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Mathis and Williams Deserve Your 12 Bucks

I haven’t blogged much about indy wrestling this year because, well, there hasn’t been much to talk about. I decided to break the drought today because I am very excited for what two of the most under the radar wrestlers are doing next week.

When I first saw Ron Mathis and Aaron Williams, they were tag team champions for Destination One Wrestling in New Albany. As usually happens with tag teams, they imploded when they lost the belts, and for the next several months went to war at the monthly D1W shows. Ron and Aaron were two of the wrestlers who turned me into an indy wrestling fan, so when Ron announced plans for an empty arena iron match, I was all in.

Look, it’s been a while since you’ve been to any shows. You’ve probably shelled out the $10 a month for WWE network and maybe more for an AEW show or two. $12 is not a lot to ask for an independent wrestling show, and it’s a bargain for two guys like Ron and Aaron. Ron lives and breathes wrestling like no man I’ve never met, and Aaron? Well, he’s flat out the best unsigned male wrestler on the planet. I’m not the only one who believes that either.

If you’re dying for some indy action, you’re guaranteed an hour of thrills when these two hook up for their iron match next week. You can order via Paypal sent to the link below. For my money, these are two of the very best, not only as individuals but as rivals. It’s going to be a heck of a show.

Click here to pre-order the match. You will be sent a private link to the video once it is edited and posted online.

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Wrestle Tea with Mr. Darius Carter

Two days ago, I wrote about Wrestle Tea because I wanted people to see Sam Leterna in action. I am doing so again today because you need to see her first guest.

Mr. Darius Carter is one of the most successful, arrogant, and self-assured wrestlers in the business. His stated goal, as mentioned in this interview, is to be on TV. I have no doubt he will be there sooner rather than later. This man is a throwback in the same vein as MJF. He’s an old school heel killing it in the modern era.

And yes, he’s better than all of you, and he knows it.

Please click play below to watch this interview, and give Sam a subscribe on YouTube if you like what you see!

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In This Corner: AKIRA

First off, let’s get this straight. If you spell it with lowercase letters, you’re spelling it wrong.

“It’s AKIRA not Akira,” explains AKIRA, a truly gifted young shooter who stole the show at Girl Fight’s Pick Your Poison event in Southern Indiana last November. “One looks cool, the other looks like you forgot my last name.”

Although he lives just a stone’s throw away from the Jeffersonville, Indiana Arena, many local fans have never seen AKIRA in action before Girl Fight. Yet AKIRA is a hard-working, extreme grappler who has traveled all over the US and Mexico and bears the battle scars to prove it. He’s also one of a growing number of young wrestlers who continues to study the once lost art of shoot fighting.

“I started off with Blake Reed of New Wave Pro,” he explains. “Then I went to train with Katsuyori Shibata for a week and really found a base for my style. I then followed that up by training with Jay Grooms, who was a student of the late Great Billy Robinson. So you can generally trace bits and pieces of my background to Robinson, and by a stretttchhhh Inoki and Gotch.

If the names Billy Robinson, Karl Gotch, or (heaven forbid!) Antonio Inoki are unfamiliar, you should look them up. Robinson was a legitimate shooter, one of those “dangerous” grapplers old wrestlers speak about with the same respect as Haku and Dr. D David Schultz. In other words, he’s a man you didn’t play cute with in the ring unless you really wanted to get hurt. Antonio Inoki, of course, is one of the great legends of Japan and the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Karl Gotch was his mentor and Billy’s, a truly dangerous man and the one guy Muhammed Ali would not go near when he was in Japan to face Inoki.

All this to say, AKIRA knows his legacy, and his legacy is men who could hurt people.

That’s not to say AKIRA doesn’t know how to work a wrestling match. He’s trained with a number of big name and “outlaw” style grapplers too, including the Rejects. AKIRA can work with anyone, but he knows how to protect himself. In days gone by, when men like Dr. D first trained with men like Herb Welch, they were taught how to shoot so they could protect themselves in the ring. It’s a skill many wrestlers who were trained in a Performance Center never even touch, but it’s one AKIRA values highly. “You can’t trust everyone,” he adds. “I’d rather be able to have some sort of semblance of control in a fight.”

It’s easy to see AKIRA’s heroes in his wrestling style. As a kid, he idolized men like Brett Hart, RVD, Hayavusa, Tajiri, and the Rock. ”When I got back into wrestling around 18, it was Suzuki, Nakamura, Shibata, Sakuraba, Styles. I would even add Lesnar to that list. Kasai and Gage inspired me to try deathmatches.”

As a writer of wrestling history, I love guys like AKIRA, who appreciate the stories of the men and women who came before him. AKIRA sees value in learning about the past, as a fan and as a wrestler. “History teaches respect. It shows the good of wrestling and the bad of if as well. History teaches acknowledgement of those that came before you.”

He’s got an ambitious wish list of wrestlers he hopes to share the ring with one day, including Katsuyori Shibata,  DBS, Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Simon Grimm, Chris Dickinson, Josh Barnett, Tom Lawlor, Hiromu Takahashi, Nakamura, Ibushi, Takeda, Kasai, Daniel Makabe, and Tony Deppen (again).

AKIRA’s had many rivals in the ring, but if there’s one wrestler you could call his nemesis, it’s Charlie Kruel. Fans of Ms. Kruel have long enjoyed listening to AKIRA heckle the psycho killer from the back of the room during her matches, and I just had to ask AKIRA, why do you hate the girl so much.

AKIRA just hangs his head and sighs. “I live with her. Like…that’s all that needs to be said. And she doesn’t take Kota the Deathmatch Doge out.” Nuff said.

AKIRA’s love of deathmatches is well-known, and fans who visit his social media feeds will see plenty of blood and scars. That said, AKIRA, is far from being “just a bleeder.” He can work any style you throw at him and put on as entertaining a match as you’ll see on the independents. “I can legitimately wrestle, but that doesn’t mean I can’t slug it out with the best of them. I have a love for scifi anime and film, and my music tastes cover a weird spectrum.”

AKIRA’s goal is the same as many young wrestlers: “To make a living on my own terms and be looked upon in a heralded light at the end of the day for my contributions,” he says. “To be a King…you know? At the end of the day, I just want to fight for you all.”

If you want to check out AKIRA (again, all caps!) you can find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @theakiraway. And be sure to visit his Teespring shop: Akira’s Corner.

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Paradigm Pro Is Still Here!

PPW: So Far Gone

Jordan Rose summed up the mood in the Sellersburg American Legion Post on Friday night for all the fans in attendance at Paradigm Pro Wrestling’s January event. After losing their building just a few weeks before, thanks to a suspicious phone call placed to the nearby city of Clarksville, the powers that be at PPW were able to find a new home quickly. Not only were all the previously booked wrestlers in attendance, PPW likely drew a few extra fans thanks to the cash bar at the back of the room. In a spirit of defiance and pride, Rose directed his gaze at the steadi-cam perched on the announcer’s table and sent a message to the man or woman who not only evicted PPW from Malice Manor but managed to get Girl Fight’s most recent offering canceled:

“WE’RE STILL HERE!!!”

The recent incident is not the first one of its kind. Not in wrestling, not in Kentuckiana, certainly not in recent memory. It was just a few years ago that two more phone calls successfully shutting down IWA Mid-South at Jammerz Rollerdome while unsuccessfully attempting to close the Arena in Jeffersonville. The so-called snitch was identified as a rival promoter who has since vanished from the area, along with his promoter. The identify of this recent caller remains anonymous, and in all fairness, it could just as easily be a local do-gooder rather than a promoter will ill intent. Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing a thought I’ve spoken only privately up until now.

If you are running 5000 fans a week, you have a territory to defend.

If you are running under 200 a week, as all the local promotions on both sides of the river are, you do not have a territory. You have NOTHING to defend.

Run your shows, and let everyone else be.

Be thankful for the loyal fans you have, and remember – even out of those 200, at least half are patronizing the other guys too.

With all that said, let’s go to the show and talk a couple of highlights:

First, let’s talk about the Lost Boys. I’m thrilled to see Hoodfoot has connected with Adam Slade and what appears to be a great faction. If you get the chance to see (or book) this group, do it. Adam Slade, Bradley Prescott IV, Hoodfoot, and the rest are hungry, talented, and most of all – fun. These guys are fueled by a love of wrestling and entertaining. Great to see so many of them on the show.

I finally got to see Warhorse Friday night, and wow, that was a fun match with the aforementioned Bradley Prescott IV. I love this guy’s look, too. His promo photos remind me of Zartan. He’s got a great gimmick, and he really connects with the fans. I’ll go see him any day.

It was great seeing Reed Bentley again, but I have to admit, I’m questioning these stories he told me when we first met. Reed tells me he trained in an actual ring, but he spends so little time wrestling inside a ring, I don’t know if I believe him. Joking aside, it was fun seeing him in a singles match again. Much as I love him with John Wayne Murdoch (who I will get to) and their all-out wars as the Rejects, it’s nice to see both those guys show what they can do as singles.

Billie Starkz is a superstar in the making. The girl connects with the fans like another young lady I first saw wrestling locally back in 2014 who just made her third appearance in the Royal Rumble. She’s already where Crazy Mary was skill wise at that time, and she’s five years younger than Mary was at that time. Enjoy her while she’s young, fans. She won’t be in this area for very long once she hits 18.

Calvin Tankman is a monster. He is big, strong, agile, and OVER with the fans. Not sure why he is “unsigned” but that’s a status I would expect changes before the end of this year. 

The PPW title match went on second to last, which is what happens when you have John Wayne Murdoch scheduled in a street fight. The Duke of Hardcore can do no wrong in the eyes of fans around these parts, and everyone was thrilled to see the doors, steel chairs, and other implements of destruction set out for the main event. It’s almost a foregone conclusion in these moments that JWM is always going to win this type of match, and you could feel the shockwave ripple through the crowd when the referee counted three and raised the hand of…. Nolan Edwards? Yes!! It was Edwards who defeated John Wayne Murdoch in his own specialty match. Edwards has scored several huge wins as of late across the region against top stars, not the least of which was Kongo Kong, and now he has a huge statement win at PPW. PPW has already proven to be a launch pad for young stars, introducing fans to guys like Corey Storm and Ace Austin. Nolan Edwards is poised to have a breakout year in 2020. 

Oh, and speaking of break out stars, PPW fans better enjoy every chance they get to see Dominic Garrini up close. The bare-footed shooter has an invitation to the eight man tournament that kicks off the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame festivities this July in Waterloo, Iowa. Other competitors include Colt Cabana, Mad Man Fulton, Mr. Anderson, Gary Jay, and the man Garrini most wants to get his hands on – Ken Shamrock. This is a high profile tournament and an incredible opportunity for Garrini.

PPW will return to Sellersburg on March 27 for their next Heavy Hitters event. Fans who want to check out this outstanding and (so far) unkillable promotion can follow them on Facebook for more information.

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Yes, You Do Want to See Madi Maxx

Every now and then you go to a show and see a new wrestler who make you sit up and take notice. That happened a month ago when I saw Madi Maxx for the first time. She came into the Jeffersonville Arena as a complete unknown to the Girl Fight crowd. Forty-five seconds after picking up a mic, every fan in the building wanted to slap the “Paris Hilton of professional wrestling” in the face.

Madi was just eight years old when she decided what she wanted to do with her life. That was when he father took her to Monday Night Raw for the first time.”I had never before seen or heard of WWE, or any wrestling for that matter. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The emotion, the characters, the show, the energy, literally everything. I knew after that I wanted to get the same response from an audience and I started doing moves off my dressers, on to my pillows, and even my friends when they let me!

As a child of the Attitude era, Madi was drawn to some of its brightest stars, including Lita and Edge. “They were my wrestling heroes. I wanted to be just like them. They were also the ones who influenced me the most, along with The Hardys. I was drawn to them because they were all so different than anyone else on the roster. They created such a response from the crowd and filled arenas with energy! Everything they did I was infatuated by everything they did!”

Although Madi’s parents bore some of the responsibility for her infatuation with professional wrestling, they didn’t expect it to last. Madi never wavered in her dream, and when she was seventeen, she took her first steps towards pursuing that dream. “I was home during the summer, and I decided spontaneously I am going to do this NOW! I contacted a school, USIWF, and I called my mom once I got a response. Her and my dad both came with me to my first day and made sure I really wanted to do this. They have been supportive ever since, and have never once doubted me or tried to talk me out of it.”

Madi trained with Josh Gerry at USIWF for a year and a half. She then moved to Louisville, Kentucky and began training at Ohio Valley Wrestling with Matt Cappotelli and Rip Rogers. While in Louisville, she captured the OVW Women’s Championship. “It was incredible! I went to OVW with one mission, and it was to put my name on the list with all the other Women Champions, including Beth Phoenix! Holding the same title she held was something I will always remember and cherish.”

Madi’s determination to make her mark on the business led her to High Spots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she now trains with a number of other hopefuls. She’s already faced some stiff competition in Nicole Pain and LuFisto and is scheduled to face Taeler Hendrix and Chelsea Greene in the coming months. She has her eyes set on Queens of Combat in 2018, and she hopes to make her West Coast and International debuts this year.

Madi has the skills to become a top star, both on the mic and in the ring. What’s more, she’s a true student of the game who absorbs as much as she can from everyone she meets.

“The lessons I have learned that are the most important to me are, ‘crawl, walk, run,’ which my first coach taught me. Meaning you can’t learn everything in a day, you have to stick with it and really give it your all! The second is, ‘trust no one,’ which is a really big one that I have kept in mind wherever I go.”

Madi listed LuFisto as one of her favorite opponents. You can see the two of them in action in the video below. You can also follow her on Twitter @madi_maxx, Instagram @maxxmadi, and Facebook.

Madi Maxx is a face to watch and a name to remember. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the coming years.
[Credit for top photo goes to photographer John McEvers.]

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Impact and the Future of Indy Wrestling

If you have any interest at all in independent wrestling – and even if you don’t – you need to hear Talk is Jericho’s Friday episode. Chris Jericho’s guests are Don Callis and Scott D’Amore, the new executive vice presidents of Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA). It’s an eye-opening discussion about their unique qualifications to take over the struggling promotion and take it in a new direction.

The highlight that stood out the most for me was when they discussed intellectual property rights and wrestlers. It’s well-known that Impact has finally given up the fight over control of “Broken” Matt Hardy, and the WWE and Hardy are already reaping the benefits. What D’Amore and Callis shared on the show was the reasoning behind their backing of this paradigm-shifting decision.

It was Vince McMahon and the WWF that established the idea that wrestling “characters” belonged to the promotion and not the wrestlers. Vince wanted control so he could own the merchandising and restrict people from leaving his company to make money of the characters he helped to create. The TNA policy that kept “Broken” Matt Hardy in limbo for seven months was adopted from the WWE policy.

Callis and D’Amore want to change that. They want to give a platform for wrestlers to build, grow, and market characters owned by the wrestlers. Wrestlers who sign on with Impact can rest assured they will not be starting over should their relationship with the company come to an end. The gains they make at Impact will benefit them in Ring of Honor, Japan, Mexico, Europe, anywhere they go.

Callis and D’Amore contend that wrestlers have more power now than at any time in the history of the business. It’s hard to argue with that statement. For nearly a hundred years, going back to the days of the Golddust Trio, the promoters held all the power. They controlled the territories. They controlled who won or lost. They controlled who got work and who starved.

The territories are no more. Today, wrestlers market themselves. They are savvy social media users. They have tools like Instagram, YouTube, and Pro Wrestling Tees that they are using to great effect. They give interviews on blogs like this. They appear on every podcast they can. They let their fans know where they can see them not only in person but on High Spots, Powerbomb.TV, and other networks.

Callis and D’Amore know the business of wrestling. They also know business-business. They see the market, they know the trends, and they seem smart enough to create an environment to appeal to wrestlers who are truly more independent than ever.

If you listen to podcasts, please give this episode a listen. It’s a great omen for what’s on the horizon, not only for Impact, but the independent scene at large.

2017 was a ground-breaking year for the independents. 2018 is looking even better. It will start with Alpha vs. Omega. Can’t wait to see how it ends.

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The Baddest TPI Winner Alive

Aaron Williams is one of the wrestlers who made me an independent wrestling fan. That’s one reason why he’s one of the featured stars on the cover of Eat Sleep Wrestle. He’s racked up a number of credits on the resume since I started following him. He’s been a solo champion and a tag champion for numerous promotions. He’s been a competitor in CZW’s Best of the Best. He’s been a main event performer since I first met him in 2014. And he’s currently the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.

Last night Williams added another accolade to his career. He is your 2017 Ted Petty Invitational Winner.

Congratulations to the Baddest Man Alive. Wishing you even more success in 2017 and beyond.

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Faces to Watch the Second Half of 2017

2017 has been an amazing year in independent wrestling. Half way through the year, Billy Corgan has assumed control of the NWA, Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force has overtaken Impact, and NJPW has begun its conquest of America.

It’s been a spectacular year at all levels of independent wrestling. Here are a few names and faces you need to be watching as we enter the second half of the year.

NICK DEPP

Nick Depp began the year by winning The Prince of the Deathmatches – and promptly found himself on the sidelines nursing an injury. The temporary set back hasn’t slowed him down  a bit. “The Sports Entertainer” is expanding his territory and gaining new ground not only due to his in-ring work, but his skills on the mic. Depp cuts an amazing promo as a face but especially as a heel. His mouth is going to take him far.

ALEX DANIELS

“The Real Ben Affleck” is the talk of the independent wrestling podcasts, and with good reason. Take away the Ben Affleck gimmick, he is one of the brightest and most talented workers in the Midwest. One observer told me privately he thinks Daniels will be in Ring of Honor in just a few years. The Ohio native is expanding his territory as well, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets his big break.

MICKIE KNUCKLES

Mickie is no rookie. She’s been around for 17 years, breaking ground the WWE’s women are only now beginning to tread. Mickie has caught fire in 2017. She headlined a spectacular main event in Ft. Wayne covered in my blog back in April for Girl Fight. She and Randi West stirred controversy in Southern Indiana with a brutal falls count anywhere match. To top it all off, she just won the OVW Women’s Championship. This is Mickie’s year, and no one can stop her.

AMAZING MARIA

A Canadian transplant working out of Louisville, Kentucky, Amazing Maria is one of the most under-rated women in the women’s scene. Her skills in the ring are solid, and her character work as a heel improve with every outing. Whether she’s on her own, paired with Samantha Heights, or partnered with Horrorshow manager Jason Saint, Amazing Maria is a stand out on every show.

OI4K

I’ve been a fan of the Crist brothers, Dave and Jake, ever since they yanked the tag titles away from Aaron Williams and Ron Mathis at D1W a few years ago. Not only have they become regulars at IWA Mid-South, they’re making appearances for PWG in Los Angeles. Dave Crist has had an exceptional year, despite some injuries, having won the IWA Mid-South Championship and CZW’s Best of the Best 2017. A fellow wrestler told me he doesn’t think they’ll be exclusive to the Midwest for long. I couldn’t agree more.

INDY CARD MAFIA

The tag team of Thomas Brewington and Eric Emanon is starting to make deep inroads in the South and the Midwest. They put the southern territories on notice a few weeks ago when they invaded Atlanta’s AWE and shocked everyone by earning a victory over the red hot Carnies (another must see tag team, I might add). “Do we have your attention now?” Emanon asked on Facebook. Yes, sir, you do.

THE HITMAN FOR HIRE MR. GRIM

Mr. Grim is something special. His combination of speed, power, and high-flying make him a must-see attraction, but that’s not the reason you want to see this man live. You want to know what’s in the briefcase. You want to see what happens when the Hitman for Hire claims a victim. Grim is coming, and he’s headed your way sooner than you think.

KONGO KONG

Kong has already made the leap from indy darling to TV star, and his star’s about to get brighter. Kongo Kong was one of Jeff Jarrett’s early signees for Global Force Wrestling. Now, with GFW taking over and Jarrett firmly in control, there is no stopping the big man.

Please note: This is by no means a comprehensive list of the up and coming rising stars in independent wrestling. If you have a favorite you want to add to this list, please comment below. Let’s let the casual wrestling fans of the world know why they need to tune in to independent wrestling.

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Six Inconvenient Truths About WWE and Indy Wrestling

I don’t like to editorialize about the WWE, and I don’t like to go negative in this space. That said, after hearing the air get sucked out of the building at the end of the Money in the Bank match, it’s time we face some inconvenient truths.

Inconvenient Truth #1: The WWE doesn’t want to push your favorite indy stars. Over the last several years they WWE has snatched up a dream roster of independent wrestling stars, but it’s becoming clear none of these signees are ever going to be “the guy.” Styles, Owens, and Rollins have done well carrying the top belts for long periods of time, but when push comes to shove, the WWE will always favor their own.

Inconvenient Truth #2: The WWE wants the next top guy(s) to be their guys. Never mind that independent wrestlers bring not only an established fan base but experience and ring saavy to the table. The WWE still believes it can manufacture stars from scratch at its Performance Center and push them over the independents. Get used to seeing Sami Zayn staring up in frustration at the latest home grown wrestler on top of the Money in the Bank ladder. This is your new reality in the WWE.

So why does the WWE continue to mine the independents?

Inconvenient Truth #3: The WWE is spending money on independent wrestlers to bleed the indies dry of their top stars. It’s not about enhancing the roster. It’s about hurting the competition by taking away their marquee stars and using those highly paid signees to put over their chosen elect.

So what does all this mean?

Inconvenient Truth #4: Any independent star who has a WWE contract needs to consider more than just the money. That’s a hard, hard thing to do when you’re looking at going from $25 a night to the top of the business, but is the WWE really going to give you your dream shot? The roster is overcrowded. Guys who were on top all around the world are forced to job to pre-fabbed stars. Dalton Castle, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks have made the right call, staying where they are instead of taking the money for a one way ticket to obscurity. (Remember how excited we all were when Anderson and Gallows got signed?)

Of course it’s easy for the guys who are being paid well to stay put, but what about the guys struggling to make it?

Here comes the most inconvenient truth of all.

Inconvenient Truth #5: Fans who are sick of it need to seriously consider where they spend their money. If you keep paying for a product you hate and refuse to spend a dime on ROH, NJPW, High Spots, CHIKARA, CZW, or any number of alternatives. Am I suggesting you cancel your Network subscription? Not necessarily. I am saying you should stop spending all that fat cash on T-shirts and Pops and Booty-O’s Cereal and spend a little more on a wrestling product you can care about!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: one ticket to a WWE show costs the same amount as six tickets to an independent show; or two tickets and two T-shirts; or a six month subscription to the alternative wrestling network of your choice. The money you spend there goes into the pockets of real men and women who need and appreciate it far more than a faceless corporation that long ago decided it knows better than you what you want to see.

Inconvenient Truth #6: The WWE is not about to change its ways any time soon. Indy stars will continue to take the WWE money, and Inconvenient Truths 1-3 will continue to play out.

Knowing this to be true, you have a choice. You can continue watching a product you hate and griping about it online, or you can make a choice to spend your time and hard-earned money on a wrestling show you do love.

Life’s too short to spend on these Internet rants. I’m going to find something I enjoy.