a close up shot of the back of a wrestler who is facing another wrestler in a wrestling ring. that second wrestler is sitting on the ring floor facing the camera with a surprised look on their face. a person is behind the second wrestler outside of the ring taking a photo
Credit: Jeremy Lawson

Hearing that wrestling promoter Lolo McGrath was moving to Chicago was one of the more quietly exciting moments of the past few years. With their former copromoter Billy Dixon, McGrath put on shows that avoided the “Pride section at Target” vibes that plague so many queer-focused wrestling shows (which are usually bankrolled by straight promoters seemingly looking to cash the LGBTQ+ dollar). 

Dixon and McGrath are both queer, and their previous events have showcased the vast array of wrestling talent in the D.C. and mid-Atlantic regions. “The work that I was doing in D.C. was a very specific love letter to D.C.,” McGrath explained to me. 

Since moving out here, they’ve set up base camp in Evanston and ran their first show, “Cross the Line: Palmhouse Pro Wrestling,” last November at Evanston’s Palmhouse. The show featured a who’s who of indie wrestling, from the inaugural and current Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling World Champion Trish Adora to Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling’s “Non-Binary Nightmare” Max the Impaler. McGrath said that they don’t have the same sense of connection with Evanston as they had with D.C. just yet but articulated the vibe that they’re shooting for as “an invitation for something more to come.” As indie wrestling has been trending toward a more hard-core tape-trading (well, MP4-trading) fan base over the past two decades or so, many promotions have lost much of their local flavor. Knowing there’s a promoter in town who’s invested in building community (queer and otherwise) over selling streams is a deep relief. I’m incredibly excited about what’s to come.

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