Tagged in: independent wrestling

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.

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.

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.

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.

Evolution Pro Wrestling Returns

Three years ago when I released Bluegrass Brawlers, Evolution Pro Wrestling was one of the first independent promotions to welcome me and allow me to promote my book at their show. Not only did they set me up with a table, they put me right next to Ricky Morton, who put me and the book over to everyone who came to visit him.

Three years later, it’s my pleasure to share the exciting news. Evolution is back!

Evolution Pro was one of the most exciting shows in town during their day, and if the card for their return show is any indication, it’s going to be just as exciting in 2017. Three stellar matches top the card, including a 3-way battle between young stars Corey Storm, Ace Perry, and Mickie Midas; a women’s battle between Brooke Valentine and the always devious Amazing Maria; and a stellar main event featuring Dale Patricks and long-time Louisville favorite, Jamin Olivencia in a first time ever match up!

Other announced matches include Casey Reeves vs Deonta Davis; Amazing Pooky vs Van Martigan; Matt Atreya vs Jay Matthews; and a three way tag bout pitting Nathen Edwards & Aaron Von Baron vs TJ Flexx & Ram Jam vs Lennox Norris & Omega.

Promoter Christian Skyfire used to say, “You never know who will show up at Evolution,” and he’s vowed that motto will ring true when they return to action at the ArenA in Jeffersonville. For show information, visit the official Facebook page.

One of These Days, Everybody IS Going to Die!

On Tuesday night fans will gather at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, where Terry Harper will present an evening of wrestling under the banner Pizza King of the Ring. If his last show is any indication, this will be packed house, and I have no doubt many fans will be going just to see the intergender battle between Leva “Blue Pants” Bates and Tracy Smothers.

This worries me.

For the last few years, Southern Indiana fans have been treating Tracy Smothers with utter disrespect. They’ve chanted, “Tracy sucks!” They’ve cheered for Tracy’s opponents instead of the Smoky Mountain legend. Tracy has been patient with fans because he has yet to make good on his standard threat, a threat that goes like this:

“If I hear ‘Tracy sucks!’ one more time, everybody dies!”

But a man can only take so much, and I fear that one of these days, everybody is going to die.

Will Tuesday be the night? Will “Go, Blue Pants, go!” be the cheer that forces Tracy to make good on slaughtering an arena full of wrestling fans who have disrespected the man who flies the stars and bars for the last time?

We can only pray that Tracy’s patience will hold out long enough for fans to realize they are disrespecting a legend.

Jake Something on the Kick Out at Two Podcast

The Kick Out at Two Podcast is unashamed of their love for the world of flips and kicks. They know that there’s great wrestling to be found beyond the E, just as the folks who keep raiding indy wrestling on behalf of the E do. Week after week, they are committed to introducing new fans to the men and women of independent wrestling in the hopes more people will check out the good stuff happening every week/month right where they are.

This week the Kick Out at Two gang welcomes Jake Something to the show. Jake was another lucky find, a name and face they didn’t know until they see him life at Glory Pro in Alton, Illinois. “After we saw [Jake] we knew we had to talk to him!” Get to know the man who caught their eye on the podcast this weekend, available in iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud!

Teddy Fine on Kick Out at Two

This week, the Kick Out at Two Podcasts presents an interview with Teddy Fine, taped during his recent trip to Freedom Pro in Nashville. “Primetime” Teddy Fine is a 34 year old veteran of the independent scene from Philadelphia who has worked for numerous promotions in the Eastern United States including CZW, IWA Mid-South, JCW, and multiple branches of the NWA. He’s also held singles and tag titles for PWU, WXW, and BWO.

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every weekend on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher, and give them a follow on Twitter @KOATpodcast.

Tell Me Again Why Women’s Wrestling Is No Good?

Women’s wrestling matches in the WWE were once called popcorn matches. It’s the match you got up and left to get popcorn and a drink or use the bathroom so you wouldn’t miss the next match. In all fairness, women’s wrestling in the WWE was, for a long time, not that great. It was exhibition, not wrestling, and thankfully, that era is over.

That said, the WWE is far behind the rest of the wrestling world when it comes to women’s wrestling. Women are in the main event more often than men. Women wrestle toe to toe with the men in many places. And some women, like Mickie Knuckles and Randi West, are consistently stealing the whole show wherever they go.

The clips below are from a PWF show two weeks ago. The ladies are currently “suspended” from the promotion due to what happens in the video below. Apparently, they picked the wrong car to mess with. It takes me back to one of the first indie shows I ever attended, when I saw Heidi Lovelace (Ruby Riot) and Jordynne Grace destroy each other in the parking lot during a “Falls Count Anywhere in Clark County” match at IWA Mid-South.

The clip does contain some language. Give it a look, and tell me you’d get up and go to the bathroom when these two ladies take the ring. I dare you.

Flips and Dives

Randy Orton is a 13 time world champion. He is one of the must under-appreciated workers of his time. He is also the owner of one of the best and most loved finishing maneuvers in wrestling history. Period.

Randy Orton is employed by the world’s largest wrestling promotion. They have millions of fans the world over, and yes, they put more butts in the seats than the guys in my area who work a 100 seat arena.

That doesn’t make one better than the other. They are different.

I used to be a WWE only fan. Then I discovered independent wrestling. I haven’t traded one for the other, but I get a completely different experience at an indy show with 100 people than I do at a WWE show.

Independent wrestling is more interactive. The wrestlers can hear you and will always respond. They are not curtailed by the needs of a TV schedule or protocol set in the back.

At most shows, the independent wrestlers have a lot more freedom to move out and into the crowd as well. You don’t doze off staring at a jumbotron on the other side of the arena; if you’re not paying attention, you could end up collateral damage.

Independent wrestling also gives you more bang for your buck. I’ve said it many times, you can walk out of an indy show with a ticket and two T-shirts for less than the price of a cheap seat at a WWE show. Yes, independent wrestling can be a mixed bag, but with a little research you can find out who’s hot, who’s not, and who is can’t miss.

And contrary to popular belief, you will even find some workers who know how to slow down, work a body part, and tell a story.

The WWE gives fans an experience no independent can reproduce. It is a spectacle on a scale the old territories never dreamed of presenting. The independents offer an experience the WWE can’t and won’t give their fans. It is a throwback to what made wrestling great in the first place.

With all due respect to those who have never experienced the indies, there’s something for everyone in pro wrestling, and for those who have discovered the joy of flips and dives in a 150 seat Armory, there’s nothing in the world that compares. Not even the WWE.

It’s not better; it’s different. And that’s okay.

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