DALTON CASTLE

IWC Night Of The Superstars IV – FUTURE SUPERSTARS!

This past Saturday, April 11, the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) presented its fourth edition of Night of the Superstars, from Meadville, PA

The event was headlined by WWE Hall of Fame legends Ric Flair and Kevin Nash! Also on the card that evening was “Reborn” Matt Sydal (formerly Evan Bourne), Gangrel, Rhino, and current IWC World Heavyweight Champion, Tommy Dreamer! And while the superstars were out in full force Saturday night, what caught my eye most was the FUTURE SUPERSTARS of the IWC!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the IWC is one of the most respected and legitimate independent wrestling companies in the country. Since 2001, IWC has showcased some of the best young talent in professional wrestling. Many of those talents have gone on to appear in World Wrestling Entertainment. Saturday night provided a glimpse in to the potential of several young stars, those themselves who one day may end up in a WWE ring.

It’s no secret that the independent wrestling scene can be exhausting. Weekend after weekend, driving several hundred miles to high school gymnasiums and recreational centers ONLY enables the wrestlers to perform in front of as many as 2,000 people (as was the case Saturday night) or as small of a crowd as 50. Pay usually covers gas and food for the evening, but the opportunity is given for these young and raw talents to hone their skills and make a name for themselves.

I’ve been following IWC for about two years now, always watching for that “next” prodigy. There are several things that are needed to be a professional wrestler, or should I say – a SUCCESSFUL professional wrestler. Not many make it to WWE or TNA, let alone Wrestlemania. Those who do must combine the follwing things, and turn them in to a total package.

First and foremost is in-ring skill. A million dollar body can only get you so far, so being able to perform night in and night out is the most essential aspect to being a “star”.

Next is character development. Even though you can wrestle, do you have what it takes to keep the audiences attention?

Finally, charisma and desire. A lack thereof is blatantly obvious and can crush any skill and character you may have.

With that said, here are a few of the IWC talents who have the potential to one day return and HEADLINE the Night of the Superstars.

1. RJ City – In ring ability, CHECK. Character development, CHECK +. Charisma, CHECKMATE! City combines his love for the industry with his love for himself. Granted, that may come off sounding contradicting, but RJ is everything OTHER than cocky. He is confident, and it is that confidence that will guide him to the top of whatever mountain he wants to climb. In ring, his character is portrayed as a pompous, egotistical, and self-centered jackass heel who uses his self-proclaimed perfection – and his weasel of a manager, Justin LaBar – to outsmart his competition. That said, RJ- the actor performing the role of the wrestler- is a student of the proverbial game. He utilizes his skills like a conductor brings together a symphony orchestra. When I think of RJ, I think of The Miz. RJ City has been and continuously is awesome.

2. Dalton Castle – The “Party Peacock” brings something extra to the ring, and I don’t mean his escorts and peacock feathers (though it does provide for a visually entertaining entrance). For what RJ brings with his confidence and wittiness, Dalton brings the energy and intensity. The ring attire, facial expressions, and “strut” bring together the Castle character brilliantly. Think of the entrances of Ric Flair, Lex Luger as the Narcissist, and Ravishing Rick Rude – this is Dalton Castle. And that is BEFORE he kicks it in to another gear with his wrestling ability. He makes a simple hip toss look like a work of art. The former IWC World Heavyweight Champion possesses an above average frame as well, which will only increase his chances of strutting his way down a WWE ramp one day.

3. Darin Dinero – I haven’t seen much, as he is still in his first year of wrestling, but if you have ever seen something and just knew it was meant to be, this kid has “IT”. He might be raw and he might be green, but one day he has the POTENTIAL to be ON RAW and MAKING GREEN! I stress potential because I am being honest to myself and, more importantly, to Dinero. In every sport, industry, and walk of life, there are many examples of potential being wasted. If I can be Dinero’s biggest critic, I will be. I WANT to see him succeed. It’s like that coach you had in high school that you absolutely “hated” BUT, if you could get out of your own way, you’d soon realize that constant nagging and criticism was actually coaching and positive reinforcement. I hope Darin plays the role of a sponge and absorbs EVERY bit of coaching, advice, and experience from those he needs to in the industry. In the year 2000, there was a 20 year old kid who made his debut in Mid-Missouri Wrestling Association-Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling. At the age of 24, he became the youngest WWE Champion, ever. That was Randy Orton. I am not saying the next Viper/Apex Predator/Legend Killer is currently wrestling for IWC, but the parallels and potential is. *As a note: One of Randy Orton’s first WWE matches was against the current IWC World Heavyweight Champion, Tommy Dreamer. Hopefully, Darin has the opportunity to use Dreamer as that “hated” coach!

By no means are City, Castle, and Dinero the only three good wrestlers in IWC, they are just three that catch my eye and jump off the page (out of the ring) each time I see them for their in-ring ability, character, and charisma. Others include Asylum, Andrew Palace, Colin Delaney, and Keith Haught. Those four each have their own unique persona’s, abilities, and potential. Other seasoned veterans of IWC who I very much appreciate and enjoy performing are “Big League” John McChesney, Joe Brooks, Jimmy Vegas, and VIP Joe Rosa. When you throw in other younger up and coming talent including the likes of Jay Flash, Dylan Bostic, and Krimson, you’ll understand why the SUPERSTARS always return to the IWC!

The “Excellence of Independent Wrestling”

Less than one week removed from an epic journey to New Orleans for Wrestlemania XXX, I was on hand Saturday night in Meadville, PA for the International Wrestling Cartel’s (IWC) “Night of the Superstars 3.”

Comparing Meadville to New Orleans isn’t fair.  Comparing IWC to WWE isn’t fair.  However, comparing the overall festive atmospheres and crowd appreciation is fair.

Shortly after 3:00 p.m. Saturday I began the 90 minute journey north from Pittsburgh to Meadville on interstate 79.  Riding shotgun and joining me for the evening was my wife, Dayna, who had never been to an IWC show.  She also joined me in New Orleans, along with the Chair Shot Reality team, for our Wrestlemania weekend of events that included a Q&A with Matt Striker, a ‘Mania Sunday crawfish boil with Matt Hardy, and one hell of a weekend of fun!

Matt Striker joining the CSR crew and VIP guest Blake Mitchamore at Spirits on Bourbon in New Orleans.

Matt Striker joining the CSR crew and VIP guest Blake Mitchamore at Spirits on Bourbon in New Orleans.

 

I wasn’t sure how Dayna would take in her first IWC event, explaining to her that it would be much different than Wrestlemania or Raw, with its smaller crowds and lesser known wrestlers.  She asked many questions during our commute to Meadville Middle School including ‘what cutting a promo was’ when I explained to her that Chair Shot Reality’s Justin LaBar (also an IWC manager) would be cutting a promo tonight, along with his client RJ City.  She also was curious about the Steiner Brothers, AJ Styles, and Bret “Hitman” Hart – all who would be on the card that evening.

Most of my answers were simple for me to explain, but to someone just getting in to this thing known as ‘sports entertainment’, it was not as easy for her to understand.  It’s hard to ever find something Dayna can’t understand, as she is definitely the brains of this marriage, earning her master’s degree from the prestigious Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

We arrived in Meadville just after 5:00 p.m. and the venue was already jammed packed for the VIP meet and greet.  We entered through the back to join LaBar, along with IWC guests for the weekend, Trevor and Amber Ellison.  The Ellison’s were in town from Riverton, Wyoming for a weekend of wrestling in Pittsburgh.  Both Trevor and Amber are fans of CSR, and Trevor is now and forever WINNING his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Shortly after learning about Trevor’s diagnosis, we reached out to Amber about surprising Trevor with a trip to Pittsburgh to be on CSR and take in Night of the Superstars.

Trevor and Amber Ellison

Trevor and Amber Ellison from Riverton, Wyoming!

 

IWC owner Chuck Roberts gave us his blessing to invite the Ellison’s to the event that evening, with VIP access to several of the superstars, as well as preferred seating.  Chuck also made Trevor a special guest ring announcer for the evening!  Recently, Chuck’s mom lost her courageous battle with cancer, and her memory will forever live on with Chuck’s dedicated and tireless work to put on some of the best entertainment you will find on the independent wrestling scene.

Trevor serving as guest ring announcer for the Striker v. Fish match!

Trevor serving as guest ring announcer for the Striker v. Fish match!

On to the event itself, top to bottom, there was not a single lull in the evening!  The sold out crowd of more than 2,000 was enthusiastic from the moment the doors opened to the gymnasium.  The wrestling card for the evening was stacked, and kicked off with Chuck welcoming everyone to Night of the Superstars, thanking everyone for their support and what the evening meant to the Meadville Middle School, which the show benefited.  He also apologized for the 45 minute delay to the start of the event, as there were still nearly 100 people waiting to meet Bret Hart at the VIP meet and greet.

“I would like to apologize to you for the delay in tonight’s action however, it is only fair to give those who paid to meet Bret Hart their opportunity to do so.  Each and every one of you tonight deserve the best, and I will make sure the best is what you get!” (PARAPHRASED)

Then, the night kicked off with a three way dance which saw the “Neon Ninja” Facade come out victorious while overcoming all odds.  The opening match was followed by one of the wildest 8-man tag matches I have ever seen that was not on a Survivor Series card.  The overly-entertaining team of Keith Haught, Bronco McBride, Jay Flash and Gregory Iron defeated the Sexy Talented Dudes (STD’s) with various high-risk moves, greatly thought-out double, triple, and even quadruple-team moves, and comedy that had everyone from 5 years old to 75 years old laughing with tears!

The first appearance for LaBar on the evening was with his “new client” Matt Taven.  I’ve seen Taven on several occasion’s over the past year and he is one of the great young talent’s in ALL of professional wrestling.  The longest reigning Ring of Honor Television Champion was set for battle against the IWC World Heavyweight Champion, Dalton Castle.  While this match was third on the card, it was WWE pay-per-view worthy.

Longest reigning TV Champ in ROH history!

Longest reigning TV Champ in ROH history!

 

With a crowd that was on fire, The Founding Fathers were out next for a match against Asylum and Rocky Reynolds.  Again, another match and not a single disappointing moment in the action.

The final match of the first half of the show brought LaBar to the ring once more, this time with the ever so eloquent on the microphone – IWC Super Indy Champion, who prefers to be called the Super Entertainment Champion, RJ City.  However, City’s super entertainment on the mic was cut short by the “Excellence of Execution” Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart!  This was one of the highlights of my night, not seeing Bret this close, and live, since a house show at the old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh back in the early 90’s.  Then, I sat ringside and got a high five from Hart at the end of his match.  This time, I sat 7 rows up in the bleachers and took in the sight, the moment, and all the energy of the Hitman’s appearance!

RJ City and Justin LaBar taking over the IWC ring!

RJ City and Justin LaBar taking over the IWC ring!

 

After a great speech to the crowd, in which he thanked the fans for coming out and supporting not only the IWC, but also the Meadville Middle School, Hart then sat in the corner of his nephew Davey Boy Smith Jr.  The bout between City and Smith was great, the finesse of City against the power and experience of Smith.  When it was all said and done, Smith had scored the pinfall, but in a display of wisdom and creative genius, City was able to ‘plant’ brass knuckles in Smith’s trunks, leaving the ref no choice but to call for a reverse decision and disqualification of Smith, giving City the win.

The Excellence of Execution addressing the IWC fans.

The Excellence of Execution addressing the IWC fans.

 

Next up was intermission, which included the chance to get in to the ring and snap a photo with the Steiner Brothers!  I for one have been a fan of the Dog Faced Gremlin and Big Poppa Pump since the late 1980’s!  Seeing them live for the first time was awesome.  It was also awesome seeing nearly a quarter of the audience take the opportunity for pictures with Rick and Scott.  While it did drag on, it also raised money for a great cause!

Following intermission was a one-on-one bout between Bobby Fish and Matt Striker.  This match was especially meaningful to me on several levels.  For one, I have been privileged over the past 5 months to get to know Striker outside the ring.  His knowledge of the business and advice has been priceless.  The way he interacts during an appearance, a match, and in person is always professional and with great respect.  Not only has he been a guest on CSR, he was also part of our CSR meet and greet in New Orleans at Spirits on Bourbon.  Aside from the great insight he shared to the crowd on Bourbon, he takes the time to truly appreciate the fans.

Not only did Striker call up a young fan who attended our event in New Orleans, thanking his father for getting his son in to wrestling, he also met and talked with both Trevor and Amber on Saturday prior to the show.  In New Orleans, we gave Matt the background on Trevor and without hesitation he said “please let me know if there is anything I can do.”  Sure enough on Saturday afternoon, Matt took significant time to sit with Trevor and learned first hand what Trevor’s story was.  From my point of view, there aren’t many in the business I have more respect for than Matt Striker.

Matt Striker taking time to chat with the Ellison's and learn more about Trevor's fight.  Here, Matt is watching the CSR surprise invite to Trevor!

Matt Striker taking time to chat with the Ellison’s and learn more about Trevor’s fight. Here, Matt is watching the CSR surprise invite to Trevor!

 

Fish and Striker went on to amaze the crowd, even including the referee for several entertaining spots!  While Striker took the loss, he will forever be a winner in and out of that 20 by 20 foot squared circle.

tweet

Striker tweeting out to Trevor following the show.

Next up was The Steiner Brothers, who joined Jimmy Nuts, to take on Team Big League.  Again, seeing the Steiner Brothers for the first time was something I won’t soon forget.  All the signature moves, aside from a frankensteiner, were brought out for this one.  The classic Rick Steiner “woof woof woof” was heard loud by all.  The flexing of the Big Bad Booty Daddy, culminating with an elbow drop, pull up pin, and push-ups made the fans thunderous with applause!  Ending this bout was Rick coming off the top rope for a classic Steinerizer!

 

2014-04-12 22.44.05

Big Poppa Pump – Scott Steiner

2014-04-12 22.40.47

The Dog Faced Gremlin – Rick Steiner

 

And then, it was main event time.  Making his return to the IWC was “The Sensational” AJ Styles.  The two-time IWC Super Indy Champ sqaured off against Anthony Nese in a bout billed “First Time Ever!”  Hopefully, it won’t be the last.  From bell to bell the action was phenomenal, with moves precisely executed and sold with authority.  This was also the first time I saw Styles live and he was everything I thought he would be, and more.  The ending to this match was something fit for a Wrestlemania card.

Nese missed a 450 splash from the top rope, to which styles began a vicious comeback with a series of chops and kicks, culminating with a Styles Clash!  For 35 seconds, the crowd didn’t know whether to cheer in excitement or stay silent in appreciation.  Once Styles secured the one-two-three, the entire venue erupted with cheers.  I was fortunate enough to record the finish on my phone and immediately watched it over and over again.  Dayna was also very impressed, and perhaps left wanting more of this thing called sports entertainment.

On this night, entertainment was abound with non-stop action, which no doubt “totally” could stand toe-to-toe with a few of the more televised and advertised wrestling companies.  After my first and second IWC shows, I was able to appreciate what went in to the events from a behind-the-scenes perspective.  Saturday night, I was able to take in the crowd, the action, and the EXCELLENT ENTERTAINMENT!  Once again, I would strongly suggest visiting IWCWrestling.com to learn more about the promotion, it’s extremely talented stars, and when you can next see these great young stars in action.