Who would win in an arm wrestling contest: Steven Adams or DeAndre Jordan? – ClutchPoints

Today’s NBA is defined by singular talents: Lebron, Steph, Durant, Giannis, Kawhi, etc. You get the picture. But above all else, there is one individual matchup that could define the current generation…  Steven Adams vs DeAndre Jordan. Yes, those are the two players we are talking about. These two basketball behemoths will vacuum up rebounds and throw down vicious dunks, but the everlasting question remains: who would win in an arm wrestling contest?

Wait, that wasn’t the question you were expecting? Well, this hypothetical event takes precedence over watching Jordan not contest shots at the rim or wondering why Adams doesn’t grab more defensive rebounds. Let’s break this down:

Tale of the Tape

Steven Adams, Thunder


Steven Adams  

Age – 25

Height – 7’0”

Weight – 250 pounds

Wingspan – 7’5”

Combine bench press – 16 reps of 185 lbs at the 2013 combine

DeAndre Jordan

Age – 30

Height – 6’11”

Weight – 265 pounds

Wingspan – 7’6”

Combine bench press – 8 reps of 185 at the 2008 combine

In my (cursory) research while becoming an expert in arm wrestling, the most important factor in determining a winner is strength. Unfortunately, current weight-lifting information for NBA players is hard to find. The next best thing is looking at combine numbers. Steven Adams blows Jordan out of the water on the bench press.

Another factor that can sway a match is forearm length, as it impacts the leverage an arm wrestler can get during the bout. The NBA seemingly does not care about forearm length, but the difference in the wingspans of Adams and Jordan is negligible and shouldn’t impact our decision too much.

Age-wise, Jordan, 30, has not yet reached the old-man strength portion of his NBA career like, say, a Nene or Zach Randolph. With Adams only being a spry 25 years old, the advantage has to go to the Jason Momoa doppelganger.

Let Jimmy Butler tell you about Adams’ strength.

Steven Adams, Thunder

Experience in Arm-Wrestling

The best movie out right now is Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. In the movie, teenager Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spiderman. Through some events not to be spoiled here (seriously, go watch the movie), Morales meets characters from parallel universes who also are Spider-creatures. Lacking the experience as Spiderman that others have, Morales falls behind in their quest.

The point is lack of experience matters in a competition. Let’s look at each of our two combatants here.

Googling “DeAndre Jordan arm wrestling” is weird as hell. It also returns no pertinent results. Jordan does have three brothers who played collegiate sports but are all younger than the Mavs center. Assuming Jordan and his brothers arm wrestled as children is a safe bet. With Jordan being the oldest, however, he misses out on the Younger Brother Syndrome™, the extra boost a person gets in athletic competitions with siblings that gives them a competitive edge overall.

Conversely, googling “Steven Adams arm wrestling” is also weird as hell but actually contains some useful information. Adams was quoted in a 2014 New Zealand publication as saying he could beat his older sister Valerie (a 6’4”, 246 pound two-time Olympic gold medalist in shot put) in an arm wrestling match. That’s confidence.

A little more Adams family research also unveils that the center is the youngest of 18 (!!!) children, giving him an infinite boost of Little Brother Syndrome, the likes of which has never been seen before. With that many siblings, it would not be surprising if Adams was involved in some legendary arm wrestling single elimination tournaments growing up.

Final Decision

First, the people have spoken. With over 100 votes on this twitter poll, 96% of voters chose Adams over Jordan. Sadly neither Adams nor Jordan themselves weighed in on the discussion.

If the hypothetical match ever did happen, Adams would either stare into the depths of Jordan’s soul unblinking into eternity or make Jordan laugh by busting out this incredible American accent. It’s a toss up really. Both moves are super effective.

After looking at these different aspects, Adams is pretty clearly the winner. The ease in which the Thunder’s center took this hypothetical raises several other questions. Firstly, why is an arm wrestling competition not part of the All-Star Weekend festivities?

The other pressing question: who would take down Adams as champion? A possible eight-person field for this season: Adams, Jordan, Boban Marjanovic (huge), Andre Iguodala (old man strength/anchor arms), Nene (old man strength), Semi Ojeleye (look at his arms), Dwight Howard (shoulders of granite) and LeBron James (dad strength). Feel free to sub any of these competitors out in favor of another NBA bodybuilder.

Sixers, Lakers, Bulls, Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James

Trio of freshmen stand out for Penn wrestling at this year's Midlands Championships – The Daily Pennsylvanian


Freshman Carmen Ferrante was among three Penn wrestling freshmen to advance to the Round of 12 at this year’s Midlands Championships.

Credit: Nicole Fridling

While most students take winter break as an opportunity to relax, Penn’s wrestlers kept up their work on the mats.

The Quakers traveled over 800 miles to Hoffman Estates, Ill. to compete in the Midlands Championships, one of the premier tournaments in collegiate wrestling. 

Three freshmen were in contention for a podium finish after the first day, as No. 10 seed Carmen Ferrante along with Doug Zapf and Jake Hendricks all moved on to the tournament’s second day before falling in the Round of 12. 

Eleven of Penn’s 18 wrestlers secured at least one win, and four freshmen and four others grabbed their first career Midlands wins. Overall, the Red and Blue finished 17th out of a highly competitive 48 team field with 28 team points. 

Ferrante reached the quarterfinals with three wins in the first session. In the first and second rounds, Ferrante defeated both Robert Garcia of Fresno State and Nic Aguilar of Rutgers by an identical 10-3 score.

Competing at 125 pounds, he triumphed over Kyle Biscoglia of Northern Iowa by a score of 12-2 to advance to the quarterfinals, where he clashed with No. 2 seed Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern, ultimately falling 19-3. On the tournament’s second day, Ferrante faced Elijah Oliver of Indiana in the Round of 12, but was taken down early and could not bounce back in a tight 3-2 loss.

Zapf started off day one with a first-round bye in the 133 pound bracket. He pulled off a pair of upsets in both the second and third rounds, beating both No. 7 seed Yoshi Funakoshi from Cal Poly and No. 10 seed Jen Lantz from Wisconsin by a pair of 3-1 results.

Like Ferrante, Zapf eventually fell short in the quarterfinals against his No.2 seed, this time Austin DeSanto of Iowa. Although he lost by a score of 13-3, he too advanced to the Round of 12, where he fell to No. 9 seed Josiah Kline of Arizona. Despite scoring first, Zapf could not keep up the offense and lost 10-2. 

Hendricks went 2-1 on the first day of the Midlands in the 174 pound bracket. After opening the day with a 10-1 loss to No.13 seed Clay Lautt of North Carolina, he made his way through the consolation bracket with wins over Central Michigan’s Colin Lieber and Chicago’s Kyle Peisker with a combined score of 15-10 to secure a match on the tournament’s second day.

However, Hendricks would continue the trend of falling in the Round of 12. Similarly to Zapf, Hendricks had the early lead in his match after a takedown of No. 9 seed Willie Scott of Rutgers, but Scott roared back in the third period to clinch a 3-2 win.

Fellow freshman Anthony Artalona, already moving into the national rankings and coming into the tournament as the No. 7 seed, earned two early wins before falling in the third round to Brayton Lee of Minnesota by a 5-3 score. However, he was forced to forfeit his following match due to medical reasons.

Always looking to improve, the Red and Blue will seek another team win when they return to dual meets and face off against Duke on January 6th in Durham, N.C.

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Raider wrestling finishes 1-4 at West Stanly Duals – Richmond County Daily Journal

Leon Hargrove Jr. | Daily Journal file photo
Richmond’s Joey Nicholson, right, walks off the mat after a win on Dec. 13, 2017. Nicholson went 4-1 at the 2018 West Stanly Duals this past weekend.

OAKBORO — Despite his squad only winning one of its five matches, head coach Earl Nicholson said the Richmond wrestling team “really competed hard” at the 2018 West Stanly Duals on Saturday.

Once again, junior 113-pounder Joey Nicholson — who finished first in his weight class at the E.B. Memorial Clash of the Creek a week ago — led the charge for the Raiders. He would finish 4-1 and earn top honors at 113.

Also putting up noteworthy efforts for Richmond were Bryant Coll at 126, Michael Demay at 138, and Phillip Gillis at 225 — each racking up three wins. Demay won by pin in all three; Coll pinned two opponents and won by forfeit in the other; and Gillis grabbed a victory via pin and tacked on two forfeit victories.

Earl Nicholson said the Raiders competed with only four starters and had seven junior varsity wrestlers step in to boost the numbers. Even with the JV help, the Raiders had to surrender each bout at the 152-, 182-, 195-, and 220-pound weight classes — which came out to 20 total forfeits on the day. They were on the winning side of 11 forfeits at the Duals.

Richmond will return to the mats this Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Joel McCanna Invitational at St. Andrews University.

NOTE: The full version of this story can be found in the print and e-editions of the Daily Journal on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

Leon Hargrove Jr. | Daily Journal file photo
Richmond’s Joey Nicholson, right, walks off the mat after a win on Dec. 13, 2017. Nicholson went 4-1 at the 2018 West Stanly Duals this past weekend.

Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.

WRESTLING: Surtin sets record in EHS win – The Edwardsville Intelligencer


EDWARDSVILLE — While Noah Surtin would have preferred a championship victory at the Al Dvorak Invitational last weekend, there may have been no better setting than the Jon Davis Wrestling Center for the Edwardsville senior’s record-breaking victory.

Surtin, with a second-period pinfall, secured his 155th career victory to set the all-time record in program history during Edwardsville’s 69-9 victory over O’Fallon in Southwestern Conference action on Saturday night.

“This is pretty cool. This program has had a lot of great wrestlers. This shows how hard I have worked,” said Surtin, who improved to 155-15. “This is the best night to do it. It feels great to do it in front of everybody.”

Surtin pinned O’Fallon’s Gabe Thomas in 3:36 to break Blake Blair’s former record of 154 victories.

Following the win, Surtin raised both hands in triumph and pumped up an electric crowd that included over 50 former EHS wrestlers on Alumni Night.

“This shows all the hard work I’ve done to achieve this. Not many people know except for my coaches and my teammates. Even some of my friends think they do, but don’t. This is meaningful and cool,” said Surtin, a Missouri recruit ranked No. 2 in Illinois.

Edwardsville coach Jon Wagner said Surtin earned the record with all of the work he has put in over the years and that the setting for the win was perfect.

“Doing it in front of the home crowd and alumni, everything really worked out for him,” Wagner said.

Surtin’s victory was one of many highlights of the day for the Tigers, who honored their alumni prior to the start of the match.

“It was great to see all the alumni come back and see a new version of Tiger style. We’ve had some great kids come through this program and have set the path. I’m proud to have coached them and been part of their growth,” Wagner said. “I’m a proud man and to see those guys come out with a smile and give me a hug means the world to me.”

EHS won 12 of its 14 matches on the day, including 11 via pinfalls, to improve to 18-0 in dual matches and 3-0 in the SWC.

The Tigers started the match with five consecutive wins on pins, including a 41-second victory for Will Zupanci at 152 pounds and a 56-second victory for Mason Wilke at 138 pounds. Luke Odom, Drew Gvillo and Caleb Harrold also had pins to help the Tigers to an early 30-0 lead.

O’Fallon won two of the next three matches, including a pin at heavyweight from Isaiah Hill, to draw within 39-9, but Edwardsville dominated the lower weights. Sam Martin won for EHS 6-2 at 195 pounds.

Grant Matarelli picked up a pin in 49 seconds at 106 pounds, followed by Connor Surtin winning in 1:50 at 113 pounds and Dylan Gvillo in 21 seconds at 120 pounds,

The momentum carried over for Surtin, who picked up the second-period win to secure history.

“I wanted that pin. I knew I was going to get that pin. I wasn’t going to walk off that mat without the pin,” Surtin said. “I knew what was on the line.”

Jack Evans closed out the EHS win with a pin at 1:18 at 132 pounds.

For Surtin, the stay at the top of the record books may be short-lived. Odom, a two-time third-place finisher at state, the No. 1 wrestler in 138 pounds in the state and an Illinois recruit, is undefeated this season with a Dvorak championship. He went 51-2 last year and 44-5 as a freshman.

“Luke is going to pass me up next year. It’s going to be short-lived. It’s cool that Luke and I will both hold the record,” Surtin said. “We don’t really talk about it too much, but I know he’s going to and he does too.”

Next up for Edwardsville is the Cheesehead Tournament in Kaukauna, Wisc., where the Tigers finished 19th last year, on Jan. 4-5.

Saturday will be tough to top.

“This was wrestling at its best,” Wagner said.

Week in Wrestling: Top 10 Women's Wrestlers of the Year – Sports Illustrated

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

The title of “Wrestler of the Year” is far more subjective than objective.

This list was based on a combination of the wrestler’s work in the ring, the attention that work garnered, and their overall impact on the business over the past year.

Relevance in the wrestling world (ie; if Ronda Rousey is ranked ahead of Sasha Banks, it means she had the better year, not necessarily that she is the better wrestler) played a critical role in the creation of this top ten.

Naturally, the immediate question is why were some ranked higher than others?

Stage and magnitude are important, but match quality matters more, as the wrestlers dictate that far more directly than their spot on the card. Credence was given to those who worked more (Charlotte Flair, for example, works a much more demanding schedule than Rousey), and there is an admitted bias toward those performing in America (but if you have the time, please check out this match between Meiko Satomura and Kay Lee Ray, which begins at the 1:35:00 mark).

Ultimately, who makes you believe? The answer to that question is inherently subjective, but it is not open to argument that the year 2018 was monumental for women in wrestling. Although it has not always been this way, industry leader WWE helped lead the way for women in wrestling.

The first-ever women’s Royal Rumble took place in January, and it is no longer out of the ordinary if a women’s match closes Raw or SmackDown. The movement was nearly industry-wide. Ring of Honor crowned their first women’s champion in April, Impact Wrestling continued to add depth to the weekly programming through their women’s roster, and the women’s four-way match at All In was an important part of the historic event in September.

A wrestler’s skill at consistently elevating her opponent was also emphasized, as well as the ability to generate interest through her work on the microphone. Less of an emphasis was placed on wins and losses. While a promotion’s creative team does decide whose hand is raised at the end of a match, it cannot predetermine how a wrestler will make a crowd feel or respond.

Here are my top 10 wrestlers of 2018, beginning with the notable omissions:

HONORABLE MENTION: Penelope Ford, Sasha Banks, Meiko Satomura, Bayley, Chelsea Green, Io Shirai, Taya Valkyrie, Britt Baker, Ruby Riot, Natalya Neidhart

10. Jordynne Grace

Top three matches of 2018: Over The Top Wrestling’s “Defiant” show vs. Dash Chisako; All In’s “Over The Budget Battle Royale”; Beyond Wrestling’s “Somebody’s Farewell… Probably” intergender match vs. Brian Cage

Jordynne Grace created a genuine buzz on the indies in 2018 with no single promotion behind her. Her standout moment occurred at All In’s Over The Budget Battle Royale, capturing the attention of the wrestling world with her incredible combination of athleticism and strength.

Impact Wrestling immediately recognized Grace’s value and signed her to a deal this past October. Looking ahead, Grace would be a perfect fit for 2019’s Mae Young Classic. And looking back on 2018, Grace stood out for her ability to create interest in her character and matches without a weekly television platform.

9. Bianca Belair

Top three matches of 2018: NXT vs. Deonna Purrazzo from August 22 airing; NXT vs. Nikki Cross from September 12 airing; NXT Number One Contender Fatal Four Way vs. Io Shirai, Lacey Evans, and Mia Yim from December 26 airing

This was a breakout year for Belair.

The NXT talent has athleticism that is off the charts, but what separates Belair is her intelligence. She is extremely cerebral in how she applies her athleticism to her matches, and this past year saw her become a true force in the ring.

Belair has a seemingly unlimited amount of charisma, and she has just started to blossom into her spot as a top talent.

8. Tie: Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane

Top three matches of 2018 for Baszler: NXT TakeOver: New Orleans vs. Ember Moon; Evolution vs. Kairi Sane;

Top three matches of 2018 for Sane: NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn vs. Shayna Baszler, Evolution vs. Baszler; NXT TakeOver: War Games vs. Baszler in two-out-of-three falls match

While neither has raised the women’s title to the prominence that Asuka did in 2017, both Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane ensured that the NXT women’s division remained relevant in 2018.

Baszler brings legitimacy to every match with her MMA background, and there are few better pure babyfaces in the business than Sane, who works a style much bigger than her 5’1”, 115-pound stature. The two excelled in their match at Evolution, which was WWE’s first all-women pay per view, and both instantly make you believe in their style.

There is a Ricky Steamboat/Ric Flair parallel at play with Baszler and Sane in the sense that an attraction and an opponent are necessary in making a story work. In wrestling, there are attractions and there are opponents, similar to the way in which Joe Frazier was never the attraction in boxing, as he was the opponent for Muhammed Ali. In the Flair-Steamboat story, Flair was the attraction and the one whom the story was centered around, while Steamboat was the opponent, a role necessary in order to tell a compelling story.

We are still figuring out who the attraction is between Baszler and Sane, but my money is on Sane. While that may be debatable to some, we can agree upon the fact that both were necessary to make the women’s division so relevant in 2018.

7. Toni Storm

Top three matches of 2018: PROGRESS women’s championship match at GWF Women’s Revolution 8 vs. Wesna; Mae Young Classic vs. Jinny; Evolution vs. Io Shirai

John Cena was nicknamed “The Protype” during his time in WWE developmental. Shouldn’t the same be said of Toni Storm?

Storm has the look, the innate ability to cut dynamic promos, and realistic work in the ring.

Her work in 2018 was worldwide. In addition to winning WWE’s Mae Young Classic, Storm starred for promotions that included U.K.-based PROGRESS Wrestling, wXw in Germany, and Japan’s Stardom.

Storm is incredibly focused in the ring, and the dedication to her craft has been so important to her evolution as a wrestler, particularly over the past year. She is also a natural performer, always at ease with a crowd, and her demeanor and personality add to her draw. When Storm is wrestling, it is difficult to take your eyes off the match. Her addition to the main roster will be a huge gain for WWE, and her past year was especially noteworthy.

6. Alexa Bliss

Top three matches of 2018: Elimination Chamber vs. Sasha Banks, Mickie James, Bayley, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose; Fatal 4-Way match on June 11 Raw vs. Natalya Neidhart, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon; Money in the Bank cash-in vs. Nia Jax

Alexa Bliss’ biggest weekly opponent in 2018 was overexposure, yet she remained relevant every time she appeared on Raw.

Bliss helped carry the women’s division on Raw, making her segments with Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax an integral part of the show. It can be argued that the same could have been said of Sasha Banks or Bayley had they been placed in Bliss’ position, and that is a valid argument. But Bliss made the most of her ability in the ring, stood out as one of WWE’s best talents on the microphone, and delivered in an unrelenting, high-profile role.

She has been out of action since late October with what is widely-regarded (yet never confirmed by WWE) as multiple concussions, but Bliss still had a monumental year, including great buildups to her matches at WrestleMania and SummerSlam.

5. Asuka

Top three matches of 2018: January 29 Raw match vs. Sasha Banks; WrestleMania 34 vs. Charlotte Flair; TLC triple threat match against Flair and Becky Lynch

Asuka closed out the first and last pay per view of the year for WWE, winning the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble as well as one of the year’s most compelling matches in the main event at TLC against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch.

She muddled through a bad program with Carmella, then later disappeared due to questionable booking, but Asuka is a unique talent that has an easy-to-define character and extremely realistic work in the ring.

Despite the inadequacies in booking that lingered on for months, Asuka was still as believable at TLC in December as she was at the Royal Rumble in January.

4. Ronda Rousey

Top three matches of 2018: WrestleMania 34 tag match with Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon; SummerSlam vs. Alexa Bliss; Evolution vs. Nikki Bella

Has the Ronda Rousey investment paid off for WWE?

In a word, yes.

Although television ratings haven’t spiked, Rousey brought a sizeable following that includes a newer fan base of younger females to WWE, and she is an already established star best known for her work in the UFC, which opens up channels to coverage on ESPN and Fox Sports.

Rousey’s match quality has been weak, especially at SummerSlam against Alexa Bliss, which was memorable solely due to Rousey winning her first title in WWE. But Rousey’s impact extends beyond the ring, and she certainly made waves throughout the year and brought even more attention to the women’s division in WWE.

3. Tessa Blanchard

Top three matches of 2018: Impact ReDefined triple threat match vs. Allie and Su Yung; Four corner survival match at All In; 75-minute Rise Wrestling Iron Woman match vs. Mercedes Martinez

The future of women’s wrestling has a face, and it is Tessa Blanchard.

Blanchard had an outstanding 2018, shining in the only women’s match at All In and adding an entirely new edge to the women’s division in Impact.

This owner of a unique pedigree–her father is Tully Blanchard and her stepfather is Magnum T.A.–is somehow only 23. Blanchard works hard in the ring, she is versatile and confident, and her toughness is on display in every match.

Blanchard is an athlete and can back it up in the ring, performing compelling matches against both male and female opponents. Her success in 2018 now leads her to headlining on the Women of Wrestling show on AXS TV starting in January.

2. Charlotte Flair

Top three matches of 2018: WrestleMania 34 vs. Asuka; Last Woman Standing match vs. Becky Lynch at Evolution; TLC main event against Lynch and Asuka

Charlotte Flair is one of the best pure athletes in all of wrestling. Her work this past year hit incredible peaks, starting with her WrestleMania match against Asuka and ending with an industry-changing TLC main event with Asuka and Becky Lynch. In between those two seminal events was her “Last Woman Standing” match against Lynch that closed out WWE’s Evolution pay per view, as well as the Survivor Series match against Ronda Rousey.

Flair can close a show, which is likely to happen in 2019 at WrestleMania. She also gives reason to watch SmackDown every week. In a climate where there is no one male in WWE who is on fire with the audience, Flair kept the crowd wanting more all throughout the year.

1. Becky Lynch

Top three matches of 2018: SummerSlam triple threat against Charlotte Flair and Carmella; Last Woman Standing match vs. Flair at Evolution; TLC triple threat against Flair and Asuka

Hard to believe, but “The Man” was not even a featured part of this past year’s WrestleMania, instead one of many in the women’s battle royal.

Only a few months later, we now live in a wrestling world where a pay per view without Becky Lynch is a significant problem for WWE.

On pace to headline WrestleMania 35 in what looks to be the first fan-driven call for a headliner since Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 30, Lynch elevated herself to another level following her title win and the unveiling of a new edge and attitude at SummerSlam. She carried herself like a star in 2018, and none of her peers in the business made a more substantial jump in value than Lynch.

Lynch’s unpredictability, which is illustrated through her chaos and violence in the ring, was captured perfectly after her face was broken and she suffered a concussion from a reckless punch from Nia Jax on the November 12 edition of Raw. It is also telling that fans are not only clamoring for Lynch to avenge Jax, but they want it well before WrestleMania–where Lynch can move on from Jax and fulfill her destiny, becoming one of the first women to ever headline WWE’s signature event.

Nick Gage Ringing in the New Year With Beyond Wrestling

Nick Gage is a death match specialist.

Infamous for his violent style of wrestling and time in prison, Gage is also known for nearly killing movie star David Arquette in the ring this past November.

But, as Gage explained, there is meaning behind his violence.

“Deep down, it’s an art form and a different style of wrestling,” said the 38-year-old Gage. “And it’s underground. There’s barely no rules. It’s just one man vs. another. Whoever wins, wins.”

Gage is a featured part of Beyond Wrestling’s “Heavy Lies the Crown” show on New Year’s Eve in Worcester, Massachusetts, broadcast on Powerbomb.tv at 5pm ET, squaring off against Josh Briggs in a “fans bring the weapons” match.

This will not be a chess match of technical wrestling, nor will it be a high-flying exhibition. Instead, fans will be treated to a gory affair.

“There will definitely be blood,” said Gage. “And I’m going to drink it.

“Josh Briggs is close to 6’7” and close to 300 pounds, so that’s a challenge for me. That’s what fuels me. I look at Briggs, and he’s young, fast, and strong, so that’s a challenge for me to go out there and let everyone know that I can still beat f——- guys like that and tear sh– up.”

Gage is cerebral about his craft, which allows him to flourish in a death match forum that others fear.

“I consider myself a death match wrestler, it’s my job and my passion,” said Gage. “I take pride in being the top guy doing it in the U.S. I fell in love with it watching Cactus Jack and Terry Funk, I thought that was f——- badass.

“…I always wanted to do this. Me and my brother grew up wrestling. We did shows in the backyard when we were 13. We sold tapes when we were in high school. I can’t remember when I didn’t want to do this. I got in a wrestling ring on my 14th birthday, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Starting in 2011, Gage served a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second degree bank robbery. This certainly fits in the “only in pro wrestling” category, but Gage’s time behind bars adds a unique air of authenticity to his death match persona.

“That will be stuck with me for the rest of my life,” said Gage. “But I did what a lot of people don’t do; I embraced it. I was in there running it. I took the good out of a bad situation and turned it into a positive.”

Gage sparked controversy this past November during his Game Changer Wrestling death match against David Arquette. A broken light tube swung by Gage cut Arquette’s neck only inches away from the jugular, which caused the match to end in a fashion differently than originally planned.

“It did get people talking, and that led to more people watching the match, so it goes both ways,” said Gage. “But as a professional and a performer, I didn’t like the way the ending went down.”

Game Changer Wrestling is Gage’s home, and he even helps run his own wrestling school, The Compound, in West Berlin, New Jersey.

“Our company, GCW, blew up in the past year, and the love and support we got from the fans is unbelievable,” said Gage. “The support I get from the fans is overwhelming. I have a cult following called the MDK Gang, and the reason I started it was because of all the letters and support I received from fans when I was in prison. Those were the people telling me to keep my head up. When I got out, I wanted to let people know how much I appreciate them. They’re the ones who make me thrive.”

Gage now wrestles nearly every weekend as his aura grows, and he is looking forward to adding to his legacy this New Year’s Eve.

“Beyond is such a great company,” said Gage. “They’re blowing up, and they’re good people over there, so I’m planning on taking that place over. I’m going to make it my house. I’m taking on a guy in Briggs, who is on a winning streak, and I’m going to smack him around, hit him with weapons, and end that streak.”

In other news…

• WWE’s decision to bring back the women’s tag team titles after a 29-year hiatus is a positive, but does not fix the main issue often casting a shadow over the division.

The women need better storylines. The tag titles will help, since the chase for gold is a built-in storyline, but there are still too many wrestlers without a concrete narrative.

The past year was a throwaway for Sasha Banks and Bayley. Their feud started and stalled before going absolutely nowhere. Both are elite talents, yet neither is currently booked anywhere near the level at which WWE has elevated Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, or even Nia Jax.

Wrestling needs a strong mid-card in order for a show to work. The argument can be made that Banks and Bayley should not always be on the top of the card, which is completely understandable. But their aimless booking from the past year needs to be remedied in 2019. Otherwise, even a run with the new tag titles would serve no real purpose.

• Tuesday’s SmackDown saw AJ Styles throw hands at Vince McMahon (does anyone else feel that McMahon’s character doesn’t fit in with today’s product?), but the highlight of the show occurred during the wrestling match between Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura.

Rusev won a 22-minute match to finally reclaim the United States championship, and he looked like a beast in the victory. Nakamura has the ability to bump–ie; take someone’s moves–and make it look incredibly realistic. A babyface Rusev wearing gold is well deserved, but the question of what comes next for Nakamura is also intriguing.

Nakamura won this past January’s Royal Rumble and challenged AJ Styles for the WWE championship at WrestleMania. It is safe to say that Nakamura will not be put in a similar spot on the card in 2019.

Speaking with multiple sources close to WWE, Nakamura remains extremely happy at WWE, with multiple goals he has yet to achieve, so any rumors of unhappiness or leaving the company are lacking merit. But the former three-time IWGP heavyweight champion is also far too talented to open the card.

So where does that leave him?

The next step for Nakamura needs to be a move to Raw. He can work as a babyface or a heel, challenging Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental title or even working a program with Braun Strowman. If Vince McMahon ever wants to spike the third-hour ratings of Raw, a Universal championship match between Nakamura and Brock Lesnar would draw a considerable audience and create a lot of excitement for a show that is often stale.

• CWF Mid-Atlantic delivers Battlecade XIX this Saturday from the Sportatorium in Gibsonville, North Carolina.

The main event is Arik Royal cashing in his “golden ticket” for a heavyweight title match against Trevor Lee on the 1,029th day of his record-setting title reign.

“This match is five years in the making,” said the 6’2”, 260-pound Royal. “And the first time I won the title was at Battlecade, and this is a chance to do it again.”

The show will stream live on Twitch at 7:30pm ET, and presents an opportunity for Royal–who is 33-year-old Arik Dumas–to prove he is in the same league as Lee, who has established himself as a star in the California-based Pro Wrestling Guerrilla promotion.

“Trevor was born to wrestle, and it comes to him naturally,” said Royal. “I’m amazed at what he has accomplished, especially with the obstacles he’s overcome, and his hunger has never wavered. He can wrestle any way you want–he can brawl with you, throw strikes or get on the mat, or fly in the air with you.

“He’s got all the notoriety, and it’s well-deserved, but I know that I should be there, too. That’s what this match means to me at Battlecade.”

Royal is known as the “Ace Gawd”, and his arsenal includes versatility. The trash-talking big man brings swagger to every one of his matches, and he is capable of entering the air or using his power, but his greatest strength is in connecting with the crowd–albeit in an adversarial manner.

The two longest-reigning champions in CFW history meet this Saturday at Battlecade,

“If you tune in on Twitch this Saturday night, you’re going to know who I am,” promised Royal. “The ‘Ace Gawd’ will be the next Mid-Atlantic heavyweight champion.”

• The Top 10 for men’s wrestling in 2018 will post on Monday.

Tweet of the Week

WWE’s Madison Square Garden show on Dec. 26 had a plethora of highlights, but this video of John Cena watching as the stars from NXT made their way to the ring really resonated with me. Cena also had a seminal moment nearly 15 years ago at MSG against the Big Show at WrestleMania XX.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

Ref in wrestler dreadlocks controversy investigated for 2016 slur – KRDO

(CNN) –
A referee who told a black varsity wrestler to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit a match this month was the subject of a 2016 investigation that involved him calling a fellow referee a racial slur, according to a source from the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association.

Alan Maloney received a one-year suspension for the 2016 incident, the source said.

Because the incident did not occur at an athletic event, the suspension was overturned on appeal after the NJWOA ruled it has no jurisdiction over happened, according to the Courier Post, a newspaper that covers Southern New Jersey.

Maloney told the newspaper that he did not remember saying the racial slur to his colleague. But he said he believed him and apologized to him.

Maloney has been accused of exhibiting racial bias for telling Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson to cut his hair if he wanted to compete in the match.

Video of a trainer cutting Jackson’s hair in the middle of the gym went viral, prompting criticism from professional athletes and celebrities. The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights is investigating the incident and the Buena Regional Board of Education said it will not send its teams to events the referee is officiating.

According to a letter from the school district Superintendent David Cappuccio Jr., the wrestler chose to have his hair cut rather than forfeit the match after the referee told him his hair and headgear were not in compliance with league regulations.

CNN has made multiple attempts to reach Maloney for comment on both the hair-cutting incident and the 2016 racial slur incident.