So Close to Doing the Impossible
Amy Hennig’s Pro Wrestling Debut and WLW Results
by Joshua Ray
You would think that a guy who lives an hour away from World League Wrestling in Eldon, MO would make it to a WLW show more often, but alas that hasn’t been the case. After attending my first Eldon WLW show on July 26, 2008, that is definitely changing.
WLW presented a great show at the Eldon Community Center, right next to the old Harley Race Wrestling Academy, on July 26, 2008. The crowd was loud (more on that later) and the wrestlers gave it their all. You can’t ask for anything more!
Earlier in the day I had the opportunity to sit with my good friend Brian “Flair” Kelley and his girlfriend at the Eager Beaver in Eldon as we waited for Eugene to arrive for an autograph signing. My wife accompanied me to Eldon that day, and the four of us had a great visit. I’ll tell you right now, the burgers at the Eager Beaver were pretty good.
Another enjoyable part of the time at the Eager Beaver was getting to chat with Harley and BJ Race for fifteen or twenty minutes about wrestling. I first talked to the Race family in April in my hometown of Lebanon, MO and even though it was a great event and I had a good talk with BJ, I was worried that I might have made a bad impression on Harley. Before writing this, only my wife really knew about that fact. I was very impressed with Harley Race and his genuinely kind and humble personality. I was just concerned about I came off. Everyday is a learning experience and you should always strive to learn from your mistakes, but life is too short to learn exclusively from your own mistakes and I definitely didn’t want April’s interactions with him to be on that list of mistakes I was forced to learn from.
My concerns were put to rest when I chatted with both about WLW’s upcoming training camp with Pro Wrestling NOAH September 15th through the 18th as well as wrestlers that I thought they should keep their eye on. My opinion is worth the same as sand is in Iraq (I’m still digging some of that sand out of crevices, but I digress), but I appreciated him listening and responding to what I had to say.
Eugene arrived, but Brian and I were more content to chat and watch Eugene interact with the young kids to harass him about an interview. One classic exchange between Eugene and a boy went like this:
Kid: You’re my favorite wrestler, Eugene.
Eugene: Well why are you wearing a John Cena shirt, then?
That one got a loud reaction from everybody in the Eager Beaver. Of course Eugene still graciously gave the boy an autograph. I have no doubt that this young boy will remember that conversation for the rest of his life, and that is what pro wrestling is all about. This is why I love it so much.
My group left the Eager Beaver and had some extra time on our hands, so BJ was kind enough to let us tour their brand new facility. It is located right next to the restaurant. The highlight for me was Harley Race’s office. He had the old Central States Championship and his old NWA Heavyweight Title on display. To me, those things are awe inspiring.
Now is the time for me to poke a little fun at my buddy Brian. He knows he messed up, plus even though he’s my friend I really don’t like him very much. While BJ Race was giving us a tour, Brian asked her how she felt when Harley won the NWA Heavyweight Title. Well, back when he won that belt, she didn’t know he even existed! They were married years later. She still answered him, verifying this fact, but I still thought it was funny since I know he knew that already. That’s Brian for you, though. He asks the hard questions… the really hard questions… as in the questions that are impossible to answer. It’s okay, though… later in the evening during Eugene’s first match, I yelled Eric instead of Eugene for some reason. Classic.
I still didn’t corner Eugene for a quick interview. One of these days I’ll learn to do my job. Hopefully I will have another opportunity. I was too busy taking in the new facility to think about such trivial things as doing what I’m supposed to. Next you’ll be asking me to actually watch a wrestling match or something.
I was impressed with the Eldon Community Center when we arrived there for the show. It was large for the size of the town, and very clean. Michael Strider, Tyler Cook, and Domino Rivera arrived and said hello to Brian and me. I didn’t know what the lineup was going to be for the night, but I was personally hoping for Domino Rivera to make it onto the show. I think the guy is talented and deserves more recognition than he currently receives. A match I watched recently between him and Derek Stone was good, and he’s been working great matches for Central States Wrestling over the past year as well.
Once in the building, my main complaint was that the merchandise was hard to get access to. Over the course of the night I was able to chat with Tyler Cook and Bao Nguyen, both of which are becoming favorites of mine, but it was hard to squeeze up to the tables and it always felt as if I was in somebody’s way.
The first match was “Vietnam Phenom” Bao Nguyen vs Akiyago. Akiyago received a lot of negative attention from the crowd and was hit with the first of too many “chicken” chants, led by the guy sitting right next to me. I love to hassle guys as much as the next person, but I try to come up with more to insult them than just “chicken”. Akiyago defeated “Vietnam Phenom” Bao Nguyen by pinfall, using the ropes for leverage. Martin T was the ref, so of course I gave him a hard time. Martin is a great guy and has humored me on many occasions away from the ring, but he has a tendency to call the match in a way that makes my favorite wrestlers lose. Not cool.
I’m not sure, but I believe the next match was Tyler Cook vs Brian Breaker. I think that Breaker is a great wrestler and Tyler Cook is one of the brightest prospects out there, but it seemed in spots that they had a hard time against each other. Cook flirted with Brian’s girlfriend and my wife entirely too much, making me feel guilty that I hadn’t rubbed baby oil all over my body or tanned recently, but I feel I’m sexy enough without all of the added benefits. Cook managed to pin Breaker, so I guessed I’d better leave him alone. Lord knows that he received enough “tighty whitey chicken” chants to last a lifetime. Oh well, at least they added two words to the first matches “chicken” chants. Who am I to complain?
Next up was Michael Strider vs Marc Godeker. Godeker wrestled a good match and is really a talented guy. I need to make it a point to chat with him at the next show I make it to. Hopefully his tag team partner, Steve Anthony, will be recovered from his broken leg and I can see them in tag team action. Even thought Strider was blatantly cheating, I couldn’t help but cheer him on. I think I was the only one… and since Martin T was the ref again for this match, he made sure that Strider lost. I’ll bring some of my basic training birth control glasses for him next time around. Maybe then he can call the match the way I want it called. I’m a paying fan. I should get what I want.
I didn’t know the next match would be taking place, but I didn’t complain. It would see the pro wrestling debut of Amy Hennig. Her first match wasn’t going to be easy, though, as she was given the unenviable task of facing the WLW Ladies Champion, Stacey O’Brien. Amy Hennig is one of the number one prospects for the Midwest, but after that match I want to be sure to tell you that it isn’t simply because her father was “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig or her grandfather was Larry “The Axe” Hennig. That would be selling Amy short. She definitely has the tools to make a name for herself without the last name attached. In this particular match, however, she came up short. O’Brien is a talented veteran and one of the best in the Midwest right now. She used it all to her advantage and retained her title.
It is important to note that there was a chant throughout the crowd during this match that I felt was inappropriate. In my personal opinion, some individuals forget that we are not the close friends of a professional wrestler and should not act as such when in the crowd. A chant of “Do it for your Dad” started through the crowd and was very uncomfortable for me to hear. Ms. Hennig did an excellent job of acknowledging the chant and being gracious, but the fact of the matter was that it isn’t really something that should have been chanted during a wrestling match. I can’t speak for Amy as I do not know her personally, but talking with Brian after the evening concluded confirmed my feelings. Brian approached me and said that he felt embarrassed to be a wrestling fan with that chant going. Enough about that, though.
Things were about to liven up a bit, as a six man tag match was about to get under way. WLW Heavyweight Champion “Dangerous” Derek McQuinn, Dinn T Moore and Michael Strider knew that they were supposed to face former WWE star Eugene and the WLW Tag Team Champions. Unfortunately Marc Godeker’s tag team partner, Steve Anthony, was on the injured list for what looked to be a broken leg. Godeker came out with a microphone and told the men standing in the ring that he had a new partner. This partner was a man whom Derek McQuinn hadn’t beaten for the title… Keith Walker!
Walker was more than up for the challenge and the team of him, Eugene and Godeker frustrated their opponents for most of the match, but in the end fell victim to underhanded tactics. Derek, Strider and Moore picked up the win.
The end of the evening featured a battle royal. Ten men got in the ring to do battle and possibly earn the right for a Heavyweight Title shot in the near future. Brian Breaker, Tyler Cook, Bao Nguyen, Akiyavo and others entered the ring, but the last three were down to Michael Strider, Eugene and Dinn T Moore. The odds seemed stacked against the lovable Eugene. Amazingly enough he made it out as the victor!
It was a great night of action at the Eldon Community Center! I was happy to visit with Brian and see some terrific wrestling only an hour from my home.
Next up for World League Wrestling is a big Sedalia, MO show on September 6, 2008 featuring Wrestlemania 24’s hero Bobby Lashley! One week later World League Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH join forces for a very promising training camp. Pro wrestling legend and current World Wrestling Entertainment agent Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat will be in attendance on behalf of the WWE. More information can be found by going to http://www.harleyrace.com/.
I hope that you have enjoyed my personal reflection on WLW’s July 26, 2008 show in Eldon, MO. I encourage you to go to one in your area or support your local independent wrestling promotion. Everyone wants options over the current WWE product, but it is up to you to make those alternatives successful!