Category Archives: Independent Wrestling

Impact and the Future of Indy Wrestling

If you have any interest at all in independent wrestling – and even if you don’t – you need to hear Talk is Jericho’s Friday episode. Chris Jericho’s guests are Don Callis and Scott D’Amore, the new executive vice presidents of Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA). It’s an eye-opening discussion about their unique qualifications to take over the struggling promotion and take it in a new direction.

The highlight that stood out the most for me was when they discussed intellectual property rights and wrestlers. It’s well-known that Impact has finally given up the fight over control of “Broken” Matt Hardy, and the WWE and Hardy are already reaping the benefits. What D’Amore and Callis shared on the show was the reasoning behind their backing of this paradigm-shifting decision.

It was Vince McMahon and the WWF that established the idea that wrestling “characters” belonged to the promotion and not the wrestlers. Vince wanted control so he could own the merchandising and restrict people from leaving his company to make money of the characters he helped to create. The TNA policy that kept “Broken” Matt Hardy in limbo for seven months was adopted from the WWE policy.

Callis and D’Amore want to change that. They want to give a platform for wrestlers to build, grow, and market characters owned by the wrestlers. Wrestlers who sign on with Impact can rest assured they will not be starting over should their relationship with the company come to an end. The gains they make at Impact will benefit them in Ring of Honor, Japan, Mexico, Europe, anywhere they go.

Callis and D’Amore contend that wrestlers have more power now than at any time in the history of the business. It’s hard to argue with that statement. For nearly a hundred years, going back to the days of the Golddust Trio, the promoters held all the power. They controlled the territories. They controlled who won or lost. They controlled who got work and who starved.

The territories are no more. Today, wrestlers market themselves. They are savvy social media users. They have tools like Instagram, YouTube, and Pro Wrestling Tees that they are using to great effect. They give interviews on blogs like this. They appear on every podcast they can. They let their fans know where they can see them not only in person but on High Spots, Powerbomb.TV, and other networks.

Callis and D’Amore know the business of wrestling. They also know business-business. They see the market, they know the trends, and they seem smart enough to create an environment to appeal to wrestlers who are truly more independent than ever.

If you listen to podcasts, please give this episode a listen. It’s a great omen for what’s on the horizon, not only for Impact, but the independent scene at large.

2017 was a ground-breaking year for the independents. 2018 is looking even better. It will start with Alpha vs. Omega. Can’t wait to see how it ends.

Net Neutrality and Indy Wrestling

If net neutrality ends, what does that mean for independent wrestling?

Independent wrestling has thrived thanks in part to a free and open Internet. Youtube has given us a wealth of video from wrestling’s past and present. Fans not only have the WWE Network but CZW Studios, the High Spots Network, New Japan World, Impact, Ring of Honor, Powerbomb.tv and dozens more. Facebook Live has changed the game even further, and the Billy Corgan-owned NWA is now using that platform to bring live action to the fans.

Could all of that wrestling, all of that momentum, really come to an end in less the two weeks?

Rumor has it the “gatekeepers” of the Internet want to create fast lanes for content creators who will pay for it, while minimizing and slowing down the creators who don’t. Do you think New Japan is going to pay for a fast lane? Or High Spots? Or CZW? There’s only one promotion I know of that even has the money, and I imagine when they pay up, they’ll pass that cost onto their subscribers. Bye bye, $9.99.

If you haven’t raised your voice, do it. Call your Senator. Call your Representative. Sign every online petition. Demand that Congress take action if the FCC won’t.

Raising our voices with our government is a must right now, but it’s not the only action we should take. We need to start a dialogue. Fans, promoters, wrestlers, podcasters, bloggers, and anyone who makes even part of their living from the wrestling business need to come together and ask the question: where do we go from here? Is there an alternative to the “new” Internet landscape? Where can promotions take their video? How do we get the fans to follow? What do we do to make sure this is not the end of the indy revolution, but just a speed bump on the way to a new era?

No one could have predicted the indies would return like they have. If net neutrality ends, I believe we can do the impossible once more.

Why Jericho is the Best in the World

The best thing about Chris Jericho is you never know when he’s working you.

Jericho worked everyone the last few weeks in his Twitter war with Kenny Omega. Yes, we all suspected something was up, but no one knew what – not until he showed up on the big screen at Power Struggle this weekend.

In an era where fans think they know everything, Jericho is the one guy who can still pull off a shocker. He will never tip his hand if he thinks he can sneak up on you. He loves a surprise. If you’ve ever told anyone that you “called it” when he returned in the #2 spot at the Royal Rumble a few years ago, you are a liar.

Even now, questions surround his unexpected move to Japan. Did Vince know? One report says the WWE found out when the rest of us did early Sunday morning. His video package featured music from his band Fozzy, not his WWE theme. His contracts with WWE are month to month, and he has ROH on his cruise next October.

Sounds like he’s gone independent. Only Jericho knows, and he’s not telling.

That’s what makes him the Best in the World.

If you’re one of the many coming aboard the New Japan bandwagon because of Y2J, welcome. If you thought Balor vs Styles was awesome (and it was!) wait until you see what NJPW has to offer.

90 Days and Counting (Again)

Start the clock again. More talented wrestlers may be returning to the indies.

We’re already counting down for Neville. Now you can add Emma to the list.

Emma is a classic example of how some things never change. The WWE seems to sabotage at least as many talented wrestlers as they set up for success. For every John Cena, who came in with a rocket strapped to his back, there’s a Nick Dinsmore/U-Gene, or a “Stuttering” Matt Morgan, or a Spirit Squad.

Emma was set up to fail from day one, which is a shame because she can go. She’s a Lance Storm student, and she’s just as talented as the WWE’s Four Horsewomen. Her release is a blessing in disguise for her career, and now she has the chance to write her own ticket. Who wouldn’t want to see her lock up with Tessa Blanchard, Santana Garrett, Rachel Ellering, or LuFisto? When her 90 day non-compete ends, don’t be surprised to see her show up in Shimmer, or Queens of Combat, or – dare I  say it? – Girl Fight. (Mad Man Pondo, take note!)

I don’t know as much about Darren Young, but I think he’s got a fair shot to find success outside the WWE as well. There’s certainly more opportunity now than there has been in years, and if he chooses to follow Cody Rhodes and Neville, he can go far.

I’m not sure we’ll see Summer Rae in the indies. I think it’s more likely she’ll pursue more film and TV, but I hate to see her go without ever truly getting a chance on the main roster. If you go back and watch her work in NXT, she could hold her own against any of the top women now in the company. Too bad the sabotaged her as well, putting her in the shrieking, helpless blonde at ringside role at ringside. As much as WWE wants us to believe they’ve turned the page on women in wrestling, Summer Rae is an example that some things never change.

Time will tell if this is the last of the house cleaning. Time will also tell if any of the “future endeavored” will be add to the current indy revival. If the drive is in them, Emma, Darren Young, and Summer Rae will find more opportunity to pursue future endeavors than their predecessors.

The Baddest TPI Winner Alive

Aaron Williams is one of the wrestlers who made me an independent wrestling fan. That’s one reason why he’s one of the featured stars on the cover of Eat Sleep Wrestle. He’s racked up a number of credits on the resume since I started following him. He’s been a solo champion and a tag champion for numerous promotions. He’s been a competitor in CZW’s Best of the Best. He’s been a main event performer since I first met him in 2014. And he’s currently the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.

Last night Williams added another accolade to his career. He is your 2017 Ted Petty Invitational Winner.

Congratulations to the Baddest Man Alive. Wishing you even more success in 2017 and beyond.

Coming Together for Matt Cappotelli

Wrestlers give so much of themselves for the business the love and the fans who follow them. In less than two weeks, OVW fans will have a chance to give back to one of the greatest stars in the promotion’s history.

If you don’t know Matt Cappotelli’s story, it’s both inspiring and heart-breaking. Matt was on the verge of realizing his dream and becoming a WWE Superstar when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He fought the disease and beat it, but earlier this year, cancer returned for a re-match.

OVW is hosting a benefit show on Saturday, September 23, to help Matt pay his medical expenses as he fights cancer a second time. A number of current and former OVW stars will be on hand that night not to collect a pay check, but to support their friend as all proceeds will go to Matt’s medical fund. Jim Cornette has already announced he will be there, signing anything you bring for any donation you want to give. More announcements are on the way.

Indy wrestling isn’t about sports entertainment. It’s about family. If you’re in the area, please be at the Davis Arena Saturday night, September 23. This is a show you can’t miss.

Who Will Stand With Baron Corbin?

I’ve met a number of wrestling promoters over the last few years. You know what they have in common? Limited resources. The promoters I know are not millionaires. Most of them have jobs outside wrestling to pay the bills for themselves and  (in many cases) the promotions they run. They aren’t doctors either, and they don’t all have the means to have even an off duty paramedic standing by if something goes wrong.

The wrestlers who work for these promoters understand this. They understand the risk they take every time they step in the ring, no matter where they are or who is running the show. Everyone understands that bruises, strains, broken bones, torn ligaments, infections, and yes, concussions can and will happen. They don’t hold the promoter liable because they take responsibility for their own actions.

This is their love. This is their passion. They do it in spite of the risks for the love of the business.

That said, if a promoter is a billionaire, if that promoter has unlimited resources, if they have the means to put on multiple live broadcasts every week, if they have their own TV network, if they have millions of subscribers paying for that network and shelling out billions more on T-shirts and videos and other swag… that promoter has an obligation to the men and women they employ to provide the best healthcare and the best information about health and wellness to the people they employ.

If the story now out about Baron Corbin being “punished” for calling out a so-called expert on concussions for not speaking the truth, it’s another black mark on the biggest promotion in the business. The WWE treats wrestlers as independent contractors. They do this to avoid having to provide health insurance for the wrestlers. Translation: when you see the WWE live or on TV, you are watching non-employees risk their bodies, their brains, and their well being in order to make millions for a corporation that will not pay their medical bills if they get hurt.

Baron Corbin has every right to call BS when he hears it. The wrestlers and fans should call BS as well. WWE is not a side venture run by a man or woman who puts on shows weekly or monthly in addition to working their 40 hour a week job. This is what they do. This is how they make money, hand over fist. For once in his wrestling career, Baron Corbin is the babyface, but it looks like Corbin could become another casualty, another name swept under the rug for defying the corporate line.

Independent promoters don’t have the means to provide the best of medical care. Independent wrestlers know and accept the risks they take working for said promoters. There’s no excuse for a company the size of WWE to withhold the best of care and the best of information from the men and women whose sacrifices make their profits possible.

Who’s going to stand with Baron Corbin, inside the WWE, or out? Better get off your butts quick. We’ve seen what happens when you defy the company line.

Indy Podcast Round Up – September 4

I’m a little late this week, but couldn’t skip. This was a great week for local regional independent wrestling podcasts, and if you’re even curious about what’s going on with indy wrestlers, you need to check these shows out.

First this week: Talkin’ the Business has one of the best promoters and the greatest minds in wrestling today as their guest. The man who saved CZW and also runs the very popular women’s promotion WSU D.J. Hyde shares his story about his history with CZW and where he sees the promotion going in the future. Having recently watched a little of CZW on the Highspots Network, I can tell you CZW is head and shoulders above the rest in production values, and they’re poised to continue growing in the near future.

Kick Out at Two has a must-hear show as well, a live recorded interview with 80 crazed wrestling fans at the Scenic City Invitational talking to Kerry and Nick of the Carnies. It’s a bit chaotic in points because it was the middle of the night and everyone had been drinking, but there’s some great stories as well as Kerry Awful’s pearls of wisdom for aspiring wrestlers and dreamers.

Finally, don’t skip on Dave Dynasty’s last two shows either. The Monday August 28 program featured Dick the Bruiser, Jr., talking about his start as the Golden Lion, his baseball career, and working for his father-in-law, the late, great Dick the Bruiser.

Download the Dave Dynasty Show, the Kick Out at Two Podcast, and Talkin’ the Business on iTunes or wherever you download or steal your podcasts.

Final note for indy fans: if you’re within driving distance, DO NOT miss Friday night’s Pro Wrestling Freedom event in Jeffersonville. The main event alone is worth not only the price of admission but the cost of a tank of gas. The Hooligans, the Hierarchy (Adrian Armour and Murder One), and the Carnies in a triple threat, falls count anywhere, no disqualification brawl for the PWF tag belts. This is not going to be a wrestling match. It will be a brawl. Be ready to grab your stuff and move, because it’s guaranteed to spill not only out of the ring, but well into the heart of Clark County, Indiana.

Marcus Everett: The Guy from “That Gif”

If you haven’t seen “the gif,” you obviously haven’t been on social media much in the last two weeks.

Much like the very first time Joey Ryan’s now infamous penis spot hit the Internet, the guy jumping off a girder and overshooting the other guy lying prone on a table set the Internet on fire. Many thought he as crazy. Most thought it was funny. Some thought he was a disgrace. At least a handful wanted to be sure the guy was okay.

I’m happy to report that the Guy in the Gif is okay. But unlike Joey Ryan, he won’t be turning his famous Internet spot into a career-defining move.

“I suppose I could do the spot everywhere I go,” he said. “But that’s probably not a good idea.”

The man responsible for the most-watched video clip of August is Marcus Everett, a young aspiring wrestler from Toledo, Ohio. Everett is only two years in the business, but he’s a life-long fan. “Goldberg was my favorite when I was little,” he recalls. “I can’t remember a single match he was in. But I remember him. he was like a super hero.”

Everett’s favorite wrestler of all time is the man who hooked him for good back in 2002, Shawn Michaels. “The night Triple H hit him twice with a sledgehammer, I was hooked. I wanted to know if he was okay. I had to watch Raw the next week. And then the next. And then the next. Weeks became years. Then thirteen years later, I stepped into a ring and began to train.”

Training started in Toledo at Northwest Ohio Wrestling, and Everett trained with some terrific mentors including Big Bear Benjamin Boone, Crimson, and Dave Crist. “I carry their names on my shoulders every time I step in the ring. it’s a heavy responsibility. I should also add, not a one of them would condone what I did in that video!”

Marcus Everett has worked for a number of Midwest promotions, but it was IWA Mid-South in Memphis, Indiana that the famous missed spot took place. “I was in a feud with Cole Radrick. Cole and I had had some brutal matches. This was the end of our feud, and what we thought at the time would be the last show in that building. We wanted to go out big.”

Radrick and Everett were booked in a Loser Leaves town TLC (Tables Ladders and Chairs) match. If you watch the gif, you’ll see that Everett is standing on a second tier girder. He had previously done a leap off the lower girder during and earlier match, and on that night, he wanted to do something extra special.

“It was my idea,” he says, “And my hubris. I take full responsibility, and the outcome was absolutely deserved.”

Everett made it very clear that no one put him up to the big spot. It was his idea, an idea Radrick tried and failed to talk him out of. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even clear it with promoter Ian Rotten – a decision he also regrets.

“It might have been a better idea to do that spot in a scramble match rather than a one on one match,” he says. “It would have been an even better idea not to do it at all!”

Prior to the spot you’ve seen online, Everett hit Radrick with a ladder and knocked him onto the table. Everett then began to climb not to the first girder, but the second girder.

“I got up on the girder and shimmied out to take position right in front of the table. It was only then that I looked down and realized that the table was a little further out than it should have been. Ideally, the table would be close enough, I could just lean forward Michael Jackson-style and fall through the table, but I knew I was going to have to give myself a little momentum.

“Unfortunately, with all the adrenaline I had in my system, a little turned into a lot. I didn’t realize just how bad I messed up until I hit the concrete.

“As soon as I landed, I gave myself a mental pat down and deduced that I was okay. I got up off the ground and turned to Cole and the ref, who were both looking at me in disbelief. The ref pointed and said, ‘Brother, I can see your bone!’

“I’ve heard people say that when drunks get into car accidents, the reason they survive is because they’re so loose. That has to be the only reason I wasn’t in pain. I should have been, but I was os in the moment, I didn’t feel a thing. The ref wanted to stop the match, but I said, “No, man, get me some duct tape. Let’s finish this!”

Finish they did. The match ended with Everett taking a piledriver off the top rope onto a table. “It was the same table I overshot coming off the wall. The table still didn’t break!”

The fans at IWA Mid-South were extremely generous with their applause after the match. Even though Everett was the heel in the feud with Radrick, the fans were cheering and chanting his name.

“It was a great moment. I turned to the fans, lifted my hands… and gave them all the finger. One girl in the crowd screamed, ‘Stop being a heel! I want to like you!'”

Everett thought that when the spot came out on video, he would see some sort of response from the fans. Then one day, just a few weeks ago, his phone blew up. He was shocked to see that everyone was watching the gif, not just once, but over and over and over. Even Jim Cornette weighed in on the controversial spot.

“I can’t stop watching this–what was the idiot on the table’s plan for survival had that gone right?”

Everett responded, “True story: When I smacked the concrete, 3 things went through my head. My family, Maffew, and Jim Cornette.”

Cornette replied, “At least your head was in the right place!”

Everett would dispute that claim. In hindsight he regrets the spot for many reasons. He knows he’s lucky he didn’t get seriously injured, but he also feels bad for possibly encouraging others to do something so dangerous. “That’s not the kind of wrestler I want to be.”

Everett has heard every reaction you can imagine, from “What were you thinking?” to “That was awesome!” to “Just don’t die, kids.” (Credit to Hurricane Helms.) He’s grateful for the attention, but he made it clear that his focus from now on will be working smarter. “Head locks and arm drags,” he says.

Everett’s loss in the Loser Leaves Town match came at a good time for him and his family. His sister is battling multiple sclerosis, and his mother is undergoing surgery this week. Family comes first for Everett, and he’s grateful to have the time off to be where he’s needed. “I’ll be working NOW, XICW, LPW, and other promotions close by for a while. But once Mom is back on her feet, it’s back to business. I have a lot of states and a lot of countries on my list to cross off.”

There are some who have questioned Everett’s ability to work safely in the ring, even before “The Gif,” and in the wake of this past weekend’s Sexy Star incident at Triplemania, a lot of wrestler and promoters have a heightened awareness about safety. I asked Everett to tell me what kind of wrestler promoters will be booking when they call him in the months and year ahead.

“They’re going to get a high flyer with a big heart,” he says. “I’m not about the high spots any more. I want to tell stories. I want to make people feel something. One thing I hear a lot from fans all the time is, ‘You’re too short.’ Yeah, I am small, but if I can rise up and fulfill my dream and beat a man bigger than me, I know I can inspire others to do the same. I’m the little guy who overcomes the odds and comes out on top!

“I can also solve Rubik’s Cubes.”

I believe in second chances, and I can only speak for myself and my brief interaction with him. Marcus Everett comes across as a sharp kid with a bright future. He’s made some mistakes, and he has taken his lumps for those mistakes, but his positive attitude and sense of humor are infectious. He’s far from done with this business, and eager to become famous for something other than the world’s most painful gif!

If you want to follow Marcus Everett, you can find him on Twitter @EverlastingMBD

Indy Wrestling Podcast Round Up 8/25/17

Here’s what’s happening in some of the best independent wrestling podcasts this week (and last week, since I dropped the ball last weekend).

The Dave Dynasty Show featured the Van Zandt Brothers, native Hoosiers and long time veterans of the Midwest wrestling scene.

On Talkin’ the Business this week, KC and Dave review the Summerslam 2017 pay-per-view and bring you the story of up and coming wrestler Logan James.

The Kick Out at Two Podcast presents their “tired and hung over” episode featuring the very popular bad boy, Joey Janela, who recently debuted for Righteous Jesse’s Southern Underground Pro promotion.

While you’re downloading that episode, go back a week and download their interview with the legendary Tracy Smothers. Tracy is a true legend, a mentor to many young stars of today, and a wrestler who fears no man or bear. That’s right, I said bear.

Download The Dave Dynasty Show, Talkin’ the Business, and Kick Out at Two wherever you find or steal your podcasts!

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