A million years and a couple hundred miles since I read my first DVDVR Playaz~! on the road and I find myself laying in bed on a father’s day excited for a day filled with professional wrestling. It isn’t often that I can spend a morning and afternoon at my house before hopping in the car and seeing Game Changer Wrestling but the fates and the want for Ricky Morton to wrestle in his 50th state decided to make it so.
The family decided to give me the Saturday to myself and I used it in the best way I could think of: watching wrestling and eating a giant sandwich. 8 AM consisted of me building a monstrosity with turkey, ham, pepper jack, cheddar, mustard, mayo, and two pickle halves (I couldn’t be bothered to properly slice them) and then watching the 1997 Yearbook. The viewing consisted of seeing Jushin Liger give Ultimo Dragon a Steiner Screwdriver, a duo of Psichosis/Regal matches, and viewing the USWA Nation of Domination for the first time which is mind-blowing with the Wolfie D calling out Bill Dundee promo for walking out on him and his mom.
A few weeks before the show, I mentioned since the GCW show was going to be so close to me that I could help provide people with information on how to get from Denver to Laramie since Denver was the easiest place to fly in. A good brother out of Chicago reached out asking if he and his buddy might be able to get a ride since the price of rental cars were astronomical. Rental car prices have been climbing since the pandemic started with a lot of companies selling off their rental cars to offset costs which has now led to their remaining inventory being rented out at a massive premium. I mean we are talking between $100-$150 a day for a Toyota Corolla bad. So being the nice guy that I am, I offered them a ride up and back from Wyoming.
We met at Union Station in Downtown Denver and since we had some time to kill before we needed to make the 2 hour trek up north, we figured we would grab some local cuisine first. So we ended up at a Denver favorite the Cherry Cricket where we ate disgustingly greasy hamburgers and chatted about wrestling stories when I get extremely jealous that one of my new friends has pretty much been live to all of the greatest moments of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla while the other started going to Ring of Honor, IWA-MS, AAW, etc. since the mid-2000s which was my favorite period of professional wrestling ever and the reason why I decided to start traveling to be able to live great wrestling moments live. I got to hear memories from the Hammerstein Ballroom, Joliet, Illinois, and Chicago Ridge while getting to share thoughts on how awesome and exhausting Reseda was. I told them about my journey’s to Japan and one of them mentioned the Mayfield Mayhem and attempting to get his parents to let him go with George Mayfield to Japan as a teenager which absolutely popped me. That would have been an amazing experience.
We are on the road and nothing can go wrong for a simple drive between Denver and Laramie, right? I thought it would be a simple drive but the sheets of rain would have other things to say. My wife then called to inform me that they spotted a tornado about 30 miles southeast of our location which likely is not what my two new friends wanted to hear over the speakerphone but we managed to qualm their fears. Needless to say, within minutes of clear skies we were back to conversations about past wrestling trips we have taken and other random wrestling stories and talks. Honestly this was so awesome to make friends who have traveled similar roads of wrestling fandom and made the two hours fly by.
We arrived to Laramie well ahead of the start of the show. It was taking place at a bullring and the turn off for the show was not obvious at all. Luckily the GCW Promoter was out posting a sign saying “WRESTLING HERE” which officially makes this one of the most outlaw mud show events I have ever been to. We had to make a U-Turn to get in and as we pulled past the promoter, we saw him in all of his glory really taking in the Wyoming environment as he wore cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and even greeted us with an old-timey revolver and a smile. Our group were thoroughly impressed and couldn’t help but laugh.
As it had been two hours and I have the bladder that is the size of a pea, I decided to run over to the porta-potties outside of the venue. Getting out of my car and going around the corner the one thing I didn’t notice until I hear the loud “BAAA~!” was the petting zoo and being met by a bunch of goatsyelling at me. An experience.
After relieving myself (what an event), we went across the street to find a place to get some drinks. We turned too soon however and ended up at a flea market… Yep. Does anyone else play the game to see who the first person is to find a piece of wrestling memorabilia? We all scavenged our way through the indoor market and I went 2 for 2 spotting a Stone Cold Truth biography and the Legacy of Steve Austin DVD. We made the call that The Rundown did not count and unfortunately the large stack of Playboy magazines were under lock and key so I couldn’t relieve my teen years to find all of the great wrestling Playboys. Still, 2 for 2 isn’t bad.
Getting back to the parking lot we are now greeted with a bunch of cars. Walking towards the line I am seeing a lot of familiar faces from people typically at all of the Denver shows. It feels like realistically this could have taken place in Denver but I think a lot of the reason it was ran in Wyoming was to give Ricky Morton that 50th state so in this context it make sense but in the future this show could take place in Denver and have the same amount if not more fans although I imagine rent on a building might be a bit steeper than this dirt-floor bull ring. Nevertheless here we are and us and all of the Denver faithful mixed in with possibly a few people from Wyoming and a decent amount of fly-ins and we are ready for some wrestling!
Immediately walking through the door and it feels like we are entering a haunted house. No lights, walls consisting of plywood and some exposed wiring, and the faint sounds of farm animals. MDK? All fucking day. Nevertheless, walking past this murder room puts us into the main room where we are met with Ricky Morton and Joey Janela taking pictures and signing autographs for $30 combos. I love both guys but I feel like I have taken pictures with Joey in three different states and two separate continents and I’ve met Ricky a number of times so I’m taking a pass but luckily the number of people who have yet to meet these two great men are and there was a decent line for a while for people to meet them.
I am front row and make a bee line for front row center in front of the hard cam to ensure the greatest view. There is literally a dirt floor that the event will be taking place on which has me worried for whatever weapons may be used and hope nobody bleeding ends up taking a fall to the floor. The ring apron is turned inside out but the Rocky Mountain Pro logo outline is very prominent and I start seeing some of the RMP guys walking around so it quickly becomes clear where all of the equipment came from although the canvas is clearly one that someone didn’t mind getting ruined and wasn’t one of those amazing Davey Cole originals.
Davey Cole Vs. Atiba
Speaking of Davey Cole, the show starts and the man himself is in the dark match! I make a joke that the one time Davey could have literally drove the canvas to the show and they choose not to use a custom one. He makes himself the heel in the match early and as always does a great job interacting with the crowd. Atiba is a Rocky Mountain Pro wrestler out of Denver and has a great look and great energy but the way he uses it seems kind of over the top. He throws in some Mongolian Chops which… Eh. He does the karate “WAAAA!” sounds which also just didn’t really fit. But they have a great back and forth exchange and one thing I will say about Atiba is he has some hops. Davey picks up the win though and stamps it with “Davey Cole is now leaving Wyoming and never coming back.” Just great work out of Cole, loved it.
Cheap plug: He has some great art prints that you should pick up at https://www.davecoledojo.com/
Jordan Oliver Vs. Gringo Loco
Something I should note is that early on the people who run the venue decided to take some of the goats and tie them up around the venue which made some interesting crowd noises. Being next to the ring it wasn’t so bad but from people who ended up being situated near the goats, they definitely got annoyed by them quick. Gringo brings out a goat with him to the excitement of the crowd whereas Jordan Oliver did not which somehow made him a heel with a lot of people. I guess people really love their goats…
Having this as the opener was a great choice because these two went balls to the wall. They had the crowd into it with a lot of quick exchanges and the near falls had everyone jumping out of their seats shocked that it wasn’t over (in a good way). This was the perfect match to start the show with and Jordan Oliver picks up the win but the crowd gave both guys love after the match.
2 Cold Scorpio Vs. Chris Dickinson
Dickinson always comes out looking like he is going to murder someone every time out. Unfortunately the man he is going to try to murder claims to have tried to stab Hawk with a chopstick in North Korea so who knows how this will go. It is crazy to think that Scorpio is in his 50s and can still go at the level he is going at.
Slow start for this match. They trade a lot of submissions throughout the match with the match having a slower pace compared to the first match and given Scorpio’s age, it isn’t a surprise. The match overall wasn’t anything special but the finish with Dickinson giving Scorpio a NASTY Death Valley Driver for the win definitely was something to see.
Jimmy Lloyd Vs. Allie Katch
Jimmy comes out on a donkey and pops the crowd. Allie switches her name and we wonder if we are going to get a straight wrestling match which it does start out as with them exchanging holds before Jimmy gets outclassed, says fuck it, and pulls out enough aluminum to get you a couple bucks from a recycling center. They trade a bunch of shots and eventually Lloyd gets a cheese grater and absolutely slices up Allie’s forehead. Her super white make-up makes the blood even more prominent and is a sick, glorious sight for this match. Referee Peter Griffin has let this match go off the rails.
They trade some spots but the more this match goes on the more you focus on just how bloody Allie is getting. She puts Jimmy in a cross face at one point and the visual of her screaming with blood streaming down her face into her eyes and lips is just insane. Like she almost looks possessed, it is glorious. They eventually get out a few doors out and Jimmy eventually picks Allie up and does a running tombstone onto a door that was set up next to the turnbuckle on the bottoms ropes that ends it but it seriously looks like Allie got hurt during this. Yeesh. Go out of your way to see this for that finish along with Allie’s face after she gets opened up, you won’t regret it.
Manders Vs. Matthew Justice
I like Manders but I refuse to call him 1 Called Manders, that name just sounds ridiculous. Justice doesn’t come out to “Walk” this time around but nevertheless comes out looking like a lunatic. This guy is the embodiment of that older, insane strong style. Manders tries to enter on a horse but the second the horse hears the cheers he says “Fuck that” and turns around. Luckily Manders isn’t bucked off but the damn horse blows the spot and makes Manders walk to the ring.
I feel like Matthew Justice watched 1996 ECW and said “this is my spirit animal, let’s go fuck some people up.” The dude hits hard, has no problem getting hit, and does insane spots that remind you of the innovation that came from the glory years of Extreme Championship Wrestling. These two exchange chops that make the crowd cringe and pop at the same time. I don’t think Manders shares that same energy as Justice as he makes it a point to get an arm up on every shot with a weapon while Justice throws no caution to the wind and will take a chair to the cranium at will.
An awkward dueling chant starts as the crowd beings a “Let’s go Justice! Fuck that horse!” chant which one can take as a pro-Justice crowd to beat Manders or possibly encouragement to commit bestiality. I’m hoping it is the former but maybe there are more people here from Wyoming than I thought. Kidding, kidding, love you neighbors to my north.
The spot of the match is Justice getting pulled off of the top rope by the bullrope and landing back first on the top of a standing chair that literally bends the chair in a way I don’t recall ever seeing in a wrestling match before. Like this chair was completely warped and Justice had the welts on his back as a result of it. Manders ends the match with a Doctor Bomb in what was the second brutal match in a row for this card. Kudos to both of these guys for taking some insane punishment.
At this point we hit an intermission and I opted for a $10 personal pizza as it was the only food option. Serious question, when is an indie show going to make a Hot Dog and a Handshake meet and greet package/meal? I mean given the current state of the world the handshake might wait but I’m just waiting to see one of those hot dog toasters sitting in front of Joey Janela or Virgil where you get to have a conversation with them as they pull your dog from the toaster, throw it in their bun, and shake your hand. Well… That came out wrong on second reading…
Effy Vs. Warhorse
I think everyone who had seen Effy before had a bit of apprehension about how Wyoming was going to react to Effy when he came out. Not to put that type of stigma on Wyoming but overall everything you imagine about Wyoming seems a little bit on the “different time” side. But all of that quickly disappeared when the crowd POPPED the second “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” hit the speakers. He was the ULTIMATE face coming out which instantly made Warhorse, well, not the face.
They incorporated a lot of comedy into the match which gave the crowd a bit of a break from the faster pace and hard-hitting action which was a great way to not burn out the crowd for the rest of the night. That isn’t too say they didn’t have a good, competitive match as they definitely traded and hit some big moves like a Warhorse top rope missile dropkick and Effy hitting a great back drop that Warhorse attempted to block by holding onto the ropes but overall it was a lighter mood and more crowd engaged to bring us back without immediately burning us out again.
Of course the chant comes back out again. “Let’s Go Effy, FUCK THAT HORSE!” but this time I don’t think they are talking about the horse Manders almost rode in on. Warhorse definitely looked a little concerned for a minute about the possibility of Effy asserting dominance. Nevertheless, Effy had some fun with it and soon after a doe-si-doe spot fighting over who would hit the exposed turnbuckle would leave Warhorse dazed and then rolled up by Effy for the 1–2–3. Very good match that was different than everything else and had great fan interaction.
AJ Gray Vs. Orin Veidt
Orin is a Colorado transplant who wrestles at a very high level and is even training around here which should hopefully bring a different training methodology to help out a lot of the wrestlers who are only used to the 3–4 training methodologies that have been there for about a decade. Not that there is anything wrong with the methodologies but freshening up the scene with someone with that East Coast style is exciting to think about.
And he is taking on AJ Gray who is an absolute beast. I was chatting about people I’d like to see in PWG now that they announced their next show and I think AJ is a guy who should absolutely be tested on that level. But when the refs started bringing out door and barbed wire we knew exactly what type of match this would be. But part of this match got interrupted by an absolutely beautiful sunset through the entrance way. I mean, just man, had to appreciate it.
But this match is exactly what everyone thought it would be: hard-hitting. These guys went to war in this match. My buddies next to me got up and walked away for part of the match and Gray immediately took their chairs to set up the barbed wire door. It was teased throughout the match as they made their way back in and took turns slicing each other up with a barbed wire wrapped chair. Another barbed wire door was brought in and set up on chairs with both guys trying to suplex each other through it. Veidt would get Gray up and set him up for what looked like a slingshot suplex but would twist out and drop Gray through the door once Gray’s legs hit the ropes. It was a fun spot but I think would have actually looked better without the door.
They set up on the top rope right over the barbed wire door and Gray ended up getting thrown through it from the top rope. Gray took a beating in this match. They would trade some big shots and Gray would hit his nasty lariat but surprisingly used a splash from the top to finish the match and get the victory.
Atticus Cogar Vs. Ricky Morton
This was all about the Morton entrance and the adulation of the fans. Cogar gets MAJOR heat the second he walks through the entrance. Like I don’t know if it was that he was against Morton or if he is just one of the most hated guy on the roster but man, he fucking works with it. Pretty much what you would expect with a Morton running Canadian Destroyer, Cogar teasing the skewers, and then cheating to beat Morton. Post match Joey Janela makes the save and challenges him for homecoming. Morton got the respect and reaction he deserved while Cogar retained his heat, it was fun for lasting less than 10 minutes.
GCW Champion Nick Gage Vs. Mance Warner
Fucking Nick Gage. This motherfucker is SO FUCKING OVER. I love the live reaction of his entrance as he mosh pits through all of his GANG to hype him up. If you would have told me in 2002 the first time I saw Nick Gage that he would be one of the most over indie wrestlers I’d ever seen, I wouldn’t believe you but here we are and I’m glad it did. Ole’ Mancer is usually super over as well but while he didn’t get shit on during the match, everybody was popping for everything Gage did. Although it probably didn’t help that Mancer attacked Gage right at the end of Gage’s introduction to get the crowd to get a little upset.
But from the second Mancer put Gage through the door it was on. These guys beat the piss out of each other and the ring didn’t contain it. They started brawling through the crowd and I’m guessing Mance watched a few Concession Stand Brawls before this match as they took this back to Tupelo and started brawling next to the beers, sodas, and chips with Gage busting a beer on Mance while the entire crowd gathered like a schoolyard brawl. This apparently got so bad that one of the people at the venue not for the wrestling thought this was real and called the cops. Fucking cop callers.
I guess that is one thing to say about the guys who wrestle in jeans and camo shorts though that it does make it a bit harder to distinguish who is the performer and who is the fan but that is a discussion for another day. Nevertheless, the fans did not sit down for a moment in this match as they hit each other with tables, doors, Gage sliced Mance up with the cheese grater, and some sick fan actually took the time to glue shards of glass to a chair and paint it up which brought me flashbacks of Balls Mahoney. That chair got some use with Mance grinding it into Nick’s head.
Match ends with Gage fighting his toughest opponent of the night in a lighter fluid bottle. I’m guessing that it was brand new so there was safety features on it that Nick would end up forcing the referee and others at ringside to get open while Mancer had to keep selling. Finally with it opened, Gage puts the entire bottle on the propped up door and then gets a lighter from the ref to set it on fire. It was a great flame and Mancer takes a bump through and has to immediately pat himself off to put out. Gage makes the pin once he is out and retains his title.
— — — — —
Overall this was a great show in, of all places, Wyoming. It would have been just as easy for them to come out here and essentially put on a spot show for the few hundred in attendance but instead they went balls to the wall and put on a clinic. There was a definite lack of tubes which I’m guessing was due to it being in a bull ring and ridiculously hard if not impossible to clean up. Since there was a two hour drive ahead of us, we chatted with a few people but got out of the venue pretty quickly afterwards and missed the entire police force of Laramie responding to the call and following the GCW crew around the rest of the night.
The show actually ended at a decent time but the drive back was still dark and with the joy of GPS included us not going the way we came due to what I can only guess was “to make the trip quicker”. We got back into Denver around 1 AM and I was able to drop my new friends off at Denver International Airport before getting home around 1:30 AM. If GCW does come back, I’d love to see them in Denver but still wouldn’t have any problem doing this drive again to see this type of action.