No longer living in the Chicago suburbs and being within a 45-60 minute drive of every major sports and entertainment venue you could ask for, I've spent some time this summer exploring smaller, regional venues. My new hometown in NE Ohio is the base of operations to MCW, an independent wrestling circuit. With a rabidly passionate fan base and a storied history of over ten years, MCW has had major wrestling personalities like Mick Foley, Jimmy Hart and most recently Tommy Dreamer, make appearances, to name a few.
Never having attended an indy wrestling event before, I really didn't know what to expect. Housed in the vacant storefront of a strip-mall, complete with blacked out windows, I was greeted by a friendly girl selling admission at the door. Upon entering the venue, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the crowd which I estimated to be close to 200 people. Quite remarkable for a town of 25,000, most of which were packed into the local university's football arena. Mount Union College is a 10x, NCAA Division III football champion, who at one time, and still might, holds the NCAA record for consecutive wins with 73.
As the ring announcer and MC entered the ring, the place went nuts. I was actually a little startled. It was obvious that I was in the midst of long time fans and attenders. I won't provide a detailed match by match report but I will tell you that the level of competition and passion displayed by the wrestlers themselves was spirited and genuine. You could definitely tell who had potential for a larger spotlight as there were clearly a couple of guys that had the whole package; size, charisma, mic and promo, ring presence and athleticism.
As intermission started, former ECW, TNA, and WWE SuperStar, Tommy Dreamer took center ring, signing autographs and taking photos. $5 got me this sweet autographed Polaroid photo. He was friendly and gracious and truly enjoyed talking to his fans.
His match with a young MCW local Turk kicked of the second half of the show and didn't disappoint. Tommy got old school violent, at one point jumping out of the ring and running to the MC's table to grab the bell and hammer, which he subsequently laid in his incapacitated opponents crotch and then proceeded to smash with a wrench. A match that lasted, a good 15 minutes, saw Tommy the victor (was there ever a doubt?). The card ended with the bloodiest ladders and chairs tag-team match I have ever seen. One of the best things about the night was the announcement of an after party at the local Mexican cantina where fans got to hang out with the wrestlers, including the night's main draw, Tommy Dreamer. A crazy fun night, I'm sure I'll go back sometime.