By Brian Kelley
For the past 10 plus years the must attend wrestling weekend in the Midwest has been held in Eldon Missouri at Harley Race’s World League Wrestling Academy. Race is considered by many to be the very best wrestler in the history of the sport. During his time as the 8-time NWA World Champion he would travel across the globe defending the title including the very best in Japan. When his career was done those trips and relationships would help build a relationship with Pro Wrestling Noah, one of the top wrestling companies not only in Japan but around the world.
WLW and NOAH would team up to trade talent to allow the best to compete against each other in matches that would prepare one Trevor Murdock to not only be ready to make a run in WWE but flourish with tag team partner Lance Cade to become a 3-time WWE Tag Team Champions.
The WLW school would introduce fans to stars like Matt “the Missile” Murphy, Griz, Derek Stone, Trevor Murdock, Wade Chism, the Drill Instructor, Warcloud and Johnny Jett as they mixed it up with many of the top names in the sport like Meng, Butch Reed, Bobby Eaton, The Harris Brothers, Rick Stiener and Japan’s Takeshi Morishima, Takao Ōmori and Go Shiozaki as they toured towns for fundraisers around the Midwest.
While the school runs year round to season the young talent, the annual WLW/NOAH camp works with WWE as past trainers have been John Laurinaitis, Ricky Steamboat, Tom Pritchard, Takashi Suguira, Go Shiozaki, Takeshi Morishima, KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Kenta Kobashi, Ty Bailey, and many more.
This year’s camp featured Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, William Regal, Kevin Von Erich, and Harley Race along with representatives from Pro-Wrestling NOAH Ken Hirayama and Ryu Nakata as students around the country came to hone their wrestling skills in the ring.
I was honored to be a guest to sit in during the weeks camp as the 40 plus students took part in the camp. During the days that I was there I was impressed with the patience and dedication that each of the trainers gave each of the students.
Due to the size of the groups there were two locations for the students, one for the beginners and one for the more seasoned wrestlers. While each group would be able to get great hints on how to work a match, logic, moves and where to be in the ring with hands on from the trainers.
As the camp went on during the week, the Pro Wrestling Noah and WWE representatives wanted to see the wrestlers come up with a match, then perform it in the ring. After the match was done advise was given to each of the wrestlers on what they did right, what they could have done different and how to improve it for the fans.
During the Saturday wrestling show I sat down with a few of the students to get their take on the weeklong camp and what they got out of it. One Jonas Albert Robinson from Oregon had already been to Lance Storms camp and been wrestling since 2008 stated honestly “What I learned this week was that I don’t know anything about wrestling. When I walked through the door I thought I knew about 60% of how to have a great match but in reality it was more close to 5%. The trainers at the camp really opened my eyes on how to improve my game and give the fans their money’s worth when I get in the ring. Then I was amazed at the positivity and information that Kevin (Von Erich) provided. In the end he was such an added bonus with Steamboat and Regal.
While Jonas have been able to be in the ring prior to the week, Joe Reiling has yet to have a match but knew the importance of getting the proper training and the luxury of having Race’s camp so close to his home in Warrensburg Missouri. Reiling stepped up the plate when Regal asked for two young men to get in the ring to work the arms. Though his experience was limited he gave a 100 percent and tried to soak in all the information that his trainers were given him. During my conversations with his fellow peers in the camp they relayed to me that he had earned their respect that week and had improved a ton from day one to the final day. Reiling stated to me that he did not know when his first match would come but the camp added to the fire to learn more to live his dream to be a pro wrestler.
I watched another Oregon native Dillon Divine as he worked under the watchful eyes of Steamboat and Regal. I was impressed with his facial expressions and Divine said it best to be when said “You get what you put out of it. So go for it.
While many of the Harley students took part in the camp one young wrestler fans at MWR are aware of is the 2010 MWR Future Star recipient Sir Bradley Charles.
The award is given not only to the wrestler MWR feels has the talent but the dedication and work ethic to become better, to be the best that they can be. SBC had been to Lance Storms camp, wrestled outside the country and is a rising star at Metro Pro Wrestling, 3xwRESTLING , NWA Dynamo and SICW but he once again proved that he is deserving of the award by seeking out more training to be the best that he can be.
At the end of the week SBC debuted for WLW as he teamed up on the Saturday show with Lee Walker. & Ethan H.D in a tough loss against the team of Ryan Drago, Jeff Strong, & Dustin Bozworth. Even though SBC did not get the “W” the skills that he learned this week will give him that much more a chance to become a star around the world.
In what was one of the most surprising moments for me during the week the students were all smiles as they told me that Regal had invited them to his hotel room on the final night to discuss wrestling in a special Q and A on the week’s events, his opinions and stories from one of the most traveled wrestlers from the past twenty years. What an invitation from a man who could of easily of stayed to himself during a time that he was not required to but instead respects the sport so much that he wanted to give back to the students who took the opportunity to take part in the camp. To say that with that bit of information from the students didn’t move Regal up on my favorites of all time would be a lie.
The week would not be complete as WLW would bring the action and love to the fans. A great night of wrestling as always added with a request from Regal to actually wrestle on the card. His opponent former WLW wrestler who has worked at WWE and ROH as well as a two time WLW Tag team champion with Matt Murphy and Superstar Steve Fender respectably.
The night started off with the fans having a chance to meet the stars of WLW as well as Ricky Steamboat and Kevin Von Erich.
I had the honor of meeting a true Superstar on the night when I spoke to the Cauliflower Alley Club’s Karl Lauer.
He introduced me his “hero” Master Sgt Ira Scott, 87 yrs young and served in WW11, Korea and VietNam total over 30 yrs. was in the US Air Force and done everything from crew chief on fighters, to copters to bombers to medical attention in emergency and sewed up guys so would not bleed before the medics go to um. A very remarkable man and what a real hero is really all about. 5″6″ about 145 lbs and sharp as a teen ager. Later in the night WLW announcer Dan Gier would introduce him to the fans. Out of respect everyone in attendance gave the man a well-deserved standing ovation.
As fans took the time to get their autographs and pictures taken with the stars, The personal highlight of the night for me was to have a few fans come up to introduce themselves stating that they visited the site and enjoyed it.
I have many friends that I know visit the site but it truly makes it worth it when I meet new friends that check MWR out so that they may know when WLW will be back in action or an interview with an up and comer.
One of my very childhood best friends Billy Howser came up for the show on the night with his friend Steve. Billy showed great taste in women once again when the love bug hit him for the “Catholic Schoolgirl” Stacey O’Brien.
Billy bought him an 8×10 of her and wanted to know when I thought she would be at in the future as I stated that she is a star as well for Metro Pro Wrestling.
As we gear up for the first ever MWR Yearbook, I have called on friends to help me add some special features for the book. One of them is famed artist ICON who work includes the world renowned painting The Gods of Thunder painting, as seen at WWE Magazine January 2011.
When he told me of his newest project called “Fantasy Warfare” where he will be drawing two wrestlers from different eras going to war. The first one he did was former WWE Champion the Ultimate Warrior taking on current WWE Star and former WWE Champ Sheamus. I quickly asked to have a special one drawn for the 2011 yearbook and when he asked me who I would like to see go to battle I chose two of my very favorites of all-time, Harley Race vs. Kurt Angle. A match that I think could have won multiple awards throughout the years. Fans be sure to look for this great feature in the book to see who got the edge in this exclusive feature from ICON.
We had posted the importance of Kevin Von Erich coming to the Midwest prior to the show at MWR but little did we know how friendly the man was. All night long he posed for photos giving the fans the famed Von Erich Claw and signing autographs.
One friend came up to me and was impressed on how respectful his sons Marshall and Ross were to them when they asked for a photo. Their comment, Kevin raised them kid’s right. Marshall and Ross by the way took part in the camp as they look to make a name for themselves. Their dad Kevin, proudly told me how talented they were in their high school sports during a special interview with MWR.
An exciting night of action started off with one of the hottest wrestlers in the country as “The Prince” Jason Jones continued his momentum with a win against young Corey Dunken. Jones would have been a real threat for the NWA JR title if he would have been able to get in the tournament for the vacated title left by former champion Craig Classic.
The WLW women’s title has not been as red hot since Malia Hosaka and Brandi Alexander went to war for the championship.
With Ms Natural, the most decorated champion in the company’s history back in the game the fans got to see a classic as Champion Lucy Mendez showed her heart to win a match that also featured former MWR Female of the year Stacey O’Brien.
In a WLW Classic match it would be ALL THAT Matt Murphy teaming up with Steve Fender to meet Trevor Murdock and Bull Schmitt in tag action. Each of these men have been able to take the skills taught to them by Race to make multiple trips to Japan and WWE in years past and their battles have always had a special place in the WLW faithful’s hearts.
During the match Murphy looked to have a leg injury and would not be able to continue. It looked so bad that Ricky Steamboat who was watching in the bleachers with Ms. Natural came to ringside to assist Murphy.
When out of the blue, Murphy showed his true colors and attacked Murdock and Schmitt to the shock of Steamboat and the fans.
Murdock and Schmitt would be able to recover to get the win in what many fans said was one of the most special moments in WLW History. Out of respect each men hugged one another to end the match.
This past spring WLW Stars Trevor Murdock and Brian Breaker toured Japan for Pro Wrestling Noah. While the two stars were on the plane tragedy struck when Hurricane Katrina exploded on Japan. The country was left in shambles and many lost loved ones during one of the saddest moments of 2011. During intermission Harley thanked his friends at Pro Wrestling Noah for their support throughout the years. In response Pro-Wrestling NOAH Ken Hirayama and Ryu Nakata spoke to the fans. They spoke about the promises of many countries to stay and help the country during the aftermath but when it came time for action many was no where to be seen, while Switzerland and the USA were front and center with support for Japan. They then thanked the fans and the country while starting a USA Chant out of respect for the men and women of the USA for their help.
Back to action the man who is the current WLW Champion Brian Breaker would defend his title against fan favorite Jack Gamble. In what I thought was the match of the night, Gamble took a beating but refused to lay down to the champion Breaker. It looked as if the speed of Gamble may pay off but Breaker was just to good as his moves of crushing power was too much for Gamble.
In the main event it would be a wrestling clinic as Steven Regal and Ace Steel would go old school as they traded moves and punishing blows that could have been a headlined anywhere in the country.
Regal would be able to capture a hard earned win on Ace Steel to finish the nights.
Once again World League Wrestling proved that they provide the fans with moments that will be cherished for a lifetime. For the aspiring wrestler , they gave them a chance to become better and be seen by WWE and Pro Wrestling Noah Scouts and for the fans a chance to meet their favorites and watch wrestling the way it was meant to be.
If you missed this years event be sure to keep an eye out at MWR for info on all WLW shows and as soon as we know more about the 2012 WLW/WWE/NOAH camp we will post it here.
Editor’s Note: We would like to thank Harley Race, Pro Wrestling Noah for their hospitably to bring allow us to bring you the fans this awesome look at one of the most important weeks of the year. WLW for over the past 10 years have been dedicated to giving back to communities through fundraisers of their exciting family friendly wrestling shows.
Thank you to the wrestlers of WLW and the students that attended the camp for working with MWR for photos and comments for this story.
Last and most importantly thank you to the fans for their support of MWR and your local wrestling promotion.
Hope you enjoyed this feature and we hope to see you at the matches real soon.