Untitled Wrestling Blog: Paradise Alley Professional Wrestling
Written by Mark Adam Haggerty
When I was a kid Connecticut was this seemingly distant Shangri-La on the other end of New York City where nobody traveled and only rich people lived. I mean, that was the perception. Probably because you only ever heard about Connecticut in passing on sitcoms, like: “Oh yeah, his rich family is coming in from Connecticut.” Despite spending a considerable portion of my life some fifty-odd miles from the border, I never crossed into the Constitution State during my first 31-years on this planet. That all changed in the early autumn of 2017 when I was invited to attend the North Haven Fair by an unknown upstart named Richard Holliday. It was there, I’m proud to say, that my story with Paradise Alley Professional Wrestling officially began.
My name is Mark Adam Haggerty and this is the “Untitled Wrestling Blog” sponsored by AudibleTrial.com/BPlusPlayers and ProWrestlingTees.com/Haggerty. This is the sixth chapter and seventh installment in my story so far as I take you through my independent wrestling career from start to—well, hopefully not finish. Not yet at least. I received a lot of positive feedback regarding the last chapter focusing on Robbie E. If you haven’t yet had a chance to check that out, or need to get caught up on previous entries, you can do that here. Thank you as always to my friends at BodySlam.net for providing this platform and allowing me to tell my story.
Chapter Six – Paradise Alley Professional Wrestling
Paradise Alley Professional Wrestling is part promotion, part wrestling academy, located in East Haven Connecticut just off the 95 freeway. The company is owned and operated by a number of established members of the industry including former WWE/WCW Superstar Paul Roma as well as WWE wrestlers Mario Mancini, Paul Perez, and Steve Tracy AKA Dave Paradise. In addition to large-scale monthly events, generally held at the Joseph A. Melillo Middle School or in neighboring cities, Paradise Alley also produces a series of student shows at their training facility titled the “Friday Night Alley Fights.” Since joining the team in September of last year, I’ve appeared on a grand total of TWENTY FIVE events, which adds up to more than 10% of my career so far. Needless to say it’s tough to remember a time prior to Paradise Alley.
Things really got moving for me in the summer of 2017 as I started expanding outside of New York and New Jersey for the first time and even went international with a show in Quebec. I started running into a guy by the name of Richard Holliday more frequently at places like The Dynasty, Primetime Wrestling, and World of Hurt. One day, Richard approached me at a show in North Plainfield New Jersey, and expressed his desire to bring me into Paradise Alley. I honestly didn’t think much of it, to be honest. At this point, regardless of how much I was expanding, I was still feeling things out and wasn’t sure how long I’d actually be involved in all this wrestling stuff. A few months later, Richard came to me once more and stated that Paul Roma was interested in giving me a try-out. By this point there was no doubt in my mind that I was in this for the long haul, and prepared for my Paradise Alley debut.
I arrived at the North Haven Fair early in the afternoon, before anyone else, and was immediately met by a young woman wielding a hatchet, who turned out to be in charge of the sound system. I can’t for the life of me remember the card that afternoon but I can recall people on hand such as Richard, Big Jym Anderson, Ty Shyne, Nutrious X, Matias Di Napoli, Da House of Payne, Dan De Man, and even South Philly’s Finest. I met Paul Roma and his family and sat down beside Mario Mancini who was stuffing money into envelopes and ringing the bell whenever necessary. We spoke at length, discussing my career aspirations as well as his experience working against guys like the Undertaker. In fact, for those who don’t know, Mario was the first guy to ever wrestle the Undertaker on television! The show went well, considering it was a free 4-match event for non-wrestling fans on a Sunday afternoon. But I was still honored to be there and humbled when Paul and Mario invited me to return later that month.
My first major show with Paradise Alley was DieselMania 2—an annual benefit event for a young man who’d passed the year prior—held on September 23rd 2017. I arrived to the building several hours removed from a childhood friend’s wedding some 200-miles away. The show featured WWE Hall of Famer Booker T as well as Deonna Purrazzo, and AR Fox challenging Richard Holliday for the PAPW Heavyweight Championship. It was on this night that I met many of the people who’d quickly become some of my closest confidants. People like referees William Thompson and Miguel Silverio, Da House of Payne members Nick and Hakim, and “Showtime” Marcel Williams. A few days after DieselMania, it was announced that Paradise Alley would return with another milestone event on October 15th, this time as a lead-in to Evolve 95. I remember messaging Mario Mancini, who informed me I was welcome to skip the show as I lived two hours south and wouldn’t be getting paid. I told him I didn’t care and that the exposure and chance to network with someone like Gabe Sapolsky was more than enough in terms of compensation for my time.
Our show prior to Evolve, which aired exclusively on WWN’s streaming service, featured four matches including a series of title bouts that I was honored to announce. Truth be told, I arrived at the venue unaware of what I’d be doing if anything. For all I knew, the folks at Evolve had their bases covered and there was a chance I’d be experiencing this show from the bleachers. When I arrived I was extremely excited to learn I’d be announcing the pay-per-view pre-show, and had a chance to prove myself in front of people whom I hold in the highest esteem. And not just Gabe, but Trevin Adams, who was sincerely supportive and even lobbied for me to announce a match during the card-proper later that night. I announced Richard Holliday versus “The Pop Punk Kid” RJ Rude for the Paradise Alley Heavyweight title, and spent the rest of the evening absorbing the show from the sidelines. Witnessing the way in which a promotion such as Evolve produces pay-per-view, especially that early in my career, was illuminating and served to stimulate my desire to continue down this road in wrestling.
In December of last year, Paradise Alley began producing the Friday Night Alley Fights featuring PAPW students as well as wrestlers from throughout the Northeast looking for a shot on our major shows. The Alley Fights cost just five dollars and, in contrast to the larger cards, span about an hour and include no more than six matches. I’ve a likened the look and feel to weekly events from other promotions such as the CZW Dojo Wars and XWA’s Thursday Night Throwdowns. Similar to those previously established programs, the Alley Fights are held at Paradise Alley’s training facility in East Haven and are produced by trainers, graduates, and wrestlers who’ve taken on the added responsibilities required. Drawing anywhere from fifteen to fifty to sometimes a hundred fans, the Alley Fights continue previously established stories and help to connect the dots between events, oftentimes including tournament matches and talking segments. Paradise Alley produced over two dozen Friday Night Alley Fights throughout 2018, we crowned Nutrious X the first ever King of Paradise, and we set about debuting the Friday Night Alley Fight Championship.
In addition to scaling back and introducing the Alley Fights, PAPW expanded in 2018 like never before, hitting several cities outside East Haven and even presenting an outdoor motorcycle-themed event ala WCW Road Wild. On April 21st Paradise Alley made history by becoming the second professional wrestling promotion, after WWE, to run inside the Mohegan Sun Casino. Our first show there was a massive success, relying heavily on home grown talent and built around the in-ring returns of both Paul Roma and Mario Mancini. Our second go-around at Mohegan Sun, on August 18th, featured a number of noteworthy independent stars such as JT Dunn and Anthony Greene, former WWE Superstars like Bull James and Matt Striker, as well as WWE Hall of Famer Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
It’d be impossible to write about Paradise Alley without naming some of the people I’ve encountered since starting there, albeit equally impossible to remember every single person who’s passed through those doors. People like Richard Holliday, whose name I must have mentioned a dozen times during this. People like Nick and Hakim from the House of Payne, Marcel Williams, Mik Drake, Ref Bill, Ref Miguel, Ref John, all three Pyramids of Power including Abdul, Maxim Morozov, Sgt. Murray, Kenny Roberts, Hippy Dicky Moon and Moonshine McCreedy, Nathaniel Carr, Ty Shyne, Rosalie the Makeup Queen, Wesley Andrews, Shady Shay Cash, The Spectacular JC, The Normals, Jinn the Destroyer, Kellan Thomas, Jose Perez, Chris Battle, Bullet Joe, Robbie the Giant, the Filthy Family, Zachariah Gibbs, RJ Rude, Zane Bernardo, Jack Sisco, Matias Di Napoli, Nutrious X, Christian Casanova, Saive Al Sabah, Big Daddy Dre, Geno the God, Sammy Diaz, Adrian Vine, Sasha Jenkins, the Zoltan, Broom Boy Jackson, Gimmicks the Rapper, Matt My Announcer Understudy, Alisa with the Hatchet, the guys at GoPro Wrestling and so many more. Mario once told me “Paul Roma, Paul Perez, Steve Tracy and I have all had our names announced by the great Howard Finkel, and now we’re honored to be announced by you.” If nothing ever comes of my endeavor into the wrestling business, I can always take pride in being compared to the best there ever was by guys who’ve been where I want to be.
On the next edition of the Untitled Wrestling Blog I’m heading to New York City! Right around the time I was turning heads in East Haven, I was debuting for some of the biggest indy promotions in the Big Apple including Battle Club Pro, Wrestlers’ Laboratory, and Tier 1 among others! I’ll tell you how I first broke into the New York City scene, how it led to my work with LDN Wrestling out of the United Kingdom, and some of the more experimental events I’ve taken part in such as Uncanny Attraction’s debut at House of Yes. All thatplus my unfiltered opinion on people like Dennis Long, Christopher Beckett, and Darius Carter! Spoiler—I love Darius Carter.
Until then be sure to follow me throughout social media @MarkAHaggerty. Check out my vlog @MarkMondayVlog here at BodySlam or over on my YouTube Channel. Catch up on the back catalog of B+ Player Radio (@BPlusRadio) on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. And support me by picking up a t-shirt at ProWrestlingTees.com/Haggerty