But the night transforms him into a vicious, blood-thirsty warrior of the top rope.

He doesn’t have a split personality as much as he does an alter ego – kind of a public persona living in the body of a private figure. But Rob Noxious is most definitely an extension of Robert Mort.

In a week, he’ll be bringing both of them with him to Lebanon.

“I absolutely have a split personality,” said Mort. “I don’t take (stuff) from people when I’m wrestling. I’m the same way outside of the ring. But I love people. I love kids. I love working with children. If you piss me off, you’ll pay for it. I’m 52, but I act like I’m 18.

“I get so nervous before I walk through that curtain,” continued Mort. “That’s my high, the butterflies. Then when I go through that curtain, I’m a different person. Nothing can stop me from becoming Rob Noxious.”

If there is such a thing as a ‘feature match’, Rob Noxious will be part of a wild, tag-team, steel-cage throw down when Classic Championship Wrestling makes its triumphant, semi-annual return to Lebanon on November 26. The eight-match show, which will include the incomparable ‘Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart and a national heavyweight title bout, will go down at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Hall, 116 North Eighth Street in Lebanon, and redefine the term ‘Black Friday’.

Admission tickets are priced at $15 and $20 and can be purchased by calling 717-379-4599 or 484-215- 8492, or at the door beginning at 6 p.m. the night of the show.

“If you’re faint of heart and don’t like violence, the Eagles Hall is not the place to be,” said Mort, a resident of Harrisburg. “The fans in Lebanon get so rowdy, and we’re going to tear it up. There are going to be a lot of surprises, and a lot of people from the past are going to show up. It’s going to be an entertaining evening.

“Our shows are pretty well-received and we’re loved in Lebanon,” added Mort. “But people from all over come to our shows. Our front row is mainly our loyal fan base. Our audiences are just regular working people who love pro wrestling. We have people coming to our shows who are rich and people who are living paycheck to paycheck.”

In many ways, the professional wrestling side of Mort’s life is a 34-year-long manifestation of a video game. Rob Noxious couldn’t exist without Robert Mort, but neither could Robert Mort exist without Rob Noxious.

“When I was 17 or 18, I used to play this wrestling video game with my friend,” said Mort. “You had to come up with a name for your character and I couldn’t, so my friend said, ‘Rob Noxious’. He said, ‘That’ll suit you’. His name was ‘Mike Trash’. It stuck and I’ve been going by it ever since.

“I am supposed to be a heal, but I’m so far into my character that no matter what I do, I’m still adored,” Mort continued. “I know for a fact that in Lebanon, I’ll definitely be the good guy. Everybody hates Truth Serum (his opponents on Black Friday) because they’re kind of like black militia who kneel for the National Anthem and talk crap on America. They’re actually good guys who are playing characters. Wrestling is like an emotional rollercoaster. There’s good versus evil.”

Based in Marysville, Classic Championship Wrestling, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, is one of dozens of independent professional wrestling organizations sprinkled across the region and country. It is an on-going testament to our society’s nearly 60-year infatuation with violence, vigilantism and the conflict that exists between good and evil – professional wrestling.

“Everyone knows the outcome, but it’s choreographed to a degree,” said Mort, the owner of Classic Championship Wrestling. “But we hit harder than most of the other independent companies. The people who come to see us want to believe it’s real. You should see some of our friends. They get so hyped that you have to calm them down. It’s a spectacle. It’s a one-ring circus.

“It’s tough being a good guy in real life,” added Mort. “Good guys finish last.”

If preparing the venue, setting up the ring, dotting all the ‘i’s and crossing all the ‘t’s is stressful for Mort, then pile driving an opponent into canvas is his relief. Because pro wrestling has always played such an important role in his life, Robert Mort can imagine one without Rob Noxious in it.

“It’s the worst. It’s so stressful,” said Mort, of the promotional and business side of CCW. “Come show day, I’m so stressed. Something is always coming up. It’s insane. The easiest part is going out there and beating each other up. But I’ve got a bunch of soldiers, just a good group of guys and girls who stick together.

“I do it (wrestling) a lot smarter now,” concluded Mort. “That’s the key to it. The stuff I do is hard-core wrestling. It’s how you fall on the mat that extends your life in wrestling. We still do crazy stuff and my wife gets mad at me. But I don’t feel my age at all.”

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