June 4, 2022
Stateline Sports Complex, Loves Park, IL
By Dr. Abner Mality
ORION STARLIGHT VS J. MANNY
Independent wrestling seems to be on an unstoppable roll these days. Covid 19 hit it hard but didn’t knock it out. Since restrictions have eased, it’s exploded like never before. As proof, I look at my own area of Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin. Janesville has the JWA while Sycamore and Dekalb now have an indy league called WCPW. Out west around Sterling and Rock Falls, there is ZOWA. And of course, here in Rockford we have Damage Inc., which I’ve written about before.
Can we now add Adrenaline Wrestling to the list? Maybe. But they are going to have to inject more time and money into promoting it if it’s going to last. I became aware of it almost by accident, learning of their June 4 show in Loves Park thanks to the almighty Facebook algorithms. This group sure caught my interest, with a lineup of top talent that included Silas Young of ROH fame, Myron Reed the MLW Middleweight champion, former Impact X-Division champ Jake Crist and rising stars like JDX, Deon Rusman and Tre Lamar. Plus they had Rockford’s own Fearless Musa, a young grappler who appeared on AEW Dark during their pandemic era. Sounded like a surefire roster for a young promotion.
I ran into the promoter Jeremiah Bishop before the show on June 4. A real polite and personable young guy who was a wrestler himself at one time. Unfortunately, the show didn’t quite draw the crowd it should have. It wasn’t a complete bust, because those who showed were loud and enthusiastic, but really, more should have been there. Part of the problem is that Adrenaline Wrestling really needs to update its Facebook and other socials with fresh content. Like, every day. The indy wrestling business is like the concert business. You have got to push, push, push every day. Plus you’ve got to walk the miles and hand out flyers and posters. The only place I saw a poster for this show was the Stateline Sports Complex itself.
Jeremiah was up front about his troubles trying to sign the show in Rockford itself. That finally led to him moving it to Loves Park. He was also honest in telling me he had 10 no-shows for both in-ring talent and production crew on the last day. Silas Young, Deon Rusman and big Gnarls Garvin all had to beg off the show for various reasons. Oh, the trials and tribulations of the indy wrestling business!
That news didn’t exactly thrill me. But let's see what happens. So I endured what seemed like hours of horrible mumble rap and hip hop waiting for the show to start. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was kind of prepared for disappointment.
I’m happy to say, that didn’t happen. Every one of the wrestlers who showed up worked hard and busted their ass in the ring. The action was hard hitting and athletic and one of the matches, the three way between Myron Reed, Ace Perry and Jake Lander, was one of the best pro wrestling contests I’ve seen in a long time. In the end, I’m not sure if having the no-shows there would have made this a better show at all.
I was surprised to see Adrenaline using a six sided ring, like TNA did back in the day. Well, their roster is mostly made up of young high flyers, so the ring made sense and gave a lot of interesting angles of attack to the offense. No mats on the ringside area...it was more like real hard rubber with grooves and holes in it. Not pleasant to land on. And there were a lot of guys landing on it during this show!
The first match was between Alex Bernadino and Justin Fowler. Bernadino is a fixture in the JWA and has been wrestling in the NIL/SW area for a long time. He’s a solid talent who plays the arrogant heel. Fowler is a new name to me, but a guy to watch for sure. He was in excellent condition and hit a lot of crisp, hard-hitting offense. There was a bunch of loud jokers in the front row who made it rough on the talents they didn’t like. I can relate, as I used to be a terror to the heels back in the AWA days. At any rate, Fowler picked up the win in a brisk and and snappy contest that got my interest right away.
JAKE CRIST VS. J-ROCC
Alas, he didn’t have much time to enjoy it, because he got Pearl Harbored by a bald fireplug of a guy named J-Rocc. I’ve heard of this human pitbull, who hails from Cleveland, a fact which he loudly never let anybody forget. He beat up poor Fowler pretty badly and even piledrove him until none other than Jake Crist made the save. Jake is a great cruiserweight veteran who was part of the O.V.E. faction with Sami Callihan and his brother Dave in Impact Wrestling. Hated in Impact, he was a hero tonight, driving J-Rocc away and setting up a main event with the Cleveland bruiser for later on.
Next up was JPH vs. Nikeem Avent, two young African American talents trying to make their mark. This is a good spot to mention that Adrenaline had a definite orientation towards wrestlers of color, which is admirable and gives their promotion a bit of a different approach to the other local wrestling leagues. JPH came out wearing a kind of robot mask that lit up while Nikeem was wearing a flak jacket type chest protector that maybe he borrowed from Myron Reed, who’s been known to wear one. These guys had a good physical bout that JPH won. Maybe JPH and JDX can team up and call themselves the J-Boyz.
Matthew Hatter was a sketchy looking fellow with plenty of tattoos and a dour, street-tough appearance. No hat though, which is kind of a shame considering his name. He took on young Jake Painter, one of 3 Jakes working the card tonight. The contest between these two was kind of rough and some moves got botched. Clearly they didn’t have the same level of experience that most other competitors on the card had. I thought Painter looked a little better in his offense, but it didn’t help him in the end, as Hatter picked up a tainted victory. These guys need to keep working and get their reps in and they will finally get there.
After this bout, we started getting to the meat of the card. It was a triple threat bout between Myron Reed, Ace Perry and Jake Lander. This match was off the charts exciting and one of the best live wrestling matches I have seen in years. Yes, including the AEW TV taping I saw in Chicago. Myron Reed is a true star in the wrestling business and the current MLW Middleweight Champion. Unfortunately, the jokers in the front didn’t seem to know him and called him “Chris Brown” when he first came out. After the performance he put on, they were cheering as hard for him as anybody else in the building.
MYRON REED VS ACE PERRY
Reed congratulates Lander
Jake Lander is a veteran performer from Springfield, IL who has turned heads with his work. It has to be said that he is a small competitor, probably 5” 5’ or less, but built like a bulldog. He bills himself as the “biggest little man in wrestling” and lived up to that claim. Ace Perry is another experienced cruiserweight and the obvious heel in this match, dressed in white disco gear and sunglasses.
All of these guys busted their ass and put on a clinic. Reed was simply on another level with his quickness and athleticism, but at the end of the day, it was the heart and pluck of Jake Lander that carried him to a well earned victory. At one point, he carried both Perry and Reed on his back and delivered a thunderous Death Valley Driver to both, a move that brought the fans to their feet. He also launched a series to suicide dives to opposite sides of the ring, knocking both opponents in the guard rails. This was just a fantastic match and really showed the promise of Adrenaline Wrestling. After the match, Jake went over to a guy that heckled him because of his size and told him it was the size of the fight in the man that counted, not the size of the man in the fight. He just proved it!
After an intermission which seemed twice as long as announced, we were back with another very strong match, JDX vs Tre Lamar. Both these guys have been burning up the indy circuit the last couple of years, with JDX working out of Atlanta and Lamar doing a lot of work in Ohio. This was a super physical contest, with both men showing a lot of athleticism. Both hit some dangerous dives out of the ring and there was a “chop battle” between the two that made me wince. Some of those chops sounded like rifle shots going off in the arena. Following the excellent 3-way, this was a match that really sold me on the promotion. In the end, JDX picked up the win. I’d keep an eye out for both men, they’d be a great pick up for promotions like Impact or MLW.
Next were two young guys I was unfamiliar with, Orion Starlight and J. Manny. Working out of Puerto Rico, Manny called himself “the epitome of arrogance” and tried his best to live up to that tagline. This guy worked STIFF! I mean, dangerously so. There was one point where he dropped Starlight on his head outside the ring that had everybody in the arena cringing. I don’t know whether he needs more polish or he just chooses to work brutal, but somewhere down the line, he’s going to get a receipt he won’t forget. A battered and bruised Starlight got the best kind of revenge tonight...he won the match.
ROSE AND CASTLE
The sole tag team bout of the evening followed and this was one the crowd was really looking forward to. One of the participants was a hometown hero, Fearless Musa, born and raised in Rockford, IL. Musa was a graduate of Auburn High School and I actually saw him on a couple of episodes of AEW Dark during the pandemic-inspired “empty arena” era. Musa’s partner tonight was a very intimidating fellow known as Da Cobra. Together, Musa and Cobra formed a team called 36 Chambers. Any fan of Shaw Brothers kung fu movies will know where they got that name from! Their opponents were Christian Rose and Jaxson Castle. Rose is a real veteran who has worked a lot in the Midwest, while Castle was a small guy I was unfamiliar with. They were definitely the loud and cocky heels.
The two teams went at it hot and heavy. As much as I like Musa, I have to say Da Cobra was one of the most impressive workers of the evening. This guy just looks scary and has a body chiseled out of stone. Both Rose and Castle laid into him with heavy chops, which he pretty much laughed off. His offense was very stiff and serious looking. This guy just had “it” and people should keep their eyes out for him. In what had to be considered a shocking upset, Rose and Castle managed to grab a tainted win, pinning Musa in his hometown. That was something I wasn’t expecting.
After the bout, Musa got on the mike and said he almost quit wrestling at one point. He admitted he had some ring rust. But he did say that the crowd gave him heart and he wasn’t through yet. He really should have had a bigger crowd to witness his comeback, but I will say that what crowd there was was really loud and vocal during the match. I would encourage Musa to keep at it and someday he will get the match in Rockford that he really deserves.
That left the main event to finish things off, Jake Crist vs J-Rocc. Let me say a little something about Jake Crist. It’s guys like this that keep the independent wrestling scene going. Jake has been grinding it out for years with small promotions like Adrenaline, traveling who knows how many miles across the country and punishing his body to deliver entertainment to crowds from 10 to 1000. Many know him from his time with Impact and Sami Callihan. In my opinion, Impact dropped the ball with this guy, who should still be on the roster. Tonight we got to see a different side of Jake, as the crowd favorite taking on the bully and loudmouth, J-Rocc.
The match was another hard hitting and physical one, but seemed a little rushed to me. That usually indicates the earlier matches went a little longer than they should have. But there were plenty of strikes and dives from both men and they seemed to spend as much time outside the ring as in it. For some reason, J-Rocc thought he was in Chicago and constantly said as much, which is a good way to piss off a Rockford area crowd. In the end, Jake got his hand raised and the card came to a conclusion.
After the last bout, I was lucky enough to talk to Mr. Skyler Reed, who did the play by play announcing for the show. At some point, this is going to show up online or on a DVD. Skyler was a real nice guy and we spent some time talking about the old AWA as well as the Maritimes territory in Canada. I’m anxious to hear his approach to calling the match.
So this was my first experience with Adrenaline Wrestling. Despite the no-shows and lukewarm crowd size, the show delivered hard-hitting and athletic action in spades and had a very different style and feel to Rockford’s other hometown promotion, the more oldschool Damage Inc. I really hope they can come back. Mr. Bishop and his crew have got to hit it hard when it comes to promoting because the work will pay off. Especially in a very crowded indy wrestling scene that seems to be getting bigger all the time.
All photos with orange ADRENALINE logo provided by Adrenaline Wrestling and are their sole property.
All other photos by Dr. Mality