With the release of the CM Punk dvd this week having a lot of IWA Mid-South talk and clips, it’s put me in nostalgic place. If you would have asked me in 2003 if there would be a WWE dvd that was talking about CM Punk vs. Chris Hero’s 55 minute TLC match with me on commentary, I would have thought you were nuts. Then again, if you would have asked me if I thought there would come a day where I would be able to say that I managed the current World champion, world tag team champion and US champion in WWE and I would have thought that was less likely than the dvd option. I always said that IWA Mid-South had some of the best wrestling and the best talent that no one knew about. It was why I invested so much of my time, blood, sweat, tears and money into the product. However, the thing that gets overlooked and forgotten about the most is the camaraderie that the locker room had back then.
I don’t think there is anyone that came through IWA Mid-South in the early 2000s that doesn’t have some kind of memory of being at Wrestle House Indiana (WHIN). There might come a time when that apartment complex needs to turn that apartment into a museum because it would have had so many WWE superstars come through there! After all the shows, the guys would go out to J-Boys and sit for hours shooting the breeze. We had just spent the entire day together and no one was in a hurry to get home. Ben Neal, Brent Blades, Nick Maniwa, The Mayor, myself and more would sit at J-Boys until 4 am telling stories and bonding. Everyone genuinely cared about each other and wanted to see everyone be successful.
Sadly, that crew started drifting apart. IWA was forced to leave southern Indiana due to bad decisions, stupid political games and jealousy. The crew that had been around since the very beginning started getting phased out. Wrestlers were coming in from all over the place and it started to get cliquey. Then again, maybe it was me that changed. Without Rollin Hard, Mean Mitch Page, BJ Whitmer, Brent Blades…the guys that I was always working with…it was definitely different. Referees are so underrated. It is probably the toughest job in the ring because it is so important and yet the least recognized. Brent Blades was so much fun to work with because you never had to worry about him messing something up. There is nothing worse than a referee that is worried about his image. After Brent left, I had to work with refs that tried to play tough guy or would refuse to play the fool. It’s amazing how difficult it is to find someone willing to do it right and what a difference it makes on the show. It’s also hard to build a chemistry with guys when you aren’t working together often. Mitch, BJ, Rollin…they were there every show. They were willing to work with me and give me things to do. When they weren’t around the shows anymore, it was like a revolving door. Then there would be shows were everyone would come through that revolving door and I’d be out there five times in one night. That’s too much. It affects everyone because you can’t devote the proper time to each person. Things run together. Things get haywire and confused. Makes me think back to the days of Mean and Hard, Super Heroes and Super Mean with more fondness. Times that I wish lasted longer than they did.