Prodigy Pro: Southern Indiana’s New Promotion is Packing Them Out The Door

There’s a new trend in wrestling promotions. More and more wrestling podcasters are trying their hands at running their own company. Righteous Jesse from the Kick Out at Two Podcast has had great success in Nashville with Southern Underground Pro, and now Southern Indiana’s Back Row Hecklers are having a very successful go at promoting as well.

Prodigy Pro is just three shows old, but they’re already outgrowing the space at the Arena in Jeffersonville. Due to some family commitments, I arrived at the show an hour late Friday night, and there was not a seat to be had. To say it was worth standing most of the show would be an understatement. I saw a half dozen of the ten matches on the card that night, and just about everyone of them was worth the price of admission alone.

Ace Austin and Gary Jay were first in the ring after the first intermission. The Stiff Robo Ginger and current Pro Wrestling Freedom champion Gary Jay is well known to indy lovers as a stand out performer, but Ace Austin, just two years into his budding wrestling career, more than held his own against the veteran. Jay got the victory, and fans got a thrilling match.

A fatal five way followed Jay and Austin featuring Ace Perry, Sage Cainan, Kaden Sade, Trey Miguel, and Zachary Wentz. I heard one fan near me say, “Spot Fest!” when the five competitors were announced, and that’s largely what we got. The action was fast and frantic, and everyone had their stand out moments. Miguel and Wentz, two of Dayton, Ohio’s finest, are big time stars on the rise, and I tweeted just after the match that they will be household names in very short order. Miguel already has a solid foot in the door with some big time promotions, and Wentz can’t be far behind.

After a singles match between fan favorite Mikey McFinnegan and Teddy King came a hard-hitting Texas Tornado match between the Rejects (John Wayne Murdock and Reed Bentley) and the Night Ryderz (Alex Colon and Dustin Rayz). The Rejects and the Night Ryderz are two highly underrated tag teams, and they put on a brutal brawl inside and outside the ring. Following a victory by the Night Ryderz, a match was set for the January show: a TLC match for the Game Changer Tag Team Championships held by the Night  Ryderz.

A second intermission gave fans a chance to catch their breath after the tag team battle, then it was back into action with Shane Strickland and Louisville favorite, Hy Zaya. This match started slow but built slowly into an absolute war between two very fast and hard-hitting competitors. Hy Zaya won after a suplex that looked ugly from the seats, and both Stickland and Hy Zaya were checked out by PPW staff and some of the other wrestlers, but both men were able to stand and walk out on their own power. It was clear that Hy Zaya and Strickland wanted to set the bar as high as possible for the main event to follow. They gave the fans a match to remember, and it’s likely their feud is only beginning.

The main event pitted New Japan star “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin against rising Midwestern heavyweight Daniel Eads. Eads has been a favorite of mine since I first saw him at D1W a few years ago. He’s a big, strong wrestler who has “the look” a certain major promotion likes to see in its big men, and the Superman resemblance is hard to miss in the “Man of Tomorrow.” At 250 pounds, Eads was a formidable foe for the 265 pound Elgin, showing off his power and his athleticism in a terrific fight. Eads also enjoyed the advantage of having savvy manager Josh Ashcroft at ringside, and Elgin often found himself facing two men at once. Elgin was not to be out-done of course, and both men put on feats of strength that left the fans cheering. In the end the veteran won the battle, but the challenger proved he can hang with one of the best in the world.

Prodigy Pro put on an impressive evening of entertainment. They seem to have found a good balance of established stars facing younger stars, and the promoters (who are big fans themselves) are booking dream matches that indy fans will truly enjoy. Word has it they take good care of the boys in the locker room, and that’s only going to make it easier for them to book bigger and better matches in the future. Their next show will be January 26th at the Flea Market in Memphis, Indiana – a larger space they’re sure to pack out as easily as they have the Arena. This is a promotion to watch and enjoy in 2018.

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.

The Man of Tomorrow

11898628_943554585710617_1993227650622410364_nFans of Kenny Bolin know that Kenny is largely down on today’s wrestling and wrestlers. So when Kenny Bolin offers praise to one of the young independent wrestlers of today, he does not do so lightly. Such was the case when Kenny got back from the Lawler-Funk show in Tennessee, where Kenny got a look at The Man of Tomorrow, Daniel Eads. “Best new talent on the show,” says Kenny. “Me and Chris (the Prince, who is equally stingy with praise for today’s talent) liked him a lot.”

I first met Daniel Eads almost a year ago in New Albany. He’s a big guy with a good physique, and he stands out even among the biggest and fittest wrestlers. His fellow wrestlers suggested the nickname “Man of Tomorrow” because he bears a resemblance to Superman, but Eads will be the first to tell you he wasn’t born that way.

Eads grew up in a rough family situation. “I was a bit of an outcast. I was quiet and nerdy, and didnt have a back bone. I grew up with an abusive alcoholic stepdad, and dad that abandoned me. I was sexually abused, fought depression for half my life, and I didn’t have a great support system.”

Eads had some friends in school who were wrestling fans. This was the era of Goldberg, RVD, and Evolution in the WWE, and Eads began watching so he would have something to talk about with friends. Much as he enjoyed it, becoming a wrestler was never even a consideration for him. “I was a scrawny little kid that competed in cross country, track, and swimming. I weighed a whopping 125lbs. I had no muscle, no spine and no voice. Then I went to college started working out and next thing you know my soon to be best friend Ian Lowe is telling me to give it a shot. I thought I’d have a couple decent matches here and there, but it wasn’t until my match with Chase Stevens that even Ian finally said ‘Dude….You got it.'”

Eads began training with IWAU in Olney IL, under Josh Totten and Steven Davis and worked briefly with Tony Kozina with Rip Rogers at OVW in Louisville. Like the wisest of the young generation, Eads values the input of wrestling veterans, and he takes the opportunity to pick their brains any chance he gets, including Tracy Smothers, Chase Stevens, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, and Bob Orton.

“He came to me to review his match,” says Kenny Bolin. “I was shocked he even knew who I was, but he seemed to know a lot.”

Wrestling has given Eads the support system he never had as a kid. “The fans were the first people to truly believe in me, and many of my friends in the business said that I was going to be the one to break out and become someone. So many have gone out of their way for me, not because I asked or begged, but because they see something and notice my work ethic. That’s what keeps me going every day, working to become bigger, stronger, faster.”

Like many young stars, Eads has his eyes set on the WWE, and he wants to achieve that dream for his supporters as much as for himself. “I’ve never been more convinced in my heart that I’m meant to do something like I am with wrestling. I’d sacrifice anything to achieve this opportunity and make this far fetched dream a reality.”

While Eads is not a Superman fan himself (he prefers Marvel over DC), he discovered he had much more in common with the Man of Steel than his looks. “Feeling like an outcast, never truly fitting in, yet feeling like I’m meant for big things. I love the gimmick because I can be a beacon of hope for people with my story and the things I can do inside and outside the gym. I want to ‘live the gimmick’ and be big, strong, fast, and agile like Superman is. And when I see kids get on the edge of their seats, there’s on better feeling.”

Currently, Daniel Eads can be seen working for Bert Prentice and USA Championship Wrestling in Tennessee and Southern Illinois. Given his deep respect for the past and his drive to succeed, Eads is headed for even greater things in the future. Take a good look at the Man of Tomorrow, folks. He may well be the Superstar of Tomorrow as well.