A week or two ago I came across a post for NWA CHICAGO which was running a show at the outskirts of the city, but totally accessible by public transportation. They didn't have much in the way of performers I'd seen before , but who cares. It's local guys wrestling and it's the NWA. So I gave it a shot.
The venue was on 1935 Naragansset Ave. I actually walked past the place, because it's inset at the back of what appears to be a private drive. I'd never been there and there weren't any signs that said "HEY PRO WRESTLING IS HERE". So I started to question how good this was going to be. I walked down the drive and came to a building where some blokes who actually looked like they were running a wrestling show(blazer and jeans. Lanyard with keys) were standing outside chilling out. They were nice and told me I had found the right place.
I was thinking the place was going to be a real dump, but it wasn't shabby. The Mask Guy was there selling lucha masks and toys. There was a Brian Pillman figure that I almost dropped money on, actually. Maybe next time. There were a bunch of posters for other shows, and a concession stand, with cheap $1 hot dogs. YEAH BABY. I paid my 12 bucks at the door and went into the "arena" area. There was an actual entrance set up that kind of reminded me of the old ECW ones with the fencing and the brick wall. The ring looked a little rough, but nothing to be ashamed of. Otherwise it was a perfectly fine indy atmosphere. I was getting more excited.
While there plenty of empty seats there was actually a good crowd. There were about 45 or so, which was a little more than I expected. The crowd was an interesting mix of families of all races. There was a fella who brought his son, who as wearing a White Sox Rey Mysterio mask. There was a lot of females. Young ones and old ones. Which I don't see all that often at wrestling shows outside of the WWE. My one complaint about DGUSA/RoH is crowd diversity. Seeing so many different people was a big plus.
I would cover the show match by match, but I missed a lot of names. The mic was dead, and the guy they had announcing just didn't have the voice to carry over the crowd chatter. Some of the guys were listed with their matches on the poster, but there was a few unadvertised matches that I really wanted to know who those guys were. It's really unfortunate, because some of these guys could have used some name checking, so the crowd could cheer for them. "Go guy in RED PANTS!" doesn't really work as well as "Go Joey Go!"
There was some great tag team wrestling. The team of Too Sweet vs. The Stranglers was good times. Too Sweet is comprised of two fun lovin' faces that have matching gear: "Negrotistico" Bryce Benjamin and Joey Marx. They bring a lot of fire and charisma and they look generally solid in the ring. Joey is the bump man, and he's pretty great at it. He's not overly complicated with the flippy stuff, and you'd think he would be by looking at him. They were matched up with "The Strangler" Diego
Corleone and Mark Anthony. I didn't see too much out of Anthony, but he was kind of overshadowed by Corleone who is a real character. He does this kind of strut that's one part La Parka to One Part Michael Hayes. Meanwhile he's carrying noose and has this black face paint. How that goes together, I don't know and I don't care because I loved it. He did a whole lot of trash talking that ranged from "Who's The Man?!", "I'm The Man Around Here." and "Shut your Pie Hole." It's not incredibly original, but it really fit with his schtick. He made some poor little girl cry on the way to the ring and she spent the rest of the match under her mother's jacket. I mean that's pretty kick ass, right?
There was some other tag teams like Victorious Secret, who go the homoerotic route to get heat. They had an okay act with one rubbing lotion on the other guy's chest. Then they guy would take the excess lotion and rub it on people's faces. They're little guys, so I hope they know the dudes they're messing with. They faced off with Milo Cash and Steve Boz. Boz is kind of the Chicago area guy journeyman. I see his name on just about every card in the area. He's a solid guy, and some of his chops looked like they were cutting one of those poor kids up. This wasn't a great match, but I mention it to show the variance in characters.
The match of the night, for me was Da Soul Touchaz vs. The H3rd. At least I think they were The H3rd, which is a group out of Detroit. One of the guys was, at least. That's probably the most frustrating about not catching their names because this match was so good you wish you could tell people about it using Proper Nouns. They had a fun little guy in a wolf mask who did this howling bit. He kept doing it until all these kids would respond with their own howl. It worked really well, and was helped by the heels jawing with the audience members who did it. It was especially cool because it became like a little competition between these three snarky guys and these kids. The snarks would cheer for the baddies and then the kids would howl....great stuff.
But what I really want to talk about is:
THE SOUL TOUCHAZ.
This group is pretty much worth the price of admission. It's a local stable of guys. The leader/brains is C-Red. He's annoying and runs his mouth, and it's usually legit funny stuff. It's like Jim Cornette: you laugh at him despite hating his guts. Then you've got Willie "Da Bomb" Richardson. He's a big guy, and you'd think, based on looks, he'd be the weakest guy, but he's not. Not by a long shot. He bumps and moves much more gracefully than you'd expect. AND, no disrespect to many of the guys on the roster, but he probably threw the BEST dropkick on the show. It was cool just because he got up for it, but it actually looked like a solid blow when it hit, instead of a toe tappy one you see a lot of the time. It was the kind of drop kick a real man would throw if one were so inclined to fight with dropkicks. His partner in the match against The H3rd was Acid Jazz, and if he were a little bit taller, he'd be working WWE. I'm not joking. He's got solid athletic ability, he has a great charisma about him, and can talk trash. Just a really golden guy, and could be one of the best guys in the building. Also on the outside was Dymond who brought the sexy. She talks smack and looks comfortable in front of the crowd. It's just an awesome group of people.
As for the wrestling itself, the tag team of Willie and Acid Jazz WORKS. Jass is the small guy who's got the moves, while Willie is the big dog. Very Hart Foundation psychology. They make you want to cheer the other team, and look good taking offense. Willie in particular plays his big man role beautifully. When the little flippy face starts running around he plays up being exhausted and has awesome faces of desperation, like he needs to get his little buddy in there to counter pronto. Very Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.
But that's not all. Also in the Soul Touchaz is Marshe Rocket who was a fill-in for Ali in the main event. He's got the height and he's pretty crisp in the ring. He has a little more of that indy style that you see in some of the more popular promotions, but he doesn't over complicate spots, and he doesn't go into overkill.
THE MAIN EVENT
The Main Event definitely had a different feel to it than the other matches. It was a little short of having that big match feel, but it was trying to move in that direction. Still, there was a good story that I'd love to see followed up on. Mr. 450 Hammet(which, to me, is an awful name) went for his 450 Splash(Hence the Mr. 450 part) and missed. They traded some quick holds and eventually Hammet got the flash pin to retain. Marshe then laid him out with a Diamond Cutter. Now we have a story where Marshe avoided the guy's namesake move and got flash pinned. He looks strong, I didn't get the 450 pay off, and he got heat on the face for dropping him like a sack of potatoes.
I want a rematch.
And what's better, I'd pay to see it. Hopefully something comes from it on the next show.
NWA CHICAGO: Our Guys
One of the dominant feelings I came away with after the show with was a sense of pride watching these guys. I don't know them at all, but they felt like "My Guys". And there was something nostalgic about it. I thought there was something akin to the feeling the crowd must have had had rooting for The Von Erichs. But on a much smaller scale. The biggest reason I'm writing this is because I think there's a chance to kind of raise it up a notch and it has to come from the fans. The guys on the card put in a lot of effort for 40-50 or so people, and made me want to see more. What they lack in certain aesthetics they make up for in character. And I think a lot of that stuff could be improved with more fans.
I know there are a LOT of wrestling fans in Chicago because I saw them at the DGUSA in the Congress Theatre. So I'm calling my fellow Chicagoans out. I don't know when the next show is, but I want to get a group together to go. I'm already planning on dragging my non-wrestling fan friends out. And you folks should to. I think one of the biggest components the show was missing was the crowd. They had some people there who'd clap along and stuff like that, but I think it could be amp'd up with some more wrestling fans. There was this one dude who got incensed and charged up the aisle yelling something in Spanish at the ref for not seeing the bad guy cheating. That guy was crazy into it. He even got up to the apron and started pounding it in order to get the crowd involved. I'm with THAT GUY. I'd love to see a show with more passionate fans who get a little more involved. Maybe not to that extent, but with that same kind of PASSION. Why wait for DGUSA or RoH to come in? We've got some great performers here. Let's support the local scene and make NWA Chicago something special.