Cramped, studying in the back of a car on a three hour road trip, taking a beating for 20 minutes, then climbing in that same car and heading back home with little or no compensation.
For most people, that sounds like the most awful weekend they could imagine. For Missouri Southern senior Larry Mitchell, it’s a common practice.
Mitchell leads a double life -- one in Joplin as a college student working three jobs and one on the road as a professional wrestler named Lars.
“It’s just one of those situations where it gets difficult to balance, and you have to make priorities,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, I’m not really the best with making my school work a priority, especially with TCW.”
Traditional Championship Wrestling — TCW — is the company for which Lars most often appears. It’s a small company compared to the big time wrestling companies like WWE, but what they do is hardly small-time.
The midwestern company is based on the idea of taking wrestling back to its roots. It’s family entertainment rather than grasping for the days of a beer-swilling, bird-flipping Steve Austin.
And that model has gained TCW a tremendous amount of success in just a short time.
“Right now, we’re about the fastest growing company in the nation ...” Mitchell said. “We’re getting to the point where we’re bringing in big names, old WWE guys. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan is a staple. He comes in quite a bit. We’re bringing in [Doink the Clown] ... That guy has been great in the locker room, teaching the young guys.”
And really, that’s what TCW is about, at least behind the scenes.
While the company continues to grow, picking up local television distribution deals and racking up hits on their YouTube channel, everyone within the company realizes the whole experiment is still very young, much like most of its roster.
Older personnel have to look out for the younger personnel and steer them in the right direction. That’s why it may be an incredible blessing that Mitchell found his way to TCW, as his trainer is there to work with him constantly.
Barry Linduff, also known as ‘Mr. Saturday Night’ Michael Barry, is a Missouri Southern graduate. He trained Mitchell to wrestle.
Linduff may also be Mitchell’s biggest fan, and he’s convinced the 6’4”, 240 lb. Mitchell has what it takes to succeed.
“Much like any traits that lead to success in life, those translate to wrestling,” Linduff said. “Hard work, perseverance and ‘it’ factor with a little bit of luck. Luck doesn’t hurt.”
And Linduff would know. He’s worked for two of the largest wrestling companies in the world in WWE and TNA. He’s been to the top and knows what it takes to succeed in a business where more drop out of training than make it to the big time.
Linduff sees those characteristics it takes to success in his protege.
“I think a lot of people are just confined to their own limitations...” he said. “I think his career is limitless. It’s as far as he wants to take it, and we’ll see how far he wants to take it.”
Until Mitchell can reach the big leagues, however, he’s excited about working with TCW, a young company with unlimited potential. It seems like a good fit for a young wrestler with unlimited potential.
He said he will continue to work for TCW until he graduates in May, earning a degree in mass communication.
The things Mitchell has learned through his course of study and with his degree have already helped in the ring, honing his skills in speech and public relations, both things the company has taken advantage of.
In fact, Linduff said Mitchell should get college credit for all the things he does in the world of wrestling considering how much that world incorporates his education.
Maybe it’s a match that’s just meant to be.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had tryouts with WWE … so that possibility is there. I know the right people. If I get to that point, I can try to call in a tryout or get a call, but if there’s any way that I can stay with TCW and make money, get this product off the ground, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do that.”
Fans can catch Mitchell as Lars live at 6:30 tomorrow night at the Marvin Vinson Center in Clarksville, Ark. at TCW’s Holiday Homecoming 2 event. Mitchell can also be seen every Sunday morning on KSN in Joplin and Saturdays on KOZL in Springfield. All TCW shows can also be seen at tcwwrestling.com or on YouTube.