“You wouldn’t know what to do with the throne if you took it. Are you going to consistently be better than everyone around here for the next decade? Are you going to push yourself to become one of the best professional wrestlers on this planet? ‘Cause see, that’s what I did. And that’s what I continue to do.” – Jeremy Wyatt, October 2018
On October 5, 2018, at PWCS in Alton, Illinois, Jeremy Wyatt captured the Gateway Heritage Title in a Fatal 4 Way Contest. This in itself is not such a notable event: titles in wrestling change hands, and Jeremy Wyatt has held more than a few of them. What was different about this? What changed this time?
The champion has changed.
Jeremy Wyatt has had a lengthy reign in Kansas City – and Midwest – wrestling, the monarch beating a who’s who in professional grappling history. But anyone who looks in the eye of the man now knows that he isn’t what he was … he is colder, crueler, more calculating. He has been doubted, and he has been cast aside, and he has returned tougher, more sinister, and more capable than ever.
Wyatt is now challenging the greatest talents in the world to come into his territory. Not to earn their respect, as that ship has sailed. Instead, he seeks to humiliate them, to show that the prestige and credibility that they carry should always have been his. The competitive drive that made Wyatt among the best has turned into a dark, compulsive need to bring others low. And he is excellent at it.
The rules have changed.
Wyatt is contractually demanding that the Gateway Heritage Championship be defended under Pure Wrestling Rules, a rarely used competitive framework. What do these rules entail? And more importantly, how do they solidify an already dangerous Wyatt title reign?
Each competitor is allowed 3 rope breaks.
After these are exhausted in the course of the match, the referee will not enforce a 5 count and will allow a submission or pinfall anywhere on the mat.
There is no Champion’s Advantage (title changes hands on count out or disqualification). Count outs are on the referee’s count of 20.
As described, though the Japanese style of a 20 count adds an extra wrinkle to strategy.
Closed fists are disallowed.
First infraction earns a referee warning, second infraction forfeits a rope break (if one is remaining), third infraction disqualifies the offending competitor.
All of these rule changes (except the forfeiture of Champion’s Advantage) strongly benefit the technically sound and precise Wyatt, and even then, he prefers to keep his fights away from the scenery and in the ring, on the mat. No matter what type of opponent that Wyatt faces, be it striker, flyer, or brawler … all of them have primary weapons hampered against an incredibly dangerous opponent. Wyatt’s strengths are in catch wrestling, and maximizing leverage … lost arts that he specializes in, and these rules specifically reward.
The arena has changed.
Though the landscape of Kansas City wrestling has shifted dramatically over the years, Wyatt remains steadfast against the storm. Each new hotshot company always talks about fresh stars and propelling the city’s scene into a new era of wrestling (JPKC included) … and at the end of the day, after all the cake and watermelon, after the song and dance, after the lights are off and the party’s over … there remains Jeremy Wyatt, and another broken fresh faced talent lying at his feet.
But each time the new company makes promises (as new companies do) to take down Jeremy Wyatt before he destroys their vision.
What can be done? What competitor has the wind to keep pace with Wyatt, the skill to go hold for hold, the veteran experience to identify a rare opening and exploit it?
St. Louis Anarchy brought in Jonathan Gresham, a technical and scientific competitor of no equal. At the end of a mighty struggle, Wyatt overcame him.
Now it’s Journey Pro’s turn. And we think we have the answer.
“The show had been over for hours. The ring, chairs, & fans, long gone. But this space is alive. Awash with indescribable emotion. All very real, all settling in a place beyond money or rationale. I will do what I can to not take these moments for granted.” – Matt Cross, August 2018
Wrestling is sacred. Wrestling is life. Wrestling is forever.
No one exemplifies the spirit of competition quite like the “Mad Dogg” Matt Cross.
With 19 years of professional experience under his belt, Cross certainly has the pedigree and the tenure. With stints in Ring of Honor, Combat Zone, CHIKARA, WWE, and Lucha Underground, as well as appearing on the groundbreaking All In independent supershow, he certainly has no dearth of experience against top level talent. He is regarded by his peers as a high flyer without equal, and commands a respect he has well-earned in every locker room he enters.
These are all terrific reasons for JPKC to select Matt Cross as their chosen challenger, but they undersell the passion and commitment Cross has to his craft, and just how much competition means to him.
A wrestler’s true “peak” is difficult to define and measure, a moving target that varies so much with each individual. Generally speaking, as wrestlers gain the skills and savvy of experience, the physical tools begin to decline. When you have a wrestler like Jeremy Wyatt, however, whose physical condition and abilities have maintained (or even improved), you end up with someone very special indeed. Finding a competitor to face them with a similar physical prowess and experience makes a very short list indeed, and there is no question about it … Matt Cross is near the top of that list.
But it is Matt Cross’s heart and determination that pushes him from being a star into being a legend. Many a cocky accomplished individual has come into Wyatt’s territory expecting an easy night and come away battered, bruised and beaten … you can rest assured that Cross will not make such a mistake. He will be prepared, he will be focused, and he will relish the challenge.
“We can’t explain it, and we don’t have to…it’s in our blood. Wrestling is forever.” – Matt Cross, September 2018
KEYS TO VICTORY
- Use familiarity with the rule set to try to bleed out Cross’s rope breaks, particularly in the early going
- Use superior height and leverage to apply holds and position Cross in ways that are taxing to reach the ropes or break the hold
- Attack Cross’s legs to reduce his speed advantage and prevent him from taking to the air.
- Use his superior speed and agility to land high impact maneuvers early on.
- Be very cautious on high risk opportunities, recognizing Jeremy Wyatt’s penchant for exploiting those openings.
- Stay off the ground and keep his distance from Wyatt wherever possible.