May 3, 2013
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist
For the entire history of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance, the VIPs have been anchored by two wrestlers—“The Enforcer” Shawn Blanchard and “Dr. Devastation” Lou Martin. From the very beginning of the promotion in the year 2000, these two Megastars have done their best to “stir the pot” and keep themselves at the top of the food chain.
Although they have been more successful than any other duo in KSWA history, the VIP lifeblood—forever epitomized with the orange-and-black “Booze, Broads and Belts” mantra—has been even more prosperous when they expand beyond a twosome. At one time or another, KSWA Hall of Famer “Mr. Tenacity” Tommy Faime, “The Future” Shane Starr, “Double A” Anthony Alexander and even The Latin Assassin have all been partnered with Blanchard and Martin. Two other wrestlers—“The King” Del Douglas and Lord Zoltan—have previously worked alongside the VIP’s but were never fully accepted into the brotherhood. For much of that time, the VIPs were guided by Advisor Frank Durso. The stable has wreaked havoc in the organization since Day One: for them it was May 20, 2000 when Blanchard and Martin were crowned the first-ever KSWA Tag Team Champions.
Sometimes the associations crumble, disintegrate or disappear altogether—there was a time in which even Martin splintered away from Blanchard (as hard as that’s to believe)—during his first “run” as KSWA Champion, starting in 2004. In 2005, Martin went so far as to write an apology letter to the KSWA Krazies in an attempt to gain favor. They supported him for more than a year as he continually defended the Keystone State’s prized wrestling possession. Ultimately the “brotherhood of the VIPs” was too enticing for the North Side’s hardest hitter and Martin returned to the fold in the summer of 2008, about three years after leaving the group.
Also 2008, the tenderfoot known as “The Future,” Shane Starr was hand-picked by Blanchard to be a member. Starr, only two-and-a-half years into his wrestling career, was deemed to have something special. He started teaming, and learning, from Blanchard right away. The results were mixed until Martin came back. Starr, who entered the KSWA along with lifelong friend Kris Kash, took exception to the popularity his high school classmate had enjoyed. Kash was in Starr’s sights from the beginning of his VIP allegiance.
In one of the most memorable moments of VIP history, Shane Starr lost a FanFest “Hair Match” against Justin Sane. At the time Starr sported long, flowing locks. He was put unconscious and a semi-professional hair cutter trimmed him bald in front of nearly 400 Krazies. On August 29, 2009, Starr and Martin would win the KSWA Tag Team Championship, the only time a team of VIPs other than Blanchard and Martin would win that gold.
They would lose the straps in less than a month. It’s believed by some that Starr’s truncated tenure with the group began with that loss.
At FanFest 2009, “Double A” Anthony Alexander, long considered to be the most popular Megastar of his era, shocked the KSWA Krazies when he turned to the VIP’s and beat down The Latin Assassin.
Right after Alexander’s defection into the VIPs, they would unceremoniously dump Starr. Martin punctuated the measure by hitting Starr with the Death Certificate in late January, 2010.
Alexander’s lease with the VIPs was tenuous as best. Although he won the Golden Triangle Championship, defeated Pittsburgh-area wrestling icon Shane Douglas, and bested Big Mike Malachi in a title versus career match, Alexander was never comfortable with the VIP credibility. He would retire a VIP and relinquish the Golden Triangle belt in the process in March 2011.
Blanchard and Martin would remain at the top of their collective game. No two Megastars have held onto more gold longer than the original VIPs. In their last two tag team title reigns, it took WWF Superstars Demolition and KSWA stalwarts Party Gras—who subsequently held onto the tag titles for an unprecedented 75 weeks—to best the VIPs.
Martin has held onto the KSWA Heavyweight Title since December 3, 2011. That came about in large part because of Blanchard’s help. The duo duped then-new champion Mitch Napier into a Death Certificate, after Martin waited until the 11th hour to cash in his Battle Bowl winnings.
Blanchard has seemed satisfied, defending the VIP lifestyle, as well as Martin’s championship. But things changed dramatically last year.
It appears that all-along, Blanchard has been orchestrating the biggest coupe in VIP history. In an absolutely remarkable and unseen move, the “Enforcer” has possibly enlisted the next generation of VIPs.
Canadian imports Drew Belanger and J.P. Goulet arrived at the KSWA with verve, vigor and overflowing ego. Unchallenged in any significant way before the KSWA, “Canadian Perfection” was anything but. Belanger debuted in February, 2010 in a losing effort to Martin in a Gauntlet Match. In July, 2010, Goulet would lose to “The Drunken Luchadore” Joey Quervo.
As is typically the case, two young upstarts find themselves with more losses than wins in the early going. On July 9, 2011, the duo reached a benchmark when they defeated Kris Kash and Shane Starr in straight-up tag team action. Earlier in the year the Canadians would challenge Kash and Starr, saying that the fan favorite’s best days were in the past. This jarred most KSWA onlookers.
After that decisive win the KSWA Championship Committee decided to pit them into the Tag Team Championship race. On August 13, 2011, J.P. Goulet and Drew Belanger would team with Blanchard and Martin for the very first time. The quartet was victorious over Ric Rumsky, Alex Arcadian, Kash and Starr. At the time the significant shift in KSWA power wasn’t felt, but obviously, Blanchard was taking notes.
On December 3, 2011, Party Gras—Lord Zoltan and Justin Sane—appeared to lose the KSWA Championship to Goulet and Belanger. No less of an authority than legendary Studio Wrestling personality Battman (Tony Marino) himself noticed the infraction of Goulet using the ropes as leverage with Zoltan’s shoulders on the mat. The match was restarted and Party Gras was victorious.
On March 24, 2012, at the Joe Abby Memorial tournament, Goulet and Belanger would have their last match ever in the KSWA when they teamed with the Blood Beast—and lost to Super Ginger, Shane Starr and Jay Flash in a Six-Man tag team match.
The Canadian duo, perhaps curbed by their tag team loss to Party Gras, would ply their trade in other regional venues. The got better, won and lost against different competition. They even won tag team gold with a small territory outside of the Keystone State.
But it’s now clear that Blanchard was behind the entire scenario.
Quietly, Goulet and Belanger showed up as ticket-buying fans. They cheered on the Megastars, alongside retired wrestlers like Alex Arcadian and Vinnie Stone who also came back to visit friends. Inside the squared circle, Blanchard and Martin would go along their master plan.
Some wondered why, leading up to FanFest 2012, Martin would face Ric Rumsky at Pittsburgh professional wrestling’s biggest stage. Rumsky, a three-time KSWA tag team champion (twice with Stone, once with Arcadian), is far better known and more successful with a teammate. Despite that, the Bell Aire, Ohio native has a remarkable fan base that had faith in their everyman hero.
Martin was able to hold off Rumsky’s charge in a Strap Match—largely because the challenger had a pre-existing rib injury and two mysterious masked men in business casual attire suddenly attacked the purveyor of Buckshot when the referee wasn’t looking. Martin was able to retain.
Meanwhile, Blanchard held off Mitch Napier, who a year earlier was the victim of Martin’s Death Certificate, mere moments after winning KSWA gold.
The New Year had an enigmatic beginning: who were masked men? KSWA Owner Bobby O selected a hand-picked committee designed just to find that answer. Every pebble was overturned. Even former KSWA Tag Team Champs Demolition were questioned and quickly dismissed as suspects. Bobby O believed the VIPs were involved from the start. Blanchard and Martin vehemently denied any knowledge of the shenanigans.
On February 9, 2013 the men were unmasked as Belanger and Goulet; however, they quickly sacked those names and Canadian identity. They were Americans named Tyler Cross and Edric Everhart. They said Bobby O “made us” Canadians, then “fired” us. They were angry and they were aligned with Blanchard and Martin.
They would attack Rumsky again, as well as Napier. Everhart and Cross started their systematic elimination of young, popular Megastars who they believe are staring in their way to success. During the Joe Abby Memorial Tournament this year, they took out Rumsky with a shoulder injury. Rumsky recently went under the knife for the injury and his return is questionable. Blanchard and Martin could not be more content.
In some ways, Blanchard’s move has been brilliant. In Everhart he’s selected a technician more along the lines of Martin; conversely, a more methodical Cross emulates a young Enforcer. For the first time, a new VIP foursome worked against Justin Sane, 5-Star Champion Kris Kash, Golden Triangle Champion Shane Starr and vengefully-spirited KSWA Owner Bobby O. The VIPs were victorious and they knocked Bobby O around in the process.
Everhart and Cross now set their sights on Flash and Johnson, who won the Joe Abby Memorial Tournament and are the new Number One Contenders for the KSWA tag team championship. They haven’t been shy about their aspirations: to be the next best KSWA tag team…because they are VIPs.