Jessika Heiser is like many students at Towson University.
She hates getting up for 8 a.m. classes, is studying hard to pursue her degree in electronic media and works a part-time job when she’s not in school. But, unlike her most of her counterparts, Heiser is not working at a restaurant or at a store in the mall.
Heiser is a professional wrestler. The 22-year-old is less than three years into pursuing her dream of performing in front on thousands of fans who paid money to watch her put her body on the line on a nightly basis.
Heiser’s love of wrestling began when she was 10 years old. Her original plans were to work behind the scenes but decided to step into the ring as a form of motivation to get into shape. Since her training began, Heiser – known in professional wrestling circles as Jessie Kaye – has lost more than 60 pounds.
“Getting into the ring is like a drug,” Heiser said. “Once you get a taste of the reaction you get from the fans, it’s hard to give it up.”
Heiser paid more than $2,000 to pay for her training and has started to gain a following. While the top wrestlers in places like the WWE can make millions, Heiser said those starting off make “far, far less.”
“It’s more about gaining experience and getting booked than getting paid,” Heiser said. “You really have to pay your dues, and even then there are no guarantees.”
Paying your dues
Heiser’s biggest exposure has been with Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW), an independent wrestling organization, which hosts most of its cards at the new Green Room, a pool hall in Dundalk.
MCW has a reputation among wrestling fans as one of the better run independents in the region. Many former MCW wrestlers have gone on to perform for WWE or secondary national organizations like TNA and Ring of Honor.
Dan McDevitt owns MCW. The Middle River resident has been involved in the business for 20 years and wrestled for many years as Cpl. Punishment before settling down to build a career as a real estate agent.
McDevitt said he gets great pleasure in helping young up-and-coming wrestlers get their first break in the business. He stresses that he won’t just let anyone step into his ring and works to put out a quality product for each card he books.
“I just didn’t want to continue to put the wear and tear on my body and be run down and not be able to live a high quality of life as I get older,” McDevitt said. “But, I love this business. I love interacting with the fans and teaching young wrestlers how to succeed in this business.”
That will be the case for McDevitt on Saturday when MCW hosts the 13th annual Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup.
The Shamrock Cup is named in honor of the late Brian “Shane Shamrock” Howser, a popular wrestler in Maryland and MCW’s “Lifetime Light Heavyweight Champion.” He was just 23 when he was killed during an altercation with Anne Arundel County police in 1998.