HAMILTON, ON — On Saturday night, a legendary Ontario wildman was paid tribute, as Stranglehold Wrestling held the first annual Dewey “Missing Link” Robertson Memorial Tournament to crown the company’s inaugural champion. With that, and a few other moments that ranged between amazingly fun and amazingly bizarre, it’s safe to say it was a night that few in attendance will forget any time soon.

The tournament saw eight of Ontario’s finest independent wrestlers compete for the chance to win the strap, which, perhaps fittingly for a company that prides itself on its death matches, was adorned by a circular saw blade faceplate. Surprisingly, though, the matches weren’t contested under hardcore rules, but rather were filled with a solid mix of technical and strong style with a heavy mixed martial arts influence.

The finals pitted George “GT Dynamite” Terzis against Kris Chambers in what was a definite conflict of styles. GT, renowned for his martial arts expertise did a fantastic job of grounding Chambers, who is more of an aerial specialist. After a hotly-contested affair, GT put Chambers down for the three-count following a series of kicks, ending the barrage with a devastating enziguri. His post-match celebration was cut short, however, when Michael Elgin came out and he and Chambers laid a beating on the new champ.

The main event of the night saw the Murder Junkies — Ian Decay and hometown favourite Bloody Bill Skullion — take on the team of “Soulman” Ricky Johnson and Big Daddy Hammer. As the Junkies headed to the ring, an ominous silence overcame the crowd. Not unlike when birds stop singing before a tornado strikes, the audience in the new Stranglehold Dojo (a warehouse with a “Fight Club” look that fits the company perfectly) sensed that something strange was about to happen. “Strange” might be an understatement.

The Murder Junkies started off like they normally do, putting a beatdown on their opponents with stiff punches and kicks with the occasional weapon shot thrown in for good measure. The brawl started off hot, with lots of blood spilled, but eventually calmed down and became a standard tag match, but then things got weird. Skullion seemed to be injured and fell to the mat, where he lay for several minutes while Decay fended off the attack from Johnson and Hammer. When Bill eventually got up, he was gasping for air and was clutching his chest, hinting at a major problem, but eventually made his way back to a standing position. Soon thereafter, Johnson and Hammer gained an anti-climactic pinfall victory. At the urging of the fans, the combatants agreed to make it a two-out-of-three falls contest. Here’s where things took an even more peculiar turn.

Skullion, obviously still in a bad condition (drunk, perhaps?), was unable to muster any offense, but rather crumpled back on to the mat. Decay, perhaps using a tough-love approach to motivate his partner to get up, allowed Johnson and Hammer to unload their arsenal on the downed Skullion, but would prevent either of them from getting the pin any time they went for the cover. At this point, Big Daddy Hammer walked out on the match, headed upstairs, got his bags, and unceremoniously left the building. This was clearly an unplanned moment, and fans were left speculating as to whether this was a shoot, with various theories being thrown about as to why. The popular choices were that he wasn’t willing to go with the change in program and be made to look foolish by constantly having Ian Decay stop him from winning, or that he couldn’t continue physically, either due to physical limitations or a sustained injury, or that there were money issues. It would seem that only two men would know what the reason is — Big Daddy Hammer himself and Bill Skullion — whether or not it comes out at any point in the future remains to be seen.

Bill Skullion works over Ricky Johnson as Big Daddy Hammer looks on. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

In any event, Skullion was able to eventually get the second pin by rolling up Johnson after the veteran missed a People’s Elbow, which he tried after the crowd demanded it, tying the match at one fall apiece. The third fall saw Decay and Skullion double-team Johnson for a few minutes, but before they could put him away, Skullion grabbed the mic. After cutting an incomprehensible promo that left fans scratching their heads, he and Decay plotted to end the match. More weapons were used, and then Skullion attempted to powerbomb Decay onto the fallen Soulman, but the big man was still injured from before and couldn’t get his partner all the way up. He stumbled and dropped Decay hard, allowing a smiling Johnson to capitalize and scramble on top of Decay for the final 1-2-3.

After the match, Johnson celebrated with the fans and headed back to the dressing room. Skullion took a few minutes to recover, and then he and Ian Decay led the crowd in a “Thank You, Dewey” chant to pay honour to the fallen icon.

PP Biggs smothers James Wine. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

Event Results

– First Round of the Dewey Robertson Memorial Tournament: Kris Chambers beat Mike Stevens; GT Dynamite defeated Danny Magnum; Michael Elgin beat Brody Lee; The Nazi Destructor beat the humongous JC Owens (some funny moments here, including various pro-semitic chants directed at the Nazi, and JC Owens attempting to scale the ropes despite his girth and their poor support).

– The Murder Junkies introduced local favourite Rip Impact to the ring. Impact, who is injured and may be out for a few more months, didn’t get a chance to address the crowd, as he was brutally attacked by the Junkies and given a hard DDT.

– A 3-way Elimination Match where Fans Brought the Weapons went to a no contest. PP Biggs and Owen Sound teamed up to eliminate James Wine, but before either one could win, the Murder Junkies came out and destroyed them. This was a plunder-filled brawl with various weapons used, including fluorescent light tubes, a shovel, and several VCRs.

– Semi-Finals of the Tournament: GT submitted Elgin by armbar (good storytelling in this match with GT going for a variety of submissions throughout); Kris Chambers started and ended the match by rolling up the Nazi Destructor who was yelling at the audience and didn’t realize that the opening bell had rung.

– Ash used a single-leg Boston Crab to submit Fabulous John McChesney

– Finals of the Tournament to crown the new Stranglehold Wrestling Champion: GT Dynamite beat Kris Chambers

– Soulman Ricky Johnson and Big Daddy Hammer beat the Murder Junkies in a 2-out-or-3 falls match

“Bloodthirsty” Bob Kapur knows all the words to “Bang Your Head” by Quiet Riot. E-mail him the lyrics to your favourite hair metal song at bobkapur@hotmail.com.