Our resident philosopher looks at an ECW Original who has gone on to become one of the top modern trainers.
The Many Faces of Ian Rotten
John Benton Williams grew up in the Florida and Mid-Atlantic areas in the 70s and 80s. He idolized men like Dusty Rhodes, "Superstar" Billy Graham and Ox baker. John was introduced to Brian Knighton, who would later become his "brother", Axl Rotten. Brian convinced Williams to begin his career as Johnny Lawler. The story was that Williams, as Johnny Lawler, was Jerry "The King" Lawler's illegitimate son. This brought about a huge amount of heat from Lawler and his real-life son, Brian Christopher. Williams quickly abandoned the character for a hockey-oriented character named Zack Blades.
After the Blades character failed to catch on, Williams relocated to Dallas, Tx. He joined Axl Rotten in the Global Wrestling Federation. That was the first time the duo worked the "Brothers" gimmick. They were dubbed as The Bad Breed. They both received further training from Skandor Akbar while working for the organization. They would defeat The Texas Mustangs (Johnny Hawk aka John Bradshaw Layfield and Bobby Duncum,Jr.) for the Global Tag Team titles. They would drop the straps, less than one month later, to the Ebony Experience (later known as Harlem Heat). The Rottens left the GWF and headed for a little Bingo Hall in south Philly.
The master of the Tai-Pei Death Match
ECW was still Eastern Championship Wrestling when the Brothers Rotten arrived. They immediately went into feuds with the top NWA teams that worked the area, including Badd Company (Tanaka/Diamond). On their second night in the company, the Rottens ran afoul of Public Enemy, which ignited a monster feud. Public Enemy held the ECW tag titles, which the Bad Breed wanted. Despite numerous attempts, Ian and Axl were never able to gain the championships.
The Bad Breed spent the Fall of 1994 feuding with the Pitbulls. At November to Remember, both teams squared off in a Loser Loses Team battle. The Pitbulls defeated the Rottens and the team disbanded. That led to one of the most brutal, bloody battles of all time. Each man wrapped their hands in taped, dipped them in glue and rolled that mess in shards of glass. The Taipei Death Match was born. The two men shredded each other during the battle. Blood poured from dozens of slashes on their faces, arms and backs. That match followed Barbed Wire Baseball matches, Double Table matches, and a Hair v Hair match which left Ian bald.
Ian left the active wrestling business, temporarily, in 1995. Money issues between himself and Paul Heyman led to Ian leaving ECW. He moved to Kentucky and began to capitalize on the wrestling hotline industry, which was white hot at that time. Ian noticed that a lot of messages left on his service complained about the bland wrestling product being promoted by Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett. Ian decided to set up his own wrestling organization, which also incorporated a wrestling school.
By October, 1996, Ian had secured a television deal for his fledgling promotion in the Louisville area. Tapes of the shows were an instant hit with "traders" (People who mailed videos to other parts of the country). Ian worked with other promotions to help bank roll his start-up group. He held the company titles, several times. He held the heavyweight title on 8 occasions and the tag belts, 5 times. He was also the King of the Death Match in 1997 and 2001.
Ian went into semi-retirement by 2002. He did make occasional appearances at ECW Reunion shows and in his own IWA-Mid South promotion. Ian restructured the promotion in the summer of 2009, returning with smaller shows run on tighter budgets, beginning in November of 2009.
Ian Rotten climbed the sharp, rickety ladder of Hardcore fame to become one of the best trainers in the business. His biggest star, so far, has been Mickie "Moose" Knuckles. Ian is just getting IWA-Mid-South back into full gear. Many of his matches are highlighted at ClickWrestle.com. His bio and some pretty gruesome photos are available at OnlineWorldofWrestling.com --Jay Shannon Jade89512@yahoo.com