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What You’re Missing

Friday night I attended a Pro Wrestling Freedom wrestling show in Jeffersonville, Indiana, featuring some of the best talent in the Midwest and Southeast. It was an outstanding show featuring several stellar matches including Chase Owens vs. Matt Cage and Chip Day vs. Gary Jay as well as the much anticipated return of fan favorite Hy Zaya.

About fourteen miles up the road in Memphis, a highly anticipated main event capped off a last-minute show arranged by IWA Mid-South. Sami Callihan and Arik Cannon did battle with OI4K’s Dave and Jake Crist in a tag team match that lasted twenty minutes and ranged all over the arena at the Memphis Flea Market. The crowd was smaller than the normal IWA Mid-South Show, but Nick Maniwa tells me the show was outstanding from top to bottom, a must-see when it is released on High Spots in a few weeks.

This is not a blog to tell you that one drew more than the other. I’m also not concerned with two promoters running shows with top talent so close to one another on the same night. What’s sad is that only about 200 wrestling fans in Southern Indiana and Louisville bothered to come out and see a live wrestling show Friday night in a town that used to draw 6000 to the Gardens every week.

If you are only watching WWE on Mondays and Tuesdays, you are missing out. Promotions like PWF and IWA Mid-South are the launching pad for stars headed to the WWE, but they are also the place where you can see some incredibly talented wrestlers do battle weekly and/or monthly LIVE and in person.

It’s not just about supporting independent wrestling or the future of wrestling. It’s about experiencing LIVE wrestling. It’s about being in a place big enough to have a big fight feel but small enough to where the heels can hear you AND engage with you. Rusev is not going to take the time to argue and banter with the guy in the second row. He can’t hear him for one thing, and he’s not allowed to for another. Fans at the PWF show not only saw Cage and Owens put on a stellar match, they engaged with them verbally throughout the show. The same interaction happens at IWA every week, and every other indy show I’ve ever attended.

Promotions like PWF and IWA Mid-South are all over. No matter where you go in the USA and Canada, there are wrestling companies running shows in your own backyard. And if you love guys like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Kevin Owens, you’re going to love Chase Owens, Gary Jay, and OI4K.

The WWE has a lot independent wrestling can’t replicate, but independent wrestling has just as much to offer the WWE can’t and won’t even try to give you, and at a way better price point.

No more excuses. It’s time to give independent wrestling a try.

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Best of 2016 with Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams calls himself the Baddest Man Alive, and he backs it up every night in the ring. He had a banner year in 2016 that saw him expand into new territories and even make an extra appearance on TNA. He has a shot at the IWA Mid-South Championship this week in Clarksville Indiana, and with the new vacancies atop the indy ranks (thanks to continued signings by the WWE), he’s one to watch in 2017. Here’s Aaron’s pick for one of his favorite matches in 2016:

“One thing I wanted for sure in 2016 (among a lot. But this one I got) was a match with Sami Callihan. Sami is a world class competitor, and he is truly one of the best in the world. Testing myself against him was something I needed just for me, I think. Sami and I have grown in the business together and although our careers have taken different paths. I’ve always believed I could hang with not only him but the best wrestlers in the world. This match was special to me. Even more so after Sami spoke after the match. The match may have gone different then how I wanted, but I proved something to myself that I hope people will see in the coming year. I’m far from done killing it, and the #PlanetWilliamsTakeover has just begun!”

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Twenty Years of Doing It by Their Rules

There’s nothing in the world like an “IWA Mid-South Rules” match. That’s because in an IWA Mid-South Rules match, there are no rules. There’s no disqualifications, and falls count anywhere. And if you see the action coming your way, grab your stuff and get OUT of the way.

IWA Mid-South has been doing it their way for a long, long time. They’ve seen dozens of would-be competition come and go in that time. They’ve been chased out of buildings and entire states. The haters can keep on hating because this Thursday, IWA Mid-South will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Ian Rotten has booked a stellar line up in celebration of the milestone anniversary. There’s no flier online yet, but the line-up, care of IWA Mid South’s Facebook page, says all you need to know:

“Money” MATT CAGE vs “Knockout Artist” CHRIS HERO vs COLT “Boom Boom” CABANA

THE THREEJECTS (REED BENTLEY, JOHN WAYNE MURDOCH & NICK DEPP) & MARK WOLF take on TODD MORTON’s HANGMEN, DEREK NEAL & BULL PAIN

JJ GARRETT defends his IWA World Title against “The Wild Eyed Southern Boy” TRACY SMOTHERS

“Dangerous” DOUG GILBERT vs KONGO KONG

“Fight or Die” COLE RADRICK vs “Callihan Death Machine” SAMI CALLIHAN

4 WAY TAG MATCH: SAGE PHILIPS & TEDDY KING vs THE BROTHERHOOD (BROTHER REED & MICKEY MUSCLES) vs BOMB SHELTER (ZODIAK & JOSEPH SCHWARTZ) vs NVD (HY-ZAYA & SHANE MERCER)

RAM JAM vs ZACH GOWEN

LOSER LEAVES IWA: “Nasty” NATE CROSS w/ DAHLIA vs JC ROTTEN w/ TORI

20th ANNIVERSARY IWA RUMBLE! 2 competitors start, every minute another competitor enters the ring!

DIRTY DUTCH MANTEL is also scheduled to appear!

The show will be at Jammerz Roller Rink in Clarksville, Indiana on Thursday, October 6. First and second row seat holders get early admission at 5:30 PM for a Meet and Greet. Doors open at 6:45 with bell time at 7:30.

Tickets are $30 for first row, $25 for second row, $20 for general admission. Kids 13 and under are $15.

Contact Misty at BestMistyEVER@gmail.com to order tickets.

Congratulations to Ian and the amazing crew who have kept this Kentuckiana tradition going for two decades!

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Kyle Maverick: Rockstar on the Rise

Dayton, Ohio has one of the hottest independent wrestling scenes today. The crew at Rockstar Pro Wrestling run six or seven shows a month, and just as iron sharpens iron, the talented workers at Rockstar keep making one another better.

Kyle Maverick is a main stay at Rockstar Pro, a deep roster that includes DJ Hyde, Sami Callihan, Ron Mathis, Aaron Williams, and the Crist brothers. Billed from Lexington, Kentucky, Maverick grew up idolizing Bret Hart, Koko B. Ware, Jushin Lyger, Randy Savage, and Lance Storm. He began his professional wrestling training with Chris Hero. He later trained with DJ Hyde, Drew Gulak, and Sami Callihan at the CZW Dojo and currently works out with Dave Crist at Rockstar Pro. Maverick was also a successful MMA fighter with a 9-2 record and holds a black belt in Kyokushin Karate.

Maverick counts Sami Callihan, Davey Richards, ACH, Tracy Smothers, Matt Tremont, Dave and Jake Crist as some of his favorite opponents. He’s also proud of the fact that he was once hit by Al Snow with Head. His reputation in the ring has opened many doors for him, but its his character outside the ring that stands out most to one of his bosses.

“Kyle Maverick and I are brothers,” says Rick Brady, who runs D1W in Southern Indiana. “We rode many hours on the road together, and he is one of the few people I trust in this business. He worked his ass off to get D1W on it’s feet. He helped me make a lot of connections to a ton of talent and I am grateful to him for that.”

Maverick only has one title belt win to his credit, the Rockstar Pro Luchacore championship, but it’s only a matter of time before this talented singles and tag competitor adds to that list. “I think the sky is the limit, as long as he continues to work hard and listen to them Ohio guys. They seem to know what they are doing. I love him and wish nothing but the best for him.”

Indy wrestling cans can find Kyle on Facebook, on Twitter @thekylemaverick and on Instagram @thekylemaverick.

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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.

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Jake Crist Says Goodbye

Earlier this week in my post about Sami Callihan, I made the comment there were dozens of others like Sami working hard on the independent circuit keeping indy wrestling alive. Friday night, one of those hard workers steps into the ring with Sami Callihan for one last match in front of the Rockstar Pro Wrestling crowd in Dayton, Ohio.

Jake Crist is one of the reasons I fell in love with indy wrestling. He’s a twelve year veteran who has traveled the world, working for Heartland Wrestling Association, Juggalo Championshop Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Big Japan Pro Wrestling, and many more. He and his brother Dave collected tag team championship belts at numerous promotions as the Irish Airborne and Ohio Is For Killers. Most recently, he paired with Aaron Williams to form the team Baddest Killers Alive and won the Rockstar Pro tag team championship.

Jake and his wife, former women’s wrestler Neveah, just welcomed their second child, and Jake has decided it’s time to hang up the boots. He has a few more bookings later this month, but Friday will be a very special night in Dayton.

Jake has been a fan favorite and an inspirational leader to many of the younger wrestlers in locker rooms across the Midwest. He will be missed, but his impact in the ring will be felt for a long time.

If you want to see Jake at his very best, I strongly recommend getting the CZW 16th Anniversary Show. The Crist brothers defended their tag team titles that night against the Young Bucks in one of the very best matches I have seen all year.

Thank you, Jake, for everything. Best of luck in the future, and enjoy your time with your family.

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The Return of Sami Callihan

Let’s get one thing straight, WWE marks: Solomon Crowe did not leave NXT. Sami Callihan went home.

I don’t know Sami personally, nor do I know the details of his leaving NXT. I can however assure you that NXT’s loss is the independent scene’s gain.

Sami brings name value to the indy shows he will wrestle in the near future thanks to his recent run with NXT, and that’s great. But for every guy like Sami who gets a shot at the WWE Performance Center, there are dozens putting their bodies on the line in warehouses and gymnasiums and arenas who keep being overlooked.

I don’t say that to demean Sami or anything he has accomplished. That’s a testament to the strength of the current indy wrestling scene.

Not every promotion is equal, but there are more than enough good promotions and good wrestlers out there that you can find one near you that will give you far more bang for your buck than a WWE live event.

If you enjoyed Sami in NXT, go support him when he comes to your town. Be on the look out for other hard working guys like Tim Donst (who beat cancer this year) and Chris Hero (who wrestled over 3 house straight for charity). Check out the Indy Card Mafia, Aaron Williams, Tyson Dux, Mitchell Huff, Marc Hauss, Dash Sullivan, and Daniel Eads.

If you’re a fan of the NXT ladies, annoyed that Sasha Banks has hardly set foot in a ring since her call up, you’re really in luck. The indy women’s scene is booming. Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants, is out there, but she’s only the tip of the iceberg. Mary Elizabeth Monroe, Tessa Blanchard, Havok, LuFisto, Crazy Mary Dobson, and Heidi Lovelace are just a handful of the women who are a threat to steal the show any time they are booked.

It’s almost December. It’s dark outside before 6 pm, and it’s too cold to be outside. This is a great month to go out and see some live wrestling. Support the indy stars by buying a ticket. Get a DVD or a T-shirt for someone on you Christmas list, and buy direct from one of the wrestlers. That way you’re putting some Christmas money in their pocket as well.

Sami Callihan’s best days are not behind him. The indy scene is the future, and the men and women of the indies need our support.