In two weeks, Mountainair will host roughly 30 wrestlers from across the nation at the inaugural MONTA B.E.S.T. Invitational, an Exhibition in the Art of Wrestling, presented by the Mountainair One Nation Training Academy (MONTA) and the Town of Mountainair.
Event coordinator, promoter, and professional wrestler Brandon Overholser, owner of the MONTA Musings and More Thrift Store in Mountainair (“The ‘and more’ includes a lot of stuff,” he said), created the tournament as an ode to his mentor, former champion professional fighter Frank Mullins, known as American Kickboxer.
“I wrestle as American Kickboxer II,” Overholser said.
Overholser himself is a Guinness World Record-holder. He holds the title for longest professional wrestling match: 12-hours straight in 2010.
“When I was younger, I didn’t embrace [the record] as much as I do now,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a big deal.”
Overholser has run a wrestling training center for the last year, and the invitational is “a concept that was passed down from my sensei, American Kickboxer,” he said. “The B.E.S.T. tournament was kind of his brainchild, and he is our guest of honor at this event.”
The acronymic title stands for Blood, Emotion, Sweat, and Tears, all of which performers at the tournament “have spilled buckets of to even get invited,” said Overholser.
“Everybody has been hand-selected by me, and picked for specific reasons,” he said. “Some of these guys do the hardcore dangerous stuff. Some of these guys can do flips like they’re superheroes or ninjas. Some of these guys are 300 pounds and larger than life.”
Events like the B.E.S.T. Exhibition will help to realize the vision of Mayor Peter Nieto—a man whose fanatical love of wrestling is well-known—of a “renaissance” in Mountainair, as he told The Independent earlier this year.
“The town’s involvement [in the B.E.S.T. Invitational] is, number one, I really like wrestling,” said Nieto on Thursday. “That’s one of the main reasons we’re providing the building, and making it free to the public.”
He hopes that wrestling spectators as well as participants will come to Mountainair “to shop and eat,” he said. “A lot of these wrestlers coming out will be staying in our hotels.”
“With the wrestlers in the town, the food establishments alone should do really well,” joked Overholser.
Wrestling, Nieto said, “is just fun. It takes you out of any worries, out of any drama, out of any frustrations. It brings you into this world where … it’s just good versus evil in the ring.”
Athletes from New Mexico, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, West Virginia, and Alabama will gather to showcase their talents. Sixteen of the wrestlers will compete in a total of 10 rounds, with the ultimate champion receiving the B.E.S.T. Cup, the MONTA NM State Championship title, a samurai sword, and “bragging rights until the next tournament,” said Overholser.
Mountainair’s own Manny Lee will debut at the event, said Overholser, and the exhibition will feature a ladies’ bout between Reygan Grimez and Albuquerque native, the Southwest Spitfire, Valentina Loca.
Overholser is proud of the work he’s done so far, and is sure the exhibition will be an exciting event for Mountainair.
“As a promoter,” he said, “seeing a dream come true in a town that I believe is going to support it really well, in a state that I think needs this kind of art, in a time when I think we all could use a bit of an escape, I feel like it’s going to be good. It’s definitely going to be a show like they’ve not seen around here in a very, very long time.”
This free event will be held Oct. 2 at the Dr. Saul Community Building in Mountainair. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., and the show is scheduled to start at 5.
And wear your Halloween costumes, Overholser said. The first 250 attendees arriving in costume will receive a spooky gift bag, courtesy of the event’s sponsors: B Street Market LLC, Mountainair Meds & More, Burns Napa Auto, P&M Signs, Shaffer Hotel & Dining Room, Alpine Alley, Last Chance Food Shack, Turner Inn and RV Park, and All-State Agent Mark Mayfield.