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“I HAVE A LOT OF YEARS LEFT”—Shelton Benjamin 2.0

“I HAVE A LOT OF YEARS LEFT”—Shelton Benjamin 2.0


SHELTON BENJAMIN MAY be considered a veteran, but it’s hard for the WWE superstar to wrap his head around the label. “I feel like I got here yesterday,” the accomplished athlete said during a press junket Royal Rumble weekend.

It’s a surreal feeling for someone who has spent 22 years in the pro wrestling ring after breaking out as an amateur in college at the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gopher even had a hand in honing the skills of one Brock Lesnar.

“When I think back, it was just yesterday I was doing dark matches against Justin Credible and William Regal. Many matches later I’m helping guys like Apollo [Crews] and Cedric [Alexander],” he said. “I’m looking at these talents who are doing things … I thought I was cool back then, but then I see guys like Ricochet doing things I wouldn’t even think of.  It’s a good feeling to know I’ve lasted this long. Originally, when I got into pro wrestling, my thinking was, This will be something good to try for two or three years and then move on to something else … I’m still here.”

Shelton Benjamin tries to anticipate the unconventional high-flying offense of Ricochet. Once the innovative newcomer, Benjamin takes pride in working against and alongside the younger generations of competitors. ©2020 WWE, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Benjamin returned to WWE almost six years ago, paired with Chad Gable. From there, a mutual friendship and love for the industry gave way to the Hurt Business. Bobby Lashley, MVP, Alexander, and Benjamin all wore gold and dominated Monday nights.

“When it ended, we were all not happy,” Benjamin added. “We were broken up about it. We thought this was the greatest thing about our career,”

When asked if we’ll ever see a true 2.0 version of The Hurt Business, Benjamin was somewhat noncommittal, but he remains open to the possibility of a spinoff. He and Alexander are keeping remnants of the name alive still teaming together. With “The Almighty” and MVP doing their own thing, the former world tag team champ does have a few ideas for potential recruits.

“The Gold Standard” addresses fans and opponents with the WWE United States title belt draped across his lap. (PHOTO BY GEORGE NAPOLITANO)

“Apollo would definitely be in consideration. Giant Omos. That would be a huge win, pun intended,” he said. “Believe it or not, we have toyed around (with) having a female member of The Hurt Business. Number one on our list is Trinity [Naomi]. ‘The Bloodline’ might have an unfair advantage in that [recruiting] department. She is definitely on our shortlist.”

Another who expressed interest in signing up with the group early on was Mia Yim. Although she has since been released from WWE and is preparing for her next chapter, her friendship with Shelton Benjamin remains strong—although you may not think that watching them banter and taunt each other on social media.

“She is like my best friend. She is like my little sister,” Benjamin clarified. “I met her back in 2011, I believe, at an independent show. She was wrestling Mickie James. We just struck up a friendship from there. I ran into her from Japan. Over the years, we just developed this big brother-little sister banter. We are pretty vicious with each other. It’s all in fun. It’s one hundred percent fun. There are times when I want to hundred percent roast her and ask ‘Are you okay if I said this,’ because we are friends and I don’t want to cross any lines.

“I have huge respect for her and her talent. So, anyone paying attention to us on social media, it’s all for fun. We will bark back at people who are disrespectful. This is how we entertain each other and, hopefully, you are getting entertainment out of it too.”

Benjamin poses backstage at a Ring of Honor event with former tag partner Charlie Haas. He says he’d be open to teaming with Haas again in the future, adding that he sees him not just as a friend, but as a brother. PHOTO BY STU SAKS

If The Hurt Business doesn’t pan out, longtime fans could still one day enjoy a “World’s Greatest Tag Team” reunion with Benjamin teaming with Charlie Haas. His former tag team championship partner recently returned to the ring at IMPACT and is building a run on the independent circuit. Benjamin is happy to see it.

“For fans, he disappeared, but I’ve known what Charlie has been going through. I’ve helped him deal with things and get through it,” he said. “Thankfully, he is back on the rise and making a lot of noise on the independent scene. I love the idea of reuniting with Charlie. He is one of my brothers. To see him back in shape and back at it, I think I would love it. I think the fans would love it, and it would be a lot of fun to see what a mature ‘World’s Greatest Tag Team’ would do versus the world.”

As for how the 46-year-old has maintained his youthful look and ability to compete at a high level, Benjamin jokes “about 20 years ago, I must have been bit by a vampire.” The tenured performer believes it really comes down to a tried-and-true healthy lifestyle.

“I don’t smoke, drink, other. I exercise regularly. I’m constantly competing with the people around me,” he said. “That helps me stay young. I’m still a big video game guy. Of course, you feel the bumps a little more. For the most part, I think my lifestyle alone keeps me healthy. I’ve had major injuries and always bounce back and still plan to. I still have a lot of years in this business.”


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Capital Championship Wrestling Aims to Up the Ante for Women’s Wrestling in 2022 with “CCW Battleground”

Capital Championship Wrestling Aims to Up the Ante for Women’s Wrestling in 2022 with “CCW Battleground”

CAPITAL CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING is invading Houston, Delaware, on Saturday, February 19 for the promotion’s highly anticipated CCW Battleground event. There are a plethora of stars set for in-ring battle, and at least one eager fan has already preemptively dubbed the CCW championship match between current champion KiLynn King and Davienne as the “match of the night.” Other notable names set to appear on the card include LuFisto, Willow Nightingale, CCW tag team champs The Renegade Twins, Kayla Sparks, Angelus Layne, and Vita VonStarr.

CCW tag team champions The Renegade Twins & CCW champion KiLynn King (Photo by JayLee Photography)

The all-women promotion, owned by Marchello Squirewell, was founded in 2021. However, within a short amount of time, CCW has captured the attention of wrestling fans seeking to satiate their hunger for more women’s wrestling matches. As a Black man, Marchello’s proprietorship of CCW holds major significance, and having CCW Battleground take place during Black History Month is equally noteworthy.

CCW owner Marchello Squirewell, The Renegade Twins, and KiLynn King (Photo by JayLee Photography)

What’s also important to recognize is the Network Title Championship Gauntlet Tournament taking place, which will crown the promotion’s inaugural Network champion. Viewers will be able to watch Battleground exclusively on Title Match Network, which is also home to Thunder Rosa’s Mission Pro Wrestling streaming broadcasts (among other promotions).

That’s appropriate, since CCW Battleground is also a cross-brand of CCW and Mission Pro Wrestling. A number of wrestlers who have performed for Mission Pro on a regular basis (The Renegade Twins, Kayla Sparks, KiLynn King) will seek glory on February 20 in the “Diamond State.” Sparks professed her excitement about grappling in the Championship Gauntlet Tournament and being a part of CCW’s locker room to Pro Wrestling Illustrated. “I am so proud and honored to be a part of the Capital Championship Wrestling family! I’m humbled to be able to share the locker room and ring with so many incredibly talented women in pro wrestling today. It has been so rewarding to be able to witness the success and accomplishments since CCW’s inception to watch it continue to grow into what it is today,” began Sparks.

“I am really looking forward to competing in CCW’s first-ever Network Title Championship Gauntlet Tournament. I plan on making Title Match Network proud and represent the title to the fullest when this happens!”

Kayla Sparks (Photo Courtesy of JayLee Photography)

Sparks also spoke of how “blessed” she is to be a part of Mission Pro Wrestling. She added, “I 100% support their initiative to elevate women’s wrestling and give opportunities to cross-brand with CCW for the titles, which is brilliant.”

For more information on Battleground and CCW itself, check out Capital Championship Wrestling‘s website, Twitter, and Instagram. General tickets for CCW Battleground are $20 and front-row tickets are priced at $25; ages five and under are free. Doors open at 5 p.m. ET; belltime is 6:00 p.m. ET.

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The Mother of Chaos (And Reinvention)

The Mother of Chaos (And Reinvention)

Kasey Owens at Pro Wrestling: EVE, 2021. (PHOTO BY DALE BRODIE CREATIVE/EVE)

UNLESS YOU FOLLOW the U.K. and Irish wrestling scenes, chances are that the name Kasey Owens may not be on the tip of your tongue. But that all soon may be about to change. A contemporary of current WWE stars like Doudrop and Kay Lee Ray, Owens has worked her way up from the tiny Northern Irish wrestling scene to now find herself being showcased on the WWE Network through her regular appearances with Insane Championship Wrestling. Along the way, Owens has cast off labels and preconceived notions about who and what she could be—whether it was “The Girl” or “One Of The Twins”—and has consistently been able to reinvent herself, usually to great success.

“I had always been a fan of wrestling growing up,” said Owens. “I just didn’t really know how to get into the business. But, the more you want something, the more you will find a way to get that thing. And, when I heard about a school that was opening in Northern Ireland, I dove in, and, from there, it was a case of a lot of long car trips throughout Ireland, going to shows, just trying to learn and get better.”

Owens holds up the EVE International championship belt in the waning months of her two-year reign as champion. (PHOTO BY DALE BRODIE CREATIVE/EVE)

Owens hoped to step up her do by entering TNA’s British Boot Camp reality show in 2014, where, alongside her twin sister Leah, she had the chance to impress some of the most respected names in North American wrestling.

“It was mind-blowing,” she reflects. “Gail Kim was sitting right there, and she is one of my top five favorite female wrestlers of all time. So, there was a lot of fan-girling [on my part]. But, even though we got eliminated, it was such a great experience.”

After a stint in Japan, Owens moved to Glasgow, Scotland, and it was there that she really started working on her game (and herself), becoming a regular fixture of ICW. Being part of the promotion’s extraordinary growth is something that she is very proud to have experienced

“I started off helping with the ring crew, so I got an up-close look at the company going from smaller venues to bigger and bigger ones … and even just being a part of that was such a learning experience. I would say it was there, from 2016 onwards, that was really the growth of me as a wrestler with my storylines with Viper (Doudrop) and Kay Lee Ray. And I really focused on how I could stay relevant and keep growing as this company is growing. Then, last year, when I got the call to say we were going to be on the WWE Network, I was so excited. And it’s really changed how I approach wrestling, even in terms of being aware of cameras and ring positioning.”

Away from the WWE Network, Owens has become one of the main players in Pro Wrestling: EVE, where she is coming off a near two-year run as the promotion’s International champion—a title that she only lost due to an injury. When asked about what makes the all-women’s promotion so special, she pointed to it being not simply the quality wrestling but, rather, the entire ethos behind the endeavor.

“The Mother Of Chaos,” in full facepaint and at peak power, wears down Emersyn Jayne in the final round of a brutal gauntlet match. (PHOTO BY DALE BRODIE CREATIVE/EVE)

“They really get you involved in everything they do,” she said. “And the evolution of this KASEY character really started there. They treat every single woman as top-tier. No matter who you are in the ring with there, you are either teaching or learning. I feel like some companies don’t know what to do with women, and what I love about EVE is that they understand exactly what to do. It’s quite sad that outside of Japan, there aren’t more promotions like EVE. But you are unfortunately going to get that where some promoters still just aren’t fans of women’s wrestling.”

Whether or not some promoters care for women’s wrestling, Owens continues to hone her craft and make believers out of doubters. The transition from her early years to her current guise, dropping her surname and being known as “The Mother Of Chaos” KASEY, is a testament to her constant self-evaluation and knack for reinvention.

“My trip to Japan really made me realize I love that style,” she said. “I incorporated some of that into who I am now. But it’s taken me a good 11 years to get to this point. And, with the facepaint and my matches now, maybe I’m channeling some of the anger and frustration I had growing up.

I was bullied throughout school, so now I’m going to be the one to put a full stop on that. The buck stops with me. That’s what ‘The Mother Of Chaos’ is.”

With so much already behind her—and a career seemingly on the cusp of even bigger things—it’s fair to ask what’s next. Owens was reflective for a moment before answering.

“When I was sitting in the Ice Ribbon Dojo in Japan, my Father sent me a quote that said ‘Remember this life is not a practice’ … so I’ve taken that and just kept going,” said Owens. “There was a time when I thought about packing it all in, but I just can’t let this go. It’s not happening. The future is wide open, and I have friends in the U.S.A., so I know I always have somewhere to stay. But we will see how things go. The prognosis is that my broken ankle will be healed by April. So, watch this space … the future is wide open.”

Social Media plug:
Twitter - @Kaseyowens5
Patreon -

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Corrections for PWI April 2022

Corrections for PWI April 2022

We have a few relatively minor, yet regrettable corrections to report for the latest issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Missing photo credits on page 60 and 61, respectively:

Good Brothers & Brandon Cutler (Lee South/AEW) Second Gear Crew (Earl Gardner)

Author byline on page 39:

Terry Funk (Brian R. Solomon); This error was fixed for the digital edition of the magazine.

As always, we greatly appreciate all of our contributors and do our best to make sure they’re properly attributed. My apologies, once again, for the errors in this issue. -K.M.

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Full spread (dual cover) of April 2022 PWI

FROM THE DESK OF … [April 2022 PWI; A Plea To MJF]

Full spread (dual cover) of April 2022 PWI
Back/front cover of PWI April 2022 issue

TEMPTING AS IT is to use this space to reminisce about 2021, that’s not what I’m going to do here. At the risk of seeming biased, I’ve instead got some things I’d like to say about Maxwell Jacob Friedman.

This year, MJF took home PWI’s notorious Most Hated Wrestler of the Year Award in what amounted to a landslide. He received more votes for Most Hated than any winner in any other category. He’s ably played his job as a villain, although he’s crossed a few lines that some of us wished he wouldn’t have. (That comment about Melanie Pillman? C’mon, Max.)

Friedman has made a choice to be detestable, and it’s mostly working out. As much as he claims to be “Salt Of The Earth,” he’s been pretty much untouchable in AEW. And, when I say “untouchable,” I mean that literally. Over the last 12 months or so, MJF has talked a much bigger game than he’s played, leaning heavily on his cohorts in The Pinnacle or, just as often, choosing not to compete at all.

And I get it. After all, it’s pretty easy to boast a high win-loss percentage when you take most weeks off from competition.

At press time, MJF has wrestled about a dozen-and-a-half times in 2021. Compare that with 2019, when he signed with AEW—and wrestled 84 matches. Sure, it’s important not to burn yourself out, but Friedman enjoys a relatively light schedule compared to the other “Pillars Of AEW.” For instance, Jungle Boy has wrestled 52 matches in 2021, as of this writing.

It’s certainly not because MJF can’t go. He’s in incredible shape; has remarkable stamina. He’s proven that he’s a great mat wrestler, showcasing technical ability that rivals his ego. His talents between matches—his vicious promos, his singing voice—are proof positive that he’s not only gifted, but willing to put in the work. And yet … he trades verbal insults far more than holds.

Deep down, I’m convinced MJF doubts his own merit. Though he appears confident, he’s taken shortcut after shortcut to win matches, and he’s made opponents, like Chris Jericho, jump through hoops merely for the chance to punch him in the mouth.

And that mouth. Whew! There’s no denying MJF has a unique ability to talk fans into seats, and foes into encounters they may not be quite ready for. The guy, for all his faults, has “Future World Champion” written all over him. But he’s not going to get there unless he allows himself to be vulnerable—to take the chance that he might actually get his butt kicked more often.

Max, if you happen to read this—and I have a feeling you might—please realize you won’t get where you want to be by coasting. Get out there and wrestle. Wrestle at least half as much as you talk. And rely on your actual abilities inside the ring. Because, at the end of the day, you’re good enough to be the star you already say you are. But, first, you need to get out of your own way.

Kevin McElvaney

Pro Wrestling Illustrated



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2021 Stanley Weston Award Recipients Revealed

Tweet announcing the 2021 Recipients of the Stanley Weston Award, Ron Simmons and Terry Funk

2021 Stanley Weston Award Recipients Revealed

Every year, the Editor and Senior Writers of PWI bestow upon one or more individuals the Stanley Weston Award for Lifetime Achievement in professional wrestling. Last year, Pro Wrestling Illustrated chose to honor Madusa Miceli and longtime PWI Editor/Publisher Stu Saks for their contributions to the sport. This year, we have once again recognized two individuals for their career accomplishments: Terry Funk and Ron Simmons.

The PWI Editors Award is a tradition dating back to 1981, wherein a single wrestler, promoter, manager, journalist, or other figure in the wrestling industry would be honored for their overall contributions to the sport of professional wrestling. The inaugural award was given to the legendary Bruno Sammartino, with Lou Thesz being the second recipient in 1982.

Today, the Award—renamed for PWI founder Stanley Weston—is the single most distinguished honor bestowed by our publication, as well as the only one of our year-end awards not determined by our readers.

Terry Funk is one of the most influential figures in the history of pro wrestling—a former NWA World champion, ECW champion, and holder of countless regional titles over the course of a career than spanned over 50 years. He is renowned for his toughness (including in wild, no-holds-barred environments) by fans across the globe, along with his colorful, unforgettable promos and many memorable in-ring encounters over the years.

Ron Simmons enjoyed a similarly expansive and influential career in the ring, with his most famous achievement being his WCW World heavyweight championship victory over Big Van Vader in August 1992. With that win, Simmons began a historic reign as the first widely recognized Black World champion, wearing a title belt that traced its lineage to the historic NWA title by Thesz, Funk, and so many others. He went on to additional success in the WWE, with multiple reigns as World tag team champion with Bradshaw and a WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2012.

We’ll have more about these two greats of the squared circle in our April 2022 “Achievement Awards” issue, which hits stores in January.

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The Five Syllables or Less Review: The Marine 2

The Five Syllables or Less Review #2


The Marine 2. WWE Studios, 2009.

The Five Syllables or Less Review:

Excerpt Source:

Ramien, Jeffrey. “Moral Philosophy: The Critique of Capitalism and the Problem of Ideology.” Cambridge Companions to Philosophy: The Cambridge Companion to Marx. Ed. Terrell Carver. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1991. 151. Print.

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Eight Ice Ribbon Departures Have Big Implications for Joshi Promotion

Suzu Suzuki PWI Women's 150 2021

Eight Ice Ribbon Departures Have Big Implications for Joshi Promotion

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a couple weeks make! Wow! Ice Ribbon, a joshi promotion based out of Tokyo, Japan, looks like it’ll be going through a bit of a restructure in the new year with the departures of some of its top talent. 

First reported by Tokyo Sports Web by way of Yahoo Sports and confirmed by Ice Ribbon through a press conference later in the day, eight wrestlers will be leaving the influential promotion at the end of 2021. 

Current IcexInfinity tag champions Risa Sera & Maya Yukihi (Azure Revolution) and former ICExInfinity champion Suzu Suzuki are the most notable departures—as all three are positioned at the top of the company—along with ICExInfinity champion Tsukushi Haruka and head trainer Tsukasa Fujimoto. Akane Fujita, Kurumi Hiiragi, and Mochi Miyagi are also leaving but will continue their wrestling careers, while Kyuri plans on retiring from the sport altogether.

Risa Sera, Suzu Suzuki, Akane Fujita, Kurumi Hiiragi, and Mochi Miyagi will become a freelance unit focused on deathmatch and hardcore matches, according to Ice Ribbon’s official English Twitter account.

Suzu Suzuki PWI Women's 150 2021
Pictured: An excerpt from the January 2022 PWI, featuring Suzu Suzuki’s photo and bio in the “Women’s 150” section. A former ICExInfinity champion, Suzuki numbered among eight top Ice Ribbon stars to announce their intentions to part ways with the company.

Maya Yukihi will continue her wrestling career as a freelance wrestler both domestically and internationally, while also pursuing other opportunities in the world of entertainment.

Sera, Yukihi, and Suzuki have expressed interest in keeping a working relationship with Ice Ribbon moving forward.

Coinciding with today’s news article and press conference, Thekla, an Austrian-based wrestler working with Ice Ribbon through 2021, will also be departing Ice Ribbon, according to her official Twitter account.

Fear not, Ice Ribbon fans! As of now, there are no plans for the company to shut down. In fact, Hajime Sato, president of Ice Ribbon, addressed those concerns in his interview with Tokyo Sports Web. “I have never had such a large amount [of wrestlers leave],” he said. “[But] there is no particular impact [on Ice Ribbon plans moving forward].” Sato acknowledged some fans may leave, but the three-year investment into P’s Party should help usher in a new era for Ice Ribbon.

Finally, while we’re seeing some wrestlers amicably leaving Ice Ribbon, Chiharu has been reinstated as the coach of Ice Ribbon’s Joshi Pro Wrestling Circle.

PWI will keep you updated on any new information as it becomes available regarding Ice Ribbon. And, as always, “Be Happy With Pro Wrestling.”

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FROM THE VAULT: Baba and Vince Open the Forbidden Door

Giant Baba, Vince McMahon, and Seiki Sakaguchi pose together for a photo

FROM THE VAULT: Baba and Vince Open the Forbidden Door (updated 11/19/21)

VINCE MCMAHON. GIANT Baba. Together in the same ring. The 2,350 FANS in attendance at Korakuen Hall on January 28, 1990, were in for a big surprise. As recently as the early-1980s, McMahon’s WWF had enjoyed a solid relationship with All Japan’s biggest competitor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Suffice to say, no one was expecting Vince McMahon and Giant Baba to show up on the final day of AJPW’s New Year Giant series.

But that’s exactly what happened. On a show that saw All Japan Pro Wrestling founder Giant Baba defeat American journeyman Rip Rogers in a singles bout—along with the swan song of The British Bulldogs—no less than Vincent Kennedy McMahon made his way to the ring to address the crowd.

Vince McMahon waves to the crowd at Korakuen Hall, January 1990
Vince McMahon waves to the crowd at Korakuen Hall as Giant Baba looks on.

The above photo, along with the forthcoming photos in this entry, was sent to the Pro Wrestling Illustrated offices by a Japanese freelance photographer who asked us not to name them. This person specifically cited the fact that McMahon appeared in the photographs as the reason for their anonymity. Regardless, the veteran photographer seemed excited to share the photos in question.

As one might guess, Vince wasn’t simply in town as a tourist, opting to take in a show at one of Japan’s most historic combat sports venues. He was there on business. McMahon took the microphone and announced to the crowd that the WWF would be teaming up with not just AJPW, but NJPW, as well. The three promotions would come together to present the WWF/AJPW/NJPW Wrestling Summit.

Giant Baba, Vince McMahon, and Seiki Sakaguchi pose together for a photo
From left to right: AJPW President Giant Baba, WWF President Vince McMahon, and NJPW President Seiji Sakaguchi pose together for a photo.

The event, which emanated from the Tokyo Dome on April 13, 1990, was attended by more than 53,000 people. Despite not being released officially in the U.S., it was voted Best Major Wrestling Show in that year’s Wrestling Observer Awards. With an undercard that included a bout between Bret Hart and Tiger Mask, the show featured Andre The Giant and Giant Baba teaming up to take on Demolition, and the main event pitting Hulk Hogan against Stan Hansen.

Vince McMahon shakes Giant Baba's hand
Backstage at Korakuen Hall, Vince McMahon shakes the hand of Giant Baba.

In 2021, promotions are increasingly working together for the greater good. From the contemporary IWGP Conception, which saw NJPW copromote with Ring of Honor and CMLL, to the current, extensive interplay between AEW, IMPACT, the NWA, and other companies, cooperation is arguably one of the most exciting things about today’s wrestling landscape. Given WWE’s history of partnering with promotions overseas—and, later, giving visibility to upstarts like ECW and EVOLVE—is it really so hard to imagine the industry leader doing so once again?