When people come to see wrestling events, they come to cheer/boo the heroes/villains, and they come to see a great wrestling match. While some bigger-name wrestling companies like World Wrestling Entertainment only come to Utah once in a blue moon, others'like Utah-based Ultra Championship Wrestling, or UCWâ€“Zero'make pro wrestling accessible locally throughout the year.nn
The brainchild of Salt Lake City native Steve Neilson, who goes by the wrestling moniker of “Stevie Slick” (think of his character as a more evil version of Vince McMahon, only shorter), started UCW-Zero as a result of his sons’ wrestling antics. “I didn’t like them participating in backyard wrestling,” he recalled. “So I constructed a wrestling ring of my own at my house, and then their friends started coming over to wrestle.nn
Then one of the wrestlers, Los Mochi Paco, developed a Website for the fledgling organization. “Other promoters started noticing the Website and the wrestling ring,” said Neilson, “and began to contact us. From there, we started training to be pro wrestlers and started doing shows.nn
In the five years since that day, UCW-Zero has shown forward momentum. Its Website, UCW-Zero.com, boasts its wrestlers have worked in Arizona, Colorado, California, Chicago and West Virginia. A recent show in Pocatello, Idaho, drew an audience of more than 6,000.nn
On a recent cold January night, UCW-Zero held an event at Salt Lake City’s Fight Coliseum. Despite the fact that a water pipe had burst and the sound system was hard to hear, the mood was electric with fans anticipating the matches ahead. Among them was a tournament where four wrestlers'Los Mochi Paco, Jeff Orcut, “Mr. Spectacular” Devan Payne, and the masked Kid Cade'would face off for the second biggest belt in the promotion, the Ultra-X Championship.
Before the match, Cade commented that “I’d always been into wrestling. â€¦ I had a friend who was training in wrestling, and I came by to see what he did.” He soon found out he had a natural aptitude for a high-flying wrestling style. What was more amazing what that the young Cade was only wrestling in his second show, and fans were digging his mat-style. “People seem to be getting on the Kid Cade bandwagon!” he remarked with a laugh'and his stock that night soared with his victory in the tournament finals against Payne to capture the belt.nn
Other standout matches that evening included a hardcore “table match” between favorites Guerrero Azteca and Khan Kussion, where the loser was driven through a wooden table. Azteca, a former Mexico City resident now living in Salt Lake City, was excited prior to his match with Kussion. “You’re here to entertain the crowd as much as you can,” he said beforehand. “You try to have the best match that you can [for the fans].” His match proved to be a brutal one, as Kussion tried to light the table on fire (unsuccessfully), but still ended up driving Azteca through for the win. As he said later, “the power of God above” had helped him survive to fight another day.nn
But it was the main event that had the audience on its feet as the heavyweight championship'held by “Stevie Slick” protÃ©gÃ© and three-year UCW-Zero veteran Tristan Gallo'would be on the line against Total Nonstop Action (TNA) regular David Young. Gallo was stoked and ready for his match: “I just need to take him [David Young] out. If I beat him, then it’ll open people’s eyes as to what I can do.nn
Young, one-half of the TNA tag-team Diamonds in the Rough, met Neilson at a show in Denver and is one of many big-name wrestlers'like A J Styles and Extreme Championship Wrestling’s Sabu'who have come to UCW-Zero. “I like it here in Utah,” he said of his fifth UCW-Zero appearance. “It’s interesting to see how the fans took right up with me as soon as I came in. It’s been tremendous.nn
Working as an independent when TNA finishes taping shows for TV, Young says that going out to shows like UCW-Zero’s is important for giving fans a chance to interact with the wrestlers. On this night, Young would go on to edge out Gallo for the title, despite the shenanigans of Stevie Slick, Gallo and Payne. But before the night was over, Payne demanded a rematch for the belt'which Young agreed to for Feb. 17. But Neilson/Slick intimated, with a sly wink, that he himself would take care of things for the next show.nn
UCW-Zero puts on a show fans can appreciate, and the wrestlers who make their way to the ring prove that they have the skills to make it onto the big stage. Even Neilson noted that his promotion is on the rise, all due to the work of his wrestlers: “I would say the wrestlers we have are perfectionists. They train hard. They train every single week. They’re in the gym, in the wrestling ring, and working continuously to perfect their craft.”nn
And when you’re going to face a burning table, it helps to be prepared.nn
n751 W. 800 South
nSaturday, Feb. 17
Note: Only the owner of UCW-Zero'Steve Neilson, aka “Stevie Slickâ€'is referred to here by his real name. Other individuals are identified by their wrestling monikers.