#WrestleManiaWeek Preview – Blackcraft Wrestling: No Apologies (4/5/19)

In just its fourth match as a promotion, Blackcraft Wrestling is already headed to a show at WrestleMania Week, where they are set to present No Apologies.

Part of the GCW Collective events, BCW’s card features some of their regular performers, both the heavyweight and women’s titles on the line and some new faces. There will be blood, there will be destruction, there will be drama. Get ready for a card that could be one of the most intense of the week, and one that will definitely be worth watching.

Baphomet Battle Royale: Victor Benjamin, Lady Frost, Zicky Dice, Dick Justice, Gory, Kit Osborne, John Wayne Murdoch, Mance Warner, Dale Patricks, KTB, Derek Direction, Dave Dutra, Benjamin Carter, Royce Isaacs, Sledge, SHLAK, Stockade, Conan Lycan, Conor Claxton, Lord Crewe, Rory Gulak, Cory Futuristic, Pinkie Sanchez, Atticus Cogar, Anthony Greene, Casanova Valentine, Arik Cannon, Matt Light & Bobby Beverly

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

It may not be as star-studded as the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale or Honor Rumble but Blackcraft’s Baphomet Battle Royale features a group of competitors who have spent years on the indies making names for themselves, mixed in with some new stars who’ve emerged recently. Let’s get right to it with a quick look at the 29-person field.

Emerging Prospects: Conan Lycan (NY indie scene), Lord Crewe (Midwest indie scene), Matt Light.

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, the 33-year-old Victor Benjamin competed in BCW’s first battle royale at Burning Bridges before going on to win his first match with the company at Spirits of the Dead against Ace Austin. Just over one year of experience under his belt, Benjamin, known as the “Savage Gentleman,” alongside fiancee Lady Frost (who made her professional debut wrestling Asuka on Raw), have definitely made an impact in a short period of time, wrestling in CHIKARA, Nova Pro, Absolute Intense Wrestling and more.

Trained by Seth Rollins at Black and Brave Wrestling Academy, former punk rocker and high school wrestler, Zicky Dice, who turned pro in 2015, has wrestled for DREAMWAVE Wrestling, FEST Wrestling, IWA Mid South, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Combat Zone Wrestling, All American Wrestling (AAW), and of course, BCW.

An 11-year indie veteran with a patriotic supercop gimmick, Dick Justice spent his early career in the New York scene, where he’ll no doubt get a nice welcome when he returns. Justice has also made regular appearances for Absolute Intense Wrestling in Ohio, Beyond Wrestling, WrestleCircus and IMPACT Wrestling. 

The 32-year-old Jason Gory is a 14-year indie veteran out of Pennsylvania, where he spent most of his early career wrestling for International Wrestling Cartel and AIW. A 36-time champion across the indies, Gory has also wrestled for Vicious Outcast Wrestling, Fight Society, Renegade Wrestling Alliance and Premier Championship Wrestling, where he is the current champion.

Trained by DJ Hyde in the Combat Zone Wrestling Academy, Kit Osbourne has been wrestling since 2010, mainly with CZW. Osbourne, who is billed out of Philadelphia, PA and who calls himself “Not Your Average Deathmatch Wrestler,” is a two-time CZW Medal of Valor Champion and a one-time participant in the vaunted Tournament of Death.

A 17-year veteran from Tennessee, John Wayne Murdoch is known for his work in the Midwest indie scene with IWA Deep South, Main Event Wrestling and IWA Mid South, where he has been a regular since 2014 and is a five-time heavyweight champion.

Billed from Indianapolis, the 27-year-old and seven-year-pro, Dale Patricks is a staple of the Midwest scene, wrestling for Heartland Wrestling Association, AAW, Beyond Wrestling, Rockstar Pro and IWA MS, where he won the Prince of the Death Matches tournament in 2015. A hardcore wrestler, Patricks is also the current Anarchy Champion in VOW.

KTB, otherwise known as Kyle the Beast, is a six-or-so year veteran of the indie scene hailing from New Jersey. KTB is most known for his time with GCW, where he’s been since 2013 and is a former heavyweight champion. He has wrestled on two BCW cards before, winning both his matches.

Trained by Rickey Shane Page, the 29-year-old “Party Hard” Derek Direction began his career in West Virginia’s Black Diamond Wrestling. The Cleveland, OH, native is part of one of AIW’s most domination factions, The Production. 

34-year-old, 10-year indie veteran, Dave Dutra hails from San Jose, CA, where he began his career with All Pro Wrestling as well as for other California based indies, Pro Wrestling Revolution, Big Time Wrestling, Pro Championship Wrestling and PREMIER Wrestling.

A native of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Carter calls himself the “Prodigy of Pro Wrestling.” Trained by Rollins and Marek Brave, Carter recently took part in the Scenic City Invitational Tournament, an experience he called his official proving ground.

Billed from Denver, CO, Royce Isaacs is best known for his team with Jorel Nelson, the One Percent. Isaacs began wrestling around 2015 and has worked for Dramatic Dream Team Wrestling in Japan, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and DEFY.

The 33-year-old Sledge has been on the scene since around 2011, when he wrestled primarily for Vendetta Pro Wrestling. Sledge remains a largely West Coast wrestler, working for PREMIER, Gold Rush Pro Wrestling, PCW, APW and BTW among others.

A native of Atlantic City, NJ, SHLAK is a regular for CZW and GCW, where he’s been wrestling since 2016. Known for his deathmatch style and unique look, SHLAK has twice taken part in the Tournament of Death and the Nick Gage Invitational for GCW.

Known as “The Devil’s Outlaw,” the 31-year-old Stockade spent the majority of his 13+ year career in New York/New Jersey. A regular with New York Wrestling Connection and American Championship Entertainment in NJ, the 18-time champion Stockade has also wrestled for Beyond, CZW, Five Borough Wrestling, H20 and of course, BCW.

Conor Claxton hails from Pennsylvania where he was trained by Hyde and Drew Gulak in the CZW Wrestling Academy. Since 2014, Claxton has been a staple for his home promotion, CZW, taking part in the Tournament of Death four times. He has also taken part in Lord of Anarchy, which he won in 2016.

Trained by Justin Idol, Corey Futuristic has been wrestling for nine years, primarily in the Pennsylvania and Midwest indie scenes. Futuristic wrestles sporadically for IWC, BDW, Ryse and Five Star Wrestling. He made his BCW debut at Burning Bridges in the 10-man battle royale.

Wrestling out of Youngstown, OH, “The Master of Thrust” Bobby Beverly, has been on the scene since at least 2007. Beverly has wrestled for IWC, Fight Society, PRIME Wrestling, BDW, Ring of Honor, AIW, CZW, VOW and more. He’s a 10-time champion in his career, including his tag team The Young Studs with Eric Ryan.

NYC’s “Hipster Heartthrob,” Casanova Valentine began with New York Wrestling Connection in 2014 and has since worked for Five Borough Wrestling, VOW and CZW. Valentine, who took part in Tournament of Death 17, is a three-time Unsanctioned Pro Hardcore Champion, currently in his third reign.

The 22-year-old Atticus Cogar has been wrestling since 2015 when he was just a teenager. In the ensuing years, he’s worked primarily for MCW, Ryse, FS, PCW and IWC.

A 14-year veteran out of New York known for his comedy gimmick, Pinkie Sanchez, or “El Presidente” as he calls himself, has been wrestling since 2004, most prominently on the East Coast circuit. The four-time champion has twice taken part in Best of the Best as well as Tournament of Death VII.

The younger brother of 205 Live star Drew Gulak, the 28-year-old Rory Gulak has been a professional wrestler since 2008. Gulak has an amateur wrestling background and even briefly worked as a coach for USA Wrestling.

One of the most veteran performers in this field, the 37-year-old Arik Cannon has 17 years of experience on the pro wrestling scene. A native of Chicago, IL, Cannon has wrestled for companies such as IWA: MS, Midwest Pro Wrestling, CZW, Chikara, ROH, AAW, F1RST Wrestling, Dragon Gate (and DG USA), DREAMWAVE Wrestling, GCW and more. A former Young Lions Cup winner, Cannon has won 18 titles in his successful career.

Hailing from Massachusetts, the 25-year-old “All Good” Anthony Greene was trained by Brian Fury, Ryan Waters and Spike Dudley and spent his early years with Northeast Championship Wrestling, Lucky Pro Wrestling, Chaotic Wrestling, Top Rope Promotions and Beyond to name a few. Greene has also worked for ROH, Limitless Wrestling, CZW, Chikara and EVOLVE. He’s won 10 titles in his career.

The 30-year-old Mance Warner has only been wrestling professionally since 2015 but he’s quickly made a name for himself in the Midwest and East Coast indie scenes. Wrestling primarily for IWA: MS from 2016-18, Warner has also worked for AIW, AAW and CZW, where he is the current world heavyweight champion in his first reign. Considered to be one of 2019’s breakout stars, Warner also joined Major League Wrestling earlier this year and will be featured on five cards during WrestleMania Week.

The Essence (Harlow O’Hara & Vipress) vs. #DATSQUAD (Laynie Luck & Machiko)

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

New to the scene, Vipress was taken under the wing of Harlow O’Hara, who has only been wrestling for a few years herself. Together, the two are the Essence, a team that invokes the dark, gothic feel that BCW is known for. Trained by Robert Gibson of the Rock’N’Roll Express, O’Hara, known as “The Priestess,” began wrestling in 2017. In the ensuing time, O’Hara has wrestled for all the top women’s promotions, made her debut for AXS’ Women of Wrestling as Fury and is the current ICONS Champion for Battle Club Pro.

Wrestling out of Kansas City, the 26-year-old Laynie Luck has been on the scene since at least 2015. She’s wrestled for RISE Wrestling, Queens of Combat, Booker T‘s Reality of Wrestling, SHIMMER Women Athletes, Zelo Pro Wrestling, NOVA Pro Wrestling, AAW and IWA: MS. She is the current ZOWA Women’s Champion. Fellow 26-year-old Machiko, has been wrestling since 2012. A native of Fort Worth, TX, Machiko has wrestled for Anarchy Championship Wrestling, Metroplex Wrestling, IWA: MS and ROW.

Matthew Justice vs. Gangrel

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

A career that spans 31 years and 25 titles, the 50-year-old Gangrel wrestled primarily for All Japan Pro Wrestling in his early career. After two successful tours in Japan, Gangrel returned to the states where up until 1998, he bounced back and forth between WWE and WCW, wrestling a handful of matches for each over the years as well as returning to Japan for International Wrestling Association Japan and AJPW. He joined WWE’s roster full time that year and stuck with the company until 2000, where he became one of the Attitude Era’s most notable mid-card performers as leader of the Brood. When Gangrel left WWE, he returned to the independent scene, where he’s since worked for the past 19 years. He’s not quite slowed down with age either as he’s maintained a schedule of no less than 40 matches per year ever since 2012. Currently, Gangrel is the heavyweight champion for Vanguard Championship Wrestling and the West Coast Wrestling Connection Legacy Champion, in his 332-day-and-counting third reign.

Trained by JT Lightning, the 31-year-old Matthew Justice has been wrestling for 13 years, much of which has been spent in the Northeast and Midwest indie scene. After working a few enhancement matches in 2010, Justice enjoyed a short stint in Florida Championship Wrestling where he wrestled Mike Dalton (WWE’s Tyler Breeze), Richie Steamboat and Leakee (WWE’s Roman Reigns). Justice has won 11 titles in his career, including the AIW Intense Championship, which he currently holds. In addition, Justice is 2-0 in his BCW career.

Masato Tanaka vs. Chris Dickinson

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

A 25-year-veteran, the 46-year-old Masato Tanaka is praised as one of the toughest, most brutal Japanese wrestlers to ever compete in the U.S. Tanaka first got his start in the business with Frontier Martial Arts, the top hardcore promotion in Japan. In 1998, Tanaka joined ECW and put on some of the best insane, hardcore matches in a promotion that was known for insane, hardcore matches so that’s certainly saying something. In ECW, Tanaka, a two-time tag team champion and one-time world heavyweight champion, put his body on the line as there was no risk he wasn’t willing to take. After his successful run in ECW, Tanaka returned to Japan where he continued to make a name for himself in AJPW and Pro Wrestling ZERO1. In 2008, he began working regularly for NJPW, and in 2014 he began working regularly for Pro Wrestling NOAH as well. Tanaka has won 37 titles and from Japan to the United Kingdom to the U.S. to Mexico and beyond, is still an attraction everywhere he goes.

Also trained in martial arts, the 31-year-old Chris Dickinson got his start when he was just 15 years old. Training and wrestling in his native New York and nearby New Jersey, Dickinson broke onto the scene with Jersey All Pro Wrestling, Beyond and AIW. He made his EVOLVE debut in 2010, where he would later become a regular. Wrestling primarily with Beyond until 2015, Dickinson also spent significant time with CZW and GCW, where he developed a reputation for his hardcore and hard-hitting style. An 11-time champion, Dickinson is perhaps best known for his tag team Catch Point, where alongside Jaka, he had a record-breaking 400-day reign with the EVOLVE tag team titles.

Devil’s Den Match: Jimmy Havoc vs. G-Raver

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

Jimmy Havoc and G-Raver are set to meet in a devil’s den match, where the ring is surrounded by 300 feet of steel chains and hooks. So really, it’s just your average playground for these two deathmatch wrestlers.

Wrestling out of Lancaster, PA, G-Raver is an 11-year-veteran of the scene, who has wrestled for VOW, CZW, GCW and several other hardcore indie promotions. In his career, Raver has taken part in tournaments such as VOW’s Lord of Anarchy, IWA: MS’s King of The Death Matches, Carnage Cup, Tournament of Death, Crimson Cup, the Nick Gage Invitational and On Point Wrestling’s Survival of the Sickest. He’s won 19 titles in his career.

The 35-year-old Havoc has been wrestling for 15 years and has been praised by many as one of the best deathmatch workers ever, due to style, substance and storytelling. Havoc’s career began with NWA Hammerlock and he’s since worked up and down the UK scene, wrestling for all the top companies. In 2012, he received his first big opportunity, becoming the focal point of the brand new PROGRESS Wrestling, where his world title reign is still one of the best in company history. Always someone who took part in the Tournament of Death for CZW, it wasn’t until recently that Havoc really began to break into the American indie scene, where he now wrestles regularly for MLW and is set to join All Elite Wrestling.

666 Man Scramble: Matt Cross vs. Luchasaurus vs. Teddy Hart vs. Cortez Castro vs. Fenix vs. Mecha Wolf 450

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

Featuring six extremely talented wrestlers, the winner of the 666 Man Scramble will be named the new #1 contender to the BCW world title.

Cortez Castro – A 20-year veteran and 28-time champion, Cortez Castro, otherwise known as Ricky Reyes, has had an extensive career, wrestling pretty much everywhere. The 40-year-old began wrestling in 1998 NJPW in 2002. The following year, Castro debuted for Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre and the year after that, debuted for ROH, where alongside Havana Pitbulls teammate Rocky Romero, he was one-half of the tag team champions, a title they held for 196 days.

Matt Cross – A 37-year-old 19-year indie veteran, Matt Cross has been wrestling since 1999 and has worked for most of the top U.S. indies including CZW, AIW, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, AAW, Chikara and more. Cross also worked All In. He is a former IWA: MS Heavyweight Champion and first ever Smash Champion. His popularity grew after his debut with LU in 2014 as the masked Son of Havoc, where he’s a three-time Lucha Underground Trios Champion.

Luchasaurus – The 34-year-old Austin Matelson, current ring name Luchasaurus, began his career in 2009. Three years later, he made his way to FCW/NXT as Judas Devlin. Things didn’t quite pan out but in 2016, Matelson received another big opportunity, as he took on the role of Vibora in LU, where he is a former trios champion. In 2018, Luchasaurus joined ROH.

Mecha Wolf – Arguably the best wrestler that Puerto Rico has to offer, the 31-year-old Mecha Wolf has been wrestling for 17 years. He began his career with World Wrestling Council and IWA Puerto Rico before making his way stateside where he’s wrestled for AAW, IWA: MS, DREAMWAVE Wrestling, Full Impact Pro and more. Recently, Mecha Wolf, who spent some time working as enhancement talent in WWE, has been known for his work in The Crash. He’s won 20 titles in his career.

Teddy Hart – Trained by Bruce Hart and Dory Funk Jr. in the Hart Dungeon, the 39-year-old Teddy Hart spent his early years wrestling for the family’s Stampede Wrestling and Can-Am Wrestling Federation. Finding his way to WWE, ROH and IMPACT for brief stints in the early 2000s, Hart was brought into WWE’s developmental territories of Ohio Valley Wrestling and FCW in 2007. Falling into bad habits, Hart’s time with WWE didn’t last but recently, he’s been in the midst of an incredible comeback that has seen him land tons of indie bookings including with MLW, where he is currently the Middleweight and tag team champion, alongside the Hart Foundation.

Rey Fenix – One of the most exciting wrestlers on the scene today, Rey Fenix is one half of the Lucha Brothers but he’s also found success as a singles star. He’s won 21 titles, four of which he still holds, including the Lucha Libre AAA World Heavyweight Championship. Known for his time in AAA, Fenix’ big break came when he was chosen to take part in LU. There he received national, televised exposure. Upon briefly leaving AAA and Mexico for more opportunities in the U.S. in 2017, Fenix blew up as a household name, wrestling over 250 matches over the next two years. He’s signed to AEW, but also wrestles for MLW, AAW, The Crash, AAA and IMPACT Wrestling regularly.

Blackcraft Women’s Championship: Saraya Knight (c) vs. Maria Manic

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

Saraya Knight, otherwise known as Sweet Saraya, has been dominating and revolutionizing women’s wrestling since she began her career in 1990. A 46-year-old promoter, trainer, and wrestler, Knight helps run World Association of Wrestling alongside her husband. In her career, Knight has worked for all of the top women’s promotions with the exception of Stardom. Additionally, she’s wrestled for AAW, Southside Wrestling Entertainment, IPW:UK, WWN, IMPACT and more. She also runs her own promotion, Bellatrix Female Warriors. Knight has traveled the world in her career and has won 20 titles.

Just 22-years-old and with just three years experience, Maria Manic has already emerged as one to watch on the indie scene. Trained by Matt Tremont, it’s no surprise that Manic has spent much of her career with CZW and H20, where she’s adopted a hardcore style. Manic has also worked for QOC, Women Superstars Uncensored, WWR, SHINE, IWA: MS, VOW and more. She’s won four titles in her career, including two of which she still holds.

Blackcraft Heavyweight Championship: Johnny Blackcraft vs. David Starr

Photo: Blackcraft Wrestling

Billed from Philadelphia, PA, the 28-year-old David Starr began wrestling in 2012 and is consistently lauded as one of the best (and most active) independent wrestlers not currently signed to or working with a major/televised company. Known for his early work in in the Northeast, Midwest and Pennsylvania indie scene, Starr began working in the UK in 2016, where he’s been a regular for PROGRESS, Revolution Pro Wrestling and International Pro Wrestling UK. Starr is also a regular for Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling. A former Best of the Best winner and Battle of Los Angeles participant, Starr has won 18 titles in his career including two he currently holds in RevPro and IPW: UK.

The 39-year-old, 17-year veteran, Johnny Blackcraft is best known for his run in WWE. As John Morrison/Johnny Blaze/Johnny Nitro, Blackcraft, a winner of Tough Enough, spent 11 years with the company and won nine championships. In 2012, Blackcraft and WWE mutually parted ways, exposing the former WWE wrestler and parkour expert to the indies for the first-time. In 2014, Blackcraft re-emerged on the national scene taking part in LU, where as Johnny Mundo, he won all three titles the promotion had to offer. He currently wrestles full time for IMPACT, where he is the world champion, but has also worked for MLW, AAA, World Series Wrestling, PCW ULTRA and AAW. Overall, Blackcraft has won 25 titles in his career.

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