A Shore Special – Through the Curtain: Pro Wrestling Evo kicks off with a title tournament
There is an old saying here in the South that goes, "I told you that story to tell you this one." The idea is that you need some back information before you can fully understand the main story that needs to be told. And since we in the South like telling stories, we have to tell two to tell one. Storytelling is very much a part of Southern culture.
Not surprisingly then, I consider myself a storyteller. No matter what I am writing, whether it is a report for this site, or a marketing piece for a company, I try to tell a story. A list of facts is more than boring, it's clinical and cold. A story, on the other hand, invites you in. When a story is done right, you feel very much a part of it. We as wrestling fans know that. That's why we watch. It is what we love when it is good, and what we hate when it is bad.
So I want to tell you a story about Robbie. Robbie and his family were the first people through the doors last night at the Pro Wrestling Evo event. I was there to cover a promotion that was just starting up and having a tournament to crown their new champion. Robbie was there for his first live event. He is seven years old, and he loves professional wrestling. He visited the souvenir table five times before the room was half filled and bought a luchador mask immediately.
The room itself was a community theater that was carved out of an old warehouse. On either side were art shops. In fact, we had to enter through one of the art shops, and that was where the bathrooms were located. If I stood on the top rope I could have reached the ceiling, and two sides of the ring only had two feet of clearance before there was a wall. Yet they managed to create an entrance ramp and have enough seating for a little over 80 people. No security rails either. Robbie can truthfully tell his friends his first live experience was "raw."
Robbie and I settled in on the front row as the event started. The first match was Cedric Alexander vs. "The Manscout" Jake Manning. I had seen Cedric at the ROH show the week before in Charlotte where he wrestled Mike Bennett. I had also seen Manning there, but he was working on the camera crew that night. Manning opened the show by cutting a promo and telling all of us that he hated us. Robbie booed him loudly and called him "The Girlscout." Cedric mocked him before the match started, and Robbie cheered.
Cedric and The Manscout gave us a pretty good match. The ending was booking 101. Manning had brought his canteen and rule book to the ring, and he showed the ref where he had screwed up the near fall. Cedric crawled over and hooked a rollup for the pinfall victory. Manning continued to protest after the match, but it was over. Robbie turned to me and said, "I like that guy," meaning Cedric.
Next up was Patrick Wright vs. Marcellus King. King was the guy running the show that night and was the cookie cutter, scruffy faced indy guy. King was a beast of a man who sported a gangster gimmick. My wrestling re-virginated buddy Joe later said King was, "Homicide, except he doesn't suck." Take that for what you will.
Wright vs. King was mostly King seeing how far he could throw Wright by using various lifts. Wright bumped around like a champ, and even landed at ringside in front of me and Robbie. King walked over to roll Wright back in the ring and Robbie yelled something at him. King whirled on Robbie, who promptly jumped into grandma's arms and threw his parents under the bus by pointing at them and yelling, "They made me!" King went on to win the match with a fisherman's suplex.
Next up was Zack Salvation vs. Logan East. Logan actually had his face and hair done up like Hugh Jackman. Hey, it's the indys. And don’t make me bring up the Yeti and Hornswoggle, yeah? Salvation was my pick coming into the match. For those who don't know who I'm talking about, see my Weekend Promo. He has a great look, and it turns out he's primarily a heel. Color me surprised.
At one point in the match, Zack rolled to the floor. When Logan followed, he knocked him down on the apron. Robbie found that to be "not nice" and informed Salvation of the same. Salvation told him to shut up before he told him who his real daddy was. He rolled Wolv…er, Logan back in the ring and Robbie lost it. He didn't cry mind you, he folded his chair up and intended to give it to Logan so he could beat Salvation to death with it. His mom talked him out of it, but it took considerable effort. Salvation went onto win with the Zack Lash, a move very similar to the cool shot.
The final match of the first round was Cale Crosby vs. "The Icon" Joey Silva. Crosby was a hulking man who played the rough heel. Silva arrived late to the show and was limping a little before, but when the lights came on, he was ready to go. Robbie liked Silva. At one point, Crosby slammed Silva and Silva rolled to the edge of the ring on our side. Robbie ran over and grabbed his hand to give him encouragement until mom grabbed him and pulled him back. After taking some sick looking bumps from Crosby, Silva hooked a surprise roll up for the win.
There was a 15 minute intermission after that, which was a good thing. I needed to speak with the ring announcer/commentator Rowdy, and Robbie needed to go to the bathroom. I made sure my picture taking wasn't getting in the way. Robbie made sure he was ready for the second half. I asked him a few questions, and confirmed what I suspected. His favorite wrestler was Cedric Alexander and his least favorite was Zack Salvation. I asked him if he was ready for the second half. He said yes. He wasn't. Neither of us was.
The semi-finals kicked off with Cedric Alexander vs. Marcellus King. This was a great match that highlighted both Alexander's athleticism and King's strength. Robbie cheered for his hero and booed King whenever he scored any offense. I had moved to one of the narrow clearance sides to take another picture, and Alexander tossed King to the floor near Robbie. He hit the far ropes and charged. As I wondered what Cedric would do if he had room to work, he did exactly what I thought he would do. He dove through the ropes and crashed with King into the front row.
I rushed over with my camera, ready to snap a great picture of the carnage. I could imagine the "Holy shit" chants about to begin as I reached the destruction. And I froze. There, under King and Alexander, was Robbie's mom. Robbie stood beside her, looking terrified. The room fell crazy silent. Robbie looked for a moment like his world was over.
Suddenly, mom popped up and said, "Hell yeah, let's do it again." She told Robbie not to worry, she had had the lucky seat. Robbie settled down, and King and Alexander returned to the ring where Alexander reversed a tilt-a-whirl lift into a DDT for the win. Robbie was very happy with that, but not so much with the post-match attack that saw King hit a big boot and fishermen's suplex on Alexander.
The other semi-final match was Joey Silva vs. Zack Salvation. This was a great match that had the spot of the night in it. Both men attempted crossbodies at the same time, a move we have all seen many times. But somehow, Joey Silva managed to turn their bodies in the air so that the result was a powerslam. Silva made it seem as easy as putting on your socks. Salvation won after a missile drop kick from the second rope. He somehow managed not to hit his head.
As Salvation started to leave, he walked past Robbie who was holding a canned soda. Salvation snatched the can from Robbie and said, "Give me that." He held it for one second and then reached to hand it back to Robbie. Salvation was a great heel, especially for Robbie.
Robbie however, never saw Salvation offer the soda back. Instead, he punched Salvation in the stomach and snatched it back. Salvation sold the punch, and the place came unglued. Did I mention he was a great heel? The crowd chanted, "Robbie! Robbie!" as Salvation and his manager argued with the kid before going to the back. Robbie posed for the crowd who put him over big.
The ring announcer returned to the ring and said they would be returning on March 12 and that semi-final losers Marcellus King and Joey Silva would face off to become the number one contender. He then said he would give away two tickets to the loudest fan. As the people cheered, The Manscout returned to the ring with his rule book. He said he got cheated in the first round, and so he was going to take the free tickets to make it right.
He snatched the tickets from the announcer's hand and went to ringside and offered to give a fan who was sitting on the entrance side the tickets in return for his seat. The fan wouldn't bite at first, but he finally agreed to the exchange. Manning took his seat and the final match of Robbie's hero Cedric Alexander vs. Robbie's most hated heel Zack Alexander, was announced.
Only the very best have had matches better than this, and none of them had to work with a twelve foot ceiling either. Salvation took a shot at Robbie. He had Cedric in a submission hold and Robbie chanted, "Don't tap out." Salvation yelled, "Shut up kid before I tell you the truth about Santa Claus." You heard me say great heel, right?
After about 15 minutes there was a ref bump. The Manscout slithered into the ring and hit a pile driver on Cedric. Salvation thanked him by superkicking him out of the ring. The Manscout ended his night tied to the tree of woe in front of Robbie, and Cedric Alexander recovered to become the first ever Pro Wrestling Evo Champion.
As the crowd started to file out, I sat down with Robbie and I asked him what he thought of his first event. He told me it was fun, and that he had liked it. I asked him about mom getting killed in the semi-finals and he said it was scary, but then it was funny when she was OK. And he said he was sad when it over because Cedric went away. I asked if I would see him again on March 12. He and his family assured me I would.
Now, I told you that story to tell you this one.
After the show, I sat down with the promoter, Ralph Kirkpatrick. I asked him why in the name of God, in this economy, would he decide to start a business that has a 90 percent failure rate in the first year. He gave me some business reasons and some expected, "I love this business" answers. But then he said something I didn't expect.
He said he had seen so many people do this business so wrong. He had seen promoters who booked themselves to be the stars, were more concerned with selling a hot dog than a ticket, and that didn't count the crooks and con men. He said he wanted to see a promotion do all the things right, and show the business the respect it deserves.
He said he was also prepared to lose money on his first few shows. He knew it would take some time to build. But build it he would. And then he offered to let me watch and report on what happened next. He said he wanted people to see what it looked like when it was done right. So I think I will. And over the next weeks and months, I'll share that story with you. And maybe even a Robbie story now and then.
Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Twitter @the_shore_slant. And be sure to check out Pro Wrestling Evo. They will be releasing a DVD of the event in the near future, and you can surely see yours truly running around and taking pictures. I'll be back next week with more Through the Curtain.
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