AS I SEE IT: Two Great Stories Coming From WWE
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Two great stories this week: Drew Gulak and Steve Corino. Both have signed with WWE; Gulak for the 205 WWE Network-only cruiserweight show, and Corino as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center.
But like I said when I first started doing this blog, I like to write about the human beings behind the stories we all see…at least once in awhile. Last week’s story was the story of Bruce…who may well not be a wrestling fan, but gave us all a reminder of why giving at the holidays is so important, especially when we can do it at our favorite local wrestling show.
But this week the story is about Drew Gulak (who, as a side note, has been a big supporter of doing the above…more on that in a minute) and Steve Corino.
First, Gulak. Most of you know Drew Gulak’s wrestling background. He started in 2004 when CHIKARA Wrestle Factory and CZW’s then-Wrestling Academy had merged, and was trained by Chris Hero, Mike Quackenbush. He then debuted for CZW in a battle royal at the first Down With The Sickness Chris Cash Memorial show in September 2005. He was the promotion’s first Wired Champion holding the belt for nearly 18 months. He had a guaranteed heatseeker angle as he mocked Nick Gage from the ring, following Gage’s jailing on bank robbery charges, setting up a entire heel run for him.
He held the CZW World Title from August 2013 until May 2014, He ran the CZW Wrestling Dojo from 2010 to 2015. He wrestled for CHIKARA from 2006 to 2016 as Soldier Ant (part of the long-running Colony trio), and under his own name. He also worked for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Most recently, he’s been working for EVOLVE which, as most fans know, has a relationship with WWE.
My reason for mentioning him wasn’t to give you what Wikipedia can, but to talk about the Gulak I’ve seen. Part of his CZW storyline during his Wired championship was to play an activist character against “abuses in CZW”, and to advocate for women in wrestling. The gimmick fit because that’s the kind of thing Drew Gulak does in real life.
Gulak’s wrestling career started in April 2005 as a 17 year old, co-promoting a charity wrestling show with Maven Bentley, one that drew over 200 people and raised nearly $4,000 for the education of young children in the Delaware Valley.
Not exactly your typical wrestler.
But he’s kept doing this kind of thing over the last 11 years, advocating for women’s and other causes…helped out publicizing local wrestling shows for Toys for Tots on his own…simply because he’s a good person. So I’m happy to see a genuinely good guy get a chance with WWE. I hope he gets his due from a company whose use of the Cruiserweight division so far on RAW has been a major disappointment, and gets a real chance.
Then, there’s Steve Corino. Steve’s long career doesn’t need to be outlined.
The Corino I know and am happy for is the father who I remember from the days of the Premier Wrestling Federation, which now runs in the Carolinas (but originally ran shows in Norristown, PA). The shows were always fun, and acted as a sort of a DMZ where talent from various often bitterly competing indies could work and even hang out. But it being the daycare of sorts for little Colby Corino, who was running around trying to hit up someone for orange soda and cookies; along with promoter Rob Dimension’s two kids (one of whom is now training as a professional wrestler, and the other a beautiful young woman). Well, next year, Colby is moving to Japan to train in the New Japan dojo. The Corino I’m talking about was a dad…who passed on his love of wrestling…and a career to his son.
So congratulations to both Steve and Drew. May they do well in WWE. May WWE do well by them.
It’s officially the Holiday season. Holiday-themed TV ad after ad after ad. Hallmark Channel is 24 hour a day Christmas movies. People have mauled each other to buy, buy, buy. People were actually shot over parking places this past Black Friday.
But most importantly….in keeping with the actual spirit of the seasons, as I illustrated above… the season of light and the season of the Christchild, the wrestling community will reach out to those in need. Promotions throughout the United States and Canada (and this year, New Zealand) have held or will hold events to give back to their community, holding a wide variety of events to benefit various food pantries, fundraisers for homeless or domestic violence shelters…and Toys for Tots drives.
In my own area, promotions ranging from the family-friendly United Wrestling Coalition to the hardcore-themed Combat Zone Wrestling are holding their annual events.
If you’re a independent wrestling promotion, and you HAVEN’T thought of doing a charity-themed holiday show to give back to your community….time is running out.
If you or your local promotion plans on such an event, please send me an email to [email protected] to let me know about it.
43 events have been scheduled or have taken place so far…and the list is growing:
Events held thus far:
* Ring Wars Carolina distributed 250 pounds of grilled and barbecued chicken and sides to fans and those referred from an area food banks, along with clothes and toiletries on November 5.
* Hoosier Pro Wrestling returned to the HPW Arena in Columbus, IN on Saturday November 5 for their 18th Year Anniversary Show, and the 12th Annual Fireman’s Cheer Fund Toy Drive show . The show featured a packed house, collecting $1000 in donations and $600 in toys.
* World League Wrestling returned to Troy, MO on November 5. The event featured the annual canned food collection for the Bread For Life Food Pantry in Troy, MO.
* UWE Pro Wrestling brought its biggest show on 2016, the sixth annual Headlock on Hunger on Saturday, November 12 at the Wexford Civic Center, 1320 N Mitchell St, Cadillac, MI; collecting non-perishables to benefit Shepard’s Table. The show featured WWE Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. UWE collected over 300 pounds of food.
* On The Mat Charity Pro Wrestling presented a major show on November 12. This event featured Kenny Omega/IWGP Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks against IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada/Roppongi Vice; and former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi against ROH’s Dalton Castle. The event benefited Grace Foundation of New Zealand, a Christian organization that is accepting, inclusive and non-judgmental, in a manner informed by Christian values but open to all.
* Dalton Championship Wrestling returned on November 12 to Dalton,, GA in a benefit for Salvation Army, collecting “many” non-perishables for the Dalton Food Bank (and still counting), plus 2 large boxes of toys.
* Pro Wrestling King returns to Century Center, 120 S. Saint Joseph St, South Bend, IN on November 18. 50 non perishable items were collected for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
* Dynamo Pro Wrestling held a show on November 19th in Wood River, IL and will hold another on on November 26th at the Ready Room in St. Louis, MO, both of which are Toys for Tots show. The promotion has also been collecting Toys for Tots since November 7 at several additional locations throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.
* Reno Wrestle Factory presented Headlock on Hunger on November 19 in Sparks, NV benefiting The Food Bank of Northern Nevada, which collected thousands of pounds of canned and nonperishable food which will help The Food Bank.
* NCW and Henderson County Toys for Tots presented “A Night To Give” on November 19 at the Hedrick-Rhodes VFW Post 5206, Hendersonville, NC. Toys for Tots were collected at this event for Henderson County Toys for Tots. There was also a special concession stand that night with all proceeds going to purchase toys.
* Cross Roads Wrestling returns on November 19 to Riverside, NJ at 300 Rancocas Avenue, for “Fastlane to Pain”, which collected three boxes of food for the Bread of Life Food Pantry, and raised funds for Ben Miller, a local boy from Riverside NJ who has multiple disabilities, and recently competed in the Special Olympics at Rowan University.
* Primal Conflict Wrestling held its third annual Holiday Food Drive on November 19’s at “A Night To Remember X” in Harpers Ferry, WV. Just over 80 pounds of canned and nonperishable items were donated, that will go to the Jefferson County Community Ministries food bank. This was the most successful Food Drive so far, as there was over 30 pounds more donated this year over last.
Events that took place this week:
* Appalachian Mountain Wrestling came to the Sherman Neace Athletic Center in Hazard, KY on Thanksgiving night for a show, and collected toys for needy kids.
* NOVA Pro Wrestling returned to Fairfax, VA on November 26 benefitting FACETS Toy Drive, collecting 50 toys for kids in northern Virginia. The show features CZW World Champion Jonathan Gresham, Ring of Honor’s Donovan Dijak, and Chris Hero .
* All Star Wrestling/West Virginia returned to Madison, WV on Black Friday (November 25th). Santa collected “two sacks of toys” and cash donations to buy more toy for area children. He is still taking donations to buy even more for kids on his Facebook page
* Vancouver Island Pro Wrestling presented “Headlocks for Hunger” on November 26 at the Departure Bay Activity Center in Nanaimo, BC. VIPW collected five large bins of food Loaves and Fishes Food Bank.
* Chaotic Wrestling does the promotion’s annual Toys for Tots collection on Friday, December 2, 2016 at the Hudson-Concord Elks Lodge #959, 99 Park St. – Hudson, MA. Doors open at 7:15 PM; bell time at 8 PM. Bring a toy and get a coupon for $5 off any show in 2017. Bring three or more and get a free Chaotic Wrestling T-shirt.
* On Point Wrestling returns on December 3 at the Masters of the Mat 2 event in Williamstown, NJ. #OnPointWrestling is once again honored and proud to team with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation for a Toys For Tots drive! They ask all fans in attendance to bring at least one brand new, unwrapped toy with you to the show. They hope all will do our part to help give back, and make sure children less fortunate have a gift on Christmas this year.
* Hoosier Pro Wrestling comes to Columbus, IN on December 3 at the 4-H Fairgrounds in the Community Building for “Discretion”, Cheer Fund Toy Drive 2. Please bring a new or gently used toy to support the oldest charity in Columbus, IN, the Firemen’s Cheer Fund, helping kids in need at Christmas. The show will feature seven big matches with 4 HPW Title Matches, plus the big debut of Bayou Country Superstar from New Orleans… Edgrin Stone. Come out and enjoy the best pro wrestling around and help a great cause. Santa Claus will be there and taking photos to help the Cheer Fund!
* MCW Pro Wrestling will hold “Seasons Beatings” on Saturday December 3 (moved from the usual post-Christmas week to tie in with Toys for Tots) as a Toys for Tots show. Any MCW fan bringing a new unwrapped toy to donate will be given a MCW grab bag featuring autographs and more.
* Xtreme Intense Championship Wrestling presents the annual Hardcore With A Heart on Sunday, December 4 (5:30 pm bell time) at The Imperial House, Clinton, MI benefiting the homeless in metro Detroit. Already signed is a 6 man tag team war featuring “The Purge” vs The Monroes and “GQ” Gavin Quinn. Plus much more to be announced soon. Please assist us by donating canned goods at the event.
* Crossfire Wrestling returns to the Merritton Community Centre 7 Park Avenue St. Catharines, ON for “JINGLE BELL BRAWL V” Saturday December 3 (5:00 pm bell time) with a special Double Main Event. Partial Proceeds will go to The Niagara Peninsula Children’s Foundation.
* The Delaware/South Jersey based East Coast Wrestling Alliance already has Toys for Tots V scheduled for December 3 at the Woodbury Heights Community Center, Woodbury, NJ.
* NWA Texoma presents a benefit show for House of Hope- Blossom on December 3 at the Blossom Elementary School in Blossom, TX.
* American Premier Wrestling in Statesboro, GA presents BRAWL 25, a Toys for Tots show at the Statesboro STEAM Academy, Statesboro, GA on December 3.
* Pure Wrestling Association presents “Spirit of the Season” on December 3 at the Alpine Club in Kitchener, Ontario. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy and PWA will give you two colour posters.
* Brew City Wrestling will run its annual Headlock for Hunger on December 9 at the Columbus Club of West Allis (1800 S. 92nd St. in West Allis, WI) . The show features a food drive for the Hunger Task Force of Greater Milwaukee/Feeding America. Fans are asked to bring two nonperishable food items.
* CONQUER Pro Wrestling is collecting unwrapped toys for the kids of Florida Hospital for Children at the “We Don’t Play Fight” show at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford, FL.
* Live Pro Wrestling comes to the Knights of Columbus, 222 Queenston Road, Hamilton, ON on Friday, December 9 to benefit Caleb Davies, a local boy with Schwartz-Jampel syndrome.
* The originator of Toys for Tots in the Delaware Valley area, United Wrestling Coalition, presents its annual Toys for Tots show on December 10 in Wrightstown, NJ. In the nearly 20 years they have held these shows, UWC has collected well over 18,000 toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign.
* Northeast Wrestling returns to the NEW Arena (40 Peck Road) in Bethany, CT on Saturday, December 10 at 7:00 pm. Northeast Wrestling will again have a Toys for Tots collection in cooperation with the Marine Corps Reserve.
* Dynamite Championship Wrestling presents Chairs, Ladders, & Toys for Tots on December 10 at the Milford Community Center, 105 NE Front St, Milford, DE .
* Combat Zone Wrestling is doing its 12th annual Toys for Tots collection (in conjunction with the Marine Corps Reserve) at Combat Zone Wrestling’s 18th annual Cage of Death on December 10 at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ. The main event is Joey Janela/Conor Claxton/Matt Tremont/Jeff Cannonball vs. IWA Mid-South’s Dale Patricks/Josh Crane/Devon Moore/Drew Blood in the Cage of Death. The show will be preceded by an 2:00 pm DOJO WARS show, at which toys will also be collected.
* Ring Wars Carolina will hold a benefit for North Carolina Baptist Men’s Association Disaster Relief on December 10, which rebuilt local areas destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
* Xtreme Intense Championship Wrestling presents Proving Ground Season 2/Episode 4 on December 11, at The Ritz in Warren, MI with a 5:30 pm bell time. Proceeds will feed the homeless of Detroit. Featured match: Proving Ground Heavyweight Championship as Kongo Kong defends vs. The DBA
* Blue Water Championship Wrestling returns to Port Huron at the American Legion Post 8 on December on December 16th with a main event of heavyweight champion Sean Casey defending against Mr. Fitness. All tickets are $5 and a can of food to benefit a Port Huron soup kitchen.
* Chinlock Wrestling comes to Kingston Gospel Temple, 2295 Princess Street, Kingston, ON on Saturday, December 17 (7;00 pm bell time) with a night of professional wrestling in support of Kingston Youth Diversion, other local charities.
* Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling presents its annual Wrestling For Hunger show in Port Coquitlam, BC on December 17 at the Elks Hall #49, 2272 Leigh Square, Port Coquitlam, BC. 7:30 pm bell time to support Share Community Services and Blankets BC.
* Insane Wrestling Alliance presents Santa Slam II on December 17th at The American Legion Post 250 Middleburg , FL. The promotion seeks to surpass its total of 135 toys collected in 2015.
* Wrestling for a Cause has a December 17 show scheduled. Charity to be benefitted to come.
* Border City Wrestling comes to Tecumseh, ON on December 18 to benefit Adopt-A-Vet, to serve Canadian Forces veterans by providing clothing, blankets, stocking stuffers, and other basic needs.
* Great Canadian Wrestling returns to Oshawa, ON on December 27 to support Harmony Creek Community Food Bank.
Until next time….