By A.K. Edwards
It may have been Christmas in July at the South Broadway Athletic Club, but the action inside the ring on Saturday night was far from cold.
In what was perhaps the most important event in SBAC history, Team Elitism took on Team Harris, the group representing respected Commissioner Jim Harris, in a Best-of-Seven series that would determine control of the company.
The theme of the night may have conjured up images of an icy winter, but from this writer’s point of view, tempers were flaring red hot from the opening bell. Whether it was Commissioner Harris bickering with the very despicable Sean Orleans ringside during matches, or Brandon “Espy” Espinosa addressing the crowd, trying to convert the masses to The Elitism–you could feel the intensity in the building from match to match.
Orleans and Espinosa, in particular, had plenty of reason to spew their propaganda. If the Elitism won the night, Orleans would take over as commissioner. While he would get the prestigious title and with it the power, Espinosa would undoubtedly benefit as the top dog of Team Elitism. Orleans may be rising his way up the ladder in the MMWA, but if you follow the strings attached to his back you’ll find the real puppet master behind The Elitism movement: Espy.
Espinosa and his band of thugs started the night off quick, winning three of the night’s first seven matches, thus taking a commanding lead in the race for control.
Newcomer Kevin Lee Davidson cast a shadow over the ring in his South Broadway Athletic Club debut, as he picked up the pin for Team Elitism in a tag match to start the night off.
Chase King and LaMarcus Clinton then cheated their way to a cheap victory over Gary Jackson and Johnathon Zulu, to extend the Elitism’s lead to 2-0. The crowd jeered and booed their disapproval of King and Clinton’s devious ways, but it only seemed to make the dangerous tag team that much more focused, and even more anxious to quiet the obviously pro-Harris fans.
In perhaps one of the more memorable matches of the night, and certainly most historic, MMWA Junior Heavyweight Champion Ace Hawkins successfully defended his title against Andrew “The Wolf” Wilder in the first ladder match in South Broadway history.
The action was intense, to say the least, as both men risked both life and limb to position a ladder in the center of the ring and climb up to reach gold. Wilder was inches away multiple times, and he certainly made Hawkins earn the strap. But in the end it was Hawkins, with the help of a low blow and other dastardly tactics, who found himself alone at the top of the ladder, as he reclaimed his Junior Heavyweight Championship gold.
To be honest, it was tough to determine who was in worse shape following the hellacious match, and that’s not even taking into consideration the state of the ladders–which were wrecked.
At that point, it was 3-0 Elitism, and Jim Harris and his crew were in trouble.
Whatever Harris said in the locker room during intermission certainly fired up the troops though, as Team Harris raced back to tie the series at three with a flurry of exciting wins.
First, Da’Marius Jones and A.J. Williams defended their tag titles against big Jackson Whitechapel and Orleans.
Then, it was Moondog Rover who got the best of Mephisto, who was obviously not as comfortable with the concept of a Dog Collar match as fan favorite Moondog was. Despite Mephisto bringing out a rolled up newspaper in an attempt to shame and beat the beast into defeat, it was Moondog who walked away as the TV Champion.
Finally, despite Barackus’ best attempts to wake up his claw and put Dave Osborne to sleep, Big Dave captured the Survivor Championship in a grueling 2-out-of-3 falls match. Osborne had given Barackus his first defeat.
Tied up 3-3, everything rode on the team gauntlet match to end the night. The winners of the gauntlet, which featured competitors from each team competing one at a time, would determine who walked away from South Broadway with control of the MMWA.
J-Mal Swagg was the first entrant for The Elitism, but he was pinned after a huge leg-drop from Everett Connors of Team Harris off the top rope. Ace Hawkins then appeared in the ring for The Elitism, but he befell the same fate as Swagg, as Connor’s leg drop found him for the 1-2-3.
Down two competitors, The Elitism was obviously desperate as Sean Orleans made his way to the squared circle.
Rather than fight, though, Orleans–true to his loud-mouth nature–grabbed the mic to berate Connors, who was red-hot at the moment. The crafty Hawkins, who was still sulking at ringside, saw the opportunity for yet another Elitism cheap-shot and took it, as he bashed Connors in the back of the head with his Junior Heavyweight Championship title. Orleans took advantage and went in for the easy pin.
The next member to enter the match for Team Harris was Webmaster Stevie K. The fall saw Orleans trying to run away and plead his way out, as Stevie’s power was too much for him. Outside of the ring, Stevie charged in with a high knee but Orleans moved out of the way, causing Stevie’s knee to collide with the ring post. Orleans took the opportunity to roll in the ring and Stevie was counted out.
The Elitism was now tied 2 to 2 with Team Harris. The Elitism had regained momentum.
The crowd erupted upon the entrance of the Team Harris’ third entrant.
It was former MMWA Heavyweight champ Shaft, who was given a hero’s welcome into the ring by the crowd; he stalked and pushed the cowardly Orleans around before making the wannabe commish tap out to his ankle lock.
Shaft stood over Orleans victoriously, but that moment was ruined by Espinosa, who surprised Shaft from behind and then drove his head to the mat with a nasty thud that was heard throughout the building.
Perhaps realizing that the tide had turned in his favor, Espinosa took to the mic to preemptively announce the end of the Harris era, as well as predict a win over Harris’ last chance, Brian James.
Despite Espinosa’s strong words, James entered the ring fully backing up Harris, and it looked like he had a shot until a move from Espinosa found James staring at the ceiling with Espy above him ready to strike. Once again though, Espinosa’s confidence, if not hubris, got he best of him as he grabbed the mic from ringside and berated Harris, while pumping up The Elitism, as well as his own ego.
Before the crowd could catch its breath, the rest of the Elitism came running out of the locker room like a plague, and both James and Team Harris found themselves in very got water. Growing more confident by the moment, Espinosa told Harris that his time was up and that he had nobody left to have his back.
At that moment the doors busted open and Team Harris came out to equalize the situation. Both groups stared daggers at each other from outside the ring as Espinosa and James continued their bout. Espy landed a big punch, the Elitism erupted. James mounted a comeback, and team Harris cheered, firmly behind him.
Perhaps it was the spirit of competition that suddenly filled the room or sadly, perhaps it was just my own naivety. Either way, this writer believed, if just for one moment, that the night would end in the ring with a winner that clearly earned his stripes, while the loser could walk away with his head held high.
Ignorance surely is bliss.
Espinosa would tell you it was a coincidence–truth or not, but Brandon threw James into the referee, which sent the official tumbling across the ring, knocked out.
Espy, true to his Elitism nature, saw the opportunity to pounce and barked orders for his crew to attack James. Team Harris wouldn’t allow the injustice to go on, as they were eventually able to clear the ring and restore order back to a one-on-one scenario.
What looked to once again be a fair fight quickly disintegrated back into mischief, as Orleans attacked James from behind, which gave Espinosa all the time he needed to finish both James and Team Harris off with a wicked chair shot. Metal collided with cranium and Brian James went down. Referee Nick Ridenour recovered to make the count.
It was a truly cold-hearted way for “Christmas in July” to end at the South Broadway Athletic Club.
Because of the stipulations that led to the Best-of-Seven event, Commissioner Harris is now contractually required to resign from his position. Control of MMWA Wrestling now rests in the hands of Orleans, Espinosa, and Timmy Miller (who revealed he was in the group after the match).
One can only fathom what that means for the state of the MMWA, but it certainly can’t be good.