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Jim Rose returns wrestling to its roots

Former WWE stars hope to pin hardcore fans

Just as more people are tuning in to watch men fight it out in a ring — especially bouts produced by the WWE, TNA or UFC — Jim Rose wants to return wrestling to its roots.

The colorful showman behind the Jim Rose Circus, an outrageous hour of comedy and stunts not for the faint of heart, has been selling out clubs across the country with a new show incorporating former headliners of Vince McMahon’s WWE.

Woven into a loose narrative, Rose’s new act has Jake “The Snake” Roberts, whose career inspired Darren Aronofsky‘s “The Wrestler,” and Sinn Bodhi, formerly known as the tattooed circus freak Kizarney, break into fistfights, smash through tables, get hooked through the tongue, sprayed in the face with bear repellent, and encounter live scorpions and a 22-foot albino python. At one point, Bodhi is sealed in a “plastic bag of death,” as air is vacuumed out of it.

“It’s a soap opera like you’d see in wrestling (during a WWE show), but every night is different,” Rose says. “There’s a running theme but they’re ad libbing. They’re doing ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ but one night you might get hurt a little more than the night before.”

The over-the-top and very adult nature of the show reflects a time when fights were staged outside circus tents in order to sell tickets to crowds that would gather, Rose says. “The format is where wrestling came from,” he says.

Word-of-mouth has drummed up most of the interest for Rose’s show, which doesn’t involve a traditional ring, just a stage. His show launched from Seattle in the 1990s, and opened for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson and headlined Lollapalooza.

The Troubadour in Los Angeles expected to host the show July 22, but the tour is now postponed until at least September: On July 18, Rose was struck on the neck by Kizarney with a metal chair during a show at the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana, Calif.

“His already fragile neck has been injured even further and doctors advised Jim to take the month off,” a spokeswoman said.

Despite the injury, Rose intends to keep the show running. After all, injuries happen in his profession all the time.

Once it does, he hopes to grow his audience beyond its cult following, producing videos for his sites on MySpace and YouTube. A TV show is also being mulled.

“This is a very crazy reality show that’s happening,” Rose says. “If a television show is going to be fun, then let’s go do it.”

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