BANK STATEMENT #7 - Dreamer vs Raven: ACE Crossroads VI
Welcome to the Bank Statement on HardwayHQ.com! Every week, I find the groove just a little more every time I write. I love the fact that I’m able to write about pro wrestling every week again. For the most part, it’s been a lot of fun. But last night, one moment in wrestling hit me that simultaneously made me smile and broke my heart at the same time.
I was going through YouTube and came across a wrestling page called “Pro Wrestling Rarities”, which has rare matches and promos from independent wrestling promotions from the 2000s-2010s. A lot of these moments were rare and never thought to have happened or seen. It’s a phenomenal channel on YouTube I highly encourage.
As I went through the channel, I came across one match that took my breath away. One match that stood the test of time. One match that I was there live for. One match that truly became the peak of a wrestling organization.
When I mention Tommy Dreamer vs Raven, you might think I’m referring to ECW. But when I say Dreamer vs Raven at American Championship Entertainment “Crossroads VI”, it holds a completely different perspective in my heart and mind.
June 12, 2010 was a night I could, and would, never forget.
In the first half of 2010, ACE Pro Wrestling was the hottest ticket in independent wrestling in New Jersey.
The ACE Arena, 725 Sip Street in Union City, NJ, was THE place. It initially started on the third floor with a tight ceiling and a lack of space for fans, but everyone involved, a complete and total passion for the wrestling business. The Arena then moved to the second floor, with a bleacher section for fans, and more space for wrestling based activities. In the Summer of 2009, the promotion moved over to the right side of the floor, with even more space and room for almost 250 fans maximum capacity. It was the perfect place for wrestling. Daniel Bryan said the ACE Arena gave him the vibe of having a “Fight Club atmosphere” in his book “YES! My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania”.
All of that credit goes to ACE Owner Mike Morgan. Throughout ACE’s journey into 2010, Morgan’s modus operandi was always to make ACE look bigger and better. Although other companies might have had “better wrestling” and more “top notch talent”, ACE always had its own identity and, in my opinion, a more loyal locker room to help the product grow. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and Morgan had that ability to motivate and captivate talent and its fan base.
As a member of that fan base, I watched the promotion grow, and, through its ups and downs, ACE continuously found a way to make moments happen. To write about them all here would be impossible to do. The Union City faithful, who would show up rain, sleet, or snow, helped make these moments possible. However, we all wished that the best kept secret in independent wrestling would finally break out from the pack and have ALL eyes on them. We all had the dream.
In the Winter of 2010, it happened. ACE was taken to the EXTREME, and set in motion the next several months of the most high profile publicity the company ever had.
On December 29, 2009, Tommy Dreamer wrestled his last match under WWE contract. On “ECW on SyFy”, “the Innovator of Violence” lost a career-ending match to Zack Ryder at the iZod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Less than a week later, Dreamer was released from his deal and became a free agent.
About three weeks later, ACE Pro Wrestling announced on their message board that Dreamer would be coming into the promotion at their St. Valentine’s Day Massacre event on February 13, 2010. The “heart and soul” of ECW would face off with the “heart and soul” of ACE, Mo Sexton, for the ACE Heavyweight championship. Not only did I purchase a ticket immediately, but so did almost 250 people, selling out the ACE Arena and bringing a major spotlight to the promotion on a critical front.
With the pressure and spotlight on, ACE delivered. Tom Scanlon and William Wyeth tore down the house with a “Fans Bring the Weapons” match, R8D X of Neeno Capone and Envy beat the Midnight Sensations of Chris Rockwell and Sam Shields in an insane ladder match, and Bruno Marciano, one of my low-key favorites from this time, defeated Mike Donovan to retain his Diamond Division championship. Every match delivered, but the main event was what everyone came to see.
In his first match on the indies since getting released, “the Innovator of Violence” lost an Extreme Rules battle to “the Renaissance Man”, but it was his promo before the match that was most important. As fans were chanting “ECW! ECW!”, Dreamer proudly stated that the fans should be chanting “ACE! ACE! ACE!”, as everything before his battle was “awesome”. Getting that stamp of approval from an Extreme stalwart was what ACE needed to get to that next step.
At the following event “Destined for Greatness”, Dreamer made a surprise appearance as guest referee for the main event between Sexton and Dan Maff for the ACE Heavyweight championship. Originally, Morgan was the guest referee for the match, but was taken out accidentally midway through with an errant Superkick thrown by Sexton. Just as Sexton was about to win with a frog splash through four chairs set up in a seated position, “Man In A Box” hit the PA system. From the entranceway walked Dreamer with an ACE referee shirt on, stunning everyone in attendance. Dreamer rolled under, hit the mat twice in a pinfall attempt. Right before the third slap of the mat, Morgan came to, pulled him out of the ring, and slammed Dreamer in the head with a steel chair, stunning the packed ACE Arena, including myself. As Mo went over to see what was going on, Morgan nailed Mo too! One Burning Hammer later, and Maff became ACE Heavyweight champion! Morgan entered the ring, embraced Maff, and for the first time, turned heel!
As it turned out, Maff and Morgan were in cahoots with one another, secretly developing a vision to make ACE into a more professional organization, with their envisionment of forming a faction called The ACES to establish that fact. Turning on Sexton was always a part of plan; Tommy Dreamer getting involved threw a slight wrench into their vision. Once the surprise of Dreamer came to fruition, Morgan did what he had to do and took out “the Innovator of Violence” as well.
Within moments, Morgan grabbed the microphone from ring announcer Ken Carrera, walked towards the entranceway, stood right by the video board, and pointed up top.
A graphic hit the screen. On one side: Tommy Dreamer. On the other side: RAVEN. Underneath them, ACE CROSSROADS VI.
Dreamer looked in complete shock. Morgan and Maff looked on in glee. The match was made.
Ten Years In The Making. Ten years after making peace in the ECW Arena following Dreamer’s first ECW title win at CyberSlam 2000 (read back in the archives about that night). Ten years of ceasefire now preparing to explode.
Tommy Dreamer vs Raven on June 12, 2010 in the ACE Arena. The road to Crossroads was on.
Days before the official start of Summer 2010, the ACE Arena was never hotter than this night. Sitting in the bleachers with the crowd, the ACE Nation was buzzing with electricity.
Opening with a great match between Azrieal and Bandido, Jr, the show had real solid wrestling. Mercedes Martinez and Alicia destroyed the Belle Saints in a tag match, Crowbar defeated a pre-”Brooklyn Outlaw” Mike Donovan, and Ed and Tom of the BS Express won a tag team Chance of a Lifetime Rumble match. I was even able to stomach the quick appearance of “the Magnificent” Giovanni Marranca in the rumble match. (For the record, Marranca is the blandest piece of toast pro wrestling has ever produced. Read about him in my Project: Diverge review from back in 2019.)
And then, THE MATCH that everyone came to see was up.
There were three things to take away from this match for me.
FIRST: It felt like a blast from the past. Being up close, watching Tommy Dreamer and Raven from opposite ends of the wrestling ring again on the independent circuit just felt right. Both men’s story thread, starting from childhood via Summer camp, a former Penthouse Pet, bloodshed, weapons, an ECW Tag Team Title run, and countless other issues. Both men in the ring looking at each other preparing to do battle felt absolutely incredible.
SECOND: The crowd itself. When you mix in the electricity of the crowd and the look of the building being, in many cases, a smaller version of the ECW Arena, you get a loud audience. The fans, myself included, held onto every move, every word uttered, every near-fall like it was life or death. The ACE Nation truly helped make this match. The respect given to both men and the match itself was incredible. I’ve never experienced that since at any independent wrestling show.
THIRD: Both men brought it. They didn’t have to. Raven was slowly becoming an elder statesman in wrestling, as he was one of the last wrestlers that actually traveled the territory circuit, while Dreamer, as illustrated earlier, just left the WWE after an 8 year run, which was about the same amount of time he wrestled in the original ECW for. They were smarter and more well-versed in the game since their original battles with one another. They didn’t have to take risks. But they did. They brawled around the building, used steel chairs on one another, and hit each other with more DDTs than I can count. At the end, “the Innovator of Violence” pinned the ever-enigmatic Raven for the three count.
I hate to say this, but this match was the peak of the ACE Arena in Union City, NJ. By the fall of 2011, 725 Sip Street had been sold to a new owner, and ACE had to ultimately move operations. They wound up moving to the Wallington Knights of Columbus in Wallington, NJ in December 2011. (It was rechristened the Morgan Jr. Arena in 2015 in memory of the late, great Mike Morgan, Jr.) The move caused a lot of changes to the ACE talent roster and a lot of other situations caused some tough times, but because of the hard work of the ACE staff, especially Mr. Mike Morgan, ACE trudged onward with some solid shows.
Thankfully, due to the WWE Network, you could see some glimpses of the ACE Arena by watching some of the original EVOLVE Wrestling shows, including the first Style Battle, and the infamous Daniel Bryan matches while he was fired from the promotion in 2010. It will always make me smile knowing that a building that many people described as their “home base” for wrestling will forever live on in the WWE archives.
As a fan, although I never missed an ACE show, the vibe in the venue for Crossroads VI could never be matched. Sometimes, lightning strikes at the most opportune times, and for ACE, this match symbolized the peak of local independent wrestling.
Tommy Dreamer and Raven might not have been a five star wrestling match, but the way it made people feel and the electricity that was felt in that building made it the most important match to ever take place inside of the ACE Arena. You had to be there on this particular night to experience the magic made. For me, it will never be tarnished. I’m grateful for this night and will remember it until the end of my days.
BANK ON IT.