Before Kris Keith can even remember, he’s loved wrestling.
Growing up in the small Southwestern Virginia town of Marion, Keith was often babysat by a woman with eight children while his own mother worked.
“The entire family loved wrestling,” recalls Keith, who wrestles under the name Double K. “It was always on, and they were building their own little makeshift rings in the backyard out of steel rods, kite string, and we would put socks in pillowcases to build our turnbuckles.”
In a way, Keith is now attempting to do the same thing on a grander scale. In 2019, Keith launched United Elite Wrestling, a homegrown wrestling promotion that aims to bring wrestlers from across the mid-Atlantic region together for some high-flying action. On July 23, UEW will hold “Resurrection,” its first live event since the pandemic started.
Keith first started training to become a wrestler in 2011 while working full-time as a golf pro. Though he enjoyed it, he didn’t feel he could devote the time and energy required of wrestling. In 2018 he started a podcast called Wrestle Rewind that offered commentary on Virginia’s wrestling scene.
The podcast led him to get back in the ring and found UEW, which held its first show, “Got Your Six,” in November 2019. The following February saw “Boiling Point,” UEW’s second show, which attracted more than 300 people.
The wrestling promotion canceled the rest of its planned live shows because of the pandemic, but filmed matches for audiences to watch at home and continued the storylines of its wrestlers through social media. Now live wrestling is ready to return to Richmond.
Among those performing at the July 23 event will be Rhett Titus, a professional wrestler with major promotion Ring of Honor. Titus, who’s one half of its current world tag team champions, has committed to three of the next four UEW events and will take on the promotion’s heavyweight champion, Sledge Gibson, on July 23.
“He’s going to be around. He’s not a one-off thing. He’s a part of what we’re doing,” says Keith, who will participate in a tag-team match.
For those who don’t watch wrestling, Keith says the key to a good show is the storytelling and following which wrestlers have longstanding grudges against one another.
“If wrestling is done correctly, then you’re actually telling a story with each and every match that’s out there,” says the 43-year-old. “As a kid – and still to this day – if it’s done correctly, it pulls me right in.”
One of the major storylines in this match pits Supreme Truth Timmy Danger against Eddie Diamond.
“These guys have a long history together, and not necessarily a bad one. These guys were in [Ohio Valley Wrestling] together at one point. [They] had been friends,” Keith says. “Timmy Danger has promised a mercy killing of Eddie Diamond, so that match is going to be a last man standing match.”
Danger, aka Tim Stewart, says that he and Diamond go way back, but it’s time for Diamond to leave wrestling.
“He’s honestly one of the best wrestlers to come out of Virginia,” Stewart says. “In the last couple years his stock’s kind of fallen off, and mine’s been on the rise. I’m going to put a mercy killing on his career. It’s time for him to walk out and end now, and who better [to end his career] than me?”
As for the other wrestlers, Stewart is complimentary: “Everyone in the show is solid, good talent. There’s no scrubs. I think you’re going to see a great night of action.”
United Elite Wrestling’s “Resurrection” takes place July 23 at the River City Sports & Social Club Annex at 7505 Ranco Road. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For information, visit United Elite Wrestling’s Facebook page.