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FADE TO BLACK: A TOMMY END RETROSPECTIVE

WRESTLING

4FW

WRESTLING SOCIETY X A LOOK BACK AT A STRANGE EXPERIMENT

EDDIE EDWARDS FORMER TNA+ ROH WORLD CHAMP SPEAKS

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ROYAL RUMBLE SteelChairMag.com

ROCKSTAR

SPUD TALKS TNA, PROGRESS + BROKEN MATT HARDY feb

2017

// ISSUE 13

// INTERVIEW:

JOHN CENA: 16 TIME WORLD CHAMPION £3.50

CHIKARA PRO’S DASHER HATFIELD

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WELCOME

Visit VultureHound.com for regular wrestling updates from the SteelChair team

WELCOME FROM THE EDITOR

W

e’ve double TNA with cover star and recent PROGRESS debutant Rockstar Spud, as well as an in-depth chat with former TNA and ROH World Champion Eddy Edwards.

EDITORIAL David Garlick Editor / Design david@vulturehound.com

Craig Hermit VultureHound Wrestling Editor craig.hermit@vulturehound.com

Lee Hazel Copy Editor lee@vulturehound.com

Ten years after debuting on MTV we look back at Wrestling Society X, a look back at a strange experiment. With the rumble out of the way we review and of course grumble about the Royal Rumble. Road to WrestleMania, woooohoo.

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PAST MONTH MATCHES OF THE MONTH

1

DIY V AUTHORS OF PAIN NXT TAKEOVER: SAN ANTONIO

2

MATTHEW RIDDLE VS. KATSUYORI SHIBATA REVPRO HIGH STAKES 2017

Riddle continues to impress, this time holding his own in a technical contest with yet another highly touted opponent in Shibata. This match is everything you love about wrestling from the moment they lock up to the show of respect at the bout’s end.

3

JOHN CENA V AJ STYLES ROYAL RUMBLE 2017

The women’s 30-minute Iron-Maiden match was easily the best that the two have had on the main roaster. Charlotte the predator vs. Sasha the prey. Surprise pins and last second tap-outs - pure wrestling drama at its best.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

WRESTLER

OF THE MONTH

MATT RIDDLE ORIGNAL PHOTO: ROBYN GODIN

The Authors rose to the occasion and contributed some fantastic storytelling and vulnerability to accompany their brute force after months of squashing teams half their size. That all changed at “Takeover” as we all collectively hope that this is merely the first chapter in a lengthy feud.

Visit VultureHound.com for regular wrestling updates from SteelChair Magazine

o you like charisma? Confidence? An MMA move-set that demolishes any threat? Then Matt Riddle is your man for the job. He’s been kicking up a storm already this year, most notably at OTT wrestling where he took on Marty Scurll and then Mark Haskins the next day. On the 21st, he took on Shibata at York Hall where, although he ended up tapping, looked very much like he could’ve taken the Rev Pro Championship off of the Rev Pro Champion and the next night at IPW. By literally throwing himself at the competition, he can only go up from here. The more we see him perform, the more we look forward to watching him grow in the future.

D

Miz to Daniel Bryan: “Why are you even here since you can’t wrestle?” Daniel Bryan to Miz: “Not being able to wrestle never stopped you before.”

DAILY UPDATES AT STEELCHAIRMAG. COM

EVENT OF OF THE MONTH REVOLUTION PRO HIGH STAKES

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 07


4FW

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER THE RINGSIDE PERSPECTIVE

4 FRONT WRESTLING NEW YEARS WRESTLEUTION WORDS: ELLIOT DYSON

08 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017


Front Wrestling’s New Years Wrestleution 2017 became a hotly anticipated event a few weeks back, thanks to the IWC’s ever-present Omega-lust. Hot on the heels of his 6-STAR MATCH at Wrestle Kingdom, the leader of the Bullet Club shocked the smarks of the world, announcing he’d be taking a little time off from the Japanese wrestling scene. Obviously, rumours regarding if he would follow in the footsteps of AJ Styles and making a shocking WWE debut in the Royal Rumble swirled, though one thing was for sure – Kenny Omega’s next move was sure to be HUGE. Which is why nobody was surprised when he was announced as part of the card at 4FW’s NYW... in Swindon.

4

The night’s main event saw 4FW’s champion, Tiger Ali, make his way to the ring accompanied by midcard-rapscallions, RJ Singh and Rishi Gosh. Despite his NJPW persona, there was no doubt that Omega would receive a hero’s welcome, and luckily the crowd were more than happy to boo the group of nefarious heels. Chants of “best in the world” echoed throughout the MECA Centre before the bout even got underway, garnering a wry smile from Omega. The match was a well-paced affair, beginning with the usual feeling-out period, before foraying into a festival of spots, including flagpole shots, topes, near-falls and the inevitable hazards of the numbers game. Eventually (and expectedly), Omega was able to overcome the odds and land a One Winged Angel on Ali for the win.

> 4FW were able to handle a difficult few weeks with class and in turn, put on a solid show, though admittedly, the presence of Kenny Omega can turn any event around.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 09


ROCKSTAR SPUD

INTERVIEW: ROCKSTAR SPUD WORDS: TIM BIRKBECK

e was the winner of the first British Boot Camp, he was the company suck up, he is a former X-division champion and most recently he lost to a one-year-old boy.

H

Rockstar Spud has seen a lot in his time in TNA, but with the recent spotlight on UK wrestling and change of management at TNA, but the Brummie Grappler is expecting good things in the future. Tim Birkbeck caught up with the Rockstar after the recent WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament.

Hi Spud how are you? I’m very well thank you very much young man, and yourself ?

I good thanks, so where are you at the moment? I’m currently in Fulham at my friend’s house as Progress Wrestling> brought me in for a match in my home town of Birmingham, and they needed a Brummie so they got the best of a bad bunch. So seeing

> 10 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017


COVER STAR

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 11


ROCKSTAR SPUD grow and grow and grow.

To some extent you blazed a trail for modern British guys appearing on American TV on a regular basis, starting with British Boot Camp.

a few friends, doing some seminars at the Progress Wrestling School as well, which is good to see some of their up and coming trainees, and I am currently making bacon and eggs because I have missed a full English breakfast.

As you touched upon you made your Progress debut in Birmingham, but the whole weekend in general was great for British wrestling. For you what was the personal highlight of the weekend? Just seeing old friends, which I

12 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

wasn’t expecting, bumped into my old friend Fergal (Finn Balor) and a bunch of the boys from Progress who I haven’t seen in ages and are all doing tremendous things for British wrestling. Obviously you recently had the World of Sport (WOS) show and the WWE UK Tournament which just happened, so it really is a whirlwind time here in British wrestling and that is one of the reasons why I and multiple other talents over at TNA are trying to push to get back into the UK. I honestly do think that TNA were the real pioneers of pushing the UK scene towards the British fans. And it has just been nice to see it over the years being a British wrestler to

I think so, one of the real big game changes was the British Boot Camp series, because it introduced an American audience to see “hang on there is a lot of talent in the United Kingdom”, and it possibly put other eyes from different companies on us. British Boot Camp 2 and it opened it up to even more talent. It really did open a lot of eyes to how talented people were. I mean I remember that second series final at York Hall like it was yesterday, because there was 16 guys and girls including people like Nikki Storm who is now with NXT, you had Dave Mastiff and Rampage Brown who have gone on to do the WOS show and then you’ve got Mark Andrews who was the eventual winner and came to us. There was just such a plethora of talent on that show that were just such main stays in the UK scene for so many years, that I don’t think people realised who they were. I mean they knew the names but not the faces. I mean if you even look at the first British Boot Camp with Marty (Scurll) it was an absolute game changer for him, getting told no and now he has completely reinvented himself and become this global star. I just really think that British Boot Camp and TNA really pushed that forward.

With the new ownership at TNA and the deal with Challenge TV is no longer there, with the development of the new app do


"IT REALLY IS A WHIRLWIND TIME HERE IN BRITISH WRESTLING" you think that will entice a new audience? The Total Access app is only £4.99 a month and it just shows that we are evolving with the times. We are looking to talk to other networks to get a television deal, but we still want to have a relationship with the UK scene so they are able to see us constantly. One of the biggest complaints we get from Impact fans is when we are live tweeting the shows from the USA and then you get people complaining about spoilers because they don’t get to see it until Sunday night. This is why I think the Total Access app is going to be so awesome because you can see it all at the exact same time. Yes you might have to stay up until 1am in the morning and that is the worse thing ever to watch live wrestling in the UK, but if you have the luxury to stay up or you want to watch it on you commute to work, you can just watch it on the app. You can watch television anywhere now. I always compare it to Total Recall, we’ve got video phones so you can watch it absolutely anywhere. I mean it has all the PPVs the company has ever done. Which is good for those fans who watch back in the beginning as they can go back and see the first X-division champion being crowned.

You can watch all the old Double J matches – and welcome back to him, you can watch when Rhyno won the world title, when Raven won it, Abyss, Sting all these people who were legends. It’s a pretty decent amount of footage, especially from back in the day. There is also a new Inside Impact show on there, which the clue is in the name, you are going to see what goes on behind the curtain. So it is very much a way for us to keep fans interested and bring new ones in.

You touched upon the return of Jeff Jarrett, but since you’ve been with TNA you must have seen quite a bit of change? What have I seen, when I arrived at the company we were working with Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Herbie Productions and Double JJ was around but not in a full management capacity. When the services were severed with Hulk I think I was working with Double JJ for a couple of weeks and then he split and did his own project. Since then I was mainly at OVW, so I wasn’t really privy to this regime changing because I was working for OVW and getting my education and I always say this, the best one

year education I’ve ever had in the business. But I have only every really personally worked with John Gaburick, Matt Conway, Bill Corgan and Dixie. So I didn’t really get that one-to-one with Hulk and Eric Bischoff. Nothing has really changed for me as the talent, I just turn up for work and I know who I need to speak to in regards to what I’m doing, so I just turn up to work on a Monday and get on with it.

Since the official announcement of the Anthem Sports takeover, has there been any instant change or is it business as usual? For me it was business as usually, besides another one of my flashy gimmick changes. I’m going to be honest with you that initial change was one of the most fun weeks I’ve shared with the company. Obviously we don’t get to see each other all the time, as we tape every couple of months. I will tell you this though, some of the stuff that we saw this week, which is going to air on Impact going forward is such exciting stuff. Without spoiling anything there is a wedding angle that we finished the whole loop and I have never seen the place so packed since back in the day of the Impact Zone. I was in the ring whispering to the other guys going ‘wow this place is packed’. People say “Oh, it’s in a theme park, they can come and go as they please”, yeah they do but people walked into that and they stayed for the whole thing. And it is going to be some of the best TV you are going to see from our company in a long time. I just want to credit that to Madison Rayne, who’s new to the creative side of things as it was her brain child and it was absolutely brilliant.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 13


ROCKSTAR SPUD

“I SWEAR HONEST TO GOD I’VE NEVER WORKED WITH ANYONE AS UNPROFESSIONAL” For quite a while TNA unfortunately had a bit of a negative vibe to some fans, did this come across to you guys in the ring or did you just got on with it? It does come across when you see certain tweets etc. Our job as talent is to do as instructed and to the best to our ability. I think a lot of the negativity is unfairly there because for some reason everybody wants to stick up for pro wrestling and if people feel hard done by we end up getting dragged into it for some reason, and there isn’t really a lot we can do because we aren’t in control of that. Now I honestly believe we have some of the best performers in the world. Let’s throw it out there … Broken Matt Hardy. The Hardys have been broken, Brother Nero is obsolete, Bobby Lashley is having some of the best performances of his career, we’ve got EC3 who is still everyone’s favourite wrestler, but to me will always be the biggest scumbag on the planet. Eddie Edwards becoming the world heavyweight champion, which is great because Eddie is just such a hard worker.

You were part of the Final Deletion. 14 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

Oh yeah I was part of it with Matt’s stupid ass son, and his diva demands. Did you see what he came to the ring in? A Mercedes. During the day he was crying, he didn’t want to film it till the evening he was moaning it was past his bedtime, his milk wasn’t the right temperature. Maxwell Hardy is a scumbag of the highest order I would go as close to EC3. I swear honest to god I’ve never worked with anyone as unprofessional in the world.

So how did this all come about, and how was the idea of the Final Deletion put to you? Listen to me, there was a volcano in the middle Cameron North Carolina, which people were wrestling around, I have no words. I was suckered into the broken universe, I believe there were three murders on that show at the hands of Abyss and Crazy Steve. Watching it back it was what a pro wrestling Saturday Night Live would be. It was absolutely hilarious, it was entertaining from start to finish, expect for my match. There’s a broken universe and there is nothing else to say really. Matt Hardy has allowed people to get suckered in and people absolutely love it. It is mental and I have no words, but all in the best way.

Finally you mentioned before you debuted a new gimmick pairing up with Aron Rex No, no, no you can’t just say his name you have to sing it, I do it.

I’ve got a bit of a sore throat sorry Spud but I’ll have to pass. But how did pairing with him come about? Well I was defeated by a one-yearold boy in Maxwell Hardy, Then I was unmercifully squashed by Hornswoggle who is the size of a one-year-old boy. So like any classic bad guy I quit the company and then showed up next week. But the moment Aron walked into the company he wanted to work with me because he had this brain child, and he is one of the most fabulous entertainers I have ever been around. His passion and energy he puts into a role is really inspiring, he is a complete lunatic, but in all the best ways and I am really excited to see where these characters go. It is in the same vein as Liberace and Scott Thorson, but it is also in the vein of this man and myself do not really recall anytime that you wanted to come see us wrestle we just want to entertain and we are fabulous entertainers. So come one come all and we are going to give you the greatest show on earth every time you watch Impact.

Spud thank you very much for your time. Thanks mate it’s been a pleasure.


ROYAL RUMBLE

WORDS: BRADLEY TIERNAN | PHOTOS: WWE

WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 2017 REVIEW month’s long build-up to

Royal Rumble wasn’t all that great.

of Nakamura at Takeover the night

this year’s Royal Rumble

The pre-show, however, did throw up

before that ultimately handed the heel

got us all excited for the

one shock result when Anderson &

opponent the match.

many possibilities that

Gallows became the new Raw tag team

could happen. All the

Champions by defeating the team

A match to forget on the never-ending

focus was on the Raw superstars, but

of Sheamus & Cesaro. Not even two

Charlotte Flair pay-per-view tour had

in the end, it was the SmackDown team

referees could stop them from finally

Bayley suffer defeat on her first attempt

that made the mile-long journey down

winning the gold.

at the Raw Women’s Championship. A

A

the ramp and came out on top. As Elliot

fairly botched match from start to finish

makes his very hungover journey back to

Other matches on the pre-show saw

hasn’t done the “Hugger” any favours

Liverpool from my house in Birmingham

a six-woman tag match where Naomi

going forward as she will struggle to

I’m taking this review off his hands as

restarted her push by pinning the

hit the heights that Sasha Banks has

the SmackDown representative. I’ll even

SmackDown Women’s Champion, Alexa

already reached.

go the extra mile for him and attempt

Bliss, for the victory. Nia Jax breezed

to copy his format. It will be much

past Sasha Banks in a match which

The stupid shark cage stipulation match

easier and less of a chore if I give you

served only as a reminder to us all that

was also another one to forget. Jericho

the straight up facts – just like WWE

Jax really isn’t like most girls. She used

was locked away above the ring as

were keen on doing last night. Despite

to be a plus size model, you know!

Owens once again was made to look

having a sore head I will do my best to

Banks, despite her best efforts, couldn’t

weak. Braun Strowman appeared outta

“Remember the Rumble”.

get over the dominant size of Jax and

nowhere to attack Roman Reigns and

eventually succumbed to a (kayfabe)

allow Owens the victory. His character

knee injury not too dissimilar to that

has become cowardly a year on since

As was expected the undercard of the

16 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017


royal rumble available on wwe network now of heel turn, but in the end, it was the

– Jack Gallagher was the only

simple consecutive use of the Attitude

Cruiserweight in the match and came to

Adjustment that was enough to bury AJ.

the ring with an umbrella. I think I could

With this now tying Ric Flair’s record

hear Marty Scurll raging from afar.

what lies ahead for Cena? When Triple H comes along to also tie the record I’m

– Kofi Kingston once again avoided

sure he won’t be the heel in that feud.

elimination by shenanigans. This time he clung on for dear life off the ring

Much to my disappointment, there was

post after he was knocked back. He was

a lack of surprise entrants in this year’s

ultimately eliminated by Cesaro.

rumble with no Hall of Famers making a shock appearance. However, when

– Kane didn’t feature at all

I took the time to think about it, that only helped the Rumble to showcase

– Goldberg once again flattened Lesnar

the talents of the brilliant roster they

and eliminated the Beast with relative

currently have. This year’s event was

ease.

full of intelligent spots that have done a lot to further the current storylines and

– Undertaker appeared behind Goldberg,

help develop new ones going forward.

cleared house, then threw out Goldberg

That’s what the Rumble should be used

when he had his back turned.

for rather than the rola cola (cheap pop) machine people have come to expect.

– Luke Harper turned on Wyatt and Orton. He first hit Bray with a discuss

his brutal run as the Intercontinental Champion and continues to get further away from the “Prizefighter” he is supposed to be. All I can hope is that keeping the title on him could set up the Jericho v Owens feud they have been teasing for the best part of five months. For all he has done in the WWE, countless charities, and many wishes granted to ill children, Jonathan Cena Jr thoroughly deserves his recordsetting thirteenth reign and record-tying sixteenth world championship reign. Albeit coming at the wrong time. Many feel his win over AJ Styles has served the purpose in reminding the WWE Universe that Cena is their top guy and Styles will still have to wait in line if he is to become the ‘face that runs the place’. A good match which had everyone

Key Points:

lariat and then attempted to give his

– Jericho was the “Ironman” lasting just

kissed him goodbye but the attempt was

over an hour but only managing two

thwarted by Orton who hit Harper with

eliminations.

an RKO.

– Tye Dillinger was the only NXT

– Roman Reigns entered the Rumble at

debutant. Yes, he came in at number 10!

number 30 to a loud chorus of boos

cult leader the Sister Abigail as he

as stupid marks expected to see Finn – Strowman got the most eliminations

Bálor or Samoa Joe… I was one of those

which I cleverly pointed out beforehand

stupid marks.

would possibly be the average number of seven. He dispatched Big Cass, Kalisto,

– Randy Orton won the match after

Mojo Rawley, Mark Henry, Big Show,

eliminating Roman Reigns.

Dillinger, and Ellsworth all in the space of 13 minutes before eventually being

You could say ‘Remember The Rumble’

thrown out by Baron Corbin.

was a rather ironic tagline. Randy Orton was the less obvious and safe choice

– Dean Ambrose fooled Ellsworth into

to give the WWE World Championship

getting in the ring with Strowman which

shot at WrestleMania. Understandably,

was actually pretty funny for once.

there is some disappointment with the outcome but in the bigger picture,

– Some of the “larger” guys were

you have to realise it’s better to have a

transported to the ring by a golf cart

man who is involved in a good storyline

because the walk down the ramp was so

with Bray Wyatt than having one of two

long.

part-time 50-year-old men headline the biggest event in professional wrestling.

wanting to see Cena win by some form

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 17


royal rumble available on wwe network now

ROYAL RUMBLE GRUMBLE men had been fighting it out for nearly an hour. But by the time entrant 26 came around, nothing else mattered. The 2017 WWE Royal Rumble had been reduced to a five-man race in Orton, Goldberg, Lesnar, Undertaker and infuriatingly, Reigns. “How is this any different from every other year?” This short list was in very different circumstances, and my patience for it was dangerously shorter. Going into the Rumble, any of this handful of men could have taken it out. Did I want to see any of them take it out? Not really. The Rumble match had high points; Big Cass’ number one entrance and Corbin eliminating Strowman certified future stars, WWE actually pulled the trigger of a Tye Dillenger appearance, Xavier and Bray’s stint was revised, Jack Gallagher had a

25

18 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

fleeting moment to shine, and Jericho now reigns supreme as a living legend. Regardless of all that was good, I walked away completely devastated as a wrestling fan. I felt insulted and degraded. Despite having a plethora of headliner names in front of me in quick succession of each other - a bunch of big men which huge reps, though lacking stamina - I couldn’t help but feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Fans like to be ahead of the game, simultaneously demanding stories that surprise us - We can’t have both organically. I’m glad to see Bray move into the main event after so long. And while it was dodgy postponing Joe for Raw, inserting him into a story that is taking on a seamless progression unlike anything else at the minute (and may have been crudely stunted at reports of Seth Rollins injury), is the perfect way to make an impact.

With the betting odds changing last minute in the favour of Randy Orton, the surprise element of the Rumble was turned on its head. So with Orton going over and Bray Wyatt rumoured to win the Elimination Chamber, we could be looking at Wyatt vs Orton for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33. I’m cool with that. Yet my “cool” serves only as a temporary distraction from the frustration left with me at the immediate conclusion of the Royal Rumble. My “cool” eventually fizzled out to reveal a relief that Roman Reigns had not won. It’s 2017. ‘Hulkamania’ cannot be reciprocated through Roman Reigns, or anyone for that matter. The instant Lesnar entered the building, the efforts of every competitor before him became redundant. A stillness fell over the ring, as a handful of old guys effortlessly knocked each other off, to the soundtrack of a deflated


WORDS: ERIN DICK | PHOTO: WWE

audience. Maybe, 2017 has kicked off just as backwards in wrestling as it has everywhere else in the world. It’s all about the ratings, and clearly a bit of cheap heat is better than giving fans what they naturally seek. The back-handed slap that was Roman Reign’s entrant as number 30 in the 2017 Royal Rumble, functioned on a number of levels. It was not only a side-track from the lessened surprise of the Rumble, but it was an assertion of power from WWE to hardcore fans. The hyper-inflated marketing of the Rumble, based on solidified stars appealed to nostalgia in the same fans, but if you look a little deeper, incited a slight irony in our own self-created hypocrisy. I get why people are excited to see Goldberg, really I do. But there is something about this excitement that I resent; the enthusiasm comes from the fans who themselves condemn

conservativism in wrestling, and claim to support the push of young stars of the future. Such is the plight of a hardcore fan – every day is a conflict of interest in the modern WWE landscape. The Rumble hosted opportunities to debut Samoa Joe (who was ranked high in the betting odds), or Shinsuke Nakamura. Fans had their hopes up for a returning Balor, or perhaps an import from abroad promotions like Kenny Omega. So, who do I blame? Myself, for believing WWE might stray from safety. Ultimately, I’m engaged with the product, albeit from a negative lens. Does that mean it’s correct? Is it right of me to question the morality of WWE booking at this time? I want stories that make sense and take me for the ride, but I don’t want to be at the site of a rollercoaster collapse trying to pick up the pieces for Raw the following night. When it

ROYAL RUMBLE

comes to a head of differentiating between smart business and product quality, where’s the fun in watching wrestling? This year’s Royal Rumble, perhaps every major event since the return of Goldberg, has been built on promoting established stars from a bygone era, ignoring the potential for organic and long-lasting storytelling. I don’t want to see someone come in and steam roll an entire roster that no one is willing to be held accountable for. The depth of the current roster is in desperate need of long term planning, attention to detail and a bit of TLC (not the wrestling kind). At the end of the day, the message was that the entire roster was unimportant compared to the “big players”. Unless I got the wrong memo, that’s not what the New Era is about.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 19


WRESTLING SOCIETY X

WRESTLING SOCIETY X: A LOOK BACK AT A STRANGE EXPERIMENT WORDS: KIERAN FISHER

restling Society X was the sports entertainment equivalent of a violent, hallucinogenic seizure, which in the world of extreme professional wrestling, is meant as a compliment. Founded by Kevin Kleinrock and born from the ashes of Xtreme Pro Wrestling, the short-lived promotion originally aired on MTV back in 2007, but it was cancelled before the ordered episodes concluded in their original run because of poor ratings. At the time the show was up against WWE’s iteration of ECW, which could be partly to blame for its lack of viewership. But at the same time, WSX was just too much of a weird experiment for mass audiences to appreciate – heck, even die-hard wrestling fans couldn’t appreciate it, which meant that it didn’t set out with widespread commercial appeal in its favour. That said, for all its shortcomings, WSX was a fascinating experiment, its > main fault being that it was too ambitious. However, in some ways, Wrestling Society X was also ahead of its time, and its influence is visible in today’s product.

W

> 20 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017


PHOTOS: SHANE KIDDER

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 21


WRESTLING SOCIETY X

WSX set out to represent the athleticism of contemporary pro wrestling at the time, in a bid to attract casual audiences whose misconception of the sport was jacked up dudes from the 1980s. American wrestling was enjoying a boom period; companies like Ring of Honor were spearheading a revolution where athleticism was promoted over body building, and its influence had impacted the mainstream by bleeding into WWE and sweeping TNA. Wrestling Society X succeeded in that regard; 30 minute shows were high-octane, risktaking spectacles where some of the most talented independent performers on the planet – including Matt Sydal, Joey Ryan and a young Seth Rollins – gathered to defy gravity. Unfortunately, WSX also defied logic – even by pro wrestling standards – and incorporated outlandish digital effects, sound effects and insane theatrics that need to be seen to be believed. The concept behind Wrestling Society X was unique for its time as well. The product was presented as a secret underground society akin to a fight club. The Temple in Lucha Underground is also presented as a hidden subculture like the society depicted in WSX. Furthermore, like the first season of Lucha Underground, WSX featured live bands on every show. The company was inspired by not only Kleinrock’s love for wrestling, but also his appreciation for punk rock music (the original plan was to call the venture Rancid Wrestling Federation, but the band respectfully declined because they didn’t want their name attached to something MTV controlled). Lastly, some of the same talent has also graced both rings, such as Vampiro and Jack Evans. At the end of the day, LU is its own beast, driven by a creative spark

22 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

unlike anything else we’ve ever seen from a wrestling show; but the DNA of Wrestling Society X is evident, and so is its desire to stand out from the pack. While Wrestling Society X isn’t remembered fondly for the most part, and its content isn’t for all tastes, you can’t accuse it of being unoriginal. Imagine death match wrestling with a video game aesthetic funnelled through the commercial lens of mainstream television. That’s WSX in a nutshell; all style, no substance, lots of fun. Overall, the product was a mess; it was loud, visual, kinetic and more hyperactive than a cocaine-addled bull running loose in a China shop. Match psychology and storytelling were an afterthought to death-defying stunts, explosions and deadly fish (WSX took cues from Japanese wrestling by introducing piranhas). All in all, it was pretty dizzying stuff, but that was all part of its charm. Overall, Wrestling Society X was only ever going to appeal to an acquired taste and its flaws were undeniable. However, the plug was pulled before it was even given a chance to succeed, so who knows how it would have evolved if given the time. Reading the old stories, if it could be presented in Kleinrock’s original vision, it would have turned out a different entity. The result was the manifestation of conflicting visions coming together to create quite the oddity. Episodes aren’t hard to find, and the full season was released on DVD, so if you have a free evening and want some mindless entertainment, seek out Wrestling Society X and witness a company with its heart in the right place – powered by electrical volts.


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TOMMY END

watch tommy end’s wwe debut on the wwe network now

FADE TO BLACK: A TOMMY END RETROSPECTIVE WORDS: MAT LINDSAY | PHOTOS: WWE he man who has been known to fans familiar with the wrestling scene in Europe and the independent companies in North America for the past fourteen years as Tommy End will soon bow out of performing under that name, as he now joins the roster of NXT and assumes the moniker of “Aleister Black” in preparation for stepping into the limelight before a world-wide audience for literally the biggest company in the history of the sport.

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A uniquely compelling talent in so many ways, we take a moment to look back at the path traveled by End to have gotten this far, his influences and they way they shaped his performance in the ring as well as the utterly original character he presented as he made a name for himself in places as diverse as Germany, the UK and Japan.

Uncommon Beginnings Born Tom Budgen, in 1985, the Dutchman who would wrestle as Tommy End described himself as a child who was terribly afraid of the dark until around the age of nine, when he began to devour books on esoteric, arcane and occult subjects and this unusual streak of selfeducation soon replaced his fear of darkness with an insatiable curiosity for knowledge. Part of this attraction to the occult was no > doubt fueled by the fact that his father had been brought up under the strictures of an extreme religious sect, from which he escaped at age fifteen and the consequences of which meant

> FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 25


TOMMY END It was never inevitable that the mainstream WWE would come calling for a man with End’s look and style, but with the influx of jaw-dropping and crazily diverse talent being scouted by the NXT developmental brand, it suddenly became more probable. And in late 2016, Tommy End became the latest in an ever lengthening line of names making the trip to Florida and leaving the indies behind for the thriving NXT brand that is the particular brainchild of man likely to determine the future shape of the WWE, Triple H.

that End was raised in a household where common assumptions about society and a person’s role within it were not taken for granted. But another strong influence on his childhood was undoubtedly the fact that, thanks to the long cultural connection between Japan and the Netherlands, NJPW was shown regularly on Dutch television. End idolized Jushin Liger, and admits to having taken the classic Strong Style of NJPW for a genuine martial art. The desire to emulate his heroes led to End discovering martial arts such as Kickboxing, Pencak Silat and Judo, disciplines at which he would go on to hold multiple championships at national and European levels as he grew up. Indeed he was surprised when finally beginning to train as a professional wrestler to find how different the craft was to genuine combat sports.

The Beginning of the End End’s training as a professional wrestler began in 2002, and over the space of the next eight years he

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would work in various countries for promotions such as WXW, ICW and PROGRESS, sometimes in singles competition and almost as often with Michael Dante, his partner in the Sumerian Death Squad tag team. Making a name for himself in Europe in that time, by 2010, End fulfilled a personal ambition when he was selected to wrestle for BJW (Big Japan Professional Wrestling) and also made headway into the thriving US indie scene, working for companies generating a buzz away from the mainstream like PWG and Evolve, as well as the more established company of CZW. But it was in the first half of the current decade that End truly gained traction, becoming a figure of cult reverence among fans, thanks both to his realistic, martial arts influenced ring style and the brooding, arcane persona which he cultivated for himself to go along with it. The articulate, thoughtful Tom Budgen was, and is, utterly believable as the implacable, sinister, Tommy End.

A New Golden Dawn Once upon a time, this news would have sent a chill down the spine of any self-confessed fan of independent wrestling, fearing an awful repackaging, botched push and watering-down of the new signing’s ring-style in order to work the WWE way. But recent history proves that End’s arrival in WWE could not have come at a better time, as his predecessors have been treated well and adapted to fit the WWE, rather than simply forced to radically alter their in-ring style. Given the name of “Aleister Black” (presumably in reference to British occultist Aleister Crowley and the practice of Black Magic), End was a welcome surprise on the WWEUK Title Tournament, putting on a very well received contest with Neville - though perhaps in a nod to his pre-existing affinity with the UK fans, he was billed as Tommy End for the one-off match. Hopefully this is indicative of the WWE being aware of the special qualities that End possesses and their determination to harness them


- namely his almost unique ability to blend an esoteric theme in his persona with a genuine pedigree as an MMA competitor. In the past there have been hokey gimmicks that relied on the occult and the supernatural (such as Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom, or the vampiric Brood) and supposed tough guys from an MMA background (for example Charles “Godfather” Wright’s Kama Mustafa), most never catching on partly on account of their obvious fake qualities. In End, though, both the occult elements of his character and the martial arts of his background are utterly genuine. But perhaps more importantly, neither is taken to an extreme where they would become exaggerated and comical. Instead the arcane imagery of his ring-gear and multiple tattoos only serve to add menace and weight to his very real abilities on display when performing, creating a physically intimidating, and yet, at the same time compelling package.

The End of the Beginning For anyone who has seen End wrestle and truly appreciates his in-ring style, it only takes a moment to think up any number of dream matches that his arrival in NXT makes possible. As well as totally new possibilities, such as End clashing

with fellow practitioners of MMA and Strong Style the likes of current and former champions Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe, there also exist old rivalries to be reignited and presented before an audience that is utterly new to them. While on the indies, for example, End contested a heated and explosive feud with Chris Hero, who was only recently resigned to NXT and will soon reprise his role as Kassius Ohno. Other names with which he shared the European spotlight like Big Damo (now repackaged as Killian Dane) and Finn Balor are also under WWE contract, and in all likelihood they may soon be joined by others such as Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne and Trent Seven. Based on the combination of End’s own talent and work-ethic and WWE’s recent sensitivity and care in the booking of NXT and the way it has handled new talent of breakout potential, it is hard to see how the Dutchman can do anything but succeed in the months and years that are ahead of him. This writer for one is looking forward to both watching the progress of End in NXT and beyond, as well as the prospect of a new line of WWE merchandise inspired by him that will hopefully become must-have swag once the wrestling world at large is clued in to this exceptional talent and unique character.

LATEST FROM NJPW WORDS: COURTNEY ROSE ew Japan Pro Wrestling kicked off 2017 with their first major show since Wrestle Kingdom 11 and delivered another unbelievable main event match. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada took on the leader of Suzuki-Gun, Minoru Suzuk, and yet again displayed why Okada is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Sadistic is a perfect way to describe Minoru Suzuki, who went after Okada’s knee repeatedly and straight up laughed in his face while doing so. This match included a litany of submissions, outside interference, and camera pans to Gedo, prompting commentary and the crowd to wonder if he was going to throw in the towel on Okada’s behalf. In the end, Okada’s resiliency won out, and he managed to retain his championship after three Rainmakers to Suzuki. An interesting conclusion after the buildup we’ve seen with Suzuki-Gun’s invasion, as none of the stable’s members walked away with titles despite several opportunities. After the match Okada wished good luck to Tiger Mask W (Kota Ibushi) in the New Japan Cup, which is curious considering we will soon have the return of Kenny Omega to New Japan and the pair have quite the history.

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PRO WRESTLING NOAH + TNA Pro Wrestling Noah, announced that there will be an alliance between themselves and Impact Wrestling (TNA). This comes soon after the former owner of the company, Pro Wrestling Noah Co, declared bankruptcy. The rumours of a possible collaboration between NOAH and Impact were picked up after current Impact Wrestling performer ‘Moose’ tweeted out that he will be making an appearance on the NOAH brand. The alliance was then later confirmed by Mr Masayuki Uchida.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 27


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DASHER HATFIELD ith their fan-friendly atmosphere and a strong mix of community, commitment and teamwork, Chikara Pro has swiftly become one of the United States’ most recognised and revered independent wrestling promotions.

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Chikara has played home base to some of the top superstars in the wrestling world today boasting names like Cesaro, Kimber Lee, Heidi Lovelace and of course, the winner of WWE’s first United Kingdom championship tournament, Tyler Bate, all as esteemed alumni of the company. While some faces come and go, Chikara’s biggest strength is its home grown roster, many of which continue to work under the company’s banner and are regular fan favorites for the crowd to enjoy, none of them more interesting than Dasher Hatfield, one of half of the “Throwbacks” tag team and a regular favorite amongst Chikara’s list of budding stars and faces. Trained by Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) and Chikara founder Mike Quakenbush, Hatfield’s tutelage with Chikara Pro dates all the way back to 2007, when he debuted for the promotion during its famed “King of Trios” event, a tournament created to promote six-man tag team action, the first and only tournament of its kind. I was happy to have “The Ol’ Timey King O’ Swing” sit down with me and dish about Chikara, his love of baseball and of course, the man behind the moustache-laden mask.

Can you tell us how you decided to become a professional wrestler and what the journey has been like?

INTERVIEW: CHIKARA PRO’S DASHER HATFIELD WORDS: NICHOLAS GROOMS | PHOTO: ZIA HILTEY

Ever since I was lad and my father would take me to the carnivals to see the wrestling events. I was immediately hooked on the sport. Growing up, baseball was convenient and all the other children in town played so I learned to love > that as well, but wrestling was always in the back of my mind. When baseball finally slowed down for me, I came to the conclusion that I had to give wrestling an honest chance. As I grew older, I could not imagine looking back on my life and never stepping into the squared circle. The journey thus far has been incredible. The

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fans around the world and more specifically, the fans of Chikara Pro, have opened their hearts to me and I am forever grateful for their appreciation of what I do. Having made some of the best friends a man could ask for, meeting some of my heroes, and the endless amount of breath taking experiences reassure me that wrestling was the right choice for me.

Baseball is clearly a huge part of your life. Can you give us some insight on your fandom and past involving the sport and how it led to its inclusion as part of your gimmick? Baseball was my first love. Allowing that to shine through in the world of wrestling was a natural choice for me. I watch Chikara shows and it looks like an experience unlike any other, can you tell us a little bit about the atmosphere, the fans and how it compares to other promotions you have wrestled in? A lot of people claim to have the best fans in their world, so I will not make that claim, but I will claim to have the most fun fans in the world. Our fans both big and small show up to a Chikara show to have fun! From doors open to doors close, everyone comes in with the same mindset. Chikara allows both wrestlers and fans to forget about real life for a few hours and we all get to live and play along with a cartoon/comic book come to life.

You may have the best set of past gimmicks and wrestler names of any pro-wrestler

"Training with Cesaro was always fun. The man is an absolute phenomenon". I have ever interviewed, can you give a brief synopsis of some of your characters and the genius behind them? The “genius” behind all of my previous personas are the fans of Chikara Pro. To start my career I was figuratively and literally “Create-A-Wrestler”, a rather generic persona who provided the fans an outlet to mold their own character. The fans were allowed to enter ideas for personalities and then we were able to bring one of them to life for the remainder of the Chikara season. My first personality was Moscow the Communist Bovine. He was a gigantic steer who hailed from Mother Russia. The second personality was Ultimo Breakfast. I still am not quite sure what his angle was. My best guess was that he was a Breakfast Spartan of sorts. He did have the best gear of all my personas. Finally, the fans hit the nail on the head when they created Dasher Hatfield!

It's well known that one of

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your trainers was one of the most popular Superstars in the WWE Cesaro can you tell us a bit about training with him and how your “Ol’ Timey King O’ Swing” moniker came about? Was this nickname paying homage to him or something he adopted from you when he got to WWE? Training with Cesaro was always fun. The man is an absolute phenomenon. There is not a style of wrestling that he is not the master of, there was no question that he could not answer, nor move he could not demonstrate. I could only imagine how amazing his practices would be nowadays. To clarify, I was the “Ol’ Timey King of Swing” before he was the “King of Swing”. I was, however, happy to let him have it considering the stage he performs on. I have since creatively borrowed his old nickname and dubbed myself “Very American” Dasher Hatfield.

What are your goals going forward and where can we catch you next? My main goals moving forward are to win Chikara’s Grand Championship, and have a good time doing it! You can catch me [as early as] this weekend [Feb 4th, 2017] at National Pro Wrestling Day at the Chikara Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia, PA! ]To find out more about Dasher Hatfield, Chikara Pro and all of the amazing things they are doing be sure you visit them on the web at www.chikarapro.com and be sure to follow @MrHatfield4 on twitter.

FEBRUARY FEBRUARY2017 2017STEELCHAIR STEELCHAIR 29 13


SMACKDOWN

WORDS: BRADLEY TIERNAN

SMACKDOWN h, SmackDown. The spiritual home of all that is good in the world of wrestling. Well, at least it was until AJ Styles lost the title to Cena. This past month has continued where last year left off – with the Blue Brand being the most entertaining WWE show available. Yes, that includes Holy Foley… Granted, the show rivals Raw for its encapsulating stories but if the standard you’re used to is hearing Noam Dar appear once in a while just to say “Alicia Foooooox” then there’s not much to go by.

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The best angle at the moment lies in the hands of the now uncoordinated Wyatt Family. During the Royal Rumble the feud finally reached its tipping point when Luke Harper ultimately gave Bray the slap he’s been asking for. It would have been the perfect moment too as Harper went to Sister Abigail Wyatt but was struck by an RKO from Orton. This genius moment in the Rumble, coupled with Orton’s win of the match, has allowed the plot to thicken amongst the estranged cult and create further excitement in the

SmackDown. The spiritual home of all that is good in the world of wrestling. Well, at least it was until AJ Styles lost the title to Cena 30 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

months ahead. John Cena beat AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble PPV to become a record equalling 16-time World Champion. Of course it’s an impressive feat, but it’s given way to the prospect of Cena defending his Championship against Randy Orton at the main event of WrestleMania. Twelve-year-old me would be wetting himself in excitement over seeing these two face each other. Considering I’ve seen this championship match a few times over the years I’m now starting to think I’ll wet myself for an entirely different reason if this is the match SmackDown is highlighting as the ‘Best of the Best’ in 2017. Speaking of the best, The Miz is someone who has proved time and again he’s main event quality, and for me, should win the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber. Now, I know some sourfaced individuals claim he lacks in-ring talent, but what he lacks between the ropes he certainly makes up for on the mic. Frequently elevating anyone he’s against to another level during promos, The Miz, is currently the underdog ahead of the Elimination Chamber match for Cena’s Championship. Yet, I believe if The Miz was to claim what would be only his 2nd WWE Championship, he could once again generate some real main-event heat. “How could he possibly do that?” The answer is simple: continue

Twelve-year-old me would be wetting himself in excitement over seeing these two face each other. I’m now starting to think I’ll wet myself for an entirely different reason mocking Daniel Bryan. If the Miz steps up his offences towards the SmackDown General Manager, he could ultimately elevate the next babyface champion to new heights once they dethrone The Awesome One. In other news, Dean Ambrose is still the Intercontinental Champion and is quickly devaluing the title to the Roman Reign’s level of the United States Championship. Similarly, in the Tag Team division, American Alpha’s lack of storytelling ability is doing well to fuel the need for a new team to take the belts. On a closing, positive note, it’s good to see Mickie James putting over the young talent since her return to the main WWE roster. The five-time Women’s Champion is yet to win since her appearances as “La Luchadora”. Even then I’m not totally convinced that it was recurrently James dressing up as the female luchadore. Still, she continues to aid Alexa Bliss in her run as SmackDown Women’s Champion and, for the most part, I’m sort of enjoying it… sort of.


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WORDS: ELLIOT DYSON

RAW

RAW

The battle between raw and smackdown, and bradley and elliot continues

pon writing this article, it occurred to me that the kind of people who read wrestling magazines are probably the same kind of people who don’t need catching up on the events of Raw. So have I wasted my time and in turn, my life? Most definitely, the answer is “yes”. So what has been going on in the world of Monday Night Raw over the past month? Not much, really, but does anything ever really happen between pay-per-views? The Royal Rumble has just passed (at the time of writing this), so we’ve seen a little shake up, but the Wrestlemania picture hasn’t quite developed yet. Let’s dig in.

and is working for Triple H, which is a mind-numbingly stale angle.

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If you like past their prime parttimers, boy do I have a paragraph for you. Honestly, I feel like I’m going to be watching ‘Taker, Lesnar and Goldberg play bowls in the main event of Wrestlemania in 20 years. Amidst his feud with doors, Goldberg eliminated Lesnar from the Rumble with relative ease (after Lesnar had made some of the full-time roster look like chumps). The Undertaker, in turn, eliminated Goldberg in what

The timing seems suspicious, considering Rollins’ absence from Wrestlemania 32 was down to that very same knee, and he has been given the recovery time of 8 weeks.

was hopefully the most delayed “F You” to WCW we will ever see. Unfortunately for the Deadman, hips don’t replace themselves (nor do they lie) and Roman Reigns is a sexy, Samoan snake in the grass that derives joy from throwing old men around. So are those the makings of two Wrestlemania “main events”? Does anybody in the world want to see the latter? Owens and Jericho are still the Universal and US champions, respectively (and together, in bromance terms). Strowman seems intent on capturing the red strap, while Sami Zayn is likely in line for a shot at the lesser belt (following a clean win over Y2J on Jan 30th). The theory for a while has been that team Kevin and Chris will combust and feud for one of their titles at Wrestlemania, but which one? Regardless, that is the one rumoured match that deserves “main event” status, but will likely not receive it. Seth Rollins’ rumoured ‘Mania match with Triple H took a blow this week as a debuting Samoa Joe (working as an enforcer for the C.O.O.) injured The Architect’s surgically-repaired knee (that’s a phrase they like to throw around). The timing seems suspicious, considering Rollins’ absence from Wrestlemania 32 was down to that very same knee, and he has been given the recovery time of 8 weeks, which is about how far are away WrestleMania is. The biggest blow in all of this is that Samoa Joe debuted on Raw, not Smackdown,

The tag team division saw its barelyteething champions, in Sheamus & Cesaro, dethroned by Gallows & Anderson on the Royal Rumble pre-show, after a series of screwyfinished matches in the previous weeks. I’ve yet to ask my good friend, Dave Meltzer, about this, but I have a sneaking suspicion (based on no solid facts) that we’ll see The Club, Sheasaro and The New Day face off for the belts at Wrestlemania. The latter of whom have seemed pretty directionless since dropping the titles a month ago (barring a DYNAMITE series with The Titus Brand). Charlotte continues to sit on her throne atop the women’s division, after a successful defence against Bayley at the Rumble, but despite the clean victory, there’s a lingering sense that the feud is far from over. The cruiserweight division is still dominated by relatively meaningless tag matches, (starring Tony Nese and Drew Gulak!), but they have a real “toilet-break” vibe. On the upside, however, Neville can now officially be referred to as “King of the Cruiserweights” after his success over Rich Swann (NOT on the RR preshow, surprisingly). And that’s about everything. We’re technically on the “road to Wrestlemania”, but visibility is poor, so maybe put your fog lamps on for the time being.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 31


JOHN CENA

PHOTOS: WWE

JOHN CENA: 16 TIME WORLD CHAMPION WORDS: NICHOLAS GROOMS

n an early candidate for “match of the year”, John Cena and his opponent AJ Styles came into San Antonio, TX for the WWE’s famed “Royal Rumble” event and left it all in the ring in such a way that even the biggest of Cena’s naysayers were forced to stand up and give him a round of applause when all was said and done. In a match that combined pure storytelling, ring psychology and tremendous back and forth action, Cena ended the match in exceptional fashion, landing his finisher the “AA ” before rolling through and landing a second on Styles en route to his 16th reign as world champion.

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Say what you will about John Cena, but his post match celebration took place in the crowd with a young fan from the “Make a Wish” foundation, a charity in which Cena has granted over 500 wishes. Some say his win is a slight on Ric Flair’s long standing streak and that he is undeserving. Some say that he is a “part timer” and his time has passed. Love him or hate him, the > only thing that matters are the facts and there is one you must acknowledge... “The champ is here” for the 16th time.

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royal rumble available on wwe network now

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 33


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EDDIE EDWARDS

INTERVIEW: EDDIE EDWARDS WORDS: CRAIG HERMIT

He is a former TNA World Heavyweight Champion, a twotime TNA X Division Champion and a fivetime TNA World Tag Team Champion alongside Davey Richards. Not just having success in TNA, he has wrestled for Ring of Honor, where he became a ROH World Champion, the inaugural ROH World Television Champion and a two-time ROH World Tag Team Champion again with his partner Davey Richards. Capturing these Championships mean’t that he is the first wrestler to win the ROH Triple Crown, and the only wrestler to ever hold the TNA and ROH Triple Crown, we are talking about Eddie Edwards and we sent Craig Hermit to interview him.

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We catch you just after the Superbowl, The Patriots have won and they did it in a nail biting finale, the first time ever the Superbowl went into overtime no less, your thoughts on this being a > Patriots fan? My thoughts? (laughs) I’m tired today, I couldn’t believe it. First half obviously was not very good, I’m sitting up the whole time in the hotel room just watching, debating

34 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

Eddie Edwards when he was TNA World Champion


I was actually thinking I might just go and get some sleep cause this game might get ugly. I’m texting with my family, my mom, my brothers, my friends and then it gets to the point where no one is texting anybody because everybody is just angry. But man as soon as I turn around even when they started to score and making some plays I was not getting myself excited yet, I was not gonna let them pull me back in. Just to break my heart! Either get blown out or don’t make it close I don’t care. When they scored you could see on the Falcons sideline they hadn’t been in that position before but the Patriots have, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have, so you could see that look, it’s something special. As soon as it got to overtime, it was insane.

Focusing on TNA, they are now launching the TNA App, just for fans who may not know about it or got the scoop on it, what do you get on it? What do you get? You get everything, as soon as the episode streams or airs in the states you can stream it right there on the app. But it’s not just that you can watch all the past pay per views, all the past episodes, past matches, you hear about a great match, you can search it and watch it right there in the app. You even hear about shows with a great segment, or shows with a great atmosphere you can go back and watch it. You even want to watch the best of the best you can go back and watch it. I think that is almost as cool as being able to watch it as soon as it airs, I mean you can follow how a whole story is played out over time and how it unfolded over time. I think that is something really cool. I think its TNA is trying to give something back to the fans, you know? “You enjoyed that, hey watch this, watch how it began, you know what I mean?”

Yeah, I remember seeing yourself and Davey Richards flanking MVP

live in Glasgow after your debut, I’m pretty sure you can catch up on moments just like that in the App. Yeah, go back and see how The Wolves started in TNA, how The Wolves became 5-time TNA Tag Team Champions in the short time, go back and watch our Title matches, go back and watch our best of series with the Hardys and Team 3D something that me and Davey truly take a lot of pride are in those matches. I’m gonna go back and watch that, (laughs) I wanna watch that again, go back and check it out.

2017 kicked off brilliantly for yourself, TNA World Heavyweight Champion, how did that feel finally reaching that moment? It was awesome man, you know everyone gets into pro wrestling to be the best, that goes for anything in life, you strive to be the best, you wanna be the Champion and that’s what I set out to do and to be able to get the opportunity in TNA to call myself the World Champion, to represent Impact Wrestling it was like having people believing in me like I believe in myself, like the fans believe in me. The fans the Wolves Nation, they always believed in me and Davey, they have been behind me 110%, to be able to win the match against Lashley and hold that Title it was like Ive taking a step in the right direction. No matter what company I work for or where I have been I’ve always set goals, you have an end goal but you have goals along the way. Arrive in TNA, make an Impact, win the Tag Titles, win the X-Division Title, win the World Heavyweight Title then you check them off along the way and to be able to look back at what you have accomplished what I’ve been able to do to in a relatively short time in TNA is something that I truly am honoured to say what I’ve done. And honoured to be mentioned in the same

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 35


EDDIE EDWARDS product was some of the very best since the golden age of TNA many fans agree with that, but all that stuff was still going on how did it effect you guys?

conversation is TNA Champions like Kurt Angle and AJ Styles like guys like that, Triple Crown Champions. It is something really special.

Looking back to 2016, TNA had a rough year behind the scenes, with this year a new company taking over, and choosing you to represent them as Champion how important was it for TNA to show that you are their guy? How did it feel to be told, hey your that guy? For myself it was kinda surreal, like you said it’s such a big moment for the company. The New Year, it’s legit a new beginning for TNA, a new start and we are gonna go out and prove and finally show the people what we have known all along, we can be the absolute best there is. To be able to go out there and kick the show off, going into the ring taking the microphone, talking to the fans, talking to the people at home and telling them that this is a new start, this is a new beginning, this is going to be the year of Impact Wrestling. There is no doubt

36 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

that we have the talent, there is no doubt, the stuff that has been going on in the ring, behind the scenes with the promos, with the vignettes, the Broken Matt and Brother Nero stuff that has been next level and there is so many talented guys on the roster, the matches and end products have never been an issue, we go out to make sure you have the best match that you see. Now I can feel that everything is clicking in the ring and behind the scenes, the office is together, the talent is together, this is how you move a company forward everybody on the same page, paddling that boat in the same direction. To have myself at the forefront of that is a special opportunity, a pressure that I have wanted my entire life. I am TNA, I am Impact Wrestling, follow me here we go, jump on my back. (laughs)

Obviously throughout 2016 there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes in TNA with Dixie Carter and owner disputes, how did that affect the roster behind the scenes even though the in ring

I’ve told people, you anyone that asks me, I’m a wrestler, the guys in the back are wrestlers, the wrestlers are gonna wrestle. I’m a laid back person in my everyday life, not how I about my wrestling but if I can’t control something I’m not gonna stress myself about that, I’m just gonna ride the wave. I’m gonna hear rumours, your gonna hear rumours and that’s all they are, rumours. If I cant control it, that’s fine, I’m gonna wrestle, my job is to wrestle, to go out there especially if I’m the Heavyweight Champion, if I’m the Heavyweight Champion I’m gonna put the best match I can have. You can tell if everybody wasn’t feeling the same way, you wouldn’t be getting that same calibre matches but everybody is still going out there, they’re killing it, giving it there all, putting their bodies on the line because it’s something we believe in. If it wasn’t something we believe in why would the guys be going out there and risking everything? You wouldn’t. We are all on the same page. Things we can’t control behind the scenes? They will unfold and as they unfold we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it and that’s how I feel about it.

This year, TNA has been making its impact, with the new company, yourself new Champion, what about the stars that fans should be watching out for?


(Laughs) Me, they should be keeping an eye on me all the time. I’d say keep an eye out on the Wolves, now that Davey Richards is back, it’s something we’ve been waiting for over a year, we are ready to go. DJ Z, Zema, the stuff he’s been doing recently for the X-Division, you know the X-Division is something that TNA was born and bred on. Insane matches, the amazing athleticism of DJ Z, he personifies it and him being the X-Division Champion, he’s doing things in a ring I’ve never seen done before but it’s not just the in-ring cool moves he can do, he has a great mind for it. He’s a great person but he has a great mind for wrestling too. He is very creative in what he does and you’re going to see more of that going forward because he knows where he’s at and where he can be and everybody can see that. He can have great matches, but he’s gonna do more that that. He’s a good buddy of mine and wish him the best, it’s a good time for him.

Fans of the UK recently saw you perform at Southside Wrestling, what’s your thoughts on the UK fans and there reactions to yourself? The UK fans are great, they’ve always treated me and Davey great. The Wolves were born in the UK, born in Wolverhampton first time we ever tagged was here, so like I’ve always said we have a lot of history here and then on the UK tour when we showed up with MVP in Glasgow, so being here always has a special place in my heart. I’ve never had any complaints, you know as this time they are next level, the fans

over here are awesome. In general the wrestling over here is next level, the British scene no doubt about it, professional wrestling over here is the best thing going right now. Wrestling as a whole is going very well, but over here it’s just a little bit better. There are so many great shows, so many great talents people should keep their eye on and I’ve been telling people the same thing, you have to realise the moment why you’re here, it’s a special time in wrestling in general and you just have to enjoy it, like with the TNA app, sit back and enjoy it. Watch as much as you can because there are great things happening, unfortunately I hope I’m wrong but these times won’t last forever, there’s peaks, there’s lulls and there’s highs, it goes up and down. When I first got into wrestling, from what I heard I just missed the last independent wrestling boom before, and afterwards there was a few waves, but it has been going up steadily and right now I feel we are at the peak there’s so much great talent. I see a lot of wrestling and I’m sure there’s a lot of wrestlers that I haven’t seen yet, I can only imagine whats out there.

At Southside you faced El LIgero, you have previously over the years been at Kamikaze Pro, Fight Club and Preston City Wrestling to name a few promotions is there any UK stars that stand out to you at the moment? Awww man it’s so hard to pick just the one guy, you know, Zack Sabre Jr. is an unreal guy, he’s made an amazing name for himself. I’ve seen him in the Japanese Tours and in

"You can tell if everybody wasn’t feeling the same way, you wouldn’t be getting that same calibre matches but everybody is still going out there, they’re killing it" America obviously he’s next level. Last time I was here, I wrestled Bubblegum, Pip Bubblegum, he is another great guy, he has an amazing connection with the fans, they are solidly behind him as well as the great stuff he does in the ring, it’s great. El Ligero, he’s been doing it so long now, he’s been at that high level you know, I don’t know if people know this maybe they do, but he is all over the place, he works so much, works so hard and being been going so long and continuously getting higher and it says a lot about his character that he’s out there having the best matches possible.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 37


EDDIE EDWARDS wrestler, I owe him so much for getting me on shows and travelling with him, he really took me under his wing and getting my name out there.

Doing back to you’re beginning, you were trained by Killer Kowalski, Wagner Brown then by Steve Bradley, how much of an impact did they have in you’re training and development? A lot, I started with Killer Kowalski, obviously the name carries itself you know to be able to go in there, I will always remember the feeling of, it was in the second floor where we did our training and I had to walk up these creaky stairs, I can still remember the smell of the gym and you can hear the ring of the people bumping and round the corner you’d see Killer Kowalski just sitting there watching, I’d go over and I introduce myself and he’s super nice and everything. I thought you had to be 18 to start training, so I was there just watching checking it out cause I’m 17 you know, and I said don’t

"You don’t want to train with just one person or one style, you want to train with as many people that you can” 38 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

That's amazing that you had someone to give you that amount of education in wrestling.

I have to be 18, he said “no you can start right now”, I’m like I don’t have the money now and he said “go rob a 7/11 and you’ll be fine” (laughs) then I borrowed money from my brother and I was good to go. Wagner was the in ring trainer, Wagner was awesome and he had such a love for professional wrestling, you could feel that when he was training guys and was teaching guys so he really taught me the basics, he taught me about respect. The Killer Kowalski guys, one of the things they were really specially known for was that they were very respectful to everyone, they knew they had respect and how to be respectful. You go into the locker room, you say hello and you act accordingly, these are the unwritten rules in wrestling and you have to know those rules otherwise you’re going to be an outcast and you aren’t going to last that long. With Wagner in the ring, I was there 3 or 4 times a week training, few hours a night, he would give all his time to bring me to the next level, let me get in there, do as much as I can, get myself out there and make my mark as an independent

Independent wrestling or wrestling in general that’s the only way you can learn, start training here you go travel with these guys, if you can get on a show, get on a show, if not you’re there to learn, you be respectful you watch the matches, you help out if you can and that’s just how it is behind the scenes and how you get your opportunities. In wrestling it’s about right place and right time. And Steve, so when I was training at Killer Kowalski’s, Steve Bradley ‘the baddest Mofo on the show’, he opened up a school in New Hampshire, about an hour or so away from me, he was released from developmental, he was in there for over ten years, he started so young, and I always heard great things, the Kowalski’s knew him and they said he had a great mind and stuff. So I went out there, and he opened up this world that I didn’t know, he had an amazing mind for it, you know things I didn’t even think about, things in his mind that no one else was thinking about, he would tell you “Why he does this? Why does he does that? Why does that not make sense?” I had my first formal training it was you’re like getting your Bachelor’s Degree, with Steve it was like getting your Master’s Degree, he really helped as far as personality wise, in being comfortable in the


ring, making matches, putting matches together and being comfortable in there, and helping to get you to that next level. I really appreciate what he did. Forever grateful.

It's great that you had that, its like having someone inspiring you to get better. At that point I was training five days a week, and if I could tell other people who are training, you don’t want to train with just one person or one style, you want to train with as many people that you can, you got different flavours of Ice Cream out there and you want the experience. You want to be able to do all the different styles and you want to be able to get every different point of view. You’ll soon be able to see with what method of wrestling you’ll agree with and which ones you don’t but you’ll have to be in those positions to find that out with what methods your comfortable with. You know, do you like Lucha style, British Style, American style do them all and be comfortable with which one suits you, but if you’re able to do them all and be able to work with everybody you’ll always have a job in wrestling.

of wrestling, like when I started to realise I wanted to be a wrestler I really enjoyed hearing about stories behind the scenes like anytime there was a video behinds the scenes I always thought that was so cool and wrestlers acting like they do in everyday life, you know travelling and going to the airport. For some reason to me I thought that was so cool, everybody always sees what happens in the ring but no always behind the scenes and

"[The UK tour] was really a highlight of the year, you know the crowd is always gonna be insane”

One thing going back to TNA Wrestling, they are starting a programme called Day in the Life, your episode starts on the 22nd February, what can fans hope to see with that?

what you have to do. You’re going to see how I spend time with my wife behind the scenes for a bit, how I kill time in the day, the training I do and some stories why I chose the colours I do, it’s some really cool indepth stuff. If it wasn’t for Impact you would see or know why I do certain things. I would actually say watch everybody’s because there’s always something cool to see.

Yeah man, it’s a cool idea, it’s a behind the scenes look at your favourite wrestlers, hopefully I’m one of your favourites, I remember when I was younger and I was a fan

Last year marked the first time in a while that TNA did not host a UK Tour, with the company heading into a more

positive outlook, will you want to see that UK tour going forward? Aw I would love that. The UK tour, We made our debut, not just the in-ring stuff, but when we were part of the crew was on that tour, you’re up early on the bus hanging out with the boys, you really get to know each other when you’re travelling and you’re on the bus, you have a good time getting to know each other. And sometimes I’m with the guys and they say man I just want to be on a bus in the UK, cause it was such a good time, and the shows are always something special across here and I really hope we make it back soon. It was really a highlight of the year, you know the crowd is always gonna be insane.

Recently we've seen Rockstar Spud in Progress Wrestling, will we ever see Eddie Edwards in Progress or ICW perhaps? You know I would I would love to, I’ve heard and seen nothing but great things from Progress and ICW, there are so many great companies across here, the more I’m here the better, I always enjoy my time coming across here, it’s been a little too long between trips and I always like to try and take part on all the shows and see what each one is about that’s how you learn what the good ones are. And Progress, heard nothing but good things and that would be awesome. Read the full of Eddie interview discussing..UK Wrestling, TNA tour and more in the magazine

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 39


LOOK BACK

WORDS: LEE HAZELL | PHOTO: TABERCIL

LOOK BACK: AJ STYLES VS SAMOA JOE VS CHRISTOPHER DANIELS: TNA UNBREAKABLE 05 ’ve wanted to do this one for ages. This show was a TNA joint back in a time when TNA were providing us with some of the freshest and most exciting action in the mainstream wrestling world. They had a string of PPVs in the mid-2000s that gave hardcore wrestling fans the antidote to WWE’s stagnating programming.

I

While WWE was creating future stars out of Carlito, Chris Masters, MVP and John Heidenreich, TNA was fostering talent like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels. Out of that group, I wonder which wrestler’s careers you’ve been following the

TNA WERE THE FIRST COMPANY TO BE A REAL, TANGIBLE RIVAL FOR WWE SINCE THEY BROUGHT OUT WCW 12 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017 40

most? So now that AJ Styles has arrived as a main event talent in WWE, Samoa Joe’s made his debut on Monday Night Raw and Christopher Daniels is the number one contender for the ROH World Heavyweight title, the time feels right to talk about this seminal match. TNA were the first company to be a real, tangible rival for WWE since they brought out WCW. They took the current trends of indie wrestling, the high-flying moves, the death-defying stunts and brought them to the biggest western audience they had ever been put in front of. They rose at a time when WWE was sanitising its product. This left WWE feeling stale and monotonous, and TNA was free to give the fans what they had been missing from Vince McMahon’s brand of sports entertainment. The crowning achievement in all this was the X-Division. The X-Division wasn’t about weight limits, it was about no limits, as was the company line at the time. It was a showcase for the most stellar athletes in the company to show off their physical creativity and acrobatic prowess. It was the home of such cruiserweight legends as Low-Ki, Petey Williams, Chris Sabin, Alex Shane and Franky Kazarian. It was the highlight of the show for me and countless others every week and cemented these men (in my mind at least) as some of

the best and most underappreciated wrestlers in the world. The Thor and Loki of that division was ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles and ‘The Fallen Angel’ Christopher Daniels. For months those two were at each other’s throats. Daniels had held onto the belt for six months using all kinds of shenanigans to keep AJ Styles’ hands off of the belt. Finally, Daniels made the questionable decision to screw AJ out of his title opportunity, inadvertently handing that said opportunity to Samoa Joe. Joe had hit the X-Division like a wrecking ball, flattening everyone who stood in his path. Perhaps it wasn’t wise for Daniels to hand Joe the W against his only real competition. The result – even worse for Daniels – was that a triple threat was declared after officials stated that Styles was absolutely in line for a shot at the championship for which he was the inaugural titleholder. These were the three biggest upand-comers in the company and responsible for the best matches and storylines currently airing on American wrestling television. The stage was set at Unbreakable 2005 for the X-Division to headline a PPV for the first time. The match begins with Daniels telling the two challengers that he is the best, that he is unstoppable, that he will leave


equivalent of Tony Hawk’s 900°. This match ended as Christopher Daniels, finally getting an advantage he has struggled for the entire match to attain, has his finisher reversed into a roll up by AJ Styles. It was a surprising and joyous end to a long and exhausting feud. Joe can still say he has an undefeated streak as he wasn’t pinned, (although, in my opinion he should have walked away with the title) so that storyline is still going. Daniels has his comeuppance after far too long in the spotlight and Styles is champion, much to the relief of an emotionally drained audience.

SAMOA JOE PROVES HE IS AN AGILE POWER HOUSE OF WRESTLING THAT CAN BOTH FLY LIKE A SPARROW AND LAND LIKE AN ANVIL. with the title. So AJ and Samoa Joe put him to the ground. They then have a kicking competition and use ‘The Fallen Angel’ as the ball. Throughout the match Samoa Joe proves he is an agile power house of wrestling that can both fly like a sparrow and land like an anvil.

Christopher Daniels is the most technical of the three and whether he’s gliding off the top rope or trapping his opponent’s arms and legs like a snare, his moves are smooth as a New York Cheesecake. AJ is Phenomenal. He can do things no one else in 2005 thought possible. His Spiral Tap aerial maneuverer is the

This was the crowning match to a golden era in TNA and one I like to remember fondly, because TNA would soon try to maximise their ratings by giving contracts to the former headliners of other companies. This has widely been regarded as the reason why TNA fell out of favour with fans, but the good news is that the direction Anthem are taking Impact Wrestling in seems to be bring the action back in the ring and trusting the athletes to get over simply by doing their jobs. Watch the recent Iron Man match between Eddie Edwards and Bobby Lashley to see what I mean. So please folks, watch some mid2000s TNA. Especially those of you too young to remember the times when this company was the leading light of the mainstream wrestling world. When their incredible string of PPVs in 2005/06 reminded us all that PPVs were supposed to be the showcases of the best wrestling in the world not the season finale to some overblown soap opera storyline. Given new vitality by Anthem, hopefully TNA will return to the glory days, when many considered it to be the best wrestling company on Earth.

FEBRUARY 2017 STEELCHAIR 41 13


GO HOME SHOW

ALAN BOON’S

GO-HOME SHOW id you watch the WWE United Kingdom Championship on the WWE Network last month? Did you like the eventual winner, Tyler Bate, and the runner-up, Pete Dunne? And did you like the semi-finalist Mark Andrews, and Trent Seven and Dan Moloney? There’s one place you can see ALL of those guys, every month, without leaving the UK – or even the bit of it we’re calling England for now – and that’s Fight Club: PRO in Wolverhampton.

D

Although Dunne is PROGRESS champion, and Trent Seven just won the ICW title, it’s Fight Club: PRO where they call home, and where Dunne is also champion –at least until Travis Banks relieves him of the title. Yeah, Travis Banks – he works there, too, and Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos and Nixon Newell and and and… I was a late convert to FCP. They ran a nightclub in Wolverhampton on Friday nights and that didn’t seem to suit me too much until I realised that, actually, it really did suit me and I’ve been a regular since they moved to their new home, a different nightclub in Wolverhampton on Friday nights. I say a nightclub, but it’s actually a storeroom above

42 STEELCHAIR FEBRUARY 2017

the club, where 200 people pack in, most of them standing, and everything gets loud and sweaty and HOT in every sense of the word. It’s the freedom to do something different that makes the difference to nights at the Fixxion Warehouse (its official, more grand-sounding name), and also to the talent that work there – regular visitors also include Sami Callihan, Zack Sabre Jr, and Jimmy Havoc, and they can count Tommy End, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and more amongst their alumni. This Easter they’re doing a tour, and have the likes of Callihan, Pentagon Jr, Fenix, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega along for the ride, and if you live anywhere near Wolverhampton (or Manchester or London, the other stops on the goaround) then you HAVE to check them out. Doing something different is also what one of Fight Club: PRO’s sister promotions – CHIKARA-Pro – do better than anyone else. Not content with announcing that they are bringing their annual King of Trios tournament to Birmingham – in the place we’re still calling England – in September, for what is rumoured to be its final edition, they also revealed that they had taped an entire season of shows, to be released in chunks on their CHIKARAtopia On Demand

service. In this crazy modern world, when a wrestler can’t even call someone an N word in private without public humiliation (crazy, eh?), they managed to keep a dozen shows totally secret. Not only did no results leak out, there wasn’t even a whisper that they’d even taken place. To make things more confusing, they’ve already held the first show of 2017, with the ramifications of the secret season clear and apparent, and to find out how they got there you have to invest in a whole thing. Brilliant. This is the magic of CHIKARA, where doing something different is what they do for normal. It’s what makes Fight Club: PRO stand out, and also ATTACK! Pro-Wrestling, and Lucha Britannia, and a handful of other true innovators in the graps business. They’re taking risks with the artform – and let’s be under no illusions here, it’s an ART! – and they’re fearless in their mission. And you? Well, it’s your duty to get out there and support these people. Chances are there’s someone doing EXACTLY the graps you like, and you might even be able to give up watching Raw every Monday (although stick with Smackdown for a while, eh?) The world of graps is out there: Find Your Graps. Love The Graps.


STEELCHAIR Wrestling Magazine #13  

This issue features: - Interview with TNA and Progress Wrestling star Rockstar Spud - A look back at a strange experiment - Wrestling Socie...

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