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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.

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Prodigy Pro: Southern Indiana’s New Promotion is Packing Them Out The Door

There’s a new trend in wrestling promotions. More and more wrestling podcasters are trying their hands at running their own company. Righteous Jesse from the Kick Out at Two Podcast has had great success in Nashville with Southern Underground Pro, and now Southern Indiana’s Back Row Hecklers are having a very successful go at promoting as well.

Prodigy Pro is just three shows old, but they’re already outgrowing the space at the Arena in Jeffersonville. Due to some family commitments, I arrived at the show an hour late Friday night, and there was not a seat to be had. To say it was worth standing most of the show would be an understatement. I saw a half dozen of the ten matches on the card that night, and just about everyone of them was worth the price of admission alone.

Ace Austin and Gary Jay were first in the ring after the first intermission. The Stiff Robo Ginger and current Pro Wrestling Freedom champion Gary Jay is well known to indy lovers as a stand out performer, but Ace Austin, just two years into his budding wrestling career, more than held his own against the veteran. Jay got the victory, and fans got a thrilling match.

A fatal five way followed Jay and Austin featuring Ace Perry, Sage Cainan, Kaden Sade, Trey Miguel, and Zachary Wentz. I heard one fan near me say, “Spot Fest!” when the five competitors were announced, and that’s largely what we got. The action was fast and frantic, and everyone had their stand out moments. Miguel and Wentz, two of Dayton, Ohio’s finest, are big time stars on the rise, and I tweeted just after the match that they will be household names in very short order. Miguel already has a solid foot in the door with some big time promotions, and Wentz can’t be far behind.

After a singles match between fan favorite Mikey McFinnegan and Teddy King came a hard-hitting Texas Tornado match between the Rejects (John Wayne Murdock and Reed Bentley) and the Night Ryderz (Alex Colon and Dustin Rayz). The Rejects and the Night Ryderz are two highly underrated tag teams, and they put on a brutal brawl inside and outside the ring. Following a victory by the Night Ryderz, a match was set for the January show: a TLC match for the Game Changer Tag Team Championships held by the Night  Ryderz.

A second intermission gave fans a chance to catch their breath after the tag team battle, then it was back into action with Shane Strickland and Louisville favorite, Hy Zaya. This match started slow but built slowly into an absolute war between two very fast and hard-hitting competitors. Hy Zaya won after a suplex that looked ugly from the seats, and both Stickland and Hy Zaya were checked out by PPW staff and some of the other wrestlers, but both men were able to stand and walk out on their own power. It was clear that Hy Zaya and Strickland wanted to set the bar as high as possible for the main event to follow. They gave the fans a match to remember, and it’s likely their feud is only beginning.

The main event pitted New Japan star “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin against rising Midwestern heavyweight Daniel Eads. Eads has been a favorite of mine since I first saw him at D1W a few years ago. He’s a big, strong wrestler who has “the look” a certain major promotion likes to see in its big men, and the Superman resemblance is hard to miss in the “Man of Tomorrow.” At 250 pounds, Eads was a formidable foe for the 265 pound Elgin, showing off his power and his athleticism in a terrific fight. Eads also enjoyed the advantage of having savvy manager Josh Ashcroft at ringside, and Elgin often found himself facing two men at once. Elgin was not to be out-done of course, and both men put on feats of strength that left the fans cheering. In the end the veteran won the battle, but the challenger proved he can hang with one of the best in the world.

Prodigy Pro put on an impressive evening of entertainment. They seem to have found a good balance of established stars facing younger stars, and the promoters (who are big fans themselves) are booking dream matches that indy fans will truly enjoy. Word has it they take good care of the boys in the locker room, and that’s only going to make it easier for them to book bigger and better matches in the future. Their next show will be January 26th at the Flea Market in Memphis, Indiana – a larger space they’re sure to pack out as easily as they have the Arena. This is a promotion to watch and enjoy in 2018.

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New Title on the Line Friday at PWF

Pro Wrestling Freedom is one month away from its first year anniversary show, and in only eleven months, PWF has given fans a chance to see some of the best talent from the Midwest and Southeast. A packed house is expected this Friday night at the Arena in Jeffersonville, and fans will get to see four wrestlers vie for a shot at a brand new title.

Two qualifying matches will be held this week for the PWF Tri-State Championship. “Infinite” Cole Roderick takes on “The Baddest Man Alive” Aaron Williams in one match, while “The Catalyst” Dustin Rayz faces Tyler Matrix. The winners will compete to become the first Tri-State Champion at the May anniversary show.

PWF will also feature Chase Owens defending his Smoky Mountain Championship vs. Matt Cage, and Chip Day defending the PWF title against Gary Jay for the second month in a row. It’s also the only place you can grab a copy of my new book Louisville’s Greatest Show this Friday night.

Visit the PWF: Deception page for show information and tickets. Bell time is 7:30 PM Friday night.

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Can’t Spell WWE without I-N-D-Y

Dear WWE and NXT Fans:

I’d like to introduce you to a few people.

This is Aaron Williams, “The Baddest Man Alive.” Aaron had a great weekend because he just won the Pro Wrestling Blitz Heavyweight Champion.

These are my pals Eric Emanon and Thomas Brewington. They had a great weekend as well. They are now the New Phoenix Gemini Tag Team Champions.

And this is the King of Dayton and proud member of Ohio Is 4 Killers, Dave Crist. Dave had a great weekend too. He pinned John Wayne Murdoch clean to become the new IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.

Why am I telling you about these gentlemen? Because I want you to know them. I want you to follow them. I want you to support them.

As a WWE fan, I know you are aware just how many independent wrestlers have become part of the world’s largest wrestling promotion. A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro all had stellar careers in the indies before making it to NXT and WWE. If you’re also following NXT, then you’re already following the rise of Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Cassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero), Ruby Riot (aka Heidi Lovelace) and the other indy “darlings” the WWE has snatched up recently.

I want you to know that the independent wrestling promotions that Gargano, Ciampa, Hero, Lovelace, and the others left behind are not dying off like the old territories the WWF killed in the 1980s. They are thriving. They are growing not only in popularity, but in quality. I want you to know this because I want you to become a fan.

Yes, it is true, the independent scene is full of green wrestlers, spot monkeys, and guys who only care about getting their s*** in, but there are many men and women and tag teams still working the independents who could easily fill any spot on the NXT or WWE roster right now.

Independent wrestling is growing. There are more promotions in more places than there have been in a generation. Your local promotion(s) may run monthly or weekly, which means you can see live wrestling far more often than you are now with the WWE.

True, the crowds and venues are smaller in the indies, but that also means tickets are more affordable, and your access to the wrestlers is greater. You’re closer to the action and at a much better price, and the heels can actually hear you when you call them names.

And here’s the best part: you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to meet your favorite stars. The T-shirts at the gimmick tables are half of what you’ll pay at a WWE show. Everyone is happy to shake your hand and take a selfie – except maybe Mr. Darius Carter.

I’m not telling you to give up the WWE. I enjoy the Network and NXT as much as any fan. But make no mistake: the WWE and NXT would not be what they are without the INDY scene that has come to be. I’m offering you the chance to see more live wrestling. I’m asking you to give guys like Aaron, Dave, Eric, and Thomas a chance. I want you to get out there and discover other guys like Matt Riddle, Ron Mathis, The Hitman for Hire Mr. Grim, Desmond Xavier, Zachary Wentz, Gary Jay, Chip Day, Murder One, Timmy Lou Retton, Matt Cross, Michael Elgin, Menace, Facade, Jake Crist, Sami Callahan, and Jimmy Rave. I want you to discover the other ladies who fueled the “women’s revolution,” like Kelly Klein, LuFisto, Su Yung, Samantha Heights, Leva Bates (remember Blue Pants?), Mickie Knuckles, Rachel Ellering, Taeler Hendrix, Candice LeRae, Veda Scott, Mia Yim, Allisin Kay, Jessicka Havok, and Jordynne Grace. I want you to discover the amazing tag teams packing houses across the country including the Hooligans, Viking War Party, War Machine, OI4K, and the Carnies. You can even find comedy wrestlers, guys like Colt Cabana, Space Monkey, and the notorious party animal, Joey Ryan.

There’s never been a better time to get into independent wrestling than now. Search a few of these names on YouTube. Find and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Then find a promotion running in your area. I’m not asking you to trade one for the other. Just get out and support the superstars of tomorrow, today. They will not let you down.

Sincerely,

A converted, die-hard indy wrestling fan

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The Stars of Glory Pro on Kick Out at Two

This week’s edition of the Kick Out at Two Podcast features not one but three guests. Kobe Durst, Ethan Page, and “Big Mike” Michael Elgin are in the house in a special Glory Pro Wrestling-themed episode.

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every week on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

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Release Date March 10: Louisville’s Greatest Show

Louisville’s Greatest Show is ready, and the release date is now set.

I will be selling and signing copies at the Pro Wrestling Freedom Show March 10, 2017 at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, Indiana, right across the river from Louisville. Books will be available for $15. The book will be on sale that same weekend on Amazon for $19.95.

Come down and see why PWF is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about promotions in the Midwest. Several great matches on the card, including Chase Owens defending his Smoky Mountain title in Jeffersonville against Matt Cage and a rematch for the PWF Title between Chip Day and Gary Jay.

Big thank you to Jimmy Feltcher for hosting the book release!

 

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20 Years On, IWA Mid-South May Have Its Best Roster Ever

It had been a while since I paid a visit to Southern Indiana’s legendary wrestling promotion, IWA Mid-South. I’m not big on blood and hardcore and deathmatches, a hallmark of IWA-MS, and truth be told, I decided to go tonight for one reason: OI4K. I’m a big fan of Jake and Dave Crist and their frequent companion Aaron Williams. All three have been regulars at IWA-MS for some time, and when I saw Dave Crist was scheduled to face another favorite in Shane Mercer, I decided it was time to go.

It was a trip worth taking.

The boys from Ohio delivered as they always do, but this was hardly a three man show. Every match on the card tonight delivered, from the opening bout between Desmond Xavier and A.J. Gray to the main event with Larry D. and John Wayne Murdoch. Top to bottom, this was the best wrestling show I’ve ever seen from IWA-Mid-South and one of the best independent shows I’ve ever witnessed.

 

Corey Storm and Myron Reed were two of the younger stars of IWA-MS who impressed in the early matches. Reed is a Louisville veteran with a ton of talent and charisma, and he took an action-packed three way match from Teddy King and Brett Havoc. Storm is just fifteen years old, but he looked like a a seasoned veteran in the ring with Jake Crist. He’s getting the education of a lifetime, working with veterans like Crist, and it’s very clear he has a bright future ahead.

Aaron Williams had a hard-hitting bout with Japanese star Shigehiro Irie. Despite his alliance with the hated manager The Rick, Williams had a strong following in the crowd. Ian Rotten stunned Williams and the crowd after the match by announcing that Williams will face Jessica Havok next week.

Two more members of OI4K, Zachary Wentz and Trey Miguel, had a show-stopping tag match against the Player’s Club, Mance Warner and Ray Waddell. Wentz is the current heavyweight champion at Rockstar Pro Wrestling in Dayton, and he and Miguel put on a clinic with Warner and Waddell.

Dave Crist vs. Shane Mercer followed the tag match and stole the show in every way possible. Mercer and Crist are two of the best kept secrets in the Midwest. Mercer is all power; Crist is a high-flyer. The crowd was electric for the entire match, and when Crist got the win, the fans leapt to their feet with a standing ovation.

As soon as the match was over, Dave Crist grabbed a microphone and told the fans they were witness to one of the best shows he had ever been a part of. Christ praised the fans for their dedication and heaped even more praise on the young stars of IWA Mid-South. “Ian Rotten has an incredible eye for talent,” he told the fans, and he encouraged everyone to, “Tell a friend, bring a friend, and make IWA Mid-South the best promotion in the Midwest!”

It would be a bold statement to say that the current incarnation of IWA Mid-South is the best ever. This is, after all, the promotion that helped launch the careers of superstars like CM Punk, Chris Hero, Daniel Bryan, and Seth Rollins. That said, it’s clear that something special is happening in Southern Indiana.

IWA Mid-South is in their 21st year. They are packing the Arena in Jeffersonville every Thursday night and the Memphis Flea Market (where Rotten says fans can see more of the hardcore action they are used to) every Saturday. That’s no small feat, running twice a week, and with Joey Ryan, Gary Jay, and Jessica Havok on the card for next week, it’s only getting better.

If you like great wrestling, I’d encourage you to check out IWA Mid-South Thursdays at the Arena. And if you like violence for violence’s sake, you won’t want to miss their Saturday shows (including this weekend’s King of the Crimson Mask show) in Memphis, Indiana.

Congratulations to Ian and the entire crew at IWA Mid-South. Thanks for an amazing night of wrestling.

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Best of 2016 with the Wilkman

The Wilkman from Kick Out at Two offered up this as his favorite match of the year: Chip Day vs. Gary Jay at St. Louis Anarchy. Look for Righteous Jesse in the left half of your screen in the green shirt, making his presence (and preference) known early in the video. These guys know how to have a good time at a wrestling show.

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Best of 2016 with Bonnaroo Brittany

My best of 2016 series continues today with Bonnaroo Brittany from the Kick Out at Two Podcast. Brittany’s pick was Gary Jay vs. Tripp Cassidy at Pro Wrestling Freedom, and it’s available to watch below!

Fans of Kick Out at Two, come back tomorrow and I’ll have the Wilkman’s pick as well. You can listen to Brittany, Wilkman, and Righteous Jesse every week (except this week) on the Kick Out at Two Podcast!

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Indy Expansion: PWF and AWE Join Forces

14947657_1210551835690034_5367452111594581714_nIn what could be an interesting sign of the times, two promotion separated by two states have begin a “working relationship” between their two companies. Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, headed by Stan Robinson and Joshua Von Wheeler, announced their newly formed alliance with Pro Wrestling Freedom’s Jimmy Feltcher and John Norris.

PWF and AWE have already been sharing talent over the past several months, with AWE mainstay “Do or Die” Chip Day being crowned the first PWF Champion in September. AWE’s Murder-1, Adrian Armour, and Jimmy Rave have also made themselves at home in the Southern Indiana promotion, while a handful of PWF talent have made their way down south, including Mickie Knuckles, Gary Jay, Tripp Cassidy, and the current Georgia Crown Tag Team Champions Team IOU.

The open agreement means that titles from both promotions can and will be defended in either promotion. It also means more talent from Atlanta will be headed to Indiana and vice versa. Aaron Williams, a PWF regular from Ohio, was quick to announce his desire to work Atlanta on Facebook.

PWF and AWE can both be found on Facebook as well as Twitter. Follow them at @ATLWrestlingEnt and @pwfofficialpro, respectively.

It’s exciting to see promoters coming together for the common good of their fans and the wrestlers. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of these agreements, giving more men and women a chance to follow their dream full-time while giving the fans an even better show every time the bell rings.