Rocket City Goes EXTREME

Last summer I had the pleasure of attending Rocket City Wrestling’s Wrestlingcon, an exciting evening of wrestling with a special meet and greet featuring Dr. D David Schultz, Jimmy Hart, Road Warrior Animal, Tracy Smothers, Shannon Moore, and Lindsey Snow. I just received the flyer for Wrestlingcon 2, and let me tell you… it’s extreme.

This year Rocket City is presenting an ECW reunion including Sandman, Jerry Lynn, Super Crazy, Joel Gertner, Francine, Tracy Smothers, and Raven. Shannon Moore and Lindsey Snow will also be returning along with the king of the wrestling magazines, the one and only Bill Apter.

Any one of these people would be worth the price of admission, but having them all together for this special event makes Wrestlingcon 2 a can’t miss event.

Rocket City Wrestlingcon 2 takes place Saturday, August 17 at Meridianville Middle School in Hazel Green, Alabama. Bell time is 7 pm. You can find all the information on Wrestlingcon 2 on their Facebook event page, and you can buy tickets now if you click here.

Headlocks for Hayden

Pro wrestling is a community that cares about its own. Not just the workers, but the fans. Shawna Reed recently lost a special friend, a young man named Hayden Field, an 11 year old boy who loved wrestling. After Hayden died in a car accident, Shawna was moved to put on a show in his honor with all proceeds benefiting Hayden’s family.

Headlocks for Hayden takes place on Saturday, July 13th at 190 N Brookwood Avenue in Hamilton, Ohio. The first ever Hayden Field Memorial Tournament will be one of the highlights, an eight person bracket featuring some of Hayden’s favorite wrestlers: Cody Hawk, Eric Fallen, Mark Magnum, Scotty Amos, Che Solo, Jame Rose, Jay West, and of course, Shawna Reed.

In addition to the show, there will be a merchandise raffle with items donated by stars from Future Great Wrestling, The Code, WWE, Eat Sleep Wrestle, and more.

Tickets are available for purchase at Future Great Comics in Hamilton, Ohio. Prices are $8 for front row (which is selling out fast!) and $6 for general admission. Show information can be found on the Headlocks for Hayden event page on Facebook.

 

Mad Man Hall of Famer

Last Friday night, Kevin Gill inducted Mad Man Pondo into the inaugural class of the GCW Deathmatch Hall of Fame. It’s an honor well-deserved, and to be blunt – you simply can’t have a deathmatch hall of fame without Pondo.

If you want to see the induction ceremony, you can catch the replay on Fite.tv for only $4.99.

Pondo took two boxes of his autobiography to Jersey with him and SOLD OUT! For those who missed getting a copy, you can order a signed copy through Eat Sleep Wrestle. The cost is $20 plus shipping ($5 in the US, $15 for Canada), and we accept PayPal. Message me at johncosper@yahoo.com to order.

Congrats again to Mad Man Pondo, and huge props to GCW and Kevin Gill for honoring him.

Pro Wrestling Revolver Arrives in Indiana

There are many promotions today who strive to be old school. They look for and book wrestlers who can work Memphis style. They strive to present wrestling the way it was. There’s even a delightfully fun group in Ohio that presents wrestling in the late 19th century format.

Pro Wrestling Revolver is not that type of show. There’s a lot of variety to be sure, but it’s an evening of modern wrestling at its most modern, filled with hard hits, high spots, steel chairs, comedy wrestling, and yes, a good helping of the flippy “stuff.” It’s a promotion that gives you dream match ups and odd pairings you never would have imagine that work better than you’d ever expect. It’s a promotion where a camping tent can become a title holder. It is, as advertised, a show “for our generation, by our generation,” as founder “The Draw” Sami Callihan made clear before the show even started.

“I know you all have phones,” he said. “Take ‘em out. Go on Twitter and follow @pwrevolver. We want you to take pictures. We want you to take video. If you want to stream the whole show, that’s fine. Tag it with #5000candlesinthering. That’s the only way this thing grows!”

That’s not the normal speech you hear at a show. Not even the smaller promotions who have deals with High Spots (as Revolver does) want you to film anything. Sami’s love for his promotion, his wrestling family, and his fans comes through in everything he does at Revolver. It was clear the fans at the Jeffersonville Arena last night took to Sami’s way of doing wrestling during their Indiana debut Tuesday night, and Revolver proved to be a welcome new addition to the Southern Indiana scene.

Later in the show, Sami commented on one of the criticisms he heard when he started Revolver. “They said, ‘He’s only doing this so he can book his friends!’ Well, I happen to think my friends are the best damn wrestlers in the world!”

It’s a bold boast, but how can you argue when your opening match is an Impact X-Division Championship bout between Rich Swann and Trey Miguel? Neither man is a stranger to the Arena, and they put on the fast, frenetic match fans expected from this dream combination. They were quickly followed by another one on one outing between Jake Crist and Project Monix. Crist, like Callihan, is part of Impact’s heel faction oVe, but here in the area where he cut his teeth with brother Dave as Irish Airborne and then OI4K, Jake can do no wrong. Despite the heat, fans were all in for this match and 100% behind Crist.

Two of RISE Wrestling’s top stars clashed in a match between Nevaeh and Kimber Lee. It’s hard to understand why WWE signed and then dropped Kimber Lee because she’s so good at everything she does. Despite the rising temps in the building, Kimber and Nevaeh put on a very strong match that proved Revolver’s women’s contingent does not take a back seat to the men.

One thing Revolver created that is truly unique is the Open Scramble Championship, a title defended in a match that can have any number of competitors at one time. Tuesday night, the Open Scramble title was defended by a camping tent. Yes, this is where the old time fans would have left if they hadn’t already, which is a shame because “Tent” and the eight men in the ring with Tent put on a great show. Arena favorites like Tyler Matrix and ZDP mixed it up with people like the 1 Called Manders and Jake Manning in a fast, frenetic bout that ended with Tent pinning Manning. Manders in particular impressed me in this bout. It’s been a year and a half since I first saw the former Iowa Hawkeye, and he’s turning into a very powerful wrestler.

A Fatal Four Way to determine a new Number One Contender for the Revolver Championship closed the first half of the show, featuring Caleb Konley, Impact’s Ace Austin, AEW Casino Battle Royale competitor Acey Romero, and the always impressive Jessica Havok. Arena fans have watched Austin bloom into a star over the last 18 months at PPW, and he proved to be a fan favorite, but all four competitors impressed in this one. Romero got the pin on the fearless Havok to become the Number One Contender.

After intermission, fans were treated to an IWA Mid-South Jr. Heavyweight Championship bout between Louisville’s Logan James and Cincinnati’s Aaron Williams. Williams has been a long-time fixture in the area with IWA Mid-South and previously D1W. He’s also no stranger to Sami and the rest of the Dayton crew thanks to his long-time association with Rockstar Pro. How this guy is not signed to one of the top promotions, I’ll never understand. James looked equally impressive even in defeat as Williams defended his title successfully.

The evening’s long tag team match as a three team affair that spilled out into the crowd, much to the delight of the fans. I have to admit, I was disappointed that Dave Crist was paired with Madman Fulton in this match instead of his brother, but Dave and Fulton proved to be an entertaining comedy duo. Impact fans have yet to see just how truly talented Dave is. He had the fans roaring as he berated the big man for using him as a weapon, spinning him overhead to knock down opponents and tossing him over the ropes into four other men. Crist played to the crowd at every opportunity. “Does my safety mean anything to you people? Huh?” From his facial reactions when he takes a boot to the face to his own death-defying aerial maneuvers, Crist can do no wrong.

The Iron Manager J.T. Davidson accompanied Sami Callihan to the ring for his Revolver Championship match with Larry D. The crowd was split on this affair, but as with every other match, most fans could go either way in the end. It was a hard-hitting contest that brought the fans to their feet in the end as the long-time veteran Larry D kept the title from “The Draw.”

Callihan called for the cameras to be shut off while the ring was set for the main event, and Callihan thanked the fans once more for their energy and attendance. He also promised Revolver would be returning in a few months in the hopes that Jeffersonville would become a regular part of their circuit. Two prize packages were then given away to fans – one by raffle, and the other given to the fan who posted the best tweet using the evening’s hashtag #5000candlesinthering. Both fans walked away with Revolver prize packages including T-shirts, stickers, and a copy of every DVD on the sales table.

A Bunkhouse Brawl between MLW’s Mance Warner, Impact’s Zachary Wentz, and the enigmatic Jimmy Jacobs closed the show. As strange as that combination sounds, it was a fantastic way to close out the show with all three men brawling into the crowd and using everything from haystacks to particle board as props. Warner has mega-star written all over him and sounds like a modern version of Steve Austin playing to the crowd, but it was the under-rated Zachary Wentz who took the win.

Manders returned to the ring with a couple of beers to celebrate with Wentz, and Wentz rewarded him with a Stone Cold Stunner. At that point, DJ Eric Montgomery hit Stone Cold’s theme music, and Wentz proceeded to stun everyone from Dave Crist to Madman Fulton to a few fans invited to join the fun.

“Cut the cameras!” Callihan bellowed over the microphone. “This is not part of the video! Vince will sue the hell out of us!”

For what it’s worth, I asked a friend who was backstage what the atmosphere was like in the locker room. I was told it was one of the most energetic locker rooms my friend had ever seen. Everyone working for Revolver loves what they are doing and who they are doing it with. It’s more family than business, and the wrestlers were having as much fun as the fans.

Revolver’s home base is Des Moines, Iowa, where my in-laws live. For close to a year, I’d been dropping hints to my wife that I’d like to plan a trip West to visit family that would coincide with Revolver’s schedule. I still want to make that trip, but I was quite delighted Revolver decided to open shop ten minutes from home. This is one of the most energetic and exciting indy federations, and for fans who like the high spots and fluffy “stuff,” this is must-see wrestling. Sami Callihan has a good thing going, providing a showcase and a launching pad for some of the best talent in pro wrestling. It’s a Dayton, Ohio centric roster, and I’ve long believed Dayton is where some of the biggest stars of tomorrow are being made. I can’t wait to see where Revolver and this talented roster of rising stars go next. 

You can find more information about The Wrestling Revolver on their website. Be sure to follow their social media links as well. 

What’s So Different About Impact?

Back around November, I started watching Impact. I was never a TNA fan and never saw a single TNA pay-per-view or Impact show until the fall of 2018. Never had any interest! Then Impact signed Su Yung. Then they signed oVe. Then they changed ownership. Then they signed the Rascalz. Then they signed Jordynne Grace. Then they signed Ace Austin.

That was when I decided to give Impact a try. For several months I have watched the show (Friday nights at 10 pm on Twitch) every chance I got. If I missed the Friday show, I’d catch the replay on what is now Impact+, a great subscription value at only $7.99. Not only can you watch past episodes of their show, you now get monthly live shows, shows from other promotions, and classic wrestling in the form of The Best of Wrestling at the Chase from St. Louis hosted by Larry Matysik. (RIP, good sir!)

I’ve enjoyed watching Impact. I’ve become a fan of more of their stars including Tessa Blanchard, Moose, Rich Swann, and Brian Cage, and I’ve always liked Johnny Impact. But lately, something has struck me as odd about the show. Something feels off. I couldn’t put a finger on it for a while, but it has to do with the week to week programming. The way the show is constructed seems a bit old school. The rivalries and story lines play out the way they used to on Raw and Smackdown. And the gimmick matches! One week there’s a street fight. One week there’s a deathmatch. They keep mixing things up. It’s not always one singles match after another. But it IS one match after another. Yes, you get an in-ring promo here and there, and the same back stage interviews every promotion does. But they don’t take 52 minutes to get to the action. They open with a match. Then here comes another. And another.

I don’t know how Impact was before the new owners took over, but it plays like an old school wrestling show. Not even Raw or Smackdown, mind you, but even further back in time, back when I used to watch World Class on ESPN after school every afternoon. It feels odd, really odd, because it’s not what I’m used to. I watched Raw and Smackdown for decades, and while those shows have become much more script driven, Impact is purely wrestling driven.

In all honesty this is not a tongue in cheek way of promoting Impact. If I sound sarcastic and like I’m taking sideways shots at WWE, I’m not. This essay began with me reading a Tweet about this week’s street fight between Eddie Edwards and Killer Cross and trying to puzzle out, why does this feel so strange? Why is it strange that once again, Impact has built to a special stipulation match between two wrestlers with a grudge? What is it about Impact that just feels odd?

Impact is formatted as an old school wrestling show. It only feels off because it’s been so darn long since I’ve watched such a show week after week. I’ve become a fan of the promotion and the wrestlers, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something different in their weekly wrestling shows.

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.

Pain Torture Agony – The Story of a Legacy of Greatness

When you attend a wrestling fan convention as a vendor, it’s always a crap shoot. Sometimes you do well. Sometimes you spend more than you make. By all accounts this year’s Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion was a success for all the wrestling authors in attendance, but especially for Ron Hutchison, who released his autobiography Pain Torture Agony at the Reunion. I sold nearly 100 books in three days. Ron sold out of his 75 by lunch time on day one.

I had never met Ron and did not know his story before I attended CAC. I knew he was involved with CAC, and I had read a few emails from him regarding Dr. D’s seminar at the Reunion, but it wasn’t until I picked up a copy of the book for myself through Crowbar Press that I learned the rest of the story.

Ron Hutchison was a kid who lived his dream and became a professional wrestler. Hailing from Ontario, he trained not in the Hart dungeon but with Sweet Daddy Siki and Johnny Powers at Sully’s Gym in Toronto. Although small in stature, he earned the respect of many promoters, including Jack Tunney, and worked as an enhancement wrestlers a number of times for the WWF in the early days of the Wrestlemania era.

Hutchison’s legend really began when he stepped up and took Johnny Powers’ place as a trainer at Sully’s. Just as Stu Hart had once been the go-to trainer for Canadian dreamers, Ron became the man in the East. It started with Adam Copeland, who won free tuition to train with Ron thanks to a handwritten essay reprinted in Ron’s book. Adam’s life long friend Jay Reso followed, and when the two broke out as Edge and Christian for WWF, more students followed, including Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim, Sinn Bodhi, and Traci Brooks.

Pain Torture Agony is a wonderful account of Ron’s career in professional wrestling. It is at times painfully honest and hilariously funny as Ron opens up about everything from his falling out with Siki to his devotion to the Cauliflower Alley Club to his involvement with Carmen Electra’s Naked Women’s Wrestling League. (Yep, that was a real thing.) Ron’s love for the business and even more for his students shines through, and Ron is equally proud of those who didn’t “make it big” as he is for the Hall of Fame and CAC Award winners. There are personal testimonials sprinkled throughout the book from Edge, Christian, Trish, Gail, Beth, Sinn, and many more wrestling personalities from Ron’s past.

Throughout the book, Ron hints often at how tough and demanding he could be with his trainees, including the “Pain Torture Agony” training regimen that gives the book its name. If there’s one thing I came away wanting, it was the chance to sit down with one of Ron’s old pupils to hear more about Ron’s “dark side” as a trainer. This isn’t a criticism of the book, mind you, but a genuine curiosity to hear more. Pain Torture Agony made me a fan, and I suspect there are more great stories yet untold. Whether Ron has a second book in him, or whether his students will do the talking, I look forward to hearing more about one of the greatest trainers of his generation!

Pain Torture Agony is available from Crowbar Press. Click here to order in the US or Canada.

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.

Rejects vs. Baka Gaijin – Let’s Make This Dream Match Happen!

Fans have dream matches. So do wrestlers. At a recent show in the Jeffersonville Arena, Reed Bentley of the Rejects confided in me that he and John Wayne Murdoch had an ultimate dream match they really wanted to make happen.

The Rejects vs. Baka Gaijin

For those who don’t know, Baka Gaijin (which translates to “Stupid Foreigners”) is the tag team of Mad Man Pondo and 2 Tuff Tony. They were the forerunners, the originators if you will, of the smash mouth, over the top fighting style that has become the signature of the Rejects. When you see a Rejects match, you’re going to get very little scientific wrestling. You’re going to see hard punches, steel chairs, tables, mayhem, weapons. The phrase “everything but the kitchen sink” would apply, except for the fact that if Reed and John could get at the kitchen sink, they’d gladly use it too.

Tony and Pondo are cut from the same mold. They light to fight. They like to bleed. They’re not afraid to get crazy. They’re also deceptively athletic for two big guys who have been going hard for a couple of decades now. If you’ve never seen that backflip 2 Tuff Tony does off the ropes, it’ll make your jaw drop.

The Rejects have told Tony and Pondo they will fight any time, anywhere, and even put their GCW Tag Team Championship on the line. Pondo, for his part is all for it. But Tony, who also happens to own the Arena where Reed and I discussed this match, is holding out.

Reed and I discussed this situation and we agreed something needs to be done to make this much happen. So here’s what you, as fans can do.

  1. Copy and paste the letter printed below into an email and fill the blank at the bottom with your name.
  2. Address the email to Reed Bentley, thereedbentley@gmail.com
  3. Click send.

Reed will collect your emails, print them out, and present them in the ring some time in the near future to demonstrate to Tony just how badly the fans want this match. If enough fans respond, how can he say no?

Copy, paste, and email, fans. Let your voice be heard. Let’s make The Rejects vs. Baka Gaijin a reality!

 

Dear 2 Tuff Tony,

I am writing to request that you accept the challenge issued by The Rejects, John Wayne Murdoch and Reed Bentley, to a tag team match with your tag partner Mad Man Pondo. This colossal match is a must-see for me and all your legions of fans, and if you choose to accept it, I hereby vow to:

a. Share the advertising for this epic, Godzilla vs. King Kong like match up all over my social media;

b. Be in attendance for the show, wherever and whenever it takes place, and/or watch it on the Internet wherever and whenever it is made available to view;

c. Grab my s**t and get out of the way when I see the action coming my way;

d. Stream live or share afterwards my reaction to what promises to be the most brutal, over the top, mind blowing, head smashing, table shredding, chair mangling, knockdown, drag out wrestling affair of all time.

Thank you in advancing for responding and accepting my challenge to come and get your whipping at the hands of John Wayne Murdoch and Reed Bentley.
Sincerely yours,

____________________