I didn’t know Chandler Biggins. I’ve never set foot in the state of Ohio (which I’ve been meaning to rectify), let alone been to an AIW show (something I’ve definitely been meaning to rectify). However, I’m a big fan of what he helped put together.
It was around 2012 when I started actively seek out alternatives to the bigger wrestling companies. I’d already been watching Ring of Honor and Chikara for quite some time and had already seen some DGUSA and Evolve, but I knew there was more out there. It was about this time I found AAW out of Chicago, Beyond Wrestling out of the Northeast, and AIW out of Cleveland, OH.
I’d sampled some of AIW on their YouTube page. What I saw was the Webster’s Heritage Collegiate Unabridged Dictionary definition of the classic “three ring circus” analogy of wrestling. Absolute Intense Wrestling had something for everyone. This was proven to me when I bought my first show, “Hell on Earth 8”.
What convinced me to take the plunge was #NIXON. At that year’s “Absolution” show (traditionally AIW’s biggest show of the year), Chris Dickinson, Duke Schork, Eric Ryan, Bobby Beverly, and Rickey Shane Page all came together as a group of four guys sick of being overlooked who took it upon themselves to no longer be overlooked, no matter how violently they had to make their statement. They weren’t looking to “take over,” they were looking to take what was theirs.
“Hell on Earth 8” – AIW’s traditional “Black Friday” show – featured another chapter in the saga of #NIXON vs. The World as well as a taste of those other rings in the circus.
From the drive to be the best in guys like JAKA, Biff Busick, Michael Elgin and Johnny Gargano to the comedy of The Submission Squad, Jock Samson and Marion Fontaine. Rising stars like Josh Alexander and “All Ego” Ethan Page competed with who could be the most hated alongside Gregory Iron and Veda Scott. Allysin Kay began dominating the women’s scene in the US, while “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross (nka Son of Havoc), Josh Prohibition, the Irish Airborne, AR Fox and ACH all put on fantastic aerial clinics.
The semi-main event was the continuation of the #NIXON saga, as Eric Ryan, Rickey Shane Page, and Bobby Beverly were joined by another of “the overlooked and underappreciated,” Necro Butcher. They engaged in the bloodiest battle this side of Gettysburg against three of my favorites to this day and a fourth who had quickly gotten on my good side (but was no longer on #NIXON’s) – Eddie Kingston, Tim Donst, BJ Whitmer and Chris Dickinson.
From my first proper taste of AIW, I was hooked. It was a damn good show and the first of very many I would enjoy from them.
The promotional tag team of John Thorne and Chandler Biggins went above and beyond to give fans a taste of everything they could want and many things they’d never expect. Names such as Dan Severn, Billy Gunn, Mordecai and Terry Funk have journeyed to Cleveland in the quest to give fans the unexpectedly entertaining. A terrific microcosm of how AIW strives to entertain was seen at the company’s annual JT Lightning Invitational Tournament in 2014, when Buff Bagwell showed up to sing the “American Males” theme – and, moments later, hit a Canadian Destroyer on Ethan Page:
However, AIW is about much more than featuring older names when least expected. Many of today’s stars such as the aforementioned Johnny Gargano, NXT’s Nikki Cross and Aaaliyah honed their craft in Cleveland. TNA’s Sienna (the former Allysin Kay), Kingston and possibly Cleveland’s favorite son,
“The Deviant” Michael Hutter Ethan Carter III were also given an initial platform to perform there as well.
To list all of the moments, matches and stars AIW is responsible for may take a book (which isn’t a bad idea, really). For all of those, we can thank John Thorne and the dearly departed Chandler Biggins.
And for all of those I simply wish to say thank you, Chandler Biggins. Thank you for showing me and many others there is a wrestling world outside the mainstream. A brutal, entertaining, absolutely intense world.
Fans are encouraged to attend the memorial services of Chris Bryan (aka Chandler Biggins). Memorial information is below, courtesy of AIW:
Saturday, June 24th
Viewing at St. John Funeral Home
16381 Chillicothe Rd.
Bainbridge Twp., OH 44023
Burial At Restland Cemetery
17751 Chillicothe Rd.
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023
Reception at Bainbridge Town Hall afterwards
17826 Chillicothe Rd.
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023