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.

Who Will Stand With Baron Corbin?

I’ve met a number of wrestling promoters over the last few years. You know what they have in common? Limited resources. The promoters I know are not millionaires. Most of them have jobs outside wrestling to pay the bills for themselves and  (in many cases) the promotions they run. They aren’t doctors either, and they don’t all have the means to have even an off duty paramedic standing by if something goes wrong.

The wrestlers who work for these promoters understand this. They understand the risk they take every time they step in the ring, no matter where they are or who is running the show. Everyone understands that bruises, strains, broken bones, torn ligaments, infections, and yes, concussions can and will happen. They don’t hold the promoter liable because they take responsibility for their own actions.

This is their love. This is their passion. They do it in spite of the risks for the love of the business.

That said, if a promoter is a billionaire, if that promoter has unlimited resources, if they have the means to put on multiple live broadcasts every week, if they have their own TV network, if they have millions of subscribers paying for that network and shelling out billions more on T-shirts and videos and other swag… that promoter has an obligation to the men and women they employ to provide the best healthcare and the best information about health and wellness to the people they employ.

If the story now out about Baron Corbin being “punished” for calling out a so-called expert on concussions for not speaking the truth, it’s another black mark on the biggest promotion in the business. The WWE treats wrestlers as independent contractors. They do this to avoid having to provide health insurance for the wrestlers. Translation: when you see the WWE live or on TV, you are watching non-employees risk their bodies, their brains, and their well being in order to make millions for a corporation that will not pay their medical bills if they get hurt.

Baron Corbin has every right to call BS when he hears it. The wrestlers and fans should call BS as well. WWE is not a side venture run by a man or woman who puts on shows weekly or monthly in addition to working their 40 hour a week job. This is what they do. This is how they make money, hand over fist. For once in his wrestling career, Baron Corbin is the babyface, but it looks like Corbin could become another casualty, another name swept under the rug for defying the corporate line.

Independent promoters don’t have the means to provide the best of medical care. Independent wrestlers know and accept the risks they take working for said promoters. There’s no excuse for a company the size of WWE to withhold the best of care and the best of information from the men and women whose sacrifices make their profits possible.

Who’s going to stand with Baron Corbin, inside the WWE, or out? Better get off your butts quick. We’ve seen what happens when you defy the company line.

Is This the End of Righteous Jesse??

This week the Kick Out at Two Podcast welcomes Air Paris to the program. Righteous Jesse talks with Air Paris about partnering with A.J. Styles, NWA Wildside, and being the father of a young wrestling fan.

It’s a shame to think that after 87 episodes, this could be the end of KOAT as we know it. Why? Because Saturday night, Righteous Jesse is going to die. He’s promoting his second show ever with Southern Underground Pro “Don’t call it SUP GRAPS” Wrestling, and he’s booked himself in a deathmatch against former KOAT guest and legendary deathmatch wrestler, Tank. I’m not sure why Jesse would do such a suicidal thing or why his friend the Wilkman or girlfriend Bonnaroo Brittany would allow it. We can only pray that Jesse will survive and live to podcast another day.

The Kick Out at Two Podcast is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher every Friday.

Southern Underground Pro Wrestling’s second show, Show You No Mercy, takes place Saturday night, June 10, at The Cobra in Nashville and features Bonestorm champion “The Lodestar: Curt Stallion, “The Blue Eyed Devil” Tripp Cassidy, Kevin Ku, Percy Davis, Brett Ison, Chase Jordan, Matt Lynch, Caleb Courageous, and Jeremiah Plunkett. Show information can be found on Facebook or Twitter.

Condolences on the loss of Righteous Hesse can be sent via Twitter to Bonnaroo Brittany.

Christmas for Kool-Aid Drinkers

For IWA Mid-South fans, this is the biggest weekend of the year. It’s bigger than birthdays, weddings, even Christmas. It’s the high flying, anything can happen blood fest known as the King of the Deathmatch.

This year’s event has sixteen competitors vying for the title including the reigning Prince of the Deathmatch Nick Depp, John Wayne Murdoch, Reed Bentley, Aidan Blackhart, Ludark Shaitan, Masada, Bryant Woods, Brad Cash, Mance Warner, Rickey Shane Page, Dale Patricks, Marcus Crane, Eric Ryan, Devon Moore, G Raver, and Jeff King. Round one has already been announced, with four tantalizing match stipulations advertised:

Home Run Derby Light Tube Fence

The Great American BBQ Deathmatch

Fans Bring the Weapons

Log Cabins of Glass/Four Corner of Pain.

The violence takes place at the Flea Market off I-65 N, exit 16, in Memphis, Indiana. Bell time is 6:35 PM Saturday night, May 20. Front Row tickets are $30. General admission is $25. Tickets can be purchased via PayPal when you email BestMistyEver@gmail.com. Tell Misty I sent you.

 

Manscout Jake Manning on Kick Out at Two

This week, the “cool kids” of the Kick Out at Two Podcast welcome Mascot Jake Manning to the show. Manning is a seasoned veteran in the indy wrestling ranks from Preston, Iowa and the current reining PWX Champion. Jake and Righteous Jesse talk about everything from wrestling to being a stand up comic to why Jake considers the KOAT crowd to be “the cool kids table.”

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every Friday on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud!

Wrestling from the Underground

The first rule of Southern Underground Pro is… don’t call them SUP GRAPS.

Southern Underground Pro is a new wrestling promotion in Nashville. They’re not out to replace anyone else running in the area; they want to fill a void for fans and wrestlers. In a city with a proud wrestling tradition, their goal is to bring the very best in today’s independent wrestling to the Music City.

Southern Underground’s first show features a loaded card stacked with twelve hungry young wrestlers from all across the country: Curt Stallion, Kevin Ku, Nick Iggy, Kerry Awful, Dominic Garrini, Alex Daniels, Dr. Dan, Frankie Flynn, Chris Crunk Jaden Newman, AJ Gray and Brett Ison. All twelve men will be in singles action to start the show with the winners facing off in two triple threat matches. The winners in those two matches will go on to fight for the honor of becoming the first Bonestorm Champion!

The tournament format will give each individual wrestler a chance to shine on their own, and as the tournament progresses, the opportunity for some unique match ups will unfold. Imagine seeing Nick Iggy going one on one with his Carnies tag team partner Kerry Awful.

If successful, S.U.P. plans to run bi-monthly shows and feature even more of today’s stop independent stars. Fans can expect to see women’s matches and tag matches at upcoming shows, and S.U.P. is looking for a more family-friendly venue for future events.

Southern Underground Pro’s Battle for Bonestorm will take place on Sunday night, April 23 at The Cobra, 2511 Gallatin Ave in Nashville. For ticket and event information, go to the S.U.P. event page on Facebook.

 

Grindhouse Academy: Rudy Switchblade

This is part two of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school.

When 2 Tuff Tony opened the doors of The Arena on Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana, one of the things he wanted most was to start a school for aspiring wrestlers. Tony is a seasoned veteran himself and knew he had a lot to teach, but he wanted a partner who could give students the things he could not. He wanted someone trained in a variety of wrestling styles, someone with in-ring experience and knowledge that would really challenge the students. Tony found all that in Rudy Switchblade.

Louisville area wrestling enthusiasts will remember Rudy from his run with OVW as well as appearances for other promoters and promotions in the area. What fans may not know is that Rudy is a twenty year veteran who began training and wrestling all the way back in 1997.

Rudy spent 10 years in the business before he came to OVW. He started his training at the School of Hard Knocks with Bill Anderson, Jesse Hernandez, and Chris Daniels. “They were pretty much the ‘it’ school at the time in Southern California, and I started with a group of guys who are all pretty famous now.”

Rudy moved on to UPW, then the Southern California developmental territory for the WWE, where he worked with future OVW and WWE stars John Cena and Rico Costantino. He spent two years in the New Japan dojo, and a few more years with Ring of Honor before coming to Louisville to train under Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, and Al Snow.

Rudy Switchblade is a student of wrestling well-versed in many styles and techniques. His is a very different path than the one his partner followed, but Rudy and Tony have become good friends as well as partners over the last six months.

Rudy and Tony are now training a half dozen students at Grindhouse Academy. Through trial and error, they’ve established a regular class schedule that seems to work best with the odd shoot job schedules of their students. It’s an open door type of setting, where students of all levels are welcome to come and go, and it’s ridiculously affordable: it’s only $10 an hour.

Wrestling purists are bound to raise an eyebrow and even a few objections to such a low price. Most training schools cost thousands of dollars and require large, up-front, non-refundable deposits. Those schools do their best to weed out the less serious students on day one, keeping the money and sending them packing. It’s an old school mentality that you won’t find at Grindhouse.

“Don’t get me wrong. We’re looking for serious students,” say Switchblade. “The difference is, we’re not here just to take you money. Tony and I are not getting rich off this. We’re doing this because we love it.”

Grindhouse is a place for those who can’t afford the big name schools. It’s a place to come and get your feet wet without getting your butt kicked. It’s a great place to see what wrestling is really all about without blowing your life’s savings on day one and having you love of the business battered by a hundred knife-edge chops.

Grindhouse Academy currently meets 3-4 times a week at the Arena. Schedule and times vary, but you can get more information on the school and the Arena by contacting 2 Tuff Tony on Facebook.

The Evolution of Aidan Blackhart

When I first saw Aidan Blackhart, he was a one joke heel who came to the ring with a Shakeweight. Don’t get me wrong, Aidan was great at what he did. The Shakeweight gimmick, the Body by Blackhart routine was hilarious and got him over as a heel, but after this past weekend, it’s clear the young wrestler is evolving in some amazing ways.

Yesterday, I told you the story of Nick Depp, the winner of Saturday’s Prince of the Deathmatches tournament. Today I’m revisiting an old friend who came up short in his second try at Prince of the Deathmatches. Aidan may not have claimed the crown Saturday night, but he’s proving his desire and passion to become something more than a one joke heel.

“This was the second year I did Prince,” says Blackhart. “Last year I faced Zodiak in a barbwire bats and boards match. This year I am trying to step up and make a name for myself in wrestling. Not just in deathmatches but all around.”

I had to ask Aidan why in the world someone would compete in an event like this multiple times when they knew they likely would not come out the winner. Here, his passion really comes through.

“I entered Prince this year to test myself and prove I can do way better. This year was insane with log cabins of glass. That moment I threw Derek Direction through one with a superplex, my adrenaline hit an all time high. Being cut to shreds and covered in blood made me feel alive, gave me new life. A baptism in blood if you will. My faith in myself is renewed. I am saved.”

Aidan has lofty goals for the year ahead. He’s got his sights set on winning a heavyweight championship and advancing to the finals in a deathmatch tournament. “I also want to be on the main card of Bloodymania, and face Masada.”

Aidan Blackhart is proving he will do whatever it takes to rise in the independent wrestling ranks. He’s a face to watch in a promotion that has launched the careers of many former unknowns.

Aidan can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nick Depp is Prince of the Deathmatch!

Saturday night, Nick Depp made a statement at IWA Mid-South. Before a packed, standing room only crowd in Memphis, Indiana, the young wrestler staked his place in the legendary promotion’s history by becoming the 2017 Prince of the Deathmatch.

Depp’s coronation is the result of a lot of hard work and a dream he began pursuing back in 2011. The Livermore, Kentucky native started training with the Waddell brothers in WWA.

“My first job in the wrestling business was as the ring announcer. I was horrible.” Depp’s inability to get anyone’s name right was embarrassing, but the promoters turned it into his first angle, when wrestlers came after him for the messing up their names.

Depp spent six months tagging with his friend Nick Willis as the Flight Club, winning the WWA Tag Team Championships. From there, he went on to Southern Wrestling Entertainment, where he furthered his training with veteran Cash Flo. “Cash taught me the art of selling and advanced psychology.”

In 2014 he left SWE and headed for IWA Mid-South. Depp caught the eye of Nick Maniwa and Reed Bentley, who spoke up for him and got him a shot at IWA-MS’s tryout show against Juan Hado and Alex Rudolph. The match earned Depp a roster spot and the chance to train with Ian Rotten.

“Ian completed my training,” says Depp. “It’s mind blowing how much you can learn from him. And the gift never stops giving.”

Depp competed in two previous deathmatch tournaments prior to Saturdays win: The 2015 POTDM tournament and the Kings of the Colosseum Deathmatch tournament. He’s especially proud of a 2016 Tai Pei Deathmatch he had against former IWA Mid-South Champion John Wayne Murdoch. “Axel Rotten did commentary for that match. Ian sat beside him and they watched, which I thought was pretty sick because this was their match. That moment can never happen again, and I’m so proud to be able to say that happened. Plus I beat Murdoch, and that year he went on to win King of the Deathmatch.”

I asked Depp what his goal was for 2017, now that he is deathmatch royalty. His answer was simple. “Always looking to improve, and also looking to be the best I can be.” With an attitude like that, Depp is likely to make an even greater impact on the business in the future.

Nick Depp can be booked at fakenickdepp@google.com

World Premiere Set for HEEL KICK!

A while back, I posted a story about an independent film from Canada called HEEL KICK! Promising to do to pro wrestling what Spinal Tap did for heavy metal, the producer started a crowdfunding campaign to clear the last few financial hurdles and release the film.

The campaign was enough of a success that the world premiere is now set. HEEL KICK! will be first screened in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at The Garneau Theatre on March 18 (4PM) and 21st (7PM).

The film will then move west to Vancouver, British Columbia for two dates at The Rio Theatre: April 4th (9PM) and 8th (12PM).

The producer is looking for cities to host the US premiere as well. Fans are encouraged to follow HEEL KICK! on Twitter @HEELKICKmovie and let them know where you’d like to see the movie.