Old School Flashback: Angelo Poffo Battles Jerry Christie

by Daniel Johnson

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Angelo Poffo vs. Jerry Christie

Angelo Poffo played a brilliant heel during his time in Fred Kohler’s NWA territory running out of Chicago, Illinois. He would dress fancifully like Gorgeous George (the old school wrestler not the one his son “Macho Man” Randy Savage would later date), but back up his look with some technical wrestling and pure toughness. As commentator Russ Davis put it Poffo was, “Tougher than a home cured bacon rind.”

In this match preserved by the Chicago Film Archives through the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970 Poffo set his sights on a younger and leaner wrestler in Jerry Christie, who was wrestling out of California. Although Poffo had an obvious weight advantage Christie wrestled the sturdy man from Downers Grove, Illinois to the mat with a headlock takedown. From there Christie clamped on the headlock for a while before Poffo got loose. Poffo looked to have lost his temper when he struck Christie in the chest then put on a good old fashioned hammerlock. Yes, Poffo may have been taken down, but he wasn’t ready to get squashed like One Man Gang would do to his son, Lanny Poffo about 30 years later. Christie fought back and the Chicago International Amphitheatre came alive when he pulled his enemy’s hair and wrenched his neck back into the turnbuckles. Not to be outdone Poffo did the same and then closed the match with a neckbreaker or as Davis put it, “A reverse falling chinlock.”

The full match can be seen right here:

For more in the Old School Flashback series featuring action from the Chicago International Amphitheatre click here and here.

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Wrestling Game StArcade: WCW Nitro

by Alex Knapp

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WCW Nitro
Year: 1997
System: PlayStation
Developer: Inland Productions
Publisher: THQ

When WCW caught on fire after the formation of the New World Order (nWo), it not only pulled the wrestling business as a whole out of the doldrums of the mid-90s. It also heralded a new beginning for wrestling video games. For the past couple of years, the gaming output for the struggling WWF had reduced dramatically, while WCW hadn’t released a new game since WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling on Super Nintendo.

But when 1997 began, that all changed. WCW was on top of the world. WCW Monday Nitro was the hottest, most well-produced wrestling TV show around, the nWo was the talk of fans coast to coast, and every Monday night saw Eric Bischoff’s company spanking Vince McMahon in the ratings. Making money hand over fist, WCW was in the perfect position to kickstart the resurgence in wrestling video games for The Monday Night Wars.

They released their first game of this generation, WCW vs. The World, earlier in the year; that game was fairly well-received, but it didn’t really make a big splash either. Then, WCW came up with their next one. Named after their flagship show, WCW Nitro would be a fast-paced experience which would also truly capture the atmosphere of the show we knew and loved on TNT every Monday night.

When you turn on your PlayStation, the game treats you to a pulse-pounding intro FMV showing major WCW highlights, setting up the mood and awakening your markish passions. When you get to the title screen, you hear that old familiar Nitro theme music, and are greeted by Gene Okerlund’s voice. As you go to the character select screen, you see a decent selection of main eventers and midcarders. On top of that, the available characters each have a “rant” option, where you can play a pre-recorded FMV promo by the wrestler in question, challenging you to step into the ring with them!

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This is all pretty cool! I can’t wait to play the game now! If it’s this atmospheric and engaging just on the title and character select screens, just imagine what it’s like when you actually get to the ring!

So I select my characters, start the match and…

Oh.

Wow.

Never mind.

Yes. It’s true. This game suffers from the dreaded “The Best Parts of the Game Are the Parts Without Gameplay” disease. Once the actual match starts, you’re treated to a slew of crap. Blocky, grainy graphics. Jerky and awkward animations and movements.  And the controls. My God, the controls.

The four basic buttons on the PS1 controller allow you to punch, kick, chop or Irish whip. This means that there is no grapple system, which in turn means that in order to execute larger moves, you need to perform button combos that take up either two, three or four buttons. There is nothing intuitive about figuring out which combos work to make you do the moves; if you’re playing the game for the first time and don’t have the instruction booklet, you had better quickly log onto the Internet to look up the game’s controls, because you will not survive with strike moves alone.

On top of that, you need to execute these moves before your opponent does. You can find yourself pressing the necessary buttons to do a move, only for your opponent to unleash it instead, because you were just a split-second too slow. But in order to be in the proper position to unleash the moves, you have to be close enough to your opponent, which makes you vulnerable. Learning how to play this game can be a frustrating learning curve, because the game doesn’t give you time to get used to the controls or become familiar with the usual button combos; you need to know them and be fast with them, or the AI will quickly gain the upper hand. And all the while, you not only have to quickly press the buttons; you also will need to frequently pause the game and look back and forth between it and the instruction manual, so that you can remind yourself what the buttons combos are. It’s needlessly complicated and annoying.

The movesets are a joke. Every wrestler has roughly the same moveset, including moves like suplexes, slams, powerbombs and piledrivers. Furthermore, this game’s idea of variety is to divide the roster up into heavyweights, who can do power moves like gorilla press slams, and lightweights who can do moves like hurricanranas. But what makes this ridiculous is that, apparently, the game concluded that a “lightweight” is any wrestler smaller than Kevin Nash. Thought you’d never get the chance to see Ric Flair or Randy Savage dish out a Frankensteiner? Well, you’re in luck, because these guys are now honorary luchadors, since they’ve been designated as lightweights! At the very least, each wrestler also has a couple of signature moves, and their finisher, but executing them can be difficult, because they tend to involve four buttons in their combos, so you need to build up a lot of rapid button-pressing experience if you hope to use them.

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As you play through the game, you get used to the timing and the controls. Saying this may be damning with faint praise, but: The game is at least playable, eventually. For your match options, you have the basic one-on-one or tag team exhibitions, as well as a singles tournament for the belt. The tournament is how you unlock the game’s hidden characters; beating through 10 opponents as each individual wrestler allows you to unlock a particular hidden character, and in turn, beating five opponents as one of the unlocked wrestlers allows you to unlock another character.

There’s at least some motivation for replayability here, but actually playing through the matches gets to be a tedious process. Because of the redundant movesets described previously, there’s little to no variety in the matches. All you need to do to win is stay on your opponent and beat them until their life bar depletes enough, so the easiest thing to do is to repeatedly use a few moves which you become used to through frequent use and which have button combos which are easy to memorize (like powerbombs and piledrivers). But this makes for monotonous matches that frequently all look the same, and if you want to add what little bit of in-ring variety the game spares, you have to go back and look up move combos all over again. There is very little opportunity to have an interesting match in this game, nor is there motivation to. Combine that with the game’s clunky animations, and it makes for an ugly, dull in-ring product.

Once you do complete a tournament, you are treated to a highlight reel FMV for the wrestler you just won as. It’s fun to see the old WCW footage, but once again, it just proves the point about this game’s central flaw: The best parts are the ones without any actual gameplay.

WCW Nitro may not be the worst wrestling game ever made, but in terms of the in-ring experience it offers, it’s just plain boring and tedious. It’s a lot of shine, with very little substance, and when WCW vs. nWo World Tour came out toward the end of the year, this game was rightfully swept to the wayside. It can be fun to replay it for the nostalgia and atmosphere, but as an actual game, it’s a weak, forgettable outing.

Rating: 2 stars

Photo Credits:

Photo 1: en.wikipedia.org

Photo 2: gamester81.com

Photo 3: mobygames.com

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25 and Under: Vyper Rocks Scotland

by Daniel Johnson

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Vyper vs. Rhia O’Reilly

Vyper is a Scottish born 23 year-old wrestler who debuted in 2008 and has since wrestled for around two dozen wrestling promotions. Trained by the likes of Damian O’Connor and Mikey Whiplash (who themselves are still fairly young being in their twenties and thirties, respectively) Vyper has also gone by the name Big Van Viper. The inspiration from Big Van Vader is clear in her moveset which relies on power moves and her finisher, which is her version of the Vader bomb, the Vyper bomb.

On March 9, 2014 at a live event for the Scottish Wrestling Alliance: ZERO 1 (SWA: ZERO 1), Vyper wrestled Rhia O’Reilly. Despite being slightly north of the 25 year mark, O’Reilly, hailing from Northern Ireland, had debuted more recently than Vyper and had traveled far to be trained by former WWE superstar Lance Storm.

The match is a lot of fun with O’Reilly scoring some cheap heat by coming out with an Irish flag in front of this Scottish crowd and then Vyper getting a cheap Mick Foley-esque pop by waving a small Scottish flag. O’Reilly targets Vyper’s left arm to start the match and as the heel controls the pace of the match. Vyper eventually comes back with two running back elbows followed by a short arm clothesline, but lets O’Reilly get in some more shots before the finish. Vyper sends the crowd home happy by tattooing O’Reilly onto the mat with a Vyper bomb.

The full match can be seen right here:

The next SWA: ZERO 1 show will be SWA: ZERO 1 Battlezone on October 18 in Motherwell, Scotland, United Kingdom. Click here for more information.

For the full results of the March 9, 2014 SWA: ZERO 1 live event click here.

For more in the 25 and Under series featuring outstanding young European wrestlers click here and here.

 

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Wrestling Game StArcade: WWF WrestleMania

by Alex Knapp

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WWF WrestleMania
Year: 1988
System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Acclaim

By the latter half of the 1980s, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was the unquestioned king of pro wrestling. Vince McMahon’s ambitious growth had seen the fed lay waste to the territorial promotions of old, neuter the AWA, and eventually defeat the one promotion that could compete with them nationally, Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP). The era of Hulkamania and the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection was in full swing, wrestlers were appearing on MTV, and WrestleMania III had recently generated unbelievable attendance and buyrate numbers, as millions of paying fans witnessed Hulk Hogan slamming Andre The Giant (all 7,000 pounds of him, brother!).

A central component of the WWF’s success was its ability to ride the waves of the evolutions in media going on at the time. The developments of cable television and pay-per-view were instrumental to the WWF becoming a household name. Now, they were turning their attention to another young new form of media: Video games. And thus, the very first licensed wrestling game for the home consoles was created, WWF WrestleMania for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

And my God, did it SUCK.

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Part of me wants to excuse the enormous shortcomings this game has. After all, wrestling games were still new and untested back then, and a lot of game developers were going through unexplored territory. But then I actually play the game, and I am baffled as to how Rare and Acclaim concluded that they were creating a remotely enjoyable, or even playable, video game.

The game features six wrestlers: Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Honky Tonk Man and Bam Bam Bigelow. You get the options of a regular one-on-one match, or beginning a tournament for the title against the five other opponents. To add to the presentation, each wrestler is accompanied by 8-bit renditions of their theme music. Hulk Hogan has “Real American,” Randy Savage has “Pomp and Circumstance,” and Andre has…“Stand Back?”

Ooooooooookay then. Anyway, once the game starts, you quickly see one of the biggest problems with the game. It’s hard to describe, but the ring is viewed from a strange sort of directly-straight side view, while the wrestlers walk straight up and down and to the side as if from an overhead view. Mind-bending as the physics are, it also makes for a very strange and awkward game engine, because the movements are so linear and jerky that it’s hard to get in the proper position to face the opponent. The animation is laughable; although it is technically possible to move diagonally, the wrestlers can only face 90 degree angles, either straight up, down, left, or right, as they waddle around the ring like toddlers who need their diapers changed. It’s impossible to take seriously.

On top of that, it begs the question: Why would I ever want to turn and walk away from my opponent in a wrestling game!? Fundamentally, every wrestling game before or since this one have always kept the player-controlled wrestler automatically facing toward the opponent at all times. It’s the most basic idea of this game genre: You always want to be facing toward the opponent so that you can be in a good position to either maintain offense or go on the defensive. Pro Wrestling for the NES managed to get this fundamental aspect right. And yet in this game, if you want to put some distance between you and your opponent, you literally have to turn tail and waddle away with your back to the other guy, leaving you open to attack from behind, and creating a needlessly cumbersome gameplay system.

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Match participants each have an energy bar to mark whether they’re about to be ready for a 3 count. However, this presents one of the game’s most ridiculous aspects: When the game says “energy,” it literally means “energy.” Your meter can be drained not only by getting hit, but also by missing moves in your attempts to attack your opponent. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem, if it weren’t for the fact that it is often really freakin’ difficult to find the right position to be able to hit your opponent; if you’re awkwardly pushing just a teensy bit above/below your opponent, thinking that you’ll be able to land a punch or a kick on them, you could find yourself inadvertently losing the match, as every time you swing at air in a vain attempt to actually land an attack, you’re draining your own power. You can quickly find yourself eventually defeated and pinned all because you tuckered yourself out by missing attacks. Can you imagine something like this playing out in a real wrestling match? A wrestler getting pinned and losing because he got too tired from swinging and missing their punches and kicks? It sounds like a surreal CHIKARA gimmick, and yet, it’s par for the course in WWF WrestleMania.

The controls make me want to go on an Angry Video Game Nerd-like profanity-filled rant. The game suffers from what I call Acclaim Syndrome: The AI opponents have impossibly superhuman reflexes and are able to execute their moves in the blink of an eye, as opposed to your own limitations within a human being’s reaction time. Wrestler movesets are individualized to an extent: Some are able to do bodyslams, while others aren’t (and, in an admittedly clever touch, Hogan is the only one who can bodyslam Andre), some can do turnbuckle moves, etc. And yet carrying out these more advanced moves is often more trouble than it’s worth. To do a bodyslam, you need to press A and B at the same time, which sounds simple in theory, but the game is annoyingly picky about the timing. Even then, you can’t pull it off if your energy meter is too low, and as I said previously, your meter can get low for some stupidly arbitrary reasons.

But this doesn’t compare to how irritating it is to do turnbuckle moves; you’d think that climbing the turnbuckle would be as simple as walking right to it, maybe pressing the B button at the same time, right? Wrong. To get on top of the turnbuckle, you have to go to the very bottom of the screen and run toward it (or more accurately, do a fast waddle towards it), and then with perfect timing, press B at the turnbuckle to climb on it. Why make it so convoluted!? I don’t care that game developers didn’t have much experience with wrestling games at the time; why would your first instinct be to program turnbuckle moves in such a non-intuitive way!? By the time you figure out how to get the timing just right to get on the turnbuckle, your opponent will probably have gotten up and moved out of the way anyway, so it’s almost entirely pointless to go for these moves.

The icing on the cake is undoubtedly pinning. Remember when I said that movesets were somewhat individualized? Well, for some asinine reason, this includes how you execute pinfalls. Yes, different wrestlers have slightly different button combinations for pinning opponents. Once again, like with the turnbuckle example, they took one of the most basic, straightforward components of a wrestling game, and made it pointlessly complicated. On top of that, the timing is touchy, and I would sometimes find myself running to a time limit draw in a match, all for the sole reason that I couldn’t figure out how to pin my opponent once I had depleted his energy meter; he’d be down for the count, and yet, because I couldn’t get the button combo just right and hit the B button and the right D-pad direction at just the right time, he’d recover and turn the tide of the match. Absolutely, completely asinine.

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What an embarrassing first outing on the consoles for the WWF. The definitive American wrestling promotion of our time, the company that penetrated the mainstream, made pro wrestling cool, and gave us countless childhood memories, and their first representation on the wonderful medium of video games is this near-unplayable crap. As the AVGN would say: What were they thinking!!!???? There are so many mistakes and wrong-headed programming decisions in the game, when even before it was made, there were examples (namely, once again, Pro Wrestling) of games which offered simple, straightforward control schemes and mechanisms. Terrible. Sadly, it would be a while before the WWF was done justice in the video game world; the only consolation is that, considering that WWF WrestleMania was what they were working from, there was nowhere to go but up.

Rating: 1 star

Photo Credits:

Photo 1: en.wikipedia.org

Photo 2: consoleclassix.com

Photos 3-4: casualgaming.bmoviefilmvault.com

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25 and Under: Laura Wellings at PWLE

by Daniel Johnson

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Laura Wellings vs. Queen Maya

Laura Wellings is a 23 year-old talent wrestling out of Switzerland. Wellings trained under Lance Storm and since she debuted in 2006 she has stuck mainly to wrestling for Swiss Championship Wrestling (SCW) where she has held the SCW Ladies Championship on three separate occasions.

Back in 2012 Wellings wrestled for Pro Wrestling Live Events (PWLE) at their inaugural event, PWLE Pro Wrestling Live! and had a match against the Italian born Queen Maya. Maya represented the United Kingdom’s Real Quality Wrestling (RQW) for the bout as she held the RQW European Women’s Championship at the time.

Although this was a non-title affair, the crowd is absolutely insane for this one. The audio quality of the clip is not that great so when Wellings comes out to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana it sounds like the crowd is either going to charge the ring or summon the dark lord Cthulhu. In any event Maya has an obvious height and weight advantage and demonstrates this by shoving Wellings down to start. Up until the last three minutes Maya controls about 95 percent of this one with vicious moves like a headbutt, kicks to the head and grinding Wellings’ face into the mat. Wellings shines in those final three minutes when she attacks Maya with a headscissors takedown, a tornado DDT from the ropes and a bulldog. Maya stops the momentum of the babyface for a while with a stiff forearm, but Wellings wins it with a roll up reversal out of a chokeslam.

The full match can be seen right here:

PWLE isn’t currently promoting any upcoming shows, but held PWLE Pro Wrestling Live! 2 on May 10, 2014. A highlight video of the event can be found here.

I have been unable to find the full results for PWLE Pro Wrestling Live! If you know where to find them or have them drop me a line here.Photos from the event can be viewed here.

For more in the 25 and Under series featuring some of the best young women wrestlers from around the world click here and here.

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Old School Flashback: Ricki Starr in His Heyday in Chicago

by Daniel Johnson

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Ricki Starr vs. Hans Hermann

I logged onto the Freakin’ Awesome Network (FAN) message board on September 30 and was disappointed to see that Ricki Starr had passed away at the age of 83. WWE made a brief announcement earlier in the day and described him as a “British sensation.” SLAM! Wrestling also reported on the death and did perhaps as thorough a job as is possible in detailing the life of someone writer Steve Johnson described as, “[T]he JD Salinger of wrestling.”

According to the SLAM! Wrestling piece, the St. Louis, Missouri born Starr had an amateur wrestling background before immersing himself in ballet in 1951. Although Starr had worked some non-marquee pro wrestling matches in the early 1950s, when he decided to mix some of his ballet skill set into his wrestling performances in 1954 is when he really started to break out. From there Starr enjoyed success in America until 1963 when he moved to the United Kingdom. Starr wrestled in the UK for 14 years and wrestlingdata.com lists his last match as having occurred on July 11, 1977 in Austria.

About 18 years before Starr’s final performance was this two out of three falls match he had with Hans Hermann in the legendary Chicago International Amphitheatre for the NWA on July 17, 1959. Preserved masterfully by Chicago Film Archives through the the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970 a real treat in this clip is that before the match, an announcement is made that Gorgeous George could not wrestle due to a broken finger and promoter Fred Kohler will have to book him for a later date. Starr then starts putting his ballet slippers in George’s face before throwing them into the crowd. Commentator Russ Davis points out that this is in response to George handing out Georgie pins to the crowd. In a way Starr and George were similar in that they played larger than life, flamboyant characters, though they took considerably different approaches to how they played this type of character and how they wrestled in the ring.

Despite being billed from Boston, Massachusetts, Starr’s opponent for this match, Hermann played a straight up Nazi and gave the Nazi salutes multiple times in this clip. Yeah, wrestling was a little different back in those days. As least this gave a little more reason for Starr to have the fans in his pocket as the 199 lbs man messes with the big German brute by hiding behind the referee and giving him cheap shots. Davis does a great job of summarizing Starr’s character by saying, “I’ve seen a lot of things in my my time, but this guy Ricki Starr slays me,” Davis continues, “Because believe it or not he’s a real tough wrestlers. He can be tougher than all get out.” Nevertheless Starr only gets awarded the first fall of the match due to Hermann choking him.

The second fall sees Starr make a great comeback for the finish as he claws Hermann’s eyes in one corner than flips backward off of him. Starr takes Hermann down multiple times before finishing the affair with a body press.

The full match can be seen right here:

For more in the Old School Flashback series featuring another match from the Chicago International Amphitheatre click here or take a look at a match from Indiana that took place a few decades later here.

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Evan Gelistico Interview

by Daniel Johnson

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Photo Courtesy of Evan Gelistico.

Interviewer’s Note: Evan Gelistico is a current member of the Submission Squad, a stable which has wrestled across many different promotions including St. Louis Anarchy (SLA), Anarchy Championship Wrestling (ACW) and CHIKARA. The Submission Squad dates back to 2003 when it was launched by Nick Tyson and Dingo. As these two stopped traveling Pierre Abernathy began to team with Gelistico to stand as the cornerstones of the current group. Since then Gary Jay and Davey Vega have joined the Submission Squad and the group even has had an active female wrestler among its ranks in Athena. Although the group fights among themselves from time to time including having a fun tag bout at Old School Pro Wrestling (OSPW) they continue to dominate indie promotions throughout the country. Aside from being in this stable Gelistico has held a number of championships including the ACW Heavyweight Championship on two occasions. Gelistico has also had impressive showings in tournaments including making it to the finals of the ACW Lone Star Classic 2010 and the ACW Lone Star Classic 2012 as well as the SLA Medallion Tournament in 2012. This interview was completed on August 29, 2014. In this interview Gelistico and I focus on his work in the Submission Squad.

Daniel Johnson: How would you describe what the Submission Squad is in just a few words?
Evan Gelistico: Brothers in arms with a common goal.

Daniel Johnson: How did you first come to join the Submission Squad?
Evan Gelistico: Originally it started out as Pierre/Dingo/Tyson. But the former two stopped traveling so on the road I would team with Pierre. From there when the other two retired I would join the Squad in the St. Louis area.

Daniel Johnson: Cool, you still team with Pierre a lot, more than I think you team with any other member of the squad. What do you think about it is teaming with Pierre that makes you guys click and work well as a team?
Evan Gelistico: Honestly? Our friendship and sense of humor make us click a lot. Sure we’re both great wrestlers but it’s our ability to have fun that makes us a great tandem, because people can tell when you’re being fake.

Daniel Johnson: This is a pretty broad question, but what distinguishes the Submission Squad from other stables around?
Evan Gelistico: Well other than in CHIKARA there aren’t too many stables around to begin with. Sure there might be a tag team or trios here or there. But I don’t know of any of them that travel as much or as far as we do. Plus, I think the fact that we can be individuals helps us a lot as well. Vega can go off and do his own thing. Sometimes Gary/I team up and Pierre wrestles a Marshe Rocket.

Daniel Johnson: Like you said one thing that sets the Submission Squad apart from other stables is that they have worked in several promotions. To clarify just how many promotions has the Submission Squad worked.
Evan Gelistico: A lot. Lol.
Daniel Johnson: Lol.
Evan Gelistico: I’ll name five of the bigger ones just for ease. SLA/CHIKARA/ACW/Full Impact Pro (FIP)/Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW).

Daniel Johnson: Cool, the place I have seen the most Submission Squad matches is ACW in Texas. Would you say this is the home of the Submission Squad? If not then could any other promotion be described as the home of the Submission Squad?
Evan Gelistico: I would say that St. Louis Anarchy is the home of the Squad, with ACW being a close second.

Daniel Johnson: Cool, in regards to St. Louis Anarchy, what has been the most memorable match you have had there as part of the Submission Squad if you just had to pick one?
Evan Gelistico: If I had to pick just one it would be Me/Pierre vs. Johnny Gargano/Chuck Taylor. Mostly because it was one of Pierre’s last SLA shows.

Daniel Johnson: Aside from t being one of Pierre’s last shows at SLA did anything else stand out from that match? Also, how is it generally to work with guys the caliber of Gargano and Taylor?
Evan Gelistico: The match itself was outstanding. Working with them was a great experience and a nice reminder of the quality of talent out there.

Daniel Johnson: Going into ACW in Texas a little bit if you had to pick one match in ACW you have had as part of the Submission Squad that you could suggest to readers to check out what would it be and why?
Evan Gelistico: That is a bit tricky as there have been so many, but the street fight Pierre/Gary/I did would be the one.

Daniel Johnson: Cool, speaking of street fights. the Submission Squad has been in a ton of matches of that sort in addition to standard wrestling matches. What gimmick match do you enjoy working the most and do you enjoy that type of match over a standard wrestling match?
Evan Gelistico: Tables, I enjoy putting people through tables. I prefer a standard match but won’t hesitate to put someone through a table.

Daniel Johnson: Getting into another area, the Submission Squad is unique in that it has had a wrestling female member. What are your thoughts on Athena’s tenure?
Evan Gelistico: I think it was a great combination. Vega certainly enjoyed it for the time she was with us.

Daniel Johnson: In a similar vein do you think more stables should have both male and female wrestlers in them? If so why do you think more have not done so?
Evan Gelistico: I absolutely do. I don’t know, maybe not every stable enjoys being able to dominate every division a promotion might have or maybe they just haven’t found the right woman.

Daniel Johnson: Getting into the dynamics of the group, Depending on the promo it seems like different members are the leader of the group. Would you say any one member is the leader of the Submission Squad or is it more just an equal partners kind of stable?
Evan Gelistico: Equal partners kind of stable. Maybe a few years ago it would have been Pierre, but now we are all equals.

Daniel Johnson: Speaking of promos you have a great range in your delivery. I was just curious who has influenced your promo delivery?
Evan Gelistico: Mick Foley, would be the biggest obviously. Eddie Kingston, is another person, he just has this amazing intensity.

Daniel Johnson: Getting back to the squad, Submission Squad members have also wrestled each other from time to time. Is there any one match you have had with another member of the stable that stands out to you?
Evan Gelistico: There are plenty, but one of my favorite matches is from OSPW 21, which you can find on YouTube. It was just a really, really fun match. There is a four team tag from ACW that is very good too.

Daniel Johnson: Although Squad members have wrestled each others it is a little out of the ordinary. Speaking of out of the ordinary CHIKARA has been a company the Squad has worked. Back in June you wrestled for CHIKARA for the first time since it came back from its hiatus. What was it like being able to work for CHIKARA again and what did you think of the hiatus?
Evan Gelistico: I’m always sad when a company I like goes on hiatus. But it was great to finally be on a CHIKARA show again. The last CHIKARA show we were on was actually the last King of Trios where we were kicked out of the building for being late after our car broke down. I was able to watch the match and it was a a really good match and the crowd really seemed to enjoy it.

Daniel Johnson: Oh yeah I remember that Trios tournament. This is a broad question, but how, if at all do you think the Submission Squad has changed over the years?
Evan Gelistico: I think we have only improved, whether it be inside the ring or outside the ring. We just keep getting better and better.

Daniel Johnson: Looking to the future what plans does the Submission Squad have for the remainder of 2014 and even going into 2015?
Evan Gelistico: We are pretty darn full for the rest of the year. And 2015 doesn’t seem to be any easier, which is a good thing.

Daniel Johnson: I also wanted to ask you some questions not directly about the Submission Squad. First, you have held the ACW Heavyweight Championship technically on two occasions. What stands out to you most about holding this championship?
Evan Gelistico: The fact that it took someone a steel cage and a whole year to beat me. I was unstoppable.

Daniel Johnson: Your first reigned ended shortly after it began when Rachel Summerlyn defeated you for the ACW Heavyweight Championship. I was curious what your thoughts are on that happening? Also, what do you think of a top title having both men and women wrestling for it?
Evan Gelistico: Well it wasn’t supposed to be her. I was ready for Jerry Lynn, and in fact Jerry Lynn helped her win the match. I think it’s great, women can be just as accomplished as their male counterparts. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to compete for the top spot?

Daniel Johnson: You defeated Summerlyn to begin 2013. What are your thoughts on that experience?
Evan Gelistico: When I’m prepared there is almost no one I can’t beat.

Daniel Johnson: You worked with Darin Childs and defended the title against him on a couple of major ACW cards. What are your thoughts on those matches and of working with Childs in general?
Evan Gelistico: They were anarchy, anything could happen. I thrive in that environment.

Daniel Johnson: All good things must come to an end and your ACW Heavyweight title reign ended at the start of 2014 when Shawn Vexx defeated you in a cage match. What are your memories of this match and of working with Vexx?
Evan Gelistico: I remember crying before hand, because I knew it was the beginning of the end for one of us. And as time has proven me right, it was the beginning of the end for Vexx.

Daniel Johnson: I like to end interviews by asking a few brief non-wrestling questions then a few more short wrestling questions. To start this chain of questions what is your favorite thing to watch on TV right now?
Evan Gelistico: Well, Doctor Who just started up again, so I’ll say that.

Daniel Johnson: Similarly, what has been you favorite movie to come out in the last year?
Evan Gelistico: Guardians of the Galaxy.

Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Evan Gelistico: Nextwave: Agents of HATE, and yes I would.

Daniel Johnson: Awesome, I actually have read that too haha. What is your favorite song to come out in the last year?
Evan Gelistico: That is a tough one. But I’ll have to say The Band Perry “If I Die Young.”

Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods in the last year? If so what new food did you like the best?
Evan Gelistico: I just recently did an Epic Night, where my friends and I made some food out of the Epic Meal Time Cookbook and it was awesome.
Daniel Johnson: Sounds fun. Any dish in particular from that night you would recommend?
Evan Gelistico: The bacon sushi rolls.

Daniel Johnson: Cool, To get back to wrestling who is one wrestler 25 or under that you think readers should know about?
Evan Gelistico: Thomas Shire.

Daniel Johnson: Do you have any ribs or road stories that you could share?
Evan Gelistico: One time Pierre threw my ICEE out the window, after I just got it and was pumping gas. I just saw it go whizzing by and was there befuddled. I couldn’t process what had just happened.

Daniel Johnson: I always like to find out about what people think are weird in any topic I interview people about. So if anything I was curious what is the weirdest part of being a member of the Submission Squad?
Evan Gelistico: Some of the discussions we have. They are all over the place.

Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Evan Gelistico: My favorite theme music was “What Would Brian Boitano Do.”

Check out Evan Gelistico in action! In this match from Old School Pro Wrestling (OSPW), Gelistico teams with Pierre Abernathy to take on Gary Jay and Davey Vega as the Submission Squad explodes:

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25 and Under: Jack Gamble at WLW

by Daniel Johnson

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Jack Gamble vs. Elvis Aliaga

Jack Gamble is a 25 year-old man wrestling out of Missouri who was trained by the legendary Harley Race. Gamble started with Race’s World League Wrestling (WLW) in 2009. Since then Gamble has showcased his skills in a few other promotions at shows in the American mid-south. Some companies Gamble has worked for include Metro Pro Wrestling (MPW), ZERO 1 USA and Dynamo Pro Wrestling (DPW).

If you’ve never seen a WLW match before it is important to note how versatile the wrestling can be. Race himself was versatile in his heyday and could brawl just as easily as he could whip out some technical stuff. Of course 450 splashes weren’t so big when Race was in his prime, but now that they are they are at full display in WLW.

At a WLW show on April 21, 2012 Gamble took on Elvis Aliaga. This Elvis may not have been a member of TNA’s The Flying Elvises, but the crowd takes to him just the same. With the fan support behind Aliaga, Gamble plays the heel and does some worthwhile selling throughout the bout. There are some nifty little things to look out for as well like Aliaga being on fire only to be stopped by Gamble with a simple back elbow. It takes me back a little to AJPW in the 1990s when Mitsuharu Misawa or another great talent would be clobbering Jumbo Tsuruta with a variety of offense and Tsuruta would halt it all with a simple move. For the finish Gamble performs one of those aforementioned 450 splashes…but misses it! All in all this was a good show by both men with a surprising finish.

The full match can be seen right here:

WLW is not currently promoting any upcoming live shows. To check out a poster from their most recent show though held on September 27, 2014 click here.

For the full results of this WLW show that took place on April 21, 2012 click here.

For more in the 25 and Under series featuring well trained young American wrestlers click here and here.

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Beyond Wrestling: Anthony Stone Wrestles Dave Cole at a Secret Show

by Daniel Johnson

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Anthony Stone vs. Dave Cole

Anthony Stone and Dave Cole are well known entities in Beyond Wrestling and certainly are not strangers to one another. At Beyond Wrestling Uncomfortable in June the two wrestled in the second match on the card. Before that though Stone and Cole got to know each other a little better at the April 27, 2014 Beyond Wrestling Secret Show.

This match took place in the regular home of the Renegade Wrestling Alliance (RWA), the RWA Chop Shop and those in attendance were in for a treat. Although the match starts slowly with some headlocks before long Stone is diving at Cole with a flying forearm and then calling for a bulldog only to get crotched on the ropes. This bout is well under 10 minutes so there are not a lot of dead spots. Even when things seem to calm down, Cole wakes the crowd up with a fisherman buster. That isn’t your daddy’s fisherman suplex! Well, actually if your daddy was a wrestling fan he probably saw Mr. Perfect who had pretty much the best fisherman suplex ever. Perfect even. Well, at any rate Cole’s fisherman buster is still good too.

The match comes to a close when the two fight in one corner, which eventually allows Stone to hit a modified goomba stomp!

In more recent news for these two, at the upcoming show, Beyond Wrestling Makin’ Movies, Cole will be wrestling Pinkie Sanchez in a grudge match. The two have been feuding as part of the larger Fear and Loathing in New England/Sex and Candy rivalry. Likewise, Cole’s partner Aaron Epic will be facing Sanchez’s partner, Sugar Dunkerton in another grudge match on that show. Meanwhile Stone has been announced for Beyond Wrestling Makin’ Movies, but what match he will participate in is unknown at this time.

The full match can be seen right here:

The next Beyond Wrestling live event will be Beyond Wrestling Makin’ Movies on September 28 in Providence, Rhode Island. Click here for tickets. A promo for the event from current Ring of Honor (ROH) star and former ROH World Champion Adam Cole can be viewed here.

For the full results of the April 27, 2014 Beyond Wrestling Secret Show click here.

For some more action from Beyond Wrestling click here and here.

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