SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
There’s more than one type of successful wrestling show.
Of course, there’s only one type of unsuccessful wrestling show, the kind that loses money, but then I’ve chronicled more than my share of those in the pages, not to mention attended them.
This isn’t one of those columns.
Los Angeles, the second largest market in the country, has the ultimate beer-drinking boutique in Pro Wrestling Guerilla, a promotion that showcases the wrestling world’s best in-ring independent talent.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the second biggest basketball power in eight miles, has Snooty Foxx.
Foxx wouldn’t fit very well on a Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show for any number of reasons, but he knows everybody in Chapel Hill, and he knows how to grind. He’s out in the community, walking Franklin Street, talking it up, doing the tedious work to promote the shows here. He’s got every tchotchke you can make at his gimmick table and he’s taking pictures (no charge) with kids in every spare minute. Tonight, they even had a Halloween costume contest with the winner getting a custom made Snooty Foxx action figure.
Most importantly, Foxx draws women, and they come out to see him, young and old, particularly here in his home town.
In fact, well, some people maybe already aren’t speaking to me so I’ll just move on.
One of my favorite moments of the night was that costume contest, where seven or eight kids lined up in their Halloween costumes and CWF Commissioner William Cross did the old wet t-shirt contest gimmick of putting his hand over each contestant and the fans cheered for their favorite.
Only these weren’t drunk coeds or semi-professionals trying to win 50 bucks, these were little kids who really, really cared about winning this costume contest. This was a situation that called for a delicate touch, and the look on Cross’s face when that dawned on him was pretty entertaining.
There was a kid there who was dressed like Snooty himself (I swear) and, to quote Joe Jares and his dad in “Whatever Happened To Gorgeous George,” “Wouldn’t you know who won the pony!”
So, Saturday night CWF Mid-Atlantic presented Tar Heel Terror at the Hargraves Community Center, a night designed to crown a new Central Carolina Heavyweight Champion. Seeing as how I grew up a few miles from there on the Durham side of HW 15-501, I had a particular interest in finally seeing Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill have their own much-deserved pro wrestling champion.
Snooty Foxx won the first CWF-CC Championship, defeating his supposed friend The Dirty Daddy when local rap star **** ran in to make the final three-count.
One guy who didn’t win was Cain Justice, at least not until the next night when he made his WWE Network debut on the House of Hardy Halloween Special.
Justice, who is beginning to establish a reputation on the east coast for his BJJ/pro wrestling mix ring style is having problems with his Corruption tag team partner Ethan Alexander Sharpe.
Sharpe has his own hybrid style, a mix of Frank Gorshin and Snidely Whiplash. Last Chapel Hill show I sat with his dad, a loudmouth Tar Heel ol’ boy character if there ever was one.
This show I sat with Cain Justice’s mom.
A couple of stories about Mama Justice. Last show in Gibsonville her son’s match is getting good and she stands up and starts chanting, “This is awesome! This is awesome!”
I touch her on the knee and start shaking my head.”We don’t do that here.” Her friend and Barbed Wire City documentary producer John Philapavage gently agrees, “Yeah, we don’t do that here.”
A little later her son is getting his ass kicked and is lying almost unconscious just under the bottom rope. Mama Justice leans forward in his chair and tells him he needed to pick up the pace.
“Hey, Cain! Your mom said you needed to pick up the pace!”
Cain (without moving), “Shut the f— up, Mitchell!”
Then there’s the guy who can work any style of successful show (and Impact Wrestling), who was one of the linch-pins of the last PWG Battle of Los Angeles, Trevor Lee.
Understand, this really was a crowd of mostly casual fans who had come to see Snooty and could probably be perfectly satisfied, for at least a show or two, with stooging and short-cuts. Lee had just flown back that day from an AAW show in Chicago, where he defended the AAW Heritage championship. (By the way, the venue AAW runs is my hands-down favorite place to see a wrestling show. It’s the kind of joint where if a private investigator doesn’t have an office next door, then a palm reader would.)
Trevor Lee faces Cam Carter, from Henderson, N.C. (Try the Golden Skillet), probably the overall best young wrestler I’ve seen in the last year.
Lee, the 24 year old veteran, pushes and guides Carter, who stays with him every step of the way, through a twenty-six slow-build Zach Sabre Jr. arm-twisting, precision-striking pure wrestling match.
Every eye in the place is glued on the ring.
It proved something I’ve always thought, and that is if you put on a strong, properly paced pro wrestling match in front of pretty much any type of fan, they’re going to be entranced.
Lee taps out Carter. Lee can be pretty rough on young wrestlers; ask Cain Justice. He then calls for the mic. He tells the crowd he flew into today all the way from Chicago, and it wasn’t about his titles, or the fans that he did that. He did it for Cam Carter, that Carter was the future of wrestling in the area.
The crowd stood, and Carter was visibly moved.
Later, just after the show, I get a nod from Lee, who has never exactly been overly impressed with me. (And what’s the story with him giving Dave Meltzer the double finger on the back of that DVD cover?)
No time to talk.
Trevor Lee has a ring to tear down.
(Bruce Mitchell, @mitchellpwtorch on Twitter, has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. His columns appear regularly in the pages of Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter and on the PWTorch VIP website. He has been an on-camera wrestling expert on multiple pro wrestling documentaries and is widely regarded as one of the top independent voices analyzing the pro wrestling industry over the last three decades. Listen to the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show 2-3 times per week as a PWTorch VIP member.) ###