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Austin Aries on Twitter: “Hey, @thefrankmir, if f—wit here is man enough, I think I just found your next pro wrestling opponent. If you accept, Brad, we’ll personally pay your rate out of our own pockets, as Frank and I will just sacrifice a few days of post workout shakes for your last $40 payday.”
Hey @thefrankmir, if fuckwit here is man enough, I think I just found your next pro wrestling opponent.
If you accept Brad, we’ll personally pay your rate out of our own pockets, as Frank and I will just sacrifice a few days of post workout shakes for your last $40 payday. https://t.co/nK8PbBJ6zr
— Austin Aries (@AustinAries) May 14, 2019
“X-Pac” Sean Waltman on Twitter: “What a tough guy.”
What a tough guy. https://t.co/VneM76iB8O
— Sean Waltman (@TheRealXPac) May 14, 2019
“Brutal” Bob Evans on Twitter (@brutalbobevans): “Jacob Ryan has been nothin’ but nice and respectful in the three years I’ve known him. (He) didn’t deserve it.”
First, let’s go to the ring for the opening of Revolution Wrestling Authority’s Uprising event, taking place Sunday at the Southside Recreation Center in High Point, N.C.:
Ring Announcer: “Fans, the action, including four big main events, will get started in just a few moments. Now, we ask that you please rise, remove your hat, and honor our country with… (music swells) …the arrival of Revolution Wrestling Authority president Julian Strauss.”
The music is not, in fact, the National Anthem. It is, instead, Chris Benoit’s old theme music.
The ring announcer and everyone else in the Rec Center look on uncomfortably as Strauss walks to the ring.
He lets everyone know that the RWA Champion Timothy Zbysko, scheduled for the main event, would not be appearing. PWTorch correspondent and RWA color commentator Jonny Fairplay had told me Zbysko had canceled just that morning, citing a corporate event he was scheduled for that same Mother’s Day.
A corporate event on Mother’s Day. Did I mention that it was Mother’s Day? I guess Nancy Benoit never had her own theme music.
Next, let’s quickly recap the events of the last RWA event. Brad Anderson, who wrestled in WCW in the late-’80s through the early-’90s as Zan Panzer, was there to accept an award from RWA in honor of his father Gene Anderson and partner Ole Anderson of the legendary Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Accompanying Anderson was his teenage son Carter, also the grandson of Gene Anderson.
The Anderson Brothers were famous for embodying Gene’s philosophy of “work it like a shoot, only don’t loosen any teeth.” They were the meanest Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling tag team of the ’60s and ’70s, infamous for brutally taking down any outsiders who they felt disrespected them.
Before Brad could accept this award on their behalf, however, he was interrupted, as is traditional in these circumstances, by local independent wrestler Jacob Ryan.
Ryan cut a promo on The Wrecking Crew, called the former Zan Panzer “a jobber,” then clotheslined the teenaged Carter off his feet. Everyone had gone over the promo beforehand, but Strauss said later Ryan “took it a little farther.” Brad Anderson chased Jacob Ryan away.
Anderson had a checkered wrestling career, never reaching anything near the status of his respected father, battling pain pill addiction and serving time in prison. He never quite could live up to the Old School legend of his father. He had gotten his life back together, and this was the first time I had heard of him making an appearance at a wrestling show in many years.
By all accounts this came across as just another indy show wrestling angle. When Anderson got in his car to leave, though, he noticed that his son was in severe pain. Carter, mindful of his family legacy but extremely inexperienced, had not wanted to sell in front of the other wrestlers that he was hurt taking the clothesline, which looked to those watching to be your garden-variety properly executed clothesline. The Andersons went to the doctor the next day.
“What happened was that kid broke Carter’s ribs last month with a standing clothesline,” Anderson explained to me in a text for this story. “I told him in the back to take care of Carter because he was only taking two bumps to begin with from the kid and the idiot blasted him. So I handle it like we do in the old school – he got stretched. Old school guys get it, so I’m not going to change anyone’s opinion who doesn’t get it. I gave him a chance to shoot back. He never gave Carter that chance.”
When Ryan found out from promoter Julian Strauss that he had injured Carter, he reached out to Brad Anderson on social media to apologize, but never received a response back.
Strauss booked Brad Anderson vs. Jacob Ryan for Sunday’s show. Strauss says he received assurances that Anderson was not mad and things would be professional. Strauss said Anderson and Ryan “talked backstage, shook hands and agreed to the finish.”
As a video of the incident shows, Brad Anderson cut a promo in the ring first. He talked about wrestling with The Iron Sheik on YMCA mats as an eleven year old, of riding with his father from town to town and learning the Old School ways. Anderson said he has what the Old School would call a receipt for Jacob Ryan. To Anderson, this is personal.
Referee Red Jones started the match. Anderson immediately overpowered the smaller Ryan to the mat, switching legitimate wrestling holds back and forth. Ryan yelled to referee Jones to “get him off of me!” but there was nothing Jones can do. Anderson continued to trap Ryan on the mat.
Ryan pulled away, and fell under the bottom rope to the floor. Anderson followed, punching him hard in the head more than once. Anderson kicked him hard, then picked Ryan’s curled up body for a semi-DDT, only to smash him back to floor.
This is when RWA prompter Julian Strauss, followed by several wrestlers, came to the ring. Anderson walked around the ring, then went through the door into the hall, followed by what seemed like everyone on the show. Jacob Ryan had to be helped to the back by the wrestlers. There was very little security.
White Mike (Micheal Smith) of the Gym Nasties tag team had walked up to Julian Strauss while Anderson was cutting his pre-match shoot promo.
“He [Strauss] said the match would be a shoot,” Smith explained to me. “He knew. I immediately went and told my partner and the team I was wrestling that Julian said that and let’s go keep an eye on that. We all followed Julian, asking what the f— was that? Why did you allow that? He immediately says, ‘I had no idea!’ I said, ‘Mother f—–,” you just told me it was gonna be a shoot!’ He back pedaled. People try to calm me down. That young man felt like his life was in danger. I heard him gurgling in the back. We all wanted to walk out – myself, Tim, The Superstars, TNA’s Fallah Bah… Jason Kincaid and and Jimmy Parker brought those people back. We come back and wrestled for the fans who paid their good money, not for the promotion.”
Strauss was told that unless Brad Anderson was escorted off the property immediately, without changing his ring gear, the wrestlers would all walk off the show.
Anderson was escorted off by Strauss and a security guard. Strauss gave Anderson his agreed upon $40 fee in cash, and later gave Jacob Ryan both his own pay envelope ($60) and the envelope originally meant for Anderson ($40).
Jacob Ryan had to go for emergency dental care immediately following his part in the show.
Julian Strauss came to the ring with Jacob Ryan after intermission and praised him for his professionalism and vowed that Anderson would not be back to work for RWA ever again. Strauss has been adamant that he did not know what was going to happen, and has been vocal in his admiration for Ryan, whom he has booked to work for RWA many times.
Veteran local wrestler Mark James, who had joined RWA to lend some stability backstage but was not there for the show, came to the venue after he heard what happened, talked to everyone, left, then quit RWA altogether.
On Tuesday, Jacob Ryan pressed assault charges against Brad Anderson. Ryan thanked everyone for their support and vowed he would work hard to make his career a success.
RWA ceased operations soon after.
(Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch senior columnist, has been writing about professional wrestling for Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter since 1990. He hosts the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller several times a week. You can reach Bruce via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mitchellpwtorch)