"Red Hot" in Winnipeg wrestling politics
Ryan Wood expands efforts into promoting
RICHARD KAMCHEN - SLAM! Wrestling
WINNIPEG - "Red Hot" Ryan Wood has been a fixture in the Winnipeg grappling scene for the past few years as a somewhat controversial but talented wrestler. He is now also trying to garner attention as the promoter of his Live Pro Wrestling (LPW).
Wrestling since April 2000, Wood initially trained with Vance Nevada, who taught Wood all about ring psychology and selling.
"I do old-school matches with new-school moves," said the 5-foot-10, 190-pound 24-year-old Wood, explaining his preference for a ground attack mixed with high-risk acrobatics.
"I worked a lot with Ryan right when he was breaking in and gave him some of his first training," said Nevada. "He was a natural right from the start and had a great sense of timing, his movements were fluid, and his ability to sell was second to none. I always thought he was an incredible talent."
"He's very talented in the ring," added "The Mecca" Shane Madison, who noted Ryan started out in the business as a 150-pound referee for Top Rope Championship Wrestling.
Nevada pointed out Wood made successful appearances at Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling's annual Pacific Cup tournament in 2003 and 2004.
"Ryan came out west a few times and made appearances in the Pacific Cup tournament which has hosted guys like Dave Richards, American Dragon, The Ballard Brothers, and fared well in both years' events -- showing that he was certainly in the same class as the remainder of the talent on the cards. He also did very well in Portland the two times that he went down there," Nevada said.
Wood said he has wrestled for various promotions in Manitoba, including Premier Championship Wrestling (PCW), Canadian Wrestling Federation (CWF), as well as outside of the province, for Alberta's Stampede Wrestling and Ontario's Border City Wrestling, among others, and promotions throughout the U.S. Midwest.
Wood was the CWF Heavyweight Champion until recently when CWF owner Ernie Todd removed him from his roster.
"Ryan Wood is a good worker," Todd said, adding his decision had nothing to do with Wood running LPW. "He makes his own choices in his life as do I, and I have chosen not to have him on my roster any longer. It has nothing to do with his shows but rather some of the choices he is making."
Wood confirmed he and Todd parted ways: "He is a very unprofessional person who has a lot of problems locally here in Winnipeg and I didn't want my name tied into it any more."
Both Madison and Nevada said Wood has the potential to advance in the business, but also believed he has talked himself into problems in the past.
"His mouth has gotten him into trouble with guys. He speaks his mind a little too much when maybe he shouldn't," Madison said.
Madison said there was friction between Wood and he when they first met. Wood, then about 150-pounds, sang his own praises about his in-ring ability and the fact he did not need to go through the same training as Madison. To make matters worse, he crowed to Madison (who at the time had about 70 pounds on Wood) that he was just as talented as the already established veteran.
"He's a good kid and he means well," Madison said, "but when I first met him, he was a lippy little bastard."
Madison explained Wood's attitude likely reflected the fact Wood excelled in every sport he ever tried, and wrestling was no different.
Wood's cockiness irked a few performers the night he met Madison, and the talent proceeded to give him a stiff working over in a battle royal.
Nevada, who said Wood "could have a very bright future," also thought Wood's high self-confidence has rubbed some people the wrong way. "If I could level one criticism, and I think he's aware of this himself, it is that he is self-aware of what his skill level is in comparison to other Manitoba independent guys and sometimes that has led people to believe that he has an inflated ego. That has probably been a greater detriment to him than any size issue."
Madison believed Wood is certainly good enough to advance past the Winnipeg wrestling scene, and considered TNA or Ring of Honor (ROH) potentially good options for him.
Although Wood said Japan or WWE appealed the most to him, his focus right now is on his relatively new LPW promotion, which will hold its first event in Winnipeg on January 21, 2007.
"The show is just to help get Winnipeg wrestling back on the map," he said of the charity event being held at Coyote's Nite Club to raise money for the Children's Hospital Foundation.
The card will feature TNA Heavyweight Champion Abyss, ROH's "Classic" Colt Cabana, as well as Wood and other local talent like Jon Cutler, Zack Mercury, and Darren "The Bomb" Dalton (who is currently recovering from an injured shoulder).
Also marking the event will be the pro wrestling debut of local radio DJ Frankie Hollywood, a black belt whom Wood himself will train.
Wood said getting a crowd of 400 "would be fantastic," and looked to raise $500 to $1,500 for the foundation. Tickets are $10 in advance at Coyote's or any Golden Tan location, and $15 at the door.
The show will also be taped for DVD, and Wood said he has talked to The Fight Network about airing it.
Wood is looking at booking another Winnipeg show, this time for April and featuring former WWE superstar Goldust.
LPW already has hosted two shows in small Manitoba towns. Wood, owner and wrestler for the company, said he wanted to get into promoting as a means of getting more Winnipeg bookings as his work obligations restrict his traveling ability.
Ryan Wood, right, faces Jamie Noble
Wood lamented Winnipeg's wrestling scene has suffered since Action Wrestling Entertainment
(AWE) went under.
"I'm going to take a bit of what they were doing but on a smaller scale," Wood said, explaining AWE's biggest mistake was spending too much bringing in a lot of high profile talent, whereas he would push more local wrestlers.
He said Winnipeg's wrestling politics also have hurt the business, with some promotions demanding exclusivity among the problems.
"There's a lot of nickel and dime b.s. and everyone's fighting over a small piece of the pie," Wood said.
Wood, however, might be no stranger to political maneuvering himself. He said he hoped to use PCW wrestlers like "The Outlaw" Adam Knight and A.J. Sanchez at his upcoming show, but stressed he would not bother if it came with "headaches" over "exclusivity" deals.
After first reporting he would use Knight on the 21st show, Wood later recanted. Madison, who will work behind the scenes at the upcoming LPW event, said there would be too much risk in PCW director Andrew Shallcross not letting Knight do the event.
But Knight had a different story: "Andrew and I discussed the issue and he had no issue with me working Abyss -- but requested that I decline the show if Abyss was given to someone else."
Knight said he consulted Shallcross out of respect because PCW gives him a steady payoff and a place to stay sharp and that Wood's show would run at a competing venue.
"I agreed [with Shallcross]. Unsurprisingly, Woody had reportedly been promising this match to everyone [including Knight] under the sun. Ernie Todd was convinced that Mercury was getting it. Madison was allegedly campaigning for Jon Cutler if I wasn't available," Knight said. "I told Woody close to three weeks ago that I was more than able to take the booking. He called me back last week and stated that he 'would be unable to use me due to Andrew/PCW's unprofessional rib' a few weeks back."
The rib stemmed from a long-running feud between PCW and Todd and involved PCW champion Mentallo "winning" the CWF heavyweight belt at a PCW show when Wood did not defend it.
"That was the 'rib' Woody used as his excuse to de-book Knight when he knows damn well he never intended to have Knight work Abyss in the first place," Shallcross said.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Winnipeg wrestling politics.
Madison said he believes Wood's promotion has a good shot at success if Wood goes ahead with his plans to run spot shows instead of weekly events.
"It gives people something to look forward to," Madison said, adding spot shows allow a promoter more time to better market events.
Nevada, however, believed the going could be tough.
"Any new enterprise in Winnipeg is unlikely to be successful because you have about a half dozen promoters trying to run one town like it is a territory. On top of that, each is out to undercut the other and none of the talent can make any money. I wish him the best, but I have seen a lot of companies crop up and flounder."
February 4, 2005: Wrestler Wood nabs hit-run bolter
Ryan Wood on MySpace
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Winnipeg correspondent Richard Kamchen can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.