MICHIGAN WRESTLING ORGANIZATION
2017 YEAR IN REVIEW
The Michigan Wrestling Organization experienced a unique year in 2017. It was a year that saw significant challenges and changes on the fly, but somehow and someway, the promotion ended the year with a strong offering in the 23rd annual Christmas Clash. The year started with one of the organization’s brightest new stars—Jacob Brawn—in possession of the MWO Championship title. At year’s end, the title would be in the grasp of a near-two decade veteran in the Real Deal Michael Reaver. Factional Warfare was starting to establish its roots, with Positive Promotions and The Uprising dominating much of the scene. New superstars rose the occasion and took advantage of opportunity while established superstars and veterans were taking on reduced schedules. Some of the MWO’s biggest events were held in new cities and venues, while the Richfield Road Church in Flint, Burton’s NTC Church, and The Bridge hosted many memorable events. The tag team division enjoyed a resurgence in star power and prestige, while the Great Lakes championship provided some of the hardest-hitting matches for that particular title in some time. Here are some of the highlights from what will be remembered as a potentially infamous year for the MWO.
MWO TEAMS UP WITH UAW LOCAL 598 FOR WRESTLERAMA 23
WrestleRama 23 will easily be remembered as one of the most hyped and anticipated events in MWO history. In promoting the supercard, the organization teamed up with UAW Local 598 and the Autism Support & Resource Center of Burton to generate a standing-room-only crowd at the Ruben Burks Hall (the union hall of Local 598) on April 30, highlighted by the Creature Feature John Campbell’s successful defense of his MWO Championship and new champions crowned in the form of Bam Grizzlee (new TV champion) and the crowd-favorite Clouse Brothers (who won the MWO Tag Team titles). The event was promoted during live segments on Fox 66 Mornings as UAW Local 598 president Ryan Buchalski and MWO Hall of Famer Jason “the Basher” Clouse joined reporter Ilse Lujan-Hayes for interview segments from the union hall. The event was deemed a complete success by all parties involved, so much in fact that the decision was made recently that the MWO and the ASRC will once again work together on WrestleRama 24 on April 15 from the Richfield Road Church.
MICHAEL REAVER’S RESURRGENCE SPARKS
THE UPRISING’S DOMINANCE
For the Real Deal Michael Reaver, 2017 will be a year of redemption for the MWO Hall of Famer. Quietly, Reaver has compiled one of the most impressive and extensive resumes in MWO history. But many had written the Real Deal off as a major player in the organization, just as he was in the early 2000s and again in early 2010s. In that time, Reaver went on to win several Tag Team championships with various partners. But for the 17-year veteran, sharing the glory and a tag title wasn’t enough. It was then Reaver took his experience and intelligence to The Uprising camp, managed by Simon Paige. Together, Paige and Reaver formulated a plan that secured the services of some of the MWO’s biggest threats, including Blackwell and newcomer Brother Will Vendetta. Reaver picked his spot and attacked the main event scene by using his Slam-a-Thon tournament victory as a springboard to an upset title win over the Creature Feature John Campbell at SummerSmash. Heading into 2018, with the MWO Championship title still around the Real Deal’s waist, The Uprising is the group to beat with the recent acquisition of Cesar Ashur, replacing Blackwell in the faction.
KLAYTON SEIZES OPPORTUNITY AT WRESTLERAMA
The entire main event picture for WrestleRama 23 was sent into a tailspin with the shocking announcement that Apocalypse was leaving the Michigan Wrestling Organization, just weeks after winning the 2017 Bunkhouse Brawl invitational battle royal to earn a shot at then-MWO champion John Campbell. As the organization continued its trek to the Ruben Burks Hall for WrestleRama 23, the Creature Feature was without a challenger. That was, until a surprise contender literally emerged from the darkness to fill the vacancy of the “Sinister King’s” departure. Hall of Famer Kristian Klayton attacked Campbell following the main event of a live event at the NTC Church in Burton to issue his own challenge to the heavyweight kingpin. Campbell and the “Dragon Slayer” are no strangers to one another following a hard-fought rivalry over the MWO Great Lakes championship in 2013. The feud was reignited and headlined WrestleRama 23, with the Creature Feature retaining the MWO title against a very determined Klayton. The “Dragon Slayer” continued to appear in events, battling some of the newer stars on the rise, including an exciting match with Bam Grizzlee.
PF NAMED INTERIM COMMISSIONER
A succession of resignations prompted a dramatic shift in power during live Michigan Wrestling Organization events. MWO commissioner Pope Brandon Brownson surprised his many fans when he stated he was relinquishing his position. A short time later, Ryan “Frostbite” Kidwell—one of the longest serving high ranking officials in organization history—stepped down from his position of Chief Executive Official. Within a few weeks span, the MWO was without an established figure head at live events. Soon, senior referee Orville Hughson began serving as a spokesman for an anonymous commissioner. It was revealed that controversial Hall of Famer Pure Fury Jeff Clouse was picked by the MWO Board of Officials to serve as commissioner on an interim basis. PF wasted little time in exercising his authority in the winter of 2017 and apparently has big plans for the MWO in 2018.
NEW VENUES & CITIES HOST MWO EVENTS
MWO live events travelled beyond the borders of Genesee County and new venues within. In March, a special live event in Redford’s VFW Hall served as a fundraiser for a local woman battling a unique form of leukemia. Two separate venues in Waterford hosted live events; the Dixieland Flea Market hosted an outdoor event that was cut short by rain and the Waterford Recreation Center hosted two supercards in the organization’s only events there—Slam-a-Thon in June and October’s Trick-or-Slam. The MWO returned to Davison for the first time in nearly seven years as the Lake Callis Recreation Complex hosted the SummerSmash’s 20th anniversary. UAW Local 598’s Ruben Burks Hall hosted WrestleRama 23 in April.
THE EMERGENCE OF NEW MAIN EVENT PLAYERS
The crop of talent in the MWO continued to rise to the top in the ranks and in the forefront of the headlines. Ric Caurdiea and Scotty Fraytown had a classic rivalry over the Great Lakes title, which the very popular Bam Grizzlee had won at Trick-or-Slam. The Bromance union of the Superstar Alex Crow and Jacob Brawn had maintained the top spot in the tag team division while newer tandems like the Dean Boys, the Valor Society, and Fat Tony & Adrian Anderson all looked to gain an eventual title shot. A. Wicked’s rise in popularity propelled him to the MWO Television title in a big time match two-time champion JJ Hughes of Positive Promotions. Jack Teryn is methodically becoming a major threat to the main event picture after dominating a feud with the legendary Skullz.
FIRST-TIME CHAMPIONS CROWNED IN 2017
MWO TV CHAMPION
Won on 4/30/17
TAG TEAM CHAMPS
Won on 12/17/17
MWO TV CHAMPION
Won on 2/19/17
MWO TV CHAMPION
Won on 8/13/17
February 19: At the Bunkhouse Brawl at the Richfield Road Church in Flint, the Creature Feature John Campbell regained the MWO Championship title from Jacob Brawn…The Main Attraction JJ Hughes won the MWO Television championship from Victor Cross.
April 30: WrestleRama 23 saw two title changes during the course of the annual supercard. Bam Grizzlee won a battle royal, last eliminating defending champ JJ Hughes, to win the MWO TV title. The Clouse Brothers emerged from a tag team turmoil match to capture their first MWO Tag Team championship as a team.
May 21: JJ Hughes regained the MWO Television title from Bam Grizzlee in a live event at the Richfield Road Church in Flint.
June 11: The Bromance upset the Clouse Brothers to win the MWO Tag Team titles at Slam-a-Thon
August 13: Three championships changed hands at the 20th anniversary of SummerSmash. A. Wicked won the MWO Television title from JJ Hughes. The Clouse Brothers regained the MWO Tag Team championship from The Bromance. The event closed out in shock when the Real Deal Michael Reaver unseated Creature Feature John Campbell as the MWO Champion.
November 9: In a press release statement, the MWO Board of Officials announce that the Clouse Brothers have relinquished the MWO Tag Team championships.
December 17: The Dean Boys defeated the Fabulous Fraytown & JJ Hughes in a tournament final to win the vacant MWO Tag Team titles at Christmas Clash.
DEBUTS, DEPARTURES, & RETURNS
The MWO locker room saw something of a revolving door of talent during 2017, with some stunning departures, sensational debuts (or those stars who came to the MWO in late 2016), and surprise returns that kept the other superstars and fans on their toes.
THEN & NOW
WILDMAN WILLIAMS’ TOP 20 OF 2017
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the ratings based on how I evaluated the MWO wrestlers in 2017, not necessarily based on a win/loss record but also how it impacted the MWO landscape, and how it could possibly shape the company in 2018
1. REAL MICHAEL REAVER
2. THE FABULOUS FRAYTOWN
3. JJ HUGHES
4. THE CLOUSE BROTHERS
5. BAM GRIZZLEE
6. JACK TERYN
7. JACOB BRAWN
8. CREATURE FEATURE JOHN CAMPBELL
9. VICTOR CROSS
10. A. WICKED
11. OLD SCHOOL RIC CAURDIEA
12. ROBERTO CRUZ
13. ADRIAN ANDERSON & FAT TONY
15. VALOR SOCIETY
16. CESAR ASHUR
17. THE DEAN BOYS
18. LAURA PHOENIX
20. THE SUPERSTAR ALEX CROW
PREDICTIONS FOR THE
MWO IN 2018
THE UPRISING: It’s going to take a significant force to knock Simon Paige’s creation off the top of the mountain in the MWO. However, the foundation of that force may come in the form of ex-member Blackwell. Still, Michael Reaver, Brother Will Vendetta, Cesar Ashur, and Paige have formed a dangerous alliance of brains, power, and skill and are becoming a bigger threat with each passing day. There’s no reason to believe at this point
BLACKWELL: At some point in 2018, some sort of gold will be draped over the massive shoulder of Blackwell. Whether he’s able to wrest the MWO Championship title from rival Michael Reaver or sets his sights on another piece of hardware, Blackwell will be a champion.
JACK TERYN: The sky is the limit for the mysterious Teryn. His victories over Dead X partners Skullz and X-Convict and strong showings in previous title opportunities against John Campbell prove that Teryn is to be taken seriously. Expect another MWO legend to make a bid and step up to Teryn, one who’s been known to “slay” monsters in the past. But with Aksel James Geer in his corner and providing the force behind Teryn’s in-ring success, there’s no telling how dominant Teryn is likely to be in 2018.
CREATURE FEATURE JOHN CAMPBELL: The popular “King of Spooky Style” is expected to remain a fixture in the heavyweight title picture. But before Campbell can focus on winning a third MWO Championship title, he may have dig into his dark recesses of his mind to combat the mind games of another superstar equally as motivated to regain the MWO title.
THE DEAN BOYS: Tyler & Tyson Dean realized their dream when they won the MWO Tag Team titles at Christmas Clash. But their quest to remain on top may be cut short when their biggest challenge could become their first obstacle. The longevity of their title run will likely determine how soon Adrian Anderson & Fat Tony receive their opportunity. The longer the Deans can hold off from their inevitable showdown with Anderson and Tony, the better off they’ll be.
BAM GRIZZLEE: Grizzlee is expected to be a focal point in the MWO Great Lakes title division, either as champion or top contender. Right now, Bam’s title run is the target of many new and rising superstars who are looking to make a name for themselves at Grizzlee’s expense.
THEE CODY LEEDY: Frustration can be seen all over the face of THEE Cody Leedy. It will be that frustration that fuels a resurgence in the former MWO champion’s career. And it won’t be while he’s clapping hands and playing up to the adulation of a strong fan base. The best of THEE Cody Leedy has yet to emerge. But it can happen in 2018.
JACOB BRAWN: We haven’t seen the best of Jacob Brawn yet. Sure, he’s been a Tag Team and Television champion, but Brawn’s days in the main event scene are just beginning as he is likely to shift his focus back to the MWO Championship following his successful stint in the tag team division. Before we celebrate another new year, the heavyweight strap could find its way back around Brawn’s waist.
OLD SCHOOL RIC CAURDIEA: Old School is so close to a breakout, but then reality steps in and seemingly thwarts his momentum to carry him to the top of the MWO. A rash of injuries, illnesses, and other unforeseen factors have prevented Caurdiea from grabbing the brass ring. But that could all change in 2018 as long as he stays healthy and on track.
A.WICKED: The MWO Television championship has only pacified this extremely popular daredevil. Wicked wants to be in the spotlight of the MWO and he could very well be a wrestler who makes a big splash in the organization in 2018. The holders of the MWO Championship and Great Lakes titles had better keep an eye on this guy.
POSITIVE PROMOTIONS: Mr. Positive is going to have to do an overhaul if he hopes to keep his stable relevant and on pace with The Uprising. The Fabulous Fraytown & JJ Hughes could become major players in the tag team division and a rivalry with current champs the Dean Boys seems evident. Then too, Fraytown and the “Main Attraction” have more than enough talent to make successful solo runs as well. Roberto Cruz is a young star on the rise and is capable of bringing solo gold to the camp. Manager Mr. Positive may have solicit the services of another major to fill the void since the departure of Laura Phoenix from the group.
ADRIAN ANDERSON & FAT TONY: The window of opportunity for Anderson & Tony to dominate the MWO tag team division is open for now, and the sooner they can secure a match with reigning MWO Tag Team champions the Dean Boys for the titles, the better their chances. In 2017, the monster duo solidified their team into a major contender, and in 2018 they are the odds-on-favorites to eventually win the titles. But they’ll also have to fend off other duos, specifically the Valor Society, who still has unfinished business with Anderson & Tony.
X-CONVICT: The MWO Hall of Famer once again made his way back to the organization in late 2017, looking to avenge the domination of his Dead X tag team partner Skullz. While X-Convict came up short in his encounter with Jack Teryn, there is still a lot of unresolved issues between the two. Whether X-Convict is capable of competing with a new crop of talent all gunning for the MWO Championship title remains to be seen, but if history is any indication, he will be at the forefront of some title division…and not necessarily the tag team scene.
JAMES DILLINGER: MWO fans are still getting acquainted with the brash newcomer. Before venturing to the MWO, Dillinger has embarked on a very successful career in other promotions, most notably forming the Team Ratings group in the Houghton Lake-based Imperial Wrestling Entertainment. Looking for new challenges and goals, 2018 could be a year that Dillinger becomes one of the fastest rising stars in the organization.
ALEX “THE CANNONBALL” STEELE: A renewed focus is going to pay off for this loveable veteran. After multiple runs as an MWO Tag Team champion with his brother, the Package Andrew Steele, Alex is looking to score his own singles glory. Expect “the Cannonball” to become a top threat in the Television championship division. His decade-plus-long tenure in the MWO gives Steele a unique experience advantage over many of the opponents he would have to defeat in order to become the TV champion.
VICTOR CROSS: It's going to take something extraordinary to keep Cross from the MWO heavyweight title in 2018. The guy is chomping at the bit in order to become a main event player and will do whatever he needs to in order to win.
REX HAVOC & LAURA PHOENIX: Fans have embraced the return of the Lone Wolf Rex Havoc and his reunion with Laura Phoenix. Christmas Clash provided a feel-good moment for the couple and long-time fans, but 2018 will be the real test. Phoenix is close to finding her stride between the ropes during a recent slump. Havoc is back to dominate, plain and simple. Only one title eludes Rex’s conquest of the MWO Grand Slam honors, and that could be a done deal before SummerSmash rolls along in August.
THE MARVEL: Regardless of what color gear he’s sporting, the Marvel is in a rut to say the least. His promising tag team future in the Azul Warriors was shattered with and knee injury to Krysis and the disappearance of manager Mike Goodman. Remember, the masked grappler is a former TV and Great Lakes champion. But in order to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender, the Marvel almost needs a complete overhaul and start fresh.
BILLY BISHOP: The newcomer is poised to have a promising rookie year in the Michigan Wrestling Organization. Early matches have shown that Bishop has a passion for the business and will only get better with each match and opportunity.
THE SUPERSTAR ALEX CROW: Right now, all Alex Crow is focused on is Jacob Brawn and Jessica Monroe following the shocking breakup of The Bromance at Trick-or-Slam. The Superstar will rebound from his injury and embark on a war with Brawn that could define the entire year of 2018. At this point, Crow is not as focused on winning titles as he is getting a measure of payback against his ex-best friend.
THE CLOUSE BROTHERS: A recent tweet curbed rumors of retirement for Jason “The Basher” Clouse. But to think that the Basher will be a major threat to a singles title in 2018 would be considered a long shot. His inactivity due to his brother Jeff’s back injury doesn’t discount the year the Clouse Brothers had in 2017, dominating the tag team division. Meanwhile, Pure Fury’s current assignment as commissioner has more promise to be more impactful for the entire company.
TRAGEDY ANN: The gothic princess is a volcano about to erupt. And when the fire within reaches a boiling point, Tragedy Ann could be one of the most influential—and feared—entities in the MWO. That will ultimately help X-Convict or anyone else she’s managing…that is, if she reaches that point.
VALOR SOCIETY: DJ Edwards & Loco are a great team with so much potential. But their missing something that’s preventing them from really making a big splash in the MWO. Turning over their careers to a manger could be what the Society needs to get over the hump and become the breakout team of 2018.
JESSICA MONROE: When the executive assistant makes her return to live events, there’s going to be two different conflicts: the aftermath of helping Jacob Brawn betray her former employer, Alex Crow, and unfinished business with Tragedy Ann. While she’s proven to be extremely cunning, the year doesn’t look all that positive for Monroe unless she and Brawn have a brilliant master plan.