Shelby Bohannon was looking for community and found it in an unlikely place: Party World Rasslin’, a comedy wrestling show. Becoming a part of this show changed her life, and she now gets to use her wrestling to bring joy to others — and change the lives of people in need.
The wrestling community has brought many different kinds of people together, and they are interested in making an impact beyond party wrestling. “When I first got involved, they did a big fundraiser… and raised $69,000,” she explains. “So if you have a community, regardless of what it is, you can use it for good.”
Meet Shelby Bohannon: Party Rassler
Shelby Bohannon: Wrestling changed my life in a lot of ways, you know? It gave me a lot of confidence. I probably wouldn’t have put myself out there in a lot of other situations in my life if I had not been successful in that way.
I’m Shelby Bohannan, and I’m a photographer, an artist, and I’m a wrestler.
I got into wrestling when I was in college. I saw a PWR show at a little bar. It was before they got big. PWR stands for Party World Rasslin, and I was just blown away. And so it was like, “I have to do this.” And then I went to Luchador school in San Antonio, and eventually they let me wrestle. They started almost seven years ago. It was a backyard party. It’s a lot of artists and musicians. And then it just kind of grew organically and became this — what it is now, which is like this huge comedy wrestling show.
Referee: A brutal hip strike.
Shelby: With Mrs. Fennenbaum, I do a move called the Samoan Drop, which is where you get — when you pick up a wrestler on your shoulders and then you fall on your back, and you crush them. With Goldie, I did something called the Black Widow, which is where you fling your body onto somebody and wrap around their body, so you grab their neck from behind, which is cool. And then just screaming and flailing. All of my characters do that at some point.
PWR, like, they use their community — you know, they’ve built this huge community of different people, and they’ve used it for a lot of good that’s not just party wrestling. Like, when I first got involved, they did a big fundraiser. Rory Blank, who’s an artist, created this t-shirt, and they sold it, and, like, a bunch of people from PWR, were helping to pack and ship and those things, but they raised like $69,000. And so if you have a community, regardless of what it is, you can use it for good.
Before I got into PWR, I’d never done any kind of performance. I’ve never done any team sports. I mean, I did a bad play in high school, you know. I really, like, became obsessed, and kept trying, and putting myself out there, and, like, made friends with people, and got to do it. And that was really like — it was incredible to be doing your first show and you have this crazy audience and I couldn’t have dreamed of something like that. So yeah, if you want to do something, you should just really try to do it.
(Shelby’s character body slams another wrestler)
Announcer: He’s gotten inches closer.
All of my characters —I kind of have a wrestling tick where, no matter what character it is, every time I’m giving a move and I’m just having a lot of fun and I get caught up, I’m like, “Woo!”