BANKIE’S HOT TAKE #11 - FROM THE VAULT: The Down Boyz vs Dijak/Webb, 7/2/16, ACE Pro Wrestling
With 2022 in the rear view mirror and 2023 here to stay, I’ve decided to try something different. Once a month, I want to use my Hot Takes to expose some matches over the years that you might not have seen before.
Some of these matches might have been overlooked as the years go on; others might have happened on a smaller independent promotion that not many people know about.
I call this series FROM THE VAULT.
The first match that I would love to show is a match from American Championship Entertainment in 2016.
For those that may not know, I got into independent wrestling because of American Championship Entertainment in the mid-2000s.
The ACE Arena in Union City, NJ was THE spot for underground pro wrestling. Mike Morgan and his crew helped build up the next generation of the New Jersey independent pro wrestling scene. Countless names came through 725 Sip Street, from Jay Lethal, Dan Maff, Mo Sexton, and Azrieal to Alex Shelley, Steve Corino, Bobby Fish, Tony Nese, and Crowbar. Also, ACE developed their own homegrown talent, including 2 Hot Steve Scott, Vince Steele, William Wyeth, Dan Murdoch, Thomas “the Gate” Rodriguez, and the BS Express, among others.
By the time 2011 ended, ACE had to leave Union City and take residence in Wallington, NJ at the Wallington Knights of Columbus. In 2015, the building became the Morgan Jr. Arena, in dedication to the late, great Mike Morgan, Jr.
Just like Union City, the Morgan Jr. Arena hosted solid pro wrestling from bell-to-bell. Although that venue never got the mainstream exposure it deserved, the loyal ACE audience always gave it its due.
In 2016, there was one match that happened inside of that venue that was SO good that I never forgot it. Only a select few watched it live as it happened, this writer included. It took me 6 years to find the footage online. Once I did, I knew I had to share it.
The American Destroyers vs The Down Boyz.
On July 2, 2016, ACE presented Heat Wave 2016. I remember it was a very hot day in Wallington and, due to the 4th of July weekend, the crowd was a little smaller than usual.
The first half of that show was solid ACE. Crowbar and Sonny Kiss had a fun opener, Mike Orlando and Stockade went into an absolute donnybrook, and Jesse Vane, Mike Donovan, Kenny Bengal, and Anthony Gangone laid it all on the line for the Fight For Flight championship.
So when intermission ended, the American Destroyers and the Down Boyz came out to the ring.
ACE debuts. Small crowd. Hot venue.
All four men stole the damn show.
Looking back, it was wild to see Donovan Dijak and Mikey Webb in an ACE ring. Both men, based out of the New England area, were “can’t miss” prospects. Webb was a standout from Chaotic Wrestling, winning the New England title in 2013, and started to establish his name in Beyond Wrestling and Monster Factory Pro Wrestling during this time. Dijak was becoming one of the young guns of Ring of Honor, working alongside Prince Nana. At 6’7, 270 lbs, Dijak was the modern day Mike Awesome: a heavyweight that could move like a Cruiserweight.
In the beginning of 2016, Dijak and Webb formed their tandem, building up the American Destroyers team wherever they went.
Meanwhile, Steve Gebki and Tony Scorese were making their opportunities throughout the Garden State, predominantly for D2W Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Magic. By this time in 2016, the Down Boyz just won the PWM Tag Team titles via a tournament, upending Glitz and Glamour in the finals of the Donald Casamento Memorial Cup. They actually defended their belts successfully against John Silver and Alex Reynolds on June 11 in the Morgan Jr. Arena for Pro Wrestling Magic.
Watching this match on YouTube was truly a blast from the past. Being there live years ago, seeing the battle online brought a different perspective to me.
First, Cheyenne Ortiz and Classic Mikey D were on the call. There are no two better commentators on the local independent circuit than these two.
There was no stall period once this match began. The Down Boyz started with the quick tags, trying to neutralize the arm of the big Dijak. Dijak and Webb got their “heat” back and started delivering vicious double team maneuvers; a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo, a Doomsday Chokeslam, and their finisher, the American Destroyer, a sunset flip from Dijak, pulling his opponent and giving Webb momentum into a flipping piledriver. Unreal.
Once the “hot tag” happened, absolute anarchy took place. A superkick bonanza, high impact dives to the floor, including a gravity-defying Fosbury Flop from Dijak, and then a Doomsday Dropkick Device from the Down Boyz to Webb for the victory.
The wildest thing to take away from this contest was the crowd. When the match began, the crowd was quiet and provided little interaction. Once it progressed, the crowd got louder and louder. At its conclusion, there were a few fans jumping out of their seats.
That is the beauty of professional wrestling; taking a cold match and making it a gem for the live crowd. There is no other artform that could provide that type of change, in my opinion.
After this night, Dijak and Webb continued on as a team in Chaotic Wrestling, Beyond, and throughout the New England region, ultimately winning the Chaotic Tag Team titles in December. The team officially went their separate ways in June 2017, losing to the team of Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy at Beyond’s “Go With The Flo” event. Dijak officially signed with WWE in the WWE of 2017, while Webb quietly left the business in 2018.
The Down Boyz became the Jersey Muscle Society and continued on teaming until 2021, losing to the Amazing Greysons at WrestlePro. Both men moved on to become stellar singles wrestlers on the independent circuit and around the world, including in England.
These four men might have moved on with their own careers, but on July 2, 2016, at the Morgan Jr. Arena for ACE Pro Wrestling, to this fan, they made a memory.
I’m happy to have found and shared the first, of many, From the Vault pieces for Hardway HQ. I will continue to scour and look for matches that I enjoyed and share them with you as the year goes on. Independent wrestling, no matter how big or small, needs to be cherished.