The Devil’s Rejects Went Down To Georgia

The Devil went down to Georgia
He was looking for a soul to steal

Everyone knows the famous song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band. It tells the story of the Devil, who is way behind on stealing souls, as he encounters a boy named Johnny and engages in a fiddle battle with him in an attempt to steal his soul. The song itself is a take on the age-old “deal with the Devil” motif. While the song is fictional, there actually once was a devil that took up residence in Georgia. The place was NWA Anarchy and the devil was the evil and sinister cult leader, Rev. Dan Wilson along with his band of malicious malcontents, the Devil’s Rejects.

Based out of Cornelia, Georgia, NWA Anarchy started up in 2005 from the remnants of NWA Wildside. Over its lifespan, Wildside had birthed stars like A.J. Styles, Caprice Coleman, Iceberg, David Young, Rick Michaels, Slim J and a whole host of others. It was pretty much a who’s who of independent wrestling in the early 2000s. Wildside shut down in 2005 after owner Bill Behrens took a job with the WWE. Soon after, NWA Anarchy took its place using a lot of the talent from Wildside. The building they held shows in was originally an old schoolhouse that started hosting wrestling in the late 90s with NCW, which became NWA Wildside, it was set up to resemble studio wrestling from the 1980s with a capacity of roughly 300 people.

When the Devil comes upon Johnny who’s “sawin’ on the fiddle and playin’ it hot”, he makes a bet with him. He bets a fiddle of gold in an attempt to capture Johnny’s soul. Even though Johnny feels like making a pact with the Devil is a sin, he accepts the Devil’s deal.

Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard
‘Cause Hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the Devil deals the cards
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold
But if you lose, the Devil gets your soul

The “Johnny” in this story is Jerry Palmer, a local firefighter who was the owner of NWA Anarchy. Palmer had been at war on and off with the Rejects pretty much since the promotion started. Palmer eventually decided enough was enough and put together a team to end the war once and for all. The first two members of his team were Slim J and Ace Rockwell, who had both fallen victim to villainous attacks by the Rejects. Slim J’s eye had been damaged to the point he had to wear a patch over it. In addition to Rockwell and Slim J, Palmer needed two guys who were not afraid to get down and dirty; Shadow Jackson and Nemesis, collectively known as the Urban Assault Squad, were fresh off a lengthy feud with Alabama Attitude (Adam Roberts and TC Carnage) which had culminated with UAS hanging Alabama Attitude with nooses. Palmer had his team and he had a stipulation – if his team beat the Rejects, he got five minutes in the cage with Rev. Dan Wilson!

But who were these Devil’s Rejects?

Deathmatch icon Tank and the massive Iceberg, who combined weighed over 700 pounds, were the foundation of the Rejects. They’d held the NWA Wildside Tag Team Championships for just over 300 days across two different reigns the prior year. Tank was just coming off a run in the 2006 IWA Mid South King of the Deathmatch tournament where he impressed by making it all the way to the semi-finals. Here, he was one-half of the NWA Anarchy Tag Team Champions with Shuan Tempers.

Tempers joined the Rejects after turning on his Pomp and Circumstance tag team partner Ace Rockwell, breaking his arm with a claw-hammer in the process. The last of the team was Azrael, not to be confused with the other Azrieal who wrestled in the northeast and for ROH. This particular Azrael, nicknamed “The Angel of Death” wrestled mostly Wildside and Anarchy along with a few Georgia independents. Finally, acting as a bodyguard of sorts for Rev. Dan Wilson was Dominus, a large and lanky 7-footer who looked like a demented Lurch from the Addams Family

The Devil opened up his case and he said “I’ll start this show”
And fire flew from this fingertips as he rosined up his bow
And he pulled the bow across the strings and it made a evil hiss
And a band of demons joined in and it sounded somethin’ like this

The Devils Rejects
Left to right: Iceberg, Shaun Tempers, Dominus, Rev. Dan Wilson, Tank, Azrael

The stage is set by a promo from each team. The Rejects’ Rev. Wilson and his band of demons, as the song says, are standing behind a panel of the cage. As Wilson growls and speaks, the whole crew simply stands there silently, ominous with menacing glares as if they’re already plotting their opponents caged demise. Wilson talks of a conspiracy to ruin wrestling in the building he made famous, that Tank and Iceberg were made to “laugh and dance” instead of being let loose to be the monsters they’re born to be. His mission is simple: he wants to burn NWA Anarchy to the ground and he’s going to use his merchants of mayhem to do so. 

When the Devil finished 
Johnny said “Well, you’re pretty good ol’ son
But just sit down it that chair right there
And let me show you how it’s done”

Enter Jerry Palmer and Team Anarchy, standing behind another panel of the cage, ready to unleash hell. They’re a rag tag, beat up bunch but they’re ready to go to war. Palmer lets his brigade do the talking. Slim J regales us about his eye injury as Rockwell similarly does about his arm. The Urban Assault Squad chime in with their own brand of unintelligible insanity, they weren’t necessarily wronged by the Rejects but they’re ready to fight. The highlight of this though, is Palmer. He comes in at the end with what looks like either an apple or a head of cabbage and begins grating it through the fence while screaming manically “Dan Wilson! This is your head, son! This is your head!”

Jerry Palmer explaining what he’s going to do to Dan Wilson’s head should his team prevail in the War Games.

There’s a hushed anticipation in the crowd as announcer Greg Hunter explains basic War Games the rules; two men start, after five minutes another person will enter the cage from the Rejects, two minutes later a person from Team Anarchy will enter the cage, and so on and so forth until all eight men are in the cage. After that, “the match beyond” begins and it’s submission or surrender. He also reminds us about the post-match stipulations – If the Rejects win, then Dan Wilson gets control of NWA Anarchy. If Team Anarchy prevails, then Jerry Palmer gets five minutes in the cage with Wilson.

Fire on the mountain, run boys run
The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun
Chicken in the bread pan, pickin’ out dough
Granny will your dog bite, no child no

Azrieal and Ace Rockwell are the first two combatants in the callous cage. Things get violent quickly as Azrieal gets busted open after getting thrown into the cage. The countdown begins and Shaun Tempers, Rockwell’s ex tag team partner, enters the match giving the early advantage to the Rejects. 

Rockwell gets lawn darted into the cage, the second member of the bleeding band. Azrieal and Tempers destroy Rockwell. Slim J enters the match next for Team Anarchy and makes an immediate impact with huge dive off the top of the cage, the crowd absolutely loses their minds! Tempers gets bounced into the sides of the cage multiple times, utter insanity in every direction.

Next for the Rejects is Tank, armed with a thumbtack covered baseball bat, a warning that things are about to get even more violent. Tank and Tempers pick up Rockwell in a crucifix position and throw him full force into one of the support beams of the cage.

Tank gets smashed with a thumbtack covered bat



Nemesis enters for Team Anarchy and he goes right after Tank. The following foray culminates in Slim J kicks Tank low, taking thumbtack covered the bat and wickedly wearing Tank out with it.

The last man up for the Rejects is the behemoth Iceberg, who finds a table underneath the ring. Chaos abound, these men have already destroyed themselves. Shadow Jackson is the last man in for Anarchy and now the “match beyond” begins.

Jackson powerslams the massive Iceberg. Jackson and Nemesis go after Tank with the meat cleaver. Azrieal gets choked with a noose and blood pours down his face. Iceberg drops a huge leg on Slim J with the thumbtack bat over his neck. This is violent as hell.

The table Iceberg brought in is soaked in blood and it hasn’t even been used yet. Tank and Nemesis fight in the corner. Jackson joins them and … MY GOD … A POWERBOMB OUT OF THE CORNER THROUGH THE TABLE!

Meanwhile, the giant Iceberg climbs an opposite corner, only to be met by Slim J. He’s joined by a member of the Assault Squad and … no … THEY SUPLEX ICEBERG FROM THE CORNER. The ring buckles. Everyone bounces from the impact. The crowd loses their freaking minds! All eight men are down.

Slim J is the first to his feet, he grabs the meat cleaver and works over Azrieal. Rockwell gets up and goes for Tempers. They’re tired, their bloody, but fuelled by hate they throw a few punches before Tempers swings a HAMMER! Where the hell did he get a friggin’ hammer from?! Rockwell ducks, Tempers drops the hammer. Rockwell gets the hammer and … oh dear Lord … HE PUTS THE CLAW INTO TEMPERS’ MOUTH AND PULLS BACKWARDS. This is hard to watch. Tempers screams from the agony of the hammer ripping at his mouth.



Azrael getting choked out with a noose

And now … Jerry Palmer gets five minutes in the cage with Dan Wilson. He sends Team Anarchy to the back, it’s just the two of them. Everyone is salivating, Wilson is going to get what he deserves for trying to destroy Anarchy. 

Unlike the song, the Devil did not bow his head in defeat nor did he lay the proverbial golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet. Instead, he got revenge.

Dominus shows up. Wilson low blows Palmer and the Rejects rush the ring. Palmer is outmatched and the Rejects lock the cage door. Instead of five minutes alone in the cage, five minutes of revenge, it’s now 5-on-1. Team Anarchy tries to get in, to save Palmer, but are constantly thwarted. Tank and Iceberg spike Palmer and the announcers are going berserk.

Greg Hunter on commentary yells “bolt cutters, dynamite, I don’t care! Get this cage down NOW!”

Trash is getting tossed into the ring. The air smells of a possible riot, the crowd is beyond pissed. Tank and Azrieal hold Palmer up by his wrists and ankles. Iceberg splashes Palmer and he’s hurt. He’s not moving. Iceberg issues another splash from the second rope as Wilson steps on Palmer and a Rejects member does a ceremonial three count.

One of the announcers on the house mic says “someone get a God damn ambulance!” Palmer is barely moving as he’s tended to by security. A hush has fallen over the arena. Paramedics have arrived and work on Palmer. He’s placed on a backboard, stretched out of the arena and loaded into an ambulance. The camera crew follows him to the hospital. According to legend, the crowd followed the ambulance to the hospital and Palmer had to hide in an empty room until they dispersed.

After the match, Dan Wilson and the Rejects are in the back. They’re battered, they’re bloody but it doesn’t seem like they’re defeated. “I told you to be careful Jerry!” Wilson boasts. “You got your five minutes with me but also got five minutes in the slaughterhouse!”

The slaughterhouse indeed. This match is as violent, bloody and emotional spectacle as any War Games style match you’ll ever see. It’s not really a match … it’s really a war. These eight men fought tooth and nail for everything they believed in. The 300 or so people in that tiny barn in Cornelia, Georgia that night witnessed something special. Something that can stand on the level of the most classic War Games matches of all time.