Outside the Ropes: Is ACW A Powderkeg About to Explode?

Normally I write these little wrestling articles after seeing a show, so that folks who missed them can find out what happened, or so that folks who were there can revisit the event.  And normally I leave the previews of upcoming shows for the radio side of the media juggernaut that is the Northwest Indiana Wrestling Action Program.   But over the next two weekends, we are going to see back to back shows from ACW (ACME Championship Wrestling), and there’s going to be a lot at stake – so I thought maybe a little overview ahead of time might be in order.

ACW has been, to me, the “friendly little wrestling promotion that could” – based in DeMotte, they often run fundraiser events at regional schools (and both of the upcoming shows are such events); when not doing philanthropy, ACW holds their shows at their home base, the DeMotte Boxing Club – which only holds a few dozen people, and so is a nice intimate venue.  The promotion is owned by the friendly Jimmy Holmes, and the wrestling operations are overseen by the fan friendly GM Michael Allen.  It just seems like a happy company of which to be a fan.  But the words of some of the workers and the return of a man known as Maverick Cage are starting to pull back the curtain a somewhat uncomfortable amount to show that all may not be as “friendly” as it seems.

The first event is very soon: on Friday May 11 (tomorrow, in fact, as I write this), ACW will hold Lake Village Rumble, at Lake Village Elementary School in Lake Village, IN – bell time is 7:00pm Central.  Then next week, on Friday May 18, ACW will hold their now-annual event School’s Out at Lincoln Elementary School in  Roselawn, IN.  As we approach these events, I’m starting to notice an undercurrent of toxicity that might very well boil over at one or both of the events.  Here’s a quick breakdown.

First, we all see General Manager Michael Allen come out and slap hands with the crowd at the start of every show.  He’s a crowd favorite.  Now, recently Allen has had a battle of wills with Drex Odell during Odell’s hunt for the ACW Heavyweight Championship.  Starting a year or more ago, Allen forced the massive Drex Odell to jump through many hoops before finally acceding to Odell’s wish for a title match.  Once Odell captured the ACW Heavyweight Championship, Allen has thrown surprise opponent after surprise opponent at Odell to try to get the title away from him.    All along, Odell has has been in Allen’s face and ear, complaining about the unfairness of it all.  And that’s fine, we all know to expect grumbling from Drex Odell.

But if you listen carefully, you’re going to hear other workers also remarking on the heavy hand of Michael Allen.  Cliff Caviar, who currently holds the ACW Tough Man Title, is often heard to complain about Allen’s hand in his matchmaking.  And in a promo released this week regarding his match against Arun this Friday, he does it again. Thomas Keith posted some words about his impending match with Jared Kripke, where he said:  “Jared kripke this Friday i not just going to beat you and take your title that would be to easy no I’m going to absolutely destroy you and leave you a broken man your nothing kripke your just some guy with a beard this Friday I will rip that Beard off your face and shove down your throat and show you, our GM Michael Allen, and everyone else why I’m the greatest thing going in ACW.”  While he doesn’t really call out Allen directly here, it’s clear Allen is on the mind of Keith, when Jarek Kripke should be his sole focus.  So I wonder … why is this?  Why are Allen’s workers getting more and more vocal about him?  Is it just Drex Odell’s bad influence spreading around?  Or is there something we don’t know about Allen and his management of ACW?

Some of this may come to a head this weekend.  But building over a looong period of time is something that will come to a head next weekend.  If cracks in the seams of Michael Allen’s management are a spark, what might be the whole powderkeg of ACW relates to the return of Maverick Cage.  Other than hearing his name tossed around here or there, I knew nothing of Maverick Cage until a recent ACW event in late 2017, at which Cage came out of the crowd and attacked ACW owner Jimmy  Holmes.  After doing so he announced to the crowd who he was and that he owed Holmes for some unfinished business – and a match was set between the two for School’s Out, which is now coming up very soon.

I was not around back at the origin of ACW, so I only know what I’ve seen of it lately.  And in an interview posted to Facebook just last night, Cage finally opens up about his motivation to return to action in ACW – and if what he says is true, then the “friendly little promotion that could” may have a darker past than we knew.  Cage portrays himself as the victim of Holmes’ manipulations: Holmes swooped in on the momentum of Cage’s own wrestling start-up, used Cage for a while to gain advantage, then kicked him to the curb.  And Cage has now picked his moment to come back and do something about it.  One reason this may go beyond a simple story of revenge to something more damaging to ACW is that some of the workers are already picking sides, and they’re not all going to back up their current “boss” Jimmy Holmes.  For example, Austin Fury has already voiced his support of what Cage has to say.  Will there be others?  Is  Cage’s return and genuine beef with the leadership of ACW going to drive a wedge right through the company?  Another reason that the timing of Cage’s return could be damaging is that we’re at the end of ACW’s main “season”.  They have been very active up until this month, but may wind down a bit after these two big final shows – when ACW returns, it could be a very different company … if it returns at all.

This story will keep developing.  I will try to get more information on Friday at ACW Lake Village Rumble, and see what I can report on Sunday night’s NWIWRAP, as we go forward into next weekend’s ACW “season finale” show.

ACW Lake Village Rumble includes:

(Edit: I had the Odell / Nigh match in the wrong place.)

  • Jimmy Holmes vs. Brently Alexander Dawson (B.A.D.)
  • Cliff Caviar (ACW Tough Man Champion) vs Arun
  • Jared Kripke (ACW Intercontinental Champion) vs Thomas Keith
  • The Bambino Family!

ACW School’s Out includes:

  • Maverick Cage vs. Jimmy Holmes
  • Drex Odell (c) vs Rockstar Jonny Nigh in a career – vs – title match


If you’ve read this far, you might like wrestling?  So maybe, check out the Northwest Indiana Wrestling Action Program (NWIWRAP) broadcast Sundays at 9:15pm*, right after Mostly Metal, which runs Sundays from 8:00-9:15pm CST, on WVLP 103.1FM in Valparaiso, IN. If you’re not in Valpo, catch it streaming on http://www.wvlp.org and the Tune In Radio app. Rebroadcasts happen Wednesdays 10pm – midnight, and NWIWRAP is archived on YouTube, just search for NWIWRAP. You can find @nwiwrap on Twitter. And you can subscribe to the nwiwrap.wvlp@gmail.com Google calendar, where I try to keep up to date calendar postings of shows in and around the NWI region.

* or 9pm, or 9:30pm, or anytime before or after, depending on how much stuff there is to cover! 

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