Indy Wrestling Corner with Brad Reiter
Ricochet. Joey Ryan. Will Osprey. Zack Sabre, Jr. Cody.
When most people think of the independent wrestling scene, those are just a few of the names that come to mind. There are many more wrestlers out there than those very popular, and talented, wrestlers. Back before Vince McMahon bought WWE (then WWF) from his father, wrestling was run state by state, and region by region.
There were dozens of companies all over the country. Some of the wrestling was great, and some was lack luster, but fans still enjoyed it. WWE bought up much of the well-known talent and drove many companies out of business. WCW came around to compete with WWE, and then came ECW and today ROH and TNA. After WCW and ECW were bought or folded their needed to be a place for the wrestlers to go since there was only so much room in WWE. Some went to Japan, some went to upstarts ROH and TNA, and other went to work their local companies.
The indies started to see a resurgence, and today in 2017 with many platforms, from YouTube, to the Fite app on Android and Apple phones, to the companies own websites, you can find any kind of wrestling your heart desires. We’ve gone back in time to the way wrestling used to be. There are still the big companies, led by WWE, but there are many, many indies out there. Once again, the talent ranges from great to passable, but it’s still fun to watch.
What I plan to cover in my column is the indie wrestling that doesn’t get covered. The wrestlers that bust their butts but aren’t covered by on-line wrestling sites. The companies that aren’t Ring of Honor, TNA, or Lucha Underground.
Back in early 2016 I came across a west coast wrestling promotion, Paragon Pro Wrestling out of Las Vegas, who had just gotten a TV deal to be broadcast on random channels across the country, much like ECW used to do back when they first started. They had slick production for a local company, and like many indies had a good mix of forgotten about big names and great lesser and unknown talent. At the time, Jessy Sorensen, formally of TNA, was their Heavyweight Champion. The tag straps were in a feud between Hammerstone & Chamberlain and The Whirlwind Gentlemen (Jack Manley and Remy Marcel). Other names on the roster included former WWE wrestlers Gangrel and Matt Striker, former WWE Woman’s Champion Lisa Marie Varon (formally Victoria in WWE and Tara in TNA), young lions like Caleb Konley, and the wrestler who really caught my eye, Darin Corbin. Corbin became the first PPW American Champion and his run with the title was so entertaining. There was nothing flashy about Corbin’s wrestling style, but he was just fun to watch. Later in the year PPW brought in east coast mainstay “Rude Boy” James Reilly, Royce Issacs, and tag team Bonu$ Boyz (Sugar Brown and Clutch Kucera).
Because of watching Corbin in PPW, I decided to see what other companies he worked for, and the one that really got my attention was Fully Loaded Wrestling. FLW ran shows in the mid-west, and I found their show on the Fite app. They didn’t have slick production like PPW, but their commentary was fun to listen to, JJ Cash being a stand out, and the wrestling was really solid. I was hooked after the first match I saw.
There was some crossover talent with PPW and FLW. Besides Corbin, the Whirlwind Gentlemen were big there as well. FLW brought in some big names as well. Tommy Dreamer worked a match there, TNA wrestler Abyss ran through, and they even had WWE Hall of Famer Booker T show up. What they lacked in slickness they made up for in heart and desire. The wrestlers went out there like they were wrestling in front of 90,000 fans at WrestleMania, and that’s the way it should be. Whether you’re in front of that many people, or 30 people at the local gym, someone paid to see the men and women on the card work. Guys like “Dynamite Soul” Eric Walker, indie mainstay the Official PBR Pro Wrestler Arik Cannon, Darin Corbin, Christian Rose, and their Heavyweight Champion at the time, Chainsaw King showed their stuff in highly entertaining matches.
Enjoying what I saw in PPW and FLW, I decided to go down the rabbit hole some more and came across West Coast Wrestling Connection, Future Stars of Wrestling, and Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. All of these companies are from the mid-west and west coast, so a lot of talent crosses over, so it makes it easier to get into them. The best thing is that I live in New York, and I’m able to follow these companies.
Just 15 years ago, the only way to follow companies like these were just reading the results, if the website had them, or through tape trading. I still enjoy watching WWE shows (RAW at times, Smackdown, NXT, and their various tournaments), TNA, Lucha Underground, and popular indie Gorilla Pro Wrestling, but there is so much out there that it would be silly not to want to take a trip around the country, and now you can at little to no charge. My goal with this column is to open fan’s eyes to more stuff that’s out there than what you see on the USA Network or POP TV. To name the names of those talented men and women that don’t get the headlines.
Whether it’s talking about the weekly shows of those companies, or highlighting a particular wrestler, it’s time to take a journey out of your comfort zone. If I can open the eyes of even one fan, then my job is done.
Besides wrestling, I'm a big fan of horror movies, film noir,heavy metal, and 80s music. I like other genres, but those are my go to for when I want to have a good time.
I'm also a big sports fan, rooting for the Mets, LA Dodgers, NY Rangers, NY Giants, Knicks, and Dallas Mavs.
I've been growing my epic beard since December 2014 and I don't intend to stop any time soon.