In another life, before he graded science tests or coached soccer, Jim Hall was a professional wrestler.
Now a teacher and coach at Margaret B. Pollard middle school in Chapel Hill, Hall is still close enough with his former cohorts that when Omega Championship Wrestling needed help coordinating an event at East Wake High School in Wendell, they came to him for help.
Proceeds from that event went to East Wake’s wrestling team, and when Hall saw how much money they were able to raise, he hoped that a professional wrestling show could benefit his current school’s financial needs as well.
“When some schools throw a fundraiser, they might do a bake sale,” Hall said, taking to the ring with a microphone during an intermission in the show, “in Chatham County, we do things a little differently. And at Margaret Pollard Middle, we never do anything halfway.”
Pollard Middle School decided to host its own Omega Wrestling show, dubbed “Chapel Thrill,” which sold more than 400 tickets by pre-orders alone. The event was held in the middle school’s gymnasium, and began shortly after sundown last Saturday. The professional wrestlers and Omega personalities entertained long lines of autograph-seekers and sold merchandise long before a Pollard eighth-grader sang the national anthem to kick off the show.
It drew wrestling fans from Charlotte, Greensboro and Tennessee in addition to rallying support of the Margaret B. Pollard community. It featured Omega’s most prominent wrestlers, including former WWE Superstars Matt Hardy and Shane “Hurricane” Helms, in addition to a number of other talented performers.
Omega Championship Wrestling has developed a philanthropic reputation of late: in addition to the “Support the Sport” event at East Wake, they put on an event at Northern Durham High School earlier this year, called “Chinlock for Chuck,” to raise money for a former colleague Chuck Coates’ Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment.
While the full-time wrestlers certainly had their supporters and detractors, a good portion of the crowd, including Margaret B. Pollard’s own Christopher Meyer, wanted to see their coach. Meyer, who plays soccer for Coach Hall, initially came just to hang out with his friends and see his teacher, but described the event as “pretty cool, and definitely different. I had never seen wrestling live, just on TV.”
The students in attendance were certainly not disappointed. In the night’s emotional highlight, Jim Hall himself delivered a tackle in the ring to save local fan-favorite “Hurricane” Helms from outside interference, and help him seal victory. The match ended with the coach’s hands raised victoriously in the ring.
“It felt great,” said Hall when asked how it felt to get back into the ring after four years of teaching. “I was worried that I would have a lot of rust, but it felt great.” He laughed when asked if he thought his students would be easier to keep in line after seeing his wrestling prowess. “Maybe it’s an edge,” he said, but he didn’t seem to think it would change anything.
According to Meyer, though, the effects of Hall’s exploits in the ring will reverberate beyond the event itself. His exploits are destined to become the stuff of hallway legend. “Everybody is going to hear about it,” said Meyer. “Even the people who weren’t here; we’re going to tell everybody.”