My hometown is probably the epitome of John Mellencamp’s 1985 hit song Small Town … quiet, rural, less than five traffic lights in the entire town, and everyone knows everyone. There’s not many huge events that happen in town, unless you count the chaos of the annual city-wide yard sales. I’ve lived my hometown for most of the last 30 years and the three biggest things I can recall happening are the opening of the local McDonalds (which technically isn’t even in town), a concert by 90s country/southern rock band The Kentucky Headhunters, and an independent wrestling show in 2011 featuring Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, Demolition, Sunny, and Dan Severn at the skating rink. And that’s what I’ve come to tell you about today.
Throughout the years, I’ve been to several independent shows in my area, most of which were HWA shows, since they were one of the dominant promotions in Southwest Ohio for the better part of two decades. There were also random promotions that would pop up from time to time as well, like Buckeye Pro Wrestling (BPW) and Xtreme Valley Wrestling (XVW). Such is the case with the Dynamic Wrestling Alliance (DWA) who promoted this particular event. A local promoter named Johnny Diamond started up the DWA in the late 2000s and they ran shows on and off that featured a lot of local talent trying to break in. Eventually that expanded into bringing in 80s and 90s WWF stars like Honky Tonk Man and Marty Jannetty for events.
I’d only been to one other DWA show before this as part of the Hamilton County Fair in 2009. Greg Valentine, who’d kind of become a regular for them, was on that show but just in a managerial capacity since he had a knee injury at the time. It was an okay show, nothing special, which is exactly what one would expect from an outdoor wrestling show at the fair. This event though, dubbed “Dynamic Destiny 2011”, was going to be unlike any other one they had put out there. There wasn’t going to be just one wrestling legend on the show, but this time there was going to be six! Not only that, but in addition to the matches, there was going to be a “mini fan fest” where you could meet the wrestlers and take pictures, get autographs, buy their merchandise, etc.
I wasn’t living in my hometown in 2011 (I lived about 30 minutes south of town at the time) but my friend Tim found out about this particular event through some of his acquaintances and once he told me about it, I knew I just had to go. On the way up, I stopped and picked up another friend of mine, who we all call Geo. He was hyped for the show as well. Tim was planning on meeting us there along with some other mutual friends of ours. In total, there was going to be about a dozen of us.
When we arrived at the venue, the parking was a nightmare. The way the skating rink building is situated, there are railroad tracks on one side, and the small parking lot is off on a side street in a residential neighborhood next to the local self storage center. I couldn’t find a spot to park for the life of me and the adjacent streets didn’t have on street parking. I called a quick audible and decided the best option would be to drop my car at my mom’s house. From there, Geo and I would take the ten minute walk over to the venue.
As Geo and I paid the admission fee and entered, waves of nostalgia came back to me. This was the same skating rink where I’d had after school skating parties in elementary school. I never could skate. I couldn’t do it then and I can’t do it now. The inside of the building looked as if it was stuck in a time warp. The same beat up and torn carpet, a skating rink covered in scuff marks from roller skates, same menu at the concession stand. Lights and a disco ball above the main rink were about the only new additions. It was a rough looking place in a rough part of town.
There was a sense of both excitement and sadness in the air as Geo and I located Tim and his group he’d come to the show with and exchanged pleasantries. I soaked in the environment as I looked around. Demolition, Ax and Smash, had a table set up next to the small arcade area. Behind them was a Skee-Ball machine and a Cruisin’ USA racing game. Across from them was a table with Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine. Down on the other end of the rink was Dan Severn’s table and Sunny’s table. Waiting for the event to start, we all chatted and mingled about. Tim and I even ran into our old middle school science teacher. The signal that the show was about to begin was a stagehand taking down the disco ball and a smoke machine belching so much smoke into the building that it felt like 100 bongs had all been lit up at once.
The opening match was two local guys, “Shady” Chris Zion and “The Virus” Parker James, facing off. There wasn’t much to it, just a basic match between two local guys. I’d never heard of either of them before and they didn’t pop up in any other local feds after this. It felt like a pre-show match of sorts in an attempt to warm up the crowd.
Following it was a promo featuring a heel manager named Cletus T. Coletrain along with his charge, Sgt. Ledbetter. The basic gist of this whole segment was that the DWA Internet Title, which had been won by Marty Jannetty at the previous show, was stripped from Jannetty and handed to Ledbetter. Afterwards, Ledbetter celebrated his title “win” with his cronies (a team named called Purple Reign), filibustered for a bit and insulted the crowd. Basic heel work. More on Ledbetter and Purple Reign later on.
Next on the docket was local wrestler Eric Trice. He insulted the fans and issued a series of open challenges. A referee and a planted security guard took Trice up on the offers and he defeated them with ease. Trice then offered a third open challenge and was answered by Dan Severn. The crowd popped huge for Severn when he came out and chanted “Beast! Beast! Beast!” Poor Trice had no idea what was in store for him. The match was fairly good with Trice doing a bit of stalling. Once Severn got his hands on him though, he dispatched him within minutes and got the crowd whipped up into a frenzy.
Next was the match the crowd of dozens in the venue had come to see, The Dream Team of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine against Demolition, Ax and Smash. To me, this was just surreal. Bonafide legends like these four who competed on a number of the early WrestleMania’s and held some of the biggest championships in wrestling, were competing in a ten-minute time limit match in my hometown skating rink. “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood blasted over the speakers and out came Brutus and Valentine. I was a little disappointed when we didn’t hear the familiar funkiness of Beefcake’s trademark 80s WWF theme though. That was completely rectified when the sounds of Rick Derringer and the lyrics “Here comes the Ax/Here comes the Smasher” bellowed through the skating rink.
Yes, these four were ancient. Yes, it was nowhere near the caliber of matches these four hand in their prime. But, it was a really fun match. The crowd ate up everything. Beefcake doing his usual strutting and cutting. Valentine doing the tree fall spot. To be honest, Ax looked like he’d seen better days but Smash was the best of all four and showed he still had some life left in him. The match itself was basic, nothing too crazy. When the ten-minute time limit expired all four celebrated to the crowd. There was a fun post match segment with the referee where Beefcake put him in the sleeper and Valentine put him in the figure four and he sold it like a fish flopping out of water. It was like a Roman being fed to the lions pretty much.
After the match, there was the intermission and my friends and I could’ve honestly called it a night right there after the last match since we had a feeling that it would be tough to match that high that we’d just had. The legends set up shop again at their respective tables, hocking merchandise and selling pictures and autographs. Tim and I went to visit Dan Severn’s table. He had the UFC title belt and for a nominal fee, you could get your picture made with him and said title belt. His prices were typical, $20 for this to get signed, $15 for that. I clearly remember Tim asking “So, how much for something that’s not on the table?” Severn looked a bit confused. “What do you have?” he asked. We both whipped out a copy of Swamp Zombies, a low budget horror film he’d starred in with Blue Meanie and Jasmine St. Claire. His eyes widened. “Where in the world did you find this?” he chuckled before saying that since the movie was so horrible, he’d sign it for free. He then began to reminisce about scenes in the movie that to this day I still haven’t watched.
Coming out of the intermission, the crowd was spent until Sunny appeared with the tag team of “Front Man” Evan DaMalice and Erico. She talked about how she was going to lead her team to victory tonight in the finals of the tag team tournament. They all stood around awkwardly in the ring after she finished talking and then left.
Out came Sgt. Ledbetter for the next match, where he was supposed to challenge reigning champion Vic the Bruiser for the title. Vic didn’t show up so Ledbetter was gifted the title due to forfeit. Dan Severn then re-appeared, talked about some contractual clause that entitled him to a title match. Shenanigans ensued then the match eventually got under way. As far as in-ring quality and work rate went, this was probably the second best match of the night. Mind you, it wasn’t a five star classic by any means but given the environment, it was a perfectly acceptable match. Severn put in some much longer time here than he did earlier in the open challenge against Eric Trice. Despite Severn looking gray and like a high school gym teacher, he still kicked some serious ass and ended up winning the title from Ledbetter after a pretty decent outing, as seen in the video I linked earlier.
Closing out the show, was the finals of the tag team championship tournament. Back again was the Sunny led duo of “Frontman” Evan DaMalice & Erico against a team called Purple Reign, who were aligned in a stable with Sgt. Ledbetter. I honestly don’t remember much of the match. Only thing I really remember was a random heel turn by Erico (which to this day none of us have still figured that out) which seemed really out of nowhere. Purple Reign was a decent team and did some fairly acceptable bumping and stooging around. There was post-match beat down and the crowd left in droves because by this point we were all mentally exhausted from a wild and bizarre night of weird independent wrestling inside a dilapidated skating rink.
In the time since this event happened, the skating rink has since been purchased by a local church and renovated. Some of the people in our group that night have since moved on. I still talk with Tim and Geo though. Looking back on that night ten years later, I still have fond memories of it: seeing all those legends in my hometown, having a wild night out with my friends, and running into my old eighth grade science teacher at the show. Even though the wrestling may have been subpar, it still brings a smile to my face whenever I think about this night. The night the legends came to my hometown and the night I had a brush with greatness.