Five Matches

Someone on Facebook recently posed an interesting question: if you had a wrestling time machine and could go back to see any wrestling match, what would you go back to see?

I didn’t have to think about my answer. As a hug fan of the Black Panther, I’d want to go back to the night he is most famous for: the night he and Gorgeous George incited a riot at the Olympic Auditorium. Then I got to thinking, what other matches would I want to see if I could return to any night in wrestling history?

Here are my top five, in order:

August 24, 1949, Los Angeles. Gorgeous George vs. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell at the Olympic. George was one of the biggest heels of his day, and the Panther was a beloved star. On a hot summer night, George went too far. He tossed Mitchell from the ring and refused to let him back in. One fan jumped in the ring to give George some payback, and George leveled him. In an instant the entire crowd was on its feet, and a riot raged on for hours. Mitchell and George escaped to the back, but several people had to be hospitalized. One woman even sued George and Mitchell for her injuries. I have the program from that night and a letter summoning Mitchell to answer for his part in the riot that evening. They are the prizes of my wrestling memorabilia collection.

February 1, 1944, Louisville. Mildred Burke vs. Elvira Snodgrass at the Columbia Gym. If Mitchell is my all time favorite grappler, Elvira is a close second. I’d love to see the greatest women’s champion of all time against the toughest, meanest, scrappiest heel she ever faced in front of a hot Louisville crowd. This wasn’t the only time they faced one another in Louisville or the biggest crowd in Louisville to see them do battle, but it was the night they were the main event attraction. How incredible would it be to see Heywood Allen chomping on his cigar, overseeing the action in the Columbia Gym?

Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman in Memphis. The Kaufman/Lawler feud is one of the most fascinating stories in wrestling history, both for the in-ring action and the behind the scenes machinations. It’s the greatest work of the modern era and a blueprint for how to do kayfabe in an era when kayfabe is supposedly dead. Some how, some way, I’d have to have a ringside seat so I could see the back and forth after the match with Danny Davis telling Jerry that Andy will pay for the ambulance.

The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express, Night of the Skywalkers. Cornette has been a friend and a great asset in my research of Louisville wrestling history. The scaffold match was far from the best work either of these legendary tag teams did, but just to see it all unfold and watch poor Jimmy slip through the arms of Big Bubba (RIP) would be priceless.

When Hero Met Punk, IWA Mid-South, Clarksville, Indiana 2003. Before Punk made it to WWE or even Ring of Honor, he had some of the greatest battles in the modern indy era with Chris Hero, now NXT’s Kassius Ohno, in front of one of the most passionate crowds in wrestling today. Matches like these are the reason CM Punk said his ideal place for Wrestlemania would be the old warehouse in Charlestown, Indiana, where many of their brawls took place. This particular match went almost 93 minutes, and for the last 15-20 minutes, the entire crowd was on their feet. Watch this, their Tables and Ladders duel, or their 60 minute brawl, and join me in hoping that when Kassius Ohio reaches the main roster, WWE will make amends with CM Punk and give these two one last battle – at Wrestlemania.

Honorable Mention: The 1951 Derby Eve Show, Jefferson County Armory, Louisville. I’m going to cheat here, but this has to be one of the greatest cards ever presented in Louisville. Francis McDonogh, who took over the Allen Club from Heywood Allen in 1947, made the annual Derby Eve Show and the Police Benefit Show that took its place a monster even every year. Have a look at the card and tell me you wouldn’t want to be one of the 8000 in attendance that night:

Wild Bill Longson vs. Dutch Heffner
Bill Longson, Fred Davis (of the Chicago Bears), and Freddie Blassie vs. Ivan Rasputin, Stu Gibson, and Dutch Heffner
Mildred Burke vs. Mae Young
Lou Thesz vs. Green Dragon

 

20 Years On, IWA Mid-South May Have Its Best Roster Ever

It had been a while since I paid a visit to Southern Indiana’s legendary wrestling promotion, IWA Mid-South. I’m not big on blood and hardcore and deathmatches, a hallmark of IWA-MS, and truth be told, I decided to go tonight for one reason: OI4K. I’m a big fan of Jake and Dave Crist and their frequent companion Aaron Williams. All three have been regulars at IWA-MS for some time, and when I saw Dave Crist was scheduled to face another favorite in Shane Mercer, I decided it was time to go.

It was a trip worth taking.

The boys from Ohio delivered as they always do, but this was hardly a three man show. Every match on the card tonight delivered, from the opening bout between Desmond Xavier and A.J. Gray to the main event with Larry D. and John Wayne Murdoch. Top to bottom, this was the best wrestling show I’ve ever seen from IWA-Mid-South and one of the best independent shows I’ve ever witnessed.

 

Corey Storm and Myron Reed were two of the younger stars of IWA-MS who impressed in the early matches. Reed is a Louisville veteran with a ton of talent and charisma, and he took an action-packed three way match from Teddy King and Brett Havoc. Storm is just fifteen years old, but he looked like a a seasoned veteran in the ring with Jake Crist. He’s getting the education of a lifetime, working with veterans like Crist, and it’s very clear he has a bright future ahead.

Aaron Williams had a hard-hitting bout with Japanese star Shigehiro Irie. Despite his alliance with the hated manager The Rick, Williams had a strong following in the crowd. Ian Rotten stunned Williams and the crowd after the match by announcing that Williams will face Jessica Havok next week.

Two more members of OI4K, Zachary Wentz and Trey Miguel, had a show-stopping tag match against the Player’s Club, Mance Warner and Ray Waddell. Wentz is the current heavyweight champion at Rockstar Pro Wrestling in Dayton, and he and Miguel put on a clinic with Warner and Waddell.

Dave Crist vs. Shane Mercer followed the tag match and stole the show in every way possible. Mercer and Crist are two of the best kept secrets in the Midwest. Mercer is all power; Crist is a high-flyer. The crowd was electric for the entire match, and when Crist got the win, the fans leapt to their feet with a standing ovation.

As soon as the match was over, Dave Crist grabbed a microphone and told the fans they were witness to one of the best shows he had ever been a part of. Christ praised the fans for their dedication and heaped even more praise on the young stars of IWA Mid-South. “Ian Rotten has an incredible eye for talent,” he told the fans, and he encouraged everyone to, “Tell a friend, bring a friend, and make IWA Mid-South the best promotion in the Midwest!”

It would be a bold statement to say that the current incarnation of IWA Mid-South is the best ever. This is, after all, the promotion that helped launch the careers of superstars like CM Punk, Chris Hero, Daniel Bryan, and Seth Rollins. That said, it’s clear that something special is happening in Southern Indiana.

IWA Mid-South is in their 21st year. They are packing the Arena in Jeffersonville every Thursday night and the Memphis Flea Market (where Rotten says fans can see more of the hardcore action they are used to) every Saturday. That’s no small feat, running twice a week, and with Joey Ryan, Gary Jay, and Jessica Havok on the card for next week, it’s only getting better.

If you like great wrestling, I’d encourage you to check out IWA Mid-South Thursdays at the Arena. And if you like violence for violence’s sake, you won’t want to miss their Saturday shows (including this weekend’s King of the Crimson Mask show) in Memphis, Indiana.

Congratulations to Ian and the entire crew at IWA Mid-South. Thanks for an amazing night of wrestling.

Thanksgiving Night Wrestling Anyone?

Thanksgiving used to be one of the biggest nights of the year for the WWE. That’s the night they used to hold the Survivor Series Pay-Per-View. The WWE may have done away with Thanksgiving night show, but for fans in the Louisville area, you can still catch some non-stop action thanks to IWA Mid-South.

IWA-MS has a killer card lined up this week for your post-turkey entertainment, starting with the legendary Chris Hero facing the IWA-Mid South (or is it the D1W?) champion Tracy Smothers.

Rachael Ellering will also be in town Thursday night facing Randi West.

Other matches on the card include:

 

Ian Rotten vs. “The Chairman” Joey Owens;

The Rejects (John Wayne Murdoch and Nick Depp) and JC Rotten VS “Marvelous” Mitch Ryder, “Legendary” Larry D and “the Real Deal” Derek Neal in a Triple Dog Collar Six Man Tag;

A Lone Survivor match featuring Team Cole Radrick (Cole Radrick, Andrew Hunter, Brother Reed, Tripp Cassidy plus one more member) VS Team Johnathan Wolf (Johnathan Wolf, “Category 5” Corey Storm, Mickey Muscles, Aidan Blackhart plus one more member);

“Hybrid Monster” Zodiak vs. “The Mouth of the Mid South” Mance Warner;

Malcolm Monroe III vs. Travis Titan

Bell time is 7:30 at Jammerz Rollerdrome in Clarksville, Indiana.

For more information, visit the event page on Facebook!

Twenty Years of Doing It by Their Rules

There’s nothing in the world like an “IWA Mid-South Rules” match. That’s because in an IWA Mid-South Rules match, there are no rules. There’s no disqualifications, and falls count anywhere. And if you see the action coming your way, grab your stuff and get OUT of the way.

IWA Mid-South has been doing it their way for a long, long time. They’ve seen dozens of would-be competition come and go in that time. They’ve been chased out of buildings and entire states. The haters can keep on hating because this Thursday, IWA Mid-South will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Ian Rotten has booked a stellar line up in celebration of the milestone anniversary. There’s no flier online yet, but the line-up, care of IWA Mid South’s Facebook page, says all you need to know:

“Money” MATT CAGE vs “Knockout Artist” CHRIS HERO vs COLT “Boom Boom” CABANA

THE THREEJECTS (REED BENTLEY, JOHN WAYNE MURDOCH & NICK DEPP) & MARK WOLF take on TODD MORTON’s HANGMEN, DEREK NEAL & BULL PAIN

JJ GARRETT defends his IWA World Title against “The Wild Eyed Southern Boy” TRACY SMOTHERS

“Dangerous” DOUG GILBERT vs KONGO KONG

“Fight or Die” COLE RADRICK vs “Callihan Death Machine” SAMI CALLIHAN

4 WAY TAG MATCH: SAGE PHILIPS & TEDDY KING vs THE BROTHERHOOD (BROTHER REED & MICKEY MUSCLES) vs BOMB SHELTER (ZODIAK & JOSEPH SCHWARTZ) vs NVD (HY-ZAYA & SHANE MERCER)

RAM JAM vs ZACH GOWEN

LOSER LEAVES IWA: “Nasty” NATE CROSS w/ DAHLIA vs JC ROTTEN w/ TORI

20th ANNIVERSARY IWA RUMBLE! 2 competitors start, every minute another competitor enters the ring!

DIRTY DUTCH MANTEL is also scheduled to appear!

The show will be at Jammerz Roller Rink in Clarksville, Indiana on Thursday, October 6. First and second row seat holders get early admission at 5:30 PM for a Meet and Greet. Doors open at 6:45 with bell time at 7:30.

Tickets are $30 for first row, $25 for second row, $20 for general admission. Kids 13 and under are $15.

Contact Misty at BestMistyEVER@gmail.com to order tickets.

Congratulations to Ian and the amazing crew who have kept this Kentuckiana tradition going for two decades!

Kick Out at Two Episode 50

For nearly a year, the Kick Out at Two Podcast has traveled the US looking for the best independent wrestling. This week marks a milestone, their 50th episode, and they’ve dedicated this week’s show to doing questions and answers from their fans.

The Kick Out at Two Podcast is dedicated to covering independent wrestling, and over the last year, they’ve traveled as far north as New York, as far south as Florida, and as far west as Nebraska from their home base in Tennessee. They’ve also interviewed legends like Jimmy Rave and Chris Hero and up and comers like Hitman for Hire Mr. Grim and Cold Stone Tim Boston. They’re always happy to hear about new talent, new promotions, and new shows, and they are true supporters of today’s indy scene.

I had the privilege of hanging out with Jesse and Brittany last Friday night at PWF: The Primus in Jeffersonville. In addition to seeing a great show, I got to introduce them to Mad Man Pondo and take them out for donuts at a 24/7 shop we have called Jeff’s Bakery. It was great to catch up with them, and I can’t wait to meet up with them again down the road.

Congrats on 50 episodes, gang. Here’s to many more!

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every Friday on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Chris Hero is on Kick Out At Two

When Righteous Jesse tells me who the weekly guest is on Kick Out at Two, I head to YouTube and look for the most recent match I can find featuring that guest. I want to give people the most up to date, relevant introduction possible to the many stars they feature.

Not this week.

This week their guest is one of the marquee names appearing at the Scenic City Invitational, Chris Hero. Hero has been around the world many times. He had a brief run in NXT as Cassius Ohno. He recently wrestled for more than three hours straight to raise money for ALS research.
But before all that, he wrestled CM Punk.

I’ve posted this before, but it’s worth watching again. And again. And again. This match is everything I love about indy wrestling: a wild an raucous crowd, and two young athletes who will do anything to make a name for themselves. It was voted the #1 match in IWA Mid-South history. This is Chris Hero and CM Punk: Tables and Ladders, in the building CM Punk once called the perfect place to host Wrestlemania.

Watch below, then go to iTunes or Soundcloud to download this week’s episode of Kick Out At Two.

Kyle Maverick: Rockstar on the Rise

Dayton, Ohio has one of the hottest independent wrestling scenes today. The crew at Rockstar Pro Wrestling run six or seven shows a month, and just as iron sharpens iron, the talented workers at Rockstar keep making one another better.

Kyle Maverick is a main stay at Rockstar Pro, a deep roster that includes DJ Hyde, Sami Callihan, Ron Mathis, Aaron Williams, and the Crist brothers. Billed from Lexington, Kentucky, Maverick grew up idolizing Bret Hart, Koko B. Ware, Jushin Lyger, Randy Savage, and Lance Storm. He began his professional wrestling training with Chris Hero. He later trained with DJ Hyde, Drew Gulak, and Sami Callihan at the CZW Dojo and currently works out with Dave Crist at Rockstar Pro. Maverick was also a successful MMA fighter with a 9-2 record and holds a black belt in Kyokushin Karate.

Maverick counts Sami Callihan, Davey Richards, ACH, Tracy Smothers, Matt Tremont, Dave and Jake Crist as some of his favorite opponents. He’s also proud of the fact that he was once hit by Al Snow with Head. His reputation in the ring has opened many doors for him, but its his character outside the ring that stands out most to one of his bosses.

“Kyle Maverick and I are brothers,” says Rick Brady, who runs D1W in Southern Indiana. “We rode many hours on the road together, and he is one of the few people I trust in this business. He worked his ass off to get D1W on it’s feet. He helped me make a lot of connections to a ton of talent and I am grateful to him for that.”

Maverick only has one title belt win to his credit, the Rockstar Pro Luchacore championship, but it’s only a matter of time before this talented singles and tag competitor adds to that list. “I think the sky is the limit, as long as he continues to work hard and listen to them Ohio guys. They seem to know what they are doing. I love him and wish nothing but the best for him.”

Indy wrestling cans can find Kyle on Facebook, on Twitter @thekylemaverick and on Instagram @thekylemaverick.

The Rise of Kongo Kong

12373157_1088697801140927_8493746766399159162_nThe first time I saw Kongo Kong was when he shoved me out of his way.

It was January 2014. Heidi Lovelace and Jordynn Grace were embroiled in a “Falls Count Anywhere in Clark County” match in Clarksville, Indiana for IWA Mid-South. Predictably, the match went out into the parking lot, and I followed the crowd to the doors, eager to see what would happen. Next thing I knew, I and dozens of other fans were being pushed out of the way by a monster, a giant of a man known as Kongo Kong. Kong forced his way to the front of the crowd, where he flattened Lovelace on the back of a truck trailer. He then carried her back into the building and slid her into the ring so that Grace could secure the easy pin fall.

Lest you get the wrong idea, Kong is no Andy Kaufman. His actions against Lovelace were merely a favor paid to an ally from the heel locker room and not his typical fare. Over the last couple of years Kong has faced legends, Hall of Famers, and the best the independent scene has to offer including Sabu, Rhino, Shane Douglas, Brian Meyers (the former Curt Hawkins), Moose, Scott Steiner, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Chris Hero, and Gangrel.

Kong does not taste defeat often. He’s collected an impressive number of world titles from IWA Mid-South (twice), Northeastern Ontario Wrestling, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and the Funkdafied Wrestling Federation. He first won the IWA Mid-South title in a championship tournament, and he also collected wins in the Ted Petty Invitational,  the X-8 Tournament, and the Glory Cup Tournament.

Ian Rotten calls Kongo Kong the best big man he’s ever seen. Considering the ridiculous amount of talent that has come out of IWA Mid-South, that is a huge statement. Kongo Kong is young and hungry, and he is only getting better. He can overpower you with his size and strength, and he’s not afraid to get airborne. He’s a face to watch in 2016, and he is a name you will never forget.

You can follow Kongo Kong on Twitter @RealKongoKong, or follow him on Facebook.

Just don’t follow too closely; you might get hurt.

The Ted Petty Invitational Returns

The rumors you’ve heard are true.

Yes, IWA Mid-South is hardcore.

Yes, the fans live for blood and gore.

Yes, they were so violent back in the 90s, they were kicked out of Kentucky.

But if you think IWA Mid-South is all blood and guts, think again.

This Friday, IWA Mid-South is resurrecting the “other” tournament it is famous for, the Ted Petty Invitational. The tournament began in 2000 as a showcase for the best technical wrestlers in the world, and in 2002, it was named in memory of Ted Petty.

If you’ve never heard of Ted Petty or the tournament that bears his name, here’s a look at the participants from the 2002 edition.

12366318_10153397368292039_3125254760817490924_n

Pictured in this photo: Christopher Daniels, Jimmy Rave, Matt Stryker, Colt Cabana, Spyder Nate Webb, “Sick” Nick Mondo, M-Dogg 20 (Matt Cross), AJ Styles, Ace Steel, Chris Hero, BJ Whitmer, Tarek the Great and CM Punk.

Not pictured: “All That” Matt Murphy, “Kamikaze” Ken Anderson & Super Dragon.

Other past participants include Nova, Mike Quackenbush, Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, Nigel McGuinness, Samoa Joe, Matt Sydal, Hallowicked, Kevin Owens, Delirious, Davey Richards, Ricochet, Low Ki, Tracy Smothers, and Sami Callihan.

Not enough name dropping for you? How about Sara Del Ray (the woman behind NXT’s Four Horsewomen), Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan?

Yes, IWA is hardcore, but it is much, much more than that.

Some of the IWA Mid-South faithful say this year may prove to be the best tournament ever. With names like Kongo Kong, Chris Hero, Reed Bentley, Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, and Masada on the card, they may be right.

The action kicks off Friday night at the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, Indiana. Click here to go to the event page for ticket information. 

You’re welcome.

The Return of Sami Callihan

Let’s get one thing straight, WWE marks: Solomon Crowe did not leave NXT. Sami Callihan went home.

I don’t know Sami personally, nor do I know the details of his leaving NXT. I can however assure you that NXT’s loss is the independent scene’s gain.

Sami brings name value to the indy shows he will wrestle in the near future thanks to his recent run with NXT, and that’s great. But for every guy like Sami who gets a shot at the WWE Performance Center, there are dozens putting their bodies on the line in warehouses and gymnasiums and arenas who keep being overlooked.

I don’t say that to demean Sami or anything he has accomplished. That’s a testament to the strength of the current indy wrestling scene.

Not every promotion is equal, but there are more than enough good promotions and good wrestlers out there that you can find one near you that will give you far more bang for your buck than a WWE live event.

If you enjoyed Sami in NXT, go support him when he comes to your town. Be on the look out for other hard working guys like Tim Donst (who beat cancer this year) and Chris Hero (who wrestled over 3 house straight for charity). Check out the Indy Card Mafia, Aaron Williams, Tyson Dux, Mitchell Huff, Marc Hauss, Dash Sullivan, and Daniel Eads.

If you’re a fan of the NXT ladies, annoyed that Sasha Banks has hardly set foot in a ring since her call up, you’re really in luck. The indy women’s scene is booming. Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants, is out there, but she’s only the tip of the iceberg. Mary Elizabeth Monroe, Tessa Blanchard, Havok, LuFisto, Crazy Mary Dobson, and Heidi Lovelace are just a handful of the women who are a threat to steal the show any time they are booked.

It’s almost December. It’s dark outside before 6 pm, and it’s too cold to be outside. This is a great month to go out and see some live wrestling. Support the indy stars by buying a ticket. Get a DVD or a T-shirt for someone on you Christmas list, and buy direct from one of the wrestlers. That way you’re putting some Christmas money in their pocket as well.

Sami Callihan’s best days are not behind him. The indy scene is the future, and the men and women of the indies need our support.