I've done this twice so far. Written this blog...made it almost to the end then I do something that causes me to lose the whole thing. This is the 3rd time.
With that said, this will be like the Tenacious D song "Tribute"...it's not the greatest blog ever, but it's a tribute.
Forgive me in advance if this feels redundant. It certainly does writing it.
We'll call this a retrospective for lack of a better term - even though this was only in 2022.
Let's begin...for years it's been discussed having a W4H Champion. I'm all for championship titles, but it gets a little too wild when it gets past around willy nilly or when you have too many championship titles.
After loads of discussion, a couple buddies convinced me to just do it. Initially I wanted all the legends of the underground scene - Jonny Firestorm, Tristan Baldwin, Scrappy, Braden Charron, etc. Scheduling all those guys for the same day has proven difficult. I've had shoots with 3/4s of those guys but never have I ever been able to get them all at once.
If I couldn't get all the stars I wanted then I'd have to go a different route. For our first picks, I went with some guys I liked and thought were either great or on the verge of being great.
I wanted to shoot the tournament in one-day. A true test of the champion and I think you know if someone has what it takes if they can do it all in one day. Alas, we weren't able to get 8 guys who I thought were qualified. We were able to get 6 qualified candidates for the first night of filming. That meant 3 of our first round matches.
Now I needed a custom championship belt. Sure using a replica or toy belt is fun, but it doesn't feel like a genuine custom championship belt...and luck would have it that I knew someone who was making reasonably priced custom gold. I'm a fan of the white leather belts like the WWF Intercontinental one in the late 80s early 90s, so I wanted something similar. After some back and forth on the idea, we agreed on a look. All I had to do now was wait.
I met up with him at a pro wrestling event and he had the stuff. After returning from his car, he pulled out of his bag the brand new, one-of-a-kind W4H Championship. I was stoked! It's official, I'm the "mastermind" of my own wrestling organization - complete with a real championship belt.
We set a date to use my friends ring in his garage. He was gonna be out-of-town but didn't mind us using the ring as long as we weren't too rambunctious.
The first round had to be unique from what we've done before, so I picked Brit Pro Rounds as the rules of the first bouts. Since the first-time I took part in a Brit Pro match, I felt at home with the style. So much fun ideas you can do with it plus it's an endurance game.
Everyone had to have a special look or something unique. Being a fan of 80's and early 90's pro wrestling, I had some ideas in mind for the guys. I also had the benefit of a friend with a vast collection of WCW & WWF Superstars actual wrestling gear that they had parted with including Buff Bagwell.
First up, Javier The Hunk - a hot up-and-comer on the pro and underground scene. He's young and has a great amateur wrestling pedigree. On top of that, he's gaining some success in the pro wrestling scene with the big guys. He wasn't a top dog yet, but I knew he had the potential to be.
Now what was he gonna wear? He reached into his bag of wrestling gear and pulled out a few items. I'm not a huge fan of singlets but something about his red amateur singlet from his high school days felt right...as long as he made sure to pull the straps down to show those pecs and abs. He agreed and we had our first star of the tournament.
Every rookie needs to face a veteran opponent, so I pulled my own name out of the hat. I knew when I scheduled Javier that I wanted to test him in the ring. I've seen him in action and I've heard good things, but nothing like getting up-close to find out if he's as good as advertised.
I'm very basic in my favorite outfits - clean white boots, classic 3-striped socks pulled up and a metallic/latex speedo. My buddy threw me his long ring jacket to top off the look, but I later ditched that.
Next up, was Joey Nux - he's a heavyweight badass. Definitely has the potential to be the top guy at W4H. The title laid around his way or over his shoulder. He's been on fire since debuting at W4H, so let's see if he's got what it takes to win the gold.
My friend with the WCW ring gear collection pulled out one of his favorite looks - a half pair of trunks combined with a long pair of tights in bright pink zebra print. I had my doubts, but he kept reminding me that we were trying to do something different (and hopefully better) than the standard W4H wrestling match. Joey eased my concerns with the perfect black leather vest. A bandanna to match topped the look off.
Seeing Joey in that outfit, Gabe Steele started licking his lips. Gabe is a fan of classic pro looks and knew he wanted to get his hands on the muscled bodybuilder. Gabe almost always has the best gear in the room and this was no exception. He pulled out a few outfits before hand-picking one. Gabe has a unique look and some latin flare, so he fit perfectly into the tournament and it's hard to argue that he hadn't been worthy of a spot. He easily has had the most matches, learned the most moves and improved the most in the shortest time I think I've ever witnessed.
Last of our first night first round action pitted boy next door, clean-cut and wholesome Max Ryder against Drew Harper. I knew exactly what I wanted for Max...like I said, I'm a fan of that 80s and 90s pro wrestling and he was the perfect patriotic babyface. It's one of my favorite outfits to wear on the pro scene and in underground matches so I knew right where to get it.
I'm not saying I was cheering against Max Ryder but I think it's obvious that Max has the potential to be one of the big stars of W4H, however, I don't think he has the killer instinct. It's more than moves and skills - it's attitude.
Drew Harper has that look, he's grown as a wrestler and he'd make a good champion. Not too big, not too green. He could've upset his way into being W4H Champion - I strongly believe that. We needed something that fit the feel of the tournament and it didn't take Drew long to pull the Tarzan inspired trunks out. He looked like a guy on TV wrestling. Now, could he pull it off.
At the end of the night, Gabe Steele and I were sitting around with our other friend chatting when it was decided we'd have the first match of round 2 right now. We all agreed it had to be something different than the first round and the answer was NO DQ, WEAPONS ALLOWED. I had a table that we could break so Gabe and I wiped the sweat off, freshened up and played around in the ring - inside and outside.
It was fun...until my friend returned home right as we concluded our match.
The place was a mess. Weapons and speedos everywhere. Plus I think we were using a fog machine for something. He had forgotten we were using his place...or I didn't clarify fully and he was VERY SURPRISED. After he calmed down a bit, he wanted to know how the matches were and if he could see them.
That first night was very good and we worked out some ideas to get the tournament going. We just needed 2 more guys to fill out the bracket. I was holding out hope for Scrappy or Tristan or Jonny or someone of that caliber. Hell, maybe Lon DuMont would come out of retirement. After thinking on it, I knew I had 2 guys who were capable.
Daddy Texas was fresh on the scene. He's tall and watching him in action I saw glimpses of greatness. He's wet behind the ears, but, hell, he's from Texas - that's practically the land of Champions. We wanted to present him similar to Max Ryder but different. We couldn't find the cowboy outfit so we went with that classic clean-cut college wrestler look.
He was out-matched from the star. With only one spot left in the tournament, I knew I had to get the most skilled and knowledgable wrestler I knew- Chase Sinn. Since the first time I met him I've been amazed by how much he knows about the rules and techniques of wrestling - not just pro. I once saw him re-position himself on a pin-fall because his feet were under the ropes and that was against the rules. Most referees don't even know that rule and Chase Sinn didn't wanna leave any chance for losing the match.
We filmed the second half of the tournament after the completion of the first round. Chase Sinn ended up competing 3 times that day - a true test of a champion. And honestly, I think he should've won. The dude can wrestle anybody - no matter the size or skill level. He's that damn good.
I used to train with Chase Sinn and we've wrestled a few times - every time I learn something new and I have fun getting to challenge my skills. You could say I was looking forward to the big Championship match between the two of us. We've got good chemistry and don't mind going "off-script" in our bouts.
The completion of the tournament left me a little unsatisfied. Yes, I won the tournament. Yes, I probably should've been the first real champion in W4H (hey, I'm the boss and I'm almost retirement age) - but I wanted my friends to be in it.
Don't take that wrong. The tournament was very good. But what do you think we make this like the Olympics. Maybe every 4 years we put one on. Maybe every 2? What do you think?
Maybe a committee to see whom gets voted in to compete for the W4H Championship. Who would you have put in the 8 man tournament?