Pacific North Coast Champion Boyce LeGrande (left) stands along side wrestling promoter Joe Sousa (mid-left), referee Sparky Ballard (mid-right) and challenger Rocket Boy Brett (right). Rocket Boy and LeGrande will go head-to-head in the main event of Saturday’s Rumble in the Redwoods VI, at Redwood Acres. (Contributed — Joe Sousa)
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Live professional wrestling returns to Humboldt County as headliners Boyce LeGrande and Rocket Boy Brett battle for the Pacific North Coast Championship.

Rumble in the Redwoods VI kicks off Saturday night at Redwood Acres. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the first bell set to sound at 7 p.m.

Boyce LeGrande, the defending Pacific North Coast champion, will defend his belt against the challenger, Rocket Boy Brett. The two clashed in the main event of last year’s edition of Rumble with LeGrande claiming the inaugural championship belt after Rocket Boy, who appeared to have had the title locked up, was forced out of the ring and counted out in the match’s final seconds.

The challenger, a Humboldt State University graduate who goes by Brett Walters when he’s not launching his spandex-clad body a dozen feet in the air, will be played into the ring by the Marching Lumberjacks — talk about a home-ring advantage.

The challenger didn’t mince words when asked how he plans to take the coveted belt from LeGrande.

“I’ll be looking to slap him with a sleeper hold right in the middle of the ring for everyone to see,” Walters said. “I want to put him to sleep.”

Walters, a 7-year wrestling professional, has never claimed a solo title.

LeGrande, a 22-year wrestling veteran, is no stranger to challenges or challengers.

“LeGrande is pretty confident, borderline cocky in the ring. I can adapt to any style; LeGrande is a hybrid, not a one-trick pony by any means,” LeGrande said of himself.

When asked to respond to his challenger’s assertion that Saturday’s match will end with LeGrande himself in a sleeper hold, the champion said, “Brett gets too far ahead of himself. I could finish him in a few minutes but that’s not what all these Humboldt hillbilly hicks saved up their money to see, so I’ll draw the match out. I plan on making (Brett) suffer and making him regret ever stepping in the ring with me.”

The champion added, “Saturday night will end with a LeGrande finale.”

Of course Walters, LeGrande and the other 20 wrestlers scheduled to enter the ring Saturday night didn’t just happen upon each other — for every ring needs a leader.

Joe Sousa, the mastermind behind Rumble in the Redwoods, started putting on the yearly show six years ago. His debut show in 2014 attracted less than 175 people, but after a half-decade of persistence, Sousa has seen his show grow more than 5-fold. Last year’s show saw more than 700 attendees and Sousa hopes to see that number go up Saturday night.

“When my friend first brought up the idea of putting on wrestling shows in Humboldt County, I told him there’s no way to do it without loosing money,” Sousa said. “But, we’ve found a way to put on affordable shows for the community. Being a wrestling promoter is like entering the mafia. Once you’re in, you’re in.”

Sousa said the success of his shows comes down to the way in which he respects his audience — an art form which the 23-year promotion veteran said has been lost throughout much of the business.

“First and foremost, my shows respect the intelligence of the wrestling fan,” Sousa said. “We do classic, family-friendly style wrestling, like the shows you would see in the 1970s and 80s.”

General admission tickets for Rumble in the Redwoods VI can be purchased for $10 with reserved seating going for $15 a seat. Tickets can be bought at the gate Saturday night or in advance at North Coast Role Playing and Ray’s Food Place (Valley West). Anyone with questions about the event may contact Sousa at 707-407-5935.

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