Perhaps one word can sum up the draw and appeal of professional wrestling – Spectacle, a word that brought Louisville native Bryan Douglas Roof to Ohio Valley Wrestling years ago and a word that brought me to OVW’s weekly show at the Davis Arena on Wednesday.
Douglas, like so many, first came to the Louisville landmark training facility to be a professional wrestler, and for good reason. Currently called the Harvard of training schools, OVW is “the place” according to Roof offering three classes for whatever stage an aspiring wrestler is at. But, as Roof points out as well, “It takes a lot to be a superstar. ” Still, the territory's track record is solid.
Like Saturday Night Live is for comedians, OVW has alumni that represent the gamut of talent in the industry. With names like John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and countless more, OVW has produced more than its share of superstars and are continuing to do so.
Nick Dinsmore a wrestling superstar in his own right on the training program
A lot of this has to do with OVW’s close relationship to World Wrestling Entertainment, which began when the local promotion became a developmental territory for the WWE. While the contract ended in 2008, Louisville’s pro-wrestling is still one of the top talent destinations for wrestlers around the world.
And, it’s this that first brought current OVW Heavyweight Champion and former WWE superstar Cliff Compton years ago. But, I should back up for a second. Compton would like me to mention here that he is in fact a two time OVW Heavyweight Champion.
Originally drawn to professional wrestling as a fan, the New York born Compton’s favorite moments at OVW hinge around his days as Domino, a time when Compton’s style echoed 1950’s era “Greasers” and tough New Yorkers, notably Andrew Dice Clay.
Particularly memorable for Compton, though, is when he teamed with his longtime tag-team partner Deuce Shade (Jimmy Snuka Jr.). Deuce ‘n Domino proved to be one of the most popular tag-teams in OVW history. Their rivalry with current WWE superstar Cody Rhodes and Shawn Spears, which led to a street fight, is a time that Compton remembers fondly despite losing that final battle.
A Compilation of the Tag Team feud from OVW
Lost the battle, maybe, but not the war as Deuce n’ Domino made their way to the majors having a solid tag team run in the WWE. Backstage at OVW on Wednesday, Compton explained with pride that the reason he decided to come back to the OVW was “to give back.” And, during the previous Saturday Compton gave a great deal of himself in a type of match that he proclaimed as his favorite, a Brass Knuckles on a Pole match.
Aspiring wrestlers come from as far as England, Douglas explained, and everywhere in between. And, these future superstars compete weekly at Louisville’s Danny Davis Arena, named after the legendary pro wrestler, on Wednesday nights- tickets are $5. Then, a monthly feature a Saturday Night Special. Consider it the pay-per-view of OVW.
More than that, the territory goes on tour all over the region frequenting Lexington and London as well as countless other arenas. For a schedule and much more, check out ovwwrestling.com. Also, make sure to check out the charity shows that have become a staple of OVW. Working directly with organizations like Crusade for Children, the OVW has long been an organization that does as much as it can for local and national charities.
For years now, Ohio Valley Wrestling has been a staple on local television, bouncing around networks and channels. Currently OVW TV broadcasts Saturdays at 1:00 and 9:00 p.m. in Louisville on WYKI 24.1, and Sunday nights at 7:00 in London on WOBZ. In addition, full episodes are available at the OVW website.
Combining old school wrestling with new excitement, the territory started as just that – another one of the mid-south regional territories. It wasn’t until November of 1997 that OVW proved to be a force to be reckoned with when pro-wrestling royalty Bill Dundee won the title. Since then, the champions list has been a Who’s Who of pro-wrestling including Nick Dinsmore, Rip Rogers, Leviathan (Batista), The Prototype (John Cena), CM Punk, Cody Runnels (Cody Rhodes), Vladimir Kozlov as well as countless others.
The greatest moments according to Roof were, quite simply, “My first show…just finding the building and discovering that there was a professional wrestling company like this right here in Louisville.” And, with a spectacle that offers family entertainment that initial rush is what the Louisville mainstay represents for so many.
And yes, to answer your question, I did buy a championship belt. And, again, I reply, “Yes, I do plan on wearing it everywhere I go.” Look, if I’m walking around the mall with a championship belt, nobody’s going to mess with me; I’m clearly the champ!
Image: D. Rose