Posted on

Masters of Pain Caps Off Great Weekend at IWA East Coast

It’s been twenty months since I took a road trip to see professional wrestling, and IWA East Coast broke the Covid-enforced moratorium with a bang this past weekend. The promotion hosted three shows from Friday through Saturday, and the entire weekend was a blast.

IWA East Coast hosted their festivities at Skateland, a roller rink set up inside an old elementary school just southeast of downtown Charleston, West Virginia. The decor along the two story walls surrounding the rink included playful graffiti, billiards tables and accessories, and high up in one corner, a life-size replica of Michael Myers, complete with butcher’s knife.

“To me, this building represents all of West Virginia,” said one local on Saturday afternoon. “You have all this fun stuff, and then, a little bit of creepiness.”

Made sense to me. Earlier that day I made the obligatory one hour trek to Point Pleasant to see the Mothman Museum and statue. Yes, it’s absolutely worth the extra time and your $4.50 admission. (You will spend more in the shop. Trust me!)

Back to the wrestling. The action began Friday night when eight men took part in the Zero G Crown Tournament, including Kincaid, Facade, Gary Jay, Aaron Williams, and Jake Crist. The first round match up between Crist and Williams alone made the trip worthwhile for me, but the entire evening was full of great action.

Third generation wrestler Malcolm Monroe III came into the building as an unknown, but by the end of the evening, everyone was chanting “Three! Three! Three!” Host Mad Man Pondo hyped the kid up in his first major event outside his home state of Michigan. Odds are he’s going to be doing a lot more traveling in the near future.

Fans dumped plenty of hate on Jake Crist, who heeled it up all night long as he sailed through the brackets. At one point the crowd split with a “Let’s go Jake Crist / Dave is better chant.” The former Impact star proved he deserves to still be on someone’s roster, and he took home a giant trophy to add to his resume.

Saturday afternoon, the ladies of Girl Fight took center stage. Fans were treated to two great opening matches featuring Girl Fight regulars Charlie Kruel, Mickie Knuckles, Nikki Victory, and Big Mama.  A lesser known competitor named Shayla Hyde put the Girl Fight fans on notice when she hit a 619 on the Black Widow Harley Fairfax. The crowd popped big, and Shayla scored a huge upset.

Another new face who impressed was young Judi-Rae Hendrix from Lexington, Kentucky. I met Judi on Friday night, when she picked up a copy of Tracy Smothers’ book and told me she was training with Bobby Blaze. Having not met her before, I was surprised to see Hendrix in the main event slot with newly crowned Girl Fight champion Billie Starkz. Hendrix quickly showed she belonged, going toe to toe with Starkz and earning a “This is awesome” chant after hitting the champ with a Canadian Destroyer.

Starkz got the win, but fans definitely took note of Hendrix and her tenacity. This is another young lady to watch in the coming years!

Saturday evening was the Masters of Pain deathmatch tournament, featuring eight of the best deathmatch artists in the world: Shlak, Shane Mercer, John Wayne Murdoch, Akira, Jimmy Lloyd, G Raver, Alex Colon, and Nolan Edwards. To be honest I am not a deathmatch guy, but I have endless respect for the men and women who do these types of matches. I also firmly believe that some of the deathmatch specialists are among the very best wrestlers in the world, period.

I’ve often said you could take John Wayne Murdoch, put him in a time machine, and drop him in Memphis or Mid-South during their hey day. A number of the guys competing with him Saturday night would do equally well in that sci-fi scenario.

The show was fun and frenetic from start to finish, but the match that had everyone buzzing in the building and online was the second round clash between Shane Mercer and Akira. Why Mercer is not signed to a major company is beyond me. His combination of power and athleticism are unmatched on the indies. Mercer and Akira dueled it out in a shower of glass shards and fluorescent lights with big flips and power moves throughout. Akira outlasted Mercer, and afterwards, Mercer took a moment on the mic to honor the student who had just bested one of his teachers.

The evening came to a grand finale when Akira and Nolan Edwards entered a ring filled with fan-made weapons to fight for the Masters of Pain trophy. The boys made use of everything from a door covered in barbed wire to a preschool baseball bat covered in glass Christmas ornaments. That said, it was the garbage can full of light tubes that stole the show. The boys began trading head shots, one after another, faster and faster, as if determined not to leave a single bulb unbroken. The flurry of popping glass had the fans on their feet, stomping and screaming for more. The night ultimately belonged to Akira, who bested his close friend and brother Nolan Edwards to win the tournament.

IWA East Coast plans to bring back Masters of Pain next year. If they do it up like these did this year, I highly recommend fans making the trip. The hospitality is warm and friendly. The local flavor is fun. And as I already mentioned, the Mothman is only an hour away… although Mad Man Pondo swears he heard the creature in his hotel room Friday night.

Posted on

Susie Surprises and Terrifies at Girl Fight

I’ve seen Su Yung of Impact Wrestling in action twice before. Once on a show for Terry Harper, when she ended up in the lap of my seventeen year-old nephew, and once at Girl Fight. I was as disappointed as anyone last night when Impact Wrestling star Susie appeared for the main event go against Mickie Knuckles, but that disappointment gave way to terror as Susie took the ring and Mickie reacted to the surprise appearance.

It’s a shame Susie’s run with Impact has not played out in front of a live audience because I can tell you first hand, there’s something disturbing and ominous about her. Every time Mickie would put Susie on the ground and her face would be obscured for a time, you expected her to push the long, black hair out of her face and reveal the visage of Su Yung. That Su never appeared didn’t matter. The threat never went away, even after ref Charlene called for the bell and disqualified Mickie (thanks to some dubious intervention on Charlie Kruel’s part). Susie came in with her little girl wave and left with the same innocent wave, but she put a chill in the fans that packed the Park Place UMC gymnasium tonight.

Yes, Girl Fight Wrestling is back, and tonight’s event in a six-sided ring drew cheers from beginning to end. The evening began with Lily Lockhart defeating Bailey McRoberts and Megan DiFrancisco defeating Hannah Henderson. New comer Henderson made a big impression on the fans, many of whom crowded around her gimmick table at both intermissions to say hello. DiFrancisco made the opposite impression, angering fans with a big mouth and a bad attitude. She made you hate her in all the right ways.

The first part of the show concluded with the masked Seishin (formerly Tootie Lynn Ramsey) facing the dark Hawlee Cromwell. One of the joys of following this promotion is watching young wrestlers grow and develop. Seishin and Cromwell are part of the current “generation” growing up before our eyes, and their high energy battle could have main evented many independent shows I’ve attended. They won’t be occupying the first half of the show much longer.

The second portion of the show kicked off with another vocal heel, Nikki Victory, facing the returning Big Mama. Big Mama was even more vocal than Nikki, and while she is used to playing heel in her home promotion of NWF in Ohio, she reminded fans why they loved her before taking a break to have a baby. Nikki was a game adversary, but Big Mama powered her way to her first ever Girl Fight win.

The next match featured another of the current Girl Fight class’s signature stars, Charlie Kruel in a match against Salena Dean. Kruel’s psycho killer character has evolved from a one dimensional screamer to a personality that’s part Susie, part A.J. Lee, part Festus, and even a touch of U-Gene. She’s gleeful and wants to be friends – at least, she says she does. But the psycho killer comes out to play once the action starts, along with the piercing scream. Charlie took the win over Salena tonight and skipped away, waving to her friends in the crowd.

Next up was Skye Blue from Chicago facing the youngest and arguably the most popular star in Girl Fight, Billie Starkz. Starkz eats, sleeps, breathes, and dreams pro wrestling. It’s in her blood, and it permeates every part of her. She has an infectious smile and a playfulness that connects with the fans. She also continues to blossom on the ring, adding new weapons to her arsenal with each outing. Most fans believe they’re seeing a future mega star every time she takes the ring. Enjoy her while she’s here, folks. The tickets to see her will be much pricier in a few years.

I’ve often said that the Mickie Knuckles/ Dementia D’Rose vs. Amazing Maria/ Samantha Heights tag team match in Fort Wayne a few years back was my favorite live match of all time. I still stand by that statement, even after tonight, but for a time, Mickie Knuckles and Susie threatened to overtake that spot.

I already gushed about Susie’s character and the way she holds you in the palm of her hands, asking the question, “Will she or won’t she turn into Su Yung?” That said, I can’t overstate Mickie Knuckles’ role in the match. Mickie’s the veteran, a Chris Hero student turned locker room leader and teacher, and there’s a reason fans like me will never miss a match of hers if we can help it. Usually Mickie entertains with one liners, comedy spots, and a little – not make that a lot of referee abuse. That made her reaction to Susie all the more real. Mickie wasn’t about the jokes tonight. She was scared. She didn’t know how to handle Susie or even what to make of her. Susie acted creepy. Mickie made it feel real.

Sadly, we did not get a clean finish to what was otherwise a very entertaining main event. Charlie Kruel skipped to the ring while ref Charlene was out, found a folding chair, and gave Susie a whack on the back with it. She then laid the chair beside Mickie, just as Charlene came to. Those darn refs never believe the babyfaces when they say they’ve been framed, and Charlene disqualified Mickie in favor of Susie.

Susie kept us watching as she rose off the mat, her face obscured by her hair once more like the little girl from The Ring. But when she brushed her hair back to thank Mickie for the match, it was still creepy Susie and not Su Yung whose face we saw. Mickie demanded a match with Charlie, and Mad Man Pondo agreed to give it to her on the next show.

Mickie and Charlie will face off on October 17 at the same venue, Park Place UMC in Jeffersonville. Girl Fight will also present a battle royal-type match that will crown a new Girl Fight champion that evening. Oh yeah, and we will finally see the Girl Fight debut of Heather Reckless on the 17th. I’ve been singing her praises to Pondo and anyone else who will listen since seeing her in action at Cauliflower Alley Club in April of 2019. Fans, you’re in for a treat.

Head to www.girlfightwrestling.com to get all the info about the next show and find out how to order tickets.