Morris Mayhem 2002

Would you believe it if I told you that Eddie Guerrero, Rey Misterio Jr and CM Punk wrestled and “Sensational” Sherri Martel managed in a high school gymnasium in 2002 in a town that had a population less than the seating capacity of all the venues WWE runs?  What if I told you that 12 inches of snow fell the day of the show?  In March.  This was the kind of luck that IWA Mid-South had during our run.  This will be the story of what happened leading up to the show and the night of the show.

In my hometown of Morris, Illinois, the high school football team ruled the town.  It was a small town and almost every Friday night in the fall, half the town would be at the game watching the Morris Redskins pound the hell out of whatever team happened to be there that night.  In the 2001 Class 5A State Championship Game, the Redskins got hosed by a bad call and lost to Joliet Catholic.  Coach Darlington had a giant picture framed and hanging in his office that showed the Redskin clearly in bounds catching what should have been the winning touchdown but the homer refs called him out of bounds.  As you can see, it still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of Morris Redskins fans…10 years later.  I had my cousin approach Coach Darlington about me coming back to my high school and doing a fundraiser show for the football team that I had given four years of my blood, sweat and tears to.  Coach was interested and we set up a meeting to talk about the details.  Ian Rotten, Axl Rotten and myself went to meet Coach at the high school.  An agreement was made and the date of the show was set for March 2, 2002.  It would be IWA’s debut in the Chicagoland area and an epic homecoming for this 3rd Team All State Bench Warmer!

Ian, Axl and myself made a few trips to Morris to go to the school and make appearances on the morning announcements to hype the show.  One day, Axl cut off the kid reading the lunch menu and cut a fantastic promo about how the menu on March 2 would include chair shots, broken tables and mayhem.  As we left the library where the filming of the announcements took place, students rushed out into the hallways from their classes and applauded as we walked past.  It was such an awesome feeling to see how excited the kids were.  Unfortunately, that performance pissed off a couple of teachers who thought it was wrong that such violence was going to be taking place at the school.  They started trying to get the show canceled.  What bothered me the most was the fact that the teacher ring leading the opposition was a coach on the speech team.  The same speech team that I had performed on 8 years earlier.  The same speech team that allowed me to meet Stacy who is now my wife.  The same speech team that gave me great training for being able to do ring announcing and cut promos on wrestling shows (I’ll leave it up to each person reading this as to whether the speech team did a good job at that!)

Around this time also turned into the second flare up between Ian and myself.  The first one, was him forcing me to participate on BBW shows back in 1999 in order to play nice with Joe Bailey.  I guess that worked out alright for me because it led to the incident that made Tracy Smothers to this day, 13 years later, refer to me as “the toughest damn ring announcer in the business.”  That might be a blog for another day though.  Just because Tracy is so damn awesome, he’s getting a picture inserted into this story:

tracyme (1)

Anyway, back to the flare up between Ian and myself about this show.  He wanted to load up the show with guys from Carmine Despirito’s MAW crew.  I HATED MAW.  I hate Milwaukee.  I made the mistake of calling it “my show” since it was in my hometown at my high school for my football team and that I had pulled the strings and called in the favors to get the show approved.  That went over like cheering for the Packers in Soldier Field.  I did get my way on getting some of the MAW guys off the show and being the ring announcer for the event but I learned that IWA is, was and always would be Ian’s way or the highway and that I was just a gimmick “co-owner.”

The show was getting close and I couldn’t wait.  CM Punk vs. Eddie Guerrero.  Ace Steel vs. Rey Misterio Jr.  Bad Breed vs. Mean & Hard vs. Corp & Cash.  Chris Hero vs. Vic Capri.  It was going to be a fantastic show.  It was going to be a packed gymnasium.  It was going to make us some good money and give us a tremendous introduction into the Chicago market.  Coming off losing the House of Hardcore in Charlestown, Indiana a month earlier, it was going to regain our momentum and help us get a new place.  Well other than being a fantastic show, none of those other things happened.

Mother Nature decided to give us a kick in the balls and all week, the area was being warmed about an upcoming blizzard.  We had a show in Indianapolis the night before and quite a few of the Louisville fans were making the trip to take in both shows.  Indianapolis featured Eddie Guerrero vs. CM Punk vs. Rey Misterio Jr in a 3 way dance. After that show ended, we loaded up the ring and took off to Morris.  In my car was Ian, Axl, Maniwa and me.  Axl and myself were getting sick.  Axl kept belching and it had the foulest odor I have ever smelled in my life.  We kept bitching and Axl’s response would be “well that taste is in my mouth so it is worse for me!”  The snow started falling and we were singing David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” at the top of our lungs.  Over and over again.  As the night grew longer, the snow fell harder.  Axl began driving in the middle of the road and on the wrong side of the road as we drove up Route 47.  We couldn’t see three feet in front of the car.  When Ian kept yelling at him to get back into the proper lane (which was completely covered in snow), Axl would yell back “we are the only dumbasses on the road…we’ll be fine John!”  However, we weren’t the only dumbasses on the road.  Somewhere behind us was Big Daddy Vic Von Erich, Brent Blades, Uleesha and I can’t remember if anyone else was with them.  Either Brent or Vic will have to comment to correct the following if I get it wrong.  They see a snow plow and ask how far it is to the next town so they can stop for the night.  The snow plow tells them “Dwight” which is 20 miles south of Morris.  Uleesha then asked “is it open?”  I wish I could have been in the car so I could channel Chandler from “Friends” with all the sarcastic remarks that could come from asking if a town was open.  These are the kinds of things that I miss about being on the road.

Thank God northern Illinois doesn’t freak out about snow because people were traveling and we got 500 people to show up to the high school for the event.  500 people to watch wrestling with a foot of snow on the ground.  Therefore, I know it would have been a sellout or damn close to it if the weather would have cooperated.  Since there were only 500 people and the high school got half the money, it was like 250 people were there.  That wasn’t enough to pay Eddie, Rey, Sherri, everybody else AND have enough left over to make us money.  The snow kept the Chicagoans away from the show and left it more localized to just the Morris area so it wasn’t a major splash on the scene.  Nothing went right.  Even Chris Hero had an off night.  I think it was the only time in all the matches Hero had in IWA that I thought should have been better.  He just didn’t click with Vic Capri.  Michael Todd Morton Stratton damn near started a riot by praising Joliet Catholic before his match with Nate Webb.  I don’t think an IWA show ever had a louder pop than when 500 people cheered hysterically when diehard Morris fan, Charlie Clemmons, climbed up on the apron and punched Stratton and allowed Nate to roll him up for the pin.  The carnage in the 3 way dance tag match at the end of the night proved that maybe the teachers wanting to stop the show had a point.  It was too much for a high school fundraiser show and put the kabosh on ever getting to do another show at the high school.   While the next picture wasn’t taken at the Morris show, it does have Punk, Colt Cabana and Ace Steel whom were among the stars of the show:


You can buy the DVD of this show from Smart Mark Video (so you know you’ll get it quick and they get the proceeds) at

Smart Mark Video


2 responses to “Morris Mayhem 2002”

  1. Brent Charles Avatar

    As Vic said on twitter in the car was Vic, Hero, Nadia, Uleesha, and myself. Good times and that wasn’t even the funniest part to those of us in that car. It was either Hero giving a clothesline to some poor kids snowman, or the animal game we played an Uleesha saying the turtle goes “slow.”

  2. Mariko Avatar

    I have the original tape of this event, and I can tell you, this match was fkcniug epic. This music video does not do it justice, these two absolutely killed each other. According to the announcers, CM Punk had just fought in a 1 hour match the night before, too!Also, after the match was over, all the wrestlers came out from the back and gave them a standing ovation. Just one of the best matches of all time, period. Shame it never came out on DVD that I am aware of.

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