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Heel Kick! Indy Wrestling Movie Needs Your Support

Independent film is something near and dear to my heart. Before I began writing about wrestling, I was heavily involved in indy film. So I was very excited when I ran across a plea for help from the producer of an independent film titled “Heel Kick!”

“Heel Kick!” is a labor of love written, co-starring, and co-directed by Danny Mac of Vancouver, British Columbia. Mac shared some information about himself and the movie with me in the hopes that some wrestling and indy film fans will jump in and support the film through the GoFundMe campaign he currently has running.

Watch the trailer below, then stick around to read more.

ESW: Tell me about yourself. When did you get into wrestling, and have you ever been involved in the business?

Danny Mac: I got into wrestling as a fan around the mid-90s, right before Bret Got Screwed and the Attitude Era was about to explode. I grew out of it, as some do, a few years later, but my fascination with the behind-the-scenes aspect of the business never died. I would always read a wrestler’s autobiography, or an article on what had happened backstage after a PPV. So I became this sort of mechanical fan, if you will– someone not interested in the final product as much as the way it was all put together. The interest I had in the inner-workings of the business end of pro wrestling continued even when I began studying acting and screenwriting. It was such a unique subset of an already unique sub-genre. One day, as I was thinking of an idea for my next film, the old expression “write what you know” came to mind, and for better or worse, one of the things I felt like I knew was the wrestling business… Or so I thought at the time, anyway.

I only entered the pro wrestling business officially when I started shooting a film about it. As I wrote Heel Kick!, it was obvious that some significant training was going to be needed to tell this story in a way that wouldn’t disrespect pro wrestling fans. So I placed myself and my costar, Chris Wilcox, in a 6 month training program with ECCW, a prominent wrestling promotion in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t easy, but we eventually gained some confidence in the ring. And before I knew it, I was spending just as much time wrestling as I was making the film. They were intrinsically tied; the success of one directly effecting the success of the other. It was a challenging year, but once I was able to step away from the wrestling side and focus on the film, things got easier. So my “career” in professional wrestling didn’t last long, but it certainly made an impact (pun… let’s say, intended).

ESW: How did the idea for Heel Kick come about?

Danny Mac: The idea for the film came from a few different places. Like I mentioned, simply having an interest in the business was the first deciding factor. But I also had an older cousin that seriously wanted to pursue professional wrestling. And we all thought he was going to make it as well– about 6’3″, incredibly fit, well-spoken, he was the exact kind of guy you’d expect to eventually see on Monday Night Raw. So he left to train at the Lance Storm Academy in Calgary… then quit after a week. We were shocked, as this was something he not only seemed tailor-made for, but had been planning his entire life. He never spoke too deeply on why he left, simply saying that he discovered it wasn’t for him. But I couldn’t help but think that if this guy, 6’3″, 220, creative and intelligent, if he couldn’t make it work, just imagine how tough it must be for some of the other guys in training.

Lastly, as an independent filmmaker with limited resources, you always have to ask yourself, “How can I add production value to a micro-budget film?” Would I jump off a ladder? Get hit with a folding chair? Allow myself to be beaten by professional wrestlers? I wrote down a hit-list of everything we could inflict upon ourselves and divvied it up between the two main characters. And so the stage for Heel Kick! was set.

ESW: Can you give me a quick story pitch?

Danny Mac: The story is about two backyard wrestlers that, after years of procrastinating, decide to finally get training and go pro. The only problem is… they suck.

ESW: Who is in the movie? Any faces people would (or should!) know from the wrestling business?

Danny Mac: Like Spinal Tap or the legendary Canadian mock-doc, FUBAR, we wanted to keep this movie as intimate and believable as possible. Because of that, it benefited us to leave out major names from the world of wrestling. However, people may recognize Impact Wrestling’s Laurel Van Ness, IFBB Pro Body Builder, Ron Partlow, or YouTube Star, Greg Miller in the film (Greg is also our co-producer on Heel Kick!). Beyond that, the stars of the hyper-talented ECCW roster appear throughout the film, with Scotty Mac and Ravenous Randy playing integral parts, on and off camera. In regards to actors in the film, it’s filled with up-and-coming talent that you’ll be a seeing a lot more of, on screens both big and small.

ESW: What will the gofundme dollars allow you to do?

Danny Mac: We’ve begun a brief but aggressive GoFundMe campaign to help us get Heel Kick! out of the gates and into some theaters across North America. We tried to avoid crowdfunding, but the costs at the end really piled up fast, and as we spent extra time making sure the edit was perfect, our budget got away from us. That said, the campaign for this project is unique in that the film is already shot and, if we reach our goal, only months away from being released. Anyone close to the world of indie film can attest that most crowdfunding efforts are to raise funds for initial production, oftentimes without a script even in place. In our case, if you’re able to contribute anything, you will be able to see the results of your generosity this year, no question. In fact, we’re still adding the names of everyone who contributes to the end credits of our film. We need to lock picture soon, so if this sounds like a movie that interests you and you can toss the campaign a couple bucks, we’d love to thank you publicly. That said, anything you give before late-February will directly result in the film getting closer to a theatrical tour, as well as placement on VOD services.

ESW: If all is successful, when do you expect to release the movie?

Danny Mac: If all goes well, we will be able to announce not only our World Premiere location and dates, but followup cities and pre-order opportunities on iTunes and the like. If our goal is reached, all of this is right around the corner, as early as March or April of this year! Like I said, our film is done, it’s just a few outstanding costs preventing us from hitting your screens.

ESW: Anything else to add?

Danny Mac: We’re looking to partner up with indie-wrestling promotions around Canada and the US for each city we screen in, and I will personally fly down to attend every screening, followed by a Q&A, and a meet-and-greet/afterparty for each show. Assuming there’s enough interest, we’d like to hit anywhere from 8-20 cities, so if you think you and your friends would like a screening and could fill a theater– let us know! We’d love you to find us online and be a part of this film’s release. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, and Instagram, so we can keep you in the loop and hear what you have to say. And of course, we’re still searching for some angels out there to help us hit our crowdfunding goal, so go ahead, make our day.

Over 3 years in the making… We can’t wait for you all to see the film!

Please visit the GoFundMe page for Heel Kick! to donate now.

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Tyson Dux Is Far From Done

If you’ve been following the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE network, you saw the outstanding match last week between Zach Sabre, Jr., and Canada’s Tyson Dux. Dux was one of the featured wrestlers in my 2014 book, Eat Sleep Wrestle. Dux is no stranger to the WWE, and he was once hours away from signing with the WWE when an injury took his dream away.

Dux is now 38, and Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan kept telling viewers that this was his “last chance” to fulfill his dream. Zach Sabre, Jr., may have picked up the win, but Dux proved he is far from done with this business.

” I’m very proud of that match,” says Dux, who is quick to dismiss any talk about last chances. “I have lots of fuel left in my tank.”

When Dux heard about the Cruiserweight Challenge, he immediately reached out to an old acquaintance, William Regal. Dux was once a regular enhancement talent for the WWE, and he was hopeful they had not forgotten him. “[Regal] got back to me saying send my stuff immediately. The rest played out the way it did.”

Dux says being back with the WWE was like coming home, and the WWE did their best to make the international roster feel welcome. “All 32 of us were treated like stars. Absolutely no complaints.”

Dux has high hopes for the future, and he’s hopeful that future includes a return to Orlando. “My goal is NXT, to be a part of the roster, and after a few years, transition into coaching. Only time will tell.”

Fans can see more of Dux on the independent scene. Dux can be found @tysondux on Instagram and Twitter, and he keeps both pages regularly updated with his schedule.

And if you haven’t seen it already, be sure to catch his bout with Zach Sabre, Jr., on the WWE Network.

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KO and Prince Pretty Need Your Help

Actually, the people of Alberta need help. Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze are just providing a way for you to do just that. Here’s the pitch from the GoFundMe page to help the fire victims in Alberta:

“Last week, the community of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, was ravaged by a forest fire that still rages on as I type this. Thousands of people lost their homes and everything they owned and had to be evacuated. A few even lost their lives.

“As I watched the footage on the news, I decided I wanted to try and help. It turns out I wasn’t the only one thinking that because fellow Canadian Tyler Breeze was also trying to figure out how to help these people.

“So today, we come togeher in hopes of being able to raise money to help the victims of the fire get back on their feet. All the proceeds from this campaign will go to the Canadian Red Cross. Once the campaing ends, we will post a screencap of the donation on Twitter to prove that all the money donated went exactly where it belongs.

“Today, Tyler and I are each donating $100 to start things off. Everyone who matches our individual donations ($100) will get a personal video message from Tyler and I. Just include your e-mail address with the donation.

“Everyone who gives anything at all will get a follow on Twitter from both of us as a thank you. Just include your Twitter handle with your donation.”

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page and donate now. Thanks!

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The Roppungi Rockstar

1931260_964646446946155_2946787253540033552_nThe beautiful thing about the wrestling business is no matter where you are from or who you were, you can become just about anything you want to be. Such is the case with Kaitlin Diemond, a girl from Canada who is not only a wrestler, but a rock star in Japan!

Kaitlin grew up watching wrestling during the Attitude Era. She had a special place in her heart for fellow Canadians Chris Jericho and Trish Stratus, but in her words, “Everyone was so good back then!” She was hooked, and when she had the chance, she started training with Irish Mike O’Shea in Ontario. “I never attended a wrestling school like most people,” she says, though she is always looking for opportunities to learn. “I had the chance to train in the AAA gym in Mexico City and the Zero 1 Dojo in Japan.”

Kaitlin never felt the need to put on an alter ego in the ring. “I’ve always just kind of been myself. I never felt the need to conform because I felt my persona is genuine and the people can feel that.” Kaitlin is a huge fan of karaoke, and that is what led to her call herself the Roppungi Rockstar. “I had the amazing opportunity to record a song and even perform some concerts in Japan. I’m still me, but it’s a fresher take on who I’ve become recently.”

Kaitlin has has many memorable matches in her career, including an encounter with two of the Attitude Era’s fiercest ladies when she wrestled Ivory at age seventeen. “Molly Holly was the special guest referee. It always will be a special moment for me, as I look up to both ladies hugely.”

Another unforgettable moment happened during her recent tour with Zero 1. “My first time wrestling at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo earlier this year is probably the most chills I have ever felt.”

Kaitlin credits her time with Zero 1 with helping her take her talents to the next level. “Japan changed my life completely. The training there is INSANE. So regardless if I look the same/better/worse I can promise you I’m in much better shape as far as conditioning goes. I’ve come back with a much more Japanese strong style of offense. I wrestle more like a monster now and less like everyone else. You may also fall victim to my secret weapon: Sake!”

Kaitlin is hoping to make a name for herself in North America, and she has er sights set on Shimmer, TNA, ROH, and WWE, for whom she has already had a few tryouts. “Are those goals realistic? Who knows? If I am not in any of those places in five years time, I really hope that I am continuing to travel to Japan. Stardom was a huge goal achieved for me this year, and I would love to make it my second home.”

Kaitlin is constantly on the move, visiting new promotions and old, but fans can follow her on Twitter @kaitlindiemond as well as Facebook for updates on her schedule.

Thanks to Austin Bradley for the hook up on the interview!

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Chris Hero is going to kick ALS

How long can Chris Hero wrestle?

Long ago, Hero had an epic battle with CM Punk that lasted 43 minutes. They followed that up with a 93 minute war that still has people talking. But can he go two hours? Three hours? Fans in Canada may soon find out!

The independent wrestling superstar has accepted a challenge from Smash Wrestling, and it’s for a good cause. They’re doing a fundraiser for ALS research in Canada, and it’s up to the fans just how long Hero will wrestle on July 7 in Etobicoke.

If the fans raise $500 (Canadian dollars), he’ll go 30 minutes. If they raise $1000, he’ll do an hour. If they hit $1500 he’ll do 90 minutes, $2000 he’ll work two hours, and so on, and so on.

In the early days of wrestling, it was not uncommon for men like Farmer Burns, Duncan C. Ross, and William Muldoon to wrestle for hours on end, into the wee hours of the morning. It’s unheard of in the modern era, but it’s been done before.

Hero’s gone some amazing distances in the past. This time he’s doing it not for fame and glory, not for nostalgia’s sake, but for a good cause.

Please go to Smash Wrestling’s website and donate to Chris Hero’s ALS Gauntlet Challenge!