By Jerry Del Priore
Jason Calabrese, a 17-year professional wrestling veteran known as Jason Static, wanted to do something different. So, the former Brooklynite, who’s now living in Orlando, Florida, embarked on writing a play on a subject matter he knows well: Pro wrestling, of course.
Calabrese, who had tryouts with WWE and TNA Wrestling, named the play We Don’t Play Fight—about a theater company and wrestling school and federation, Conquer Pro Wrestling (CPW)—that join forces to thwart their evil landlord’s plan to kick them to the unforgiven curb.
The mix of theater arts and pro wrestling is a natural fit, with sports entertainment possessing several dramatic elements.
But Calabrese gave the play a twist. The first act allows the actors to flex their thespian chops, setting the stage for the second part, which features the wrestlers doing their thing in the squared circle for approximately an hour (5 matches or so), center-stage in a well-lit, real theater house.
“It’s never been done before” he said of merging the two arts into a play. “I am the only one that’s combined real pro wrestling with a theater show.”
Two years and eight performances later, Calabrese, who admitted to being nervous when it first premiered, said that things couldn’t have worked out better, turning fans of each respective discipline into new supporters of the counterpart’s art.
“People like it,” the 40-year-old personal trainer by day exclaimed. “People like that it’s different. Theater fans are becoming wrestling fans, and wrestling fans are becoming theater fans. The actors are surprised by just how loud the mat is when they fall, and how hard it is to wrestle well.”
Unfortunately, according to the Lafayette High School alum, the Orlando area has been tapped out for now.
Therefore, the five-foot-ten, 205-pound chiseled athlete/playwright/producer is looking to move the play up North to the mecca of American theater in Midtown Manhattan, New York, and is hell-bent on making it happen in due course.
“I’m looking to bring it to New York,” Calabrese said. “I have a catch phrase called Bodyslams on Broadway. That’s the dream. I have no fear. I’m not afraid of failing.”
With each show, Calabrese said he’s learning theater production while developing the script, just like in pro wrestling, and is creating something that he feels is special.
He utilizes unique ideas, including a character who stars as CPW’s blind wrestling promoter who lost his vision due to an injury during a match.
In addition, equipped with an impressive rolodex of grapplers, Calabrese has been able to secure the services of accomplished wrestlers. The list includes once-TNA star Santana Garrett. Plus, former USA military service heroes and ex-TNA wrestlers Chris Melendez, an Army veteran who lost his left leg due to an IED in Iraq and the current CPW champion, and ex-navy member Jesse Neal, who was on the destroyer ship USS Cole, which terrorist bombed in a vicious attack in 2000, killing 17 people.
But the inspiration doesn’t stop there. Working with a children’s cancer foundation, Calabrese has added real-life cancer survivor Rex Bacchus—a wrestler who works as a babyface (good guy)—to We Don’t Play Fight. Calabrese’s Static (a heel, bad guy) challenges Bacchus to a fight after he receives CPW’s Conqueror’s Award during a performance, saying that he has to earn his keep in the federation.
Without inserting a spoiler alert, the two wresters tangle and the action and entertainment prove to be high-octane, as Calabrese said fans have been positive regarding We Don’t Play Fight, which, according to him, has sold between 150-300 tickets per performance since its inception in 2016.
At the end of the show, the actors stand outside the ring, and wrestlers inside, as the audience gives the performers a standing ovation, which rarely occurs at independent wrestling cards, Calabrese said.
“The best part (of the play) is the curtain call,” the former Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, resident said. “You may get a few people stand up and clap after an indie wrestling show, but not the whole audience.”
“It’s working,” Calabrese added, regarding the fans’ favorable reactions to We Don’t Play Fight. “I don’t why it’s working, but it’s working.”