Outside the Ropes: RPW Shamrock Showdown, March 04, 2023

“This is Ken the Metal Professor, and you are listening to the Northwest Indiana Wrestling Action Program, on WVLP 103.1FM in Valparaiso, IN” … wait a minute, no you’re not. I’m typing! For the first time since 2017, and since my wrestling coverage moved to radio, I am posting a wrestling recap here. I made my first trip to Rocket Pro Wrestling at St. Joseph Park in Joliet, IL last night; since I was not familiar with a good portion of the roster, there was no point asking if I could do radio coverage. So I just went in like a normal dude. Here’s how it went.

(And seriously, I didn’t know about two thirds of the roster, and it was hard to make out names for those w/o individual identification on their entrance videos. Plus, I was trying to take very brief notes on my phone while enjoying the show, but I didn’t always make a specific note of the winners … figuring, of course, that I could easily remember less than a day later. I neglected to take into consideration my age.)

Right off the bat, I need to say that RPW has one of the best well thought out, professional big-time-show-looking set ups I’ve seen in a while in my usual circuit. This isn’t a knock on the normal groups I go see; they do what they can with the space available, and likely have limited time to get things set up in between other events. But from what I’ve seen on Facebook, this location is the permanent home of RPW, and they are able to get in couple of days ahead of the event to start setting up; it’s not just a “come in the morning and have it all put together by mid afternoon” sort of set up. If it is, it’s very impressive! One end of the room is completely dedicated to production: curtains from wall to wall, the commentary table, and the entrance. The whole room was lit up with purple and green themed lighting. The walkway and ring are separated from the audience by very sturdy interlocking barriers (not the usual “bike rack” kinds of movable steel frames). This allows the wrestlers’ world to be completely separated from the audience … which might be a good thing, due to the “energetic” nature of this crowd! The array of chairs for the crowd is set in a U-shape around the ring. The long walls have small bleachers, so those sitting farther away can still see well; , so there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. There is a lighting rig suspended from the ceiling over the ring, and a video screen hanging from the ceiling and visible to most of the crowd. Pre-show music was provided, and made me very happy with the inclusion of Run to the Hills, by Iron Maiden.

The wall opposite the curtained entrance contains the concession stand, and — because it’s a Catholic venue — the bar. The audience enters the arena through a separate lobby area where gimmick tables (hey look, I learned a term!) are set up. Pretty much every square foot of the main room is dedicated to the ring, production, and seating. And even with that, the crowd was standing-room-only.

The show was scheduled to start at 5pm. which is wonderful. Ring announcer “Too Sweet” Timmy Sweders came out at about 4:50pm to get the introductions going. Even the announce team got intros: Steve Ahrendt, Schelli, and Professor Blackburn – complete with his academic regalia. With introductions out of the way, the action could begin at 5pm sharp.

Rion Skillz is the first to come out, and he starts (badly) singing a song, which turns out to be the entrance music of Maximus Orion. The badly offended Orion comes running out from the back to attack Skillz. (I don’t know the history here.) General Manager Damien Saint sends in the troops to break up the brawl, and the crowd chants, “Let Them Fight!” Eventually order is restored, but Mr. Saint already has a headache. This crowd is HOT and ready for everything.

The first real match is a four-way with Eric Schultz, Shaq Jordan, Axel Rico, and The Ryan Matthews (who comes out with one of those giant cardboard photo heads of himself). The early part of this match went like Game of Thrones, with alliances being formed and broken. (The pic shows Jordan jumping onto the other three.) Having never been to RPW before, how do I know all their names? Because they each have videos shown on the screen, with their names clearly displayed! This is wonderful. The sound was kind of muddled where I was sitting, so I often could not clearly catch names, even though Tim Sweders delivered them with zest. The match ended when an assailant came out from the back and blasted Eric Schultz in the head with a case, and then chased The Real Ryan Matthews to the back. Axel Rico got the win after the disruption.

Next, Flash Harris (with Joey Roth and Roxi Heart) took on Gunnar Brave for the latter’s Outer Limits Championship. Joey and Roxi were color coordinated with the green Shamrock Showdown theme, although Joey neglected to adorn his white neck brace. (Even the entry wrist bands were green and decorated with Shamrocks; the youngster helping at the door put mine on quite snugly. Ouch.) It was good to see Flash Harris again; I had not seen him since the days of Fire Pro Wrestling in Merrillville. However, I am disappointed in the company he chooses to keep. After one of the snappiest 2.999 kickouts I’ve ever seen, Gunnar Brave choked out Flash Harris to retain his title. Roth / Heart match count: 0-1.

EDIT: In the next paragraph, I’ve edited my erroneous reference to the team as “Gold Coast” to the correct “No Coast” after being, um, politely informed that I had it wrong. And I went back to my hastily typed notes on my phone and I indeed typed down “No Coast”, but by the time the info got to my fingertips for this post it has changed to “Gold Coast”. My bad.

Match 3 must have had some previous drama behind it, and I don’t know what it was. It seemed like it was between two members (ex-members?) of a team called No Coast. Both intros involved a video for “No Coast”; while intro videos are great to catch individual names, when the wrestlers come out under a tag team name, but for singles competition, and both are from the same group, we have to go with “No Coast #1” and “No Coast #2”. One of them may have been DC Shaw? To make it more confusing, each contestant was backed by a buddy — who also are part of No Coast? Anyway, either No Coast #1 or #2 won when his ring partner interfered on his behalf … and the winner looked very disappointed in his pal for doing that.

Joey Roth and Roxi Heart are back again with Rockstar Jonny Nigh, to take on Damien Deshain, representing “Those Damn Coyotes”. If Deshain wins, his team gets a shot at the RPW Tag Team titles, which Nigh must help hold. Like with Flash Harris, it’s good to see Jonny Nigh again after a few years, although I’m even more disappointed in him for associating with the Roth group of villains. Roth and Heart were more active in interfering from the outside in this match, but it didn’t help, because Deshain won suddenly with a surprise pinfall, and Jonny Nigh can’t believe it. Roth / Heart match count: 0-2.

Match 5 features Bucky Collins and Christian Rose (another member of Those Damn Coyotes). They brawled to the back, the ref started his 10 count, and Bucky came running back out to the ring just in time to answer the 10 count – he wins.

Intermission gives me a bit of relief from the drunk guy standing right behind me yelling “You Can’t Wrestle!” and “Suplex City!” over and over towards the ring, even for matches where clearly, no one was going to get suplexed.

After intermission, Match 6 had The Idols against Hot Rod Daddy Andy and The Amazing Turtle. The only thing the crowd wanted was for Turtle to get tagged in. I jotted “bat mishap” on my phone to denote the end of the match, and now I can’t remember exactly how it went – other than someone got a bat in the ring, and of course someone else got hold of the bat, or the wrong person got hit with the bat. I hope it wasn’t Turtle. I’m pretty sure one of the Idols hit the other with the bat, because the Roth / Heart match count is now 0-3 on the night, possibly precipitating something that happened later.

The next match had tag team action, with Youth Gone Wild versus The Final Level – Marshe Rockett and Shogun. Rockett and Shogun are big dudes, and this was a powerful match. In fact, there were several actual suplexes, but “Suplex City” guy was nowhere to be seen heard.

Match 8 was Ruthless Rockin Rivera, the man with two nicknames, against … Jbek the Paycheck? I think the crowd was a bit puzzled about him. Imagine Josh Alexander from Impact Wrestling, with the headgear, but the body and face of Captain Kangaroo. (Old people like me will get that reference.) Rivera quickly gives him the ol’ chair treatment, hoping for a more worthy opponent. And out comes Aaron Stone (?). They had a good fight. Again, my note taking failed me. I was trying to jot a few things down to remember, but I was also just trying to enjoy the show … so I didn’t mark who won, and I don’t remember. Let’s hope it was a double DQ, then it won’t matter!

I mentioned before that the Roth / Heart cohort was 0-3 on the night, and they were not taking it well. After the previous match was done, the whole group (Roth, Heart, Jonny Nigh, Flash Harris, The Idols) caused a commotion by going to the announce table, grabbing Steve Ahrendt and Schelli, and dragging them to the ring. I noted that they did not include Professor Blackburn in their attack, because even they know not to fuck with academics. We’ll mess you up. Once they got the announcers to the ring and terrorized them a bit, someone blasted poor Steve Ahrendt in the head with a chair. Schelli was distraught.

The main event featured Joey Jet Avalon vs. Quinn Whitock, for Whitock’s RPW World Championship. This was a hell of a fun match, with lots and lots of near pinfalls towards the end. Note that both men had weapons nearby – Avalon brought a shovel to the ring, and Whitock came up with a crowbar. There were a few sequences where one would try to use the weapon but lose it quickly, or better yet, one would end up grabbing the other’s weapon and actually be able to use it. The ref missed a lot of this because at one point, Whitock was going for a springboard cutter on Avalon out of the corner, but Avalon ducked aside – so that Whitock delivered it to the ref instead. And let me say, that ref took the cutter LIKE A CHAMP! But yeah, he was out for a bit, allowing many weapons shenanigans to ensue. Eventually, a groggy ref got his wits about him again, and counted many near pinfalls. It came to a close when Avalon gave two small package pile drivers to Whitock (ouch!), with both resulting in a 2.99 count. After the second one, Avalon grabbed the back of his head like he’d been struck, although I didn’t see what happened. Whitock took the opportunity to roll him up for the (at last) 3 count, and he retains his title.

So that’s a wrap! It was a great show, and I recommend checking out RPW, especially if you enjoy a raucous (if not quite family friendly) crowd. Their next event is in April, and they seem to run monthly. Get there early if you want to sit, because they do sell out quickly to SRO. The show was a bit over 3 hours altogether, but it started at 5pm, which allows for a very reasonable exit time.

Next weekend, I’ll be doing radio coverage for ACME Championship Wrestling in Rensselaer, IN on Friday March 10, and Revolution Championship Wrestling in South Bend, IN on Saturday March 11. That “delayed audio coverage” will air alongside my heavy metal show “Mostly Metal” as follows – on WVLP 103.1FM in Valpo, and streaming at wvlp.org everywhere.

  • Wednesday, March 15: Mostly Metal at 10pm, ACW coverage at midnight (Central time)
  • Sunday, March 19: Mostly Metal at 8pm, RCW coverage at 10pm.