One of the recent additions to the Raw show was the introduction of Shane McMahon‘s Raw Underground, a shoot fight club that pits WWE Superstars against all-comers in a grungy old-school gym setting – which has caused many indie fans to notice it’s striking similarity to the Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) events known as Bloodsport, hosted by former UFC Champion Josh Barnett (even WWE Superstar Matt Riddle, who hosted the first Bloodsport, noticed the passing resemblance). While the show has introduced new prospective WWE Superstars like Dabba-Kato (formerly Babatunde), Arturo Ruas (former NXT talent Arturo Jaoude), plus featured Shayna Baszler, Erik, Riddick Moss, and The Hurt Business, the bulk of the cast – either opponents or audience – have been filled by either WWE Performance Center recruits or regional indie wrestlers. Here’s a look at the “unknown soldiers” who have appeared in the first two Raw Underground segments (shout out to Twitter’s The Local Competitor who does a fantastic job discovering all the featured indie stars on major programming).
Mikey Spandex, defeated Dante Marquis Carter (August 3)
The very first match for Raw Underground featured two Florida indie wrestlers, with Mikey Spandex defeating Dante Marquis Carter in the opening contest. If the two seemed familiar with one another it’s because on the US indies, they are tag team partners in the Florida indie circuit known as Task Force. The duo competes in Florida indies such as Pro Wrestling 2.0, American Combat Wrestling (ACR), Coastal Championship Wrestling (CCW), and others, as well as several appearances for EVOLVE Wrestling. Both men returned for the second installment, with Spandex losing to Arturo Ruas and Carter becoming Dabba-Kato’s latest victim. Task Force also made their WWE debut as a tag team this past Friday on 205 Live, in a losing effort to Ever-Rise (Chase Parker & Matt Martel).
“Upgrade” Mike Reed, lost to Erik (August 3)
Viking Raider‘s Erik showed up in the first night of Raw Underground and made quick work of a local talent. That wrestler was 16-year indie veteran “Upgrade” Mike Reed, a student of Larry Sharpe‘s Monster Factory. Originally debuting in the East Coast scene with East Coast Wrestling Association (ECWA) and New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC), he returned to his native Florida in 2010 and has since worked with Go Wrestling, Pro Wrestling 2.0, RIOT Pro, and others. Reed has appeared several times as part of Ring of Honor‘s Future of Honor series. Reed made his WWE debut this past June on NXT, when he and fellow Raw Underground competitor Mikey Spandex lost to Indus Sher. Prior to his NXT appearance, he made three appearances with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) on AEW DARK, in tag team losses to Private Party, Jurassic Express‘ Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus, and Joey Janela & Sonny Kiss.
Kai Douglas, lost to Dabba-Kato (August 3)
You’ll have to forgive Kai Douglas for not faring well against Raw Underground’s monster – he’s normally a referee. Douglas has been a longtime referee for EVOLVE Wrestling. Kai has previously appeared on WWE TV as medical personnel.
Chico Adams, lost to Dabba-Kato (August 3)
A student of the Wild Samoan Training Center where he was trained by Afa, Chico Adams is another veteran of the Florida indie scene. He made his AEW debut earlier this year on AEW Dynamite, where he was beaten in short order by Jake Hager. While this Adams’ first time on WWE TV, he’s worked for the company before – he had a dark match against Lio Rush for NXT in 2018, and last year he was in tag team action against Viking Raiders with NXT.
Ariel Dominguez, attacked by MVP (August 3)
Another student of Afa, Ariel Dominguez probably has the most TV wrestling experience of the lot, having been a star with Major League Wrestling (MLW) since 2018. The Miami native has faced the likes of Hammerstone, Daga, Low-Ki, Dominic Garrini, and MLW World Champion Jacob Fatu during his tenure with MLW. He had recently begun working for EVOLVE Wrestling this past January, prior to WWE’s acquisition of the company. While Dominguez hasn’t wrestled yet on Raw Underground, he made his appearance on the first night as the man attacked by MVP upon The Hurt Business’ arrival.
Vinny Mac, in crowd (August 3)
A third student from Afa’s Wild Samoan Training Center, Vinny Mac is a veteran of the Wild Samoan’s World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW), where he’s a 3x WXW Tag Team Champion as part of The New Breed with The Diamond Kid. Mac made his debut with WWE in a 6-man match on NXT against The Forgotten Sons, and earlier this year played the part of a bartender during Sheamus and Jeff Hardy‘s feud on SmackDown, but it wasn’t his first brush with the WWE – he auditioned for WWE Tough Enough in 2015. While he also hasn’t fought yet on Raw Underground, he’s been in the audience both nights so far.
Cal Bloom, lost to Riddick Moss (August 10)
The first of the WWE Performance Center recruits to enter the ring was Cal Bloom. The 6’5″, 255 lb. second-generation wrestler came to the PC from the gridiron, as he played tight end at the University of Central Florida, making four Bowl Game appearances (including UCF’s Fiesta Bowl win against Baylor University). If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because his father is former pro wrestler Wayne Bloom, who was a tag team specialist with partner Mike Enos in the late 1980s for the American Wrestling Association (AWA) as The Destruction Crew. Wayne Bloom and Enos finally reached the WWF in 1991 and were bleached blond and repackaged as the Beverly Brothers, competing in the WWF tag division through 1993. Cal Bloom has been trained by his father as well as the wrestling school in Minnesota run by former WWE and IMPACT Star Ken Anderson (Mr. Kennedy) and former AWA great Brad Rheingans.
Marina Tucker, lost to Shayna Baszler (August 10)
Yet another Afa student, Marina Tucker has been wrestling since 2016 and is the current reigning WXW Women’s Champion. Tucker was one of the unfortunate victims of Shayna Baszler’s debut on Raw Underground this past Monday.
Sofia Castillo, lost to Shayna Baszler (August 10)
Costa Rico’s Sofia Castillo is another product of the Florida indie scenes, with the likes of CCW, IGNITE Wrestling, ACW, and others, as well as the Wild Samoan’s WXW, where she’s a former WXW Women’s Champion. Castillo was the first woman to be pulled into the ring by Shayna Baszler during her 1-on-3 assault.
Emily Andzulis, lost to Shayna Baszler (August 10)
The woman who ultimately tapped out to Shayna Baszler on Monday’s Raw Underground is arguably the one of the three who had the best chances of defense against The Queen of Spades – former MMA fighter “The Pitbull” Emily Andzulis. Primarily trained in Jiu-Jitsu, Andzulis was signed as part of this past January’s class at the WWE Performance Center and originally came to the WWE’s attention after competing on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson‘s Titan Games show in early 2019. Following her interest in entering pro wrestling, the Knoxville, Tennessee native began training at her hometown wrestling school, Jacobs-Pritchard Wrestling Academy (JPWA), where she trained under Glenn Jacobs (Kane) and Dr. Tom Pritchard.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. WWE fan? You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network. Looking to talk wrestling, pro football, or any number of sports? Head on over to the LWOS Boards to engage in conversation with fellow fans!