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Wrestling coming to Suffolk

The top stars of Vanguard Championship Wrestling will make an appearance in Suffolk this Saturday at the Salvation Army Community Center.

The main event, which starts at 7:30 p.m., features former WWE star “The Pope” Elijah Burke taking on “Mr. Mid-Atlantic” Damien Wayne.

VCW promoter and owner Travis Bradshaw said he’s looking forward to the event, which he has been bringing to Suffolk for the past four years. While past crowds have hovered between 200 to 300 people, Bradshaw is hoping for more this year.

“We’re very excited,” Bradshaw said. “I’m from Suffolk, so when we come, it’s always exciting for me.”

Other bouts include:

The Hell Cats defend the VCW tag-team championship against Simply Safe-ish

Irvin Legend will take on former tag-team partner Jake Hollister

VCW Liberty champion Phil Brown defends his title against Roc Richards

“The Southern Saviour” John Skyler makes his VCW debut by taking on Harlem Bravado

In addition, Timmy Danger and The Sanctuary will be making a special announcement.

Bradshaw said that, unlike the WWE, there’s more wrestling in VCW than entertainment, though he hopes his events both showcase the wrestlers’ athleticism and entertain fans.

“WWE is trying to wipe away wrestling from everything they do, and we’re trying to put wrestling in bold print,” Bradshaw said.

Ron Simmons, a standout football player at Florida State and a Heisman Trophy candidate in 1979 who went on to play in the pros with the Cleveland Browns, will be the guest of honor.

Simmons went on to become the first recognized African-American world heavyweight wrestling champion when he defeated Big Van Vader in a World Championship Wrestling bout on Aug. 2, 1992 and is recognized by World Wrestling Entertainment as the first-ever African-American champion in professional wrestling history. He also wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance, Extreme Championship Wrestling and WWE.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.

Simmons will sign autographs from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship belt that he wore in Baltimore in 1992 when he became world champion will also be available to photograph.

“Ron Simmons is always wanting to give back,” Bradshaw said. “He’s as excited as the fans are. He’s done a lot of charity work. This is just what he loves to do. It’s a payday for sure, but he wouldn’t want to do anything else this Saturday.”

All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Salvation Army, with all seats $20. Children 5 and under are free. Tickets are available at the door starting at 6 p.m. They can also be purchased in advance at the Salvation Army Community Center at 400 Bank St. from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and on the VCW website at vcw-wrestling.com.

There are also tickets available online that include photo opportunities with Ron Simmons and “The Pope” Elijah Burke. For $10, people can also enter a raffle to win Ron Simmons’ replica WCW title belt, the winner to be announced June 15.

For Bradshaw, having events in Suffolk to benefit the Salvation Army is personal, as the money raised will stay in the community.

“Part of what we can do is raise awareness for what they do,” Bradshaw said.