Southeast First Preview

Southeast First Preview

Matt Griffin thinks that independent wrestlers in the Southeast get overlooked on the national scene.

He hopes that Southeast First changes that.

A collaborative effort featuring eight different promotions in the region, Southeast First emanates Friday, January 21, from the Roger Spencer Community Center in Tyrone, GA. Bell time is 7:30 p.m., and general admission tickets remain on sale. The event also will be streamed live on IWTV.

The rec center in Tyrone is the home venue for ACTION Wrestling, but several other companies are involved:

Southern Honor Wrestling, based in Atlanta
PWX Wrestling, based in Charlotte
New South Wrestling, based in Alabama
TWE, based in Chattanooga
Southern Underground Pro, based in Nashville
Scenic City Invitational, based in Chattanooga

“The south does not get the respect it deserves,” said Griffin, a former independent wrestler himself and the promoter of ACTION. “We want to try to bring the Southeast to a better level of prominence and have some of these wrestlers who haven’t been seen outside the Southeast get seen. Sometimes, the only things you can find of somebody are a single-cam shoot on YouTube. There’s still a lot of great wrestlers here who don’t get the credit that some in the Northeast and Midwest do.”

Perhaps ACTION’s top talent is featured in the main event, as AC Mack challenges Alex Shelley for the IWTV World Title. You probably know about Shelley and his accolades and exploits. Mack has held the ACTION, SUP Bonestorm and SHW Titles. He also won last year’s Scenic City Invitational tournament. Griffin described the Mack-Shelley bout as “the biggest match I could possibly think that we could put on.”

Other matches include:

Owen Knight defends the SHW Title against Kyle Matthews

Jon Davis defends the PWX Title against Drew Adler

Rolando Perez defends the New South Title against Brandon Williams, Donnie Janela & Chris Crunk in an Elimination Match

Merc defends the TWE Title against Damyan Tangra

Violence Is Forever (Kevin Ku & Dominic Garrini) take on current ACTION Champion Arik Royal & Jaden Newman

Adam Priest vs. Anthony Henry

Landon Hale vs. Eli Knight

Bojack, BK Westbrook & Diego Hill vs. Ashton Starr, Bobby Flaco & Brogan Finlay

It’s not hyperbole to label this as the most significant event in ACTION’s three-year history.

“It’s been a long term goal for me to book wrestling that matters,” Griffin said. “If you draw 500 people it’s great, but if no one outside the building sees your show, what does it matter? This is 2022 now.”

Be sure to check this site on the night of the show, as we’ll be reviewing one of the matches from this event for Day 21 of our 365 Wrestling project!

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365 Wrestling, Day 10: Joe Black vs. Will Huckaby, Dog Collar Match (Southern Honor Wrestling, 1/10/20)

365 Wrestling, Day 10: Joe Black vs. Will Huckaby, Dog Collar Match (Southern Honor Wrestling, 1/10/20)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

With the free agent market in wrestling flooded in 2022, many promising talents run the risk of remaining relatively unknown or never getting the opportunities on a bigger stage. One goal of this project is, when possible, to spotlight wrestlers who I feel don’t get enough credit for their work. This match involves two of said wrestlers, Joe Black and Will Huckaby. I’ve worked as a commentator or “authority figure” at shows involving both, who put together a memorable feud that culminated in January of 2020 in Southern Honor Wrestling in a Dog Collar Match.

You can watch this match on IWTV.

The Match

An excellent video detailing their six-month rivalry runs right before the match. At one point in the build, Black blasted Huckaby in the head with a glass bottle, leading to a storyline eye injury that had Huckaby wearing an eyepatch, even on shows for other promotions or in different states. That type of storyline continuity is rare on the independent level, where two guys could be embroiled in a hated rivalry one night and then teaming together the next and it all ends up on YouTube by the following Wednesday.

SHW held a special contract signing at a prior event, where Huckaby slices his arm and signs with his own blood. Gruesome, but compelling. Both men are underrated talkers and Black especially shines through. This line stands out: “Your blood that you signed the contract with is gonna be the same blood I coat my hands with and wipe on my chest as war paint.” Yes. Sold.

A big-fight feel adds a lot to a match (as we’ve seen in offerings from New Japan and NOAH), and it’s in full effect here despite the more intimate atmosphere. The entrances add extra sizzle, with Huckaby and Black both dressed as homages to famous Marvel characters (the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, respectively).

What ensues is nearly 30 minutes of one of the most physically intense matches I have seen. Black and Huckaby start out at a slower pace than I expected given the “blood feud” build, but this allows more time for the violence to escalate.

Huckaby is in full heel mode. He delivers a knockout punch to one of the two assigned referees at the opening bell. After Huckaby powerbombs Black twice through a table at ringside (watch the table explode on the second, and half land on Joe in what could have been nasty), he threatens the referee still standing to get unlocked from the chain linking them. Huckaby goes wild, dismantling the ring to expose the boards underneath the canvas. Then, when a package piledriver fails to produce the three count, Huck starts removing boards, flinging them across the ringside rail in a melee reminiscent of watching Bruiser Brody run amok.

Meanwhile, Black does great work as the gutsy, undersized, fan favorite. He’s got the crowd support and summons the spirit of the character who inspired his gear for the match, taking a serious beating but “regenerating” each time. His offense is just as physically punishing, if not moreso, than Huck’s. Once the boards are removed to reveal the metal substructure of the ring, Black dumps Huckaby on not one but two front suplexes into the abyss.

Both men end up getting released from the chain, which takes away from the hype surrounding the stipulation, but they compensate for any disappointment with–you guessed it–more violence. We see blood. We see weapons. We even see green mist. Things spill out of the ring and into the parking lot, where hostilities are capped by a protracted brawl around and on a car in the parking lot before Black finishes it with a Falcon Arrow onto the front windshield.

Final Rating: 7.0

I’ve always enjoyed the dog collar match as the way to settle a feud for good. This one delivers. The escalation of violence throughout keeps the fans invested. Although the stipulation gets cast aside, it allows for a spectacular final spot in the parking lot.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

Things get Dangerous in 1992 for a six-man tag from a WCW B-show.

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