Indie Wrestling Wire: The Clean Sheet Volume 1, Issue 7


Fresh Linen Scent: The Clean Sheet, Volume 1 Issue 7

By @olskoololfool

Welcome to the wrestling “newsletter” with no rumors or dirt: only fun, “what-ifs?” and positives...The Clean Sheet!  A rotating series of mini-features here will highlight all sorts of things in the world of pro wrestling: people making change in the sport, charity and fund-raising efforts, trail blazers of the present, a bit of fantasy-booking and much more!   So breathe deeply, relax and inhale the wonderful scent of fresh linen: The Clean Sheet.

With new lockdowns, tons of show cancellations in the Midwest and some of my own life things to wrangle…it was really hard to grab some good things to talk about this issue.  I decided that a deep dive into a very fond memory was the way to go.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed reminiscing. 

My First: Road Trip for Wrestling (ROH Wrestlemania 23 Weekend Shows: All Star Extravaganza III & Supercard of Honor II, 3/30 & 3/31/2007, Detroit, MI)

Somehow, some way, I convinced a good friend of mine who liked wrestling and my wife to take a long weekend to venture to the Motor City.  We had zero intention to check out Mania or remotely venture into the downtown area at all, content to see our ROH favorites and the Dragon Gate stars in for the weekend.  The missus was content to just be away from home and have the run of our hotel room for the most part, she had no interest in the wrestling events.

My friend was willing to do the 7 hours of driving and I played navigator, my MapQuest printouts in my lap.  We decided on the way there that we would journey through Hell, MI and send out some postcards with that Hell postmark to various friends. After that break, we got to our motel in Novi to chill and rest up before Friday’s show.  

Friday Night- ASE 3:  We had fourth row tickets for both nights and my guess at attendance would be 1000-1100 each night.  Our seat neighbors were from Australia this night and were very kind.  It was the first time the real concept of how global a draw WM weekend really is sunk in for me.  I also scored a really cool souvenir during intermission as the Dragon Gate contingent brought along some merch: a DG program/photobook that I got autographed after the show by all their appearing wrestlers.  The action was good, much of it to help set the table for the following night.  After the dark match, got to see Larry Sweeney in all of his glory bring Chris Hero down for a Four Corner Survival (later in the night, Sweeney takes a punch from Bruno Sammartino!).  Then, a debuting Erick Stevens squashing poor Sugarfoot in 20 seconds. A fun mixed tag foreshadowed the big cage match set up for Saturday, it finished with Jimmy Jacobs spearing Daizee Haze out of her shoes, literally (they flew into the audience). The Briscoes win the tag titles, even after Mark missed a Shooting Star Press badly and was carried out.  The Motor City Machine Guns came out, laid out a challenge and also laid out Jay, getting some big boos while still being the hometown boys.  The main event was an 8-Man Dragon Gate Rules Tag with the team from Dragon Gate victorious over ROH’s team.  It was a fun show and accomplished its mission: left me wanting Saturday’s show even more.

Saturday:  One way or another, we heard that Mick Foley was signing his new book “Hardcore Diaries” at a mall close to our hotel.  My buddy and I decided to visit Ol’ Saint Mick, snag his book and get some sweatsocks signed.  Again, the global scope of it all registered as we chatted with folks in the signing line from everywhere.  We returned to the motel with our loot and snagged some grub at Big Boy before the show at night.

Saturday Night- SOH 2:  Tonight, our seat neighbors were from Japan, a group of young ladies whose shouts of “SHIN-GOOOOO” and “CI-MAAAAAAA” were straight from that anime you like but won’t admit you do.  After the dark match, a fun opener saw Delirious & Jay Briscoe defeat Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal where the empathetic crowd was solidly behind Jay’s team, remembering Mark’s scary injury from the night prior.  Claudio Castagnoli had a solid match with a very new to wrestling YAMATO.  Erick Stevens squashed another unfortunate soul and Nigel McGuiness gained a measure of revenge against Chris Hero.  A bit later, Homicide and Brent Albright had a brawl that spilled out into the crowd.  These things happen, but it was the first time I ever had to vacate my seat at a show.  Thank heavens for Bobby Dempsey who was also on crew/security that night. He held our part of the crowd back, arms outstretched and majestic, like the Jesus statue in Rio de Janeiro.  The match eventually evolved into a tag, with strange bedfellow partners Homicide and Colt Cabana defeating the common enemies Albright & Adam Pierce.  Then, the cage went up…

It was the first time I’d ever seen a cage match live and it was the damnedest 25 minutes of crazy I’d ever bear witness to in a wrestling ring.  BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs went to war, both driven to exterminate the other with their respective seconds (Daizee Haze & Lacey) feeding them weapons the whole way.  Spikes, chairs, tables…so much going on yet the perfect end to a year’s long feud.  It was a cage match that had tons of meaning and consequences, something that’s kind of been lost over the years.

After that draining roller coaster pulled so much energy from the crowd, the pace was slowed with a FIP Title match where Roderick Strong defended against Austin Aries.  A solid technical showcase that showed off both men’s skills, Aries passed out in the Stronghold for the finish.  Then for the main event the dial was cranked to 11 once again as the sequel match from the first Supercard of Honor got underway.  The 6-man Dragon Gate spectacular this time featured CIMA, SHINGO & Susumu Yokosuka vs. Dragon Kid, Masaaki Mochizuki & Ryo Saito.  27 minutes of great spots, fun back and forth with an absolutely mind-shattering 10-minute sprint at the end.

Afterword: Here’s that corny “where are they now?” montage from the end of the movie:  My friend and I would then continue our support of ROH, going to most of the Chicago Ridge shows for the next 5 years.  We saw a lot of “classic” moments in that fieldhouse:  Briscoes v. MCMG I&II, Ladder War I, Samoa Joe’s one-off appearance against Tyler Black, the Unity doubleheader with Chikara.  My wife is now my ex-wife and one of my best friends.  I still watch ROH and the Pure tournament boosted my interest in them once again. 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…I miss time spent with my friends, going to shows and hitting the road.  This “new normal” is the farthest thing I know from my actual normal:  I visit my friends, I’m social, I do those things I can reasonably afford, I take a drive for the sake of driving and a change of scene.  I’m depressed, lonely, exhausted and done with these “challenging times”.  BUT…I will continue to hunt for good and good people, silver linings and try to keep the sheet clean.

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