‘Progressive Liberal’ inside wrestling ring riles them up

LURAY, Va. (AP) – Jeff X was writhing, the victim of a backdrop slam that left the diminutive wrestler from Coeburn sprawled on the mat.

His opponent, all 6-foot-5, 240 pounds of him, turned to face the crowd, a sea of people liberally speckled with camouflage and Hemi Orange, then flexed both biceps in triumph.

Hillary!” shouted Dan “The Progressive Liberal” Richards, straining to be heard over the rockabilly band playing on the nearby stage, the blat of monster truck exhaust notes from across the grounds and, maybe loudest of all, the boos of the audience.

“#Impeach” was printed across the front of his blue trunks. “Dump Trump” was on the back.

“Build the wall,” someone shouted back.

The show over July’s last weekend was part of Cooter’s Last Stand – billed as the last of the series of “Dukes of Hazzard” fan festivals organized by Ben Jones, the former Congressman and actor who played the Duke boys’ favorite mechanic on the television show.

For the unfamiliar, this brand of wrestling is probably best understood as sweaty theater rather than a traditional athletic contest. “Sports entertainment,” they call it in the big leagues.

Most shows feature a babyface – or, simply, “face” – the wrestler the crowd is supposed to root for, and a bad guy, called a “heel.”

There was no doubt who was who at Cooter’s Place, where some 20,000 people were expected over the course of the two-day event in Luray.

Pickups parked in the fields across U.S. Route 211 sported stickers like “Don’t steal, the government hates competition,” ”We the people have had enough,” and “Republican: Because everyone can’t be on welfare.”

Page County went 73 percent for President Donald Trump, and “Hazzard Nation” may be an even bigger backer of the first member of the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame to serve as commander in chief.

“Who voted for Trump?” Jeff X asked the crowd after trotting into the ring to cheers, drawing a lusty…

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