by MELVIN PRATT, Editor-in-Chief
As with any sport or entertainment entity, the Michigan Wrestling Organization is on the brink of a rare change of eras. Every so often, the entire landscape of the upper echelon undergoes a transition period when a new crop of superstars occupy the majority of the main events and are perennial names associated with the MWO Championship title division. The next chapter of new main eventers is on our doorstep, and if all of these kingpin hopefuls crash into the division in unison, we will see a true changing of the proverbial guard.
MWO legends like Jason “the Basher” Clouse, the Marauder Todd Grossbauer, and the Crazy Maniac had to make room for the likes of Bigg Skinny, N-Tense, and the Real Deal Michael Reaver. Those Hall of Famers were replaced atop the organization by names such as Kristian Klayton, Damon Grey, Apocalypse, and Jack Price. THEE Cody Leedy, the Creature Feature John Campbell, and Jacob Brawn would be the latest line of new titleholders who more than made a splash in the history books of the MWO. Brawn, the reigning two-time MWO champion, is still considered to be one of the newer superstars to have held the MWO Championship title despite the fact that he is a veteran of the ring wars, not just in the MWO but also in various other promotions in the tri-state area.
Brawn has been able to remain champion with an impressive list of title defenses against some of the biggest names the Michigan Wrestling Organization has ever seen, ranging from mainstays like the Basher and Campbell to rising stars like Tyler Dean and the Superstar Alex Crow. With Crow seemingly leading the charge of top ranked contenders to the heavyweight crow, “Evil Dirty” is finding out first hand how competitive the top division can be. Aside from Crow, contenders like Old School Ric Caurdiea and “Main Attraction” JJ Hughes are chomping at the bit to earn a title opportunity.
“Jacob Brawn is as experienced as any wrestler who has competed in the MWO or held that title,” said columnist and long-time MWO insider Wildman Williams, “But he’s going to be that guy that all these two challengers are coming after. We’ll see how good Brawn truly is.”
The “mid-card” roster is as a deep as it’s been in quite some time. The MWO Great Lakes championship—considered the “mid-card title” by many—is showcasing some of the organization’s best talent, headed by the ultra-popular Bam Grizzlee, who has maintained a stranglehold on the title belt since dethroning the Fabulous Scotty Fraytown at last year’s Trick-or-Slam. Along the way, Grizzlee became a dual champion when he won the MWO TV title from an out-going A. Wicked at WrestleRama 24. Other contenders, including former champ Fraytown and Roberto Cruz, would all be considered major threats to the MWO heavyweight champion at any point.
Now is the best opportunity for these rising stars to make their impact in the senior division of the organization. Familiar superstars and former champs like Jason Clouse, John Campbell, THEE Cody Leedy, Blackwell, and Skullz—all of whom have held the MWO Championship or have been a top ranked contender to the title—have all been dropped from immediate title shot consideration. Clouse shifted his focus on completing his Grand Slam bid with his recent victory over Alex Steele to win the MWO TV championship. Blackwell and Leedy have joined forces and are preparing to challenge Victor Cross & Jack Teryn for the MWO Tag Team titles at SummerSmash on Aug. 11. Skullz has not competed for the MWO crown since his losing effort to Klayton at WrestleRama 21 in 2015. The “Creature Feature,” who was a long-time holder of the MWO Championship has had a hard time gaining traction in the crowded division since losing his rematch to Michael Reaver at Trick-or-Slam. He was able to secure a shot at Brawn’s title in the main event of MWO No Holds Barred.
All of these “mid-card wrestlers” are waiting for their big breaks. All it takes, in most cases says interim MWO commissioner Pure Fury Jeff Clouse, is one breakout performance that makes organization fans and officials stand up and take notice. “One match can either make or break a guy’s career in the MWO,” said PF, “These wrestlers who have casted a bright spotlight on the Great Lakes title in the last year or so are the next guys you’ll see at the top of the posters and advertisements.”
Nearing its end are the days when it was easy to pull the main event picture out of a slump by merely inserting established main event superstars like the Basher or Reaver. With each passing year, the careers of long-term veterans are beginning to take its toll on the wrestlers themselves. But to their credit, the Basher, the Real Deal, and even other vets like the Cannonball Alex Steele are lending their star power to the Television championship division. Not that they can’t compete for the MWO Championship title—especially Reaver, who won the MWO Title at SummerSmash last year—but the level of competition is getting more fierce with each passing year. That was made evident at Slam-a-Thon, when the Basher was defeated by Brawn.
“Let’s face it, life happens and people get older,” said the Wildman, “Guys like (Jason) Clouse and Skullz are big names here, but they’re getting older and aren’t quite as effective anymore. Plus, the newer fans that are experiencing the MWO for the first time have no idea what those legends did before now. It’s a totally different era and time for them.”
Another issue that gets brought up when a large group of talent makes a jump from one division to another is what happens to the division that is being more or less abandoned for the main event hopes and dreams of the wrestlers? Luckily, the roster of superstars is a pretty deep one. Obviously not every heavyweight hopeful is going to make it to the top of the MWO and they will likely return to the Great Lakes or Television title divisions, where they had previous success. Also take into consideration superstars that are currently in the tag team division, many of whom could be considered a major threat in the upper echelon. Blackwell and Leedy—currently ranked the No.1 contenders to the tag titles—have also had a lot of solo success. But at this point, it seems more likely that they are focused exclusively on the Tag Team championship and Cody’s quest to become a Grand Slam champion in the promotion. The members of Valor Society, DJ Edwards and Loco, could seek their success elsewhere if they were to decide to break up the team. Adrian Anderson and Fat Tony—collectively known as Hoss Fight—would add instant power to the MWO Title division and redefine the term “heavyweight” among the other contenders. The same could be said for the current tag champs Jack Teryn and Victor Cross.
But of the new challengers making their plans to compete for the biggest prize in the Michigan Wrestling Organization, who are the ones who stand the best chance to stand on top of the promotion as champion? The top prospects may be Bam Grizzlee, JJ Hughes, Ric Caurdiea, and the Fabulous Scotty Fraytown—all of whom have had breakout performances and have had some sort of previous championship experience. In Caurdiea’s case, he’s held both a singles and tag title, so he has a different layer of success in the championship divisions. Grizzlee has dominated two different title divisions on a few occasions, including simultaneously holding the Great Lakes and Television titles. Hughes has held the TV title and Fraytown is a multiple time Great Lakes champion. Any of these superstars can hang with the best of them and each provides a unique challenge to the current titlist Jacob Brawn.
But as long as Brawn is the MWO champion, the one wrestler he’ll always have to worry about is his former tag team partner and “best friend,” the Superstar Alex Crow, who is still looking for revenge for Brawn’s vicious assault that sidelined the Superstar before their epic encounter for the title at WrestleRama 24. While emerged with the championship after WrestleRama, he hasn’t been able to fully focus on his next challenger as he and manager Jessica Monroe keep having to look over their shoulders in preparation for a possible attack from Crow.
“Brawn’s issues with Alex Crow are far from over,” Williams speculated, “Their feud is one based on betrayal, which is one of the most damning fuels any rivalry can have. With or without the title, Brawn has a target on his back. But if Crow was able to take the MWO Championship from Brawn, he will have redeemed himself in his eyes.”
New contenders mean new matches atop the heap in the Michigan Wrestling Organization, which means a new era in the works for the promotion. Regardless of whose waist the MWO Title belt is strapped around, the future of the organization is extremely bright and is promises to add a new level excitement in and out of the ring.
THE NEW CONTENDERS?
Here are the superstars looking to make their mark in the MWO Championship Title division, each with their own unique brand of combat that will likely shake up the upper echelon of the organization.
OLD SCHOOL RIC CAURDIEA: For the last few years, MWO insiders have pegged Caurdiea as a future MWO Champion. Having co-held the Tag Team titles and holding the Great Lakes title, “Old School” has more than enough experience to make a serious run at the MWO Championship. His one big marquee chance was a failed attempt at using his guaranteed title shot contract to take part in the Jacob Brawn-Alex Crow title match at WrestleRama 24. Since then, Caurdiea has been on a roll in hopes of securing a one-on-one title shot.
BAM GRIZZLEE: Of the top prospects, the Bammer may be the people’s choice as the next breakout superstar. The reigning MWO Great Lakes champion is among the most popular wrestlers in the organization. And with every major opportunity he receives, Grizzlee makes the most of it. His biggest high-profile match was his Title for Title victory over A. Wicked at WrestleRama 24. He’s won two of the three single sanctioned titles in the MWO. And now, he may be setting his target on the elusive MWO heavyweight title.
THE FABULOUS SCOTTY FRAYTOWN: Should the Fabulous One emerge as the victor in his ongoing feud with Jason “the Basher” Clouse, he has to be considered a top contender to the MWO Championship. With his over-the-top demeanor and a vicious meanstreak, Fraytown is as dangerous as any superstar looking to become the MWO champion. His arsenal of offense has the ability to match up with just about anyone currently competing for the MWO’s top prize. Fraytown’s best course of action may be to leave Positive Promotions and focus on his ultimate goal: to be the man in the Michigan Wrestling Organization.
JJ HUGHES: The “Main Attraction” is about to fulfill the prophecy of his moniker. Currently embroiled in a continuing conflict with Great Lakes champion Bam Grizzlee, Hughes could be the sleep star that sneaks in through to the back door and shocks the organization by upending the champion and winning the MWO title. He is so talented that JJ is pretty much bigger than the Positive Promotions umbrella that is desperately trying to retain his services. Like Fraytown, if Hughes was to break off on his own, he may be well on his way to the very top of the MWO.
THE SUPERSTAR ALEX CROW: Fueled by rage and revenge towards the reigning MWO champion, Alex Crow is potentially Jacob Brawn’s most dangerous challenger whether he’s the No.1 ranked contender or not. Crow is not going away any time soon, much to the dismay of Brawn and Jessica Monroe. The Superstar is one of those superstars who can adapt to nearly any kind of situation. But based on his dealings with “Evil Dirty,” Crow knows what makes the champion tick and can use that knowledge to his advantage.