While the indie wrestling scene may be thriving across the United States, you’ll often see the same faces on a lineup. Just as every territory had a few regulars back in the day, current indie companies have grown comfortable relying upon familiar talent.
Black Label Pro has set out to change that. The Crown Point, Indiana-based promotion strives to give fans variety, mixing established names with unknown talent to create intriguing, first-time matchups. “Every company in the U.S. is trying to follow the PWG model of using the same 7-10 guys,” says BLP promoter Michael Blanton. “We try out different people as we work our way through.”
A decade ago, Blanton ran another Indiana-based promotion called Fight Sports Midwest, showcasing indie standouts that have gone on to become WWE Superstars like Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins and Cesaro. Unfortunately, his mother got sick so he had to pull the plug on his project. But his passion for creating pro wrestling magic never burned out, and he decided to re-enter the industry earlier this year.
“Everyone is doing super indie shows,” Blanton says. “I just promote things I want to see.” Look no further than when the Faces of Fear (Meng and Barbarian) reunited last month to face Jimmy Lloyd and Nick Gage in a hellacious brawl.
Since September, Black Label Pro has developed a rabid fan base salivating over these dreams matches people didn’t even know they wanted. This Friday will be the company’s third show –“1st of tha Month” – and the entire card will feature bouts between participants that have never wrestled each other before.
ECW original CW Anderson takes on Everett Connors, Maxwell Jacob Feinstein faces Gunner Miller and Sage Phillips goes one-on-one with “Special Dark” Suge D. Phillips was originally scheduled to face Mia Yim, but she had to pull out of the match due to an injury on Black Friday. Blanton says she’ll make up her appearance sometime in 2018.
“She is one of those talents that is literally great in everything she does,” he says. “The indie scene won’t have her for long.”
In a tribute to Twilight, there will be a battle between Team Edward and Team Jacob. “A pop culture reference is way funnier if its 10 years too late,” Blanton says. Team Jacob consists of Johnathon Wolf and Air Wolf. Team Edward consists of wrestling’s favorite vampires, Kevin Thorne and Gangrel.
The main event will crown the first Black Label Pro Champion as “Filthy” Tom Lawlor faces AJ Gray. Now that both competitors have advanced to the finals of the Darkest Timeline Championship Tournament, they’ll square off in a style clash embodying the BLP spirit.
Gray has been training with noted Jiu Jitsu practitioner Dominic Garrini, also competing on the show, to prepare for Lawlor. Garrini has advised Gray to avoid the top rope, but it remains to be seen whether Gray will take his advice or dance with what brought him.
“Gray is a young kid, confident to the point of cocky, but he backs it up in the ring,” Blanton says. “Lawlor is a minimum ten years older than AJ. He has that UFC background and gets better every single show.”
1st of tha Month takes place Dec. 1 at On The Square Sports Academy in Crown Point, Indiana.
For tickets and more information, visit blacklabelpro.ticketleap.com.