Steve: An Egyptologist, a ballerina, and I walked into an outdoor wrestling show on a perfect Chicago Saturday night. This was my first time ever sharing one of my deepest passions, professional wrestling, live with the love of my life. 

Elise: It takes all kinds to fill a football field for a COVID-era pro-wrestling show. At June 5’s Warrior Wrestling Stadiums Series show, that list included a former basketball coach, an Egyptologist, and a ballerina, two of whom had never before set foot on a football field in their life. This is their story…

So I cropped on here a while ago, having met and fallen in love with a pro wrestling fan. Among our mutual interests was the Rock, so I wrote a short article on this website about his greatest contribution to my field of Egyptology: the Scorpion King film series. Through the course of our relationship, I have supported my fiancé’s hobby by watching wrestling shows with him on TV, while we looked forward to an opportunity to watch a live show in person together when the world began to open back up again. Warrior Wrestling’s Stadium Series was the first such opportunity. 

So how did we get here? When I first purchased the Warrior Wrestling Stadium Series tickets for this past Saturday for us, I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to see her old stomping grounds in and around the University of Chicago. She was immediately excited about the idea. Since meeting on a dating app at the start of the pandemic last April, she had been more than accommodating to my life’s passion and all its weirdness and embarrassing aspects. So much so that she bought a house with me, said yes when I got down on one knee, and is currently carrying our child. You might say she’s even embraced and turned into a small fan. 

This also gave us the opportunity for me to meet some of her close friends for the first time. Elise connected with her college friend, a ballet dancer, telling her about our visit and plans for the weekend. She allowed us to stay with her, and shockingly asked to come to the show with us! It was hilarious and a pleasure to meet Elise’s other friends throughout the weekend, explain to them our wild Saturday night plans, and take full responsibility for being the “wrestling guy.” 

We drove to the Windy City, where I had lived while I studied Egyptology at the University of Chicago. We spent Saturday on my old campus, complete with an impassioned tour of the Oriental Institute Museum’s ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian galleries led by moi (read: Steve’s a total trooper). Then, after picking up one of my former colleagues, we drove out to Chicago Heights for the Warrior Wrestling show. 

Why does any of this matter? Other than the fact I got to see genuine King Tut artifacts and poison ranas on the same day. It was the hottest day of the year so far, we walked around 12 miles over the course of 6 hours at peak heat, and Elise is 6 months pregnant. She’s more of a badass than I’ll ever be. As fun and fulfilling as this all was, I was worried how she would hold up for what would be a late-night experiencing independent wrestling. 

We get to the event and all three of us are excited. For me, it’s my first live show or event of any kind since late 2019. For the ladies, it’s their first time on a football field and it’s not for football! 

When we get seated, there’s a match already in progress. It is “bad perm guy” vs. “guy I can’t remember”. Seated right up front is a little girl in pigtails with a pink stuffed animal heckling the bad perm guy. She is my new spirit animal. A clown bursts onto the field and the fans seem to recognize him. I’m not emotionally invested in this guy at this point (more on that later). They drag him past us, and we have our 15 seconds of fame on FiteTV, mostly upskirt, because I’m not paying attention. At this point, I’m just trying to get comfy in my chair. Did I mention I’m six months pregnant with a future wrestling fan?

Warrior Wrestling
Stadium Series 2021 Night 1
June 5, 2021
Marian Catholic High School
Chicago Heights, Illinois

Watch: FITE

We open with Warrior Wrestling mainstay Frank the Clown complaining that he isn’t on the show. This gets the appropriate boos from the crowd, until those boos turn to cheers as he’s removed from the field by security. It was pretty funny watching him be carried out Low-Ki style right past us as I explained to the ladies why this clown is so hated and angry.

Jake Something def. Warhorse

The opener was a delight. I had explained to the ladies that I had interviewed Jake Something for this very site a few years ago, and Warhorse had faced Cody on Dynamite so they were both excited. This did not disappoint. It might have been the fact this was my first live show in forever, but I was really into this. These two beat the hell out of each other. Warhorse worked the leg and was a little more technical, where Jake just threw Warhorse around and used his power game to perfection. IMPACT, do more with this man. Watching the ladies’ faces as they heard every chop and felt every lariat or huge blow was tremendous. Though the crowd was mostly behind Warhorse, Jake came out on top after a fun spot that used Warhorse’s leg work and Jake’s overwhelming power tremendously. Great, hard-hitting match! ****

The first real match is Warhorse vs. Jake Something. Steve has told me that he interviewed Jake before, and that’s good enough for my vote. These two put on an exciting opening match. It turns out that in real life, the sound of flesh smacking into the floor of the ring is so much more painful. The crowd loves the “[do] something” jokes. My friend and I joke about making your nom de plume “something”. But then “something” happens: Jake throws himself out of the ring and lands on the horse guy; I’m totally into it. When the match ends, we hear the sounds of Mexican folk music rolling in from the line of houses beyond the football field. During the quieter matches, it will provide a confusing soundtrack for the night. 

Deonna Purazzo def. Ray Lynn

I had never seen Ray Lynn before and came away pretty impressed with her. Elise will watch NXT with me sometimes, so she made the Candice LeRae comparison almost instantly, and she’s not wrong. Lynn showed a ton of energy and some pretty clean offense. That said, she never had a shot here. Deonna was rock solid in this one and got the submission win after a nice little match. **3/4

Speaking of quiet, Deonna Purrazzo vs. Rae Lyn wrestle next. After the noise and excitement of the previous match, the only note I make about this one was that it is “so quiet”. I’m not even sure who won.

KC Navarro def. Cole Radrick

This is my first time seeing either of these two after hearing both names around various indies. As soon as the ladies saw smaller guys their eyes lit up because they knew some flips were coming. They are both all about the flips. The match did not disappoint. There was lots of athleticism on display here. Our ballerina friend even had to walk around to get a closer look at this one. She would later comment on the different dance styles she could see in these matches. I told her about the whole “dance partner” saying in wrestling, which made all the sense in the world to her. To my surprise given they both seem very young, it was pretty clean and smooth, and Radrick was especially hard hitting. KC reminds me of Lio Rush light, and I mean that as a compliment. Even though KC came out on top, I came away impressed with Radrick as he showed an ability to wrestle a match that incorporated a few different styles. ***1/2

After the first women’s match is KC Navarro vs. Cole Radrick. My initial impression is that these guys are tiny. It’s not just our distance from the ropes, but rather their height in relation to them. But they make up for it by being aerodynamic. When they bounce out of the ring, one of the guys does a running start tackle, which is pretty epic. Our unborn child is clapping along with the audience in the womb for most of this match.

Beastman def. Kongo Kong

Kongo Kong once put me in a chokehold at a middle school gym in Bronson, MI. Beastman came out with a leg bone and a loincloth. The three of us were trying to figure out what Beastman kept yelling, until a fan’s sign proved it to be “Husk!” Glad he has fans out there and had I had more cash, I would have bought a t-shirt after the show. My expectations for this were low, but this was better than it had any right being! The crowd was into Beastman and the two had a good brawl on the outside. I could have done without the football comedy spot, but the cannonball from Beastman into a seated Kong made up for it. Once back into the ring these two threw bombs and each other around like a proper big man match. Kong even hit a suicida through the middle rope in a spot that got me out of my chair. In the end, Beastman prevailed in this clash of the giants. Husk indeed. **1/2

The next match is Kongo Kong vs. Beast Man. This match is between two large guys, who, after a few big throws, have me wondering about the tensile strength of plywood. They toss around the referee a bit, which the crowd enjoys. But I don’t think about this match again until we passed a fur shop on our way out of town.

Matt Cardona def. Sam Adonis

LOTS of MDK chants thrown at Cardona during his entrance and in the beginning portions of this match. The crowd was split evenly during this match, maybe even siding a little more with Adonis. You can really tell these two are on a different level by their charisma and presentation. Adonis really played to the crowd well as he would in front of a huge crowd in Mexico. Cardona just has that polished look you see from a television wrestling veteran. He’s insanely tan, jacked, and very put together. Even the ladies both noted how much more professional and polished these two came across. The match was two pros having a wrestling match. Cardona hit his finish for the win after a solid pro wrestling match. ***

The next match has a guy who used to be on WWE (not entirely sure which one). They both seem like seasoned professionals, with a polished look and a lot of confidence. They work together very well, and the moves seem smoothly executed. We’re not the only ones who like it. There’s a lot of crowd noise. Some guy shouts, “Wrestling!” and I’m reminded I’m at a show and not the mall. Thanks, dude. Then there are helpful suggestions. Another guy shouts, “Slap his face!” My friend shouts, “Bring up his painful childhood!” As you can see, we’re new at this.  

That clown makes another appearance, this time getting booted out of the show and I’m still not paying attention, though I’ve fixed my skirt.

Kylie Rae def. Holidead to retain her Warrior Wrestling Women’s Title

Kylie Rae easily got the biggest reaction of the night for her entrance in front of the hometown crowd. Elise asked me why she seems to be such a big deal and why she wasn’t on television more, that she reminds her of NXT Bayley with her wholesome persona and crowd connection. I had to explain to her Kylie’s history, and why someone as good as her isn’t on television regularly, which is a shame. The match was fine, but probably the most disappointing of the night. Holidead controlled 90% of the match, trying to get the crowd behind Kylie. The problem was the work wasn’t very interesting. Kylie got a sort of flash pin win, which the crowd popped for, but the match was nothing memorable. ** 

After the clown interruption is Kylie Rae vs. Holidead. The former gets the crowd going louder than any previous match. When she we wins, we are all #shocked. To be fair, the crowd would have set the Catholic Leadership Center, in whose stadium we are sitting, on fire if she had not.

Warrior Wrestling Championship
Trey Miguel (c) def. Lee Moriarty

This is a match that I think I would have enjoyed a lot more on television given how much of it was very mat-based. Both of these guys can really wrestle, it just didn’t come across as well from our viewpoint. The crowd was largely quiet for this match. Maybe it was getting late for many. Or, like the ladies in my company, they were all just preparing themselves for the lunacy of the lucha libre to come. ***

Then we have Trey Miguel vs. Lee Moriarty, a.k.a, my bathroom break match. This is one of the few events I’ve been to where there’s no line for the women’s restroom. 

As the promoter spoke to the crowd about the upcoming July event, a helicopter began to fly over the stadium. At first, it seemed like nothing, but when it began to circle the stadium I knew we were getting a Ric Flair impersonation. Frank the Clown had come out once at the beginning of the show to be dragged out as I mentioned, and again in the middle of the show with the same result. He would not be denied here at it was glorious. He got out of the helicopter with a parade of clown guards and demanded a match on July 25. He was granted that match, against Lance Archer much to his chagrin. 

After this match, a helicopter comes out of nowhere, and I immediately I think terrorism. But it’s that stupid clown. The crowd loves it; I’m checking my exits. As the copter weaves back and forth between light posts on the field, I imagine them pulling a bunch of brightly colored wigs out of the wreckage. But we all survive.

Warrior Wrestling Lucha Championship – War of Attrition Match
Aramis def Arez, Black Taurus, Dragon Bane, El Hijo de Canis Lupus, Golden Dragon, Gringo Loco, & Laredo Kid 

As soon as a dragon and a bull were in the ring and fireworks were going off in the background during the entrances, the ladies knew things were going to get nutty. AND BOY DID THEY! This was absolutely insane. It was wild and dumb and spectacular and dangerous and fun and sloppy. Who cares about selling? Who cares about bodily harm? These boys did flips and dives and combos that I can’t accurately describe and it RULED. This was far from a perfect match, but it was also easily the most insane match I’ve ever watched live. The ladies were blown away and popping along with the crowd for nearly the entire 30 minutes this match went on. GO WATCH THIS MATCH. ****1/2

Luchadors!!! The costumes are amazing! The energy is incredible! Why do we even watch other kinds of wrestling? Even Steve, who has seen everything wrestling, is talking about it. Great finale to a fabulous night. 

After the show, while the ladies went to the shortest restroom line in women’s history, I was approached by a preliminary wrestler who talked me into buying his autograph. If you’re out there and read this, I don’t know who you are and would like to know. The ladies were buzzing the whole way home, experiencing that wrestling high I know so well. This was a tremendous show that I will never forget. Partly because it was a good show, but mostly because I was able to share it with such amazing company.