2008 Year End Awards!
Missouri Wrestling Revival Presents:
2008 Year End Awards!
The staff of MWR offers our first reflective effort on an entire year of Midwest wrestling action.
Compiled by Josh Ray
MWR Owner and Editor
An Amazing Year
2008 was MWR’s first year in operation and what an amazing year it was! The year saw a lot of wrestlers and tag teams step into the spotlight on a regional stage and even the elevation of another Midwest wrestler to a global stage when Matt Sydal transformed into Evan Bourne for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It’s time to get the ball rolling for the MWR coverage area by announcing the winners and runners up for the MWR 2008 Awards!
The MWR 2008 Awards were voted on by a group of wrestling insiders almost three times the size of the normal awards committee. Ballots were compiled from quarterly and monthly awards for the entire year, so needless to say that voting was close. Be on the lookout for award presentations across the MWR coverage area in the coming months!
Wrestler of the Year
“The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt
The 2008 Wrestler of the Year has done about all he set out to do the entire year. After a furious battle in a no rope barbed wire match with National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) Central States Champ Michael Strider in February that ended in a loss, Wyatt did what he has always done… he warped it into some strange form of rage-fueled motivation.
In the St. Louis area, he became the Lethal Wrestling Alliance (LWA) Medallion holder first, then went on to use his brain to easily become the LWA Heavyweight Champion by claiming his LWA Medallion-given right to challenge for the belt moments before it was to be forfeited by then champ Jordan Lacey. Since then Wyatt has proven that he is as slick and intelligent as he is fierce, using mind over matter to retain the title even when at the brink of defeat.
In southwest Iowa, he turned a singles wrestling winning streak for Pro Wrestling Phoenix (PWP) into a PWP Heavyweight Title reign. Putting Abu Colossus down for the count isn’t an easy task, but Wyatt did it. Wyatt also beat Tyler Cook within an inch of his life for 3XWrestling (3XW) in Davenport, IA at 3XW’s “BAM-O-Ween” after the first match in MWR’s Midwest Best Series pitting Tyler Cook against Shane Hollister. Wyatt was relentless in his assault, even repelling an attempt by Shane Hollister to save Cook from a sever beating. Putting an exclamation point to the ambush, Wyatt delivered a curb stomp to Cook using Cook’s own 3XW Pure Championship Belt.
“The Rebel” finished 2008 as Missouri Wrestling Revival’s 2008 Wrestling Revival Cup Champion and possibly had the best year of his career. Some of the most entertaining matches of 2008 included him, as he was involved in MWR’s February and June matches of the month. The February match with Michael Strider went on to win the MWR Match of the 1st Quarter.
The MWR Awards Committee voted “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt as the MWR 2008 Wrestler of the Year!
1st Runner Up – “The Future” Donovan Ruddick (37 points)
2nd Runner Up – Shane Hollister (35 points)
3rd Runner Up – “Delicious” Devin Carter
Others receiving votes: Hunter Matthews, Eric Ruffington
Tag Team of the Year
Every discussion about tag teams in the Midwest includes Darin Corbin and Ryan Cruz. Collectively known as Northstar Express, these two have turned the entire Midwest tag team scene upside down. Mainstays north of the MWR coverage area for F1RST, the past year solidified their status as the best tag team in the Midwest. It could be argued that they’ve made tag teams in the area better through their highly competitive matches in 2008.
All American Wrestling (AAW) Tag Team Champions in the Chicago area, the Northstar Express also held the 3XWrestling (3XW) Tag Team Champions for a record 20 months. Battling and bettering rivals such as the Phoenix Twins, Adrenalin Overdose, Krotch & Mad Dog McDowell, and the Phoenix Twins, the Corbin and Cruz were riding high on their own success. They were consistently ranked number one in MWR rankings, a fact that wasn’t lost on the tag team.
However, there were some struggling points in 2008 for the team in a very competitive Midwest tag team division. The LONRs defeated them on two separate occasions in title defenses for Pro Wrestling Phoenix (PWP). The Gentlemen’s Club in 3XW used Northstar Express-patented underhandedness and an injury to Darin Corbin to end the team’s record-breaking 3XW Tag Team Title reign. They traveled to St. Louis for the first time and met the up and coming tag team of Davey Vega & Johnny Vinyl for Lethal Wrestling Alliance (LWA), but came up short. The late summer and early fall were difficult for the team.
Typical of a competitive tag team, though, the Northstar Express bounced back by regaining the AAW Tag Team Titles and making the third time a charm by defeating the LONRs for the PWP Tag Team Titles.
MWR’s January and July Tag Team of the Month were voted by the MWR Awards Committee the 2008 Tag Team of the Year!
1st Runner Up – LONRs (39 points)
2nd Runner Up – Phoenix Twins (33 points)
3rd Runner Up – Zero Gravity (25 points)
Others receiving votes: Feature Presentation, Simply the Best
Female Wrestler of the Year
Stacey O’Brien was the most active female wrestler in the MWR coverage area, and she’d no doubt tell you all about it if given the chance. Although recently in a Groundhog’s Day-esque cycle with third generation wrestler Amy Hennig, Stacey O’Brien has wrestled and beaten nearly every female th Midwest has to offer in 2008.
The former MMWA-SICW Women’s Champion made the move to central Missouri for legendary Harley Race’s World League Wrestling (WLW) and found a home, quickly finding a way to defeat the beloved Ms. Natural in April in MWR’s hometown of Lebanon, MO for WLW’s Lady’s Championship. She put a headlock on the title for most of the remainder of the year, briefly losing the title to Amy Hennig before recapturing it. She hasn’t looked back.
Although destined to face Amy Hennig again in the future, Stacey O’Brien has the confidence and ability to keep her at bay. Rumors of a Stacey O’Brien-MsChif match could set the tone for 2009.
The MWR Awards Committee has voted Stacey O’Brien the 2008 Female Wrestler of the Year!
1st Runner Up – MsChif (45 points)
2nd Runner Up – Malia Hosaka (31 points)
3rd Runner Up – Ms. Natural (30 points)
Others receiving votes: Amy Hennig, Alexis Lightfoot
Promotion of the Year
3XWrestling (3XW) combined great talent, an awesome venue, a dedicated staff, and excited fans into a terrificly entertaining product in 2008. It’s difficult to find a promotion in the Midwest with the dedication and professionalism of this Iowa-based promotion.
Looking at the talent alone, 3XW has top-tiered singles wrestlers such as Gage Octane, Devin Carter, Mark Sterling, Mad Dog McDowell, Jeremy Wyatt, Tyler Cook, Shane Hollister, Arik Cannon and Casanova in regular competition. Tag Teams like the Northstar Express and women like Malia Hosaka bring depth by legitimizing the tag and women’s divisions, too. What distinguished 3XW as a leader in 2008 wrestler-wise, however, is the up and coming rookies that are being developed and sculpted by the 3XWrestling experience. Guys like Ryan Slade, Zach Thompson, Mike Sydal, Aaron Masterson, Jimmy Rockwell, and Brady A. Dezire are the future of Midwest wrestling and all are 3XW mainstays.
A look at 3XW isn’t complete without acknowledging the staff. The supporting staff includes ring announcer KL Snow, conflicting leadership with Todd Countryman and Skylar Pierce, the once docile Chad Mylan, and many more. These individuals give 3XW its character and appeal.
Although the promotion will no longer be at inPlay! in Des Moines, IA, there is reason to believe that 3XW will continue to be a force into 2009. When one group of individuals has the passion and dedication that 3XW possesses, success is a forgone conclusion.
The MWR Awards Committee voted 3XWrestling 2008 Promotion of the Year.
1st Runner Up – Lethal Wrestling Alliance (40 points)
2nd Runner Up – World League Wrestling (39 points)
3rd Runner Up – Scott County Wrestling (34 points)
Others receiving votes: New Breed Wrestling Alliance, High Voltage Wrestling
Personality of the Year
Harley Race is Midwest professional wrestling. So much of Race’s innovative past has been imitated the world over, and those who imitate his style are quick to give credit where credit is due. Men from Bret Hart to Triple H pay tribute to Harley Race.
“The King” continues to cast a large shadow here in the Missouri Wrestling Revival coverage area, but he chooses to let his World League Wrestling (WLW) do most of the talking as he works behind the scenes to develop tomorrow’s pro wrestling stars.
At the direction of Harley, WLW has done numerous fund raisers in 2008, including a huge benefit for the Pro Wrestling Museum in Iowa. Harley also put together a great show at the end of WLW’s annual training camp with Pro Wrestling NOAH. He continues to have a great working relationship with the top wrestling promotion in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Where else in the Midwest can a wrestler enjoy tutelage from Ricky Steamboat and Harley Race, while training and wrestling with the likes of Kensuke Sasaki and Morishima?
The saying goes, “behind every great man there is a great woman”. Harley is no different, frequently ackowledging the love, care, support and guidance from his wife BJ.
The MWR Awards Committee voted Harley Race 2008 Personality of the Year!
1st Runner Up – Gary Giaffoglione (40 points
2nd Runner Up – Mark Bland (29 points)
3rd Runner Up – Joey Eastman (20 points)
Others receiving votes: Luke Roberts, John Bach, Mad Conservative Crimefighter
Match of the Year
Central States Wrestling Heavyweight Title No Rope Barbed Wire Match:
Michael Strider (C) vs “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt
February 2, 2008 in Lawrence, KS
When the match was announced, skepticism ruled the day. NWA Central States Wrestling was attempting a comeback after sporadic activity in the Kansas City area and a big match needed to headline the event, but fans still wondered. Why would “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt still have a grudge with Michael Strider, National Wrestling Alliance Central States Champ, much less one big enough to warrant a potentially brutal no rope barbed wire match for the title? Fans debated, while behind the scenes MWR searched for the answer.
Speaking of his supposed dead feud with Strider, Wyatt summed it all up:
“You see, Strider superplexed me off of a cage and through a board covered in barbed wire. That’s something that sticks with a guy.”
February 2, 2008 came to Lawrence, KS in a big way, with Strider and Wyatt not holding anything back. Both men tried to toss the other into the barbed wire without landing in it himself. Then all hell broke loose. The phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” doesn’t even begin to describe the battle that ensued. The fans were at a fever pitch and the two gladiators in this particular battle were dead set on victory.
Strider emerged victorious and retained the title, but such was the importance of this match that Jeremy Wyatt actually gained strength, motivation, and respect from the loss. Professional wrestling in the Midwest can be fully understood by watching matches like this. Two men giving every fiber of their being to be the best.
Even the post match action created an air of excitement. After an intense stare down, Wyatt stormed away, but returned to attempt a rescue of his opponent from a three-on-one beatdown.
It is unfortunate that after this show CSW was never able to pick up steam. The promotion eventually closed operations, and this match, the 2008 MWR Match of the Year, might be never be seen in its entirety again.
1st Runner Up -
Pro Wrestling Phoenix Tag Team Title Match and Missouri Wrestling Revial Midwest Best Series Match #2:
The LONRs (C) vs Northstar Express
October 25, 2008 in Council Bluffs, IA
2nd Runner Up -
World League Wrestling Tag Team Match:
Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Keith Walker & Oliver John
September 19, 2008 in Eldon, MO
3rd Runner Up -
Scott County Wrestling Heavyweight Title Match:
Tyler Black (C) vs Shane Hollister
April 4, 2008 in Davenport, IA
Other receiveing votes:
Lethal Wrestling Alliance 8-Man Survivor Series Streetfight:
Submission Squad vs Ego Express & Bearded Men from Space Station 11
July 12, 2008 in O’Fallon, IL
A look back at 2008
Here is a look at some of the top stories and events that helped shape the Midwest wrestling scene over the past year!
Most Loved and Most Hated
- “Delicious” Devin Carter
Easily the most loved wrestler in 3XWrestling. The former 3XW Heavyweight Champion lost the belt late in 2008, but had one of the best win-loss records of any wrestler in the region. Carter is charismatic, funny, and intelligent.
- Dinn T. Moore
It doesn’t matter what town Dinn T goes to. He gets booed. Loudly. Even though he’s one of the most talented wrestlers on the World League Wrestling roster, due to vocal chanting to the contrary Moore constantly has to remind the fans that he, in fact, does not suck.
- Mississippi Madman
After facing health concerns early in the year, Madman bounced back to capture the SCW Heavyweight and Mid Pro Undisputed Championships.
- Steve Szoke
A mentor to so many wrestlers in the Midwest, Szoke passed away in 2008 and left behind a great legacy. Many wrestlers came together free of charge to put on a tribute show at the request of Tobi Hope, titled DIEHARD 4EVER.
- Bud Chaplin
National Wrestling Coalition may have ended a twenty-year run after Bud’s passing, but his memory still lives on as an inspiration to many in the wrestling business.
- “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt vs Tyler Cook
The 3XWrestling feud of the year for a reason, these two former best friends have been at each other’s throats for months. Wyatt executed a brutal attack culminating in a curb stomp on Cook’s 3XW Pure Championship in October after his Midwest Best Series match with Shane Hollister.
- Ego Express vs Vinyl & Vega
These two teams are still technically feuding since the match that was supposed to end it all never took place. Girlfriends, blood, sweat, and fire summarize a brutal and unrelenting feud that could see a violent end in 2009.
- Tyler Black vs Shane Hollister
Former Scott County Wrestling Tag Champs together, Tyler Black ducked and dodged Hollister’s challenges for his SCW Heavyweight Title for months before losing it in a great match on April 4, 2008 in Davenpot, IA. This feud was one of the hottest in Iowa for 2008 and resulted in a match of the year candidate.
- Northstar Express vs Phoenix Twins
Jockeying for the top position in the MWR rankings for all of 2008, a clearcut winner of the feud was never crowned, leaving fans clamoring for more!
Behind the Scenes
- Kari Williams
A future nationally recognized pro wrestling journalist for sure, Kari worked behind the scenes for MWR and St. Louis area promotions, giving her time and effort to help improve the wrestling scene and prove her passion for the sport.
Instrumental in getting a nearly catastrophic failure of a show back on track in an honest and straight forward manner, Iceman proved that honesty and hardwork trump shady tactics any day.
- Martin T
The former NWA Central States owner has been a consistently great referee for World League Wrestling, and also reffed for Total Nonstop Action in 2008!
What to look for in 2009
The end of 2008 showed signs of life for Midwest independent wrestling that are serious indicators of an even better 2009! Here are a few of MWR’s predictions!
The Next Wave of Midwest Stars
- Ryan Slade
Already a popular young block in the 3XW tower, Slade has been getting strong reactions in MECW where he is becoming a mainstay, as well as SCW where he has just started making appearances.
- Mike Sydal
Nobody can deny the huge upside of having a versatile (both athletically and character-wise) man like Sydal on a card.
- Zach Thompson
Currently teaming with Mike Sydal in 3xw, Thompson has really started coming into his own and developing a more outspoken persona.
- Brandon Marino & Aaron Scott
Impressive in their few MWR coverage area appearances in 2008, if promoters give the tag team the opportunity then they’ll bring a whole new dimension to the tag team division.
- Brandon Aarons
Training with wrestlers the caliber of Dingo will only help to improve this young wrestler in the coming year. He’s already regaining steam in LWA.
- Bao Nguyen
One of the most respectable and hard-working wrestlers in all of the Midwest. Expect a breakout year for this young wrestler.
- Dustin Lane
With less than one year wrestling, Dustin has look like a solid veteren. He and his tag team partner, the ultra talented Darin Waid, shocked the Richmond, MO when they defeated a team thought of as a 2009 dominant tag team for the World League Wrestling Tag Team Titles: Dinn T. Moore & Brian Breaker.
- Aaron Matthews
Matthews could be a diamond in the rough. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with lightning quick moves and charisma that is off the charts. While he helped put up the cage for the main event at High Voltage Wrestling, he was inside the cage taunting and entertaing the fans during intermission. If you get a chance to see this rising star, dont miss out.
- Amy Hennig
Amy has been wrestling the number one female in the Midwest, Stacey O’Brien and learning from every match. We urge you to go see this 3rd generation wrestler at a World League Wrestling show. The fans loved her grandfather (Larry “The Ax” Hennig) and her dad (the late “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, but when Amy enters the ring the connection with the fans is unbelievable. Wrestling fans have always been about family, and to them Amy is one of their own, One day she will be in the WWE. Of that there is no doubt. Today you have the opportunity to see the future of Women’s professional wrestling in action. Don’t say that we didn’t try to tell you.
- Tony Stetson
Young and determined, the IWA/AAPW wrestler has been wrestling frequently. A chance to shine outside his home area could be what the young star needs to go to the next level.
- Donovan Ruddick vs Mark Sterling
After two highly entertaining matches in November and December for the Lethal Wrestling Alliance that screamed intensity, a win by Mark Sterling in the Spring of 2009 could spell a Midwest-wide feud the likes of which hasn’t been seen in years.
- Shane Hollister vs Tyler Cook
After their historic showdown at 3XWrestlings BAM-O-Ween in October 2008 in the first match of MWR’s Midwest Best Series, Cook and Hollister could have more confrontations across the Midwest in such promotions as Scott County Wrestling and High Voltage Wrestling that set the region on fire.
- Feature Presentation (Eric Ruffington & Blake Steel) vs LONRs (Darrien Sanders & Mark Sterling)
Without a doubt two of the best in the area, these two teams have never went head to head. That could all change in 2009, as the LONRs have been booked frequently in Feature Presentation’s area. Which team will win when matching the tenaciousness of the LONRs against the tricky tactics of Feature Presentation?
- Dingo vs Kahagas
Dingo took the first match in January 2009 in his hometown for High Voltage Wrestling, but the Japanese Nightmare earned the respect of Dingo and the fans. There is no doubt that Kahagas will want to avenge that loss when they meet again. With Kahagas already burning with rage with Dingo’s manager Magic Man involved, this could get ugly quickly. Easily a candidate for feud of the year in 2009 if the fire is lit for the competitiveness both men possess.
- “Serial Thriller” Shane Rich vs Shawn Shultz
After an emotional win against the ever popular Edmund “Livewire” McGuire, Rich took offense to Shultz sneaking into the ring and hitting Livewire with a DDT. Heated words were exchanged, with Shultz telling Rich to “keep the belt clean” for him. If Rich can retain the belt on March 14, 2009 when the belt collector Jeremy Wyatt comes after his title then an epic feud could ensue. If Wyatt wins that evening this could turn in a three way feud for the All American Pro Wrestling title.
- Project Aggression (Michael Strider & “Superstar” Steve Fender)
Call it a pipe dream, but the entire Midwest tag team scene could be flipped completely on its head if these two join forces again and tour the Midwest. Any knowledgeable wrestling fan would be hard pressed to pick a current team that could beat Project Aggression on a consistent basis.
- Derek Stone
Quite possibly the most respected indy champion of the past ten years on the Midwest indy wrestling scene, a rejuvenated Stone would be a welcomed change of pace for many promotions across the MWR coverage area.
- Barrio Boys (Domino Rivera & Angel Medina)
The Barrio Boys struggled in their first match in 2009 but, like the Juggernaut, once they get to moving they are unstoppable. The winner of the LONRS vs Ego Express feud in Dynamo Pro needs to watch out for these two bad hombres.
- Mark Bland & Matt Krueger
Expect this team, talk show hosts for the St. Louis area’s radio program Absolute Wrestling Radio, to make big moves in 2009!
- Hype Gotti
A newly retired Hype Gotti will become a colour commentator for a local promotion’s event DVDs. Whoever picks him up for this job will see their DVD sales double in 2009!
- Brandon Espinosa
Espy has matches in more MWR coverage area promotions in 2008 than any other wrestler. Expect this constantly evolving wrestler to capture tag team gold before the end of 2009 in LWA, and heavyweight gold in at least one Illinois-based promotion.
- Larry Barber
The man has been influential in bringing pro wrestling to the Kansas City area again. In his first two events he has had 200-plus in attendance. All enjoyed some of the top stars in wrestling. He also works hard with the Kansas NWA Dynamo Gym. If you live near Kansas you need to know this power player.
- Pro Wrestling Entertainment
April 4, 2009 is marked on the calendar to be this promotion’s first event. With some of the top stars in the Midwest on the card plus national stars Al Snow and Tracey Smothers, Springfield, IL looks to be the place to be that weekend