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Can’t Spell WWE without I-N-D-Y

Dear WWE and NXT Fans:

I’d like to introduce you to a few people.

This is Aaron Williams, “The Baddest Man Alive.” Aaron had a great weekend because he just won the Pro Wrestling Blitz Heavyweight Champion.

These are my pals Eric Emanon and Thomas Brewington. They had a great weekend as well. They are now the New Phoenix Gemini Tag Team Champions.

And this is the King of Dayton and proud member of Ohio Is 4 Killers, Dave Crist. Dave had a great weekend too. He pinned John Wayne Murdoch clean to become the new IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.

Why am I telling you about these gentlemen? Because I want you to know them. I want you to follow them. I want you to support them.

As a WWE fan, I know you are aware just how many independent wrestlers have become part of the world’s largest wrestling promotion. A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro all had stellar careers in the indies before making it to NXT and WWE. If you’re also following NXT, then you’re already following the rise of Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Cassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero), Ruby Riot (aka Heidi Lovelace) and the other indy “darlings” the WWE has snatched up recently.

I want you to know that the independent wrestling promotions that Gargano, Ciampa, Hero, Lovelace, and the others left behind are not dying off like the old territories the WWF killed in the 1980s. They are thriving. They are growing not only in popularity, but in quality. I want you to know this because I want you to become a fan.

Yes, it is true, the independent scene is full of green wrestlers, spot monkeys, and guys who only care about getting their s*** in, but there are many men and women and tag teams still working the independents who could easily fill any spot on the NXT or WWE roster right now.

Independent wrestling is growing. There are more promotions in more places than there have been in a generation. Your local promotion(s) may run monthly or weekly, which means you can see live wrestling far more often than you are now with the WWE.

True, the crowds and venues are smaller in the indies, but that also means tickets are more affordable, and your access to the wrestlers is greater. You’re closer to the action and at a much better price, and the heels can actually hear you when you call them names.

And here’s the best part: you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to meet your favorite stars. The T-shirts at the gimmick tables are half of what you’ll pay at a WWE show. Everyone is happy to shake your hand and take a selfie – except maybe Mr. Darius Carter.

I’m not telling you to give up the WWE. I enjoy the Network and NXT as much as any fan. But make no mistake: the WWE and NXT would not be what they are without the INDY scene that has come to be. I’m offering you the chance to see more live wrestling. I’m asking you to give guys like Aaron, Dave, Eric, and Thomas a chance. I want you to get out there and discover other guys like Matt Riddle, Ron Mathis, The Hitman for Hire Mr. Grim, Desmond Xavier, Zachary Wentz, Gary Jay, Chip Day, Murder One, Timmy Lou Retton, Matt Cross, Michael Elgin, Menace, Facade, Jake Crist, Sami Callahan, and Jimmy Rave. I want you to discover the other ladies who fueled the “women’s revolution,” like Kelly Klein, LuFisto, Su Yung, Samantha Heights, Leva Bates (remember Blue Pants?), Mickie Knuckles, Rachel Ellering, Taeler Hendrix, Candice LeRae, Veda Scott, Mia Yim, Allisin Kay, Jessicka Havok, and Jordynne Grace. I want you to discover the amazing tag teams packing houses across the country including the Hooligans, Viking War Party, War Machine, OI4K, and the Carnies. You can even find comedy wrestlers, guys like Colt Cabana, Space Monkey, and the notorious party animal, Joey Ryan.

There’s never been a better time to get into independent wrestling than now. Search a few of these names on YouTube. Find and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Then find a promotion running in your area. I’m not asking you to trade one for the other. Just get out and support the superstars of tomorrow, today. They will not let you down.

Sincerely,

A converted, die-hard indy wrestling fan

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Team IOU Hates You!

Team IOU does not look like a tag team. They don’t have matching tights. They don’t wear color-coordinated outfits. They don’t wear identical face paint or strap on identical spiky shoulder pads. Nick Iggy and Kerry Awful aren’t brothers, nor were they born in the same state. Nevertheless, the odd couple from Tennessee has found a chemistry that has made them one of the most sought after and hated tag teams in the indies.

Nick Iggy was born in New Jersey but spent most of his life growing up in wrestling-crazed Middle Tennessee. “Growing up with two older brothers, I always watched wrestling, so for as long as I can remember I always wanted to become a professional wrestler. It was while watching The Hardy Boys – Leap of Faith VHS with my best friend, Cas Lush, that I stopped just ‘wanting’ to become a professional wrestler and started telling myself that ‘I’m going to be’ a professional wrestler.”

Nick’s partner Kerry Awful turned to wrestling as an escape at an early age. “I was extremely sick as a child. In and out of the hospital constantly. While most people were out and about with friends, I was at home with breathing machines and professional wrestling. My earliest memories are of old USWA shows and syndicated WWE shows. I remember hiding a towel under the crack of my door as a child so my parents wouldn’t know I stayed up late to watch the entire first episode of RAW. Wrestling’s been there for me from illness as a child, to my parents divorce, to adulthood. I cherish it so much.”

Like Iggy, Awful still remembers the moment he decided to become a wrestler. “It was the first time I saw Owen Hart and Koko B Ware on a Saturday morning show with my baby sitter. The outfits, the energy, the crowd. All of it was just like being a real life super hero. I was hooked.”

Kerry began his training with one of the men he grew up watching, Dirty Dutch Mantell. “I was blessed to learn from a legend like him, and to have grown up watching him and be taught by him was so surreal. I was mentored by Tasha Simone, former three time NWA woman’s world champ and a person who is like a mother to me. Even though we don’t talk often anymore, I would be amiss to not mention Mike Promo — who is an urban legend by this point. I would also be amiss to not mention all the help Wolfie D gave both Nick and I.”

Nick began his training with Reno Riggins and Drew Haskins at the Stadium Inn in Nashville before also falling under the tutelage of Tasha Simone and Wolfie D. “We’ve also had a lot of good people help us and teach us new things over the years.”

Neither Nick or Kerry began their careers in the tag team ranks, and both have had some memorable matches as singles. “We were actually feuding with one another at a promotion in Nashville called USWO run by the legendary Tony Falk. We were finishing up there to go to NWA SAW in Millersville, TN. Our first night there they put us together as a team. We thought it was just gonna be a one off since we considered ourselves singles wrestlers. Our first night teaming, we won the NWA Southern Tag Team Titles by defeating Tim Renesto and Jeremiah Plunkett. We had good chemestry feuding against each other, but found out we had better chemistry teaming, so we decided to start teaming everywhere.”

“There is a long drawn out story of how we became the boy and his dog and an even longer one of how we evolved into the carnies,” says Awful. “It boils down to we were two friends, who wrestled completely different styles, that were destined to adventure this world with a mission statement to be the best tag team we could be, and represent the state of Tennessee to our fullest potential.”

Team IOU has forged a name for themselves as a tag team by staying true to who they are. “We embrace who and what we are: Southern wrestlers who use a smash mouth style to get a point across. We grew up liking so much different stuff from each other that we were able to kind of mesh it into our own thing. I’m proud to say we ‘found ourselves’ and keep trying to push it in new and creative ways.”

Iggy and Awful’s unique partnership has brought them much success, earning them matches against current teams like the Hooligans and legends like the Rock N Roll Express. They’ve traveled all over the Eastern United States, working as regulars for Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment in Atlanta, GA; Pro Wrestling Freedom in Jeffersonville, IN; Saint Louis Anarchy in Alton, IL; New South in Hartselle, AL; and NWA New South Championship Wrestling in Franklin, KY. Their debut for Tier 1 Wrestling in Brooklyn, NY is scheduled for summer, and they plan to announce even more debuts soon.

Team IOU’s initial title win against Renesto and Plunkett was only the beginning of their gold rush. Says Iggy, “As a team, we’ve held the Proving Ground Pro Tag Team Championship, won the 2015 Full Impact Pro Six Man Showcase along with Jake Dirden, and are the current NWA Southern Tag Team Champions. I’ve also held the NWA Mid American Championship, USWO Music City Championship, ATL Tag Team Championship along with Mike Revick, ATL Junior Heavyweight Championship, All Star Wrestling Tag Team Championship with Damien Payne and All Star Wrestling TV Championship.”

Team IOU has a way of making fans sit up and take notice. There’s no ignoring them, in or out of the ring, and they love to push buttons. Sitting a few feet away from their gimmick table at a recent show in Jeffersonville, Indiana, I head Iggy shut down a young fan with a rapid fire put down: “You’re a kid! You don’t know anything! Your mother hates you!”

It was that moment that made me a fan, and it’s that attitude that will take Team IOU as far as they want to go. “The ultimate goal for me has always been the WWE,” says Iggy, “But I’d love to be able to work for ROH and NJPW. Honestly, if I’m able to make a living off of this, I’d be happy.”

“Nick and I have similar mind sets,” adds Awful. “I want to be involved in wrestling some way. Whether it’s in front in the ring or behind the scenes. My dream when I started was to go over seas. Will it happen? Hopefully one day. I would like to just make an impact on the sport. Change the views people have of Southern wrestling. Make more memories and continue to be happy.”

If they’re not wrestling at a promotion near you this summer, you can check out Team IOU on Smart Mark Video, the WWN Wrestling Network, and their YouTube page.

T-shirts are available on Pro Wrestling Tees.

You can follow Nick on Twitter @IggyNJ210 and follow the team @TeamIOU.

Promoters are welcome to email them at BookTeamIOU@gmail.com.