Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at all of the amazing talents working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers, some are indie prospects hitting their peaks, while others are names to be on the watch for! In this edition, we take a look at a rising star in the US indies and one of the infamous Buffalo Brothers, “Unkillable” Kevin Blackwood.
For a good chunk of 2019, Albion, New York’s Kevin Blackwood wasn’t sure if he’d ever wrestle again. The promising prospect was a rising star in the Northern US and Southwest Ontario (Canadian) indies and was on a great trajectory to success when an ill-fated night following a booking in Quebec, Canada in the winter of 2019 nearly ended his career. In January of 2019, Kevin Blackwood – alongside other Buffalo Brothers “Red Death” Daniel Garcia, Kevin Bennett, and Puf – were driving home to Buffalo from a show in Montreal when their car hit black ice and skidded into a guardrail. Puf and Bennett received minor injuries, but both Garcia and Blackwood suffered serious career-threatening injuries – Blackwood broke both ankles and suffered head trauma. But following nearly six months of rehabilitation, Blackwood returned to the ring in July and has not only continued his beloved profession but has become one of 2020’s breakout stars, including appearances for All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
Kevin Blackwood began training with Buffalo’s Grapplers Anonymous wrestling school under head trainer Brandon Thurston as well as Pepper Parks (aka The Blade from AEW and formerly Braxton Sutter in IMPACT Wrestling) in 2016 and made his in-ring debut with Empire State Wrestling (ESW) that September at ESW Falling Leaves Festival Kickoff, where he lost to Vince Valor. He would pick up his first victory in ESW in May of 2017, in a four-way match against Valor, Cloudy, and Dick Justice at ESW BrawlFest. But at the same time, as he was making a name for himself in Buffalo’s indie scene, he was also breaking into the Toronto, Canada indie scene, debuting with Smash Wrestling in January of 2017.
Kevin Blackwood became a major player in Smash Wrestling early and by the end of the year had joined with his one-time tormentor “Hacker” Scotty O’Shea in Killscreen. He would also branch into other Canadian promotions, like Barrie Wrestling and Montreal’s Federation de Lutte Quebecoise (FLQ), as well as expand into the US indies deeper with the likes of Pennsylvania’s International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) and Ohio’s Rockstar Pro Wrestling. Blackwood had proved to be a quick study of the game and by the end of 2017, he was a ‘can’t miss’ prospect in the Northern US/Canadian indie circuits.
In 2018, he continued to solidify himself as one of Smash Wrestling’s top stars and continued to create magic in Canada when he debuted for Ottawa’s Capital City Championship Combat (C4) that summer. In March of 2018, he would join a promotion that would also become one of his regular stomping grounds, when he competed for Maine’s Limitless Wrestling at Only Fools Are Satisfied that saw him compete in six-way that also included Wheeler YUTA and fellow Buffalo Brother Kevin Bennett. Blackwood has remained a presence in Limitless to this day, most recently competing in December’s Vacationland Cup Tournament. But his momentum of strong campaigns in 2017 and 2018 came to a screeching halt in January of 2019 following the car accident. Now he had to wait to see if he’d ever wrestle again. And if he could, could he return to the position he once was?
Luckily, Blackwood made a full recovery, and made his return to the ring on July 12 at Limitless Wrestling’s 2019 Vacationland Cup Tournament, defeating Christian Casanova in the opening round, before losing out to Anthony Greene in the final four-way later that night. Blackwood was back and seemingly better than ever. Less than two weeks later, Kevin Blackwood would make his debut for Beyond Wrestling, competing on Uncharted Territory where he faced (and lost to) Daniel Garcia in the Discovery Gauntlet (Garcia had made his own return just a month prior). He also continued to expand his travel itinerary in Canada, adding Toronto’s Destiny Wrestling and Greektown Pro Wrestling, as well as Montreal’s International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) to his circuit. In November of 2019, he captured the C4 Underground Championship, his first title.
The year 2020 started full of promise for Kevin Blackwood, who had become one of the top stars in Southwestern Ontario and was becoming a bigger presence in the US indies. But then Covid rose its ugly head early in the year and pro wrestling – at least in the indies – became scarce. Shortly after making his debut for Florida’s No Peace Underground in March, Blackwood’s bookings went dry as the majority of the indies he frequented – or would have debuted for – shut their doors during the pandemic. But when Blackwood finally returned to the ring, it was for one of the biggest companies in the world – All Elite Wrestling. Blackwood and Daniel Garcia had been slated to work for AEW at their Rochester, New York stop for AEW Dynamite, but Covid stop AEW’s touring plans and they remained rooted at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. But thanks to prodding from one of his mentors and AEW stars, The Blade, the two would finally make their debut, appearing on AEW DARK on September 15, 2020, in an “all Buffalo” match, where they faced The Butcher & The Blade, followed up the following week with a match against Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela.
In October, he made his debut for Indiana’s Black Label Pro, competing on the card for the TURBO GRAPS 16 tournament in a match against another rising star in Tre Lamar. He was slated to face one of 2020’s breakout stars of the year in Lee Moriarty at No Peace Underground in November, but Covid protocols prevented Moriarty from competing and instead, Blackwood entered into a deathmatch with yet another of the year’s big stories in new deathmatch star Akira. With indie wrestling slowly crawling back to life after a heavy hibernation thanks to the Covid pandemic, it’s a sure bet that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Kevin Blackwood in a lot of new places (and against new opponents) when 2021 finally opens things up a bit. But one thing is for sure – Kevin Blackwood is a star in the making and his story has only truly just begun.
Check out our full list of previous Indie Watches, showcasing emerging talent from around the world!
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. 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!