WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend begins Friday night in downtown Wichita Falls with Wrestling Under The Stars.
Two and a half years ago the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame was one of the first businesses to move downtown to help revitalize the district.
Many believe the hall of fame has played a huge role in where downtown is today.
In 2013 the hall of fame decided to move and landed in Wichita Falls after looking at places like Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Amarillo.
They're now succeeding and so is downtown.
"When we first moved into downtown it was really lonely, on the weekends especially," President of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, Johnny Mantell said. "Very few places opened up so the sidewalks had been rolled up."
When they moved to Big Blue, downtown was vacant and Big Blue had problems.
"Our first year here we had no heat and no air," Mantell said.
Fast forward to 2018 and Big Blue has new life, lots of tenants, and downtown has more events, restaurants, coffee shops, and places to live.
"I don't think the comeback could have happened without some pioneers like Johnny and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame taking a chance and moving into Big Blue and helping us bring it back to life," Owner of the building, Will Kelty said.
Kelty said it's hard to get that first tenant, especially in an empty building in an empty downtown.
"He was a pioneer taking a chance on downtown with Big Blue," Kelty said. "Back then there wasn't a lot happening downtown."
"Slowly but surely we've seen that change and more places opening up downtown," Mantell said. "They're staying open later. Of course the first Thursday of every month the art walk is really livening the place up."
Kelty is glad Mantell and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame took a chance on Big Blue and downtown, and Mantell's glad they did too.
"We sat down with Johnny and Johnny told us his dream of bringing the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame to Wichita Falls and his dream of building it here and keeping it here," Kelty said. "It's really Johnny's legacy."
"We're not trying to be the lead dog," Mantell said. "We just want to be in the pack and pull it across the finish line."
Mantell said people are in town this weekend for the hall of fame induction weekend from Canada, Mexico, Japan, and England.
He said those people will be staying in Wichita Falls' hotels and eating in their restaurants.
He said that's the promise they made to the city and is ecstatic it's worked out.