ACTION Wrestling & Segunda Caida Present: DEAN~!!
April 4, 2024
H2O Wrestling Center
Williamstown, New Jersey

Watch: independentwrestling.tv

The most interesting show of WrestleMania Weekend 2024, without question, is DEAN~!!, a collaboration between ACTION Wrestling and the Segunda Caida guys from the DVDVR forums

Looking at the 11-match card, you notice a brilliantly eclectic mix of talent, styles, and tastes. Yet, there’s a clear mission and method to it—paying tribute to Dean Rasmussen, the founder of the DVDVR forum who sadly passed away in May 2023, and the sort of wrestling that he liked. 

Based out of Georgia and running shows since 2018, ACTION Wrestling has developed a reputation for putting together fun, tightly-paced shows that showcase the Southeast’s best talent and tell good stories. It’s that burgeoning cache in the scene and more than two decades of knowing each other that brought the Segunda Caida team to ACTION CEO Matt Griffin when they wanted to put this show together.

“I was a long-time poster on the Death Valley Driver Review board myself and I’ve known a lot of the people involved for almost 25 years. Many were based in the Richmond, Virginia area and would go to shows that I was on, and we talked in similar circles as well,” Griffin told Voices of Wrestling. 

One of those that came to the shows Griffin worked was the late Rasmussen.

“Dean was a super energetic and fun guy. He didn’t just watch what he liked but he went out and advocated for it, so that others would see it, appreciate it and enjoy it as well.”

Although we’re now at the 11-month anniversary of Rasmussen’s passing, the idea for Griffin to work with some of the DVDVR regulars on putting a show together has been in the pipeline for a couple of years.

“I was initially approached with an idea by Phil Schneider, who’s written books (The Way of the Blade) and for The Ringer. He then brought in Eric Ritz (Segunda Caida). If they were going to be involved in an event, they wanted to deal with someone who’d treat them well, use their connections and warn them of the pitfalls,” Griffin added.

Pitfalls are inevitable during a WrestleMania Weekend that’s longer and more packed than ever, with more than 600 independent wrestlers in action in some capacity. Although some people weren’t available, most wrestlers approached and now involved loved the idea of the memorial show that DEAN~!! is supposed to be and loved the opponents they were being put up against. It’s a card that Griffin is openly “in love” with and it’s no surprise.

For this writer, and for what this writer suspects will be most people seeing the lineup, there are things that leap off the page as cool, interesting and different, and then some things that don’t have the same appeal. Yet, that’s the whole point – it’s living up to Rasmussen’s whole ethos of sharing and advocating his passions, so that everyone else could explore the breadth of what pro wrestling is and can be. 

As a promoter, Griffin’s permanent goal is presenting unique matches and showing out some eclectic things, but that’s been dialed up to 11 on this show.

“We hoped to put together a bunch of fun, wild stuff. With this week and this location, it’s perfect for us to be able to attract unique talent. Several wrestlers are only working our show, or maybe only one other. That’s a cool feeling.”

Looking at the card, the match that many have circled as the highlight is the fifth, and likely final given Daniel Makabe’s impending retirement, meeting between the Canadian and Timothy Thatcher. It’s also the match that Griffin’s looking forward to most.

“It’s no secret that Daniel Makabe is one of my favorite wrestlers, and he’s also become a good friend of mine. The first Makabe matches I became aware of were his matches with Tim Thatcher, who I really enjoyed from his EVOLVE run. 

“It’s been a pleasure to be able to help make many of the matches Daniel’s wanted over the last several years happen in the Southeast. With him saying that it’s his last year in wrestling and both wrestlers really wanting to be able to do the match for the last time as well, this match means a lot.”

To this writer, the standouts are Matt Makowski taking on Arez, Colby Corino challenging Alex Kane for the ACTION Wrestling World Championship and Mad Dog Connelly and Demus el Demonio facing off in a Dog Collar Match. 

Makowski and Arez is a brilliant clash of styles between a former MMA guy and a fluid, dynamic luchador (and freelancer!), while the title match pits an underrated talent in Corino up against someone I really like in Kane.

As for the Dog Collar Match, where do I start. It’s sort of become Mad Dog Connelly’s thing of late, perhaps best expounded by his brutal, bloody bout against Manders in St. Louis Anarchy earlier this year. Demus, meanwhile, is synonymous with the Bull Terrier Match in Mexico, which is effectively the same stipulation. If these two click, fireworks should ensue.

Kane vs. Corino isn’t the only title match on the show. A big-time bout is booked for the IWTV World Title between current champion Krule and the former, longest-reigning champ Warhorse. That bout is very much not for me, but one that is involves the aforementioned Manders. He’s teaming up with MLW rival Tom Lawlor to take on one half of the ACTION Tag Champs in Jaden Newman and underground indy icon Tank.

The two men that lost the ACTION tag belts last week, Suge D and Kevin Ryan of The Good Hand are in action here, partnering with Tyler Stevens to face a returning O’Shay Edwards, wXw World Champion Robert Dreissker and 2024 16 Carat Gold winner Laurance Roman in a six-man tag. To me, this is the sort of quirky, international match that Mania Weekend should be about. 

Another six-man is likely to open the show, with ACTION regulars Rico Gonzalez, Bobby Flaco and Brayden Toon squaring off with Hoodfoot, Danny Demanto and Isaiah Broner.

Elsewhere, Gringo Loco and Dr. Cerebro will rekindle their issues from IWRG more than a decade ago in singles action, while Adam Priest, one of the indy scene’s most polished talents, faces a man that was released by AEW earlier this week in Slim J.

Rounding out the show is a tag team match that could be a great showcase for four young talents that all have high ceilings, with Austin Luke and Marcus Mathers facing Judas Icarus and Travis Williams. Mathers has grown on me a lot in recent months with his work in ETU, while I think Icarus & Williams have been impressive through the first quarter of 2024 as tag team champs in Prestige. 

DEAN~!! has some stiff competition in the same time slot but to me, this show is the most interesting during Mania Weekend. It’s a show booked with thought, care and a clear mission – paying tribute to a man once described as the ‘Pied Piper of Professional Wrestling’. Much like how Rasmussen’s creation of DVDVR helped to share the depth and breadth of wrestling, this show has the potential to pay it forward for ACTION, exposing a wider audience to who they are and the great work they’ve been doing in the Southeast.

Griffin finishes by saying: “I was very happy with our 2021 Mania week offering (HAVE FUN, BE SAD) in partnership with Southern Underground Pro, and this year is no different. We have the talent to deliver a hell of an event – every wrestler selected and match put together has been done with thought.

“Wrestling is an investment from a fan perspective. It’s time and money spent watching this show as opposed to another. I always want fans to feel they spent their time well and enjoyably with an ACTION (or those of our sister promotions SCI and TWE) event. I hope that we do a good job of tipping our hat to influential wrestling fans like Dean, who evangelized and spread the word of promotions or wrestlers who didn’t have exposure, and honoring that part of the wrestling fandom.”

WrestleMania Weekend 2024 Coverage at Voices of Wrestling