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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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Chance Prophet: Heel with a heart of gold

13220889_10205183304017146_6861215439708906355_nThis is the kind of photo you’d never have seen in the days of Kayfabe.

That’s a heel wrestler, sitting in full view of the public, head bowed, praying with a young fan. His name is Chance Prophet, and this is not something he did for any publicity. This was a moment that happened spontaneously because a man saw the opportunity to be a blessing to a young fan.

Chance Prophet is a product of southern West Virginia. His Papa introduced him to NWA wrestling at a young age, against the wishes of his mother and his grandmother, and he became a big fan of The Great Muta, the Road Warriors, Sting, and Vampiro.

“My initial training came from Danny Ray Nelson and the guys at Appalachia Pro Wrestling in Oak Hill, WV,” he says. “Later, I was blessed to train with Jesse Hernandez, Karl Anderson, Rocky Romero, and TJ Perkins at the School of Hard Knocks in Covina, CA. My first official match was a doozy. It was a tag match against Big Daddy Venus and Mean Mike Sledge. My partner and I were far from ready, but they had a last minute cancellation. It was a mixed reaction. The people we were tagging against were heading towards retirement, so they had a following, but we definitely got the better reaction from the crowd.”

Prophet’s unique character started with his love for all things Muta. “Then it evolved after coming back from a career threatening injury. My main supporters stopped booking me for shows, and lost track of what I could bring to the table. If they weren’t going to remember me on their own, the twisted individual that they birthed would.”

While the fans and promoters initially pushed Prophet to the dark side, his development as a heel had a surprising effect on his interaction with the fans. “Surprisingly, it seems that the meaner I am, the more they want to get in touch with me. I’ve had more opportunities to pray with someone after being the most evil guy in the room for the past 3 hours. God shines brightest where men would not expect it, though.”

As for the photo posted by promoter Gary Damron, Prophet had this to say. “The encounter I had with Jett was a special one. I’d like to leave his testimony to him, so what I will say is, we’re called to be Christians (anointed ones/Christ like/little Christ’s) wherever we may be. We’re to be ready in season and out of season. Jett needed prayer. I was there, and his friends and family brought him to me. Its more important for me to minister to whomever needs it, than for me to stay in character anyway. All of the spandex and face paint will be gone one day anyways. What will really leave a lasting legacy, on this Earth, is what we do in Jesus’ name. Any platform we’re given is given out of a trust that we will do it to His glory. If we fail to see that, we miss our true calling in life to ‘go unto all the world, preaching the gospel.’ Your life as a Christian was never meant to be contained to four walls and an ordered service. That’s simply your chance to refuel, and take it out to to the world that needs it most.”

For now, fans can see Prophet take to the ring in a number of places including Remix Pro Wrestling in Ohio, AML Wrestling in North Carolina, IWA East Coast, All Star Wrestling and Premier Fight Sports in West Virginia, and various other indies on the east coast.

Chance Prophet has a website, but by his own admission, it’s not often updated. The best place to follow him is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.