Ladies and gentlemen, today we are here for another induction into the Central Illinois Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame was established nine years ago by the crew who formed the Nose Bleed Seats, Christopher Cooper, Robert Schwent Jr., Floyd Fisher, and yours truly, to recognize those who made great contributions to the evolution of the Central Illinois pro wrestling scene to shape it into what it is today. While the NBS choose to disband, the CIPW Hall of Fame will exist for many years to come because this area continues produce many great superstars.
Before I started covering the downstate Illinois and Missouri wrestling scene via the St. Louis Wrestling Community at http://stlwrestling.livejournal.com
back in 2005, back in the 90s, the CI scene was a lot smaller. A few promotions from Chicago went downstate infrequently, Bud Chaplin's National Wrestling Coalition operated in southern Illinois, once in a while the St. Louis promotions would venture outside its metro area, meanwhile in 1993 Tim Lyle founded a promotion by the name of Powerhouse Wrestling Incorporated. Its first champion is a man you all know, Kane, previously known as Angus King. Lyle of course, had multiple personas, he was a doctor, a Russian, and a crusher.
Back in the 90s, pro wrestling was regulated by the state of Illinois. Strangely enough however, regulations were not applied equally, with some promotions allowed to do whatever they wanted, while others were strictly regulated. Tim Lyle exposed this hypocrisy against the state bureaucrats, and while I'm not entirely sure how he pulled it off, officials with the Dept. of Professional Regulation were in shock when someone in state government agreed with him and did away with wrestling regulation.
It didn't take long before the local wrestling scene freed from the restraints of government would explode. I just started following the St. Louis wrestling scene after becoming an avid fan of a local promotion then started the STLWC to fill a news coverage void the capital of the sport so badly needed.
I attended my first Powerhouse show back in 2005, witnessing my first Harker Dirge match and a future hall of famer Jason Hades in this ring. The main event was a wargames match between Lyle, Jimmy Shalwin & Magnum Conroy vs. the Beast & the Lawless Bros. After the match, Mr. Lyle gave me an unsolicited earful on what was a backyarder and what was a trained pro.
After the event, my thoughts were who is the man? Why is he being so negative on downstate Illinois? Why is it telling me this? How does he know the credentials of the talent without doing any scouting? It made no sense and it felt unfair. I began to wonder if the lines between backyarder and trained pro had gotten blurred, cause there were plenty of trained pros who were awful at what they did, while folks who were being perceived as yarders were quite good at what they did. In reality it seemed like a microcosm of the classic Chicago vs. downstate mentality which we all know too well looms large in politics but extends all the way down into pro wrestling as well.
Perhaps he gave the NBS the motivation to do what we could to elevate the local wrestling scene and the talent coming out of this region. Recognize the top wrestlers, educate the public, showcase their talents, so people would know the area between Chicago and St. Louis is worth our attention.
Alas, despite the efforts to improve and elevate the CI wrestling scene, there are those who have gotten it into their minds that training is optional again. Some of you here may have witnessed the results of that. Merely putting up a ring in a parking lot and running "shows" does not legitimize you as a pro wrestler. You simply cannot self-teach the mechanics, the techniques and the nuances it takes to be successful and minimize injury. We may not agree on everything but we agree on this, while every credentialed trainer employs their own methods and techniques in making a potential athlete the best they can be in this ring, there is no legitimate fast track into becoming a wrestler, training is not optional, not now, not ever, unless you are determined to be made a national embarrassment on World Famous Flea Market!
Ten years after attending Powerhouse for the first time, after lengthy reflection, maybe all along it was Mr. Lyle just lighting a fire under everyone into motivating them to prove they did belong and could hang with the best, bringing things back into focus. Today central Illinois talent is traveling all over the Midwest, some of those folks you'll see in this ring tonight, something that wouldn't have happened a decade ago. And Jay Repsel, of Dreamwave, cites Tim Lyle as a major influence on his work as a wrestling promoter.
Today we put Tim Lyle into the hall of fame, whether we love him or hate him, we recognize him as an over twenty year promoter and wrestler, having a major hand in reshaping Illinois wrestling so it could evolve into what it is today. At this time, to induct Crusher Lyle, will be one of his longtime colleagues, the reigning Powerhouse Heavyweight champion, Harker Dirge!