All hell had broken loose at the Southwest Smackdown.
SWA Heavyweight Champion Barry Wolf had walked out of the ring during his match against Hillbilly Joe, only to reappear as Doc Gracie’s tag-team partner on the Daybreakers in the night’s final event. Wolf tagged in and was handling the Bruise Brothers before seeing Joe ringside and leaving once again. Then the Bruise Brothers accidentally took out the referee. Nobody in the crowd at Southwest Mississippi Community College knew what to do.
But the wrestling continued, and SMCC president Dr. Steve Bishop, the sleeves cut off of his button-down shirt, entered the ring to officiate. And Bruise Brothers star Reggie “Krimsyn” Matthews — who, by day, is SMCC’s IT director — took down Gracie to secure the Southern Tag Team Title alongside partner Blade Boudreaux.
On home turf, Matthews, who’s wrestled for 21 years, had the night of a lifetime Thursday.
“Just to have such an opportunity to perform in front of so many people, I can’t really explain it,” Matthews said. “It’s exhilarating.”
It was a night of thrills and spills. After “Mr. Reality” Benjamin J. Wood defeated “The Iron Pitbull” Antonio Bronson and Samson Richards held off “The Prince of Pain” Joe Kane, Kodi King pulled off a stunning comeback against Trixxie in SWA’s first-ever Women’s Division match. Coming out of intermission, Junior Heavyweight Champion Dalton Delk defended his title against Delicious Van Viciouss, who successfully rallied the entire arena against him.
Then came the co-main events, and the dramatics with Wolf, who kept his heavyweight title despite walking out of his match. Hillbilly Joe is still hungry for a chance at that championship belt, and he stalked Wolf out of the ring primarily to show that he’s not going away.
“I just let him know I’m still around,” he said. “He walked out on me, (but) I’m going after him. He can run, but he can’t hide.”
Lanny Mixon, SWA’s media director and lead commentator, was as bewildered as anyone at Wolf’s histrionics. He said the organization would review the matter and determine what action to take ahead of its upcoming show Saturday at Perry Central.
“That's not going to sit well with the championship committee,” Mixon said. “What he has lined up and what he does with that, that decision’s on the committee, but I can tell you (the committee chairman) is not going to be happy with those antics.”
As the lights went up and the crowd of an estimated 500 filed out, everyone had a smile on their face.
The Hattiesburg-based SWA (Southland Wrestling Alliance) has put on shows all over Mississippi since its inception in 2014. Thursday night’s crowd in Summit was among the largest and most boisterous the organization has ever had.
“To be in a community where we haven't been before and to see the fans get into each and every match … was absolutely phenomenal,” Mixon said. “For me, the MVP of the night was the fans that showed up and just had an amazing time.”
It was a night for all ages. Young children cheered and booed at the top of their lungs. Think about how many of them went home and attempted takedowns on their siblings, or ran to the wall and pretended it was the ropes before sprinting back at an unsuspecting opponent.
SMCC students made the most of their free admission. The Bears’ baseball team, in its usual seats for basketball games, was as rowdy as ever. Players exchanged taunts with Van Viciouss all night — at one point, someone said of the wrestler’s bright-pink spandex, “Give your grandma her underwear back!”
While Thursday night had been a long time coming for those in Pike County, it was simply the latest thrilling show for Gary and Debbie Hudson, two Petal natives who made the 90-minute drive to Summit. The couple has traveled across the state to see SWA and other independent wrestlers for years — their longest trip was three hours — and they’ll be in Dallas for Wrestlemania this weekend.
Debbie Hudson said she’s loved wrasslin’ since she first saw it as a child. Decades have passed, but that passion hasn’t waned. And while WWE and other national brands have their appeal, there’s something special about following along with an organization like SWA and developing relationships with the performers.
“Basically, we come out and just support the guys. It’s not just one individual,” Gary Hudson said. “Doc Gracie looked at me and pointed at me and (said), ‘Unzip your shirt.’ I unzip my shirt, open it up, and … I’m not gonna repeat what he said.”
The Southwest Smackdown was two years in the making. The COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 and continued restrictions in 2021 pushed it back, and Matthews, the event’s coordinator, said there were plenty of logistical hurdles along the way. But there’s no denying how successful the night was in the end.
“Working here at Southwest, I’m trying to give the best WiFi, provide the best internet, make the students feel comfortable, make the workers comfortable,” Matthews said. “To really reward them for everything and be able to give back, it feels good.”
It’s likely a matter of when, not if, SWA returns to SMCC for another show. Right now, though, Matthews is perfectly content to bask in the hometown glory.
“I’ve got a big smile on my face,” Matthews said. “I’ll be smiling for a week.”