McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local Sports

July 16, 2013

McAlester native organizes benefit wrestling show

McALESTER — Bryanna Baker, a 21-year-old McAlester High School graduate now living in Oklahoma City, grew up around professional and semi-professional wrestling rings. Her father, Robby “Striker” Baker, started wrestling in 1998, and Bryanna quickly became a mainstay at her dad’s wrestling matches.

“There were some days I’d miss school because I’d be on the road with him,” she said Saturday. “All over Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kansas, anywhere and everywhere on the road with him.

“It was so cool to be like, ‘That’s my dad in there doing this.’ ... I never missed a show.”

Bryanna so loved her father’s world that she wanted to do it professionally herself. Though she works at KinderCare in Oklahoma City, on the weekend she’s a ring announcer and valet for Impact Zone Wrestling in Lawton, and she’s started training to become a wrestler herself.

“You can do cardio your entire life, you get in that ring and you’ll be out of breath within a minute,” Baker said. “It’s very tough. It’s not for everybody.”

When Bryanna wrestles, she goes by the name “AnnaLynn Storm.” “AnnaLynn” comes from her first and middle names, but “Storm” comes from her father, who often walked on to music from AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and whose name often appeared with lightning bolts around it.

Bryanna basing her name on her father completes a neat circle within her family. She said it was she and her brother Joe, now 22 and an aspiring pro wrestler himself, who gave their father his state name.

“When I was 5 or 6, Dad was finishing up training, he was told to think of a name,” Baker said. “My dad couldn’t think of anything, and he said, ‘One day, I was sitting in the bedroom, laying in bed, just sitting there trying to think. You ran in there ... and you were like “Striker! We know what to call you! Striker.”’

“It’s kind of turned into like a family thing.”

Bryanna said pro wrestling is a unique combination of real athleticism and strength mixed with some level of theatricality. The showmanship, she said, is one of the reasons too many people write the sport off as “fake,” but those who actually wrestle know how real it is.

Bryanna said the physicality of wrestling has always been the more challenging part for her, as she’s watched so many wrestling matches in her life that the acting side of it comes easily. She added she’s also had to “prove herself” as a female wrestler, as pro wrestling is still a male-dominated sport.

“There’s a girl at IZW that I work with, and she’s tough,” Baker said. “I wouldn’t mess with her in real life or the ring. She’s better than most people in that locker room, and a lot of time she doesn’t get the time of day because she is a girl, which makes a lot of people very angry.”

The biggest influence on Bryanna’s style of wrestling? Her dad, of course.

“When I first started to run the ropes, from watching my dad do it so many times, I ran the ropes exactly like him, and it was the hardest habit for me to break,” she said.

“Striker” isn’t currently wrestling, having suffered serious burns on 15 percent of his body when his lawnmower exploded on May 19. To help cover medical expenses, his daughter organized a wrestling fundraiser that took place Saturday night at the Al J. Horton Special Event Center in McAlester.

Bryanna served as ring announcer for the fundraiser, while Joe competed under his stage name “Maddux Jones” against another wrestler named O’Malley. Two other matches also took place.

Three Texas-based wrestling promoters from the National Wrestling Alliance — NWA Top of Texas, NWA Texoma and NWA Old School Wrestlers — donated the ring and the wrestlers, with IZW and some other local promoters also participating. Though free to the public, any concession or merchandise sales went to the Bakers, as did any donations.

“Just the generosity, the way that people just come together to do this for my dad and the family, that’s just amazing,” Bryanna said.

“Wrestling, they take care of their own. They support one another. It’s like a brotherhood. A lot of people I consider like second dads to me, uncles, aunts.”

This is the second wrestling benefit held for “Striker” Baker in McAlester. The first took place in 2011 and drew in several hundred spectators, right before he underwent surgery to remove a cancer that had infected most of his kidneys.

“Striker” survived the surgery and the cancer has yet to return, though Bryanna said he’ll need to remain cancer-free for five more years before he can be officially declared as such. Instead of cancer, “Striker” now battles pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs that resulted from the burns.

Once “Striker” recovers, Bryanna said he’ll resume wrestling.

“He’s wanting in as soon as possible,” Baker said. “Of course, it might not be December before he can do that, but it’s not going to stop him. Nothing’s going to stop him. Wrestling is what he loves.”

Saturday’s benefit was the first of three planned for “Striker” Baker. An IZW-sponsored event will take place Aug. 17 in Lawton, and a Mid South Wrestling Alliance event will take place Aug. 25 in Midwest city.

Contact Matt Goisman at mgoisman@mcalesternews.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Megan Jernigen and Taylor Jones Lady Hornets edge Lady Buffs

    Megan Jernigen’s two-run inside-the-park home run gave the Stuart Lady Hornets the only lead they’d need, eventually beating the McAlester Lady Buffaloes 3-1 Thursday at the Pittsburg County Softball Complex in McAlester.

    July 25, 2014 5 Photos

  • Lindy Morgan EOSC names Morgan new cheer coach

    Eastern Oklahoma State College has selected Lindy Morgan of Wilburton to lead the college’s new co-educational competitive cheerleading program.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Disc golf takes local overseas

    Local disc golfer Matt House shot a five-over 197 for the first three rounds, missed the cut for the finals and finished tied for 84th in the Professional Disc Golf Association’s European Masters tournament July 17-20 in Stockholm, Sweden.

    July 25, 2014

  • Softball Complex Maintenance Crew 1 Softball Complex field crews hard at work

    Rain has been an ongoing issue for softball leagues this summer, but Pittsburg County Softball Complex director Randy Norman and his crew have done everything they can to drain the fields and hold games four nights a week.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • The Earthtones take stage tonight

    Tonight, McAlester will have an opportunity to enjoy some new age folk music at Rotary Park at the amphitheater.

    July 24, 2014

  • WSL returning to McAlester

    The World Softball League so enjoyed its “Bash for Bats” tournament July 12 at the Pittsburg County Softball Complex in McAlester that it’s decided to come back for the WSL Jersey Showdown Softball Tourney on Aug. 30 at the Softball Complex.
     

    July 24, 2014

  • Casey Fernandez 1 Ex-Buff Fernandez reaches golf semifinal

    Casey Fernandez, a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi and former golfer for the McAlester Buffaloes, made it all the way to the Oklahoma Golf Association’s State Amateur Championship semifinals before losing to Tulsa-Jenks golfer Preston Crawford on Wednesday at The Patriot Golf Course in Owasso.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Maceo Thomas 1 Thomas key to McAlester disc golf growth

    For Maceo Thomas, one of the founding members of the Eagle Hill Disc Golf Club, the 12 golfers who came out for Saturday's mini-tournament in Krebs is a welcome sign of how much disc golf has grown since the club formed in 2011.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Josh Ramsey Ramsey wins Eagle Hill tourney

    Josh Ramsey threw 10 birdies and eight pars, needing just 44 total strokes to win Saturday’s mini-tournament at Eagle Hill Disc Golf Course in Krebs.

    July 21, 2014 5 Photos

  • Bill Williams Williams looks back on Hartshorne coaching era

    Still living in Hartshorne six weeks after accepting a coaching job at Elk City, Williams sat down with the McAlester News-Capital to look back on his seven-year Hartshorne coaching career.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.