WHAT IS THE
The concept and the format mirrors that of the industry leader of sports-entertainment. But for the superstars of the Michigan Wrestling Organization, the Bunkhouse Brawl invitational battle royal is perhaps the biggest opportunity to really catapult one’s career into the coveted upper echelon of the roster, the winner earning a main event spot for the promotion’s greatest honor under the spotlight of it’ biggest stage.
Since 2002, the Bunkhouse Brawl supercard has been a staple on the MWO’s annual schedule and has traditionally been the first big supercard of the calendar year. However, the inaugural Brawl event didn’t have the invitational battle royal match as the centerpiece, or main event, of the card. Instead 15 wrestlers competed in a gauntlet match to crown the first-ever MWO Television champion, a match that would ultimately be won by Pure Fury Jeff Clouse, who had won the final three matches to become the first-ever TV champion.
“Initially, the MWO wanted something that did not replicate the Royal Rumble match,” recalls current CEO Jason “the Basher” Clouse, a three-time winner of the Brawl main event match, “That’s why it started out as a gauntlet match, but it was the fans at the time that really lobbied for the format change to have our own ‘Rumble match.’”
Beginning in 2003, it was declared that the winner of the reformatted Bunkhouse Brawl match would earn an MWO Championship title match in the main event of WrestleRama. While that has been the case for the most part in the lineage of the Brawl match history, there are a few exceptions. In 2004, a controversial Brawl match win for Nite Shyft started a chain of events that resulted in Shyft losing his title shot to eventual champion Jason “the Basher” Clouse. Four years later, in 2007, the Basher once again was at the center of controversy when an MWO title match between he and brother Jeff resulted in the title being vacated and held up for grabs in the Brawl match. By the end of the event, the organization had seen its third title change, but it was Jerry Draven who left the event as the new MWO Champion. Most recently, in 2017, Apocalypse had won the Bunkhouse Brawl battle royal after several final four appearances and being the last eliminated in some cases to earn a shot at Creature Feature John Campbell’s heavyweight crown at WrestleRama 23. However, shortly after his Brawl match win, the MWO Hall of Famer elected to abandon his title shot when he decided to leave the organization to pursue other career opportunities.
What makes the Bunkhouse Brawl so special for organization fans is the element of unpredictability. It has truly been the luck of the draw that has aided some of the event’s most unlikely winners advancing to the WrestleRama main event. And size does not always matter in the end result of what has been dubbed as the “MWO’s All-Star Match.” Super-heavyweight stars like Blackwell and former stars Kremlin and eventual winner Apocalypse were dominant in previous Brawl matches, each eliminating the most competitors of those respective matches. In most cases, the random drawing of entry came in the first part of the match and by the time the last few superstars have entered, the dominant monsters were the prime target of everyone else in the ring.
“In past years you saw one or two big guys just level the playing field and taking out a good portion of the other wrestlers,” said long-time MWO journalist Wildman Williams, “But what ended up happening was they would get tossed out and pretty much plowed the road for whoever won the match.”
The lure of the prize that awaits the winner of the Bunkhouse Brawl match is what garners so much opportunity and anticipation for the overall supercard. The invitational battle royal gives virtually every superstar in the Michigan Wrestling Organization a shot at headlining WrestleRama 25 on Sunday, April 28 for the biggest prize in the promotion. While many have used the momentum stemming from the Bunkhouse Brawl match win to catapult them to their WrestleRama moment by hoisting up a newly-won MWO Championship title by the event’s end, some have not been so fortunate. Several challengers actually went into their MWO Title shot as the odds-on-favorites, but were unsuccessful in their bids to become champion.
“For me, I think the biggest surprise was David Costerelli’s loss to PF at WrestleRama 14,” said Williams, “Costerelli had so much momentum that no one believed Jeff Clouse would’ve won that match.”
And then there were those Brawl match winners that went on to become MWO Champion at a WrestleRama. Superstars like the Basher (2003), Jack Price (2012), and the Creature Feature John Campbell (2016) who had won the MWO Championship at WrestleRama by way of the Bunkhouse Brawl match were those who were able to capitalize on the opportunity. Looking at today’s roster, there are several superstars who are on the cusp of making a major impact on the future of the organization. Larger wrestlers like Adrian Anderson, Fat Tony Caurdiea, members of The Commission, and Blackwell will be the odds-on-favorites but it all depends on the luck of the draw. Other competitors like Victor Cross, Jack Teryn, and Corey Kerr combine power and size with an amazing level of agility and are s dangerous a threat as any of the other contenders.
The Bunkhouse Brawl may be centered on the invitational battle royal, but the event has seen some pretty incredible “undercard” matches as well. Many titles have been defended and won during the history of the Brawl event. It would be six years after its debut on the calendar before the MWO Great Lakes title changed hands at a Bunkhouse Brawl event, when Kamash dethroned MWO Hall of Famer Corporal Pain in 2009. Scotty Fraytown (2012), and Kristian Klayton (2013) also captured the Great Lakes title at a Brawl event. The 2011 edition of the Bunkhouse Brawl would be the first time new MWO Tag Team champions were crowned at the supercard, when Greatness Inc. dethroned Kremlin & Uncle Hector. The Natural Born Villains (2012) and Jeff Clouse & David Costerelli (2013) also won tag titles at the event. The MWO Championship has changed hands more times at the Brawl event than any other title, including the three times it changed hands in 2007. And going into this year’s event, incumbent titlist Old School Ric Caurdiea will attempt to become one of the few defending champs that retains his title at the Bunkhouse Brawl when he takes on Codename Omega on February 24.
“With everything that is planned for this year’s Bunkhouse Brawl and given its history and anticipation, the one thing we can expect is that a new chapter of our history book will be written on February 24,” said the Basher, “Titles will be on the line, feuds will be settled, and someone will stamp their ticket to the main event of WrestleRama 25.”
HISTORY OF THE BUNKHOUSE BRAWL MATCH
|Won vacant MWO Television title|
|2003||Jason "the Basher" Clouse||Won the MWO Title in a 6-pack challenge at WrestleRama 9|
|2004||Nite Shyft||Lost MWO Title shot against Jason Clouse a month after the Brawl|
|2005||Kristian Klayton||Lost in four-corner Iron Man Match to champion Biohazzard, Damon Grey, and Michael Reaver at WrestleRama 11|
|2006||Jason "the Basher" Clouse||Lost to MWO Champion Levi Blue at WrestleRama 12|
|2007||Jerry Draven||Won vacant MWO Title at the Brawl; retained at WrestleRama 13|
|2008||David Costerelli||Lost to MWO Champion Jeff Clouse at WrestleRama 14|
|2009||Jason "the Basher" Clouse||Won MWO Title prior to WrestleRama 15; Retained at WR15|
|2010||Michael Reaver||Won the MWO Title from Jason Clouse at WrestleRama 16|
|2011||Kristian Klayton||Lost to MWO Champion Apocalypse at WrestleRama 17|
|2012||Jack Price||Won the MWO Title from Kristian Klayton at WrestleRama 18|
|2013||X-Convict||Won the MWO Title from Apocalypse at WrestleRama 19|
|2014||Damon Grey||Lost in triple threat match to new champ Kristian Klayton and Jason Clouse at WrestleRama 20|
|2015||Skullz||Lost to MWO Champion Kristian Klayton at WrestleRama 21|
|2016||Creature Feature John Campbell||Won MWO Title from THEE Cody Leedy at WrestleRama 22|
|2017||Apocalypse||Left the MWO before title shot at WrestleRama 23|
|Lost in triple threat match to MWO Champion Jacob Brawn and Ric Caurdiea at WrestleRama 24|