By Patrick Brandmeyer
The tumultuous history between Ron Powers and Ricky Cruz has taken several interesting turns…and it took another turn last month in Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling.
Their story started years before they ever crossed paths in the East Carondelet Community Center. Each man has his own perspective on the situation: Ricky said that Ron deliberately injured his brother in a match in Puerto Rico, ending their dream of competing as a tag team. Ron said that he was a different person at the time and had changed since that era of his wrestling career.
The tension boiled over when Powers dished out a bloody beating to Cruz in the middle of the ring…that kicked off a wild series of matches with the SICW Classic Wrestling Championship at stake. In the end, Cruz walked away with the gold…but Powers never forgot who put that blemish on his record.
The two fought other competitors but their paths seemed to keep crossing at different points. When “Ironman” Ken Kasa cashed in on a promised title shot to steal the title from Cruz, it was Powers’ post-match beating that set the table for Kasa’s actions.
Over time, Powers’ focus changed and the fans started to get behind the veteran’s no-nonsense attitude. That may have touched a nerve with Ricky Cruz…while they may have been on the same side at times, Ricky never forgot about what Powers had done to him in the past. That led Cruz to a spot as guest referee in a grudge match between Powers and Flash Flanagan…Ricky had no love lost for either man, but his more recent issue was with Flanagan.
It seemed like Cruz would call the match right down the middle, but he turned on Powers with a superkick out of nowhere to give Flash the victory. The longtime fan favorite was suddenly hearing boos…he insisted that he hadn’t changed, but the fans’ support of Powers had altered his perception of them. The feud was reignited with the popularity roles reversed, leading to some interesting alliances on either side.
The most interesting alliance was between Ricky Cruz and Travis Cook’s Organization. Despite the fact that it was Cook’s manipulations that led to the end of Ricky’s title reign, Ricky felt they had a common enemy and formed a tenuous partnership with Travis and company. The rival clashed in a loser-leaves-town match and it was the interference of the Travis Cook Organization and Flash Flanagan that led to Powers’ unceremonious exit from SICW.
A few months later, manager Big Daddy brought in a masked newcomer named “Red River Jack”. The powerhouse racked up several impressive victories, but Ricky Cruz and Travis Cook suspected that RRJ wasn’t what he seemed. King Kong Brody had once competed under a hood with the Red River Jack name…and Ron Powers was once a protege of Brody. Cruz and Cook connected the dots and speculated that RRJ was actually Powers.
The war continued with Cruz siding with Cook’s stable against their common enemies…but Travis had made one too many enemies and it all came to a head in December. RRJ’s mask was on the line in a match with Ricky Cruz…and recent Cook rival Jim Cornette was the special guest referee.
On top of that, Jake Dirden was the ringside enforcer to ward off the interference of Cook’s Organization. Promoter Herb Simmons had ruled that if Ron Powers had violated the stipulation of the loser-leaves-town match by competing under the hood, he would be banned from SICW for life.
Chaos ensued as Ken Kasa and Flash Flanagan both got involved in the matchup…Cornette and Cook came to blows and Red River Jack got the win after whacking Cruz with Cornette’s trademark tennis racket. RRJ had retained his mask and Ron Powers made his official return to SICW at the start of 2015…but Travis Cook’s Organization was still intent on proving their point.
In the process, cracks started to form in the alliance between Cook and Ricky Cruz…Cook vowed that Kasa would be champion again, something that didn’t sit well with Ricky. That may have reminded Ricky about the circumstances that led to the end of his own title reign.
During a tag match pitting Cruz and Kasa against Gary Jackson and Jim Hoffarth, Travis Cook tried to interfere but accidentally threw powder in Cruz’s eyes. Once Ricky recovered from the temporary impairment of his vision, he confronted Cook about his actions and then walked away from the match, leaving Kasa to lose in a two-on-one situation. Despite that turn of events, Travis Cook insisted that everything was fine in the Cruz/Cook alliance…and that led to the events of February 21st.
The main event between Red River Jack and Attila Khan turned into all-out pandemonium as Travis Cook’s Organization gang-attacked RRJ. Ken Kasa and new recruit Chris Hargas helped Khan triple-team the masked man while Big Daddy was handcuffed to the ringpost and unable to help. They restrained Jack while Travis called Ricky Cruz to the ring for the honor of removing the mask.
Ricky nearly got the hood off RRJ’s head…but then turned around and attacked the members of Travis Cook’s Organization! At the end of the night, Red River Jack’s identity remained unrevealed and Ricky Cruz stood tall, once again hearing the cheers of the fans…
In the wake of last month’s event, Ricky told promoter Herb Simmons that he had let his issues with Ron Powers/Red River Jack cloud his judgment and led him to associate with the wrong people…he had experienced several changes in his life that had changed his perspective on a lot of things. Despite all of that, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to coexist with his old rival…he is scheduled to team with RRJ and Daniel Eads against the Travis Cook Organization at the next show. One thing is for sure: The story between Ricky Cruz and Ron Powers is far from finished.