I recently had the opportunity, for the second time in 10 weeks, to have an all access look behind the scenes of the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC). And, for the second consecutive show, I left with a greater appreciation of the atmosphere, the overall production, and most importantly – the boys.
Since February 8, 2013, I’ve taken on this professional wrestling industry as a second career. From the onset, I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in or how my future in the business would play out. 54 weeks later, through the guidance of Chair Shot Reality (CSR) executive producer, Justin LaBar, I’ve learned more than I ever knew in a very short period of time.
Prior to joining CSR, I was a “casual” fan of sports entertainment. I was a diehard growing up as a kid enjoying the performances of Sting, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Bret Hart. As I grew older, I still followed the sport – having monthly WWE pay-per-view parties at a friend’s house.
And then I went to college.
I no longer tuned in to USA or Spike TV every Monday night at 9PM. I no longer had the time or money to watch the big shows each month. But, I did still have the itch, the guilty pleasure, and most importantly, the friends who still had a passion for professional wrestling.
It was by chance, when I was a senior at Point Park University, that I would meet a skinny kid with blonde highlights and a love for professional wrestling. That scrawny pretty boy was LaBar. I was 23 and he was 18 when our paths crossed for the first time.
Fast forward to Saturday night, December 14, 2013 – IWC’s ‘Winner Takes All’
Thanks to the generosity of IWC owner Chuck Roberts, I had an all access pass that night. I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know I wanted to learn. I desired wanting to learn everything I possibly could in order to have a better understanding of the overall world of the industry. And learn is exactly what I did.
What I left with that evening was a greater appreciation for the business and everything that goes in to it. I won’t give all the details, but I will say that behind the curtain, professional wrestling is a work of art. Some of the art is that of beginners however, much more of the art is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Before John Cena was the face of the WWE, he was learning how to wrestle just as the stars of IWC were on this evening. He wrestled in a local gym, in front of a crowd of 300, dressing in an open area with 30 others, while rehearsing his match against his opponent in the dark, and at the end of the night was a better performer because of it.
The night of December 14, former WWE wrestler and commentator Matt Striker was the special draw of the evening. He wrestled a match against Andrew Palace, which was the first in a series of upcoming matches that will crown the IWC Super Indy Champion. Palace was victorious, but Striker’s feedback to not only Palace, but the entire IWC locker room was worth more than anything they made that evening.
Matt Striker was also invaluable to me as well.
While Striker was in town, he was a guest host on CSR. Meeting him earlier in the week, I was able to communicate seamlessly with Striker at the IWC event. In fact, there wasn’t one person on the IWC roster who wasn’t accommodating to me. They each introduced themselves to me, a total stranger to most, as soon as they arrived at the venue. One by one they approached me, extended their hand and said “Hi I’m (FILL IN THE BLANK).”
WOW, talk about respect! I immediately turned to LaBar and pointed out how impressed I was by the professionalism of all the talent. Not just as wrestlers, but as real life people. It was this that made me appreciate the boys endlessly.
The night ended up being a great success. Colt Cabana performed in a triple threat match – which was won by the ‘Neon Ninja’ Façade. RJ City defeated Shima Ion, and Dalton Castle defeated ‘Big League’ John McChesney to win the IWC World Heavyweight Championship. It was the dawning of a new era for the IWC!
At the end of the evening all the boys rallied together. For some, dinner was on the agenda after a night of blood and sweat- adding a beer to celebrate a night well done and successful show by all.
It was at that dinner when Roberts asked me “how was it?” My response- great!
I further explained to Roberts that I was impressed with everything from start to finish. I saw what I could only imagine prior to the event. And, I then reiterated what stood out the most to me- the individual respect and introductions from each and every one of the IWC performers.
I’ve heard horror stories from independent wrestling shows about lack of morale, no-shows, and dead crowds. I encourage you to visit the IWC website (www.IWCwrestling.com) and pick a show in the near future to attend. You will get great value for your entertainment dollar.
This past weekend I was on hand once again for the ‘New Era’ event. I arrived to the venue with LaBar and guest talents of the evening- Luke Gallows and Amber O’Neal. Immediately, I said to myself, ‘I am going to walk up to each of the boys – and girls – one by one and shake their hands.’ However, before I could even begin that process, they all approached me, again.
It is something I’ve come to expect and greatly appreciate.
This was no fluke, the IWC locker room is something special. There is only one place this could come from, and that is the leadership of Chuck Roberts.
Observing Roberts more closely this evening, I was able to see the hustle and bustle of the promoter of the company. His dedication to each and every detail was precise. He knew what he wanted and made sure all hands were on board. I can only think that in Vince McMahon’s infant days in the business, he was the same way. I sure hope so, because I don’t see how the WWE could be where it is today without the tireless effort of its leader.
Chuck Roberts is a leader and, I wish him all the best in one day making IWC one of the biggest draws in the industry. This evening, in addition to Gallows – Al Snow was on the card. But IWC is no stranger to top talent. Several current top WWE stars have performed over the years for IWC.
Cesaro and CM Punk are just two of the many who wrestled in an IWC ring.
Recently, another IWC grad and original, Logan Shulo, began his quest to make the WWE roster down at the WWE Performance Center and NXT. I was fortunate enough to see Logan’s last IWC show in December and I am certain I will see his first WWE match sooner rather than later.
At the end of the night, there was once again a rallying of all, and the boys were complete once again in blood, sweat and a beer. And finally, I accomplished what I had set out to do 7 hours earlier, I initiated farewell handshakes with the boys and let them know just how much I appreciated their work.
The IWC stands for International Wrestling Cartel, but to me- it now means- Infused With Class.