Best of 2016 with The Carnies

There may not be a hotter faction heading into 2017 than The Carnies. Kerry Awful and Nick Iggy, the tag team formerly known as Team IOU, took the bold and brave step to embrace who they truly believe they are and change their name. It hasn’t hurt their stock one bit; if anything, it’s given them the momentum to take 2017 by storm.

The Carnies are poised to go to war with some of the best of the best this year. Folks like me are already coming up with dream matches. Carnies vs. Indy Card Mafia. Carnies vs. OI4K. These are old school-minded rasslers who live the heel life at every opportunity, making kids cry and eliciting genuine hatred from the fans. They’re exactly the kind of wrestler the independent scene needs to continue the modern indy revolution.

Kerry Awful asked me to share this match from their 2016 campaign at AWE vs. the Kraken, aka Chip Day and Murder One. Watch, enjoy, and start making your list of dream tag matches now.

The Impeccable Keita Murray

12963468_10209152865241000_6206361431596577154_nAs the independent wrestling scene continues its resurgence, young men and women are finding more and more opportunities to test their mettle in the ring. Everyone of them dreams of breaking out as a national star, whether it be through the WWE and NXT or just their own perseverance. Recently, the Indy Card Mafia brought one such wrestler to my attention. He’s young, he’s hungry, and he’s shown he has the drive to become a star.

Keita Murray is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Like most wrestlers, he grew up a fan, following the exploits of The Rock, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and Matt Hardy. At an early age, he and his friends were creating their own wrestling rings and title belts and practicing for their future glory. “My friends and I would wrestle each other and act like different WWE Superstars. We would get cardboard boxes, crayons, aluminum foil and make belts out of them.”

Keita’s passion for the business galvanized when he met his tag partner, Kit Cassidy. “We met in high school and funny story, we didn’t like each other at first. Then we found out that we shared a common interest of wrestling. I was a senior in high school he was a junior, and ever since then we have been best friends.

After giving college a chance, Keita enrolled at Back Breaker’s Training Center in Scranton, PA. “It’s such a great school to learn from. You learn a lot and you have a lot of opportunities there.”

Kit enrolled at Back Breakers with his best friend, and the two graduated together. Their first official match was a one on one affair between the two, but they have since united as a tag team known as The Impeccables. They currently hold two tag titles for Phoenix Pro Wrestling and Pennsylvania Premier Wrestling, and Murray recently won the Spotlight Championship at The Sanctuary Stunt Studio.

Keita has only been in the business a few years, but he’s had a number of memorable matches. He cites the Cash Masters as favorite tag opponents, along with fellow Back Breaker wrestlers Dante Dio and Jacoby Riddick. His favorite singles opponents thus far include Stevie Shields, Marq Queen, and Kyle Brad, whom he faced at WOH Wrestling. “I want to say the Kyle Brad match was my best because I had about eleven matches under my belt at the time and it was my second time being heel. It just seemed like everything fell in place for that match, and that’s the match that elevated my confidence in the ring.”

Keita work mostly in Pennsylvania, doing appearances for GSW Wrestling in Moosic, PA; PPW Wrestling and The Sanctuary Stunt Studio in Hazleton, PA; T.R.U.E. Wrestling in Berwick, PA; Pheonix Pro Wrestling in Altoona, PA; and Back Breakers Training Center in Scranton. His success in those markets, coupled with connections made at various shows, have afforded him a chance to travel to illinois in May. In June, he’ll make his debut for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling, thanks to a partnership between GFW and Back Breakers. Like most young stars, he has aspirations of climbing even higher.

“In five to ten years. I either hope to be in WWE or NXT. If I don’t make it that far, I want to be one of those independent guys whom everyone knows not from WWE or TNA but because of my hard work. I would also love to have said by that time that I traveled different countries to wrestle. I really would love to go overseas and learn the different art forms of wrestling all over the world.”

You can follow Keita on Facebook or on Twitter.

Miss a week, miss a lot

esw coverIf you miss a week of wrestling in Louisville, you miss a lot!

While I was off enjoying a family vacation in D.C., Mitchell Hull won the OVW TV title. Mitchell was just getting back into the business when I interviewed him for Eat Sleep Wrestle in the summer of 2014. Looks like he’s well on his way to making a name for himself in the business.

Not only did Mitch win gold, but Aaron Williams, who is on the cover of the same book, won the Rockstar Pro Wrestling tag belts with Jake Crist in Dayton. These two are as talented a tag team as you’ll find anywhere in the indies and a must-see if they’re on the card.

Then Friday night brought two more surprises at the IWA Mid-South 19th anniversary show. After announcing the Headbangers had dropped out of the show earlier in the week, Ian Rotten surprised the fans by bringing in former WWE star Simon Dean (aka Super Nova of the BWO) and IWA Mid-South legend Chris Hero. Then Reed Bentley (another Eat Sleep Wrestle talent) capped the night by winning the IWA Mid-South world championship, snatching the title away from newly crowned champ John Wayne Murdoch.

For those counting, that’s three stars from Eat Sleep Wrestle winning gold last week.

This Wednesday, OVW is taping television in Louisville and Rockstar Pro is doing the same in Dayton. Pro Wrestling Grind in Jeffersonville has Rhyno coming in for a show at the Arena Friday, and IWA is running a benefit for IWA-MS original Mitch Page the same night.

And oh yeah, Chikara is coming to Jeffersonville October 24.

It’s a great time to be a fan of wrestling, especially here in the Midwest.

Meet the Indy Card Mafia

Last December I was selling books at a local show during intermission. A shadowy, hooded figure approached the table and quietly asked to buy a few books. I looked up and recognized him as Eric Emanon, the man who had just been in the ring, inciting the anger of the locals and drawing heat with his tag team partner, Xavier Fate.

Eric is one of many wrestlers profiled in Eat Sleep Wrestle, a book that’s become a time capsule about the world of independent wrestling. Since it’s printing, all of the featured wrestlers have faced different challenges and found new opportunities. For Emanon, opportunity came in the form of a tag team known as the Indy Card Mafia.

Emanon’s partner is Xavier Fate, a 25 year old thrilled to be living his dream as a professional wrestler. Fate trained at Chikara Wrestle Factory, and he credits wrestling with saving his life.

“I was struggling with depression, a battle I still have, and came across an open tryout at the Wrestle Factory, a seminar hosted by Claudio Castagnoli (now WWE’s Cesaro). Even though I wasn’t selected to win a scholarship, it made me realize how much I loved professional wrestling. I scraped whatever money I had and went south to Philly.”

It was during a show in Buffalo, New York that Emanon and Fate discovered they had a lot in common. “We started talking and realized we had a lot in common with our goals and what we wanted to do with our lives and careers,” says Emanon. “Next thing you know, we got the opportunity to team up and we’ve been kicking people’s heads off ever since!”

“We Came As Bromans, before we were the Indy Card Mafia,” says Fate. “I’m actually really glad that never panned out.”

Emanon calls Fate his best friend, and that friendship has translated into a strong partnership in the ring. Indy Card Mafia can match any style in the ring. They fan fly through the air and they can work the mat. They try their hardest to avoid tag team cliches, and they are always improvising, trying to find new ways to electrify the crowd with their team work.

Both Fate and Emanon are in-demand as singles wrestlers, but the two know they have something special as a tag team. They are good friends, and they both have similar goals: to travel the world together, and to make a splash one day in the WWE.

“I want to work for the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, with some of the top talent in the world, on the biggest stage of them all,” says Emanon. “If that’s NOT your goal, why do you lace up your boots every weekend?”

Indy Card Mafia is certainly on the rise. They captured their first title, the OSPW Tag Team Championship, in August. Just last week they topped the Indy Power Rankings after being unranked the previous week.

Regardless how far up the ladder they go, both Fate and Emanon hope to make it together. “The Indy Card Mafia isn’t just a brand; it’s family. It’s something Eric and I have built. Something Eric and I have grown. It’s our baby, and we want to make sure that it grows in the best possible way. The only direction we’re looking is up.”

CZW Anniversary Show Saturday night!

I cannot tell you how badly I want to see this.

Specifically, one match.

Jake and Dave Crist, aka Ohio Is 4 Killers (OI4K) are amazing. They are the best tag team you’ve never heard of. They are aerial daredevils and and incredibly creative performers. And oh yeah, those CZW tag belts? That’s not the only tag team gold they currently hold. Not even close.

As for the Young Bucks… well, if you’re not an indy fan, I can forgive you’re not having heard of them. They are the masters of the Super Kick. They are two guys, brothers, making a darn good living in professional wrestling with no help whatsoever from Stamford, CT, thank you.

This match will be worth the price of the iPPV alone.

No, this is not a paid endorsement. This is me telling you that if you want to see some really great tag team action, you need to watch this match.

Click on the poster or go to www.streamczw.com to pre-order the show. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be in the Philly area, get to the ECW arena Saturday night.