MERIDEN — When wrestling promoters approached retired Platt High School chemistry teacher Frank Chrzanowski to announce the 10th annual WrestleJam this weekend, Chrzanowski said he was “thrilled to no end.”
Chrzanowski spent 17 years of his life announcing World Wrestling Entertainment’s local fundraising events and civic center shows. He hasn’t announced an event in about five years and couldn’t say no to the offer. WrestleJam will take place at Lincoln Middle School on Saturday at 7 p.m., the first time the event is being held in the city. The event features wrestling matches by local and minor league wrestlers. Money raised during the “pie a promoter” portion of the event will benefit the Meriden Humane Society.
As an advisor to the Platt class of 1972, Chrzanowski, a wrestling fan, helped with fundraising. When a WWE advertisement came on TV asking nonprofits if they were interested in hosting a wrestling show, Chrzanowski said he was the first person to call.
“Their first fundraiser was at Platt High School,” said Chrzanowski, a Wallingford resident. The WWE known as the World Wrestling Federation back then, wasn’t as big as it is today, he said.
At the event, the chemistry teacher met WWE owner Vince McMahon, who took a liking to Chrzanowski’s voice. He said McMahon asked him if he’d like to announce at the high school shows.
“It was a dream come true for me,” said Chrzanowski who grew up watching wrestling with his dad. “I loved to do it.”
While announcing the small fundraiser events, Chrzanowski was also booked to announced WWE shows at civic centers across New England.
“I had a ball,” he said. “It was so much fun.”
In 1993, Chrzanowski stopped doing the announcing for WWE, but continued to do shows for independent wrestling organizations at small venues.
When Michael Banks, owner of WrestleJam, learned about Chrzanowski’s connection to the industry he called him up and asked him to announce.
“It’s exciting,” Banks said.
The family-friendly event will feature matches from “minor league” wrestlers, Banks said. Many of the wrestlers are from the local scene on the verge of hitting the big time, he said.
“We bring in the ring, the wrestlers interact with the crowd,” Banks said. “There’s no violence, no swearing.”
Banks said he expects about 300 people to show up on Saturday.
Doug Dearborn, also known by his wrestling name, Rex Lethal, has taken a decade off from wrestling, but decided to participate in the Saturday event. Even though he’s take a long hiatus from the sport, friends tell him it’s like riding bike. The Meriden resident said he’s happy to help and is sure it’ll be fun.
For more information on WrestleJam visit, https://www.facebook.com/wrestlejam1.