Blood Feud: Skyler versus Hollis
Photo Credit: John Moses Photography
"These guys have to be getting contracts soon, but where? They're everywhere!" Two short years ago best friends John Skyler and Corey Hollis were holding tag team championships in multiple states including the WrestleForce tag team titles and the Resistance Pro tag team titles. The Bruiserweights were one of the most in demand teams on the independent wrestling scene but the prevailing opinion was they would not be available to appear at your local promotion's show for long. No, Skyler and Hollis were undeniably destined for bigger and better things, in addition to holding multiple tag team championships these best friends were competing on WWE NXT, Ring of Honor Wrestling, Impact Wrestling as part of The Hardy Boys 'Tag Team Apocalypto’ and even appeared together on the biggest weekend of the year for professional wrestling as part of World Wrestling Entertainment's WrestleMania XXXII Axxess weekend in Dallas, Texas. There was little doubt in anyone's mind how this rise to the top for the Alabama born and bred Hollis and Columbia, South Carolina's own Skyler was going to end... and then it all started to crumble.
It's no secret that as rewarding as it can be, professional wrestling can also be a cruel, cold and disappointing career path. To this day, John Skyler and Corey Hollis remain 'on the radar' of major wrestling promotions and still appear on national television however with the eyes of the major forces in professional wrestling more focused on the independent wrestling scene than ever before those contracts never did pan out for The Bruiserweights and with that we saw a change in the attitude of Corey Hollis. The determination and commitment wasn't as strong, hatred and malice crept in to take the place of genuine friendship and professional aspiration. The beginning came around June of 2016 when Skyler and Hollis were pitted against one another in a 4-way PWX World Heavyweight Championship match, in the end Skyler would walk away with his second PWX Championship reign. Following that match, Hollis began walking out in the middle of matches or just showing little interest in big opportunities. Following a tough loss in the opening round of the 2016 X-16 tournament to former UFC Star Matt Riddle, Hollis walked out on his match the next night and the best friends who were on top of the world exchanged some heated words publicly. In spite of the bad blood building Skyler still had reconciliation on his mind and for a short while we saw The Bruiserweights of old come together and pick up some big wins once again as a tag team. In December of 2016 Skyler volunteered himself and Hollis for a tag team match with two men very familiar to his friend, Jimmy Rave and Sal Rinauro. Skyler found himself alone in the ring with his Hollis' old friends and mentors and they noted that they too had noticed a change in Hollis but that it would be Skyler's problem if Corey didn't show up because they were going to have their match. Skyler did his best to fight off both men but surprisingly a little ways into the match Hollis made his way to the ring and joined Skyler as they picked up the win over Rave and Rinauro. Following the match it was announced that The Bruiserweights would compete with two other teams the following month in a #1 contenders match for the PWX Tag Team Championships and all of the sudden Hollis and Skyler had the opportunity to be back on top TOGETHER at the biggest show of the year for PWX. Though he would not make a firm commitment, Hollis did show up the following month at 'Road to Rise of a Champion' and together The Bruiserweights defeated The Revolt (Caleb Konley and Zane Riley) and former Impact Wrestling Tag Team Champions OvE (Jake & Dave Crist) to earn a shot at the PWX Tag Team Championships at Rise of a Champion XII. The Southern Savior wanted to leave nothing to chance sensing a big opportunity to put all the ugliness of the last 8 months behind them and following their #1 contendership win he verbally confronted Hollis in the ring and challenged him with some very strong words to truly come back together and finish the job becoming PWX Tag Team Champions. After some hesitation the two friends shook hands and it appeared that the hatchet had been buried and The Bruiserweights were back on the hunt for championship gold and big time contracts.
Photo Credit: Fisticuffs Photography
February 2017. It's the biggest show of the year for Premiere Wrestling Xperience and for the first time in nearly a year John Skyler and Corey Hollis seem to be on the same page and focused on winning the tag team championships but to do so they would have to defeat undefeated current champions The Ugly Ducklings. As promised, Corey Hollis showed up to fight alongside friend and partner John Skyler after the duo earned a hard fought victory to become #1 contenders the previous month even showing some unity using their old tag team entrance music and showing a rare sign of unity as they entered the ring. The live crowd in attendance was treated to one of the best PWX tag team title matches the company has ever seen! Hollis and Skyler remained on the same page throughout the match and really gave Rob Killjoy and Lance Lude their toughest test to date and on several occasions Hollis and Skyler looked like they would get past their issues and become champions together once more. Rise of Champion would not be the fairy tale ending for this duo in fact it marked the beginning of a blood feud that shattered the friendship once and for all. One late match miscue cost Skyler and Hollis the match and the titles and proved to be the final straw for Corey Hollis. A brutal post-match attack on Skyler directly following the match signaled the turning point for Corey Hollis. A new attitude overtook Corey Hollis, he had a new focus and that focus was to FIGHT JOHN SKYLER!! Hollis came to the ring month after month, sometimes he would compete other times he chose not to but one thing he made sure to do was express his frustration with professional wrestling and specifically with John Skyler. Hollis continued working singles matches as Skyler did the same after losing his PWX Championship, The duo picked up some big wins individually but after each victory the mean streak growing inside the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native worsened. Hollis persistently tried to injure his opponents after the match, John Skyler would step in to ensure that Hollis didn't do the damage that he intended but made sure to not physically engage with Hollis no matter the amount of provocation. In April of 2017, Current WWE NXT Superstar Chad Lail (Gunner) who teamed with both men as part of The Xperience in PWX returned to PWX one final time to try and mediate the situation between his two friends but Hollis was able to manipulate Gunner into one final fight with Skyler. Hollis really showed his true colors in this one berating Gunner into punishing Skyler until the big man couldn't take it anymore and refused to do Hollis' bidding. That night ended with a hard fought victory for John Skyler and two thunderous powerbombs by Gunner on Corey Hollis and with their tag team title reigns ending in Resistance Pro and WrestleForce as well as the missed opportunity at Rise of a Champion it seemed the only time we'd see Corey Hollis and John Skyler in a ring together again would be on opposing sides but I don't think anyone was ready for the carnage that these two left behind once they finally locked up to settle their issues once and for all.
UNSANCTIONED!! After a few more months of the two former best friends trying to get at one another and John Skyler coming to the realization that the only way to end this was to oblige Hollis' requests for a fight the management team of Premiere Wrestling Xperience granted the two a match but wanted no part of the fallout or limitless liabilities that could come from the two finally meeting 1 on 1. PWX 'Unsanctioned' took place in October of 2017 with a full slate of matches at Cabarrus Arena & Events Center but the final match of the year for the company would be the responsibility of two men and two men only, John Skyler and Corey Hollis. No Rules, No Sanctioning body to rule over the match affiliated with PWX and certainly no limits. If you've yet to see this match the only way to describe it is that John Skyler and Corey Hollis beat THE HELL out of one another! They fought from the ring to the arena floor, to the restroom using any and everything they could get their hands on as a weapon. Blood was spilled, bodies were bruised and battered, the ring was literally torn apart before this one was over and in the end it was Corey Hollis with his hand raised in victory! Hollis delivered on a cryptic tweet earlier in the day simply saying "The Band is back together" which would turn out to mean the return of Country Jacked, this time in the form of Georgia native Gunner Miller and South Carolina native Brady Pierce with Hollis serving as the leader of the reformed faction. Hollis had doubled down in his war against John Skyler with a mountain of muscle watching his back and providing Hollis with around the clock protection and security.
Photo Credit: Chad McDaniel
Months passed by, PWX took an end of year hiatus, John Skyler and Corey Hollis celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families but time does not heal all wounds and apparently neither does a brutal, bloody Unsanctioned fight! The 2018 X-16 tournament marked the return of PWX in a brand new year and anytime we saw Corey Hollis he was flanked by his new running buddies Miller and Pierce. John Skyler suffered a first round loss to New Japan Pro Wrestling Superstar Juice Robinson and on Night 2 a dejected Southern Savior addressed the live crowd and was promptly interrupted by Corey Hollis. Hollis berated Skyler and screamed at him to "Preach the truth" and tell all the people in attendance that the reason he was saying the things he was saying was because Hollis defeated him in October, the reason he isn't himself is because Corey Hollis is better than John Skyler. Skyler valiantly admitted that some of that was true but in return asked Hollis to admit something himself, he turned to Hollis and yelled for him to admit "No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be JOHN SKYLER!" Things took a very ugly turn at that point as Hollis and Country Jacked jumped on Skyler in a vicious 3 on 1 attack, ringside security, PWX officials and wrestlers all tried to break up the assault and then came Katie, John Skyler's girlfriend. Katie entered the ring looking to try and convince Corey to relent with the attack but without a care in the world Hollis delivered an elbow smash that immediately took her down and silenced the capacity crowd. A beaten Skyler crawled over to Katie and covered her with his body as Hollis, Pierce, and Miller slithered away. A feud born out of jealousy, bitterness, and betrayal had just turned deeply personal. Hollis attempted a halfhearted, forced apology later in the night for his actions against Katie but quickly abandoned it placing all the blame on Katie herself and of course John Skyler. The Southern Savior vowed revenge on all three men and he'd get that opportunity the following month at the first ever Battlefield X Rumble where Katie got a small amount of revenge in her own right slapping Hollis right in the mouth but again it was Hollis and Country Jacked that would have the last laugh. It was no surprise to anyone that when the 30 man over the top rope battle royale began and both men had entered their sole focus was on one another. Hollis was more interested in staying away from The Southern Savior and using his mountain of muscle to get him to the end of Battlefield X as the winner but Skyler got ahold of Hollis and the two almost restarted their match from Unsanctioned fighting all around the arena as the battle royale raged on inside the ring. The two found their way back to the ring and Skyler got rid of both Pierce and Miller and satisfyingly put an end to Hollis' hopes of winning the matchup but moments later Hollis returned and illegally eliminated Skyler costing him an opportunity at becoming three time PWX World Heavyweight Champion. As you would expect the battle between Skyler and Country Jacked continued in the entranceway and that's where Katie got her measure of revenge leaving a handprint on the face of the man who for nearly two years has made her man's life a living hell and following the matchup John Skyler declared war against all three of Country Jacked with some unlikely company backing him up. One year after the tag team titles loss that ended The Bruiserweights for good, Rise of a Champion XIII John Skyler found himself in need of tag team partners and recruited none other than The Ugly Ducklings! Rob Killjoy and Lance Lude the team that Skyler and Hollis had an amazing tag team titles match the previous year with, a match that would end up being the final time teaming for Skyler and Hollis would now back up their former foe against all three members of Corey Hollis' Country Jacked at the 13th anniversary supershow for PWX. The trio of Skyler and The Ugly Ducklings picked up a big win that night but still the bad blood between Skyler and Hollis was not resolved. It's said that true friendships are few and far between in professional wrestling and that's what John Skyler and Corey Hollis found many years ago as they traveled thousands of miles together, collected championship belts, performed before large crowds on national television and lived out their dreams together but once all that goes away how do you end a feud as bitter and personal as the one that has developed between these two men? Just last month Hollis and Skyler came together once again in the middle of a PWX ring but as the company presented the event 'Level Up' in Gastonia, North Carolina, the two came together for a contract signing. After an Unsanctioned street fight, costing each other shots at bigger singles opportunities, personal attacks and a six man battle the two came together to sign the contract for a Steel Cage "I Quit" match at the aptly named "Final Chapter' event. Longtime fans of professional wrestling may recall this exact match is how two legends in Magnum T.A. and Tully Blanchard settled their bitter feud over 30 years ago in a match that many (including myself) still consider one of the greatest ever to this day. The combination of surrounding the ring with a steel cage and the caveat that the match will not end until one man forces his opponent to utter the words "I Quit" remains one of the most dangerously lethal match stipulations all these years later which is why you don't see the match done very often at all in today's modern wrestling. Of course, you don't see a blood feud the likes of Magnum T.A. versus Tully Blanchard or John Skyler versus Corey Hollis very often anymore either so what better way to possibly, maybe finally put an exclamation point on one of the most brutal and dynamic feuds in all of independent wrestling?
Tickets are on sale NOW! For The Final Chapter featuring the Steel Cage "I Quit" Match between John Skyler and Corey Hollis! You do NOT want to miss this conclusion to TWO YEARS of blood, sweat, tears, cheers and jeers between two of independent wrestling's best! Get your tickets on the main page and make your plans to be at Cabarrus Arena & Events Center May 20th, 2018! Bell time is 3:00 pm, Doors open at 2:00 pm and more event announcements will be coming soon so 'like' the PWX Wrestling Facebook page and follow us on twitter @PWXWrestling for all the latest!