If you haven’t attended DWO’s Albuquerque wrestling matches, you’ve honestly been missing one of the most entertaining shows in town.
Destiny Readies to Rumble
BY TY BANNERMAN
On March 19, Destiny Wrestling Organization’s heavyweight champion, the wickedly scraggly Johnny K, will defend his title from homegrown baby-face Thunder at the Westside Community Center (1250 Isleta SW).
Meanwhile, take-no-prisoners tag team Brute 66 will dish out pain to rivals The Keepers of the Faith. And you can bet your ass Hobo Hank and DWO’s Director of Competition Matthew Roblez’s long-standing feud will continue unabated—especially after Roblez arranged for Hank to get assaulted outside the ring at the last match.
Wait, what? Listen up. If you haven’t attended DWO’s Albuquerque wrestling matches, you’ve honestly been missing one of the most entertaining shows in town. The bouts offer all the fun of WWE-style matches’ oversized gimmicks and theatrics without the crass commercialism of Vince McMahon’s empire.
Best of all, DWO is 100 percent Albuquerque. In advance of the March 19 bout, ABQ Free Press sat down with DWO Commissioner Adam Merrick to talk about the organization’s roots and why he thinks it’s even better than the WWE.
ABQ Free Press: Tell me about Destiny Wrestling Organization. Where did it come from?
Adam Merrick: Honestly, it was an idea I came up with in high school. Me and some friends just did it for fun. We didn’t take it seriously at all. Then a few years later, I’d say 2006, I came across some guys who were really into wrestling. And they were really passionate about it. They wanted to pursue it and try and bring it back because Albuquerque has a rich history with wrestling.
There used to be events at the Convention Center back in the ’70s with Ricky Romero. He was really popular. Unfortunately, those events stopped. Mike London was a huge promoter here in Albuquerque during the ’70s. This is all stuff we learned along the way. And we knew there were other fans here because every time we went to a WWE show at the Pit or the Star Center, there were thousands of people. So there was a fan base for it already.
Who is “we” exactly?
That would be myself and three other gentlemen who were [and are] wrestlers. That’s the DeathRage Cartel [Josh Pain, Dextor Deranged and Johnny K Das Boot]; we originally put this together. This is kind of our baby. I was the one who didn’t have aspirations to wrestle. I was more intrigued with behind-the-scenes stuff — doing whatever I could to be a part of the show — and they were more into the wrestling part.
What do you find so compelling about wrestling?
It’s definitely the stories. In boxing, it’s just two guys fighting. In mixed martial arts, it’s just two guys fighting. There’s no set-up. With wrestling, there’s a backstory to it. I like how there’s a dramatic reason for these matches to take place.
Who are your fans?
We have something for everyone. Kids love us. We have many female fans, as well. We wanna make everybody aware that this is something you can bring your family to. It’s something different. It’s absolutely the opposite of what you’ll get at an Isotopes or basketball game. People love it, and people are loud. You saw people were loud that night [you attended].
Definitely. When you came out in your suit, everyone went a little crazy. And then the guy with the sunglasses?
Matthew Roblez! He’s our director of competition.
Right! He’s this sort of sleazy cheater. At one point, he bopped somebody on the head or something like that, and the crowd was booing like crazy.
Yeah, he’s always getting involved. He’s in charge of the matchmaking at Destiny Wrestling. He’s been a great asset, plain and simple. As far as the storytelling side of it, I think he’s a great. You saw how involved he was at Day of Destiny [in October 2015]. He cost Martin Casaus his match, but he got what was coming to him during that match with Hobo Hank — when the Sheik blinded him with the fireball. So he can take a beating. I don’t like mixing it up with these wrestlers because I know how ferocious these guys can get, especially in the heat of battle. So I try to stay away from that stuff. I only get involved if it’s really needed.
Why should somebody go see a Destiny Wrestling event rather than stay home and watching the WWE on TV?
Getting the interaction with the wrestlers! When you’re watching it on TV, you’re not gonna have John Cena come out and slap your hand while you’re sitting on the couch. At DWO, you get that interaction. You can say “Hey, Johnny K, you suck!” and you might get a reaction from Johnny. Who knows? You can sit out there and cheer for Dom Vitalli.
And Dom Vitalli might give you a thumbs up. Plus these guys are going out there and they’re giving you 110 percent. It’s something that gives us an edge over WWE, if you’re deciding whether to watch a TV show or come to a DWO show. I think it’s a no-brainer.
Ty Bannerman co-hosts City on the Edge podcast, freelances for publications like ABQ Free Press and Atlas Obscura, and authored “Forgotten Albuquerque” and a forthcoming memoir. He most recently served as managing, features and food editor at Weekly Alibi.