It’s a millennial’s nightmare, and after this Saturday, it will be reality for either “The Selfie Superstar” Steve Scott or “The Selfie-Made Man” Vern Vicallo.
Whichever phone-obsessed competitor loses at Synergy Professional Wrestling’s “2nd Time Around” will forfeit their data plan for 30 days. OMFG!
“People in the tristate area say Vern Vicallo stole Steve Scott’s gimmick. People in New England say Steve Scott stole Vern Vicallo’s gimmick. I don’t care about the business end of it – it’s good entertaining shenanigans,” says Synergy creative director Colin West.
They’ve never wrestled each other, so fans are buzzing about this modern-day dream match. The online chatter has exploded to the point that West is moving the bout toward the semi-main event, just one example of Synergy carrying out its mission statement of really listening to the fans and giving them what they want.
“I want there to be a real sense that fans are part of the process,” West says. “I started on that side of the rail. All you really want is to feel a part of things and feel recognized and valued.”
Synergy is the brainchild of Dan and Heather Funkenstein, owners of Funkenstein Wrestling Superstore in Englishtown, New Jersey. Lifelong wrestling fans, the couple skipped their bachelor and bachelorette parties to attend a wrestling show in Manville, New Jersey, Heather’s hometown. “We’ve been going to shows together in Manville for the last nine years,” Dan says.
The borough has bred a passionate wrestling fan base that, unfortunately, has been burned from a couple of promotions in the past. “Companies that came in, took their money, promised them the moon, and then left,” West says. “They love wrestling, but they’re very hesitant to come back to it.”
The Funkensteins wanted to fill that void. Having sponsored West’s previous endeavors such as CTW Wrestling, an annual charity event that raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, they trusted his creative vision and management. Their goal is to provide a family-friendly wrestling promotion with a stacked roster. “Last weekend we were vending a show, and the music is playing in a room full of kids, and it’s nothing but F-bombs,” Dan says. “You can see the parents are disgusted. It takes away from the fun for the family.”
In order to run a credible, profitable New Jersey promotion, West had a few names in his Rolodex that were crucial to book: Matt Tremont, Azrieal, Frightmare and Jeff Cannonball. He also scouted talent from North Jersey and South Jersey, as well as Pennsylvania and New England. Having worked in the industry since 2011, he was able to use his connections at CZW Dojo Wars, On Point Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Magic, and the first indie promotion he ever discovered, UWA Elite.
“You don’t want to raid somebody else’s promotion because that’s unprofessional,” West says. “I cherry-picked a few guys from each place that never really get the chance to work with some of these other guys. Guys that connect with a P.G. crowd, put on a quality pro wrestling match and can operate with a strong sense of character. They’re not throwing out a highlight reel, they’ve telling stories.”
Synergy ran its first show in September, featuring eight qualifying matches for an ongoing tournament to crown its first champion. After the show, survey links were handed out to fans to give feedback on the promotion’s debut. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, says West, both from the fans as well as the performers.
“After just one show, the guys want to come back,” West says. “We’ve set up a situation where guys want to come have fun. They feel valued and they should. We’re proving that you can do a P.G. show with top-level talent.”
Fans will have even more input at Synergy’s second show this Saturday, as they will vote at the start of the show on two matches: Cannonball will face either Mike Orlando or Dan O’Hare, and Matt Macintosh will face the other. Both Cannonball and Macintosh have already qualified for the championship tournament. Two first-round matches will take place Saturday as KTB takes on Mike Del and Tremont squares off with Myke Quest.
KTB, formerly known as Kyle the Beast, has been building momentum after competing at Joey Janela’s Spring Break and doing a 10-day tour of Mexico with DTU. Del is no slouch, though, currently holding Dojo Wars’ Medal of Valor and having recently appeared on MTV’s TRL reboot with The Miz. “This is a match between two guys where their stock is going up,” West says. “I want to see what happens.”
It’s also been a banner year for Tremont, enduring a bloody feud with Janela in CZW and traveling to Japan to face death match pioneer Atsushi Onita. Standing in his way of another accolade is Quest, who may as well be the king of Manville. “He’s a guy that if you know New Jersey wrestling, you know Myke Quest,” West says. “He can go technical and still be a bruiser. It’s an opportunity for him to prove he can fight with Tremont, and an opportunity for Tremont to change the perception of death match guys. He’s not just blood and guts. He can tell a story and really work.”
In a cross-promotional match, Archadia will defend the Jersey All Pro Wrestling Light Heavyweight Championship against Drake Chambers, a man that West has managed in various companies over the past year. “People are playing ball right now,” he says. “Fans are more intelligent now than they ever have been so you can’t pretend other companies don’t exist. When people wonder what would happen if this company and that company did a cross-over show or that promotion’s title was defended here or there, do it. Worry about the money later. The equity is in giving the people what they want.”
Front row seats cost $25 and in addition to voting on matches, those in the front row will get a free DVD of Synergy’s first show. “We’re charging you the same thing that other people may be charging you for an independent pro wrestling show in New Jersey, but we’re giving you more, and we’re going to keep giving you more.”
Synergy Pro Wrestling’s “2nd Time Around” takes place Dec. 2 at the Manville-Hillsborough Elks Lodge in Manville, NJ.
For tickets and more information, visit www.synergywrestling.com