I don’t think that highly of myself. I’m just a 19-year-old kid who loves to write, loves to talk to people and loves wrestling. But this year, I’ve been able to get a small but passionate audience of wrestling fans who love to discuss and analyze the product, and I’ve developed a small platform to promote talent I believe in.
So when I heard that Michael Elgin (you know, the guy who just put on a 5 star match in Japan) was starting a promotion only two hours from where I live for college, I knew I had to go, and I had tog et as many friends as possible to go with me.
First off, I wanted to see my friend Trina (@themarkysmark) in her ring announcing debut. Trina has been instrumental in helping me find my voice in the IWC and in making me believe in myself as a legitimate voice, someone whose opinions deserve to be heard. I also wanted to meet Damian (@Dare2BDamian) in person to sing to him.
Second, believe it or not, I had never been to an independent event live. I’ve relied on DVDs and Youtube to get my indie wrestling fix for years.
And third…I needed a nice little trip. My life is work and school. I don’t go to parties, I don’t know how to have fun. So I was determined to have fun here.
Now, let me walk you through my day.
I had to switch my work schedule up to make it to the show, so I woke up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning and made my way to work. I cleaned bathrooms and collected garbage for several hours and was picked up directly from work at 11 a.m. by Zach, Terry, and Ross, three of my awesome wrestling squad I managed to convince to take me to the show.
When we finally got to Alton, we were able to get pretty close to the front of the line (thus letting us get seats in the third row, muahahaha!). I met Alex from Pro Wrestling Iowa and because the weather was awesome, it was a pretty enjoyable wait.
I spent half of my time in line hiding from Damian, because I was determined to ambush him by singing Brian Kendrick’s theme song. The other half was spent feeling quite insecure about my height because all of my friends are taller than me, and the incline of the hill we were on did me absolutely no favors.
First row seats were let in first, then second row, and finally it was time for us to make our way inside the venue. As a Catholic girl, I was snickering at the crucifix right above the hard cam and the photo of Pope Francis at the entrance to the venue. I love making Catholic jokes, so it gave me a chance to do that a ton.
Michael Elgin was sitting at the table where we gave our tickets, and I was NOT prepared for that. I’m a huge fan of him. Zach in particular was a bit starstruck. He’s our resident NJPW mega mark. I stumbled on my words a bit when he told me to enjoy the show.
When we got to our seats, I made a beeline for the merchandise tables. What cracks me up is how not smooth I was with these guys I admire so much. I won’t lie, I think I can be pretty charismatic on Twitter. But in person, I am an absolute mess. I went to Ethan Page and Danny Adams first, because I had promised to buy their shirts on Twitter (I doubt they remembered). I then saw an opening for Matt Riddle’s merch.
Y’all. That Progress Atlas title is absolutely STUNNING in person. I was as starstruck by the belt as I was by Riddle himself.
I bought my Riddle shirt and shook his hand (and my face only got a LITTLE red) before going back to my friends. We sent Zach to get us sodas, and for some reason he went to where the alcohol was sold, but we found it funny anyways. Then, Big Mike came into the ring and announced we would be getting a pre-show match.
Aaron Dzinic & Matt Kenway vs. Barackus & Garrett Shanks
Thanks to Trina, I already knew who Matt Kenway was. I wasn’t too familiar with his ring work, but from what I’d seen I was curious to see him in person. Now this is what blows my mind: Kenway is 19 years old. He’s MY age, and he’s REALLY good already. He has a great energy in the ring and carries himself with confidence. He teamed with Aaron Dvinic, who also impressed me with the fun style he worked in. They won their match against Barackus & Garrett Shanks, and I enjoyed it a LOT more than I could have expected.
I was happy to be able to talk to Matt Kenway during the show’s intermission. I had gotten up to go buy more merch (because I am an impulse buyer, I guess) and when I was making my way back I noticed this tall guy in really good shape standing at my seat. I then realized WHO it was, and introduced myself, congratulating him on an incredible match. We talked and I introduced him to my friends, and we all bonded over, well, our youth? I don’t know. It was a fun conversation and he was super nice, and I am totally serious when I say that he has a bright future in the business. You heard it here first, friends.
I feel like I should also point out that I had to REALLY watch my mouth, because I can curse like a sailor when given the chance. Big Mike told us that it would be a family-friendly atmosphere. And while I’ve been to PG shows, at big WWE arenas you can curse all you want. But in Spaulding…well, I knew I couldn’t get away with it.
Paco Gonzalez vs. Kobe Durst
Our first match of the main card was Paco Gonzalez against Kobe Durst. I was unfamiliar with both of these men, but this match made me a fan of both. Paco has this unique quality about him. He is so easy to invest in and works such a thrilling style. And Durst has some of the BEST facial expressions I have ever seen in my entire damn life.
I’ll go ahead and state this now: Paco Gonzalez was one of the MVPs of Glory Pro. He is thrilling. He is amazing. He is the kind of guy you can build a promotion around. I’m so serious about this. Glory Pro is going to be his proving ground, the place where he makes himself a megastar.
Ethan Page vs. Danny Adams
This is a match I was VERY excited about. And I went into it with certain expectations. Namely, I was convinced that Danny Adams would be the babyface and Ethan Page would be the heel.
Boy, I’m an idiot.
Ethan Page and Danny Adams put on a super fun match. The crowd interaction throughout made it stand out to me. Adams was flat-out bullying a fan and Page’s defense of him was hilarious.
A highlight of the match for me from a storytelling standpoint was a comedy bit. Adams hit some sort of stunner (I THINK) from the ropes, and as he sailed through the air he just shouted out, “I’M THE BEST.”
That KILLED me, you guys.
Shigehiro Irie vs. Curt Stallion
I didn’t know WHO to root for in this match. On one hand, all of my friends were marking out for Irie, and I think that he is simultaneously the most adorable and terrifying man I have ever beheld. On the other hand, I am a HUGE fan of Curt Stallion and we once had a lovely Twitter interaction about Star Wars, so that has to be worth something, right?
So, I settled for cheering for them both. And boy, this match nearly made me lose my voice.
Curt Stallion has this wonderful intensity about him from the moment he makes his entrance to the moment he leaves. And him promising to TRY not to curse was beautiful. It’s difficult to convince a crowd you have a chance against someone like Irie, but he did it. I’m not surprised he’s being noticed by Ring of Honor. He moves smoothly and strikes crisply. God, he’s just FUN to watch. And to listen to out of the ring as well.
I consider myself lucky to have seen Shigehiro Irie live. He has one of the most unique energies I’ve ever experienced from a wrestler. It’s like having Godzilla as your best friend. Like, he would slam Stallion into the mat, and I would think he had just KILLED him, but then he would look up with such a delighted grin I would forget he could probably snap me in half if he wanted to.
The finish to this match blew me away. Irie throws Stallion up in the air and then catches him with this terrifying submission hold, and to my SHOCK, Stallion tapped instantly. I think it was the right choice. Stallion made Irie look like a damn beast and left the match looking strong for putting up a fight in the first place. And not just putting up a fight, taking him to WAR. Great, solid storytelling, and a fun and hard-hitting match.
Jason Kincaid vs. Everett Connors
When Everett Connors made his entrance, I laughed out loud. I’ll admit it. I then proceeded to dance, because why not? Bieber gimmicks are supposed to be fun, I suppose. I then decided to give this Connors person a lot of crap, because I’m an awful person.
Kincaid was someone I was not familiar with. I had heard of him, but had never watched any of his matches before. But the second he made his entrance, I knew I would enjoy him. He had the same kind of charisma I see in Bray Wyatt, like a cult leader without the creepy religious stuff.
That sounds bad.
I just LIKE him, okay?
The match was fun. It bled into the crowd, which was great for me because I got to touch Kincaid. That also sounds creepy. The match is on Youtube, go look it up. Huge kudos to Connors for doing this spot where he goes to hit Kincaid then catches the wall with his hand. That had me cringing watching it live and then cringing AGAIN seeing it on video.
I’ll talk about Kincaid more when I get to the main event, so let me just say this: it can be hard to win over a crowd of (mostly) grown men with a Justin Bieber gimmick. But Connors did it. He worked very well and had great chemistry with Kincaid in the ring. And the promo he cut after about wanting to give everything he has for the fans after the match was excellent. It had everyone cheering for him. That’s skill.
Myron Reed vs. Davey Vega vs. Gary Jay vs. Jason Roberts vs. Mat Fitchett vs. Space Monkey
Oh man, you guys. I purposefully did not tell Terry, Ross and Zach about Space Monkey, and I am so glad I let them be surprised. Their reactions were PRICELESS.
“Only in my LSD induced fever dreams do men come out in monkey masks and space outfits,” Zach said. He had a lot of other amusing comments about Space Monkey, too, like: “If you’ve ever wanted Matt Riddle’s good looks to be upstaged by a man in a monkey costume then Glory Pro is for you!”
Oh, and right after this match, he went right to the merch tables and bought himself a Space Monkey shirt.
The banana spots throughout the match were hilarious. At one point, the banana hit the ceiling and then tripped someone up, and my sides hurt from laughing and cheering. It was the best, y’all.
I was familiar with Davey Vega, but not too familiar, so seeing him live was a joy. He’s a ton of fun to watch. Jay, Roberts and Fitchett were great as well. Multi-man matches can be a hot mess, but this match was fast-paced and easy to follow along with. It also included a crazy spot out of the ring that had me convinced I would die, and that’s always a plus for me.
Myron Reed, who entered to my JAM from middle school, was a great choice to win the match. The finish to the match was insanely cool, and he deserves a title shot with the performance he put on. He made all of us Dolphins fans that day.
Brandon Espinosa vs. Sean Orleans
Well, every show needs a good squash, right?
Just kidding, this was great.
Dad Bod himself, Sean Orleans, came out and cut a wonderful promo about the hard work he put into preparing for this match and said he wouldn’t let Elgin and us down. He then proceeded to be decimated by a very unamused Brandon Espinosa.
This was great, honestly. Orleans had a great determination about him, staring Espinosa down without fear. He had the crowd eating out of his hands by the time he was pinned. I honestly felt heartbroken, which is a good thing in this case. This sets up some really great story opportunities for down the road, so I will definitely be looking for more from both of these guys in the next two shows.
Jake Something vs. Shane Sabre
An intense guy who looks like Jesus versus another intense guy who looks like Jesus.
This match was GREAT.
I actually didn’t get any pictures during this match because I was having too much fun shooting down “SOMETHING” jokes and coming up with jokes of my own. Something was a ton of fun in the ring, and him yelling out “SOMETHING” was just delightful. He also has a sick tattoo, which my friends and I spent a lot of time analyzing. Shane Sabre deserves equal credit for the work he put into the match. I thought he sold like a champ, and he was good at storytelling, especially with his facial expressions.
I don’t remember too many specific moments from this one, just that I was sad when it ended because it was so enjoyable.
OH, Jake Something bellowed in a guy’s face after the match. That was great. He’s great.
Give me more of BOTH these guys, please!
Matt Riddle vs. Michael Elgin
Jesus effing Christ. This match. Where do I even begin?
Matt Riddle is a wrestler I am very familiar with. I was so thrilled to have the chance to see him live and freaking MEET him. He is everything I look for in a wrestler: hard-hitting, quick in the ring, and oozing with charisma and personality.
Michael Elgin is someone I have been a fan of for a long time as well. Zach, in particular, was super excited to see him live. My friends and I had just watched his match against Naito together (we have a NJPW watch party thing, it’s pretty great) so we knew we would be getting an amazing match.
My only concern was what kind of story they would be telling by pitting two faces against each other. But who was I to question anything about this match?
It blew me away.
This match was stiff as hell. I spent most of it screaming my head off and cringing as I watched these two stars beat the life out of each other. The strikes, the kicks, everything about it was beyond words for me.
It also still blows my mind how Elgin moves in the ring. His kicks are what Ryback always wanted to pull off. (Don’t get mad, guys, let me make my jokes.)
The moment that made this match for me came right in the middle, while Riddle and Elgin were ramping up the match’s pace. They just stormed in each other’s faces for a classic staredown, and it felt like I was watching a volcano erupt int he ring. There wasn’t any personal animosity, it was just the ferocity of competition, the level of passion in the match, that drove them to do it. It was, in my opinion, a perfect moment.
Riddle retained his title (of course), and I admire Elgin for booking himself to lose clean. It was the right choice and he looked strong in defeat, so I had no complaints. I can’t wait to watch that match again.
I also hope I get to see Riddle live again someday. He’s just great.
Jason Kincaid vs. Ethan Page vs. Paco Gonzalez vs. Shigehiro Irie
Introduced by Mischief (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), the gorgeous Crown of Glory title match was thrilling from start to finish.
First, I’d like to mention that I absolutely FREAKED when Mischief came out earlier int he night to promise women’s wrestling in future shows (Su Yung, anybody?). I think she’s one of the coolest ladies in the world.
This match was everything a main event should aspire to be. It was full of thrilling spots and a lot of stories mingling together to tell one glorious story.
I honestly don’t know what to write about this match. It was spectacular. Ethan Page reverted to his more heelish ways in this one, targeting Paco and calling him a kid (judge him by his size, do you?). Irie took punches as if they were sunlight and he was Superman. Paco was the ULTIMATE underdog, taking a crazy spot that had him wiped out right in front of me.
My friends were hooked. I think Zach offered him his limbs while he regained his breath at our feet after being clobbered onto the ground. And to think, I had been rooting for Page! I was convinced Paco was going to win the title in one of the purest moments imaginable, but then I realized something.
Kincaid was still around.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a wrestler live who has as many cool reversals as Kincaid. The dude worked his way out of ‘ranas and had all of us practically worshipping him during the match. So when he won, I was thrilled for him.
I stayed around for the press conference after the show, and I loved the cockiness he displayed. He speaks very well, and that will serve him well int he future. And man, does that belt look VERY fitting around his waist!
Also, how about the CERTAIN SOMEONE who showed interest after the victory? 😉
After the show, my friends and I made our rounds to get pictures with everyone. Sadly, I didn’t snatch pictures with Page, Kincaid or Adams, but there’s always the next show! As I got pictures, my friends got their tickets for the next shows. THAT’S how impressed they were.
I was lucky enough to finally get to meet the myth, the legend…Papa Hales! He’s a wrestling fan I have tremendous respect for. He’s such a wonderful voice in the industry and I guess my screeching throughout the event caught his attention, because I got a picture with him, featuring Trina and Damian!
I loved the atmosphere of Glory Pro. The fans were enthusiastic, even when they didn’t know the talent well. And they didn’t put up with anyone’s crap. At one point some wise guy decided to make a taco joke at Paco Gonzalez, and we booed him and called him out on it. There was great investment from the crowd and overall, a genuine love of wrestling that was echoed in the performers.
That might be my favorite thing about Glory Pro. From Michael Elgin to the wrestlers to the people helping manage the event, everyone was doing what they did because of a genuine love of pro wrestling. The desire to entertain, to put out the best product imaginable, was evident in every moment I was there.
That’s amazing. That’s what makes Glory Pro special. It’s a group of people who care about the industry and the people industry. It’s a roster of wrestlers with all the talent in the world who are also extremely approachable and nice. It’s people like Trina, who gives her everything to the business without any agenda except love of the industry and wanting to get people over.
It’s the car ride back to Columbia I took with my friends, where we just talked about how much fun we had and made plans to go back.
I’ll be back for the May and July shows. I can’t wait.
Congrats to everyone involved in Glory Pro. You started something special!