Saturday 30 March 2013

Fight Club PRO: A Fighting Chance (29/3/13) Review By Derrie Catton

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Fight Club: PRO offers many things - a 5pm gathering at Nandos beforehand, and a late night transition to the Giffard pub or Babylon club afterwards - but where they excel is with their main content which in this case they served up on the 29th of March under the title of A Fighting Chance. As usual they promised a top night featuring reliable favourites with a side of unpredictability for their unfolding drama. Their raw atmosphere has seen a delivery on all of these promises before, yet the question remains, on this occasion did it go off?

Tyler Bate vs. Daniel Moloney

In what was a titled a Fight Club: PRO Dojo Rematch, audiences saw two young upstarts from the promotion, each wanting to make themselves known and embark on a bright career. The collision appeared to be a mix of practice and review, getting used to operating in such an atmosphere and perhaps under scrutiny from the match makers with regards to their future, but in either event the fans embraced their efforts in what was a quick match up. Receiving little in the way of unique music and each only donning black trunks, they had only their presence and ability to rely on. There was no doubt that the two were technically sound in the execution of their polished moves and sequences. They also took their licks in that style that FCP likes to call strong and British. Each also managed to bring in some impressive fresh content, be it a Moloney combination or a Bate submission. Many moments were well received with applause and an impressive German Suplex saw Bate take the victory in what was a promising match up. There was no error big enough to taint the match, however neither had yet found a presence that lives up to the rest of the roster, though that is expected to develop in time and there are glimmers of a future on the horizon for them. Impressive and promising are good adjectives for an early match, and one looks forward to having their vocabulary expanded.

The Hunter Brothers vs. Mark Haskins & Chris Brookes

As the first bars of Glenn Frey’s The Heat Is On hit, Tipton’s own Hunter Brothers are always well received by audiences.  Mark Haskins isn’t so lucky, though his partner Brookes shares favourable comparison to his fellow Tiptonites. All four competitors have proven themselves in the past and the cards were set for a good throwdown. It was Haskins that managed to steal attention quickly, roughing up ring announcer Mark Adams before announcing himself as the main attraction. He proceeded to veto himself as the legal man on grounds that he had the flu and kept focus with his humorous antics, tending to himself with a tissue and checking his temperature with a thermometer. Continuing to bring a unique edge to the match, Haskins’ bad tactics turned more lethal, garnering a negative reaction as he landed cheap shots wherever he could and demanded Brookes do the same. An interesting dynamic came as Brookes refused such demands and fell out with his partner over the course of the match. In between that interaction came the strong wrestling associated with a Hunter Brothers match, as the pair displayed their trademark tag team prowess with clever teamwork and impressive maneuvers. Brookes too managed to show some good flurries when not hampered by double teaming or his own partner. Haskins also put out a convincing performance when he wasn’t doing a good job of disenchanting the gathered fans. As things developed it was Brookes putting out Haskins that cost him the match at the hands of a Tombstone Piledriver, bringing a satisfying conclusion to a strong match. The Hunter Brothers again proved why they a reliable staple of the FCP roster, while Haskins has come as a welcome addition to the fold, fitting the role of antagonist well. Additionally, as one of the younger competitors, Brookes is showing progress from his earlier appearance and put in possibly his best FCP showing.

Dave Mastiff vs. Clint Margera

Not simply for pride but for the right to cash in a title opportunity whenever the challenger pleases. Margera had already earned that right by winning a tournament, but Mastiff and his dominant streak demanded such an opportunity. The chants of ‘Bastard’ towards Mastiff are actually more endearing than they look on paper, yet Margera on the other hand is a perennial fan favourite with lots of support for his efforts which came quickly as he beat the bell and came out strong. Trademark roaring elbows were on display and a dive to the outside before Mastiff’s strength took over and the back and forth began. Mastiff gave more forth than he got back, but he needs not to land a great deal of strikes, only to land one that looks like it could put down a whale. Thusly, his offence is slow and merciless which establishes him as a formidable force. Margera’s most attractive quality is his heart despite how he is put down, and he is no stranger to enduring punishment. On the floor outside the ring is a curb-like drop which is as unforgiving as it looks and to see him land his back on it was one of those unbelievable moments. The crowd were hot for the match, exchanging chants and cheers for their favourite as Mastiff and Margera worked around each other. Margera’s dodges and brave fronts were a sight to get behind, but the likes of a Turnbuckle Powerbomb and the always impressive Cannonball Splash were enough to make Mastiff a number one contender at his leisure. A dejected Margera left to applause in what was a hard fought battle that the crowd was well behind.

Trent Seven vs. “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman

Looking to re-establish his ‘Super Don’ title, Seven put out a British Strong Style challenge to any wrestler in the UK which allowed for Mike Hitchman to make his FCP debut. Hitchman’s “Wild Boar” moniker comes with good presence, as he hits the ring like an angry, spitting…. well boar.  Tossing his water at the fans and pacing the ring like an animal establishes him before he even wrestles. The two went at it in the traditional strong style manner, which saw them trading tough blows and then calling on the other to try and come back stronger. Chops, forearms and headbutts were delivered as stiffly as the fans demanded and trade off was often kept interesting. A highlight saw Boar put Seven through one of the metal fences that surrounds the ring area and up to that point had endured so much action. Seven returned in kind putting severe ware on another fence and leaving MK with little choice as to which direction his trademark cannonball dive could go in the main event. Seven shined with the personality that fans feel akin with and following a close call from his Piledriver, he put down the Boar with the most lariatest Lariat that ever lariated. He paid his respected to Boar after the match and they were showered with deserved applause.

MK McKinnan vs. ???

The Fight Club: PRO championship holder was tasked with little chance to prepare for his opponent, as the challenger would be picked at random in the Fighting Chance draw. In a twist of fate an already battered Clint Margera would be regifted his title shot. As the deathmatch specialist limped up onto the Apron, MK jumped the bell and kicked him to the floor before hitting his signature Cannonball Dive and rolling Margera in for what looked set to be a quick victory. Margera’s heart prevailed though and a contest was underway as the crowd carried the match loudly after splitting on their commitment to a competitor. McKinnan was able to show off his attacking flurries, but also added some memorable moves focusing on Margera’s injured back. Margera put up a fight though, even managing to deliver a Swanton Bomb, and as his trademark moves landed a clean title change was teased. It was a match high on emotion with the surrounding fences shaking from the fan’s excitement, and it closed in on a finish when a top rope Dropkick from McKinnan missed Margera and knocked down the referee. In that moment, Margera’s previous enemy T-Bone hit the ring to put out both competitors before leaving his nemesis covering the champion. Departing with a smile, the referee stirred to make the title change official. There was plenty of support for Margera but as people dealt with the fallout, Mastiff hit the scene and called in his title shot. Margera had the heart to kickout after a cannonball Splash but he didn’t have enough will to endure a second barrage, leading to another title change. While Mastiff departed as the new champion, fans were left in awe of the chain of events they had witnessed. The atmosphere was electric and the unfolding of drama perfect.

After a tremendous close to the show, fans should have little question about attending FCP’s next event to see how things develop. There are however many more things to remember A Fighting Chance for. From a consistent showing of favourite wrestlers, to promising debuts from new and fresh talents. There are match highlights still passing between friends in conversation, and matches on record that the company can be proud. Five matches for five pounds and none of it feels like a chore. As usual, not enough praise can be given to Fight Club: Pro, so perhaps just a sincere thank you on this occasion for a great night of entertainment and a consistently strong product.

The article writer can be found on twitter, @DerrieCatton, and as always you can find Wrestling’s Last Hope at

Screw Indy Wrestling, We’re Pro’s By Nick Mason

Two well-known ‘INDY’ professionals in the United Kingdom are looking to shun the craze that is, ‘Defend Indy Wrestling’

The two have recently released a promo stating this via YouTube, at least that’s where I saw it.

The talented duo who starred in the video are known as, ‘The Star Attraction’ Mark Haskins and ‘The Show Stealer’ Nathan Cruz.

The Pair begin the promo by getting straight to the point in their own opinion, which was this “The Term Indy is a term used by a bunch of guys to make them sound accepted.”

As the video progressed, the duo shun everything about bad independent wrestlers, shunning such things as bad haircuts, improper gear and wrestlers who lack the capability to go to the gym. The pair also go on to say that Independent wrestlers are ‘Glorified backyard wrestlers’

The Defend Indy Wrestling franchise that has been taking the UK Independent scene by storm was always open to an attack, and these two saw the opportunity and took it like real professionals. Claiming that they are a class above the rest, the pair also have issued a challenge the Defend Indy Wrestling crowd to actually Defend Indy Wrestling.

The new tag team, who have just recently formed to fight against a cause they once believed in, will slot into the UK scene perfectly as a heel team and could allow returns to the lime light which both professionals once had.

The Promo, which cuts on this, is located here: 

I have been lucky to see both wrestlers wrestle on several different shows, mainly Southside, and both performed like real pro’s along with their competitors of course, Mark Haskins vs. Stixx is one of the notable matches/ feuds that should be mentioned in this situation.

Although this promo was attacking the bad about independent wrestling, they also state a fair amount of truth in the comment “In this business you earn your spot.” This is because I do believe that the best don’t get to the top in such short time.

In his latest Media appearance, with Colt Cabanas latest podcast episode, Mark Haskins revealed that he didn’t get on a show for several years after beginning training. That’s how to do it right, which is why he is such a pro and continues to amaze crowds in the UK today.

Will you wear kick pads and throw no kicks? Or will you join the rebel alliance which is, Screw Indy Wrestling, We’re pros?

This post isn’t supposed to be long, but it’s an insight on what we are going to see, an attack on the norm, an attack on the standard, help us DEFEND, INDY WRESTLING!

What will it be?
Treat us as equals.
Nick Mason

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Mania Build Lacks Excitement By Shaun Nichols

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Wrestling's biggest show of the year is a mere two weeks away and while I would like to be able to say that my interest in Wrestlemania XXIX is growing by the day, I honestly was more excited about the show months ago.

What I'll be doing in this blog is looking at the build for each match and suggesting booking ideas that I feel would be more compelling to the buying/viewing public and as you'll see most of them are pretty straight forward. Also I'll be making my predictions for the big show, these will be based on who I think will win rather than who I would choose to go over.

WWE Title: The Rock vs. John Cena

Well last year's tagline of 'Once In A Lifetime' really meant something didn't it? Though seriously this is the biggest money match the WWE currently as on the books. There is a natural story to tell here of John Cena's redemption after losing at last years event and if it was done correctly it would be a very compelling narrative.

The problem is that we have hardly had any kind of build so far, they have had one in-ring confrontation which was absolutely fine and they have followed it up with a nice video package highlighting that confrontation and John looking sad after losing at Mania XXVIII which they have now shown us two weeks running.

Last week on Raw, Cena was goofing about in the opening segment with the Prime Time Players of all things. Wouldn't want to give the impression that your really bothered about your title match on 07/04 would you? The Rock makes his Raw return on the 25/03 episode and hopefully we'll see something pretty great because for a Wrestlemania main event we need more than one confrontation and a video package.

Prediction: John Cena wins WWE Title

No Holds Barred & Triple H's Career on the Line: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

This could have been really intriguing had the WWE basically not gone out of its way to tell you who is going to win here. As I've said before Lesnar has something about him that nobody else on the roster does, that being a genuine air that something dangerous could happen at any point. If you compare him to Mark Henry & Big Show, who have recently being booked as the 'WWE big dominate monsters' there is no comparison. You don't ever think they are going to injure their opponents. Lesnar always looks on the verge of inflicting a major beating on whoever is unfortunate enough to stand in his way.

The fact that he's recently signed a 2 year contract indicates that he really should win here. However let's not forget that in storyline that Triple H has had his arm broke twice, seen his best friend also have his arm broken (Shawn Michaels), seen his father-in-law brutally attacked and finally he needs to get revenge for losing at Summerslam. In short there is no chance that Triple H is losing here, and while the build up as worked especially the great work by Paul Heyman. I think the 'Loser gets Stephanie' stipulation was a great line it doesn't detract from the frustration of knowing what's going to happen.

Prediction: Triple H

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk

Again the most simple story could have been told. Punk after losing to The Rock at Elimination Chamber should have ranted and raved and then declared as 'Best In The World' he will do something that as never been done. He will demand to face the Undertaker at Mania and he will end the streak to prove categorically that he is indeed the best. You can then have the Undertaker doing his basic 'Be Careful What You Wish For' promo with the added bonus of Paul Heyman freaking out.

Instead we have Punk winning a pointless four way to 'earn' the right to face Undertaker, and then we have some pretty goofy stuff of stealing the urn in which we are supposed to believe now contains the ashes of Paul Bearer. They could have gone the route in treating this as a serious match instead it's been turned into something like a cartoon. Don't be in the least bit surprised if old footage of Paul Bearer appears on the video wall to inspire the Undertaker to victory.

Prediction: The Undertaker

World Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger

On TV it appears that the Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter (based on right wing hack Anne Coulter, for you trivia fans) don't seem to be getting over although they are having more luck on the house shows. They though aren't really the problem, Del Rio is just not clicking as a babyface the fans can get behind.

He wasn't helped by being given the worst turn in wrestling history when he was booked to run over Santa Claus and didn't care. Wrestling fans do not expect their heroes to be acting in such a manner, his interviews are also really bad and in 2013 you really shouldn't be doing pandering interviews. The WWE want him to be a big Mexican star, but his interviews put over the USA more than Mexico. And should we really be watching a wrestling feud based on immigration in this day and age, it feels a good thirty years too late. We'll probably see a very good match that most fans won't care about until the finish and they will probably cheer Swagger.

Prediction: Alberto Del Rio

Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show vs. The Shield

This is clearly a match that screams we've got a few major names without a clear direction let's put them in a 6 man tag. The build for this as actually been okay, they are telling the story of about three bigger stars who aren't sure if they can trust one another. They are teasing that it's the Big Show who cannot be trusted but that looks likely to be a red herring.

The Shield proved at Elimination Chamber that with teamwork they can get the job done and I expect them to again be victorious. I'm predicting we'll see the long awaited Randy Orton heel turn and he will cost his team victory.

Prediction: The Shield

The Ryback vs. Mark Henry

Out of all the reasons for a match to take place this is arguably the lamest. After been attacked by The Shield, Ryback finds himself then being attacked by 'The World's Strongest Man'. Now Ryback was already scheduled to team with Orton & Sheamus, but after being attacked by Henry you would think that he would demand to be taken out of that match so he could get his revenge against Mark Henry.

That is the traditional and classic behaviour of a babyface that the fans can relate to and support. Do we get that? Of course not, Vickie Guerrero for reasons that were never explained decided to tell Ryback that he could only appear at Wrestlemania if he agreed to face Mark Henry. This makes him look really weak, it would have made far more sense for Ryback to demand the match from Vickie. It'll be a dreadful match as well, hopefully it should also be short.

Prediction: The Ryback

WWE Tag Titles: Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston

When this match was announced, Dolph had this really sad look on his face. Guess he's not that happy with his position. Team Hell No have actually held the tag titles since September 16th and it really is time that that they dropped them.

The dysfunctional tag team as ran its course and personally I'd like to see Daniel Bryan move back to being a single and having decent matches. However there is some talk of Dolph Ziggler turning babyface and Mania could be a really good place to do it because the fans really do see his talent. On the other side of the coin, the WWE seem quite taken with Mr Langston and a run with Dolph as tag champions could be very useful for his development.

Prediction: Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston

Potential Mania Match Predictions

Wade Barrett vs. The Miz

Prediction: Wade Barrett

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

Prediction: Fandango

So there you have it, hopefully the build for Mania greatly improves in the final two weeks. I seriously hope it does. Any feedback or thoughts then obviously feel free.

Sunday 17 March 2013

The Story Of Loco Imbecile (Una Parte) By Robert Shade

This article is sponsored by The Indy Corner - @TheIndyCorner on twitter

Picture Credit: Brett Hadley

In August of 2011 a man was found staggering around the region of Estado de Guerrero in a dusty town named Los Sauces, which is a small place with an estimated population of 3295 people, this man appeared to be dazed and he was being openly mocked by a gathering crowd as people were using spray paint to colour his naked skin a bright red and another person was trying to put the traditional Mexican wrestling mask on his face as the man was trying to get to his feet but continued to fall over giving the impression of being intoxicated even though that was not the case.

He began to try and run from the pursuing crowd wondering why they were chanting ‘Imbecile’ at him as he fell and slipped and crawled away from them, as he slowly kind of fell and slipped past a nearby house the owner of the house leapt out and dragged him into the sanctuary of his home and sat the poor man down and offered him solace.

Later as the man came around more he realised that the house owner’s wife was gently washing the spray paint off his skin and was instead wrapping a thin cotton sheet around him which appeared to have pictures of cats on.

He tried to stand up to say Hola, Como estas (Hello, how are you) to the lady but unfortunately got his feet all tangled up in this pictured cat covered sheet and tripped over, he then tried again to get to his feet but this time tripped over the bucket of water which the lady had been using to clean the paint off his reddened body and as he fell the bucket flew threw the air and landed on a small box which had been rested on the edge of a table, the box flew off the table landing on the floor and lots of chocolate looking biscuits fell out.

Que es esto? (What is this?) exclaimed the man and I am so so sorry Senora I am such an Imbecile for my clumsiness I do not know why I am like this, the lady calmly reassured him and explained that she had recently been on a trip to the UK and had returned with a new biscuit she had found on her trip called Jaffa Cakes although she is very confused as those eeenglish people call them cakes so they do not pay tax but never mind that!

She offered the man a Jaffa Cake which he devoured very very quickly, she said help yourself I have many boxes, the man who was for some reason very very hungry duly obliged, after he had ate a few packets he tried to move away from the table to sit back down in his original chair but as he did so he had totally forgotten that the cat covered sheet remained around him and again went absolutely flying in the process.

He said to the lady why do you have sheet covered in cats this is craaazy, she replied that again the sheet and others were from the UK trip and were from the Hello Kitty craze sweeping the UK which she had brought for her granddaughter but was yet to see her to pass them on, they are crazy to say Hola to gatos (cats) in the UK thought the man to himself and I thought I was an Imbecile those idiotic fools!

The owner and his wife offered the man refuge for a few nights whilst he tried to remember who he was or where he was going, they said that the only spare bed they had available for him was in the loft where their son used to live before he moved out and it was easily accessible by the loft ladder, the man thanked them for their kindness and went to climb the ladder to look at the bed.

When the man reached the ladder and put a foot on for some reason he found that his body was suddenly trembling, he had absolutely no idea why, he moved up a rung, then moved his right foot up to go up another then wow he fell! He had no idea why but he knew that he was shaking like a leaf, he tried again the same result but now he was close to tears, he was absolutely petrified of going up that simple ladder but had no idea why, gawsh he thought I truly am an Imbecile.

He told the couple and they kindly allowed him to sleep on the sofa in the main room, an advantage of that was that he could watch lots of television and keep working on the couple’s store of Jaffa Cakes! He found Mexican Wrestling on the TV in fact it was AAA Wrestling one of Mexico’s bigger promotions, he absolutely loved watching Jack Evans and the masked Extreme Tiger but he did find it very rude that the untalented Jeff Jarrett would sometime ride in and take a title but hey whatever!

After the man had been in this house for some weeks the kind couple tried to help him find his true identity, they brought in the local policia to talk to him to see if using their expertise they could help him remember who he was and what he did for a living, the man panicked, he could not remember anything about himself so when pressured he fell back on the only thing he could ever remember being called and that was Imbecile.

Ok Mr Imbecile said the helpful police officer what is your first name, again all he could think was what describes an Imbecile so he said ‘Loco’, ok then Mr Loco Imbecile what do you do for a living, again Loco thought and again he could only think of the one thing which he had really seen in himself since living in the house and that was wrestling, I am a Luchador sir he said that is what I am.

The police officer spoke to the couple who had housed Loco for all of this time, between them they agreed that he could be moved to a bigger town where they could place him with like minded people so that he could be himself again and also offer him access to the internet so that he could try and track back his roots so that is what happened Loco thanked the kind couple, tripping over the doorstep as he left with the police officer.

Three months later.....

Loco has been taken to the nearest sizeable city in the same region of Guerrero which was a city called Acapulco with a population of 790,000, he missed the kind couple but loved the big city and the colourful lights and the noise although he could not get a grip with the elevators in the large buildings always getting that trembling feeling when going near them.

He had trained in a local wrestling school which meant he had now been able to fall over both feet at once as opposed to just one at a time, must be dodgy he thought, the name of the school was ‘Casa Del Dolor’ which did seem to turn out some real talent but did not appear to be doing much for Loco, he was often distracted by a loudmouth stood by the side of the ring who he did not care for much but he was always there and Loco blamed this man ‘Javier Valle’ for his moves always failing so he thought if I can get away from here and wrestle somewhere else I can be much better and not fall over so much.

He thought of the UK as he wanted some more Jaffa Cakes having had none at all since leaving the couple’s house, hell he may even get something to do with those crazy cats people Hello Kitty and he had been on the internet failing to find his roots as he could not remember anything but he researched wrestling in the UK and had subscribed to some tweeters and in particular @southsideWE kept on coming up, he liked that as he had read show reviews through a translation page tweeted by @shadetheshoot & @WLHSTU and he wanted some of that so he thought to himself I shall get on a plane and be part of @southsideWE!

To find out how on earth Loco Imbecile managed to get onto a plane in one piece and then succeeded in getting a job in Southside Wrestling, also why he carries a lunchbox to the ring, why he fires party poppers,why he wears his red costume and why is he so scared of heights please watch this space all shall be revealed......

Thursday 14 March 2013

Wrestle Mania Thoughts With Stu Rodgers

Wrestle Mania is on the horizon, once in a lifetime will now be twice in a year and everyone is asking, will this be the year the streak ends?

Yes, John Cena will once again face The Rock at Wrestle Mania, the fact it's happening again is not why I wanted to write about this it's because there still seems like there are issues with Rock being on the show taking a spot away from another guy on the roster. It's fair to a point, maybe one of the younger guys could get some good exposure and the 'rub' but in the bigger picture, it's a business for the WWE and along with the live gate they expect in excess of a million PPV buys and it will all trickle down and the guys on the undercard and they will get a bigger payday than normal. I just can't see why there is an issue here.

On the wrestling side of things, people are harping on about the fact last years encounter between Rock & Cena being 'once in a lifetime' but they are doing it again this year and let's be honest, business decision aside, Cena had to be given his chance of retribution. The Rock has been featured quite a bit on WWE TV this year, yes he has movies coming out but let's not forget,he's not an actor in the WWE, he is a WWE wrestler who made it big in Hollywood. Like with the Wrestle Mania buy rate, I would imagine, when Rock is involved on RAW, those segments are probably some of the more higher rated parts of the programme.

It would be a surprise to me I must say if The Rock came out of Wrestle Mania with the WWE strap, I fully expect Cena to beat him for it but I don't necessarily think Cena will leave the Met Life stadium as the champion. I said above how there maybe other wrestlers who should be elevated further up the card and given their chance at the top of the card at Wrestle Mania but for the reasons alreay stated, i think they were always going with Cena/Rock II but there is a young man working in the WWE right now who gets a hell of a lot of plaudits and he carries around a briefcase with a contract that guarantees him a shot and any title in the WWE, yes, my call is at Wrestle Mania after John Cena defeats The Rock to once again become the WWE champion, Dolph Ziggler will cash in his Money in The Bank shot and win the WWE title. I imagine there will be many that will totally dismiss this but this is what I think will happen so we'll just have to wait and see.

The other big match set for Wrestle Mania is of course The Undertaker vs CM Punk. Will Wrestle Mania XXIX be the one that the streak finally goes, should the streak ever end, if so, is CM Punk the man that should be the one to end it? Three questions that dominate a lot of wrestling podcasts and websites, my thoughts, well, looking in from the outside as someone who doesn't really watch the WWE's product but was watching up until The Undertaker got to about 11-0 I'm undecided to be honest. The Undertaker doesn't have much left in the tank, I've heard plenty say he should be able to retire with the streak intact because it's gone on for 20 Wrestle Mania's what would be the point of ending it? The Undertaker has been a great servant to the WWE, he has been very well paid for the privilege but still, the thought of retiring being undefeated at Wrestle Mania is a big thing. I said above I was undecided but now I think he'll go over Punk and then come back for one final Wrestle Mania to make it 22-0 at the 30th show.

I do look forward to see how this all pans out both with Rock & Cena and if my prediction comes to fruition about Ziggler and I am interested in seeing if indeed CM Punk can end the streak or The Undertaker rolls on for one more Wrestle Mania.

Feel free to tweet me @WLHSTU with any thoughts/comments on this article.

This has been Stuart Rodgers, owner of

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Monday 11 March 2013

Going Beyond The Mat With Roland Alexander By Rock Rims

If you’ve been a fan of pro wrestling for at least a few years you’ve no doubt heard of if not seen the movie “Beyond the Mat” which was first released in March of 2000. “Everybody knows about that movie” Colt Cabana once said on his podcast and Roddy Piper called it “The Best Documentary ever made about Professional Wrestling.” The movie which was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Films and put together and directed by Barry Blaustein, offered a behind the scenes look at professional wrestling and followed the day to day lives of pro wrestlers who were at various stages in their careers.

And profiled in the beginning stages of their careers were professional wrestlers Mike Modest and Tony Jones, who were part of Roland Alexander’s All Pro Wrestling promotion in Hayward, California. While people came away from the movie with differing views of Roland Alexander, some having a desire to meet and train with him, some feeling he was a “prick”, and others wanting to bear his children, what I’ve found to be indisputable is that Roland Alexander is a fan of pro wrestling and is very passionate about it.

I first met began communicating with Roland through the California Classic Wrestling Facebook page. Growing up in Hayward, California (about 45 miles from San Francisco) he was a fan of Pro Wrestling and in particular a fan of Roy Shire’s Northern California promotion.

“My father had been a prizefighter before meeting my mother and we used to go the store where he would pick up copies of “Ring” magazine because he still followed the sport” Said Roland in our recent interview. “And one day when I was 7 years old, I noticed that there was a small section in the magazine devoted to Pro Wrestling. And he took notice that I had begun to watch wrestling on television and so one day when we went to the store he said, ‘It’s only fair that if I get a magazine that we should get one for you.’ So I looked around and settled on a magazine called ‘Wrestling Revue’. And I grew to love that magazine, absolutely loved it! But my mom hated it because it always came with centerfold full-color pinups that I would tape to my bedroom wall. And when I would decide to replace an old pinup poster with a new one, not only would the old poster come off of the wall but some of the paint too. And that really pissed her off!”

“After my father passed away I had an Uncle who loved Pro wrestling and began taking me to the TV tapings at the Channel 2 Studios of KTVU. What a great scene, as it was near the water and they would have the bleachers there, and they would have the play by play guy who was Walt Harris and the athletic commission Doctor sitting at ringside, which really contributed to making things more believable. I had a wrestling autograph book which was the greatest thing that you could have as a kid. I got to meet lots of the wrestlers like Pepper Gomez, Edouard Carpentier and others. I miss that and it’s sad that they don’t have that these days. Now they have barricades, where before in the 60’s and 70’s they didn’t. You’d see a wrestler standing in one corner of the ring before the match started and he’d be signing autographs for the fans. I remember Pepper Gomez doing that, and he’d be facing his corner but he’d also have one eye on his opponent on the lookout of a sneak attack. Something like that also helped make everything so believable.”

I can certainly identify with those memories that Roland has of being a young wrestling fan, as two of the important aspects of that era were the existence of kayfabe and the intimacy a fan felt with the sport because they had an access to the wrestlers that you often find in the Indies but you just don’t find with the “Big Two” these days. One of the biggest scores I ever had as a young wrestling fan was just before a lumberjack match at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, where I just casually walked around the ring and collected all of the wrestler’s autographs!

Roland himself would continue to collect not only autographs but great memories of watching such wrestling legends as Ray Stevens, Pepper Gomez, Pat Patterson, Harley Race, and Rocky Johnson, just to name a few. In fact, Roland would become friends with many of the wrestlers, with wrestler Paul Diamond (the original one) “smartening him up” to the business when still in his teens, and also becoming quite close with Rocky Johnson. “I would hang out with and work out with Rocky, play ‘cribbage’ with his beautiful wife Ata, and even babysat a then 2 year old Dewey, not knowing that one day he’d grow up to be known as ‘The Rock.’”

As the years went by Roland’s appreciation and passion for Pro Wrestling would continue to grow, as would his understanding of the different aspects that went into making a match one worth watching. Eventually his involvement with Pro Wrestling would encompass much more than watching the Television tapings and Live Events put on by Roy Shire’s promotion or partying with “The Boys”.
“It was 1991 and I was just too burnt out from my job as an accountant for a corporation and I wanted something else to do,” Roland continued. “Rick Thompson who had been a wrestler and helped the Samoans Afa and Sika break into wrestling, approached me and said, ‘You’ve got to good a head for wrestling, why didn’t you ever get into it, even as a manager?’” And so the idea of opening up a wrestling school was planted in Roland’s mind.

“Well when I was growing up watching wrestling, there were only 2 schools that I heard of that were teaching wrestling and that was Verne Gagne’s in Minnesota and Stu Hart’s in Calgary. I would later learn that the best one was being run by Boris Malenko, Dean’s Dad.” Roland soon found out that there were now many more wrestling schools in the U.S. than he realized.

“As a result of Pro Wrestling going from regional promotions to National ones like the WCW and WWF, there were lots of wrestlers who were suddenly out of jobs and some were now turning to running schools.” Roland would also discover a problem in that, while many of the better wrestlers were able to secure jobs with the WWF and WCW, many of the ones who weren’t so good or sound in their craft weren’t able to. Roland feels that it was some of these who were opening some of the wrestling schools, and thus as a result, it became a case of “the blind leading the blind.”

Originally known as “Pacific Coast Sports”, the school which would come to be called “The Boot Camp” was opened up by Roland and a partner in 1991. “The first 5 years we struggled a bit and then we got a break when Spike Dudley (a former student of Roland’s) made it big in ECW, as well as when Vic Grimes and Crash Holly had success.” Other graduates of the “Boot Camp” include the Great Khali, Michael Modest, Donovan Morgan, Tony Jones, Brent Albright, and the “Queen of Wrestling” Sara Del Rey.

Roland feels that there are several differences that separate his school and most others in the U.S.

“I offer a two year program, although some learn a little quicker and can do it in a year. Because this is a complex sport, a complex performance art. I couldn’t teach you to be a good cook at McDonald’s in 3 months. I want my students to be absolutely ready when they graduate, to look good.” Roland said that one of the biggest compliments he ever received was when Dave Meltzer stood in disbelief when finding out that one of Alexander’s students, who had just impressed Meltzer with his wrestling performance, was only making his pro debut.

Training in the APW Boot Camp consists of three stages: Beginner, Semi-Pro, and Pro. The student learns the basics and fundamentals of wrestling (“We teach 5 different kinds of arm bars. I don’t know any other school that does that”) and progresses into the higher stages where he learns such important facets of the game as detailed selling and advanced ring psychology. Roland adds, “I’ve surrounded myself with good people over the years and I believe that we have one of the top 2 or 3 schools in the country.”

And one of those good people would undoubtedly have to be Bryan Danielson. With the success of the movie “Beyond the Mat” came more awareness of Roland and his school. “It was good for APW and I’ll be forever grateful” said Roland. (“Roland is known Worldwide” said “Wrestling’s Last Hope” writer Jose Haze) It also led to an increase in revenue for Roland that resulted in his producing 2 well known events in Independent Pro Wrestling history: The King of the Indies tournaments in 2000 and 2001. The inaugural tournament was considered a success and received acclaim, but it was the 2001 event that proved to be a pivotal point in recent Indy history.

Going from the previous year’s 8 man to a 16 man format in 2001, the tournament featured a who’s who of North America’s Independent Wrestling talent. “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Low Ki, Samoa Joe, Brian “Spanky” Kendrick, Tony Jones, AJ Styles, Bison Smith, Frankie Kazarian, Doug Williams, Christopher Daniels and Adam Pearce were just some of the wrestlers who participated. RF video (who distributes the 2 Disc DVD set of the event), whose owner and President Rob Feinstein would go on to found Ring of Honor, has referred to this tournament as the inspiration for the forming of ROH.

In the opening round Danielson and Spanky would set the tone for the rest of the weekend tournament with an incredible match. Danielson has said of this match: : “I wasn’t supposed to win the match, but we put on such a good match that Nick(Bockwinkel who along with the Destroyer was one of the legends in attendance) went up to Roland and told him that ‘that kid should win this tournament. Roland offered me a job to wrestle and train (at APW), gave me a good salary on top of that and the flexibility to do my Indy bookings.”

Roland paid Danielson $350 a week (Almost 3 times what he normally paid) to be a trainer at the Boot Camp and offered him a room in his house to live in while he was training Roland’s students during an 8 month period in 1992. Roland loved Danielson’s work ethic, abilities, and attitude. Roland says, “I like Brian because Brian was a wrestler. His room was lined with several hundred wrestling tapes and he never came out of his room, he was too busy watching, studying tapes. He was a student of the game.” And regarding Danielson’s continued success, Roland says “This guy is a wrestler [meaning someone who uses actual wrestling holds and techniques], and at one time Japan and ROH were better for him. I’m not surprised that he got over, but I was surprised that WWE allowed him to get over, because Vince McMahon hasn’t catered to wrestlers. Now that Vince’s product has gotten stale, it might be different.”

The school has had its ups and downs over the years as has Roland’s physical health, and the downturn in the economy has affected many businesses, and while Roland’s hasn’t been immune to that, he continues to persevere. “The Wrestling School business is a struggle today”, observes Roland. “The California Classics facebook board has rejuvenated me. While I may not like how the wrestling business is today, I still have a large passion for pro wrestling. I started as a fan and I’m still a fan.”

In my personal communications with Roland it’s very obvious that he’s still a fan and I’m glad that he is, because he has a wealth of knowledge and memories to pass along. One of the first lessons he learned from Paul Diamond that he still continues to pass along is “Keep your mouth shut, your ears open, and absorb like a sponge.”

That’s wise advice to follow, whether on the mat or beyond. – RR

In the near future I’ll be doing an in-depth retrospective of The King of the Indies 2001 tournament complete with interviews, so stay tuned! Below are links for APW’s website, twitter page and their YouTube channel which has tons of APW matches and a great in-depth panel discussion on the past and present of Pro Wrestling. You can also keep up to date on my future articles (and take a look at my past ones) via my twitter and blog links which are also below.

APW Official Website:
Follow APW on twitter:
APW Then & Now

Rock Rims’ twitter & blog pages:

Mick Foley: Underrated Hall of Famer By Derrie Catton

Take a moment and think of Mick Foley’s greatest talent.

What did you opt for? Was it his ability to roll through throngs of barbed wire? Was his penchant for being put through a flaming table? Or was it the extraordinary way in which he could take a dive off a sixteen foot high metal structure? Whatever it was, it was more than likely something that doesn’t do justice to the depths of his capability. In terms of professional wrestling Mick Foley brought a lot to the table, it could even be argued that he built one of the legs.

In his career, Foley showcased a spectrum of fortes in professional wrestling and they all span from the personalities he created. Popularly there were three, realistically there are four, pedantically there were several more, but let’s bring our focus to the three time WWE champion, Mankind. One of the most important aspects of pro wrestling is the person in the middle of the ring and how much the audience can invest in him or her. That investment demands believability, and Foley was one of the best when it came to presenting someone that met that demand. Within seconds of watching Mankind, you had a sense of who he was as his and when it all added up you received a quick realisation that you were seeing something. That something is the often elusive and mysteriously described ‘it’. When you look at something original, stand out and special, you are looking at ‘it’. And from the moment Foley made his debut as Mankind, ‘it’ was on display.

Mankind was a master class of presentation on several levels. Immediately, he is noticeable as something different which is a strong first impression to make. Many fall victim to following other wrestlers in an attempt to be better than them, but greatness becomes noticeable when it steps out of the queue and stands alone. Mankind stood alone on the WWE stage as something the fans had never seen before, and much was done to lay on that idea in a thick spread. The mannerisms were perfect; The confused wandering from behind the entrance curtains, the stark squealing during matches, and the irrefutable pulling out of hair aided by the bald patches. The belief in a masochistic and deranged individual is easily affirmed, and Foley presents a wrestler like no other who then operates in habitat accurately.

To hear Mankind cut a promo is a treat, from alluring demented elements to the humorous ones, and a story was always established going into a match. Foley brought the personality to the look of Mankind, to the style of wrestling, and to the promos he cut backstage. Smartly, he was integrating himself into the system WWE operates on and doing it in a way no one could compare to. So it came as no wonder that Mankind became aligned with a star like The Undertaker in strong feud, which saw the debut of a boiler room brawl, an innovation attached to Foley’s name. It’s no further wonder that fourth months after debut, he got headline status against Shawn Michaels for the championship title. The match also established Foley as a man who could keep up with a man of Michael’s energy and fire. Foley would go on to engage in the first Buried Alive match and be a main stay of the top WWE stars for years to come. His capabilities were not in doubt.

Arguably, Foley’s biggest impact on the wrestling world was his innovation. Inside the ring he would approach several actions in a unique way. The Cactus Clothesline became a famous part of his repertoire, showing a competitor willing to put everything into his attack, including risk of his own wellbeing. Further than that, the way Foley would connect with steel steps was astounding. After seeing every wrestler and their dog sent shoulder first into the steel, to see a man go knee first with a horrendous audio supplement, and then be thrust over the stairs was a breathtaking image. Foley’s innovation is parallel with many great superstar’s trademark innovations, which inspire and shape the wrestling of today. Foley is another who understands and shows how the tweaking and variance on the wrestling style, make for someone who goes far in the business.

In 1998 Foley gave audiences his most famous career moment, with a fall from the top of a sixteen foot high cell to an announcers table on the floor below. Despite the aforementioned aptitude for understanding how wrestling works then capitalising it to nth degree, it is this event and events like it that Foley is attributed too. Some people argue that hardcore is an element that doesn’t count as wrestling and Foley was once described as a glorified stuntman, but he offered an aspect of his ability that should only serve to elevate his status. McMahon described Foley as feeling that the audiences would be disappointed if he didn’t offer something associated with hardcore when he performed, and his actions present a man committed to his profession and to entertaining the millions who watch. Foley, despite having barrels of talent to spare, was willing to put his body on the line to deliver some of the most memorable if not the most memorable moments wrestling can offer. That is something worthy of applause. But one must understand the relevance of hardcore and its place in wrestling. Whether being set alight or taking great falls, Foley was always telling a story, sometimes as simple as a man with the with the will to carry on after great pain a suffering – a story which people will pay to see time and time again.

To many, Mick Foley enters the Hall of Fame as the man willing to take a lot of punishment, but a closer inspection to his body work shows a high calibre of wrestling aptitude. Foley had the ability to flesh out three characters on television, and convey them on every level that the medium offered. It’s very hard to find a comparison for what Foley displayed in his tenure, as his unique presence is the very thing that elevates him through the ranks of wrestling stardom. So his comparison should draw to those other unique presences, and as it is, he stands up well next to a blue-collared, beer-drinking hell-raiser. While not head of the bill for his year of induction, he is without doubt a top flight addition to the WWE Hall of Fame. Not only is Mick Foley a Hall of Famer, he is bona fide and should be well remembered for his contribution to wrestling.

The article writer can be found on twitter, @DerrieCatton. And as always you can find Wrestling’s Last Hope at

Wednesday 6 March 2013

A Legend Lost : Nick Mason Writes About Paul Bearer

The world of professional wrestling today pay tribute to a legend, to an inspiration in Paul Bearer, who has been taken from us at a young age of just 58.

This morning I woke up in pure shock to hear that my favourite managing on screen personality had departed from earth, I was on top of the world before I read that title, I was exceptionally saddened. 

Many people would know that I have studied Undertakers career right since his debut at survivor series all these years ago, that was where the legend began, Paul Bearer led the Undertaker to the ring with an urn, containing the Deadmans’ power, When the Undertaker was down and beaten, the top of the urn would be lifted and he would once again rise. But it wasn’t all straight forward for the Undertaker, when Paul Bearer brought Kane out to conquer his former friend in the Undertaker. It almost went terrible for the Undertaker, but he carried on.

Along with having an illustrious career with the WWF and TNA he is also commended with the fact that he was ready for anything, he participated in something that looked at the time exceptionally crazy, He was involved in an incident with a cement truck and a glass case. On June 27th in 2004, Paul participated in this stunt for the Pay-Per-View ‘The Great American Bash’ during this Pay-Per-View, Undertaker had defeated both the Dudley Boyz but still decided to ‘suffocate’ him, however, this was later debunked, but it was still amazing at the time.

 Here is a link of the moment -

I don’t really know that much about his TNA career alone because I spent more time looking into him being a manager in the WWE. Nearer the end of his time in the WWE, he did briefly turn face, as Kane’s manager, but he retired from on-screen performing after the WrestleMania in 2000, he then when on to serve as a Road Agent, stage manager, and a talent scout, his contract expired in 2002, which was when he joined TNA. He worked under the name Percy Pringle III.

Paul did make few appearances after this, but he didn’t really have a long spell back on TV.

Paul Bearer will always be missed and will always be an inspiration for all aspiring managers and how wrestlers can work well with a very talented manager. The Undertaker and Paul Bearer had a massive amount of chemistry and it just worked so well, both Undertaker and Paul were extremely shady characters, Paul with his high pitch voice and extremely pale face and the Undertaker with his tall, dominating and scary presence. 

I was highly expecting to see Paul back on TV with the WWE soon with Wrestlemania looming, with Punk walking down to the ring with another golden man in Paul Heyman. This could have been a perfect opportunity to reunite the two.
Never Forgotten.

Thanks for reading.
Nick Mason