Tagged in: jerry lynn

Dillinger is a Dangerous Man

12933098_1025587454178766_7331987619498914413_nI first saw the man known as Drew Dillinger when he was training with Mitchell Huff under the watchful eye of Apollo Garvin. He was a big guy, and he didn’t have a trim, athletic physique, but even at that early state, he was surprisingly athletic. As he worked a match with Huff, I could see an intensity in his eyes, a determination to prove to himself and all watching that he belonged in the ring.

Time has proven that impression true. Dillinger came into his own as a member of Southern Indiana’s UWA promotion, and after a brief injury hiatus, he is now back with NWA Supreme. Dillinger is no longer a young man with something to prove. He’s a monster, a quick, agile, powerful wrestler with a hard-hitting style.

Being in the ring was a life-long dream for Dillinger, going back to the second grade. “I wanted to be on the stage. I wanted to suplex people like Angle and Benoit did. I wanted to chokeslam people like Kane. I wanted to be a larger than life character that was feared so much I was respected for it like Undertaker.”

After training with Apollo, Dillinger continued his schooling by attending seminars with Rhyno, Jerry Lynn, Tracy Smothers, Bill Dundee, and Tito Santana. Over time, he began to adopt a ring persona as dark as his heroes, Kane and the Undertaker.

“Drew Dillinger is literally just me, with no filter and the volume and intensity cranked to 11. There have been small tweaks to my presentation and in ring style every now and then to try and stay fresh and always have something new to bring to the table, but when I step through those ropes, I get to drop all of my professional and social filters and behaviors, and, hell I’ll admit it, drop my insecurities, and just be my self and actually have some fun.”

Dillinger’s career was sidetracked for a few months by an injury, but he learned some hard lessons while waiting to return. “I learned the cold hard truth that the show must go on. The business doesn’t owe anyone anything, and it waits for no one. I watched people I considered close friends fade away slowly but surely because I was no longer in the locker room. But it is nice that most of them bring truth to the saying that close friends are always there even if you don’t talk regularly. We don’t reach out often, but we’re there for each other, and as real as it gets with each other to this day.”

Dillinger has had a number of favorite matches with big names as well as the close friends who have come up with him. “I think the matches I remember enjoying the most while in the ring would be, my match with Rob Conway, a match with Kevin Lee Davidson, my last man standing match with Waffle, a bull rope match out in Madison, Indiana, and last but far from least, my knock out only, loser leaves town match with Matt Atreya. We made a huge statement that night.”

Dillinger cites the Undertaker as his dream match, a dream he admits will never likely see the light of day given where Taker is in his career. For now, he’s got his sights set on making a name for himself so he can one day work at Full Sail University. “My dream is to lock horns with the best of the best in NXT. I want to get to the cutting edge of wrestling today, and from where I’m sitting, NXT looks like the main big goal. The next few years look really bright for me, and I’m going to conquer every obstacle thrown at me.”

Dillinger can be found wrestling for NWA Supreme in Madison, Indiana weekly, and he will soon be on the roster with another Southern Indiana institution: IWA Mid-South. You can follow him on his Facebook page to learn more and contact him for bookings.

The Blackanese Assassin!

One of the stars coming to Jeffersonville for PWF on Friday night is the masked man called Menace. It was my privilege to interview Menace a while back for the book Eat Sleep Wrestle, and fans who come out to the Arena Saturday are in for a real treat.

Menace grew up watching Mid-Atlantic, NWA, WWF, and Georgia Championship Wrestling. From an early age he dreamed of becoming a wrestler himself, and during career day in high school, he listed his top two choices as “wrestler” and “Kindergarten teacher.” One could argue the skill set for either of those careers are somewhat interchangeable, but no one really took him seriously about the wrestling career.

Menace proved everyone wrong. he began training with Rick Connors in Knoxville, Tennessee after a friend of his girlfriend connected him. Connors didn’t have a ring, so Menace got his early education on the lawn in Connors’s backyard.

Menace has come a long way since those early days working for CZW, HWA, NWA Wildside, NWA Smoky Mountain, NWA Rocky Top, Ego Pro Wrestling, Coliseum Championship Wrestling, and more. He’s been in the ring with Jimmy Valiant, Dr. Tom Pritchard, Tracy Smothers, Vick the Bruiser, Jimmy Golden, Kid Cash, Jerry Lynn, Christopher Daniels, Rob Conway, “The Franchise” Shane Douglas, and Ricky Morton.

Menace is a high flier. He has a background in Kempo Ju-Jitsu and a great love for Japanese wrestling. Fans who have never seen him are in for a real treat.

Menace will appear with PWF Friday Night at The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana. You can follow him on Facebook.

Mitch Johnson is The Man

12717269_10205815297969136_714870595142457369_nMitch Johnson is one of the quietest guys in the locker room before a show. He’s well-dressed, he shakes hands with everyone, but if you saw him before the doors opened, you would never guess this seemingly shy individual will be the most hated man in the building before the evening ends.

When Johnson steps through the curtain, microphone in hand, Dr. Jeckyll transforms into Mr. Hyde. He’s loud, arrogant, and brash. He has the fans booing and screaming even before he eviscerates them and their hometown. Johnson talks the talk with the very best, and when the talking is done, he backs it up in the ring.

Mitch Johnson is a proud native of Detroit, Michigan who grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Sting, Ric Flair, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, and Chris Benoit. He trained initially with the legendary Rip Rogers, but just as he had many heroes, he credits many mentors with his success. “I’ve learned a lot from guys like Ron Conway, Al Snow, Nick Dinsmore, Jim Cornette, Danny Davis and Mike Mondo.”

Johnson has wrestled in 42 states, sharing the ring Rob Conway, Jerry Lynn, Necro Butcher, Rhyno, Eugene, Cliff Compton, Brad Maddox, and Tommy Dreamer. “I’ve also worked for WWE a few times and wrestled dark matches with guys like Fit Finley, Justin Gabriel, and Dolph Ziggler.”

“Mitch Johnson seems arrogant,” says his friend and former boss, Rick Brady of D1W. “He appears whiny, disrespectful, and at times lazy. But that is the furthest thing from the truth. When Christian Mascagni brought him to D1W, I thought he would be done in four shows. Over three years later, he has become one of the most professional, dependable and loyal people that you can count on.

Perhaps the best testament to Johnson’s success is his collection of title belts. Johnson has forced his way into the title picture for nearly every promotion he’s worked for, and he says he’s lost count how many he has won and lost. At the start of 2016 he was holding five belts. “The CPU heavyweight title, the undisputed title, HPW inter-gender tag team titles, the NWA Illinois state champion, and NWA Missouri State championship.

Johnson has been without a home promotion since D1W went on hiatus in early 2015, but Brady continues to sing Johnson’s praises. “I personally managed him and watched as his career took off firsthand. Fans hate him. Workers hate him. But that guy is living the dream, and earning every step. Promoters love him and there is a reason for that. As long as I run shows, he and Amanda will always have a spot.”

If Brady’s recommendation isn’t enough to potential promoters, then here’s one from me. Mitch is a must-see if he’s on the card in my area. He’s unflappable on the microphone, and he can hang with anyone in the ring. He’s a heat magnet with fans, an old school heel who can kick off a show with a bang or close it with a fury.

To paraphrase his preferred entrance music: he’s the man.

Mitch Johnson can be followed on Twitter @Johnsonera

The Ted Petty Invitational Returns

The rumors you’ve heard are true.

Yes, IWA Mid-South is hardcore.

Yes, the fans live for blood and gore.

Yes, they were so violent back in the 90s, they were kicked out of Kentucky.

But if you think IWA Mid-South is all blood and guts, think again.

This Friday, IWA Mid-South is resurrecting the “other” tournament it is famous for, the Ted Petty Invitational. The tournament began in 2000 as a showcase for the best technical wrestlers in the world, and in 2002, it was named in memory of Ted Petty.

If you’ve never heard of Ted Petty or the tournament that bears his name, here’s a look at the participants from the 2002 edition.

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Pictured in this photo: Christopher Daniels, Jimmy Rave, Matt Stryker, Colt Cabana, Spyder Nate Webb, “Sick” Nick Mondo, M-Dogg 20 (Matt Cross), AJ Styles, Ace Steel, Chris Hero, BJ Whitmer, Tarek the Great and CM Punk.

Not pictured: “All That” Matt Murphy, “Kamikaze” Ken Anderson & Super Dragon.

Other past participants include Nova, Mike Quackenbush, Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, Nigel McGuinness, Samoa Joe, Matt Sydal, Hallowicked, Kevin Owens, Delirious, Davey Richards, Ricochet, Low Ki, Tracy Smothers, and Sami Callihan.

Not enough name dropping for you? How about Sara Del Ray (the woman behind NXT’s Four Horsewomen), Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan?

Yes, IWA is hardcore, but it is much, much more than that.

Some of the IWA Mid-South faithful say this year may prove to be the best tournament ever. With names like Kongo Kong, Chris Hero, Reed Bentley, Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, and Masada on the card, they may be right.

The action kicks off Friday night at the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, Indiana. Click here to go to the event page for ticket information. 

You’re welcome.

For the love of Jerry Lynn

Sometimes wrestlers are babyfaces outside the ring. I’ve highlighted stories of a few on this blog. Sometimes, it’s the fans that step up to do something good for someone they care about.

It’s no secret that many professional wrestlers do what they do without the benefit of insurance. They’re in a high risk profession, and save for the few who can afford it (or get it through another job), most wrestlers do not have the resources for major medical treatment. When word got out about Jerry Lynn’s medical needs this week, friends and fans responded. Big time. What a way to say thank you for a lifetime of sacrifice in the ring.

Wrestlers don’t make a lot of money. Even in the WWE, many of the stars we love struggle to pay the bills. That’s why it’s so important to hit the gimmick tables during live shows to buy a DVD, a T-shirt, or an autograph. It means as much to them as it will to you. Maybe even more.

Click to visit Jerry’s GoFundMe page.