It was set to be a very busy weekend, we had to drive 11 hours to Indiana to wrestle for Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid-South and immediately after we were done, we would hit the road again.  Instead of heading back home, we had to drive another 12 hours to Delaware to wrestle for CZW.  We would be in the car for almost one full day.  How absolutely ridiculous.  I was 21, surely I could have found a much more fun way to spend the weekend.  Well, to me, this was the most fun way to spend a weekend.  Life on the road was what I knew and still know better than anything else.  Plus, I got  to perform in front of a completely new audience in, of all places, Clarkesville, Indiana.  This was my first foray into that part of the country and I was excited to see how I would be received by a completely new audience.  This would be an important event for myself and tag partner Ruckus.  IWA-Mid South was at it’s peak of popularity, putting on some very entertaining shows and and some would say it was somewhat a mirror image of CZW.  A CZW of the mid-south if you will.  IWA was known for exciting wrestling action and some of the most gruesome and bloody matches ever.  It’s cult like leader, Ian Rotten was a charismatic wrestler and owner of IWA.  A lot can be said of him and many people have a myriad of opinions on the man, but what can be mutually agreed upon is that his company produced exceptional pro wrestling shows.

Ian Rotten (IWA) v Zandig (CZW)

Ian Rotten (IWA) v Zandig (CZW)

Their blood and guts style matches were their calling card and it helped them sell thousands and thousands of tapes.  Yes, that’s right, tapes.  This was still the age of VHS.  IWA tapes were being sold globally and that feat is quite impressive to think about.  A small time independent pro wrestling company based in Indiana, holding shows in front of 100 fans was being viewed by people across the world.  This was all thanks to a small video production company out of Allentown, PA called Smart Mark Video.  SMV was well, a group of smart marks that parlayed their love for pro wrestling into a very successful small business.  Through their distribution and production, IWA tapes were the hottest commodity for many hardcore independent wrestling fans.  So, what better way to get noticed by an even broader audience than to wrestle on an IWA card.  That was all I was thinking when I accepted the booking.  Not even blinking an eye to the grueling travel that laid ahead.  The early part of 2003 had already provided me with many breakout moments and I had hoped that this exposure through IWA was going to continue the momentum I was gaining as a performer.  This particular show that I would be heading to was to be the first in a series of talent exchanges between IWA and CZW.  CZW was a promotion that I was heavily featured at and I was to represent the black and yellow alongside my compadre Ruckus on this trip.

We were one week removed from IWA invading CZW in one of the hottest, most intense segments in independent wrestling.  Ian Rotten and company had hijacked the end of a CZW event on June 14th, causing a near riot and leaving CZW’s boss and top star, Zandig in a bloody mess.  Zandig’s then wife was even involved, someone notorious for never being in front of the camera.  Now, Ruckus and I were to headed to IWA country to kick off the CZW v IWA program.  Now, we just had to get to Indiana.  That was a bit tricky as Ruckus lives in Baltimore and I live in Virginia.  Now, sure Ruckus could get in a car and drive from his house and I could do the same and we could convene in Indiana, but if you know Ruckus, you know that ain’t happening.  So, by default, I was left to steer the ship, but Ruckus needed to get to my house so we could hit the road from there.  His cousin Anton would always travel with him back then and they had a fellow named Blood drive them to my house the night before we were set off on our voyage.  At this point, we are already three deep, adding in myself and my girlfriend, who would be my only link to normalcy, we had a full car load.  Any woman willing to ride in a car with myself and those three for almost 24 hours was the perfect woman for me.  At the time, I drove a, I believe, 1999 Mazda Protege (my very first car).  I may be off on the year.  Either way, it wasn’t the most luxurious vehicle, nor the most spacious.  But at that point in my life, it did the trick and it was our only option to get us to Indiana.

About to take on JC Bailey at the height of the CZW v IWA feud.

About to take on JC Bailey at the height of the CZW v IWA feud.

The festivities kicked off Friday night, the night before we were to set off on our journey.  Ruckus and his entourage arrived at my humble abode, which happened to by my parents basement.  Once we awoke in the morning, it was wheels up as we would meet up with the SMV crew in MD and follow them the rest of the way.  They would be doing their normal trip to IWA to videotape and produce the shows, so we decided it would be easy to just follow them.  SMV would also be making the trek to Delaware for the CZW show we had the next day.  They would do the trip to Indiana twice, maybe three times a month every month.  Lunatics.  Now please picture the backseat of my Mazda Protege as it held Ruckus, Anton and Blood.  Please keep in mind this was pre-weight loss Ruckus and Anton was the same size as Ruckus, as was Blood, except Blood was white and kinda weird.  Side note on Blood.  Some of you die-hard independent wrestling fans reading may be familiar with Blood and his near death experience at CZW circa mid 2000s.  Blood entered a death match battle royal and left with half of his left leg missing.  A rather violent encounter with a shopping cart full of light tubes left a huge chunk of Blood’s leg missing.  A rather scary incident that really should have been the end of, or at least the catalyst of the toning down of the death matches in CZW.  That’s another blog in itself, as not only did CZW NOT tone things down after Blood’s near death experience, but rather raised the bar in coming years.  Well, back to Blood.  Poor Blood not only lost a chunk of his leg, but his financial freedom, although I’m not sure if he had any prior.  He had no health insurance and had a very, rough road ahead of him.  Blood is a very nice, kind hearted dude that didn’t deserve what happened to him.  The bright side is that in the end, he did regain the strength and ability to walk and recently I saw him slicing himself up at a rec center in West Virginia.  So, back to my Protege, the car was so weighed down, it took me 10 minutes to get from 0 to 60.  Well, not that long, but the car sure was crammed.  I was thankful that my girlfriend was there to share the driving duties.

Yea, that’s ah, Blood.

As soon as we got on the road, my girlfriend began her normal complaining of something minuscule.  This time it was “something is crawling on me”.  I treated it the same way I usually treat her grumblings, by ignoring it.  She kept on with this and I wondered if I could drop her off at a rest stop and pick her up on the way back, but I needed her to split the driving duties.  At one point she even said that she felt a bite.  Yea, suuuuuuuuure.  I continued to ignore her by telling her she was crazy, while at the same time trying to subside her suggestions that there was some sort of creature crawling all over her.  Well, as soon as she had calmed down, we stopped for some gas.  As I got in the car to continue our journey, I felt something on my penis.  Whoa, something on my penis!??!  I jumped up, yanked my pants down and noticed an ant crawling on my little man.  I freaked out as any man would when finding out that my penis was becoming well acclimated to an ant.  I quickly swatted it away and thought, could it have been a fire ant?  Did I feel a bite?  Oh no, my girlfriend was right the whole time, there WAS a creepy crawler hitching a ride to Indiana with us.  I had no clue if it was the only ant or not, but I was afraid it had bit my penis.  So, I did what any logical human would do, I told my girlfriend to urinate on my penis.  Urine would kill any signs of infection had I been bit.  Ok, so, that didn’t happen.  And luckily, no side effects were felt from the close encounter.  Other than a nagging series of “I told you so’s” from my girlfriend.

Words can’t express how skeeved out we all were from this point forward.  Try riding in a car for that long fearing there is something crawling on you.  Every itch was a scary moment.  Was it an itch or an ant?!  Worst.  Car ride.  Ever.  We safely arrived in Indiana, ant free, but still wondering how it had infiltrated my Protege.  Thinking back on it, I am gonna stick with with the story that Ruckus brought it with him from Hamsterdam.  After a fun match with JC Bailey (RIP) and Simon Sezz, we all headed to Delaware.  My girlfriend and I were exhausted and passed over the reigns to the only other driver in the vehicle, Blood.  Ut oh.  Well, I’ll never do that again.  I think he had hit 100mph quite a few times, but I was so tired and sleepy, I just passed out after every time I was startled  awake from his dangerous street handling.  I should also mention a lot of the drive was rainy, foggy and in the mountains.  Let me stress the foggy part.  Like so foggy you can’t see a thing and turning your high beams on just makes it ten times worse.  Awful.  Arriving in Delaware with mere minutes till showtime, Ruckus and I teamed once again to face the Backseat Boyz (RIP Trent Acid).

JC Bailey (RIP).

After finally getting home, I sat back and reflected on the weekend.  It was another fun weekend in a long series of fun weekends over the last 12 years.  But, what was the goal here?  Did I gain further recognition with this trip in an already jam packed year of 2003?  I don’t know if I can pinpoint anything directly correlating to this trip other than the fact that promoter Ian Rotten thoroughly enjoyed my work and I became a sort of regular at IWA Mid South, even after the end of the CZW v IWA feud.  The rest of the summer of 2003 brought many more ups and ultimately my first contract to a major pro wrestling company, snowballing into the career I have today.  Would any of that have happened if I didn’t live life as a nomad during my young adult years, traveling from show to show?  Probably not.  And anyway, how could my name ring out in the streets if no one knew it?

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