Anthony Bowens, just before his Franchise Championship-winning performance, at Battle Club Pro Unfinished Business on June 21st. (Photo: David Bixenspan)
On Friday night, Battle Club Pro, Joakim Morales’s promotion, ran its latest show in what was, for lack of a better term, the courtyard of a public school in the Bedford-Stuyvescent neighborhood of Brooklyn. After at least two different attempts at outdoor shows from Battle Club got rained out and moved indoors in the past two years, it finally happened, so running on the first night of Summer was clearly a good idea.
It was, overall, the usual fun Battle Club mix of locals and the type of out of towners you don’t usually get in the area, especially southern indie names turned promotional regulars like the Ugly Ducklings. The show culminated in a five-way main event that would, after a tournament that took way too long, crown the first Battle Club Pro Franchise Champion: Anthony Bowens vs. Matt Macintosh vs. Darius Carter vs. Tripp Cassidy vs. Shane Mercer. It was a good mix of both local (Bowens/Mac/Carter) and midwestern/southern (Cassidy and Mercer) talent who had made their marks on previous shows, and everyone rose to the occasion with strong performances en route to Bowens getting the win and becoming the first champion. Macintosh, in particular, put on easily the best performance I’ve ever seen from him and raised his stock a ton.
Battle Club Pro puts on good shows and you should support them. And if I had ended up launching this Substack this weekend, anyway, I probably would have written something about the show, regardless. But in the moment, I decided to write a post because of something that had nothing to do with the show quality.
If you’re familiar at all with Anthony Bowens, you probably know that, on top of being an ever-improving all-around performer with a great look and a ton of upside, he also happens to be openly gay. He’s been able to get a pretty damn impressive amount of mainstream media coverage given his relative stature in the business and has handled it brilliantly, to the point that, whenever he gets signed somewhere, he’s clearly going to be a huge asset outside of the ring for whatever company is lucky enough to have him.
On Friday, even if you didn’t know anything about Bowens or anyone else on the show (more on that in a moment), you would probably still notice that, on his way to the ring, he wore a rainbow tank top with “LOVE WINS” on the back. (There was another pride message on the front, but I’m blanking on it at the moment, in part because I didn’t get a picture.) So when one particular idiot at ringside got mouthy right before the match, he was being even more ignorant and insensitive than the significant level of ignorant that he already would have been in a vacuum. As the match was about to start, he looked at Darius Carter’s boots and decided to make the following noises with his mouth (paraphrased):
“THE D.C. ON HIS BOOTS ACTUALLY STANDS FOR…DICK CHASER!”
DJ ACCIDENT REPORT @eric_shorey. @JoakimMorales kicking homophobes out of @xBattleclubpro is a PRIDE MOOD
The rest of the crowd, thankfully, immediately shut him down and asked what the hell his problem was. But because this was not a big show, just about everyone either heard him or got the gist, which felt extra extra ugly and hurtful because because Battle Club Pro is about as legitimately inclusive a wrestling promotion you can find. Ring announcer Mark Adam Haggerty is out, as is commentator Eric “D.J. Accident Report” Shorey (of Nobodies Watching Wrestling fame), and there were other out wrestlers on the card who have become regulars. (Plus, hell, probably people that I just don’t know anything about.) It would have always been bad, but this was among the worst possible spaces that a wrestling “fan” could have yelled out what he did.
Quickly, Haggerty and Joakim were talking on the microphone. After the humble announcer relayed what was said in so many words (along the lines of “something that nobody should be saying in 2019”), Joakim immediately kicked him out, sending security over to remove him. The crowd applauded, vocally sent the guy on his way, and that was that. Still, you worry that a moment like that could lose the crowd for the main event. Thankfully, though, that didn’t happen, thanks in part due to the efforts of Darius Carter. For all of the criticism he gets (much of it stemming from Pete Dunne getting injured in their August 2017 BCP match), he knew exactly what to do was a total pro in keeping the crowd engaged as fans throughout, showing increasing concern in-character that his presumed title win was going to be ruined. It worked, and Bowens got his moment.
It sucks that the main event was almost marred by one idiot being very idiotic. But I couldn’t be more happy with and proud of how everyone else, both in the crowd and on the show, handled it. “Pro wrestling is for everyone” shouldn’t be an empty platitude, and at Battle Club Pro, it definitely isn’t.