Now, as promised, a special comment about Saturday’s Dynamo Pro Wrestling event at the Douglas Club (fka Knights Of Columbus Hall) in Wood River, IL.
DISCLAIMER: I’m biased. Deal with it.
I had a surreal experience last Monday as I was a guest on the Brothers On Whatever radio show on WGNU 920 AM. If that radio station sounds familiar, it’s because I worked for WGNU from late 2000 to late 2009; returning to that building after six-plus years was a weird experience, to say nothing of being on the other side of the glass. We mostly talked comedy, but independent wrestling came up as well; you can listen to the audio from the show on the Brothers On Whatever website. I chatted a bit with employees at the station; a few people still work there from my time there. Shoutouts to Peyton and Joe: Sorry about being such a headache back in those days.
The Wood River events have become a showcase for the younger talent in the promotion; as such, the bigger names are usually downplayed. Neither Heavyweight Champion Ricky Cruz nor Jake Dirden were on the card as both were booked elsewhere; other notable names like Shorty Biggs, Outtkast, and Elvis Aliaga weren’t there either.
A few days before the event, Dynamo Pro announced that Davey Richards would be on the card (facing Mike Outlaw in lieu of the previously-announced Outlaw vs. Kevin Lee Davidson bout). However, Luke Roberts announced at the top that Richards was called to work an emergency shift at his job as a licensed paramedic. It’s unfortunate that Davey has gained the unwarranted reputation of canceling on a lot of his local bookings…it’s not always something that he’s able to control, though I can see promotions being wary about booking him as a result.
I didn’t see any fans leave after the announcement of Richards’s absence… and it was the best turnout for Dynamo Pro in Wood River thus far. It’s great that they’ve built another good audience at a new venue…I honestly thought Dynamo was in real trouble when they only ran in Glen Carbon and attendance at the Sports Academy was on the decline. They’ve turned things around in the past few years and built fanbases in Fenton and now Wood River. Will be interesting to see how the second time at The Ready Room goes… Dynamo has a busy February ahead at that venue as well as events in Fenton and Wood River.
Before the official start, Luke Roberts and The Professionals (Shawn Santel & Mauler McDarby) acknowledged a longtime Wood River wrestling fan who passed away in November. He had supported independent wrestling in the area since the days of Metro East Championship Wrestling and the night was dedicated to his memory.
Your ring announcer was Chris Roedel, your assistant ring announcer was Luke Roberts, and your referees were Eric Allen and Jay King.
“Young & Dangerous” Evan Morris vs. The Snitch (w/ Sophie Darling): Morris is racking up nicknames these days as I believe he’s also added “Strong Style” to his collection…he needs to talk to Gary Jackson about consolidating those. Morris got a great reaction in the venue where he got his start as “Evan Money” in MECW. Sophie provided the public service announcement that The Snitch would prefer not to be photographed and that people not acknowledge his presence at the event… err, oops. This was a fine opener, though I don’t think it was a competitive matchup; Morris didn’t have much ceiling clearance to go aerial, so he finished with a TKO onto the knee in 7:15.
Cowboy Ric Maverick vs. Brandon Espinosa: Espy griped about the lack of competition since he is the rightful number-one contender to the Heavyweight Title. Of course, that whole deal was thrown into turmoil with the impromptu tag match at the previous Fenton event, resulting in a four-way title match being set for February. Quite a few of the newcomers aren’t well known or established with the fans, so they don’t get much of a reaction at first. The audience didn’t really buy into Maverick as a legitimate challenge to Espy, but they had a pretty competitive matchup… Espy targeted the arm until he finally put Maverick away with the cross-armbreaker in 9:55. Post-match, Espinosa went for a cheapshot but was decked by Maverick in response… all righty then.
Alpha Class (“The Millenial” Danny Adams & Paco Gonzalez) vs. The Professionals (Shawn Santel & Mauler McDarby): Danny and Paco had a rough outing at last week’s Ring of Honor offering against The Pretty Boy Killers (Keith Lee & Shane Taylor). Santel & McDarby are well-known in the Wood River venue from the MECW days… on top of that, Eric Allen was the referee for this match. Allen had posted a teaser on Facebook with pics of his referee shirt and his wrestling attire, wondering what to wear… heh. If he’s physically capable of an in-ring return, more power to him. I thought this match was really good… as I’ve said in the past, I wonder if Santel and McDarby might do better in a more old-school environment. Adams and Paco have been a solid team from what I’ve seen so far. The finish saw Adams small-package Santel with McDarby trying to turn the pinning combination over, but Paco superkicked McDarby to stop him and Adams got the fall in 8:29.
Afterwards, Santel & McDarby confronted their old rival Allen and slapped the glasses off his face; McDarby said on the mic they had history (MECW) and they didn’t want to deal with a “crippled” ex-wrestler like him. We’ll see if it turns into anything in the long run. Allen did officiate his later matches without incident.
“The Valedictorian” Keon Option vs. Jayson Khaos (w/ C.J. McManus): This was Option’s return from a recent injury; he no longer has the dreadlocks, making him look distinctly different. He gave out graduation caps to a few ringside youngsters; I always appreciate little fan-participation acts like that (My first favorite wrestler was Bret Hart, so the giveaway of the sunglasses was a cool thing at the time). Option also earned some points with me personally for the fact that he owns an Ash Ketchum-style baseball cap… heh. Both guys are working off ring rust as Khaos hasn’t wrestled regularly in quite a while; he’s only a few matches into his comeback after a decade-or-so layoff. I thought the match went well but it had a screwy finish; C.J. distracted the referee after Option hit a Side Effect, then snapped Option’s throat off the top rope as the official turned his attention to Khaos. Khaos capitalized with a rear naked choke, causing the ref to call for the bell in 10:22 when Option passed out in the hold.
Brandon Aarons & Garrett Shanks vs. The Viking War Party (“American Viking” Alexandre Rudolph & “Littlest Viking” Jake Parnell): Rudolph and Parnell had wrestled for Dynamo in the past; in fact, both had started their wrestling careers with the promotion before branching out. The Vikings have been traveling a lot in recent times; they’ve become regulars for IWA Mid-South and worked for Jersey All-Pro Wrestling a few times. They were also mentioned in the speculation regarding CHIKARA’s King Of Trios(along with “The Gordiest Viking” Frank Wyatt) and are on the radar of Georgia’s Why We Wrestle promotion (which runs in the venue that NWA Wildside/Anarchy once used).
The Vikings threw chairs into the ring before the match. The tag team experience was in their favor as this was a first-time teamup for Aarons and the rookie Shanks; notably, Shanks had his own cheering section for the matchup. It was a baptism by fire for Shanks to say the least… he took a beating from both Vikings. Aarons and Shanks gained some momentum, but Rudolph hit Shanks with his metal spike behind the referee’s back and got the pin in 11:08.
Intermission~! Your official Ben Simon Concession Count™ for the night: One can of root beer and peanut butter cups. I bought frozen vegetables, tomato and broccoli soup, and baby carrots(!) at the grocery store this weekend, so I’m TRYING to eat healthier. (As usual, your mileage may vary…I accept that I’m gaining weight, but I don’t have enough fat-guy jokes to make that work in a comedic sense.)
Justin D’Air vs. Jayden Fenix: This promised to be a fun sprint and it was. When Billy McNeil refers to someone (D’Air) as having a crazy wrestling style, that’s saying something. Fenix has really upped his game in the personality department. They did an exchange of spine punts that reminded me of Wrestle Kingdom 10, specifically Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii… someone’s been studying their match videos. The low ceiling prevented D’Air from doing too many aerial moves. Fenix raised the knees to block a frog splash, then got the pin with a handful of tights in 5:53.
C.J. Shine vs. Billy McNeil (w/ C.J. McManus & Jayson Khaos): McNeil has been using the old Midnight Express theme since Fenton recently, seeing as how McManus’s stable is called the Midnight Society; wonder when Shawn Reel will officially return to action? Shine was the clear fan favorite. Billy didn’t want the outside interference from his corner that he got. Shine is making an effort to show more personality, which is good to see; as noted, it takes time to establish a connection to the fans. Billy is well-liked among area fans; we’ll see if it turns into a full-fledged membership or if he’ll eventually split from McManus to feud with the Society. Shine rallied but McManus distracted the ref (two C.J.s = MARKET CONFUSION~!), much to Billy’s chagrin. While both Billy and the ref were occupied, Khaos entered the ring to plant Shine with the Unprettier… McNeil didn’t see the interference, but still went to the top rope to finish with the old-school Pac-Man Attack (half-turn frog splash) in 10:08. Fan reaction to his win was mixed to say the least.
Mike Outlaw vs. Kevin Lee Davidson: As noted, this match was announced ahead of time (I even made a point to mention it on the radio show); it was changed to Outlaw vs. Davey Richards, but went back to the originally-scheduled matchup with Davey’s cancelation. Elgin trainee K.L.D. has gained a lot of exposure with his appearances for Ring of Honor; he’s scheduled to wrestle in Europe in the near future, which is a pretty cool opportunity for him. I was really looking forward to this one, even after Davey’s appearance was announced as I was hoping to see the matchup eventually. It lived up to my expectations as they had a worthy main-event matchup. K.L.D. got a good near-fall at one point after delivering the Hellevator (vertical suplex dropped into a uranagi, a la Matt Morgan, Azrael’s Ted Bundy, or Hirooki Goto’s Shouten Kai). I think that would be a really good finisher for him as he has the size to pull it off. Outlaw scored a hard-fought win in 12:16 after the Mafia Kick followed by the High Noon (top-rope elbowdrop)… that meant both Outlaw and Espinosa gained momentum heading into the big four-way title match in two weeks.
There’s nothing in the immediate area next weekend… I may see if I can get a ride to Metro Pro Wrestling in Kansas City (or maybe I’ll just drive myself). It depends on whether I get any comedy bookings for the weekend as those are taking more precedence in recent months.
A very busy February looks like this:
-Saturday 2/6: Dynamo Pro Wrestling in Fenton, MO
-Saturday 2/13: St. Louis Anarchy in Alton, IL; Mid-Missouri Wrestling Alliance in St. Louis, MO
-Sunday 2/14: St. Louis Anarchy in Alton, IL
-Saturday 2/20: Pro Wrestling Championship Series in Granite City, IL; Dynamo Pro Wrestling in St. Louis, MO (Ready Room); Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling in East Carondelet, IL
-Sunday 2/21: Wrestling Invades America in Swansea, IL
-Saturday 2/27: Dynamo Pro Wrestling in Wood River, IL; World League Wrestling in Troy, MO; World Powerhouse Wrestling in Collinsville, IL
That’s my special comment for this, the third wrestling event I’ve attended in the year 2016. Good night, good luck, and #yaywrestling.
-PB, Watching Wrestling Wrong Since 1991
P.S. We are all marks.