Ace Hawkins on WWE Pay-per-view!

Ace Hawkins tells the crowd in Chicago why he and Hatton will defeat Ryback.

Ace Hawkins surprised St. Louis fans last night when he wrestled a match at Extreme Rules IV in Rosemont, Illinois.  He teamed with Heath Hatton to take on the massive “Ryback” Skip Sheffield.

The PWI Rookie of the Year, Ace took the microphone before his match to convince the crowd that the duo was the real deal.

“For the last several weeks on SmackDown, many men have tried to make a name for themselves in their first-ever WWE matches and they’ve all fallen flat on their faces!  But no one superstar stands a chance against two at the same time, especially us two.”

Hawkins delivers a signature leaping forearm attack on Ryback.

The math still wasn’t in their favor.  Ryback was dominant.

Any time a local competitor makes it to a national or worldwide stage, we salute them.  Congratulations, Ace.

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Yes, There is Wrestling Tonight!

Join us at South Broadway Athletic Club tonight for MMWA action.  The bell is at 8 P.M.

Hail to Chase King, Baby!

The new TV Champion, Chase King, will be in action March 10th. This screenshot is the moment following his title win last month.

St. Louis native Chase King knew he was wrestling Max Archer February 11th when he walked into the locker room at South Broadway.  What he didn’t know was that he would be leaving later on with the TV Championship.

Brandon Espinosa held the MO/IL Heavyweight and TV Titles, which was one too many for Commissioner Keith Smith.

“Here in the MMWA & the SICW, you can’t hold more than one belt at a time.  I decided that King vs. Archer would be for the vacant TV belt,” Smith explained.

While that rule has been waived in the past, it worked in King’s favor last month, after he put the Georgian down with a jumping flatliner.

Will Chase be able to run with this opportunity and campaign for a more prominent status in the region?  We may just see at the “Tim Miller Birthday Bash” this Saturday at SBAC.

Note that no matches have been made official as of this post.

Dave Vaughn: Nice Guys Finish Last

Dave Vaughn is aggressive as of late.  No one ever condemned a pro wrestler for being aggressive, but it appears that “The Wrestling Machine” has gone too far.

Dave Vaughn choked Ricky Cruz unconscious following their match on January 21st.  Today at South Broadway, Cruz seeks his revenge in a no disqualification match.  Ricky Cruz is undefeated in singles matches, but he’s dealing with his most dangerous adversary yet.

Once a fan favorite, Dave Vaughn was heralded as an all-around good guy, as well as a technical master.  Slowly, “The Wrestling Machine” as we knew him, fell apart.

In November 2010, Vaughn lost the MO/IL Heavyweight Title to Donovan Ruddick after an intense match.  He never received his deserved rematch.

In March 2011, Vaughn defeated Gary Jackson, then the heavyweight champ.  Vaughn was awarded the TV Title and a shot at the big one looked promising.  It never came.

“I won every title here.  Ever since Brandon Espinosa won his (MO/IL Heavyweight) Title, I’ve been pushed aside and I don’t like it.  I’ve been the “nice guy” for quite a long time… what has it gotten me?  I never got my rematch for that belt!”

If one inspects the psyche of Vaughn, he will find a jealous and angry man, now willing to do whatever it takes to not just rise above his competition, but to take them out of the competition.

In a no disqualification match, this is the scariest thing for Ricky Cruz.

It Happened!

Brandon Espinosa pins an unconscious Gary Jackson to win the title.

Brandon Espinosa is the MO/IL Heavyweight Champion.

It happened last night at South Broadway in a lumberjack match.  After an argument between Ricky Cruz and Dave Vaughn broke into the ring and the match, Vaughn speared the daylights out of Jackson.

Espinosa landed a thunderous frog splash onto Gary Jackson.  Referee Keith Smith Jr. counted three as “The Great One” lay motionless, unaware of what hit him.

A riot nearly broke out as fans and wrestlers alike were outraged.  However, most of what Espinosa refers to as the “under 30” crowd were on their feet, wildly cheering on their man.

There was no time to celebrate, though.  Espinosa quickly retreated to the locker room to avoid the volatile atmosphere.  Before he walked out of the main room of the SBAC, he made sure to hoist his two belts above his head.

In the battle royal that followed, Big Dave Osborne clinched the Battle Royal Championship.  Osborne and MO/IL Junior Heavyweight Champ Ace Hawkins were both Espinosa’s training students.  In the back, Brandon made a revelation.

“The change is here.  We (Hawkins, Osborne and myself) hold all of the singles titles now.”

It May Be Choppin’ Time for Espinosa!

The Lumberjacks stopped the assault on Gary Jackson on December 3rd. They inspired the match to happen on January 21st.

Saturday night, the South Broadway Athletic Club locker room will be empty because every wrestler will be ringside for the main event.  It’s a lumberjack match.

Gary Jackson will defend his MO/IL Heavyweight Championship for the third time against Brandon Espinosa.  If either Jackson or Espinosa finds themselves outside the ring, the collective roster will throw them back in the ring.

Hopefully, this time we will get to see a conclusion to one of the hottest feuds in MMWA history.  The Big Texan (dressed as Santa Claus!) interrupted the last title match December 3rd and attacked the champion.

The Lumberjacks (Abe & Gabe Hall) stormed the ring to aid Gary and clear Texan and Espinosa from the squared circle.  Inspired by the flanneled tag team, Commissioner Keith Smith declared a third title encounter for January 21st.

So far, Jackson has garnered two disqualification wins against Espy in this series (although the first one should have been a no contest).

Understandably, Brandon was livid when Phil E. Blunt cost him his first title shot.  But even though The Big Texan spoiled Espy’s second shot last month, Espinosa joined the masked man in stomping a grounded Jackson.

It begs the question: Is Brandon Espinosa worried he can’t beat “Gorgeous” Gary Jackson?

(UPDATE: Due to a family issue, Lumberjacks Abe & Gabe will not be appearing.)

Ace Hawkins – PWI’s Rookie of the Year

Ace Hawkins is the 2011 Rookie of the Year.  The news broke today when Pro Wrestling Illustrated released next month’s magazine in its digital format.   The 21 year old had his first full year of wrestling in 2011.

Let’s put this award in perspective.  Prominent winners in the past include: Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, Goldberg, The Giant, Steve Austin, Lex Luger, Tommy Rich, Ricky Steamboat, Bob Backlund, Ric Flair and Larry Zbyszko.

Hawkins clinched this honor without WWE, TNA or ROH television exposure.  However, the high flyer is known on the indy scene all over the Midwest.

Earlier this month, he captured the MO/IL Junior Heavyweight Title by defeating Johnny Courageous with a running Ace Crusher (Ace also holds two other titles in Illinois).  Check this and other highlights out in the video above.

The PWI Awards are decided by fan voting.  Hawkins garnered 16% of the votes in a crowded field of nominees.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated is the flagship of wrestling magazines since 1979.  The 2011 PWI Awards issue will be available at newsstands on January 30.  You can purchase the digital version now.

Old School vs. New School (Part II)

Espinosa has won many independent titles, including the TV Championship (center). Is a Heavyweight Title reign inevitable?

Remember that David Bowie song, “Changes?” Perhaps that would be an appropriate theme song for this Saturday’s card at South Broadway. The MMWA’s December 3rd event showcases “old school” against “new school” in two key matches that could directly shape the future of St. Louis Wrestling.

First, we will see Jackson-Espinosa II for the MO/IL Heavyweight Championship. The history between these two has made this the most intriguing feud in MMWA history.

Two months ago, Espinosa was a knockout punch away from winning the big one when Phil E. Blunt ran in and hit Jackson with his “Dope Drop,” prompting a DQ.

Then, the tension exploded last month as the two had a major brawl outside the ring. A rare event, we saw most of the locker room emptied to contain the mess. Espinosa challenged Jackson to a rematch on the premise that “Gorgeous” Gary “doesn’t run from anybody.” Gary accepted, MMWA Executive Director Tony Casta signed it.

Espinosa still has his guaranteed title shot for the championship. Upon posting, it appears that this match will not count as a “cash-in” (since management made the match, not Brandon).

The second feature sees Ace Hawkins challenging Johnny Courageous for the veteran’s MO/IL Junior Heavyweight Championship in a rematch. Last month, both wrestlers were pinned at the same time. Neither man was happy with the draw and both lobbied for a restart. The best they could get was a rematch for this Saturday.

“There were not two, but four shoulders pinned to the mat, meaning Courageous kept the title,” Ace said. “Fortunately, he offered me a rematch. Unfortunately for him, I will fight ‘til the last breath for that Junior Heavyweight Championship. Good luck, Johnny.”

Johnny Courageous will try to ground Ace with his technical prowess. Ace will need to go to his aerial arsenal to win his first title within the MMWA.

The competitors in these matches will all have their fans out Saturday to cheer them on. Be sure to vote for the combination you want to win below.

Champions Galore! Who will be “King of Cable?”

Card Subject to Change.

Eight of the best wrestlers in the Missouri-Illinois area will compete in a one-night single-elimination tournament for the “King of St. Louis Cable” Cup trophy and a guaranteed MO/IL Heavyweight Title shot this Saturday.

MO/IL Heavyweight Champion Gary Jackson vs. Ace Hawkins is the first quarterfinal match.  If Gary wins the tournament, he will choose his next challenger.  Ace Hawkins would love get to the second round to face his former trainer, Espinosa.

TV Champion Brandon Espinosa and Big Dave Osborne wrestle in the first round.  Espinosa wants to win this whole thing to get another title shot and if he runs into Phil E. Blunt eventually, he won’t complain.

MO/IL Junior Heavyweight Champion Johnny Courageous vs. Phil E. Blunt is a toss-up.  Johnny has expressed his fascination with moving up and being the king of both weight classes.  Blunt’s participation is controversial due to his interference in the last title match; most feel he should not be rewarded.

Battle Royal Champion Dave Vaughn vs. Sean Vincent will round out the quarterfinals.  Vincent suffered a minor neck injury in a match with Ace Hawkins in Hillsdale.  He has been cleared to wrestle and the match is on again.

No titles are on the line in the tournament.  If Jackson wins, he will choose his next title challenger.

Former TNA Women’s Champion Madison Rayne will wrestle Stacey O’Brien.  Two weeks ago, Rayne came up short at Bound for Glory VII in an attempt to regain said title.  O’Brien wants to prove she belongs on the women’s national scene.

The Tag Team Championship will be on the line when The Big Texan & Tony Raze fight The Lumberjacks.  Abe & Gabe must win to prove they are still a competitive force in the division they dominated for close to twenty years.  You can bet the house that this one will not end “clean.”

The bell is at 8 PM, but merchandise man Nick Ridenour is sponsoring a wrestling trivia competition at 4 PM.  If interested, call him at (314) 631-3878.  The MMWA hopes that all of the great South Broadway fans join us at American Legion Post 162 for this memorable tournament.

The War of Generations

Espinosa, left, is gunning for Jackson's MO/IL crown (Photo by Mike VanHoogstraat).

When a sports promoter like Tony Casta deals with two massive egos, a deal is hard to come by.  Just look at Pacquiao-Mayweather in boxing.  While we may not see that fight, we will see Gary Jackson vs. Brandon Espinosa this Saturday, the 8th, at South Broadway.

After Jackson’s victory last month, Espinosa confronted the champ.  He raised his own TV Title high and declared he deserved a shot at the big prize.

“You say you’re a fighting champ and you haven’t been.  While you have been gone, I have been defending as the Wild World of Wrestling Television Champion!  Next month, I will beat you, end your career and make you pass the torch!”

Gary always is quick to point out he never backs down from a challenge, despite Brandon’s accusations that he is protected by Casta.  Jackson acknowledges someday he will “pass the torch.”  Now is not that day.

“I am going to pass the torch… up into ‘you know what!’  Turn around, and I’ma put the torch right up in there!”

“Gorgeous” Gary Jackson managed a sudden crucifix pin on Donovan Ruddick December 4th to win the MO/IL Heavyweight Championship.  Since then, he has defended the title five times against: The Big Texan (twice), Mark Sterling and Sean Vincent (twice).

“Thee” Brandon Espinosa rolled up Dave Vaughn for the win and the TV Championship June 11th.  He has thwarted: Ace Hawkins, Bill Murray, Chase King and LaMarcus Clinton to keep the title.  The TV Championship is not on the line against Jackson.

On paper, Brandon Espinosa will be Gary Jackson’s toughest opponent yet.  The 24 year old is the highest-ranked independent Midwest wrestler in the PWI 500 at 329.

However, Jackson is a 27 year veteran (older than Brandon himself) and Espinosa will be at a weight disadvantage.  Espinosa usually comes in at 190, well below the junior heavyweight limit of 220.  He will give up 40 lbs. to Jackson’s 230.

Also, it’s “Luck of the Draw” night; the undercard matches will be randomly drawn.