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MATTOON -- Zero1 USA professional wrestling is scheduled tonight (Feb. 23) to bring the fourth annual Chris Cunningham Invitational to Mattoon.

Cunningham, of Mattoon, is a longtime pro wrestling fan and friend of Zero1 USA owner David Cavazos. Cunningham is quadriplegic due to a 2006 motor vehicle crash. Looking for a way to help Cunningham raise funds for his children's Christmas four years ago, Cavazos came up with the idea of putting together a pro wrestling invitational benefit for him.

Zero1 USA gave Cunningham, who is an employee, creative freedom to put together pro wrestling matches featuring athletes that he wanted to see for the first invitational. This event has been a tradition ever since then.

For this year's invitational, Cunningham has decided to put the Lowlifes in the opening match of the night facing The Viking War Party tag team of Jake Parnell and Alexander Herzog. Other matches will feature Joey O' Riley and Jordan Perry vs. The Hooligans, Rahne Victoria vs. Laynie Luck, and Oliver Cain vs. "Handsome" Dan Liplock.

In addition, Shank Barzini will face "Chainsaw" Stephen King. Cunningham said this rematch will be contested under "lumberjack rules, which means the outside of the ring will be surrounded by professional wrestlers, and if either man attempts to leave the ring, he may be dealt with by friend or foe depending upon where he makes his exit."

Zero1 USA alumni and former WWE referee Justin King will return as a special guest emcee for the invitational, which will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at Burgess-Osborne Auditorium, 1701 Wabash Ave. Tickets can be purchased at in advance or when the doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is free for children under age 5.

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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