While the indie revolution is often credited as being in the early 2000s, with the emergence of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG), Major League Wrestling (MLW), CHIKARA and Total Nonstop Action (TNA/IMPACT Wrestling) as viable alternatives to the WWE following the demise of WCW and ECW in 2001, there was another that had emerged a few years earlier that began to capitalize on the growing niche market of hardcore wrestling and pushing the new US indie style. On February 13, 1999, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) debuted with CZW Opening Night, and now this weekend CZW will celebrate it’s 20th Anniversary with CZW TWENTY, a loaded card to celebrate it’s past, present and future, as it continues to be a presence on the US indie scene, both as a viable promotion and breeding ground for new talent (with their CZW Dojo Wars series).
CZW TWENTY (2/9/19)
John Silver vs. Gary Jay
A product of New York City’s New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC), John Silver debuted in 2007 and became a CZW regular in 2013 (although he debuted in 2011 against a young Dalton Castle). A former CZW World Tag Team Champion with Alex Reynolds in the Beaver Boys, he’s also become a staple with Beyond Wrestling. He goes one on one with a Southern and Midwest veteran in Gary Jay, who has been wrestling since 2006 for the likes of Anarchy Championship Wrestling (ACW) in Texas and his local, St. Louis Anarchy, amongst many more. He finally made his CZW debut last year at CZW Proving Grounds ’18 and this weekend, two indie veterans will put on a showcase of what US indie wrestling is all about.
Kasey Catal & Brandon Kirk vs. Maria Manic & Mitch Vallen
Kasey Catal and Brandon Kirk of The Office had some issues with Maria Manic and Mitch Vallen that are still unresolved following their 8-person tag match at CZW Cage of Death XX in December. Kasey Catal is a 3-year pro from the Create-A-Wrestler school (trained by Pat Buck) who broke out in 2018, debuting with CZW alongside Kirk, who has been wrestling with CZW since 2015. Mitch Vallen has been a rising star with CZW Dojo Wars who is working more and more on CZW cards, and having lots of problems with The Office. He’s pairing up with “The Maneater” Maria Manic, who will be looking for blood following their loss at CODXX.
LuFisto vs. Leyla Hirsch
Former Iron Man Champion LuFisto makes her Combat Zone return this weekend, as she’s getting inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2019. But she’s not just there to accept an award, she’s returning to fight. The hardcore pioneer and women’s trailblazer will be facing one of the promotion’s emerging stars in Leyla Hirsch. Hirsh faced another indie legend at CODXX, defeating Mercedes Martinez, and will be looking to maintain her momentum and make another victim out of a women’s legend.
Wired Championship: Jordan Oliver (c) vs. B-Boy
Starting out in Dojo Wars and IWA Mid South, Jordan Oliver won the Wired Championship last October at Better Than Our Best and has defended it against Andrew Everett, KC Navarro and JGeorge since then. At CZW 20, he’s facing another of the weekend’s Hall of Fame inductees, in California indie legend B-Boy. It’ll be Oliver’s toughest test yet.
Jimmy Rave vs. “Warhorse” Jake Parnell
Jimmy Rave is a near 20-year veteran, who has been wrestling off-and-on with Combat Zone since 2002. A former Iron Man Champion, he was also a former tag partner of Lance Archer in the Rock N’ Rave Infection in IMPACT Wrestling, and has wrestled for Ring of Honor and multiple other promotions. The veteran is facing one of the great young talents emerging from the Midwest indie scene in “Warhorse” Jake Parnell. Parnell just won the Black Label Pro Indiana State Championship this past weekend and will be looking to take out the veteran Rave to continue his success in 2019.
Tag Team Championship: The REP (Dave McCall & Nate Carter) (c) vs. FEAR (Joe Gacy & Blackwater)
The reigning and two-time World Tag Team Champions, The REP, are facing their first title defense since winning the tag belts at CODXX in December, and they’re facing a reunited tandem in two-time World Champion Joe Gacy and former Wired Champion Blackwater, who briefly competed as FEAR early last year (with Dan Barry). Gacy has been with CZW since 2006 and Blackwater since he debuted in 2015, while The REP has been a threat to the tag team division since 2012. A lot of CZW blood runs through these four men’s veins, and most likely will be shed on the canvas as well.
Matt Tremont vs. Casanova Valentine
A battle of two monsters goes down on Saturday night, and under “CZW Rules” it’s going to end in a blood bath. In one corner, stands a man who has redefined CZW for the past eight years, in former CZW World Heavyweight Champion “The Bulldozer” Matt Tremont. A lethal one-man wrecking crew, Tremont has also held the Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) World Championship. His opponent is rising star Casanova Valentine, who started out in New York City with New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC). He made his CZW debut last June in the Tournament of Death, and now he returns to take down one of the men most synonymous with CZW for the past decade.
Shane Strickland vs. KC Navarro
Today, Shane Strickland is one of the elite level indie megastars who has dominated around the world with the likes of Major League Wrestling (MLW), EVOLVE Wrestling, Lucha Underground (as Killshot), Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), PROGRESS, Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling, PCW ULTRA, DEFY and more. The reigning PCW ULTRA Heavyweight Champion and former EVOLVE Champion, MLW World Heavyweight Champion, 2x DEFY Champion and Lucha Underground Trios Champion first broke onto the national indie scene with CZW in 2012, where he’s a former CZW World Heavyweight Champion and 2x CZW Wired Champion. He returns home to face one of CZW’s rising new stars, New Jersey’s KC Navarro who debuted in 2015 and has called CZW home since 2016. It would be a huge feat for Navarro to take out one of CZW’s prodigal sons at CZW 20.
CZW World Heavyweight Championship: Mance Warner (c) vs. Jimmy Lloyd vs. Dan O’Hare vs. Conor Claxton
Mance Warner defied the odds and beat former CZW World Heavyweight Champion Rickey Shane Page to become the new CZW World Champion at COD XX inside the cage last December, and on Saturday he puts it all on the line in a CZW Rules Fatal Four Way against three tough competitors. Jimmy Lloyd is the new Prince of American Hardcore and is bound for great heights in 2019. Dan O’Hare has been with CZW since 2014 and is still waiting for that big momentum turn, while Conor Claxton is another CZW regular since 2014 who hasn’t tasted Combat Zone gold since his run as CZW Medal of Valor Champion back in 2015. The odds are stacked against Warner in his first defense, but never count out ol’ Mancer when it comes to putting up a fight.
Hall of Fame Inductions
Also occurring on Saturday is the next round of inductions into the CZW Hall of Fame. Established in 2004, the CZW Hall of Fame currently houses 13 names, featuring Lobo, “Sick” Nick Mondo, Jon Dahmer, Nick Gage, Wifebeater, DJ Hyde, Ruckus, Robbie Mireno, Drake Younger, Kevin Hogan, Larry Legend, Toby Klein and Nate Hatred. The five inductees in the Class of 2019 are the following:
The first woman to enter the CZW Hall of Fame, LuFisto debuted in CZW in 2006 after making a name for herself on the hard-hitting Quebec independents in hardcore and intergender matches. A pioneer in both women’s and intergender wrestling, she was a semi-finalist in the 2008 CZW Best of the Best tournament, and ended Kevin Steen‘s 364-day reign as CZW Iron Man Champion, holding the title for 149 days herself.
A West Coast indie legend with the early days of PWG, B-Boy made his CZW debut in 2002. Throughout his many years in CZW, he showed why he was one of the indie revolutions early innovators, capturing the CZW World Heavyweight and CZW Iron Man Championships.
While he’s best known as a former X-Division Champion during a long tenure with IMPACT Wrestling, Sonjay Dutt‘s breakout in the national indie scene occurred following his debut with CZW in 2002. A 2x CZW Junior Heavyweight Champion, he made the finals of Best of the Best III in 2003 and won the tournament the following year in 2004.
Adam Flash was already a 10-year veteran of the indies when he debuted with CZW in 2001, having honed his skills in Maryland Championship Wrestling (now MCW Pro). During a 7-year run he captured the Iron Man Championship twice, before heading back to MCW in 2007. He retired from in-ring competition in 2014.
Detroit’s Messiah only wrestled for Combat Zone from 2002 through 2007, but he made the most of his six years with the company. He won the World Heavyweight Championship three times, as well as a run as Iron Man Champion.
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