Pro wrestling has been home to outlaw factions of top guys for decades. Ever since Ric Flair allied with the Andersons (Ole and Arn) and Tully Blanchard to form the Four Horsemen, pro wrestling has continuously built their own stables of top tier talents who chased all the gold, from the New World Order to D-Generation-X, to Bullet Club and The Inner Circle. While these renegade groups are most notable for appearing on national wrestling programs, they’ve also been a huge part of indie wrestling as well – although in many cases, they are built around stars on the rise looking to create names for younger stars. But for the Second Gear Crew, it’s been more about their personal mandates behind the scenes rather than their collective presence on-screen, as its members – Eddie Kingston, Matthew Justice, Mance Warner, AJ Gray, EFFY, and 1 Called Manders – continue on their own personal quests, often without each other. Along the way, they’ve even formed other alliances outside the SGC, but deep down, the SGC will forever be their home unit and one that, like the Justice League or Avengers, will still unite together when the call is put out.
So how did this unit come about? After all, it’s not like any of these names truly needed this faction to make themselves names on the U.S. indie circuit. Eddie Kingston had been a pioneer on the indie circuit for nearly 20 years, while the others were already making great strides as ones to watch over the past five years. But for SGC, it was more about their drive to succeed in professional wrestling than about looking cool together. It was a unit that was created organically over a mindset rather than one forced into existence by a promoter or simple desire to bask in its collective glory. “Well, the way it all went down was me and Matthew Justice, he’s insane, he’s a crazy man, I’m insane too–if I’m calling somebody insane, you know they’re insane, so me and him went out and had this match,” Mance Warner recalled in an interview with Wrestling Inc. back in October of last year. “Right before that matchup, before that fight, I had done another fight and me and this guy beat the hell out of each other, and at one point the fella asked me, ‘hey, man, did I do something wrong out there?’ And I said, ‘no baby. We’re just going to the second gear.’ Nick Gage heard that and got a pop out of it, but Eddie Kingston then heard the story.”
“So then Eddie Kingston went out before the GCW show and got on the live mic and told everybody, ‘hey when Mancer comes out here, chant second gear at him,'” Warner continued. “I had no idea. I was out back drinking beers. I didn’t know. So it was like a running joke, and then I go out to the ring and then the crowds chanting ‘second gear’. And you can see the picture. I’m smiling like a motherf**ker laughing because I thought it was just hilarious, but the Second Gear Crew basically was me, Eddie Kingston, and Justice.” With the initial trio complete, they were also assisted by a legendary pro wrestling manager – Matthew Justice was represented by former ECW manager Bill Alfonso, who had guided Rob Van Dam and Sabu during ECW’s heyday. Alfonso effectively became the J.J. Dillon to the squad.
— 𝖒𝖆𝖙𝖙𝖍𝖊𝖜 𝖏𝖚𝖘𝖙𝖎𝖈𝖊 (@ThrashJustice) December 1, 2019
That was in the fall of 2019, and as the months progressed, soon other members were inducted. “And then AJ Gray got in and then Effy got in and then Steve [1 Called] Manders got in,” Warner continued. “Old Manders, he’s nuts. That motherf**ker, him and Justice, they did a DVD off the top of a big-ass f**king scaffold at AAW through, not a regular table man, they found one of them God damn plastic tables that hurt more than anything. So basically, at the end of the day man, it’s a group of a bunch of madmen who on the road, we get along, we party together, we go to all the shows together. If s**t goes down, we got each other’s back. It’s like you’re going into war, and you want people in the trenches with you that you know ain’t gonna sell you and aren’t going to f**k you over. It kind of goes back to that old school wrestling.”
“The Second Gear Crew, as it is official, is Eddie Kingston who’s with AEW, so he’s handling all that busy stuff, Matt Justice, Mance Warner, Manders, and AJ Gray,” EFFY told Wrestling Inc. last October. “And we sort of came together as guys who were looking at the landscape of wrestling and going, ‘too many people are taking directions from people who don’t know what they’re doing, too many people are staying really safe within the lines and not trying to paint big pictures and too many people are missing the point of what we’re trying to get across in wrestling. It’s hey, ‘we should do a 30-move back-and-forth combo, that will really get them running,’ when really they want to see some big moves and some excitement, and we can bring them that technical, we can bring them all that but sometimes you just got to go to the second gear.”
In July of 2020, it almost seemed like the SGC had lost their spiritual leader, when Eddie Kingston debuted with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) in one of the companies most memorable debuts, cutting a promo that only someone like Kingston could deliver. Following his first appearance, Kingston became “All Elite” and seemingly had removed himself from the indie circuit. But now that the pro wrestling world is opening up, it appears that it was merely a brief step away, with Kingston returning to the U.S. indies on Friday night with AIW, which has been somewhat of the spiritual home base for SGC since their formation.
The SGC has collected a lot of gold over the past three years – Warner is the AAW Heavyweight Champion, Justice was AIW Absolute and Intense Champion, AJ Gray was GCW World Champion and Black Label Pro Midwest Champion and still holds the Glory Pro Crown of Glory and Southern Underground Pro (SUP) Bonestorm Championship, Effy is the reigning FEST Wrestling Champion and held the Freelance Legacy Championship, Inspire Pro Pure Prestige Championship, and Prime Time Pro Wrestling (PTPW) 51st State title, and Manders was SCW Pro Heavyweight Champion – and individually, they appear for dozens of promotions throughout the United States, from AEW to Major League Wrestling (MLW) to a who’s who of the top indie promotions up and down the East Coast. Speaking of AJ Gray, he’ll be the next member to head into war for World Championship gold following Saturday’s GCW Ashes to Ashes, when he finally got his World title re-match against Nick Gage for the GCW World title again, after attacking Gage following Nick’s title defense against Jordan Oliver. And while they most often enter each battlefield on their own or with other allies, when the big wars fire up, you can be sure that these wrestlers will raise the battle flag and unite once again under the SGC sigil.
Just Signed for GCW's debut in Las Vegas on May 15th:
*GCW World Championship*
Lio vs Starboy
Jordan vs Ricky Marvin
Effy vs Sheik
Second Gear 6Man Tag
— GameChangerWrestling (@GCWrestling_) May 2, 2021
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