Heading into the return of the Hardway Podcast with Hardway LIVE on March 13, 2019, I have been preparing myself by going over notes for the PURGE of DIVERGE episode. Also, for the first time since the 5 Day Special Release, I have checked out Operation New Wave and watched it in its entirely.
For me, a whole wave of emotions have come over me. With life changes and different perspectives creatively, I tend to see things very differently than it has ever before. It’s refreshing.
However, there was one moment in particular that allowed a lightbulb to go off in my head. I sat on my couch and really just pondered in disbelief. I couldn’t believe it took me that long to realize it. On top of that, the people I watched it with said the same thing, which made me feel double dumb.
WildMan Kongo was Project: Diverge’s Diamond in the Rough.
When MC Monty Max came to me with the idea of the Styles Clash, I didn’t know who he would come to me with for the participants. When three of the four participants were announced (Gabby Ortiz, Mike Del, Prince Akkanatan) on the second in-studio Purge of Diverge, I was excited on the choices. However, I was very unfamiliar with Kongo. I remember, off-air, going to Monty and asking for information on the WildMan. His response was simple.
“Jonny, he was referenced by the Tough guy himself.”
Unless he was talking about an actual tough individual, I realized he was discussing Tim Hughes. I got on the phone and asked Hughes about the background of Kongo. What I got was something inspiring.
Kongo, alongside Hughes and his mentor “Brutal” Bob Evans, traveled the roads, doing the drives, and learned the wrestling business. Born in the Concrete Jungle and based out of Boston, WildMan quickly became a well-respected and talented competitor in and outside of the ring. “A good brother”, as Hughes called him, Kongo’s biggest trait was his loyalty to his comrades that help and helped him in his journey.
So when Tim referenced Kongo to MC Monty Max, I knew that we were in store of something special. I just didn’t realize how much.
Starting from his intrusion in Episode 1, helping Tough Tim defeat Ricky Richards, Kongo brought an aura about him. He was the muscle to Hughes’ brain. Old School was definitely in the house. Then, his ejection (by me, of course) and ultimate failed interference in his return to ringside during Hughes’ loss to Tom O’Malley in Episode 3, you felt that his comeuppance was well deserved.
Then, Kongo started off in the Styles Clash, and completely DOMINATED the contest. His twisting splash to Del, running butt bump to poor Gabby, and deadlifting the “Vile from the Nile” Akkanatan up for a vertical suplex, WildMan was in control. If not for Richards getting his revenge with a hockey gloved punch to the head, I guarantee Kongo would have won the Styles Clash outright.
Regardless, dealing with Kongo on show day was professional and cordial. From all accounts, including my own, he was, as Tim said, a “Good Brother”. More importantly, as time has gone on, from countless peers, Kongo was completely validated as one of the good ones in the game today. I've also checked a few of his matches and read a good article on ProWrestlingStories.com about his work and critiques during a Brutal Bob "Hangs With Bob" seminar and he came off extremely well in it. I’m proud to have used him and enjoy seeing his success.
I am happy to consistently keep learning things about Project: Diverge as time goes on. My mind gets a little clearer and more open. And with the latest viewing, I’m proud to have realize how much QUALITY WildMan Kongo was to Operation New Wave. From one person in the business to others reading, I advise taking a chance on Kongo for your event. It will be well worth it for you to do.
It was for me. Kongo was a true WildMan in every sense of the word. Thanks to him for diverging from the path with us.