By Patrick Brandmeyer
Photos Brian “Flair” Kelley
Fans attending the World League Wrestling event on June 26th expected to see new Tag Team Champions being crowned…but an unexpected team walked out with the gold that night.
The night started with the roster assembled at ringside for a ten-bell salute. Several legends of the wrestling business had recently passed away and those in attendance paid tribute to “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Tommy Rogers, “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell, and Cora Combs.
The opening match saw Jon Webb made his triumphant return from Japan as he faced Michael Magnuson of the Black Hand Warriors. Webb had learned a lot in his stint with the NOAH promotion as he went toe-to-toe with the bigger and stronger Magnuson.
Magnuson nearly powered his way to victory, but Webb surprised him with a rana into a pinning combination for the win.
“Dangerous” Derek McQuinn had been on a roll since his return to action, but the fans were on the side of his opponent John E. Rock. Rock had momentum on his side due to the support of the audience at the Harley Race Wrestling Arena, but the former WLW Heavyweight Champion had the edge in experience as well as underhanded tactics. When Rock climbed to the top turnbuckle, Dangerous Derek shoved the referee into the ropes to knock his opponent off balance.
Rock tumbled to the mat and Derek took advantage of the situation, winning with his trademark spear.
“The Legacy” Leland Race had a tough test as he defended his WLW Championship against “The Ego” Dustin Bozworth.
The challenger had recently appeared on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch show and was hoping to ride that fame to greater in-ring success. However, Race had held the title since November and wasn’t planning on his reign being ended so soon.
Bozworth seemingly had control of the match when Superstar Steve Fender and Dangerous Derek attacked the champion, causing a disqualification win for the titleholder. Bozworth didn’t participate in the two-on-one beatdown as the pair had just ruined his chance at winning the belt…when Fender teased a cash-in of his Harley Race Invitational Tournament trophy for an impromptu title match with Leland, Bozworth’s presence made him reconsider and Fender left the ring with McQuinn.
A long-standing rivalry continued as Stacey O’Brien defended the WLW Women’s Championship against “Miss Natural” Heather Patera.
Miss Natural won the title for the first time in 2002 and has held it a record-setting seven times in total. However, Stacey’s first title win came at Miss Natural’s expense in 2008 and the two have been battling since that time. On the heels of their best-of-five-match series over the belt, Stacey was a six-time champion and was hoping to close the book on the long rivalry However, the bout ended in controversy as a pinning combination seemed to leave both women’s shoulders on the canvas. Miss Natural thought she had won, but Stacey got a shoulder off the mat and was declared the winner.
Miss Natural angrily grabbed the title belt before it could be presented to the champion…she wanted the feud to end as well and she challenged Stacey to a best-of-three-falls match at the Night Of Champions event in August. Stacey accepted the offer and the two shook hands, but Miss Natural kicked her in the midsection and laid her out with the Natural Disaster!
When Jon Webb and Jack Gamble left for their tour of NOAH, the WLW Tag Team Titles were declared vacant and a four-team tournament was held to determine the next champions. The Black Hand Warriors duo of Dave DeLorean and Jayden Fenix had defeated John E. Rock and Matt Creed to advance; on the other side of the bracket, the upstart team of Kickin’ Kyle Roberts and Justin D’Air scored a huge upset over Superstar Steve and Dangerous Derek. However, Roberts suffered a broken collarbone in the matchup and Brandon Espinosa substituted for him in the tournament finale.
Despite their limited experience as a unit, Espinosa and D’Air worked well together; however, DeLorean and Fenix had the advantage in tag team continuity. They gained the advantage when DeLorean dropped Espinosa onto the edge of the ring with a modified Death Valley Driver, but Espy finally managed to make the tag to D’Air. D’Air lived up to his name as he flew around the ring, culminating in a huge somersault plancha onto DeLorean and a Van Terminator-style dropkick with DeLorean seated in the adjacent corner. Espy powerslammed DeLorean and D’Air followed up with his 450 Splash, but Fenix broke up the pinfall attempt in time.
DeLorean and Fenix rallied and were able to take Espinosa out of the match long enough to finish off D’Air with their Tombstone/flying double-stomp combination…DeLorean pinned D’Air after that and the Black Hand Warriors were once again Tag Team Champions!
The night wasn’t quite over…as DeLorean and Fenix celebrated their win, Superstar Steve and Dangerous Derek attacked them from behind! The teams battled it out, but Steve and Derek had the advantage over the worn-down champions…and Steve revealed that he could cash in his trophy for ANY title shot, electing to use it for an impromptu challenge for the tag belts!
The former Gold Exchange members isolated the less-experienced Fenix and Derek took him down with a spear…the referee barely had time to call for an official opening bell before he was counting Derek’s pinfall! Just like that, we saw new WLW Tag Team Champions crowned for the second time in the span of a few minutes!
The night provided more questions than answers…will the Black Hand Warriors be the unlikely fan favorites against the newly-named “Elite Aggression” duo?
Will they be on the same side as their old rivals Gamble and Webb, who just recently got back from Japan and will surely be wanting their belts back? Where does Michael Magnuson stand after being noticably absent while his partners were being screwed out of the championships? We don’t know the answers to those questions yet, but the fans certainly saw a memorable night of action in Troy!
Tuesday – July 14, 2015
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
World League Wrestling and Harley Race Present Live Pro Wrestling
Wednesday – July 15, 2015
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
World League Wrestling and Harley Race Present Live Pro Wrestling
Driving Directions to the Fairgrounds
The Lincoln County Fairgrounds is located on Fairgrounds Road, Troy, MO 63379.
From the St. Louis Area: Take Hwy 70 or Hwy 40/64 to Wentzville. Take Hwy 61 North at Wentville to Hwy 47 exit in Troy. Turn left onto Hwy 47 headed west. Follow Hwy 47 until you pass Clonts Field (Football) on your left. After the field you will turn right onto Fairgrounds Road. The grounds are approximately 1/4 mile on the right.
From west:Take Hwy 70 East to the Hwy 47 Exit in Warrenton. Take Hwy 47 North to Hawk Point. At the four way stop in Hawk Point turn right continuing on Hwy 47. Turn left on Hwy H, just west of Troy. Take a right on Fairground Road. The fairgrounds will be just past the church on your left. Or stay on Hwy 47 until Fairgrounds Road is on your left. Turn left and follow for approximately a 1/4 mile. The fairgrounds will be on your right.