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Teen brothers wrestle cash from the Web

Sunday, September 24, 2000

By Milan Simonich, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

What do you get when you mix computer geeks and professional wrestling freaks?

Two rich teen-agers.

 
  Brandon, 17, and Justin Fritz, 16, have created wrestlepages.com, a Web site for fans of professional wrestling. The brothers have made so much money from the site that Brandon will no longer qualify for financial aid at Duquesne University. (Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette)

Bethel Park High School students Brandon and Justin Fritz are grossing $9,000 a month with their Web site on the weird world of pro wrestling.

The brothers offer an orgy of wrestling results, reports and rumors, plus interactive polls and chat rooms at www.wrestlepages.com. Ever conscious of wrestling's testosterone-charged fans, they serve up hundreds of photos of taut and tanned female valets.

Brandon, 17, and Justin, who turns 16 tomorrow, make their money through a contract with IGN.com, a San Francisco-based cyberspace conglomerate that liked the boys' site so much it bought the rights to place its high-dollar advertisers on the pages.

"Only the elite sites are affiliated with it," Brandon said, not a trace of wrestling braggadocio in his voice.

So along with the latest innuendo about Stone Cold Steve Austin's injured neck and rattlesnake disposition, the brothers' computer site pitches Gatorade, PlayStation video games and movies geared to youthful audiences, such as the cheerleader melodrama "Bring It On."

IGN.com offered the Fritz brothers a two-year contract in March. The deal has brought the boys a steady $9,000 a month because their site has attracted more than 3 million "impressions" -- Web slang for views of individual computer pages.

Now the Fritz brothers are so big that they've become a corporation under the name Dreamscope Technologies.

With the help of their parents, they also have hired an accountant, a tax attorney and a financial adviser.

All those services are necessary, for their income from the wrestling site will exceed $100,000 a year.

That's considerably more than their parents make. All of this free-flowing, dot.com cash has come as a shock to their mother, Elaine Meyer.

"I always thought when Brandon got a job, he would be a stock boy in a grocery store," she said.

Now 42, she raised her sons alone for 13 years after a divorce that left her reeling and temporarily on welfare.

Meyer went back to school and now makes her living by doing ultrasound tests on medical patients.

She remarried three years ago, and her husband, Tom, has assumed the role of the boys' dad. They have no relationship with their biological father.

These days, the moneymaking exploits of the Fritz brothers are legendary at Bethel Park High School.

"I hear you're doing pretty well. How about cutting me in on it?" Principal Thomas Hisiro joked to Brandon.

"Everybody," Brandon replied softly, "says that."

Brandon is a senior who loves wrestling. He's a 125-pounder for the Bethel Park Black Hawks varsity. Along with genuine competition, he has followed the unreal story of professional wrestling since he was a small boy.

That same passion for professional wrestling infected younger brother Justin, whose birthday present is tickets to the World Wrestling Federation's "Smackdown" show Tuesday at Mellon Arena.

Meyer, a patient woman, indulged her sons' interest in wrestling.

Her boys are quiet, respectful, active and make all A's and B's on their report cards.

She considered wrestling a phase that wouldn't hurt. Never did she think it would become a cash cow for an average family in the suburbs.

"As a mother, I don't always agree with everything on their site," she said, meaning in particular the wrestling "babes" her sons feature. These scantily clad women are now as much a part of wrestling as a platinum blonde doing a shrill interview.

Mixed in with the photos are the Fritz brothers' reports from their wrestling contacts, along with rehashes from newsletters, cable and pay-per-view broadcasts.

They work several hours a week to keep their site up to date.

It's been widely copied on the Web.

Justin said that's because it's easy to navigate and has a wealth of material for fans.

The brothers work as a team, so they see no problem in continuing their Internet business after Brandon heads off to college next year. He plans to attend Duquesne University to study marketing and multimedia communications.

He's made so much money this year that the prospect of need-based financial aid is gone.

Justin has two more years of high school to make his plans.

By then, he hopes to have a hammer lock on the same kind of deal his big brother got: Brandon's allowance now hits $600 a month.



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