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Pro wrestling hits Missoula



Whatever you do, don't ask Lee Coyle, aka "Awesome Lee Dawson," if he teaches chair smashing at his new professional wrestling school.

"We call it garbage wrestling," says the founder of NWA Pro Frontier States Wrestling, bristling at the question. "Anybody in gym shorts and a T-shirt can smash somebody with a chair. It has no point at all."

In contrast, Coyle, 29, says quality professional wrestling has a point, or at least a story line. Typically, it's good versus evil, or, in wrestling lingo, a "baby face" (hero) versus a "heel" (unscrupulous villain).

"The baby face is the guy that everybody wants to win," Coyle says.

While there's no garbage wrestling at Frontier States, Coyle does educate students about cultivating attitude and appearance. Since opening the school two months ago, he's told his students, "If you want to get booked, you have to have a look."

You also need to know how to fall, and Coyle's approach starts slowly before building to more complicated maneuvers.

"We take baby steps doing this," Coyle says, before demonstrating a "front flip bump," essentially a forward summersault that ends with an impressive thud and Coyle flat against the mat.

Coyle, who dreamed of performing moves like this while growing up in Billings, signed up for professional wrestling classes in 2006 at the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary. The investment began to pay off when Coyle says he was invited to tryouts hosted by mega promoter World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). But after only a handful of WWE exhibitions, a dislocated shoulder took him out of the running. The injury persuaded Coyle to pursue a less physically demanding endeavor—a degree in business administration from the University of Montana.

"It was hard," he says about having to put aside his passion.

Wanting to merge his wrestling background and education, Coyle decided to launch his school in September. He charges $100 per month for roughly three training sessions per week. Three aspiring wrestlers are currently enrolled.

After graduation from UM in December, Coyle hopes to begin hosting matches in the Toole Avenue warehouse he shares with local roller derby upstarts, the Hellgate Rollergirls.


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