professional wrestling

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!

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First, WCW… Now, Sting saves WWE from the Authority

What an ending, the rumors were true (finally). Sting, the Franchise – the Icon, officially made his WWE debut last night at Survivor Series. And, for as awesome a moment it was – I couldn’t speak during or for about 5 minutes after Survivor Series went off the air.

It was the perfect setting – the perfect time, Triple H and the Authority running roughshod over the main event and seemingly nobody in sight to stop the inevitable. At 10:50 PM I tweeted out “I hear voices in my head…” followed by the punch “they’re telling me the WWE trolled us, again” in regards to a Sting debut. It was also a slight bit of anticipation of Randy Orton returning in his hometown to save Team Cena.

So as the inevitable played out and Triple H pedigreed Dolph Ziggler through the mat, it was now or never for a regime change. Triple H proceeded to roll Seth Rollins on top of Ziggler and called for a ref to come out and count the 1-2-3. Cue Scott Armstrong.

Sliding under the bottom rope, Armstrong got in to position as Triple H rolled up he sleeves.

1…

And then I noticed something … The most awkward coil up of an officials arm. It was almost as if Armstrong’s arm was being held back by gravity. “OH SHIT!” I exclaimed… And then the sound of a lightning strike with thunder and a crow’s cry.

I jumped out of my chair and a half, clutching my phone as I proceeded to tweet… “#StingWatch ahahahahhdjfkfjfjrffndksldkfkfjdjdj wooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!”

THE MOMENT I HAD WAITED FOR WAS NOW. Realizing it, the anticipation I had for Sting for years, especially this Survivor Series Sunday, my wife said “just enjoy it” – knowing I would likely be live tweeting it. But even with her thoughts, I wouldn’t have tweeted… I couldn’t tweet. I was frozen. I was in awe. I was reliving my youth – from the 1990 Great American Bash, Super Brawl 1991, Starrcade 1992, Beach Blast 1992, Starrcade 1997… All the matches with Ric Flair, Vader, Ric Rude, Muta, Cactus Jack, and even Hulk Hogan, ran through my mind… AND THEN –

I blinked, and then – he appeared.

For starters, the horror-movie music was a great touch. Part of me wanted his old “Turbo Charged” theme to blast the arena and out would come sting with bleach-blonde hair, but the other part of me said ‘this is right.’

As the cameras got up in his face, followed by a great zoom out – I then began to hear Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL commentate this moment. This was mistake number one, and it was a big one.

Aside from Jim Ross, there should have been no one speaking as Sting made his way to the ring. This should have been a moment to listen to the music, the crowd reaction, and the visual excellence which the production of the moment was. All I would have liked to have seen added would have been smoke or fog rising as he walked through to the ring.

Back to the trio of announcers.

Cole: “Oh my God.”
Lawler: “What?”
Cole: “It’s Sting!”
Lawler: “What!?”
Cole: “Stinger’s here!”

And then, ruining the moment, JBL proceeds to give us a Wikipedia rundown of Sting’s accomplishments.

JBL: “A six-time WCW champion. The two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The Icon, the Franchise.”

Lawler: “But what the hell is he doing here?”
Cole: “The man who’s never stepped foot inside WWE’s arena before.”
JBL: “Well what a hell of an impact he’s made the first time he did. Hoah, God.”
Cole: “But why is Stinger here?”
JBL: “It’s none of his damn business I’ll tell ya.”
Cole: “This is incredible.”

As I watched back more than 2 dozen times already I am more and more troubled by the announcers involvement in the entrance and spectacle of Sting’s debut. Not so much Cole and Lawler (since King couldn’t get a word in), more so JBL.

This was supposed to be a ‘surprise’ moment. A ‘saving’ moment for the WWE against the Authority. Cole set it all up perfectly. He gave us the WOW, Lawler gave us the SHOCK, and then JBL gives us… a resume! As great a wrestler and as storied a history Sting has had, why would it be natural for JBL to tell us his career accomplishments? Then, the next time JBL speaks he says “Well what a hell of an impact he’s made the first time he did.” He hadn’t yet made any impact. He made an appearance. And then after Cole asked why Stinger was here (which I am totally thankful for every time he is referred to as STINGER, since it is his proper character name) JBL bloats out “It’s none of his damn business I’ll tell ya.”

Did JBL know what Sting was doing? Did he know his intentions? How could he speak to Sting’s business when the man literally just appeared less than thirty-seconds prior? Had JBL stayed silent or been muted the commentary would have been.

Cole: “Oh my God.”
Lawler: “What?”
Cole: “It’s Sting!”
Lawler: “What!?”
Cole: “Stinger’s here!”
Lawler: “But what the hell is he doing here?”
Cole: “The man who’s never stepped foot inside WWE’s arena before. But why is Stinger here? This is incredible!”

I am sorry, but JBL took away from the moment for me. But moving on…

Sting approaches the ring and Armstrong comes out to confront him for some reason, not sure why. Immediately, any doubt as to what Sting’s intentions were were erased. If Triple H sent Armstrong to encounter Sting, then Triple H knew he was the intended target.

Sting gets in the ring. Hunter looks unsure of the situation, yet stern in staring in Sting’s eyes. NEITHER BLINKED as the crowd chanted “Holy Shit!” I didn’t chant, I was still speechless, taking in the moment. Everything was surreal. Trench coat, face paint, black and white ring gear – everything was how I remembered it… but then, I blinked. And I blinked again. And again.

This was the first shadow of doubt I ever had with Sting’s WWE debut. My first question – “Is this going to hurt his legacy?” “Does this feel right?” And I asked myself this because it was the first time I saw Sting as a 55 year-old man, in the ring. This WASN’T the Stinger from Starrcade 1997. There was no flowing black curly hair, no youthful face under the paint. Every part of the gimmick was great, but the man playing the part wasn’t who I remembered.

Sure, we all see our hair recede at some point, but I couldn’t get away from this fact with Steve Borden, the man. As I began to pry the doubt away from my mind, Sting then rotated his back to the hard camera only to reveal a very thinning scalp and hair line on top.

The doubt returned… “Is this best for Sting? Is it worth it?”

As the stare down proceeded with NO SOUND from the announce team, I began envisioning the next action sequence… And it began with Triple H clearly questioning “WHAT” Sting was doing, not kindly to say the least (I am sure you can read lips). After a brief acknowledgement from Sting, Triple H pulled back looking to unload on Sting, who ducked the punch – gave a fierce kick to the gut and a seemingly atomic Scorpion Death Drop!

As Sting shot up, he adjusted his coat to the right side on his left knee – got up and rolled Ziggler on top of Rollins. He proceeded to walk past a downed Triple H, through the ropes, and out of the ring as the ref magically appears after being out for 10 minutes to make the 1-2-3 count signifying the end of the Authority!

So, how do I truly feel? How did I truly react?

I felt an adrenaline rush. I felt weightless as I stood in front of my TV, neglect to any of my surroundings. It wasn’t too much, and it wasn’t too little – as far as the spot, it was just right (aside from JBL). Sting didn’t speak words, rather actions. It was the culmination of what Vince said would be a historic Survivor Series at the beginning of the night.

For as happy as I am that Sting has stepped foot in a WWE ring, I am thrown a bit, and only a bit in my thoughts by the fact that it is a 55 year-old version of the man. A month shy of 17 years ago at Starrcade 1997 is the ‘Crow’ Sting I want to remember. I am sure these thoughts of doubt will pass the more I see Sting’s WWE run play out, but I never thought I would DOUBT this moment. And, for a few seconds I did and, might still be.

So where do we go from here? Does Vince kick off Raw tonight and introduce a new authority figure(s)? Does he bring out Sting? Does he reference Sting? Does Sting start the show? Does Cena start the show? Do we see Triple H and Stephanie at all?

The most important question – Does this lead to Sting vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania 31? For all the talk about Sting vs. Undertaker – and even Triple H vs. The Rock, is this the match-up we will see in 4 months? If so, I am fine with it – ONLY if Sting wins.

I think this is truly the best option for Sting. He and the Undertaker wouldn’t be as athletic as Sting and Triple H. Sting and Bray Wyatt wouldn’t make sense from a historical standpoint. But the power of Vince McMahon on two fronts – overseeing HIS company and FINALLY signing Sting, makes this match-up much more enticing. I think Triple H can pick Sting up on the big stage and, Sting himself will seize the moment.

I have so many more thoughts on last night and I will join @JustinLaBar on Wrestling Reality – heard of SportsTalk TribLive Radio tomorrow at 2:00PM – SportsTalk.TribLive.Com

THE ONLY THING FOR SURE ABOUT STING, IS NOTHIN’S FOR SURE….

IT’S SHOWTIME FOLKS!

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.

 

Respect in the World of Independent Professional Wrestling-

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.