Former WWE star showing the ropes to the next generation of superstars at Arkansas wrestling school

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Can you smell what Little Rock is cooking?

SHERWOOD, Ark. – Ever had the urge to throw someone down, jump off some ropes, and put on a show? ‘Bumps & Bruises Professional Wrestling Academy 501’ is the place to learn how to do exactly that.

“It’s amazing,” owner Jessica Maldonado said. “We have lights, fog machines. We have grown people throwing themselves. We have slightly less grown people throwing other people.”

The academy has been open in Arkansas for a little over a year and what you would normally see in WWE is what they teach.

“We offer training for professional wrestling. Ring announcing. Referees. Backstage. All the different things that come into the work of promoting and creating a professional wrestling show,” Maldonado added.

The location in Arkansas is the second of the chain. For years, the closest place to get a professional wrestling education was the original ‘Bumps & Bruises’ location in Carrolton, Texas., a five-hour drive from Little Rock.

It’s no secret that the Maldonado family is big in the pro wrestling scene. 15-year-old A.J. Maldonado, or A.J. the Future when he’s in the ring, would make the five-hour drive down to the Dallas area twice a month for about two years to train.

“I’m extremely happy because now I can try to get my friends involved in this seeing if they want to do it,” A.J. the Future said. “Now there’s more opportunity. I’m basically here every single day doing something. Anytime I’m around this ring, it’s such a good feeling.”

A.J. the Future got his first tryout when he was 12-years-old from WWF tag team champion Sir Mo.

“A.J. is my little prodigy,” Sir Mo said. “We have people who live in Dallas who don’t even want to drive five minutes to train. Here’s this kid who’s driving five hours, one way, twice a month to train. It’s that kind of dedication that makes people survive and be successful in this business.”

“He tried killing me, but he couldn’t,” A.J. the Future said.

“We put A.J. against our top guy out there,” Sir Mo stated. “We’re talking about a kid who’s only been training for two years. 15-years-old and a guy who has seven years of experience and has wrestled the best in the business. A.J. went out there and wrestled over 15 minutes with this guy and was able to hang with him. Just thinking about it was such an accomplishment because he wants it.”

“Sir Mo said to my mom and dad, ‘What’s the plan?’,” A.J. said.

After a slow start due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an unexpected snowstorm in February of 2021, the second ‘Bumps & Bruises’ location is in full effect.

The youngest trainee is 13 while the oldest is 38. The training is for guys and girls. However, the academy is more than just trying to teach people how to wrestle or put on a show.

“I’ve always wanted to be a millionaire,” Sir Mo said. “If I can’t make a million dollars I’ll save a million kids.”

“We want to go out to elementary and middle schools and promote anti-bullying campaigns with Sir Mo,” Jessica said. “We go out and we tell the story of how it’s better when you work together. Provide a safe environment and direction.”

“I say it’s necessary,” Sir Mo said passionately. “There’s a need to get people who have nothing else to do something to do. For me, I know professional wrestling. If that’s what I offer the world or the community then that’s what I want to do.

“If I can take one neighborhood and get the five worst kids out of that neighborhood and doing something positive, that’s got to be worth something,” he added.

If you would like to learn more about ‘Bumps & Bruises Professional Wrestling Academy 501’ you can go to their Facebook page.

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