Wrestling for a cause

For Sean Janzer, nothing would've been more fun than having professional wrestlers duke it out at this week's KBGA Birthday Bash. But bringing the spectacle to Missoula turned out to be a little more complex than he thought.

"Well, we never officially renounced the idea of pro wrestling, then we realized the cost would be really, really high," says Janzer, KBGA's promotions director. "But we still wanted to fit as much stuff into the VFW's tiny space as possible."

Organizers might not have landed World Wrestling Entertainment, but they did get a different collection of performers to sign up: the Garden City Lady Arm Wresters.

GCLAW is a group of Missoula women who dress up as characters like "Evil Witch," "The PURPetrator" and "Indigo Montoya" to support a good cause and flex a little muscle in the process.

During a tournament, eight women meet head-to-head until one is declared the champion. Contestants enter the competition with theme songs blaring, then battle it out on a custom-built arm wrestling table—complete with elbow pads and a grip for the non-dueling hand—while their managers and posse take bribes and hype up the audience. Wrestlers aren't in it for the money, though—all proceeds go to the nonprofit they're supporting that night, in this case Missoula's college radio station.

"The contestants are in it for the ultimate glory," says GCLAW founder and emcee Elizabeth Costello. "But I think more than anything the women care about the causes."

KBGA news director Ruth Eddy says that GCLAW was a natural fit for the station's 17th anniversary.

"We want our birthday to be more than just a concert," she says. "We're a radio station, we have those all the time. But we wanted to invite people who are in-line with our energetic, community-positive ways and they're easy to match with us."

KBGA hosts its Birthday Bash Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. at the VFW. The GCLAW tournament will take place between music sets and begins at 7.

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