top of page

BANK ON HISTORY #7 - The Infamous Thomas Rodriguez "Elimination"

Here in BANK ON HISTORY, we love to talk about vintage independent wrestling. As you’ve noticed, there has been a plethora of topics touched upon that really bring out the “Remember this?” nostalgia factor.

However, I wanted to uncover a vintage wrestling moment from the late 2000s that has never been broached or discussed anywhere.

There has been a major controversy, mainly with die-hard fans of American Championship Entertainment over the years, on the statute of entering a battle royal.

Of course, there have been discussions on eliminations from rumble style matches, in particular with Kofi Kingston and his wild antics from the Royal Rumble matches in the 2010s. However, entering a match of this magnitude never has been discussed. What determines true entry into a rumble match: touching the canvas inside the ring, or any part of the squared circle?



Thomas “the Gate” Rodriguez was truly a “diamond in the rough”.

Trained by the legendary Jay Lethal at the ACE Wrestling Academy in Union City, NJ, the young upstart quickly stood out as a performer to watch.

Rodriguez, who was always “Going Against The Enemy”, won the ACE Web Television Championship in December 2007, defeating William Wyeth, the longest reigning title holder in ACE history. He put on classic matches with Mo Sexton, Mike Donovan, Envy, and, countless other opponents.

“The Gate”, with his electric skills, wasn’t afraid of anyone, despite being a light heavyweight. Underneath his cool demeanor laid an angry fire-breathing dragon. It very rarely came out in his fights, but on June 20, 2009, it came out in full force.


At ACE Crossroads V, inside the second version of the ACE Arena at 725 Sip Street in Union City, NJ, ACE management booked the first ever “Chance of a Lifetime” Rumble match for the show.

It was a ten-man Royal Rumble style match, in which the only way to be eliminated would be going over-the-top rope and to the arena floor. The last man standing would be the winner and, subsequently, would become #1 contender to the ACE Heavyweight Championship, held at that time by Dan Maff.

The entry numbers would be drawn at random, and Rodriguez, to many, held the best number of the lot: #10. With everyone seemingly tired from fighting, “the Gate” would enter fresh as a daisy, preparing to strike.

It didn’t exactly happen that way.

As Thomas made his way out for his entrance, a whole bevy of performers stood in the ring. “The Remix of Pro Wrestling” Vince Steele, Dover, Brolly, "the Magnificent" GiovMarranca, the “Union City Underdog” Killa S, Rob Vegas, and Envy were all worn down and beat up, as predicted. Gate stood on the apron, climbed to the top rope, and leaped onto Steele, aiming for a flying Lungblower. Steele caught him, and handed the junior heavyweight over to Dover. Carrying him, as ACE color analyst, and resident “Rodent Scumbag”, Mike Lewis stated, “like a child”, Dover passed Rodriguez to Brolly, who then carried him to the ropes and eliminated him.

“The Gate” went berserk, throwing chairs, spitting at Steele, and kicking the ring steps. The fire-breathing dragon was unleashed, as ACE referees held him back and forcibly removed Rodriguez from ringside.

It wasn’t until Lewis and play-by-play man John Fallon brought up the fact that Thomas never touched the mat INSIDE THE RING, which meant he wasn’t technically eliminated.

Naturally, “the Gate” felt the same way. According to my sources in the independent wrestling pipeline, Rodriguez and ACE management had a blow-out regarding this unique situation. Thomas felt he was screwed, and management felt the opposite. The young standout and ACE had a falling-out, and Rodriguez subsequently took a six-month sabbatical from ACE events, returning in December at Worlds Collide, channeling himself to become the King of the ACE Multi-Man Match over the next few years.

Sadly, due to a build-up of nagging injuries and outside-the-ring responsibilities, “the Gate” left wrestling in the mid-2010s. To some, Rodriguez might have been the most underrated student to ever come out of the ACE Wrestling Academy.


The main topic to discuss, which has been an issue discussed by a few of the ACE die-hards over the last decade, was if Thomas Rodriguez was robbed in the Chance of a Lifetime Rumble Match on June 20, 2009.

For me, I do. To enter a Rumble officially, you have to be inside the ring and have touched the actual mat to qualify for an elimination. Clearly, “the Gate’s” feet never touched the canvas in between the ropes, and, in my opinion, never officially entered the match.

To others, including management and one of the ACE referees at ringside, he did. When Rodriguez climbed the top rope, he was facing the ring and jumped in. Whether he touched the canvas or not is irrelevant, and the turnbuckle counted.

To this day, I’ve never seen quite a precarious situation, as it comes to Rumble-style matches, quite like Thomas Rodriguez in 2009. It might very well be the most controversial moment in battle royal history. I’d love for you guys to watch it for yourselves and comment.

And for the record, Vince Steele, from the #1 spot, won Chance of a Lifetime.

I love obscure pro wrestling history.


Follow Us
Recent Posts
bottom of page