Stratoti – JT Lightning: “I Ain’t Dead Yet!”

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Paul Stratoti profiles the unstoppable JT Lightning and previews Cleveland All Pro Wrestling’s Return to live action on January 14 at Belinda’s Night Club.

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Following a short tenure as a capable and determined professional wrestler known as JT Lightning, James Haase began wrestling for the short lived Great Lakes Wrestling Association as well as several other local promotions, until he ran his first independent wrestling card on May 15, 1993, in East Cleveland, Ohio. From then on, other indy feds in the area started to take notice and until 2010 embarked on an aggressive campaign in attempt to outdo CAPW.  To this date, no other Northern Ohio promotion has been able to outdo Cleveland All Pro Wrestling in terms of bringing in big names from the past, present, and future. He had even acknowledged that he had back-stabbers working among within his roster (one of which has gone on to run a competitive promotion and another who tried but failed to run some successful shows, and for the betterment of the local wrestling scene went under).

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Names such as Edge (CAPW’s Sexton Hardcastle), Christian Cage, Rhino, C M Punk (current leader of Nexus), former WWE trainer Al Snow, Mickie James (aka CAPW’s Alexis Laree),  and Michael Tarver (CAPW’s Tyrone Evans), just to name a few, all used CAPW as a major steppingstone to WWE and TNA superstardom.

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Then there are the Legends such as 8 time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and former Cauliflower Alley Club trainer Harley Race, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Abdullah the Butcher, Honkytonk Man (who will be receiving the Cauliflower Alley Club’s 2011 Active Men’s Wrestling award on April 20th this year) and most recently WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler (who cites the mystique as the drawing force behind fan interest) who have made a big impact in CAPW.

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In addition, well established superstars such as former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Tommy Rich, Samoa Joe, Nigel McGuinness (TNA’s Desmond Wolfe), and recently crowned NWA East World Heavyweight Champion “old school” Lou Marconi all  have worked CAPW events and have nothing but positive reviews of CAPW and JT.

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At one point, JT was considering establishing a Women’s Championship division with its own championship belt, however, once TNA Wrestling took shape, JT then began focusing on a more hidden and supportive role for the Orlando, Florida, based promotion, all the while developing new dedicated and more local male and female superstars and superstars in training.

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In 2007, JT had gone up to Canada to meet with Johnny Powers (the man who helped Pedro Martinez put the face of pro wrestling on the map in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1969 until 1974) in effort to bring him in for the 14th Anniversary spectacular, however, Powers reportedly wanted more money that JT was willing to spend for a Legend who fans of the modern era know little or nothing about, so plans were scrapped to use him.

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CAPW became known as the Mecca of Cleveland Hardcore Wrestling as they brought in such names as Sabu, Mad Man Pondo, Psycho Mike, and Ian Rotten.  The also had Necro Butcher when he was developing from humble beginnings the BasketNazi and earned his spot as Abdullah’s opponent in 2006, the only card in history where the doors had to be padlocked shut to keep the action from going into the parking lot, and from the fans who were unable to buy tickets in time before the sell out from coming in. Even before hardcore became a household name, JT was utilizing light tube, thumb tack, barbed wire, barbed wire without ring ropes, barbed wire bat, and “death matches.”

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Following the 2007 Anniversary card, the economy went sour and some of the regulars who attended indy cards found it hard to buy tickets every month with a nearly 10% unemployment rate, and that was reflected at the gate. In an effort to cut costs, JT nixed the CAPW training center which had until that time produced some rough and tough future superstars. Some of his trainers in addition would go on to wrestle in at least one WWE card at Quicken Loans Arena. Also, other regular CAPW wrestlers such as Jason Bane and JT himself were spotted working along side of the Undertaker at one point at the Q during a WWE “house show.”

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Since then, CAPW has continued on despite the tough economic times. In April of last year JT was diagnosed with liver and throat cancer and began receiving medical treatment. Shortly thereafter, JT stated that he was going to close CAPW’s doors in order to focus on his well being and the well being of his family. For the most part, he has declined interviews, and we respect that decision.

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The late Gorilla Monsoon said it best years ago when he stated on WWE TV that once you’re in wrestling you very rarely leave. It’s a way of life and an addiction, and something that you just can’t put behind you.

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As the Stro (WCW’s Maestro) put it, “JT has always been a great wrestler and a great friend. It has always been a pleasure to be on the same program with him. He is a true brother in the wrestling business.”

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JT’s wrestlers continue to train up to JT’s stringent standards although they train on their own. Skilled professional wrestlers remain at CAPW’s core, and despite recent events JT now professes, “I ain’t dead yet, and Happy New Year to all the loyal fans of CAPW. Its been a tough year, but now entering our 18th year, I’m only expecting the best.  The fans will continue to see why CAPW remains the best promotion in history to run through Ohio. People may love us or hate us, and a lot of people love to knock us. We still seem to have our back-stabbers but one thing is for damn sure and that is no one will ever top us!  Cheers. See you Jan. 14th!”

Spoken like a true champion, my friend. Yes, I’ll see you on the 14th!

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January. 14, 2011- Cleveland All Pro Wrestling Returns to Live Action at Belinda’s Night Club!

Tentative Card:

- MAIN EVENT: CAPW Tag Team Title Match:
The Irish Airbourne vs The Hi-Def SuperNovas

- Ladies Match:
Jessicka Havok vs Lady Victoria
[What more can be said. Lady Victoria is a CAPW Classic. She faced Candi Divine in early CAPW action as well as faced former WWE Womens' Trainer Jillian Hall (then known as Macaela Mercedes) during the 2002 CAPW St. Valentine's Mat Massacre. She has wrestled men due to her successful body building career and have defeated many of them…Jessicka is no stranger either. Currently feuding with Tuff Tina all around the local indy circuit, she has wrestled 4 people in one night in CAPW including a male wrestler and defeated them before accepting the War Machine Rhino's challenge to wrestle.]

- N8 Mattson vs The Aftermath

- HARDCORE MATCH:
Sheik Abdul Hassan vs Ian Decay

- Mitch Ryder vs Shawn Blaze

- Rickey Shane Page vs Jock Samson

- Ryker vs Ironmanon

- Lex Ryan vs Joe Rosa

$15 for the front row, $10 for general admission.

and Jessicka Havok says, “It’s the best news I’ve heard in a LONG fucking time!”

– Article & photos by Paul Stratoti

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