ANNAPOLIS – In some states a bleeding professional wrestler could fall into the crowd, but not in Maryland, which has more stringent rules for professional wrestling than many other states.
The State Athletic Commission licenses promoters and monitors their activities.
The commission’s rules make it safer for both the fan and the wrestler, said Mark Shrader, vice president of the Maryland Championship Wrestling. Licenses maintain the quality of wrestling as the industry grows, he said.
Wrestlers must be licensed and undergo annual and pre-bout physicals, according to Patrick Pannella, commission executive director. The commission also sends monitors to all sanctioned shows to ensure licensed promoters and wrestlers follow the rules.
The State Athletic Commission licenses six promoters in Maryland: World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, Maryland Championship Wrestling, Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation, Baltimore Championship Federation and the National Wrestling League. The commission stopped about a half-dozen unsanctioned wrestling groups last year, according to Pannella.
The commission’s rules prohibit any inherently dangerous acts, such as throwing or hitting opponents with objects like chairs, unless they are pre- approved. Promoters must confine action within barriers and wrestlers must leave the ring if bleeding.
Substantial fines, $1,000 or more, are imposed when wrestlers break the rules, Pannella said, and both wrestlers and organizations can be penalized for infractions.
But some Maryland fans do not appreciate the state’s rules, even if they are meant to protect them. The mention of the commission and Pannella’s name at the beginning of a December MCW show elicited boos from the crowd.
“The less-strict wrestling rules do make a better show,” said Douglas Clayton, 27, a programmer from Columbia. He often goes to Philadelphia to watch Extreme Championship Wrestling, he said.
Rules keep problems like blading – intentional cutting of the face or head for audience reaction – in check, Pannella said.
“Our concern is that because of competition … individuals (may) try to do something unique or outrageous,” he said.