No one can say they were necessarily shocked when Pure Fury Jeff Clouse announced during the No Holds Barred event in Battle Creek that he was vacating the commissioner’s office the day of SummerSmash (Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Sprint Store in Davison), thus fulfilling his obligations to the position he was appointed to several months ago to help calm the choppy waters of the Michigan Wrestling Organization. But while the MWO Hall of Famer is looking to resume his in-ring career, he’s leaving vacant arguably the most prolific position in the promotion.
The MWO Commissioner is the person who is seen as the authority figure during live events, the sheriff of a town constantly under siege from a renegade faction looking to take over the company or outright chaos orchestrated by some of the promotion’s most notorious superstars. Either way, the job of commissioner of the MWO is not one just anyone can do, as has been proven true by the uneventful reigns of previous members of upper management who tried their hand and controlling the MWO. That’s not meant to be a knock on anyone in particular, it’s just the way it was. People came in and they could not maintain a decent degree of order during live events.
“In order to maintain control in an uncontrollable situation, you have become crazier than the wrestlers and managers who are out of control,” the late, great Dr. Tonei Black once told me in an interview at the old Terri’s Lounge before a live event.
One of the things that has generated a lot of interest in the position of MWO commissioner is not only the person sitting behind that desk but the circumstances surrounding that person. When you look at the history of authority figures in the, whether it be as a commissioner or Chief Executive Official (CEO), there are a great number of ex-bosses that were in power to help push their own agendas, usually in the form of a faction looking to run the Michigan Wrestling Organization out of business and to be replaced by another group. Bob Breckenridge, James “Smiley” Byrd, and THEE Cody Leedy—all of whom were extremely impactful during their tenures as the top official—were those figure heads that were also using their position to steer their particular factions to the top of the promotion. Breckenridge had founded Ca$h Money Wre$tling in hopes of taking out the MWO by recruiting some of the organization’s biggest stars at the time. Byrd was backing the invading eXtreme Border Wrestling (XBW) contingent when Kurt Kaoss, X-Convict, Edgecutioner Eric Copeland, and Blackjack Haines all stormed into the organization. However, within months of their debuts, the XBW brand was banished from the successful MWO army. Leedy may have come to closest to wiping out the MWO when he ascended to the commissioner’s office and eventually co-CEO while at the helm of the Awesome Alliance. The Alliance was able to temporarily change the promotion from Michigan Wrestling Organization to the Awesome Wrestling Organization. So one would imagine that the next person in line for the office is going to be carefully selected by the MWO Board of Officials, right?
When was the last time that the MWO had an “impartial” commissioner? You could make the argument that Damon Grey or Ryan “Frostbite” Kidwell could be the last commissioners or CEOs to not have a vested interest in a faction or contingent looking to overtake the company. Although some of his actions, specifically when he was co-CEO with Leedy, left many on the Board of Officials on edge as to what he would say or do next. But at the core of his tenure, Grey indeed had the best interest of the promotion at the forefront of his decisions.
“Damon Grey and Frostbite were great CEOs by all accounts,” said editor-in-chief Melvin Pratt, who has covered the MWO for two decades, “They didn’t necessarily have their own agendas, they just wanted the MWO to get better. The same can be said for Dustie Diamond, Ryan Kidwell, and most recently, Jeff Clouse.”
So, who’s next that will succeed Jeff Clouse as the new MWO commissioner? The same list of hopefuls that pop up when a promotion to the main office is presented is also raising their hands to be considered for the job. Announcers Shawn Whalen and Noah Andrew are frequent contenders for the position. Former commissioner Oscar “Souless” Hoskey is also said to have expressed interest in returning to his former job. What kind of job would untested candidates like Whalen or Andrew make? Noah is still very young in the business and its unknown whether he would have the backbone to stand up to superstars like Jacob Brawn or the Disciples of Darkness. Whalen is bigger in stacture but how assertive is he will to be if was to be named commissioner? Hoskey has a documented history during his time as commissioner. Officials are still sure to remember how he cost the Furious Gentlemen the MWO Tag Team titles against the Renegade Power Regime at WrestleRama 21 in 2015, so there’s certainly a degree of apprehension surrounding Oscar.
The painstakingly long process of selecting a new MWO commissioner is no easy feat. It can either make or break the Michigan Wrestling Organization. Find a good commissioner and the company is in good hands and making significant progress. Choose the wrong person, and all of the progress that the organization has been working toward is flushed down the drain like yesterday’s lunch.
“I will not have a hand in selecting the next commissioner,” PF said in a post-show interview in Battle Creek, “Come SummerSmash, I will have honored my commitment and I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and kicking ass, so whoever is named will be the decision of the board members.”
In my opinion, there a few people who would make a significant impact if they were to be named the new MWO commissioner. If for nothing else, it would generate a renewed focus on the position. Simon Paige, Mr. Positive, and Jessica Monroe immediately come to mind as possible replacements for Clouse. Each has proven to be successful in leadership or management roles. Paige and Positive have both led their respective factions to the top of the organization, while maintaining calm between a clash of personalities. Monroe guided the Superstar Alex Crow to the MWO Great Lakes championship upon their debuts to the company, and she helped orchestrate the destruction of The Bromance tag team while helping to steer Jacob Brawn to the MWO heavyweight title. Okay, it may be a little devious, but Jessica is a lot smarter than people give her credit for as was evident when she switched allegiances from Crow to Brawn.
Other MWO legends and Hall of Famers—Jaysen Platinum, Laura Phoenix, Rex Havoc, or even the Marauder Todd Grossbauer—would all be strong considerations in my opinion. They’ve all had long careers in the MWO and have a legitimate passion for the product. Grossbauer, especially, would be a great fit since he was here when the company was born in the fall of 1994.
Whichever the direction the Board of Officials decides to take, Pure Fury Jeff Clouse will be leaving big shoes to fill. Even I have to admit, he did a fairly decent job during his time as MWO commissioner. And it will take a hell of a person to adequately step into the office of the top official of live events and continue to steer the MWO to new horizons.