by Don Carpenter
Pro wrestling had lost me. The Attitude Era, while obviously full of great moments, became more and more difficult for me to give more of my time to. The breaking point was when Big Boss Man dragged the coffin of Big Show’s father across a cemetery with a car. I was greatly offended by that. Instead, I should’ve laughed my head off at how stupid the angle was. Who knows? If the Four Horsemen had dragged the coffin of Dusty Rhodes’ father around I probably would’ve considered it compelling storytelling.
I didn’t go away completely. Watching WCW beginning to collapse was fascinating and I watched the 2001 Invasion angle with some intrigue. But professional and personal interests kept me from being as big a fan as I had been for 15 years.
Nonetheless, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Every WrestleMania time of year I looked for results. I read the autobiographies of The Hardy Boyz and Bobby Heenan. Soon I wanted to be a pro wrestling fan again.
I found my way around the Internet Wrestling Community. I started a subscription to Pro Wrestling Torch and its message board. I visited places such as 1wrestling.com to where I learned about the NWA crowning its first Iowa champion.
It was an NWA No Limits show being held in Rock Island, IL. I had grown familiar with Ring of Honor and TNA since rediscovering wrestling and was thrilled to see people such as CM Punk and AJ Styles involved with the show. I even more excited for the Iowa tournament. I was such a mark for anything involving my home state.
I greatly enjoyed that summer night. Before the show, I went to a sports bar a few blocks from the Masonic Temple wondering what I would see in that building. This was my first show in a decade and my first indie event. There was plenty of parking in the neighborhood and the Temple was an awesome facility. The main room was large enough to make the ring and surrounding area stand out. As I walked in, security took away a fan’s sign which proclaimed CM Punk sucked.
Punk was scheduled to take on Styles, but the latter no-showed so instead Punk wrestled Arik Cannon. I had no idea who Cannon was, but he impressed with me during the 30-minute match that topped off a fantastic show. The matches were all enjoyable and I had great fun in discovering talent such as Danny Daniels and Jimmy Jacobs. They competed with Ryan Boz in a three-way for the Iowa championship. Boz made an impression on me as a big and athletic wrestler. He and Jacobs went on to have an amazingly entertaining feud with Jimmy winning the Iowa title the following winter.
This night was also my first experience with gimmick tables. All of the wrestlers had some pretty decent stuff for sale. I was ecstatic Punk had a collection of Ring of Honor videos with him. I bought a couple including the Dayton show from earlier in the summer. The one with the first match in the Punk/Samoa Joe trilogy. I watched that video so many times over the next few years. It felt so local, so Midwestern. A large crowd in a small building, the different ways promos were videoed whether it was outside, or in the building before the show or in a locker room and the athleticism of the matches made this a product I fell in love with. A minor bonus was Colt Cabana’s Kamala t-shirt. A major bonus was Punk and Joe which was a fantastic way to spend an hour.
Over the following months, these No Limits shows brought me much happiness. All sorts of big indie names were there. Homicide took on Ian Rotten. Punk took on Styles and Christopher Daniels. Mickie Knuckles, and Daizee Haze competed together and against each other. It’s amazing to see how much different Mark Sterling, who a decade later went on to fame in 3XW among other places, looked in 2004. In December of 2004, Chris Candido and Jacobs had an incredible match which was part comedy, part action and part Boz interfering to further his program with Jacobs.
At the first Rock Island shows I attended there was a gentleman who took the time to talk with me and thanked people for attending. I later learned this person was the NWA’s Ed Chuman. Ed passed away in 2009. I learned of his death through the chicagoprowrestling.com message board where the memorials posted showed how much Chicago wrestlers and fans thought of Chuman. From my incredibly brief interaction with Ed, I could see why.
One of the other venues featuring No Limit Shows was the National Guard Armory in Muscatine. There were some memorable moments there as well. By the time most of the shows were held in Muscatine, IWA Mid-South had taken over the No Limits banner. This led to talented folks such as Steve Corino, Chris Hero, Josh Abercrombie, Eddie Kingston and Tracey Smothers coming to my neck of the woods. Corino and Hero had a much-anticipated match in April of 2005. Kingston had a violent feud with Rotten. Smothers had a match with Delirious which happened after the Full Blooded Italian had critical views of John Bradshaw Layfield because of the latter’s actions at the original WWE One Night Stand show. Midway through the match, Delirious went under the ring and came back out as JBLirious complete with cowboy hat.
Despite all the talent on these shows, they never drew as well as I thought they should’ve. That’s a shame as I had a tremendous time at every event. The last one I attended was in October of 2006. It was held at one of the Muscatine schools. Among those working hard that night were folks such as Jeremy Wyatt and Marek Brave. The show ended with one of the Ritters turning heel and Brave throwing a water bottle at him.
I know 3XW and IPW have been incredibly influential on the Iowa pro wrestling scene. But No Limits opened my eyes to talent I otherwise wouldn’t have seen in person. Many of those wrestlers are now performing for the WWE. Along with the quality of the shows, everyone involved seemed appreciative of the fans who came to see them wrestle. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t a pro wrestling fan, but such as football fans remember certain games as being special times in their lives, such is how I feel about these No Limits shows.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about a company which ran shows in Dubuque for three years. One of the better-known Chicago promotions, POWW Entertainment also provided some incredible evenings of wrestling.