Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dispatches from the Lake: Freelance Wrestling vs The World Preview

Suge D is one of the favorites to take home the inaugural Freelance Title
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
There is nothing more awesome than being on the ground floor of something. Last June, I was at the first show for Freelance Wrestling with a few friends and about twenty other people. I wrote about my experience, coming away with some negatives and positives, but overall faith that this new promotion had a bright future ahead of it. After attending the last year of shows, I’m happy to say my faith hadn’t been misplaced. There is no greater feeling than that. Wrestling, particularly the mainstream version of it, is nearly impossible to be optimistic about. For every amazing step forward, we get a two minute match with a distraction roll up that makes everyone involved look like a goober. Cue me ripping my hair out my head while screaming at a wall.

Despite some rough edges from their first show, Freelance Wrestling makes me smile. This should be a prerequisite for any wrestling promotion. They've found a sweet spot between too serious and overly goofy that just works. The man behind Freelance Wrestling took a few minutes to chat with me a few weeks ago. Nicolas Almendarez, who wrestles as Matt Knicks of the 4 Star Heroes, started Freelance for his friends to have a good time. These are wrestlers that needed a bigger stage to share their craft, and Almendarez wanted to help them get more exposure. After seeing a band play at the Abbey Pub, with its low ceiling, wraparound balcony, and stage, he thought there was no sweeter place for his first show. Everything came together, and at The Rebellion: Chapter One Freelance was off and running.

The first year has seen huge growth for the promotion. Music, which was a primary inspiration for Almendarez, plays a prominent role. Along with the pre-show, which features interviews with wrestlers and other tasty surprises, intermission showcases different bands. It adds a variety to the show without distracting from the wrestling. Freelance has also started airing a television show locally in the Chicago area on Saturday nights in May.

Despite the growth from a sparsely attended first show to a packed house last month, Alemdarez thinks there is always room for improvement. Freelance just crowned its inaugural Tag Team Champions, Bryce Benjamin and Acid Jaz, the N-Words, and will be holding a tournament this Friday to name promotion’s first Heavyweight Champion.

The card is stacked for Freelance Wrestling vs The World. The Tag Champions will defend their titles in a 4 ways match against teams from the previous tournament. Almendarez and his tag partner, noted heavy Chris Castro, will be engaging in a Chicago Street Fight against Kenny Sutra, thorn in their side since the very first show, and his partners, the tag team Beauty and the Beast, who are just as fabulous as you think. Sutra has been tormenting the 4 Star Heroes throughout the year, including cutting Knicks’ glorious long locks after a match back in December. The Abbey is a great canvas for a violent throw down, and this feud has been simmering for months. I’m looking forward to the culmination. A six man scramble was announced just a few days ago, pitting ACH, Mr. 450, Darin Corbin, Kaden Sade, Mark Andrews, and Kuni Silencio against each other. Freelance’s multi-man matches are a ball, and this one shouldn’t be any different. Not much story, but you don’t need it in a match like this. Just throw them out there and let them shine.

The main draw for this show is the Championship Tournament. First round matches include: “The Ego” Robert Anthony vs Marshe Rockett, Ruff Crossing vs "The Hero of Oak Lawn" Craig Mitchell, Arik Cannon vs Isaias Velazquez, and Suge D vs the Human Tornado. Crossing is coming back from an injury sustained at a match back in December, and he’s hungry for some carnage. Mitchell should give him a run for his money in what’ll be a heavy hitting match between two of the strongest guys on the roster. Suge D won a fatal four way at the last show, so he’s got momentum on his side. I’m calling him going far in the tournament, mostly because a Suge D dance party is the greatest thing ever. Marshe Rockett’s got plenty of skill, but “The Ego” is literally a terminator. He’s my pick to take the whole thing. I’d expect a clash between him and Isaias Velazquez, as they’ve had some issues the past few shows.

If you’re in the Chicago land area this weekend, I can’t recommend checking out Freelance Wrestling enough. Almendarez’s promotion is his love letter to his craft and the friends he’s made while practicing that craft. He ended our interview saying they have fun things planned for the next year, and as long as they’re delivering solid wrestling and compelling characters, I’ll be sitting up in the balcony, cheering loud as I can. Freelance Wrestling presents Freelance Wrestling vs The World Friday, June 12 at 8pm at the Abbey Pub in Chicago.