Riverview graduate Ian Taylor has a reminder of why he wrestles each and every match.
He tapes his right wrist and writes down the initials of friends and relatives he’s lost, as well as his three children who cheer him at home. They are Jordan Booth, 8, Ethan Taylor, 3 and Naomi Taylor, 4.
“Those who don’t get a chance to see me can be with me,” he said shortly before his entrance music hit and the crowd at Cribbs Field in Verona went crazy on Saturday night.
Taylor, 27, of Verona is one of the more popular competitors in the Lawrenceville-based Keystone State Wrestling Alliance.
He got one step closer to his championship goal at the promotion’s first outdoor show in the small borough Saturday night with a big win over two-time KSWA heavyweight champion “Dr. Devastation” Lou Martin.
“I’ve spent 10 years here telling everybody I was going to do this, and to actually do it is a dream come true,” Taylor said about performing in front of the hometown crowd.
Taylor wrestles under the name BROhemoth, who hails from the digital world and has signature moves named after video game characters.
His outfit features a design of an original Nintendo controller.
Martin, 42, of Pittsburgh’s North Side has been in the wrestling business for 20 years. A member of the VIPs, a dominant faction in KSWA, Martin works for the Pittsburgh Pubic Works department when not competing.
“We just want to keep reeking havoc on the KSWA for as long as we can,” Martin said. “Our wrestlers in total for the KSWA are very approachable. The big-time wrestling (promotions) the fans don’t have as much access to them as they might to us. I think that is a very huge part. The wrestling that we bring is great stuff that the fans love. They’re part of our event. They’re just not in the crowd.”
Martin and Taylor were in the crowd as their match took them nearly all over the field. Fans were mere inches away from the action.
The two competed in an ambulance match in which the only way to win was to put your opponent in the back of an ambulance and shut the doors.
Taylor stands 6-foot-3 and weighs in around 350 pounds. His wrestling style consists of big slams and hard hits with a finisher called the “Monster Magnum Driver.” It’s similar to the F5 used by WWE superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Taylor was younger and easily had a 50-pound weight and a few-inch height advantage over Martin. That didn’t stop the legend from putting on one of his better performances.
He slammed Taylor against the park’s fence, struck him with folding chairs, lawn chairs and powerful punches. It just wasn’t enough.
Taylor stuffed a trash can over Martin’s head and hit him with a super kick. He also hit two of his signature “Bowser Bombs,” which are running senton bombs off the ropes. Chants of “Bro” could be heard for several blocks.
The ambulance lights lit up the Verona sky and Taylor’s hand was raised in victory at the end of the main event.
“I knew it was going to be by any means necessary to walk away with the win,” Taylor said. “He had the same mentality. Today I’m the better man. Next time, who knows. I’m the face of Verona.”
KSWA is small, independent
A few hundred people attended the Verona show.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic to have our first show here,” said Keystone State Wrestling Alliance owner-promoter Bobby Orkwis prior to the bell. “Outdoor shows are fun. Big venues like Cribbs Field, we can do so much with it. We are ‘PG-13,’ ” and pride ourselves on that.”
There were no pyrotechnics. No big flashing lights — and not even safety mats outside the ring like people would find at bigger promotions.
“People think wrestling and think WWE and Ring of Honor,” Orkwis said. “That’s more glamorous. Since we’re small and independent, you have to do it for the love of the game.
“You’re helping out, whether it’s loading and unloading the ring, putting things together and putting chairs up. You’ve got to do a little bit of everything.”
James Blumer, 55, and his granddaughter Nicole Ellison, 22, both of Millvale, have been fans of KSWA for 13 years.
“They’re just a great group of guys here,” Blumer said. “We just love the entertainment. I like the outdoor shows better because you’re out in the air and they can fit a lot more people in.”
Wrestler T-Rantula took a plastic container of nachos from Ellison and smashed them against opponent Officer Dan Murphy, who is not a real policeman.
Blumer said that’s great fan interaction.
“We give him nachos every time because he’s known (for taking people to) Nacho City,” Blumer said.
Wrestling legends who have been through the KSWA ropes include Lord Zoltan and Dominic DeNucci.
Taylor’s championship aspirations
The current heavyweight champion is “The Gavel” David Lawless, who did not compete in Verona.
“He’s a hell of a champion. Guy’s a fighter,” Taylor said. “Hopefully, he’ll step up and accept my challenge sooner or later. When the time comes, he best bring his A-game, too.”
Taylor dreamed of becoming a champion in the squared circle for years.
He would watch legends such as Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and other icons perform for tens of thousands of people every week. He knew he had to become a part of the excitement.
That drive helped him ditch his job in the fast-food industry and skip college to turn pro in Pittsburgh.
“I have been a fan for as long as I can remember,” Taylor said. “I want to take this as far as I can. I want my name to be known worldwide other than just from the internet.
”I’m not doing this for fun. This is my life, and this is what I like to do. I give it 110 percent when I step through those ropes.”
Born in Virginia Beach, Va., Taylor and his family moved to the Verona area about 15 years ago to be closer to other relatives.
He went to Riverview High School, where he graduated in 2009 with no plans for college.
“Why go to school and spend money when I can be out here and try to make some money?” he said.
He worked for several different businesses, including a Burger King in Erie, before deciding in 2015 that pro wresting would be his path to success.
“Burger King made me hate people,” Taylor said. “Wrestling made me start to like people again.”
His wrestling influences
Taylor began training at the Violence Academy in Erie under the tutelage of Aaron Draven.
He said his pro wrestling influences include The Undertaker, Samoa Joe, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ron Simmons, also known as Faarooq in the WWE. Faarooq was the WCW’s first officially recognized African-American world champion. Faarooq was part of the WCW, which the WWE later bought, and wrestling under the name Ron Simmons when he was named the first African-American world champ. Taylor also is African-American.
Taylor’s start in wrestling
Keystone State Wrestling Alliance has shows nearly every weekend at the Spirit Hall along 51st Street in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.
Taylor’s first KSWA appearance was a tag-team match in February 2017 with his partner and the person who brought him into the company, Zak Hunter. They were defeated by then tag champs Jester and T-Rantula.
Taylor and Hunter would battle in singles and various other matches.
“(Taylor’s) been a great addition,” Orkwis said. “Brohemoth wasn’t a fan favorite when he came in, but the fans took to him. We’re happy to have him. We consider ourselves Pittsburgh’s independent wrestling organization, and we’re proud to represent that.”
Taylor does not have a second job. He is sponsored by Lower Valley Athletic Foundation and does do a lot of in-house work like many other indie wrestlers.
More information about KSWA and upcoming shows is available at kswa.net.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.