Great Article About Chinese Wrestling

I know Chinese wrestling is the focus of my other blog, but you’ve gotta check out this article from Discovering Wrestling about the Chinese wrestling scene. It’s well-researched and well-written; very in-depth. It’s a long one, but worth the time if you’re interested. I learned about a couple promotions I hadn’t heard of, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they produce and whether or not I can get my hands on it.

Props to Nuclear Convoy for doing the work and getting the story.


People say starting is always the hardest part of writing. Particularly when you have something the scope of this subject to cover. But I’ve found this subject has made it harder for me to stop writing. I first started writing about the nascent Chinese Pro-Wrestling scene in August of 2016, when I took some time […]

via #DiscoveringWrestling Presents – State of the Middle Kingdom: An exploration of the burgeoning Chinese Pro Wrestling Scene —


NWL: 29-Man Rumble for the NWL KC Title (December 8, 2017)

I was thinking about doing a long review of the CWF Mid-Atlantic Rumble from last fall, but it happened months ago, and so much in the CWF has changed since then that it just seems outdated. Fortunately, the NWL had their own rumble match just last month, and they recently put the video online. I think this is a good opportunity to look at a lot of the NWL talent and catch this blog up on the storylines that have been going on since I stopped reviewing them regularly.

This NWL Rumble is special because the NWL KC Championship is on the line. GM Matt Jackson was going to make the winner of the Rumble the #1 contender, but champion Dak Draper insisted he’d put the title up in the match itself. Then he proceeded to officially turn babyface and run down all of Jackson’s cronies. A brief, impromptu match with Jeremy Wyatt ultimately turned into a brawl between pretty much the whole roster as a teaser for what we have here.

This is my first time reviewing such a long match with so many participants. Just assume that if I don’t write much during certain parts, it means guys are just doing generic battle royal stuff. So here we go.

Entrant #1 – NWL KC Champion Dak Draper is the first and so-far only Kansas City Champion, winning the belt in the finals of a torunament back in April. He’s been an arrogant frat boy-type character, but he’s also been dominant. Unless I miss my guess, only two men have pinned him in the NWL, and they both did it in multi-man matches. He’s had issues with NWL owner Major Baisden, but he shockingly joined his team to battle Jackson’s in an elimination match that saw him come up on the losing end and Jackson take control of the NWL matchmaking department.

#2 – Michael Strider is part of Matt Jackson’s establishment as well as a founding member of The Foundation. He’s currently one half of the NWL Tag Team Champions with Ace Steel. He’s a grizzled local veteran. He and Dak slug it out, and Dak has the advantage until the next guy comes in.

#3 – Ace Steel is Strider’s partner and is best known as one of CM Punk’s trainers, so he’s a veteran, too. He and Strider double team Dak, but Dak is able to fight back without getting eliminated.

#4 – Leonel Howlett is also part of Team Jackson, is coming off a win over Jimmy Jacobs, and is possibly the best promo in the NWL. You may also see him and his brother pop up in a Future of Honor match on Ring of Honor’s YouTube channel from time to time. An ally of Strider and Steel, of course he joins in on the beating of the champion. But then we get a severe weather warning on the screen, and out comes our first surprise of the night…

#5 – Bolt Brady is the original persona of Blaine Meeks from his pre-NWL days. Meeks, a very well-toned nerd, was a big fan favorite in the NWL as Draper’s main foil. He lost to Dak in the title tournament, but he came back to pin him in a tag match. Draper put him out for many months after breaking his leg in a No DQ match. Now he’s back with a bleached mohawk, and he looks like he’s ready for revenge…but then he turns and eliminates all three heels, one by one, single-handedly!

Ace Steel, Leonel Howlett, and Michael Strider are eliminated.

Now he has Dak alone, and they start to jaw at each other.

#6 – Marco Howlett is Leonel’s brother (I think). He gets the advantage on Bolt and Dak, but they fight back (though not together). Marco does surprisingly well for himself against two top guys.

#7 – Rasheed Ali (“Privilege Personified”) is a Pitbull-looking record producer character and a partner of Niles Plonk and Everett Connors in Top Shelf. He gets to have a little flurry on Marco. Now we have four guys with no allegiances with one another, so they pair off.

#8 – JoJo Bravo is a short guy who had a match or two in Metro Pro. It looks like he had his first NWL match on this same card, and he’s an underdog babyface-type character. He takes down Bolt with a headscissors into a face plant, and then goes after others without much fanfare.

#9 – Fuego del Sol is a young high-flyer who’s been putting on fun matches but hasn’t won a whole lot. He’s had a bit of a mini feud going with Niles Plonk and Top Shelf. He flies in with a dropkick to two guy and avoids being eliminated by Bolt. JoJo Bravo, meanwhile, actually catches Dak with a crossbody.

#10 – Niles Plonk, resident wine snob (and unheralded good worker), comes out with butler Belvedere. Plonk goes after Dak and Fuego, but doesn’t stay on anyone long. Meanwhile, Fuego avoids elimination and decides to hug the ring post on the outside. He tells the fans not to let anyone know. Marco sees him but gets an eye poke. Fuego comes back in before the next entrant.

#11 – Jeremy Wyatt is the long-time king of Kansas City wrestling, holding belts in Metro Pro and Central States Wrestling. He’s never really gotten an NWL title shot, though. He’s the other founding member of The Foundation and aligned with Matt Jackson. He and Dak go right at it, but they’re quickly pulled apart.

#12 – Mav…no, wait, it’s Drew Gold, Maverick’s manager. He joined with Maverick back in the NWL STL days to help him with the St. Louis Championship. He’s a great mouthpiece. He comes out dressed as Maverick and does his whole entrance, but when he sees all the wrestlers standing against him, he tries to back out. They all beat on him, but no one manages to eliminate him.

#13 – Jack Foster will probably be the biggest guy in the match. He’s a hairy dude who likes to fight (he’s not really doing the “I am pro wrestling” gimmick anymore). He’s coming off a big feud with Jeremy Wyatt, and he was supposed to be in the previously-mentioned elimination match on Major Baisden’s team, but was taken out by the Howlett’s and Maddox. He comes in and takes down several guys before JoJo Bravo challenges him. He tosses Bravo, who lands on the apron. When he makes to springboard back in, Foster roars at him, so he just hops down and eliminates himself. He’s not messing with that after all.

JoJo Bravo is eliminated.

Foster grabs Rasheed Ali by the throat and puts him on the top rope, then headbutts him out to the floor.

Rasheed Ali is eliminated.

Foster tosses Drew Gold.

Drew Gold is eliminated.

Foster gets Jeremy Wyatt by the throat, but he’s distracted by the next entrant’s music.

#14 – Maddox debuted before the elimination match to take out Jack Foster. Since then, he’s been acting almost as a bodyguard for Matt Jackson. He’s about as tall as Foster and seems to have a larger pectoral area. He’s the third member of the Howletts, though I don’t think he’s a blood relative. He stares down Foster. Niles Plonk and Fuego del Sol try to attack them from behind, but they get tossed aside, and the big guys go at it, exchanging big boots and clotheslining each other down.

#15 – Mat Fitchett, one half of the Besties in the World with Davey Vega, has wrestled all over the country and probably the world. He and Davey were friends with Matt Jackson since long before the NWL, but after Jackson turned on them, they teased quitting. Ultimately, they chose to stick around and go after the tag titles held by The Foundation. He tees off on a few guys but get caught by Maddox. Jack Foster helps him, though, and they team up to send Maddox out.

Maddox is eliminated.

#16 – Christian Rose is “the absolute best at being the absolute worst.” He used to be Tommy Flagg in NWL STL, then joined with Matt Jackson’s #Anarchy group back before Jackson turned on the Besties. Since then, he’s just been a lowlife loner. He hits almost everyone with elbows, including Jack Foster, before seemingly being eliminated by accidentally stepping off the apron and onto the timekeeper’s table. The table falls, but Rose lands with one foot in the air. Since both feet haven’t touched the floor, he’s still in it. (If the table breaking was a botch, then credit to him for saving it and making a moment out of it.) He hops back in on one foot.

#17 – Thor Theriot had a great series of match with Jeremy Wyatt early in 2017, and has since been kind of gunning for a championship. There hasn’t been as much focus on him in a while, but he’s one of my favorites. He takes down a lot of people with running strikes and avoids being tossed by Foster.

#18 – Ken Dharma hasn’t been a focus of the NWL since his feud with Hans Ruger over who had the better body. Dharma is well-toned and incredibly flexible (he’s Matt Sydal’s brother). He’s also a staunch vegan and yoga enthusiast, so the crowd isn’t high on him. He and Thor Theriot pair off. Meanwhile, Niles plonks’ butler, Belvedere, gets ejected from ringside by the referees for constantly helping his employer avoid elimination.

#19 – Roscoe Leech is not a wrestler. He’s a manager with the Leech Talent Agency and most recently has been running the concession stands at shows. He’s been a lovable goof and a crowd favorite ever since hitting a stunner on manager/wrestler Buddy Shepherd. He crawls through the window of the concession stand and comes in through the crowd. He low blows Christian Rose and tries in vain to attack other guys. Then he hits a series of stunners, including one on Jack Foster. I can’t believe Foster sells for him.

#20 – Buddy Shepherd is like a TV preacher who preaches about the Buddy System instead of the Gospel. He was a babyface in St. Louis, but he’s always been heel in Kansas City. His Buddy System squad has been pretty empty of late, and he himself doesn’t wrestle a lot outside of comedy matches. Roscoe tries to stun him, but he gets out and muscles Roscoe onto the apron. He offers a handshake but then kicks Roscoe low, and Roscoe falls to the floor.

Roscoe Leech is eliminated.

#21 – Davey Vega is Mat Fitchett’s partner in the Besties in the World. He pulls the ring rope down as Buddy runs at him, and Buddy takes a tumble.

Buddy Shepherd is eliminated.

Davey kicks Bolt Brady in the head, and he and Fitchett hug. Niles plonk goes for the grape stomp on Fuego del Sol, but the Besties dump him out from behind.

Niles Plonk is eliminated. Fans do the “Na na na na…” chant to him.

Ken Dharm’a flexibility prevents him from being lifted by Fuego del Sol. The Besties clothesline former ally Christian Rose out.

Christian Rose is eliminated.

#22 – Maverick is out for real this time. He’s a hoss, and aside from Drew Gold, he has no friends  He turned heel at the end of the NWL STL’s run and became St. Louis Champion thanks to Drew Gold. He only recently lost that title to Gary Jay in a match that has never been shown for whatever reason. He hits power moves on a number of guys before Jack Foster slugs it out with him.

#23 – Cody Summers is new, and this is apparently his first appearance in a televised match. I know nothing about him. I’m guessing he’s a graduate of the NWL Training and Performance Center? He hits a nice slingshot cutter. Meanwhile, Davey Vega suplexes Marco Howlett out.

Marco Howlett is eliminated.

#24 – Mike Outlaw used to be Dez Wellston. Then NWL STL died, and he went back to his old name. He was associated with Matt Jackson until Jackson turned on the Besties. Then he turned face. Aside from being at odds with Jackson, he hasn’t really had a specific program. He fights for a second with Marco on the floor before going in. Jack Foster tries to toss him, but he skins the cat. Somewhere during his entrance, Mat Fitchett is thrown out.

Mat Fitchett is eliminated.

#25 – Thomas Shire is another guy I know nothing about. He’s tall and blonde, and the announcers say he was trained by Dory Funk Jr. He hits Dak Draper with a sort of DVD, so he must be pretty strong.

#26 – Shane Sanders (“The Blue Collar Brawler”) was once one of the orange shirt staff members who often took beatings from guys like the Howletts. Now he’s got ring gear and babyface fire. He’s pretty tall, and I’m almost positive he comes from the NWL’s Training and Performance Center. He doesn’t make much of an impact until Thomas Shire and Cody Summers have a three-way new guy fight with him.

#27 – Anthony Gutierrez, commonly referred to as “Sharkbait,” is a former MMA fighter who was on The Ultimate Fighter once upon a time. He’s not very big, but he’s been doing well mixing his MMA strikes and holds with high-flying moves. He had a little feud with Michael Strider and company, and he’s recently been teaming with Jet Royal as Friendship Team 9000 while Jax Royal is injured. He comes in kicking and actually gets some offense in of Maverick without getting flattened. A few moments later, Maverick picks up Fuego del Sol and plows into Cody Summers, sending him out. Then he presses Fuego onto him.

Cody Summers and Fuego del Sol are eliminated.

Gutierrez kicks at Maverick’s leg and seems to do damage.

#28 – Jet Royal, one half of the Royal Blood with twin brother Jax, has still mostly focused on tag team action since his brother was injured. His athleticism and local roots have made him a big fan favorite. He gets big air coming in with a crossbody on Jeremy Wyatt. He spikes Bolt Brady with a Canadian destroyer-esque DDT he calls “Jet Lag” and knocks Jack Foster with a dropkick. Soon, Mike Outlaw hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Ken Dharma and flings him.

Ken Dharma is eliminated.

#29 – Everett Connors used to be Skyler Beckett of the Buddy System, but he disappeared for a while and came back under his former name doing a Justin Bieber gimmick. Interestingly, the announcers never mention that he was Beckett before. Connors is Rasheed Ali’s top signing and is continually teasing the debut of his new hit single. He superkicks a couple guys and does silly poses. Jet Royal and Jeremy Wyatt almost eliminate each other.

#30 – Gil Rogers is the final competitor. The ultimate underdog, Gil hasn’t won a single match in the NWL (outside of a tainted tag victory that he refuses to acknowledge), but he’s always got a lot of heart and insists on playing by the rules. The crowd adores him, as this is his first time back in a while. He comes in with a series of old school atomic drops.

Now it’s time to focus on eliminations.

Shane Sanders and Everett Connors are eliminated by Gil Rogers in similar fashion.

Thor Theriot is eliminated by a big clothesline on the apron from Maverick.

Mike Outlaw is eliminated by Maverick tossing him.

Jet Royal avoids elimination by landing on the guardrail and using a chair to hop back into the ring.

Davey Vega is eliminated by Jeremy Wyatt tossing him.

Thomas Shire is eliminated somehow. It sounded like the ring announcer said he went under the top rope, but he never comes back, so whatever.

Jack Foster is eliminated when he goes for a double chokeslam but is shoves out by a group of guys.

Anthony Gutierrez is eliminated by Maverick. He had Maverick in an armbar over the rope, but Maverick powered him up and slammed him on the apron, causing him to roll to the floor.

Jet Royal is eliminated after several attempts by Jeremy Wyatt. Royal kept holding onto the top rope from the apron, but Wyatt finally slapped his hand and caused him to fall.

Bolt Brady is eliminated by a Jremy Wyatt backdrop from the apron.

Gil Rogers is eliminated after trying to eliminate three guys at once. They all landed on the apron, and Maverick came back in and threw him out from behind.

Wyatt and Dak Draper slug it out on the apron. Maverick charges, and they pull the top rope down, so…

Maverick is eliminated.

Wyatt and Draper face off in the ring. Draper shows off some great agility for a tall guy. Wyatt hits the lightning spiral (his former finisher). Draper escapes a piledriver. He clotheslines Wyatt over the top, but Matt Jackson and his cronies have come out and distracted both of the referees, so they don’t see it. Wyatt comes back in and throws Draper out while he’s celebrating.

Dak Draper is eliminated.

The winner and NEW NWL KC Champion – Jeremy Wyatt

Wyatt celebrates with Jackson and The Foundation while Draper protests on the floor.

This was a pretty good rumble. Not the best of all time, but they can’t all be 1992. The finish reminded me of 1997 when Austin was thrown out but the refs were distracted by two other wrestlers, so he snuck back in and threw out Bret to win. The difference is that this distraction by Jackson was deliberate. My favorite moment was the return/debut of Bolt Brady, and I’m very interested in what he does going forward. I could see him turning heel now that Dak is a face, but I could also see him challenging Wyatt.

Anyway, if you like rumbles and you’ve got time, this one has some fun stuff. I hope they do another one in 2018.

Three Dog Collar Matches from 2017!

I consider the chain match a staple of Missouri-area indy wrestling. Midwest Renegade Wrestling (later NWA Central States, and Central States Wrestling after that) and Gateway Championship Wrestling both featured chain matches as parts of big feuds. I got to witness at least two of them live.

The chain match is a great gimmick match for indies with smaller budgets. It’s similar to the cage match in that it prevents the wrestlers from running away, but it’s usually easier and cheaper to set up (unless the chain is made of solid gold or something). It can be just as dramatic and violent, and there are a lot of creative things the participants can do with the chain itself.

In 2017, three promotions in the Midwest put on dog collar matches (a type of chain match, if you didn’t know), and but none is derivative of the others. Rather than review each one separately, I wanted to bulk them all together in one post with mini-reviews.

Here they are…

Glory Pro “Sleep When We’re Dead” – August 20, 2017 – Alton, IL

“The Millennial” Danny Adams vs. Paco Gonzalez

These best-friends-turned-bitter-rivals brawl all over the place, bunkhouse-style. Merchandise, chairs, and a table all get involved, as do Kevin Lee Davidson and Jake Something. Their feud is finished in brutal fashion, at least for now.


National Wrasslin’ League – October 28, 2017 – Kansas City, MO

“The Monarch” Jeremy Wyatt vs. Jack Foster

Foster finally gets the leader of The Foundation alone, at least for most of the match. Even when Wyatt’s friends interfere, Foster has his own backup available to clear out the riffraff. The most unique part is when they tear up the ring mat, exposing the wooden boards beneath. It’s a major war and my top NWL match of the year.


Impact Pro Wrestling “Instant Ticket” – November 4, 2017 – Des Moines, IA

Ugly vs. Malice

This is the second match in a series between these two. Ugly won the first, a falls count anywhere affair, so I guess they decided they needed to keep this one almost entirely in the ring.  I think it’s better for it, especially considering the lighting and single camera presentation. There’s no interference in this one, just two guys pummeling each other because they’re crazy.

If you like blood feuds and steel chains, you can’t go wrong with any of these matches.

My Favorites of Wrestling from 2017

As I said in my last post, I only really watched three promotions regularly last year: CWF Mid-Atlantic from North Carolina, the National Wrasslin’ League from Missouri, and Impact Pro Wrestling from Iowa. I’m going to look at each group separately and pick my favorites.

CWF Mid-Atlantic

I’m pretty sure I watched every episode of CWF WorldWide in 2017.

Favorite Babyface: Trevor Lee

Dominant champion. Longest-reigning Mid-Atlantic Champion in history. Long matches, but that plays into his character. Despite being on top for so long, the crowd seems far from turning on him. The only downside to his dominance is that it’s hard to believe anyone can beat him. If you’ve only seen Trevor on TNA/GFW/IMPACT, you’re missing the boat just like their creative department is.

Favorite Heel: Cain Justice

I hated this guy. He’s such a snide little jerk, yet he wins more often than not. He doesn’t look like much – pasty skin, stringy hair, not a lot of muscle mass – but his character has been so dickish and he’s been so talented between the ropes with his Judo and submissions, it’s hard to pick anyone above him. I just wish his little fan club that seems to be in the audience would get with the program and boo him like the rest of us.

Favorite Tag Team: Caprice Coleman & Darius Lockhart

They really only tagged twice that I can remember, but I thought they were great together. Nothing against the Dawsons’s work; they were dominant and ended the Sandwich Squad’s long title reign. But I enjoyed watching Coleman and Lockhart more and wish they would come back as a regular team and have a run at the titles.

Favorite Feud: Dirty Daddy vs. Cain Justice

I hate the Dirty Daddy’s name, but he’s over with the Mid-Atlantic crowd and his gimmick – a territories wrestler who was blackballed until recently and had to start over as a rookie – is amusing. His program with Justice over the Rising Generation League title was heated and did a good job of making DD a more serious wrestler. He lost the title to Cain, who seemed to be his kryptonite. It all boiled down to a title match where the loser wouldn’t be allowed to challenge the winner again. Even though the match was a little anticlimactic in its brevity, it was good to see DD finally get the monkey off his back.

Favorite Match: Trevor Lee vs. Chip Day (03/25)

Trevor’s title defenses generally felt pretty epic last year, but this one got a ton of hype before it aired. For the most part, it’s pretty similar to most of Trevor’s other title defenses (at least as far as I can remember, which is not that far). It goes long, the announcers talk about how someone might finally have solved the Trevor Lee puzzle, both guys survive a lot, and Trevor pulls it out. The big difference is that Day keeps it a stalemate from the beginning until a ways in. I probably like watching Chip Day more than anyone else Lee defended against last year, so even if the match followed the same general beats, I’d probably choose it as my favorite anyway.

NOTE: After finishing this section of the article, I discovered breaking news that commentator and booker Brad Stutts has been fired from CWF Mid-Atlantic due to “inappropriate behavior.” This news does not factor into my review.


National Wrasslin’ League

I think I only skipped a few episodes on NWL TV throughout the year.

Favorite Babyface: Blaine Meeks

“Captain KC” is actually from Texas, but he became a de facto hometown hero in his slow-burning feud with Dak Draper and his chase for the title (which still eludes him). There were other babyfaces I whose matches I liked better, but Meeks had the most endearing personality for me and I really wanted him to win the big one. I’m curious to see what they do with him now that he’s returned under his old name, Bolt Brady.

Favorite Heel: Dak Draper

Again, I liked a couple other heels in the ring more, but as far as character and booking, Dak is an easy choice for NWL wrestler of the year. He trolled the fans of Kansas City like no other, defending his NWL KC title against a midget and wearing a Jamal Charles Denver Broncos jersey as soon as it was available, and no one seemed able to knock him off his high horse. He also had the best entrance music in the NWL. It looks like he turned face before the end of the year (not every show has aired yet), so maybe he’ll make this year’s list in another field.

Favorite Tag Team: The Besties in the World

Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett are well-known throughout the Midwest scene. They’re probably the highest-profile regulars in the NWL outside of maybe Gary Jay and Marti Belle. Even when they were working under different names in the first half of the year, their tag team chemistry was obvious, and the fans knew who they were. They really kicked it up a notch once they went back to their old names and embraced the cheers of the Kansas City crowds. They always had good matches, and I hope they get to work with the Royal Blood again this year.

Favorite Feud: Major Baisden vs. Matt Jackson

The NWL started with a Kansas City vs. St. Louis model, and I didn’t really like that, but I had to admit that it was a creative idea. They ditched that and their NWL STL brand around summertime, and NWL STL general manager Matt Jackson (not the Young Buck) became an on-screen antagonist for NWL owner Major Baisden. Both blamed the other for NWL STL’s failure. It seemed like they and their in-ring representatives were going to go to war, but then everything seemed to just blow over, and most of Jackson’s wrestlers turned face. I thought this was odd and hurt the booking continuity. But then Jackson turned on the Besties, sided with the Foundation, and gave this interview to explain everything. It was at this point that they won me over. Jackson went on to gain control of the NWL after his team won a Survivor Series-type match. I’m not big on the overdone heel GM character, but it seems to be working for the local crowd, and I’m eager to see were it goes.

Favorite Match: Jeremy Wyatt vs. Jack Foster – Dog Collar Match (10/28)

Chain matches are great gimmick matches for indies to put on, which is probably why they were a staple of some of the Missouri promotions I used to follow. Wyatt and Foster went to war and literally tore the ring up. Love the spot where Wyatt disappears behind the curtain, Foster yanks the chain, and a chair flies out and hits him. Easily the best gimmick match I saw all year.


Impact Pro Wrestling

I watched select matches from IPW, as they don’t have any sort of episodic programming.

Favorite Babyface: James Jeffries

This guy’s a fighter. He’s not a super-small guy, but he’s not that big, either. He does some flips, he has a Rocker kind of look, and he was champion at some point. He also sent local veteran Tony Sly on his way.

Favorite Heel: Mattie Star

He looks kind of like a pudgy pretty boy, and he calls his move the selfie kick, but his personality is pretty miserable. He seems to really resent that the fans don’t support him, but he doesn’t give them much reason to with his in-ring actions. He recently won the IPW title in cheap fashion, which won’t do much for his reputation.

Favorite Tag Team: The Fight and Flight Connection

One guy does the flips. One guy throws the suplexes. They complement each other well, and the crowd digs them.

Favorite Feud: The Fight and Flight Connection vs. The Legend Killers

Their matches have been great. Such fire and energy. Their feud is all about the in-ring action and shenanigans. No 20-minute promos or backstage sketches needed.

Favorite Match: The Legend Killers vs The Fight And Flight Connection (01/21)

This one goes bonkers from the beginning, then slows down a bit, then gets wild again. They really busted their butts here, and honestly…it might be my favorite match of the year from any promotion!

My Wrestling Habits of 2017

I haven’t watched very many promotions regularly this past year. I almost never watch WWE, NJPW, ROH, or any other big organizations you can think of. WWE rarely produces the type of wrestling I want to watch these days on their main shows. I like what I’ve heard about NXT, the Cruiserweight Classic, the UK Tournament, etc., but I don’t make a lot of money, so I don’t feel that subscribing to the WWE Network is a wise decision for me. Likewise, I like what I hear about New Japan, but NJPW World is also out of my price range. And while it seems that Ring of Honor has had a good year financially, their show seems to basically be all about The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes, and I’m just not that into the Bullet Club.

Thankfully, lots of promotions put out free stuff on YouTube. The three main promotions I’ve followed throughout 2017 have been CWF Mid-Atlantic, the National Wrasslin’ League, and Impact Pro Wrestling.

I’ve been watching CWF religiously for a couple years now. I watched the first few episodes of their WorldWide show, then took a break, but I came back after a couple months and haven’t quit since. I greatly enjoy their style, their booking, their characters, and their consistency. Brad Stutts and Cecil Scott are my favorite commentary team in wrestling right now. They really know how to put the stories and characters over and keep the viewer in the loop as to what’s going on. Plus, they don’t fall into that trope of insisting on having a heel color commentator, which is refreshing.

The NWL just started running at the beginning of 2017, and I watched their TV show on a  delay when it was put on YouTube (except when I was visiting the States last August and was able to DVR it). They hit a few little bumps in the road last year, particularly as it relates to their St. Louis division, but they’ve had consistently good attendance for their Kansas City area shows, and they’ve really pulled things together creatively since the summer. I’m digging Gary Jay’s push, Dak Draper’s development, and the new struggle between the babyface roster and the Matt Jackson regime. Their shows don’t go online as consistently as CWF’s, and they run so many live shows now that the TV is a bit behind, but I’m definitely back to watching it regularly again.

Iowa’s IPW doesn’t have a TV or online show. Midnight Guthrie has been uploading matches to his YouTube channel, usually at staggered intervals. They’re not the best video quality, and some are downright dark, but what do you want for nothing? At least they include Guthrie’s commentary and a lot of hungry young talent most people have never heard of outside of Iowa. Their shows and stories are fairly straightforward, and that’s a positive. They seem to draw good crowds who really get into the matches.

I recently heard that Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling has been producing some good TV-style shows on their YouTube channel, so I may be adding them to my slate in 2018. From what I’ve seen, their production quality seems top-notch, and yet they feature almost zero names I’ve heard of. That might actually make them more appealing.

In my next post, I’ll list my favorite wrestlers, matches, etc. from 2017.

CSW: War Games Match (December 16, 2006)

I’ve always enjoyed the War Games match, and I think it’s because it has a little bit of everything in its stipulations. It’s got faction wars like in the Survivor Series, staggered entrances like in the Royal Rumble, a steel cage, and all the chaos of the final battle of a feud. And the double ring gimmick is cool when you can get it (though a lot of indies can’t).

I’m excited to see what NXT does when they bring back War Games this month. Hearing about it reminded me that I once had the chance to see a War Games match live, but for reasons I can’t remember, I passed. It was a single-ring, single-cage version put on by the now-defunct Central States Wrestling promotion. CSW was my “hometown” indy fed for a sew years, and I constantly looked forward to going to their shows, so it’s kind of a bummer that I missed this one. I’ve since been able to see it via the video above, which is from the official DVD release, and now seems like an opportune time to write about it.

The match commentary and pre-match promos will fill you in on some of the details, but local favorite Michael Strider had been feuding with Steven J. Girthy and his Girthy Management Group for a while. I forget the inciting incident, but the GMG and Strider’s group, Project Aggression, were pretty bitter rivals, so a big team-based cage match seemed like a proper way to resolve things. Girthy had “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt (before he was “The Belt Collector” or “The Monarch”), the oddly-popular-despite-being-a-heel Hype Gotti, and Harley Race trainee Wade Chism in his charge, while Strider was partnered with “Superstar” Steve Fender (another race trainee) and Ace Steel (CM Punk’s friend and trainer). But someone took Ace out before the show, leaving Project Aggression one man down. Strider approached former rival Derek Stone to fill the spot, but due to their previous issues, Stone refused on principle.

On to the match (which starts at the 7:17 mark, by the way)!

It’s set up as three-on-two, which may upset some purists who remember the old matches with teams of four or more, but with only one ring and cage available, things would probably be too crowded with more than five or six guys in the ring.

Strider starts with Jeremy Wyatt, and Steve Girthy is on the outside. They spend the whole three-minute period trying to ram each other into the cage. Strider finally hip tosses Wyatt into it as the countdown for the next entrant is going on.

Hype Gotti is out next since the villains won the coin toss earlier. Strider takes advantage of his headstrong entrance and gets some shot in before Wyatt catches him from behind. The heels work over Strider, making a point to push and slam him into the cage.

Steve Fender comes in like he just got the hot tag, running wild on both opponents. He pairs off with Wyatt while Strider battles Gotti, and even though the heels get a few moves in (including Wyatt’s lightning spiral, a future finisher for him), the faces are on the advantage when the countdown ends.

Wade Chism is the last entrant on the Girthy side, and he goes right for Steve, clubbing him with clotheslines. Steve fights back but can’t maintain any momentum due to being outnumbered. Chism pounds on him and dares him to fight back. Strider, meanwhile, is bloodied up from being raked against the cage, and now he’s being double-teamed by Wyatt and Gotti.

The countdown for the final man comes and goes without anyone entering at first. The fans chant “We want Stone.” Finally, Derek Stone does come out, dressed in bunkhouse attire and brandishing a chair. He squares off with all three members of the GMG, perhaps teasing a “swerve,” but then he blasts them all in the heads with chair shots. Then he pulls out a trio of forks and hands one each to Strider and Steve.

As someone who was used to seeing Superstar Steve and Wade Chism at family-friendly World League Wrestling shows, seeing them in a match involving forks on foreheads is a bit surreal. It gets even weirder once a barbed wire bat and board are introduced, and Chism takes a couple unprotected chair shot to the head.

From the introduction of the forks, the match gets increasingly violent. Girthy beats up a referee* at ringside so he can get the barbed wire bat in through the door. Every wrestler except Steve bleeds. Five of them brawl outside so Strider can jump off the cage onto them. Wyatt gets locked out of the cage, so he tries to climb in, but he gets put through the barbed wire board with a tower of doom spot. Finally, Gotti is pinned after a piledriver from Stone and a big elbow from Steve while he’s trapped under the barbed wire board.

The crowd loved this match. It gave them all the violence they could’ve wanted, plus the joy of seeing their heroes win and the novelty of being the first War Games match in Kansas. I enjoyed it, too. I thought they made good use of their means to put on a memorable War Games match despite having small teams and only one ring. I also thought it was a good end to the feud, until…

After the match, Strider puts over the toughness of Wyatt, Gotti, and Chism, and tells them to stand up and leave the cage like men. He then says that the war is over. In a backstage promo, Girthy says that the war is over when he says it’s over. Also, Strider thanked Stone, and Stone said he did the right thing for the right reason.

Where Are They Now?

Michael Strider feuded with Jeremy Wyatt in CSW and Metro Pro, even coming out of retirement to battle him one last time. He’s currently a member of The Foundation in the National Wrasslin’ League and holds the tag team championships with Ace Steel.

Steve Fender continues to wrestle for World League Wrestling and currently holds their tag team titles with Brandon Espinosa.

Derek Stone has been a trainer at the NWL Training and Performance Center and makes occasional appearances on NWL shows to break up fights. He’s also going to be wrestling in a handicapped match this weekend for Gateway Elite Wrestling.

Jeremy Wyatt collected a lot of belts and briefly retired in the latter days of Metro Pro, but now he’s also a member of The Foundation with Strider and Steel.

Hype Gotti wrestles a lot for Pro Wrestling Phoenix in Iowa and Nebraska. He was retired for a bit, but he seems to be back now.

Wade Chism doesn’t seem to have wrestled since 2008, so I’m guessing he’s retired.


*The ringside referee, Adam, was actually a fan with whom I hung out at several CSW shows and pay-per-view watch parties. Fun times.

Quick Update

I’m very busy at work this week, and next week, the wife and I are flying to the U.S. to visit for almost a month. Therefore, keeping up with all the NWL matches can’t be a priority for now. I don’t know how much I’ll watch or write about during this time, but I’m thinking my best course of action will be to watch at my leisure and only review the matches that I actually like or that are easy to write about.

Thus, I hope to watch everything eventually, but I’m not likely to write about every single match, and I probably won’t write much until late August or September.

Keep supporting the NWL KC & STL, or whatever your local indy is.