Posted in: Doctor's Orders Doctor's Orders: TNA'S Gunner, "Nice Guy" Mickey Gambino, and Josh "The Doctor of Destruction" Rose Impress in NC Independent Show
By The Doc
Feb 24, 2013 - 10:24:04 PM
Last night, I attended my first independent wrestling show in quite awhile. Held in Mocksville, NC, it was a benefit to help pay the medical bills of a man named Steve Frye. I knew nothing about Frye prior to last night other than his nickname, “Porkchop.” After three hours of inspired wrestling and one of the biggest crowds that I have seen for a show held in a gym, I walked away knowing all that I needed to; the guy must have touched a lot of lives. I would estimate about a 400-500 strong audience good for a roughly $4000-$5000 gate, not including the raffle tickets, food and beverages, and memorabilia. It made me feel good that a small town pro-wrestling benefit show could make that kind of coin in a single night. I am personally guilty of spending virtually all of my writing time on the big leagues, specifically the WWE, but it was nice to be back in an environment full of hungry guys trying to make it, mixed with the middle aged gentlemen that never could but still love to get in that ring, grapple, and entertain. The elite level in professional wrestling is at the top of a steep ladder; I enjoyed being around legitimately talented men eager for the climb.
The headliner of the event was North Carolina’s own, Gunner, the former TNA Television Champion. When you walked into the doors of a place like Brock’s Gym, it was pretty easy to spot the guys that have gotten a chance in one of the national promotions. Gunner was standing there, jacked as could be, looking like a bear amongst the tiny other creatures of the forest. As many of you are keenly aware from years of reading my columns, I do not care for TNA Wrestling for reasons I will not get into. I was not familiar with Gunner, but he certainly looked the part of a star on the rise. He’s got the look that WWE and TNA would want. In the main-event of the evening, he wrestled Damien Wayne for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship.
Prior to, there were a few different guys that made an impression. The opening match featured a young guy that could not be more than 22 years old at first glance. Going by the nickname, “The Absolute,” this young man from Greensboro, NC definitely came across as a rookie, but had the antagonistic tendencies down pat. I believe that the announcer referred to him as Sean Dunn. I could not find him on the internet, further cementing in my mind that he was relatively new to the scene. I was most impressed by seeing him periodically show up throughout the rest of the show lurking behind the M.C.’s table, studiously observing the action from some of the clearly more seasoned acts, such as the two-time former NWA Tag Team Champion, "Raging Bull" Manny Fernandez. You never know who might make it one day. My friend that came with me noted that the “Absolute” had a little bit of Rick Rude in him; he was very elementary in his “Ravishing” ways, but I could see what he was getting at. He had the slim frame that, if added upon, could create for the ideal pro-wrestler body.
There were three matches that I thought actually looked like legitimate bouts between men who were looking to do more than just be weekend warriors (a comment made with all due respect). One involved in a guy named “The Nice Guy” Mickey Gambino. I looked him up on the net and found that he was twice formerly mentioned in the PWI Top 500, ranking in the 450+ range but still making the cut. He had sort of your stereotypical Yankee heel thing going for him and hilariously made his entrance to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” He had a manager with him, Count something or other (wearing a Dracula cape), that worked the crowd well and added quite a bit to the live experience, getting the kids heavily involved for the first time of the evening. Gambino defended his regional championship (I did not catch which one) against Jimmy Jack Funk, Jr. Back and forth they went for nearly twenty-minutes before the “Nice Guy” used brass knuckles, calmly slid his way by the Count, knocking the son of the former WWE Superstar out for the three count.
Gambino was the heel of the night. From his attitude to his gestures to his ridiculously over-the-top gum chawing, he knew what he was doing and I was very impressed. He nearly started something with a fan sitting a few seats over from me, who was quite frankly annoying and was apparently expecting the lucha libre AAA style from a hodgepodge group from the east coast. I was quietly hoping that “The Nice Guy” might get a little aggressive with the fan and maybe prompt security to throw the old man out of the place. You don’t chant “boring” at a bunch of guys working their tails off for a benefit. Anyhow, Gambino got in his face and incited a little more heat from the crowd before triumphantly making his way to the back.
The best match of the night was Gunner vs. Wayne. “DWX,” as Wayne had written on his pink trunks, was not the heel that was Gambino or even another young man from earlier on the show, but he was eclipsed athletically only by Gunner. They had a match that made it clear who were the two most gifted wrestlers on the card. Gunner sold an arm injury throughout the match and Wayne went after it like a pro, using a few moves that you might see from Daniel Bryan. DWX was also quite the aerial artist, going up top numerous times for good looking, crisply executed air raids.
I’m surprised that Gunner has not gotten a serious look from the WWE. He is a big dude. “His thigh is as big as my chest,” remarked my friend. His strength and look, combined with his stamina (they, too, worked for something in the ballpark of twenty minutes and featured a faster pace than any other match) make him an obvious prospect. I have no idea if he can talk, but if he can, his days of working in gyms could soon be over. At 30 years old, he is no spring chicken, but things can happen really fast in this life, personally and professionally.
I thought that they might do a title change for a few weeks and have Gunner drop the title back outside of North Carolina. It appeared that they had, but Gunner pinned Wayne while his foot was under the rope ala Christian vs. Randy Orton at Capitol Punishment two years ago. Unlike that WWE match, the ref caught his mistake and restarted the match. DWX got the quick win with a roll-up and a handful of tights.
The match that nearly stole the show featured two men very much on the opposite ends of their respective careers. Representing the World Class Wrestling promotion based out of Virginia, the “WCW” Champion, the Iron Cross, put his title on the line against “The Doctor of Destruction,” Josh Rose. The Iron Cross was experiencing a bit of a homecoming, having wrestled his first match thirty years ago in the very same gym. The masked superstar, who looked a lot like my friend’s childhood favorite, Mil Mascaras, was making his final road trip outside of his own promotion, from what I was told. The D.O.D., meanwhile, has been wrestling for just two years, but has already become “WCW’s” Southern Heavyweight Champion. You might remember Josh, who I profiled a year ago.
If you look at the Doctor of Destruction now compared to last year, you can see the work that he has done on his frame. He still has some work to do, looking at him objectively, but he is getting close to Mick Foley’s body style circa the mid-90s. Rose, like Foley, does not have the prototypical wrestler body, but he is an athlete and he has the skills to make sure that his physical attributes work to his advantage and not to his detriment.
Last night, he and the Iron Cross did very well. Wrestling for nearly twenty-minutes, they got the crowd marginally into it by the time that the momentum had shifted a few times and had the people heavily behind Cross as they went into the climax. As someone who has spent the last ten years as a match quality critic for this website, I can tell you that no heel sold better the offense of his opponent than Rose. He paid attention to the details and accentuated his facials, something I’ve often highlighted when a wrestler is working against a masked man. The mask hides expression, forcing the opposition to ratchet his up to ensure the crowd’s interest. Additionally, other than Wayne’s crashing onto the hardwood floor and Gunner slamming into one very much steel ring post, Rose also took the bump of the night when Cross forced him to channel his inner Nature Boy and get thrown from the top turnbuckle onto the hard mat below.
I wish that they would have let him get on the mic before the bell. I saw one of his promos on YouTube last year and thought it was poignant. It would have put him on the spot to get out there with a live microphone, but I’ve seen the chops that make me think he could build his reputation more for his interviews. Imagine an independent show with only one hundred people there, but screaming their collective heads off, as into the action as can be, because some S.O.B. creatively berated them and their hero.
Anyhow, the Iron Cross got the win in the second best match of the evening.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night. I would encourage you guys to get out and see more independent shows. It’s refreshing.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: In any recent Independent show that you’ve seen, was there a particular wrestler that you think was worth mentioning that few of your fellow readers are familiar with?