By Jim Phillips, Senior Editor – Classic Wrestling
When I was told I would be receiving an award from one of the top independent wrestling promotions in the South, I was honored, as well as excited to be going to see the promotion firsthand. Southern Legacy Wrestling has made leaps and bounds in setting themselves apart from the competition, by not only show content, but by the way they have adopted a family feel to the promotion, both in and out of the ring. To say that I was looking forward to the event would be an understatement.
After landing in Atlanta, and negotiating the human maze of Hartsfield International, I set in for the next level of my transportational odyssey, with a ride across metro Atlanta in traffic at high speed. Which is, I believe, the only way one gets around that city, at a breakneck rate, or a dead stop. Either way, it never fails to delegate the pace of your life.
After waking up in Woodstock, I got a few errands out of the way, and picked up my suit for the show the next evening. I contacted the promotion and finalized my travel plans and headed out to explore Atlanta. Show day is always full of so much activity, that the day before a show is when I really get anxious for the live product the following evening. I love it!
My ride to the show contacted me and we met around noon, and when she pulled in an all black Camaro with ‘MacDiva’ on her plates, that this was going to be a fun ride to Alabama. Classie MacDiva is the social media end of the office at SLW, who’s been in the business for several years. Her ties to wrestling go back to the carny days when her grandfather used to work the circuit. She got her start at the end of the Nineties, and worked as a valet for Frank “The Flame” Barnhill in the Alabama Championship Wrestling promotion out of Anniston, Georgia, and eventually made her way to Southern Legacy when they formed, in the Spring of 2017.
I love the sound of the Southern accent, when it lilts through the air on the voice of a woman, and I could have listened to her tell stories about SLW and her wrestling experiences all day. It was a nice way to spend the hour and a half trip back to Alabama. This speaks to the dedication that the crew of SLW has and they family feel that you get from them. Classie drove an hour and a half to get me and then back…to and from the show. I can’t thank her enough for her time, and company as we drove the roads. She informed me that she would be doing the announcing for the evening as well, and would be presenting me with my award. It wasn’t long before we were wheeling into the Munford Community Center parking lot.
The Community Center was formerly the Munford High School, and it had that old building feeling palpable in the air. For those of us that remember and love the local events at our middle, and high schools, you will know exactly what I mean. The weathered wood on the bleachers, and shiny old plank wooden gym floor immediately took you there, but it was the reverberant echoes of the wood crashing against the metal frame of the ring as some of the crew took bumps before the show is the stuff that really sells me on independent wrestling. It’s that beating heart of heritage and history that envelopes you in those moments that make it so special to me.
Southern Legacy offers a training academy for not only it’s wrestlers to improve themselves, but as a gateway into the world of professional wrestling to new recruits, and trainees that have aspirations of working under the bright lights of the squared circle. They have four trainers, including Johnny Slaughter, and his teammate in Redeemed, Damon Taz. Their SLW Women’s Champion, Veronica Fairchild also works with the students, as well as former WWF(E) employee Bull Buchanan, who also serves as their Matchmaker, and in-ring face of the office. I spoke with all of them individually, and had a long conversation with their Women’s Champion about her early days in the business.
Veronica Fairchild started her wrestling career in the early 2000’s, and was trained at the WW4A promotion in Atlanta by Rudy Gonzalez. After many years working her way up in the business. In 2011 she got a shot with FCW, and from there she was set to go to Texas to and get a tryout with WWE at the SmackDown event in San Antonio. Life stepped in and intervened, like it sometimes can, when her husband was given the chance to take over the family business. This was a longterm opportunity that they couldn’t pass up and they opted to put her career on hold while they made new changes to their life. The call to the ring never left her and she would eventually give in and answer it. She returned to the ring and soon captured the MLW Women’s Championship and held it for nearly two years. She fell into the role of trainer but realized that it was a good fit for her and she now takes up that mantle as one of four at the SLW Academy. She had a son in 2012, and he was followed by a second child not long after, and Veronica took the time to be home for her young babies. It was in 2014 that she broke back onto the scene when she took on the role of manager for her brother, Joshua O’Hagan, who is also a wrestler. Once the ball was rolling, she made her SLW debut in October of 2017. She captured their Womens Title that night. She lost it to Dementia D’Rose earlier in the year, who in turn dropped the championship to Kaci Dillion. After a series of hard fought matches, Veronica managed to recapture the belt a couple of months ago.
Both her and her brother are good hands in the ring and have traveled the roads of the independent circuit. I talked with her brother for some time and he has a steel trap of a mind for the business and was spending his free time in the back stage area taking time to help the other wrestlers with their presentation and mat work. Its nice to see the cycle of giving back to the business that was prevalent in the SLW crew.
I walked down to the ring where a few of the students were talking and working on their technique. They took a few minute to discuss their feelings about their training and time with the promotion. Ryan Reaves of the Southern Revolution spoke about it:
“I love being a part of Southern Legacy. It’s a family feel around here and the trainers always have time to answer questions, and work with us one on one. This Academy is one of the best ones around.”
Lead trainer Johnny Slaughter spent time working for Deep South Wrestling, which was a developmental promotion that the WWE used as a scouting and training school. Slaughter trained Daphne, among others stars during his time with DSW. Johnny also is the driving force behind his Wrestling with Faith ministry, and is strongly connected to his church.
Damon Taz is also a veteran of the independents, and an all around good hand in the ring with a passion for the business. He suffered an injury that sidelined him in 2012, but came back to the ring once he rehabbed it out. He also has a degree in nutrition, that he implements in their training to help keep the wrestlers healthy, and in shape. These two men comprise the unit of Team Redeemed, and hold the SLW Tag Team Titles in the face of constant attacks and treachery by their main rivals, the men from the darkside, The Gathering.
With workers like Xander Morgan, Southern Revolution, new student Big Smuve, and the demonic Brad Savage flanking their line-up, SLW has a lot to be proud of with all they have accomplished over the last couple years, in not only the Academy, but instilling that old school mentality in it’s crew that shines through when you talk to one of the roster there. One of the things I love to see is the hunger in the eyes of young talents. It’s that glimmer of the eagerness to learn you see when a wrestler has chosen that path of sacrifice required by the business in order to succeed. It tests the heart of anyone that steps through the ropes, and when you see that desire to achieve, it makes you smile, as they set out on their journeys, both locally and internationally.
As show time grew closer the atmosphere began to change in the gym. Fans started drifting in and filling up the seats, as well as the bleachers. Gimmick tables full of merch were lined up, and fans began to clamor about. The first match of the night pitted Southern Revolution against a couple workers from afar. Canadian Zach Cooper, teamed with Alex Ocean as they set the crowd off right form the get go, as Zach strode to the ring waving his Canadian flag and demanding to have their national anthem played. Even thought the Canadian team managed to cut the ring in half, the Southern Revolution pulled out a win. Johnny Kaos beat J.D. Rush in quick order, and then Damon Taz came out to face the agent of evil, Brad Savage. Savage commands your attention whenever he is in front of the crowd. From his snarling entrance with smoke whisping out of his mouth, to his make-up and ring presence, this young rising star caught my attention from the time he broke the curtain. He and Taz continued their rivalry with Savage picking up the win to retain his Alabama Championship. After the match the Gathering, Killswitch, War Machine, and Colt Keegan came to the ring to put the blue faced demon under their spell, as they then all exited together, unified.
With other highlights of the night being Xander Morgan losing to the Television Champ, Jeremy Foster, only to have the man for hire, Big Smuve come down at the end of the match to squash Xander with a fury. The Champ and his muscle leave together and Xander is scraped off the canvas. Veronica Fairchild retained her title when she soundly defeated Angela Romano by submission. Team Redeemed managed to gain a victory over The Gathering in the main event with a quick roll up by Taz, but the attack on Johnny Slaughter that followed can definetly be seen as the dark army coming much closer to winning the war. The entire group came out and leveled Slaughter and left him laying in the ring until medical came and looked at him, with Bull Buchanan eventually running out to check on the scene as well.
NOW, let me just address the elephant in the room with my reception of not only an award for my work in promoting territorial wrestling and SLW in particular. I went with the best of expectations and intentions to bring some attention to the promotion to fans outside of Alabama that may have not been exposed to the great product they present. This was met with a vile attack by one Cody Ward who was upset that his scheduled opponent, Jaxon Vile, was not in there to compete. Cody chose to put himself ahead of the promotion and it’s gracious presentation of my award by not only interrupting the ceremony, but by ripping my plaque from my hand. He then smashed me in my face with it and continued his unprovoked attack by punching me in the head and stomping me while I was down on the mat. It was only when the SLW Champion, Steven Michaels came to my aid that Ward exited the ring like the coward he is. Bull Buchanan also came down to make sure I was ok and then he set a match between Michaels and Ward, seeing as how he had no opponent for the evening. It was just desserts, but by no means fair retribution for me. I’m too old school to let something like that slide and I WILL be back to Southern Legacy to settle the score, my own way. So all I can say to Cody Ward is:
“Keep an eye over your shoulder lil feller, next time I’ll be ready for you!!”
Even with the debacle of my awards ceremony, I really enjoyed my trip to SLW, and would like to thank everyone that welcomed me in and treated me like family. I have been to many promotions across the country, in the different cities I’ve called home, and when know when you walk through the door of a promotion that is doing it right from the ground up, you can tell it. The crew is polite, and courteous, with none of that “I’m better than everyone else” mentality that I’ve experienced in some locker rooms. It makes me proud to be affiliated with promotions like Southern Legacy Wrestling. Go see them if you get the opportunity wherever they may be working in Alabama, cause when you do, it truly feels like home sweet home.
SOUTHERN LEGACY WRESTLING
Munford Community Center
65 Mitchell St, Munford, Alabama 36268