Who will lead OCW into the new era? By James Winfield
On June 1st, 2013, OCW held a very special event. Long time OCW competitor, “The Hot Commodity” Matt Mason unfortunately had been forced to retire due to a severe knee injury. It was a bitter sweet night as the OCW roster put on one hell of a show as a proper way to say “thank you” to one of the most talented and well respected wrestlers not just in OCW but in the entire state of Ohio. This night brought a whole spectrum of emotions from everywhere from nostalgic happiness of looking back at the great career of Matt Mason, to heartbreak and sadness that a veteran who had been a huge part of so many of the other wrestlers careers was having to hang up to boots, to respect for all that the HC had done in his time in OCW. But there was another sense of emotion among certain wrestlers in the locker room. Among particular younger members of the OCW roster you saw hunger. OCW currently has a wealth of hungry, young talent that now realize that it could be their time to up their game and try to break through into the upper tier of the OCW roster. Matt had taken many of the young talent under his wing with every intention that when he was finally going to leave the squared circle once and for all he would pass the torch down to the younger generation. And as he gave his fairwell speech with the entire roster watching at ringside you could see the hunger in the eyes of certain talent. Matt Mason had set the torch down and they were going to do anything to make sure they were the ones to pick up this torch and run with it till they were ready to pass it on themselves. But it is going to take more than that drive to be the top guy and a few lessons from The HC to truly be the guy to deserve that torch. As we move into this new era for Ohio Championship Wrestling we need someone who can truly be considered a leader among men.
One night captured the essence of just how determined this next generation is to chase after and grab the proverbial brass ring. And on this night, it was actually a literal brass ring! On September 14th, 2013, OCW held “Fast Times at Hopewell School” and unveiled the very first Ascension Match! It was a new concept where the entire roster began on the floor of the building and had to fight to climb over the top rope and into the ring with the first four men to do so moving onto a ladder match later that evening with the winner receiving a guaranteed OCW Heavyweight Title shot. The four men to advance to the ladder match portion were the masked sensation Takahashi, one half of the OCW tag team champions at the time Joey Vengeance, the arrogant young “No Shame” Jimmy Shane, and the man who held the Ohio Heritage Championship at the time “Darkstar” Matt Taylor (who had actually stolen Juice Jennings spot by tossing the other half of the then tag team champions out of the ring when the referee was distracted). These four men gave it their all but it was Takahashi who came out on top on this night by grabbing the brass ring and getting himself a guaranteed OCW title shot against “Big Guns” Jeff Cannon.
Takahashi shocked everyone by winning the ladder match being the definite underdog in the equation. The mysterious masked man had been proving himself consistently to be a skilled high flyer ever since debuting in the company back in the summer of 2011. He may have started under the tutelage and guidance of Jason Dragon but it wasn't long before Takahashi proved he could stand up for himself and broke out onto his own and began to really rally the crowd behind him. By winning Ascension, Takahashi proved just how badly he wanted an opportunity to challenge for the biggest prize in our company. In his first attempt to try and seize the title from “Big Guns” his opportunity was pulled away from him as Robby Starr and Jimmy Shane interferred and ruined his big moment. Jeff Cannon, being the man of honor that he is, allowed Takahashi a second title shot on our next event and while Takahashi gave it a hell of a fight it wasn't meant to be as Cannon put him away with Heavy Artillery. But Takahashi proved that he could hang with the best OCW has to offer and nearly won the OCW title on several occasions in both matches. These strong performances earned him an Ohio Heritage Title shot and at TRAD1T1ON he captured his first championship in OCW! Perhaps it will be Takahashi to continue to ride this wave of momentum into the coming months and be the one to be OCW's new top dog.
But if Takahashi had just taken a second longer to recover from a huge fall during the ladder match, he wouldn't have been there in time to dropkick “No Shame” Jimmy Shane off of the ladder and we would have had a very different Ascension winner. The brash and cocky competitor still to this day thinks he should have been the one to win the match and calls Takahashi's victory nothing more than a fluke. Ever since bursting onto the scene in early 2012 he has been mixing it up with the top stars in OCW. He fought alongside his mentor, Robby Starr, in a year long war against “Hot Commodity” Matt Mason and even picked up a number of victories over not only former OCW Champion Mason but other former champions Sherman Tank and the now current champ, Cannon. It has been apparent that Starr didn't just choose Shane based on him being the biggest fan of the “Super Starr” but that he has all the tools to be considered a top threat in any match. If the loud mouth “winner” truly put forth effort into his athletic ability and focused less on bending the rules and cutting corner to get what he wants, he could potentially be a champion in OCW.
Speaking of champions in OCW, former tag team champion and Ohio Heritage Champion “Darkstar” Matt Taylor may have not won Ascension but he, in my opinion,put on the very best performance out of all four men. And that is quite a grand feat when you consider he had also defended his Heritage Championship earlier in the night against Juice Jennings in a very hard fought, technical show down. Matt Taylor has long been considered one of the most exciting in ring competitors OCW has to offer and ever since breaking out on his own after ending The Noble Bloods tag team he has been considered by many to be one of the very best wrestlers to step foot between the ropes. Taylor has the wrestling skills to go toe to toe, step by step, hold for hold with anyone on the entire roster. He has been one of the most dominate Ohio Heritage Champions in the titles history by taking on all challengers and beating them in a wide variety of ways. Perhaps he could follow in footsteps of the first Ohio Heritage Champion Kaden Assad and go from holding the OHC, OCW Tag Team titles, and eventually capture the OCW Heavyweight Championship. Could the former Noble Blood become a Triple Crown Champion? Only time will tell.
Another possible future Triple Crown Champion seemed to go toe to toe with Matt Taylor at every turn during the Ascension match in Joey Vengeance. Since day one of bursting onto the scene in OCW, Vengeance has been under Matt Mason's wing and learning plenty of valuable lessons from the now retired competitor. We have literally watched Joey grow up in the ring, debuting at the young age of 18 and fighting hard to prove himself ever since. For more than five years now, Joey Vengeance has had the crowd support and all the physical tools to break out and be a star. Not only is he considered a high flyer and technical expert, but when he defeated Jock Samson to obtain the Ohio Heritage Championship several years ago we saw that Joey could also brawl with some of the toughest this company has to offer. It has to be considered only a matter of time until Joey Vengeance captures the biggest prize in OCW, the Heavyweight Championship. He may have not gotten his opportunity following the Ascension match but the fan favorite will surely find a way sooner or later. Still only 23 years old, Joey is already starting to become one of the more tenured members of the locker room and it is assumed we still haven't seen the best yet.
But for the past couple of years he hasn't been alone in the ring. Fighting by his side as OCW Tag Team Champions for nearly two years is Juice Jennings. A well accomplished mat wrestler, the graduate of the Big Guns Pro Wrestling Academy has possesed the technical prowess to compete against anyone who he looks across the ring at. Debuting in January 2011, immeadietly he began to mix it up with the likes of Jeremy “The Butcher” Madrox, Kaden Assad, and Jock Samson. Although he was still new to the ring, he held his own and put on great matches with the top talent and won a grueling War Games Steel Cage match alongside Joey Vengeance and Jeff Cannon by forcing former OCW star “Simply the Best” Ryan Edmunds to submit to one of Juice's signature submission holds “The Canton Crab”. Teaming up with Joey Vengeance only furthered his career more as the duo obtained the OCW Tag Team Championships on March 17th, 2012 and held onto them all the way until January 11th, 2014...almost twenty two months later! While Juice was a singles comptetitor during his singles career, we haven't seen him much on his own. Perhaps when he and Joey Vengeance decide to quit teaming, it will be Juice Jennings chance to shine even brighter on his own.
The previous five men I mentioned are top candidates to perhaps grab the torch, but that is not to rule out any of the other young up and comers on the OCW roster. Former Ohio Heritage Champion “Marquee” Mikey D has the charisma and natural athletic ability to do anything that any of the previous mentioned men can and will do. Unfortunately a health scare has kept Mikey D out of top action, but since returning to the ring recently I am sure it is only a matter of time before “Marquee” is chasing after OCW gold once again. Another member of the OCW roster who I believe could play an important role in OCW's future is Jason Dragon, but in a role we have seen him adopt recently as a manger. Since aligning himself with Johnny Attitude and newcomer Papa Dingo, Jason Dragon proved that while he may be undersized in the ring compared to most competitors, he has the potential to scheme and plot wicked plans to use others to obtain his goals. And honorable mention has to go to newcomers Johnny Bonsai, Louie Perez, and “The Pinnacle” Levi Connors who all show talent that could help them break out in this company but are still too fresh and new to judge their honest potential.
The amount of potential in the OCW locker room is seemingly endless at this point. As we enter this new era, it is going to be up to the next generation of ring warriors to take their game to a whole new level. OCW has been around for eleven years and on April 12th we will celebrate this milestone as OCW presents “TRAD1T1ON” at the Hopewell School in Coshocton. Could we see one of these young, hungry competitors prove which one of them deserves to lead us into the new era? Only way to find out is to be there in attendance and see for yourself! For the past decade OCW has only gotten better and better, it us up to the new stars of OCW to bring the best out of them to take OCW to new heights for the next decade. Which wrestler will be the one to do it?
Thank you for joining me for the first addition of the NEW and improved Winfield's Wonderings!