Ardine, also known as “The Dreamachine,” is the founder, owner and head trainer at Pro Wrestling Destination, or PWD, located at 2536 Sutro St. A lifelong wrestling fan, Ardine founded the training school to both live out his own childhood dreams and help others with the same aspirations live out their body-slamming, rope-leaping fantasies. While he is strengthening bodies his is also strengthening familial bonds.
“When we’re 90 years old our fondest memories will be of Pro Wrestling Destination because it brought us together as a family,” Ardine said.
PWD is truly a family venture. Ardine’s mother, Tina Serrano, is the company’s CEO and head nurse; his sister, Challon Serrano, is the ring announcer and sings the national anthem at events; and his brother Darrell “The Bulldog” Baldwin is the company’s head referee and head strength and conditioning coach.
“It’s all family,” said Challon, 21 and a graduate of Sparks High School. “That’s what people love about it.”
The family feelings might be part of it, but what the wrestlers and fans truly love is a good show. But before any of PWD’s matches, a lot of training and planning is done. Ardine’s students — he has about 20 right now — are put through intensive cardio and strength training to prepare for competition.
“I try for one puker every practice,” said Baldwin, PWD’s self-described drill sergeant. “It’s like a love-hate relationship. They love to hate it, they really do.”
Once a wrestler is in shape, he or she — and there are a few women — learns how to throw or take down an opponent, how to fall and take a hit in what amounts to a thunderous dance. Characters and storylines are planned and discussed beforehand and though the outcome is known to the wrestlers, they really are hitting each other, throwing each other around and hitting the mat.
“It’s not as bad as it seems,” said Meg “Rosie Wrench” Reed, a junior at Spanish Springs High School who has been a student at PWD for about nine months. A petite 17-year-old, Reed first came to the wrestling school with a friend and was convinced to try a free lesson. Though she had never really played any sports before, she quickly got hooked on wrestling.
“It’s a really cool feeling to do something I love and am really good at,” she said.
Reed’s character started as a play on the World War II female icon Rosie the Riveter. Then she incorporated her love of fixing cars in the name to make the persona truly an extension of herself, which is how a lot of wrestlers come up with their alter egos, Ardine said. A local youth pastor, Marvin Osuna, goes by the ring name “The Prophet Izekiel,” though he is a bad guy in the wrestling world. Monica Real, a 21-year-old hair stylist from Reno and the current PWD women’s champion, goes by the name “Vikki Vanity,” a play on her profession and a twist on the fact that she was an introvert before wrestling shattered her social shell.
Ardine’s moniker comes from his goal of making dreams come true — both his own and other people’s. He left northern Nevada at age 14 so he could begin fulfilling his wrestling dreams because there were no training opportunities here. He went to Pennsylvania and had his first match at age 17 at the Butler County fair in front of 3,000 people, where he went up against the Ballard Brothers, who have gone on to be a fairly successful tag team.
Ardine continued to wrestle, even getting a chance to perform in front of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, whom Ardine idolized while growing up. Hart even gave Ardine a sign of approval when he performed a “sharpshooter,” a leg submission hold that Hart created, in front of his hero.
“I took a chance doing it,” Ardine said. “It was very nerve-wracking for me. I used to watch it in slow motion over and over. I practiced it a thousand times on (Challon).”
When Ardine came back to Reno, there still was no training for wrestlers so he decided to start one himself. He opened PWD in 2009 and has been teaching ordinary folks like The Prophet Izekiel, Rosie Wrench and Vikki Vanity how to perform safely in the ring. In doing so, the world of wrestling creates a distraction for the performers and spectators alike.
“It is an escape for us and also an escape for people who have four kids and jobs,” Ardine said. “People can come watch and forget about house bills and the boss yelling at you. In these economic times, people need an escape.”
PWD will hold a match Saturday at the Neil Road Recreation Center, located at 3925 Neil Road in Reno. In the main event, Ardine will tag team with TNA lady wrestler ODB against the indie wrestlers Shannon Ballard and Buggy Nova. Vikki Vanity will defend her title against Rosie Wrench and there will be five other matches. Tickets cost $15 or $20 and can be purchased by calling 223-4699 or online at www.pwdwrestling.com.