Strong Style Saint: The BJ Whitmer Story


Rickey Shane Page is the interviewer for this one. Whitmer started with Les Thatcher’s school in 1998 after growing up a fan in Cincinnati. That led to him working IWA Mid-South, and then Pro Wrestling NOAH thanks to a tryout at Harley Race’s school. Rickey gives Whitmer some names of wrestlers (American Kickboxer, Tarek the Great, Reckless Youth, etc.) to get some thoughts on guys from that period of his career. Whitmer then talks through his mindset in choosing HWA over IWA Mid-South when HWA became a WWE territory for a relatively short period, and then going back to IWA Mid-South once that partnership had ended.

2003 was an interesting year for Whitmer, as he won the IWA-MS Revolution Strong Style tournament, debuted for Ring of Honor the night after, and wrestled for PWG in his first match on the West Coast. In 2004 he debuted for CZW thanks to Mike Burns, and the next weekend had his first Iron Man match (30 minutes) against Jerry Lynn. In this section he also talks about interacting with Ricky Steamboat during Steamboat’s ROH sting, working for Ed Schuman as part of NWA No Limits, wrestling Trent Acid, wrestling Super Dragon, working for FIP’s relaunch events, wrestling Delirious, and wrestling Chris Candido.

Whitmer broadly discusses Dan Maff’s departure from ROH and transitioning into tagging with Jimmy Jacobs. Whitmer calls James Gibson one of the best wrestlers he ever was in the ring with. It was Gibson who called Whitmer when he was released from WWE to help make some connections to the Indies as Gibson knew Whitmer from the HWA, and Whitmer helped get him to ROH. 2005 also saw Whitmer wrestle in both a War Games and Dog Collar match in IWA-MS. You can tell from his stories that Whitmer is a very positive person, and he puts over Nigel McGuinness, Claudio Castagnoli, and Samoa Joe in the process during these discussions as well.

Some of what Whitmer says about the ROH-CZW feud you have heard before, but he also puts a personal twist on those stories. He discusses some injuries he sustained during this time, the original plan for “Arena Warfare”, and how he went about requesting his pay day for the no rope barbed wire match against Necro. He talks about working in England and Germany in the Summer of 2006 and some fun adventures outside of the ring during those trips. Since he wrestled Go Shiozaki in England, Whitmer also goes into how Gabe trusted him to work a lot of the Japanese talent when they came to ROH, such as Marufuji, Shiozaki, Shingo, and Morishima. He wishes he could have wrestled KENTA in ROH, although it is worth mentioning he faced KENTA and Nigel in NOAH for the ROH World Title right before going on a nearly three year hiatus.

Of course the lauded Jimmy Jacobs feud receives a good amount of time. Whitmer knew Jacobs’ spot on the ROH roster at this time had been tenuous, so he was motivated to have a killer performance with Jacobs in Detroit. That’s the match where Whitmer busted his ankle, and Whitmer goes into detail about how long he put off surgery so he could play out both the CZW and Jacobs’ storylines. He is also very thankful to Gabe and Cary for paying him for shows he missed due to having ankle surgery. Whitmer also provides some of the thoughts he had going into the Steel Cage finale of their rivalry and what plans changed. Despite it not going exactly how he wanted, he is very proud of how the match turned out.

After some talk of random matches from mid to late 2007, we get into Whitmer’s extended break from wrestling. This decision came about due to bulging discs and his left arm going numb regularly, as well as a falling out with Gabe. He discussed with Gabe an exit plan at the end of January 2008 to be written out in March, and then NOAH called a few weeks later, which extended his run into late Spring. His plan was to take six months off and come back recharged, but instead, two surgeries and 17 weeks in a cast resulted in him losing motivation to wrestle and maintain the diet and workout regimen of a wrestler. Whitmer got in the rhythm of working a day-to-day job and that seemed to be the end of his wrestling career. Eventually he decided to come back because he wanted to end his wrestling career on his terms. T

he last 30 or so minutes of the interview cover Whitmer’s return to the Indies in 2011 through mid 2012, which is fun because Whitmer gets to talk about a new crop of people he didn’t get to face in his original run like Adam Cole, DJ Z, and Rickey Shane Page himself, as well as facing people like Jimmy Jacobs again after so many years. He calls his match with Davey Richards from AIW the most important of his comeback tour thus far, because after that match, Richards told Cornette and Delirious to bring him back to Ring of Honor. After talking about some goals, Whitmer does more word association. What shocked me about this round of word association was that so far in the interview, Whitmer was complimentary of everyone, but here he calls someone a flat out dickhead and has mixed feelings on other people.

At close to three hours, this interview covers just about everything in Whitmer’s career from this period, but it does admittedly lack some depth. I think that lack of depth speaks to Whitmer’s demeanor, as he comes off as an easy going person who is happy to talk about anything and everything, but going into greater detail would require detailed follow up questions which rarely occurs in most wrestling interviews.. This interview gets a thumbs up, and actually holds up quite well.


BJ Whitmer vs. Reckless Youth
IWA-MS “No Blood, No Guts, No Glory 2001” – Charlestown, IN – 5.12.2001

Whitmer is much less muscular and tan at this time, and is wrestling in a singlet top and long tights. Chris Hero is in his corner. Youth has full control of Whitmer to start. Whitmer rakes Youth’s eyes across the top rope. Youth is able to reverse a corner whip, which sends Whitmer to the floor. Whitmer however stops Youth’s Asai moonsault. He tries to give Youth an exploder suplex off the apron but instead, Youth sends Whitmer onto Hero, then tope suicida’s onto both of them. Whitmer is able to take back over inside the ring. Youth however slips out of a suplex attempt, dropkicks Whitmer’s knee, then delivers a diving knee strike to the back of his head. Whitmer strings a Stun Gun and back suplex together. Whitmer misses a diving headbutt. Youth capitalizes with a quebrada press. A springboard moonsault gets Youth a two count. Whitmer ducks a clothesline and gives Youth a German suplex. Youth blocks a super Frankensteiner and brings Whitmer down with a super atomic drop. He gives Whitmer a 2k1 Bomb before going back up top. Jim Fannin throws powder in Youth’s eyes as Hero distracts the referee. Whitmer DDT’s Youth and delivers a frog splash for the pin at 14:05. With no commentary I can’t tell you at the time what Fannin’s involvement with Hero and Whitmer was or what his issue was with Youth, but his involvement sure did put a damper on an otherwise totally solid match. You could see glimpses of the wrestler Whitmer would evolve into, and it was fun seeing him in his formative years against an independent wrestling icon. **½

Sweet Science Sixteen Tournament Opening Round Match
BJ Whitmer vs. Mike Quackenbush

IWA-MS “Sweet Science Sixteen 2001, Night 1” – Charlestown, IN – 9.7.2001

Jim Fannin is in Whitmer’s corner. Quackenbush frustrates Whitmer with a spin kick to the chest, a kick to the spine, and a roundhouse kick to the side of the head. He rolls Whitmer down into a kimura lock, but Fannin places Whitmer’s foot on the bottom rope so he can escape. Quackenbush kicks Whitmer in the spine after escaping Whitmer’s abdominal stretch. Fannin again assists Whitmer in escaping a submission with the ropes. Quackenbush uses the ropes to escape a double arm stretch from Whitmer. Quackenbush whips Whitmer to the floor and follows with a slingshot somersault senton. Quackenbush misses a flipping leg drop off the second turnbuckle, and Whitmer blasts him with a seated dropkick. He gives Quackenbush a brainbuster for two. However, Whitmer misses a diving headbutt, and Quackenbush is able to come back with the Tail of the Dragon. A springboard splash gets Quackenbush a two count. Whitmer hooks Quackenbush in a Northern Light suplex for two. As Whitmer goes after Quackenbush on the top turnbuckle, Quackenbush comes down with a sunset flip bomb and gets two. Whitmer powerbombs Quackenbush to halt a Frankensteiner, then muscles him up for another powerbomb. A frog splash gets Whitmer the pin at 11:25. I guess that move is a weakness to CHIKARA’s founders. The crowd really dug Quackenbush’s offense and energy. It helped get them to jeer Whitmer, who was able to overcome Quackenbush’s sizzle with steak. Unbeknownst to both Quack and Whitmer, this was the beginning of their respective TPI journeys, but Whitmer would reach the destination more quickly. ***

Ted Petty Invitational Final Round Match – IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship
CM Punk vs. BJ Whitmer

IWA-MS “Ted Petty Invitational 2002, Night 2” – Clarksville, IN – 11.2.2002

Punk has been champion since 10.26.2002 and this is his fourth defense, due to him defending the title all tournament long. Whitmer defeated Matt Murphy, Ace Steel, and Colt Cabana to make it to the finals while Punk defeated Matt Stryker, Jimmy Rave, and Chris Hero. Punk catches Whitmer off guard during Whitmer’s entrance with a suicide dive. After pummeling Whitmer ringside he hits a springboard dropkick in the ring. Punk brings the title belt inside and Whitmer gives him a neckbreaker onto it. They kick one another in the spine. Punk does more damage to Whitmer’s back before stomping him down in the corner for a running boot scrape. He gets two with a snap powerslam and puts Whitmer in a chinlock. Whitmer throws the back of Punk’s head into the mat and drops a running elbow. He pulls Punk up by his legs into a powerbomb. He tries again but Punk blocks and comes off the top with a crossbody. Whitmer devastates him with a lariat for two. Whitmer lands a diving headbutt for two. He dropkicks Punk in a tree of woe then puts on his own chinlock. Punk escapes and overhead suplexes Whitmer. Punk’s crooked moonsault is thwarted by Whitmer getting his knees up. Punk kicks his way free from another powerbomb and takes Whitmer over with a Frankensteiner. He comes off the top with a splash for two. Whitmer blocks the Shining Wizard. Punk ducks Whitmer’s own attempt at it and puts Whitmer in a Cloverleaf. Whitmer gets to the ropes to escape. Punk takes him down with an arm-capture suplex onto his head, then nails the Shining Wizard, but Whitmer kicks out. He gives Punk a brainbuster and a German suplex. A rolling forearm to the back of the head allows him to give Punk a dragon suplex for two. Punk drops Whitmer with the Pepsi Plunger, and Whitmer kicks out! When Punk climbs the ropes again, Whitmer crotches Punk. He brings Punk down with a super brainbuster to win the tournament and the championship at 17:49. This crowd was really tired by the end of this nearly 5 hour event and who could blame them? The match started hot but didn’t keep that momentum consistently. The effort was there, but the energy mostly wasn’t, as the crowd really only came alive for a couple Whitmer kick outs and didn’t even really care that much when he won. That recipe does not make for the best or a particularly great or memorable tournament finale, but it’s probably the best you can do with a tired as heck audience. ***¼

BJ Whitmer vs. Stan Dupp
IWA-MS “Spirit of ‘76” – Clarksville, IN – 5.24.2003

This match was called a preview of next month’s Strong Style tournament. Dupp would go on to be best known as Trevor Murdoch. Whitmer has his traditional short trunks and ponytail look at this point. A lot of this match was trading lock ups, submissions, nearfalls, with an occasional strike or kick. Dupp cheated when he could, such as grabbing the bottom ropes to add leverage to a grounded headscissors. Whitmer almost had him pinned with a running knee strike after a forearm exchange. Dupp pokes Whitmer in the eyes to end another forearm strike exchange, delivering Kawada kicks as well. Whitmer responded with his own and Dupp knocked him down with a lariat. Whitmer kicked out of a diving bulldog. He gave Dupp a Dragon suplex, then held onto a grounded Full Nelson until Dupp submitted at 18:32. The last few minutes were very fun but there was a whole bunch of nothing happening before them. I would say it speaks volumes that the commentary was barely paying attention to what they were doing, but truthfully that’s a common IWA-MS issue and a really friggin’ annoying issue at that. **½

Revolution Strong Style Tournament Final Round Match
BJ Whitmer vs. CM Punk

IWA-MS “Revolution Strong Style Tournament 2003” – Clarksville, IN – 6.27.2003

Pretty fun that these two met in a tournament finals once again. Punk defeated Tarek the Great and Stan Dupp en route to the finals, while Whitmer defeated Ian Rotten and Chris Hero. Whitmer backs Punk to the corner where he elbows him in the face and delivers several chops. Punk drop toe holds Whitmer into the corner and gives him a facewash kick. Punk gets his arms trapped in the ropes when Whitmer clotheslines him over the top, giving Whitmer the chance to gives him a pair of knee scrapes and a knee strike to his temple. Punk tries a schoolboy upon being released but is taken down with a hard forearm strike right away. Punk does however land a crossbody block after a chinbreaker. Whitmer kicks out of that, and a pin after rapid fire kicks to the forehead. Punk almost has Whitmer pinned with a powerslam but even in his exhausted state Whitmer gets his shoulder up. Whitmer is able to land a lariat but misses a diving headbutt. Punk also goes for broke but his super leg drop also does not land. After kicking Punk on the mat, Whitmr gives Punk an exploder suplex into the corner. Jim Fannin gives Whitmer a loaded elbow pad behind the referee’s back. It almost doesn’t matter as Punk blasts him with a Shining Wizard, but Whitmer kicks out. Punk takes the elbow pad and places it on his own elbow. He clobbers Whitmer with it but Fannin pulls Whitmer to the ropes to stop Punk’s pin. Whitmer is outfitted with another loaded elbow pad discreetly. He nails Punk with it, and Punk also gets his foot on the ropes to stop the count. Ian Rotten comes out to stop Fannin from interfering any further. Whitmer gives Punk an exploder suplex off the top turnbuckle, a Saito suplex, an exploder suplex, and a Dragon suplex to pin Punk at 13:24. The elbow pad nonsense aside, which completely sucked, everything about this was an improvement over their TPI match. The story was more engaging, the crowd was much more energetic, and the performances were more convincing. It would have been even better had they just left well enough alone and not had Rotten involved, but even still, this was a terrific match. It speaks well for Whitmer that he would win both the TPI and this tournament in a relatively short period. ***½

BJ Whitmer vs. Homicide
IWA Mid-South “King of the Deathmatches 2003, Night 2” – Clarksville, IN – 8.2.2003

The night before, Homicide submitted to Chris Hero in a match featured on Hero’s Best on the Indies collection. Homicide snaps off three quick armdrags which impresses the crowd. He controls Whitmer by his wrist until Whitmer snapmares Homicide and kicks him in the back six times. Homicide responds with his own snapmare and back kicks, firing up the audience. Whitmer is able to stop a tope suicida attempt with an elbow strike from the floor. Whitmer stretches out Homicide’s knees and neck upon re-entering the ring. Homicide clotheslines Whitmer to stop Whitmer’s running knee scrape, and then gives Whitmer a running knee scrape of his own. Whitmer comes back with a couple suplexes and a brainbuster for two. He puts Homicide in a Stretch Plum. Homicide dropkicks Whitmer to the floor after escaping and lands a tope suicida. However, back in the ring, when Homicide hops to the second turnbuckle, Whitmer goes underneath him and brings him out with a running powerbomb. Homicide reverses a whip and after a yakuza kick brings down Whitmer with a super Frankensteiner. He only gets a two count with a follow up Ace Crusher. Whitmer stops a Hamachan Cutter and nails Homicide with a diving forearm strike. Homicide German suplexes Whitmer after escaping Whitmer’s Dragon suplex attempt, but Whitmer gets his foot on the bottom rope to stop the pin.Whitmer then successfully Dragon suplexes Homicide, despite Homicide attempting a low blow to escape. Homicide lariats Whitmer after blocking Whitmer’s attempt at the Cop Killa. Homicide goes for the move himself. Whitmer slides out and lands a superkick. Homicide hits it the second time for the pin at 14:15. What really made this match was the hot crowd who were very into Homicide while also appreciating Whitmer’s efforts. They did a fine job making it seem like Homicide’s victory was hard fought which had the crowd even more behind him when the pin registered. More or less these guys did all their usual business, but it was put together in a compelling manner and portrayed the smarts of both competitors in addition to their toughness. ***¼

BJ Whitmer vs. Samoa Joe
IWA Mid-South “Simply The Best V” – Highland, IN – 4.10.2004

This is Joe’s IWA-MS debut. Whitmer is the IWA-MS champion at this time, and Jim Fannin is in his corner. Joe throws some kicks at Whitmer’s leg. He then headbutts the crap out of Whitmer’s upturned wrist and stomps on his hand. Whitmer’s first big score is knocking down Joe with a jumping knee strike, but Joe log rolls Whitmer’s legs out from under him. After a double knuckle lock, Joe uppercuts Whitmer to the floor. Whitmer’s eye poke is effective, but Joe’s hard strikes keep him firmly in the game. Whiter goes under Joe’s chin with an elbow strike. Joe goes to the ropes to prevent a choke from Whitmer. Joe stops him in the corner with an STJoe. Whitmer uses the ropes to escape an elevated Boston Crab. Joe clobbers him with a running facewash kick. Whitmer seems to have a moment to come back with a leg lariat, but is sent to the floor with an enzuigiri, and is knocked down with an elbow suicida from Joe. Joe delights the crowd with a running boot to a seated Whitmer. In the ring Whitmer catches Joe with a rolling clothesline, then an exploder suplex for two. Joe powerslams Whitmer and then puts Whitmer in an armbar, but Whitmer gets the ropes quickly. Joe powerbombs Whitmer into the STF. Whitmer is tapping out, but Jim Fannin is distracting the referee. Joe let’s go. Whitmer kicks Joe’s arm and belly to back suplexes him for two. Joe kicks Whitmer out of mid-air after Whitmer pisses him off with a superkick. He strings multiple suplexes together, pinning Whitmer after a Dragon suplex at 15:52. The crowd was thrilled to see Joe for the first time. They wanted him to play the hits, and that is what they got. The end was a little abrupt and felt strange, like something was off, but it didn’t detract from the fun butt kicking Joe produced beforehand. ***¼

IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship; Dog Collar Match
BJ Whitmer vs. Danny Daniels

IWA Mid-South “Blood Is Thicker Than Water” – Highland, IN – 3.19.2005

Daniels has been champion since 2.4.2005 and this is his third defense. As the stipulation suggests, Whitmer and Daniels are connected by a chain that’s attached to dog collars around each of their necks. Jim Fannin is in Whitmer’s corner. Whitmer has Daniels numbered with strikes until Daniels pokes Whitmer in the eye. Daniels forearm strikes Whitmer, pulling him back when Whitmer tries to escape to the floor. He chokes Whitmer with the chain in a Muta Lock position. He breaks it when Fannin distracts him, and the distraction allows Whitmer to take over by sending Daniels face first into the ring post. Whitmer busts Daniels open with the chain and then punches his open wound. Daniels pulls the chain, sending Whitmer face first into the second turnbuckle. Daniels is too far gone to do much more, and Whtimer stomps him down in the corner. Daniels blood fires him up, and he turns a charge from Whitmer into a belly-to-belly suplex into the turnbuckles. Daniels Cactus clotheslines the both of them back outside and to the floor. Back inside he punches Whitmer with a fist full of chain, bringing him down with a falling Code Breaker for two. Now Whitmer has a matching crimson mask. Daniels blocks an exploder suplex, but Whitmer drops him with a DDT. Daniels blocks a second exploder suplex and gives Whitmer a piledriver for two. He blocks a third exploder suplex with a prawn hold and then drops Whitmer with a butterfly piledriver. Jim Fannin pulls the referee out of the ring to stop the count, then throws him forcefully outside and to the floor when he re-enters the ring. Daniels low blows Fannin and headbutts him in the groin. Whitmer however clobbers Daniels with the title belt. Daniels kicks out just before three, and also kicks out of an exploder suplex. The wrist-clutch variation yields the same result. Daniels double stomps Whitmer on his shoulders. A reverse sit-out piledriver gives Daniels the pin at 18:00. The blood added the appropriate amount of drama and made Daniels’ comeback feel more significant and his victory felt like a big accomplishment. Whitmer is very good in these types of matches and his performance aided Daniels in adding a memorable title defense to his tenure. ***½

#1 Contender for the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship
BJ Whitmer vs. James Gibson

IWA Mid-South “A Country Boy Can Survive” – Vincennes, IN – 5.21.2005

Gibson controls Whitmer by his wrist to start. Whitmer knees Gibson in the stomach and repeatedly kicks him in the mid-section in the corner to turn the tide. Gibson slides out of a belly-to-back suplex and kicks out Whitmer’s knee. He then kicks Whitmer in the side of the head to send him to the floor and follows with a pescado. In the ring, Whitmer rolls through a crossbody and gives Gibson a brainbuster. He puts his feet on the ropes to add leverage to a pin, but it’s to no avail.Whitmer however is able to continue pummeling Gibson. He rocks Gibson with a leg lariat for two. When Gibson throws a chop, Whitmer goes to his eyes to shut him down right away. He has Gibson in a Cobra Clutch but Gibson throws Whitmer face first into the top turnbuckle to escape. Gibson gets two with a dropkick. He attacks Whitmer’s neck before taking him down with a short-arm lariat. He comes off the second turnbuckle with a Hitman elbow drop for two. Whitmer weaves under a whip and strings together a suplex and Northern lights suplex. During his bridge, Gibson grabs a Guillotine choke, and Whitmer uses the ropes to escape. Gibson nails a diving knee strike to the neck for two. Whitmer blocks a Tiger Driver and lariats Gibson. Whitmer goes for the wrist-clutch exploder suplex. Gibson counters into a victory roll for the pin at 14:47. Whitmer tried to out wrestle the wrestler and it backfired. Even though he did an admirable job in overpowering Gibson, while cheating along the way, one has to wonder if he took a more brawling heavy approach if Whitmer would have come out on top. It was a great match and one the small crowd seemed quite into. ***¼

No Rope Barbed Wire Match
BJ Whitmer vs. Jimmy Jacobs

IWA Mid-South “April Bloodshowers 2008” – Joliet, IL – 4.12.2008

The prior month, Jacobs defeated Whitmer in an “I Quit” match. They tease throwing one another into the barbed wire. Whitmer hits the floor when he cuts his hands resisting being sent into the wire. Jacobs throws several chairs at his head in the crowd, then delivers a leaping elbow drop off of a chair. He suplexes Whitmer by the announce table, but Whitmer is able to place Jacobs upside down into the barbed wire! He then carries Jacobs over and gives him a Death Valley Driver onto a chair. In the ring Whitmer sends Jacobs back first into the wire twice before crotching Jacobs onto the wire. After rubbing Jacobs forehead into the wire and cutting Jacobs open, Whitmer drops Jacobs stomach and crotch first on the wire and earns a two count from it. Jacobs drop toe holds Whitmer onto the wire, sending Whitmer armpit first onto it. Jacobs also sends Whitmer back and chest first into it, dropkicking Whitmer in the back while his chest is leaning into the wire. Jacobs busts open Whitmer’s head with the wire before giving him a double stomp for two. Jacobs duct tapes Whitmer to the wire and nails him with a steel chair to the head and back several times. Jim Fannin attacks Jacobs to stop the beatdown and helps free Whitmer from the wire. Jacobs hits Fannin with a chair, then gives Whitmer a Contra Code onto a chair, with the back of Whitmer’s head crashing into the chair for two. Whitmer introduces a barbed wire board into the match. Jacobs goes to spear Whitmer through it, but Whitmer hoists him up for a powerbomb. Jacobs counters that with a Guillotine Choke. Whitmer spears Jacobs through the board to escape the hold! Whitmer is in disbelief when Jacobs is able to kick out from his pin attempt following the predicament. Whitmer begins to trim some of the barbed wire off the posts. He doesn’t notice Jacobs bring in a spool of barbed wire which he digs into Whitmer’s forehead! Whitmer headbutts Jacobs with his new barbed wire halo, then digs another one into Jacobs’ head! Whitmer pulls out a spike from his boot, looking to one up Jacobs, but Jacobs of course has his own spike as well. They repeatedly stab one another in the forehead. Whitmer kicks Jacobs low and gives him piledriver through a barbed wire table ringside! Enough time passes where Jacobs is able to kick out when Whitmer goes for a pin. Whitmer brings another table and a ladder into the ring. Jacobs blasts Whitmer in the head with a chair four times, wraps himself in barbed wire, then jumps off the ladder onto Whitmer with a senton onto (but not through) the table, twice! However, the table does collapse underneath them as the referee counts three, giving Jacobs the win at 33:04. This was one heck of a blood bath. They kept escalating the violence and the crowd was with them from start to finish. The best compliment I can give this match is I was shocked it went 33 minutes. It was paced so well and was entertaining throughout that it didn’t drag for a moment. It didn’t have the drama and backstory to get to the level of their ROH cage match blow off, but for a violent brawl in front of a blood thirsty crowd, you’d be hard pressed to find something better. ****¼

Heartland Cup Semifinal Round Match
BJ Whitmer vs. Sami Callihan

HWA “1st Annual Heartland Cup, Night 2” – Owensville, OH – 4.23.2011

After trading holds, Callihan punches Whitmer in the forehead in a headlock and shoves him to the ropes. Callihan kicks Whitmer in the back of the thigh a couple times before chopping him in the corner. Whitmer shuts down a charging Callihan with a back elbow, then returns Callihan’s chops. Whitmer misses a corner knee strike and is nailed by an enzuigiri from Callihan. Callihan follows up with a face wash pump kick. He puts Whitmer in a modified sleeper hold on the mat. Whitmer gets his foot on the ropes to escape. Whitmer elbows his way out of a side headlock. Callihan peppers him with strikes, but Whitmer catches Callihan coming off the ropes with an exploder suplex. Whitmer gets in a few more suplexes on Callihan. Callihan nails a forearm to the side of Whitmer’s head to shut him down. Whitmer retaliates with a couple running knees to the side of Callihan’s head. Callihan and Whitmer fight for position on the top rope. Callihan eventually comes down with a dropkick, but Whitmer moves and Callihan knocks down the referee. Callihan decides to kick Whitmer low. He puts Whitmer in the Stretch Muffler. Whitmer kicks his way free. He gives Callihan a Complete Shot and applies the Peruvian necktie. Jerome Phillips runs in, clocks Whitmer with the title, and places Callihan on top of Whitmer to get Callihan the pin at 14:24. Some solid action did not balance the drawn out nature of the match, the crummy finish, and relatively quiet audience. Whitmer was doing great work in 2011 when he returned to the Indies, but you wouldn’t think that from watching this. **

BJ Whitmer vs. Davey Richards
AIW “They Live” – Cleveland, OH – 10.2.2011

Whitmer gets the better of Richards in their opening exchange, knocking him down with a forearm shot to the face. Richards comes back with a dropkick and rolls Whitmer into a grounded parachute stretch. Whitmer gives Richards a spinebuster after taking a number of chest kicks. Outside the ring, Richards sends Whitmer into the guardrails twice and boots him into the crowd. He dives over the guardrail onto Whitmer and delivers a few more chest kicks before bringing Whitmer back into the ring. Whitmer kicks out after taking a spinwheel kick, then drops Richards with a brainbuster to earn his own two count. Whitmer wins a forearm exchange and gets another two count. Richards scores a PK from the apron and comes off the apron with a forearm strike afterwards. Back inside he lands a top rope dropkick to the side of Whitmer’s head. He scores with a belly-to-suplex, but when he tries for an ankle lock, Whitmer immediately grabs the bottom rope. Whitmr reverses a whip. He knee strikes Richards in the corner and follows up with two Northern Lights suplexes. Richards nails Whitmer a series of kicks. They each give one another Northern Lights suplexes. Richards blocks a Complete Shot by rolling Whitmer into an ankle lock. Whitmer rolls forward to escape and puts Richards in an ankle lock. Richards reverses back and Whitmer grabs the bottom rope. He takes Richards over with a suplex and then nails a Sick Kick. A wrist-clutch exploder suplex gets him two. He drives his knee repeatedly into Richards’ forehead before applying the Peruvian necktie. Referee Jake Clemons stops the match at 14:08, awarding the match to Whitmer. At this time, Davey Richards was the ROH World Champion, so it’s pretty remarkable he would lose in any capacity. It was fun to see Richards out of his ROH element facing Whitmer for the first time since he returned to wrestling. There was some of the usual no selling that plagued many Richards matches at the time that detracted from my enjoyment, but this definitely had an aura to it and the crowd was very much into the action. ***¼

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