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Five Reasons to Check Out OVW Now

There’s a core group of fans who attend Ohio Valley Wrestling every week. For the last five weeks, and honestly for the foreseeable future, I’ve become one of them.

It’s been fun over the years dropping in and out to see how the promotion changes and to watch wrestlers come into their own. Having seen the tag team Dark Cloud in one of their first OVW matches versus seeing them now, interacting with the fans, it’s incredible how much they’ve evolved. But you make a much different connection with a promotion when you never miss a show. Wrestlers who may not catch your attention that first week may draw you in the second, third, or fourth time you see them.

After more than a month of live shows, I thought I’d share here a few talents that have really caught my eye. I’m purposely not including friends of mine or long-time OVW standouts. The five (make that six) wrestlers mentioned are people who have grown on me and kept me wanting to go back every week.

Shalonce Royal

Shalonce Royal

Oh how the fans hate Shalonce! They hate her arrogance. They hate her dirty tricks. And they hate – HATE! – her singing. Shalonce sings through every match, her powerful voice belting high note after high note, as she wears her opponents down. She’s fast, she’s powerful, and she’s relentless.

In real life Shalonce is a trained opera singer, and she’s not the first such talent to come along in pro wrestling. Back in the 1950s, a woman named Gloria Barratini made the jump from singing opera to pro wrestling. I don’t know that Gloria sang in the ring to the delight (or dismay) of the fans like Shalonce does, but she did wrestle in Louisville a few times, including a bout against the great Mae Young at The Armory (Louisville Gardens).

Shalonce has a lot of charisma, and she’s a heck of a wrestler. She also had a show-stealing match with Jada Stone (another new-to-me face!) during the September 1 TV taping. And I love watching the fans hate on her almost as much as I enjoy watching her wrestle.

Click here to follow Shalonce Royal on Twitter.

Omar Amir vs. Jack Vaughn

The Veteran Jack Vaughn

Jack made me sit up straight during his match last night when he LEVELED a kid with the hardest clothesline I’ve seen in Davis Arena since the days when the APA were in town. When JBL (then still known as Bradshaw) threw a clothesline in a dark match one night, I could feel it from the second row. I felt Jack’s from the top row last night.

Jack Vaughn’s Twitter says he’s an eighteen year veteran. He’s 6’6″ and looks like he fell through a time warp in Memphis, circa 1983. He’s a no nonsense, hard nosed, old fashioned rassler who often makes mince meat of the younger guys in the ring. He’s also clearly a locker room leader, based on some of his social media posts. The fans may hate him, but they have to respect him!

FYI, Jack only has a handful of followers on Twitter. That’s a crying shame, because young wrestlers could learn a lot from the wisdom he dispenses.

Click here to follow The Veteran Jack Vaughn.

The Outrunners on AEW

The Outrunners

Speaking of guys who look like they fell through a time warp! With their hot pink trunks, their decidedly old school facial hair, and Miami Vice like intro, The Outrunners look like the kind of guys my grandpa would have rooted for on Championship Wrestling from Florida.

Like everyone I’ve mentioned so far, Turbo Floyd and Truth Magnum are unabashed heels, dirty cheaters who look for every angle they can get to seize their advantage over their prettier, often younger opponents. They’re equally adept with zingers and one-liners as they are with putting together some slam-bang action. They get plenty of boos from the ladies and the kids, but there’s a solid block of guys who will cheer Truth and Turbo on against anyone.

Yep, I’m one of those guys.

The Outrunners went 25 minutes during the August 24 TV taping with Level X. No one was fidgeting or watching the clock during either bout. From start to finish, it was as entertaining a match as I’ve ever seen live, ending with a no contest finish that set up their Saturday night double dog collar match on August 27 that you can watch here:

It’s worth noting that the Tornado Tag from August 24 really made me appreciate the boys from Level X. Axton Ray took an absolute beating in that bout and never quit. He and his partner Blanco Loco have a bright future. 

Truth Magnum was once known as Shiloh Jonze, and back in 2014, he was one half of one of my favorite matches ever at the Davis Arena with his former tag partner Raul Espinoza. I’ll have to reprint that story sometime, as it was published in my now out of print book Eat Sleep Wrestle. 

Click here to follow Truth, and click here to follow Turbo. 

Freya the Slaya

Freya the Slaya

Yep, another heel. The biggest, baddest woman in the OVW women’s division, the Queen of the North is pretty universally hated by the OVW fans. That’s due in large part to how well Freya plays the role given her. 

Freya has a lot in common with Jack Vaughn in the way she works. She’s slower, more deliberate, and she makes every move look devastating. She may not be the current OVW Women’s Champion, thanks in part to her “ex-boyfriend” referee Aaron Grider, but until someone knocks her off her pedestal, she is still the most dominant woman in the house. 

And shout out to Aaron Grider, who two years ago appeared in a short film for me during Covid. Aaron got a lot of TV time during Freya’s recent run as champ, and he made the most of it. You hated him for letting himself be led around by the nose, and when Freya let her true feelings be known, your heart broke for him. 

You can follow Freya here, and you can follow Aaron here. 

Jay Malachi

Jay Malachi

Jay stands out on this list for two reasons. One, he’s a babyface, the only one I’ll write about in this column. And two… this kid didn’t exactly grow on me. He grabbed me from the moment he hit the ring. 

Jay is tall, fit, and incredibly athletic. He flies high when he’s on offense, and he flops hard when he’s taking a beating. Every time I see this kid, he’s doing something new in the air or off the ropes. He’s incredibly fast and remarkably creative, and when he takes to the sky, it feels like he’s in the air forever. 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. He’s also eighteen years old. 

I’ve seen Jay twice at OVW and once at Paradigm Pro Wrestling in Jeffersonville. I sure hope to see a lot more of him in the coming years, and I don’t mean on the local scene. 

You can follow Jay here on Twitter. 

One final note. Al Snow’s stated goal with OVW is that everyone who works at Davis Arena, from the wrestlers and refs to the backstage crew, can use it as a launching pad to the next level in professional wrestling. It’s worth noting that Shalonce Royal, The Outrunners, and Freya the Slaya have all made appearances on AEW Dark. They’re not the only current OVW roster members to do so, and they definitely won’t be the last.

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The Seated Senton Fanzine

Michael Ewing has been a friend for several years as well as a collaborator. He’s one of my go-to proofreaders and editors. Recently, he decided to launch a print fanzine called The Seated Senton. Tonight, he and Chad French from Midwest Territory joined Ed Bratz and me on Wrestling Bookmarks to talk about the magazine, classic wrestling, indy wrestling, and Aaron Williams

You can watch the video below. To order a copy of The Seated Senton, click here.

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Marko Stunt is (All) Elite!

There’s not a nicer, more energetic, enthusiastic, dynamic, over the top kid in pro wrestling than Marko Stunt. What Marko lacks in size, Mr. Fun Size more than makes up for in heart. And this kid is bursting to overflowing with HEART.

It was a huge surprise to all of us who have watched him in the indies when he was named to the All In Over the Budget Battle Royal last September. It came as no surprise when he announced today, on his 23rd birthday, he has signed with All Elite Wrestling.

Congratulations, Marko! Cannot wait to see where you go from here!

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Orange Cassidy Is a National Treasure

Orange Cassidy is a national treasure.

I would elaborate more, but that would not be very Orange Cassidy-like.

The man is pure entertainment.

If you missed his brutal beatdown of Tommy Dreamer at AEW’s Buy In, you can view it here:

And you simply must visit www.orangecassidy.com to learn more.

Seriously. Click and check it out.

National. Treasure.

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Joshi Girls Hit Harder – MUCH Harder

I know there were people at the MGM Grand Saturday night for AEW’s Double or Nothing who mistakenly thought the Joshi match was a bathroom break match. They saw it was a 3 on 3 contest between six women they’d never heard of and assumed this, like the WWE women’s matches of yesteryear, would be a snooze fest.

I’m sure some of them are lying about it now. “Yes, I stayed for the match. I knew it was going to be the hardest hitting match of the night.” Deep down they’re kicking themselves for underestimating the women of Japan, but hey… can you blame them?

The Joshi ladies made a powerful statement. They proved that as far as the WWE women’s revolution has come, they are still light years ahead. And for those who think that match was a fluke, head to YouTube and search for some Stardom matches. Matter of fact, look up Io Shirai vs Shayna Baszler. Not only will you see this was no fluke, you’ll see just how much WWE has pulled the reigns on Io and Baszler.

For fans who enjoyed that match, and for those who want to see more, I have good news. Stardom, one of the top women’s wrestling promotions in Japan, has a subscription service. It’s Internet based, like New Japan’s, and it’s a tad harder to navigate than the New Japan site. It’s worth the trouble and well worth the price of 920 yen, which works out to roughly $8-9 per month.

Don’t wait for AEW to give you more Joshi in the fall. Visit Stardom World’s website to sign up.

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AEW’S MVP Upstages WWE Legend

Jon Moxley’s appearance at the end of last night’s Double Or Nothing show was an absolutely amazing way to end the show. He laid out Chris Jericho and then destroyed Kenny Omega as the show went off the air. It was a moment many wrestling fans were hoping would happen, and AEW showed they could deliver on such a big moment.

I am not here to write about Moxley, however.

AEW’s MVP, their most important signee, is not Jon Moxley. It is not Chris Jericho, not any members of the Elite. The most important guy on the roster is the reason the Buy In show opened not with an “A-E-Dub” chant, but a torrent of boos. Go back and watch the tape; the video package fades out, and the crowd is booing like they just saw Brock Lesnar win the Money in the Bank.

It caught me off guard, until I saw who was in the ring, his tartan scarf still wrapped around his neck, telling the fans they should be grateful to be in his presence.

Then I understood the boos.

It was MJF.

MJF is the guy who nearly beat Hangman Page in the Casino Battle Royale. He’s the guy who interrupted Bret Hart during the presentation of the new championship belt and dumped on Bret’s signature catch phrase. He’s the guy who tucked tail and ran when Jungle Boy, Jimmy Havoc, and Hangman Page ganged up on him.

He’s also the best barometer for how this company will fare in the coming years.

I had the “misfortune” of having a gimmick table next to his back in the fall at a Terry Harper show in Jeffersonville. I had to sit and listen to him at intermission berating fans, telling them they were fat and stupid and not allowed to buy anything from him. This is not a product of some creative team. MJF arrives in AEW a full-realized jerk and a half who doesn’t understand why you boo him because he truly believes he is doing YOU a favor by letting you see him wrestle.

In a world where AEW did not exist, MJF would have been signed by WWE. They would have given him a new name and persona. They would have forced scripts into his hands written by non-wrestling people. Despite these hindrances, they would have made a lot of money with him. MJF is a personality on the level of a Kevin Owens or The Miz who will not be ignored. I have no doubt he could have taken whatever WWE Creative threw at him and turned it into gold.

He doesn’t have to do that in AEW. He can continue being his smug, repugnant self. He can continue pushing buttons, unscripted and unfiltered. AEW has promised wrestlers control over their own characters and promised fans no script writers. If they deliver on both promises, MJF will have the leeway to become their top heel in no time. He will be the man fans love to hate more than any other. He will sell tickets and pay–per-views.

He will be the embodiment of what AEW promised to deliver.

Time will tell if AEW truly has staying power and if they are willing to give wrestlers the freedom they promised. I’m pulling for them, and even though he’s a stuck up, self-absorbed head case in the ring – I am pulling for MJF. I cannot wait to see him fight Page, Cody, Jericho, Omega, Moxley, and anyone else who gets in his way of becoming the AEW Champion.

I love to hate this guy. I look forward to hating his guts for years to come.