Jared Wedekind always had a passion for wrestling. He grew up watching World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) matches on television and hoped to be one of those wrestlers someday.
A few years after graduating high school and playing for the Muscatine high school football team, Wedekind stumbled upon the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy, a wrestling school located in Moline, Illinois run by Marek Brave and current WWE superstar Colby Lopez (who performs as Seth Rollins in WWE).
Wedekind made it through the school and almost immediately began wrestling in SCW Pro events.
And then he was diagnosed with lymphoma in September of 2017, just four months after graduating from the wrestling academy. Still, Wedekind had no doubt he would find his way into the ring again in the future.
“I was thinking in my head ‘what do I have to do to get back into this ring one day?’” Wedekind recalled. “I needed to beat it because I knew I was going to step foot in the ring again."
And beat it, he did. Wedekind was declared cancer-free and returned to the ring in January of 2018.
“It just felt amazing,” Wedekind said. “It sends chills down my spine every time I think about it.”
Now, Wedekind will have a chance to wrestle in his hometown for the first time ever when SCW comes to Muscatine for the Muscatine Meltdown this Saturday. The event will take place at the Muscatine Boxing Club at 7 p.m. and the entry fee is $10.
It marks just the second time an SCW Pro event has come to Muscatine. Brave, who is responsible for SCW Pro's return to the area, wrestled his first professional wrestling match against Rollins in Muscatine for the National Wrestling Alliance, a company based out of Muscatine.
"Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, myself and Seth Rollins all wrestled for them," Brave said. "I've always thought Muscatine was a great place to have some wrestling events."
Juan Fourneau, who performs as Latin Thunder, will compete in the main event in a tag team match alongside teammates Travis Titan and Steve Manders, who wrestles as the Cornbelt Cowboy. Manders was a walk-on fullback for the University of Iowa football team from 2013-17.
“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been in the ring with,” Forneau said of Manders. “He’s a guy I think people will be excited to see.”
The event will consist of eight matches that vary from singles to tag teams and feature both male and female performers.
The event is sure to be special for Wedekind, too, who estimates he will have “At least 30” friends and family who will see him wrestle for the first time.
The same goes for Jayson Paul as well. Paul, originally from New Boston, Illinois, also attended the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy and will have “At least 50 or 60” family members and friends who will see him wrestle for the first time.
Like Paul and every other athlete who has trained under Lopez and Brave at the academy, Paul and Wedekind had to battle their way through a tough CrossFit routine. Both have wrestled in their fair share of events, but now they will have the chance to show their family and friends what they’re made of.
“Sometimes I thought there was no way I could do it,” Paul said of making it through training. “I just plugged away and thought to myself ‘How much do you want this?’ I wanted it more than anything so I made it happen.”
And if the event draws a good crowd, Brave suggested pro wrestling could make more frequent returns to Muscatine.
"It the fans show up, give us a good draw and it looks like a viable option we'd love to continue running wrestling events in Muscatine on a regular basis," Brave said.