OSCODA – Wrestlers of Imperial Wrestling Entertainment (IWE) put on quite a show at Oscoda Gym, Saturday, Nov. 20.
IWE is a traveling wrestling group based in Houghton Lake, but they make appearances across the state to the delight of Michigan wrestling fans.
This show featured six match ups, including a three-man free-for-all and various tag-team matches.
Teams had different personalities and gimmicks, including one titled “Hairly Legal,” where the team members all dressed as 80’s hair band rockers and carried guitars on stage, presumably to smash over someone’s head.
For the crowd, the rules for a show are simple. When a bad guy shows up, you boo them.
When a good guy shows up, you cheer them on and watch as they beat up the bad guy in the ring. If the bad guy does something dirty, call them a cheater and cheer for their demise.
One sight you were guaranteed to see were daring stunts and risky maneuvers. Many wrestlers performed high-flying jump attacks off the top ropes. Some would throw their opponents across the ring, bounce them off the ropes and knock them down with a well placed punch.
Iosco County’s own James Dillinger was there for the final and main event. He and his partner, Backwoods Bam, took on the Greater Good, a group he had history with.
In the past, they were known as “Team Ratings” until he had to leave for shoulder surgery and never returned because he became dissatisfied with their direction and the actions of manager Craig Stossel.
When their match finally came up, there was plenty of trash talking from Stossel and the rest of the team, but the stakes became increasingly high when the Cream Street Mafia, a team of two big guys who fought Hairly Legal earlier, showed up and agreed to join in with the Greater Good. Dillinger and Backwoods Bam didn’t have to accept the odds stacked against them, but they were confident they would win and accepted their inclusion in the match.
Before the round began, Backwoods Bam accidentally showed the crowd a hammer hidden on him, and the ref spent a few minutes chasing him around to confiscate the weapon. After he finally handed it over, the bell rang and the match went underway.
Naturally, the greater good employed all sorts of dirty tricks. They were guilty of twisting ankles, pulling sucker punches and sneaking into the ring when they’re supposed to be tagged out. The crowd chanted “cheater!, cheater!” but fell on deaf ears. The ref either didn’t notice or didn’t care. The Greater Good and Cream Street Mafia were merciless.
As Backwoods Bam was pummeled by the dirty play style, he desperately made his way over to the mat where Dillinger was and tagged him in. Once tagged in, the match completely turned around. Dillinger threw everyone around the ring and made short work of the villains.
The crowd cheered and everyone was happy. The only person who had issue with the result was Craig Stossel, but Superintendent Scott Moore came on to the ring and announced that the match was completely fair. Backwoods Bam and Dillinger won fairly.
“It was fun,” said Dillinger. “I was a little rusty, but it felt pretty good. It was nice to get a win over Craig Stossel. He’s the former leader of team ratings and I turned him into what he is.”
In the crowd, filming all of this was a kid named Zane Cornell. He’s the son of IWE’s Grayling President Rick Greene. Cornell took video of all the moves in the ring and provided his own color commentary as the wrestlers fought.
“Are you prepared to get old school, because you’re going to the high school!” he said.
He takes video for his younger brother to watch. He said that he wants to start wrestling in WWE for a while, but then go into travel wrestling.
The IWE wrestling event took place to raise funds for the Veterans Memorial Park (VMP). All proceeds went towards the organization.
Joe Brinn, director of the VMP says he hopes to have this event twice next year.
“Yeah, the kids had fun. They were really into it,” said Brinn.
He says the VMP and IWE still need to discuss how they’re going to move forward, but he hopes to have two more in the late spring and in the early fall.