Mad Man Pondo is one of the innovators of deathmatch wrestling in the United States. He’s a man who never took his career for granted and gave the business far more than he ever received. It’s always a thrill seeing people recognize him for his efforts, and on May 31, Game Changer Wrestling will give him an honor that truly fits him.
Pondo will be inducted into the GCW Deathmatch Hall of Fame at 9 pm Friday, May 31 at the Diamond Club at the Showboat in Atlantic City. This is the first ever induction ceremony for the Deathmatch Hall of Fame, and they could not pick a better man, in or out of the ring, for their first class than Pondo. Fans can buy tickets for this event by clicking here.
Excuse me while I head over to my publishing website to make sure the fans in New Jersey have plenty of books to purchase!
I’ve attended some great events over the last few years. I’ve been to Wrestlemania, Axxess, Starrcast, and the Hall of Fame induction weekend in Waterloo, Iowa. Each event is unique in its own way, and if you’re a true fan, you should give every one of them a try at least once.
Cauliflower Alley Club has been on my “to do” list for a few years, and it definitely belongs in the category with the above events. Actually, it tops most of the above because not only is it an unforgettable experience, it’s for a good cause and, well, it’s in Vegas.
The 54th Annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion took place at the Gold Coast Casino and Hotel, just a mile from the Strip. The Gold Coast is a wrestler’s hotel in the true sense of a word, a definite bargain price wise, and to be honest, the room was nice and clean if the view unspectacular. (My window opened up on a spotlight shining on a giant wall. Wow.)
But let’s face it – you’re not going to CAC to sleep. This is an event that allows you a 24/7 opportunity to rub shoulders with wrestlers, promoters, managers, valets, writers, photographers, and other fans. This is the place you come to sit down and have a drink with someone you’ve watched on television for decades. This is the place where you can meet an old timer who wrestled Lou Thesz. (Shout out to the great Reggie Parks!) This is where you get hugs from an original GLOW girl, a photo with Haku, and buy a stack of books from a host of great wrestling authors. This is where you can not only mark out over your favorite wrestlers, but see some of your favorite wrestlers mark out for their favorites, like Tyrus did when he saw Dr. D David Schultz.
Reunion week kicks off with the free independent wrestling show Sunday evening (a non-CAC event hosted by a local promotion, featuring wrestlers from around the globe). The same promotion hosts a second free show on Monday night as well. You’ll see big names like Sabu and future stars like Heather Reckless (whose name I’ve passed on to Girl Fight promoter Mad Man Pondo) and everyone in between. This year, Rock Riddle worked a match against Matt Striker, Joel Gertner read some dirty poetry, and La Rosa Negra dazzled fans with her high energy style. (I gave her info to Pondo as well.)
Monday through Wednesday, fans can mingle in the “Nostalgia Room,” where writers like me are set up with book tables alongside wrestlers like Sabu, Jerry Lawler, the GLOW girls, Haku, Barbarian, and even Dory Funk, Jr. You can shop, talk, or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Or if you prefer, you can hang out in the casino or the TGI Fridays bar, which was constantly full of attendees.
Tuesday evening is the Bockwinkel Blowout, a traditional “wrestler’s meal” highlighted by bologna sandwiches. No, I’m not kidding. You can have bologna on your choice of bread, or you can choose from a number of other cold cuts. The first half dozen or so awards are handed out after dinner, and then everyone moves back downstairs for drinks and stories well into the early morning hours.
The event concludes Wednesday night with the more formal banquet, where the bigger awards are handed out. It was on Wednesday that I presented Dr. D David Schultz with his Male Wrestler award. Nick Aldis presented Dory Funk, Jr., with his, and D-Lo Brown presented Mark Henry. Jim Ross played host for the evening in front a packed house, and he was delightful. Ross had no filter and no shame, repeatedly taking shots at a former employer for rewriting history in its own image while imploring attendees to spread the word about CAC and bring their friends next year.
This was my first time attending CAC, and while it was by no means a “perfect” event, it’s one I’ll never forget and one I hope to experience many more times. I met dozens of friends I had only known on Facebook prior to the event, including one of my long-time supporters and enablers, Tom Burke. I got a photo with Haku (one of my big regrets from Starrcast), and while I can’t disclose anything at the moment, I discussed two future book opportunities with wrestlers while there.
CAC was unforgettable, career-changing, and eye opening for me. I’m proud to be a member of the Club, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come. I’m also very grateful for all the friendships made and deepened last week. CAC is the most immersive experience you can have as a fan and an invaluable opportunity for anyone, regardless of age, who wants to advance in the business of professional wrestling. You can join the club now on their website to subscribe to their newsletter and become a part of the great work they are doing to help others. Once you become a member, you will certainly want to be in Vegas April of next year.
After seeing him wrestle many times and hearing many people brag on him, I finally had the chance to meet Chris Silvio. He’s a great guy, as advertised, and I believe he’s one of the guys like Bob Evans who can really transform the world we know as independent wrestling.
Chris posted a list of “must book” talent on Facebook the other day. A number of these names are people I know and respect as well, so I decided to share it here.
This is what it takes, folks. Putting each other over, helping one another out. That spirit of camaraderie is one of the biggest reasons I love the indy scene.
From Chris Silvio:
Indiana’s Brayden Lee, a former college wrestler and 1 year pro, recently debuting in Chikara. This guy can do some amazing things in the ring and is dedicated to looking the part.
Colorado’s Alexander Corrente, a two year pro out of Rocky Mountain Pro in Denver. Corrente is a ring General in the making and a tremendous Heel.
Kentucky’s Corey Storm, At just 18 years of age Corey has all of the makings of a superstar. He possesses an incredible attitude, ability well beyond his years and the ability to connect genuinely with the audience.
Florida’s Kotto Brazil / Snoop Strikes, who has recently received national attention with MLW. In the next 5 years, Snoop is going to be a household name. Another former collegiate wrestler, with an incredible attitude and work ethic, trained by the insanely talented Jay Lethal. If you are not booking this man, log into your pay pal and send him a deposit while you can.
Omar Amir, out of Orlando Florida is money waiting to be made. Omar has size, an unteachable presence, and all the makings of a major star. Omar has been a staple of the SIW USA shows and currently is a top talent in FIP.
Jenna Lynn Van Bemmel (Jenna Van Muscles ) is hands down the hardest working women’s wrestler in Florida. Set to make her 3rd international tour this summer, Jenna is improving every week. She possess a superstar presence and a work ethic that cannot be touched.
Virginia’s Timmy Danger is hands down the most developed personality in the region. An OVW graduate, Timmy is a natural entertainer hungry to make a mark in the world of pro wrestling. If you are looking for a heel that gets real HEAT, Timmy is your man. Accompanied by my favorite manager on the indies Neil Sharkey, they form “The Sanctuary”, one of the most creative acts in the Mid Atlantic.
On the top of the list is Denver Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Pro. These guys are making some huge moves and literally have changed the game in Colorado wrestling. With an incredible tv program they now run nearly 100 events annually and are pumping out some amazing talent. Fans, watch RMP every week worldwide on Twitch! Wrestlers, come and learn from their extremely knowledgeable coach staff with Mercury Pro Wrestling Academy.
Revolt Pro Wrestling has recently inked a south eastern TV deal and is coming out Guns Blazing. Using some incredible talent and doubling their event count, Revolt Pro is making a huge statement in Independent wrestling in the United States.
Ref to Watch:
Max Recon. This guy has been putting in the work and getting noticed throughout the Midwest. Max served our country proudly and is now dedicating himself to being one of the best refs in the nation. A referee is an extremely important and overlooked role on many shows. Give Max an opportunity. He deserves it.
There are so many more great talents out there but I wanted to shine some light on a few that have really impressed as of late. If you are looking for great additions to your show these guys have “it”!
On Friday night I saw one of my favorite heels in independent wrestling in his retirement match. Teddy King didn’t go out with his back on the mat. He went out with his bare back on a pile of Legos. It was a gutsy choice King himself made to put over a good friend who takes bumps almost every night on Legos, a man they call Mr. Brickster. Teddy and Brickster had a great match, but the thing that impressed me the most was seeing Brickster seek out Tracy Smothers at intermission to get his feedback. I knew from that he was a man who not only loves what he does but is truly committed to getting better. Until I talked with him a few days later, I didn’t know the half of it.
Born Ricky Perillo, Mr. Brickster hails from Buffalo, New York. His parents separated when he was very young and he didn’t have much. “My mom worked her tail off for us,” he says. “She’s everything to me. She really took great care of us. It was Dad who introduced my to wrestling, though, and that’s how the two of us bonded after my parents separated.”
Brickster was an athlete and an artist as a kid. “I was captain of the football team, and I starred in the school musicals. My teammates would always come out to support me.” Having one foot in the theater and one on the football field laid a foundation (pun intended) for the message he now has, using Legos to bring people together.
As a young man of 21, Brickster was cast on the VH-1 reality series “I Love New York” as a character named Romance. The show became a big hit in the early days of reality TV, but Brickster admits he made a lot of bad decisions during that time. “I realized I was going down a bad path, and that’s when I turned back to God.”
Mr. Brickster’s parents were not religious people, but he had grown up a Christian thanks in part to his grandmother, who got him involved with the Circle C Christian Camp at an early age, a place he says changed his life. After coming to a dead end, he went back to the church. His renewed faith in God set him on the right path. “I met my wife through the church, and we’ve been married almost ten years now.”
Once he was out of the spotlight, Brickster got a regular job and became very successful, but after his Dad passed away, he felt called to go into professional wrestling. “My wife was not about it. She’s an ultra-conservative woman, and she just wasn’t feeling it. I told her I was going to start training, and see what happens.”
Mr. Brickster started training at Grapplers Anonymous in New York, where he got a solid education in how to work and how to respect the business. “That was when Lex Luger came into my life as well. Luger taught me a lot about making my brand and how to make sure everything I do tells a story. He also told me about a lot of the mistakes he made so that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes.”
One door after another opened up for Mr. Brickster, and best of all, his wife came around and became a fan. He blew out his knee, which put him out of the ring for a while, but he took advantage of the time to watch film and learn as much as he could.
After getting back into the ring, Mr. Brickster felt the nudge to move from Buffalo to a larger entertainment city. He and his wife began praying for the right opportunity, and a door opened up in Nashville. Many of their friends thought they were making a big mistake, but once again, Brickster found himself in the right place at the right time. “I told my friend Dylan Hales I was headed to Nashville, and he connected me to Kerry Awful.”
Kerry Awful was not interested in training Mr. Brickster at first, but the newcomer blew him away with his passion for the business and for life. “It never felt like a job or burden to teach him,” says Awful. “He would drive for almost an hour to me, then another hour to our facility. He would then spend sometimes 4/5/6 hours in the ring with me. To the point of pure exhaustion sometimes. Then drive two hours home. This doesn’t include all the times at home watching tape for hours , upon hours, asking questions and taking notes. Paying dues by driving on his off weekends with me to set up the ring and ask questions not just to me, but to the people I look up to as well. He worked his damn tail off.”
It’s hard to argue with Brickster’s belief that he was called to be a wrestler when you see the path he’s taken. Sitting beneath the learning tree of Kerry Awful, who himself is one of Brutal Bob Evans’ staunchest disciples, Brickster found himself working with guys like Teddy King and Kevin Ku who not only excel in the ring but have the business savvy to succeed outside the ring. He has a brand and a plan, and he’s building a name for himself brick by brick (pun once again definitely intended).
Simply put, Mr. Brickster has become more than just a wrestler. He is a motivational speaker for kids and adults with vision to bring people together of every shape, size, and color. The father of a two-year old, Brickster loves speaking to children, and he’s found a warm audience in schools, wrestling promotions, and even businesses for his faith-inspired message.
“Much like Legos, we come come in all shapes and sizes, but if we build together, we can build beautiful things. We are better together. That’s my message, and it all comes from Jesus. I think it’s the right time for it, too.”
I had to ask Mr. Brickster what it feels like falling on Legos every night. “There’s nothing fun about it,” he says, “But it’s all part of the art.”
Mr. Brickster is enjoying his weekends on the road and his weekdays as a stay at home dad. He has a fantastic support system at home, beginning with his wife, and he has a goal. “I’m a WWE guy, and I’ve always wanted to work for the WWE. I want to end up there, or AEW.”
It may happen sooner rather than later. Mr. Brickster made an appearance as “The Librarian” in a recent episode of Being the Elite alongside Cody Rhodes. He’s on their radar, and judging from the roster they have built, he might find the perfect fit for his come one, come all message.
Brickster nation is for everyone, and fans are welcome to follow the action on social media. You can follow Mr. Brickster at Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook.
Fans in Nashville, Tennessee can celebrate Mr. Brickster’s one year anniversary in the business this weekend on Easter Sunday as he faces A.C. Mack at Southern Underground Pro Wrestling.
And be sure to check out his website or more information on Mr. Brickster the wrestler, the public speaker, and the man.
“Everyone is welcome, no matter who you are,” says Mr. Brickster. “We just have to build together.”
I’ve been to many independent wrestling shows and seen many crowds. I’ve watched mid-day shows weekday evening shows, and weekend shows. I’ve seen many, many shows at the Arena in Jeffersonville. There’s not a crowd anywhere has lovely or as raucous as a Midnight Girl Fight crowd.
Girl Fight is a phenomenal promotion as it is, but there’s something about the caffeine-fueled midnight crowds that’s extra special. It brings out the best in the ladies as well, and the second show this last fall was even better than the summer time first. The spring 2019 edition is almost upon us, and Friday night at 11:59 p.m., I’m expecting to see an even more lively audience for this week’s card.
Top to bottom this show has the potential to be one of the best Girl Fight shows yet. Girl Fight champion Aja Pereira showed her toughness in a recent time limit draw against Paradigm Pro champion A.J. Gray, but she will have her hands full not only with opponent Ravana Xin, but former WWE manager Slick at ringside.
You read that right. Mad Man Pondo booked the Reverend Slick for a midnight show on Good Friday!
Your co-main event is a battle of good versus evil with teen sensation Billie Starkz facing a former Girl Fight champ, the Demon Bride Su Yung. I have to question the sanity of all involved, booking the sweet but tough newcomer against the woman who recently killed Allie in Impact. Billie likes to bite, but she appears to have bitten off more than she can chew this time.
Some Girl Fight regulars are scheduled to face off on the same night, including Charlie Kruel vs Thunderkitty and Alice Crowley vs Khloe. Randi West and Amazing Maria will also be in action, and fans will be watching to see if Maria is ready to make good on her recent threats to go after the Girl Fight title by any means necessary.
I first saw Elev8 Pro’s Ben Wood wrestle probably 10 years ago on a small independent show in Louisville. We didn’t meet until I cast him in a short film I produced a year or so later. I’ve enjoyed watching his many adventures in wrestling and in film. Did you catch him backing up Arnold in Escape Plan? That was flipping amazing.
Ben is now producing Elev8 Pro, available on Fite. He invited me to watch their latest free episode, and so I am passing the invitation on to you!
Folks, there has never been a time when wrestling fans everywhere had this many options – not even when Corny and Bolin were on the rooftop with their battery-operated TV trying to get the wrestling broadcasts from Hawaii. You don’t like Raw? Then give this a look. You might find you new favorite wrestler and wrestling show all in one fell swoop!
My favorite memory of Starrcast was when Joey Ryan swung by the table to shake hands with Dr. D David Schultz. This may explain why my second favorite part about Starrcast was hanging out with the Wrestlecrap gang.
I won’t be there for round 2, but I am thrilled the Powers That Be saw fit to book RD and Blade for Starrcast II. Wrestlecrap had one of the most popular booths at the convention, offering fans photo ops with the Gobbledygooker and Katie Vick. They also tore it up on the stage with two live presentations, including RD going one on one with Eric Bischoff.
I have no idea what the boys are cooking up for Vegas, but take it from me: if you go, you will want to see what they do.
If you go to Starrcast II, plan your day around whatever events Wrestlecrap presents. You can thank me later.
A little over a year ago, I got my first look at Ace Austin at Paradigm Pro Wrestling. Every time I’ve seen him in person, he’s only gotten better.
Ace is another wrestler based out of Dayton, Ohio, part of the core now at Impact that includes oVe and the Rascalz. He’s a dazzling superstar in the making and a great get for my weekly Friday night wrestling fix.
Huge congrats to Ace Austin, and to Impact. Cannot wait to see him on Twitch every week.
Right now, for me, it’s all about Impact and New Japan.
Impact has all my favorite people. Dave Crist, Jake Crist, Jordynne Grace, and the trio known as the Rascalz were faves of mine before they were on TV. I don’t have cable, but I’ve been watching them on Twitch every Friday night since they started streaming live. I hate to see their rating continue to slide because it’s a really, really great wrestling show.
And New Japan is… well, despite some high profile departures, it’s STILL New Japan. Ibushi is staying. Jay is the new IWGP Champ. And there are these two guys named Naito and Okada still there who are arguably among the best in the world.
Whatever you’re watching, I hope you’re watching to enjoy, not to complain. If you don’t like what’s on one show, turn it off. You have alternatives everywhere now.
I’ll be watching New Japan on the treadmill, and I’ll be on Twitch Friday evenings watching Impact. If you haven’t seen Impact in a while, I really hope you’ll give it a chance.