It took over two years, but Shawn Nautilus’ dominant reign as the Central Empire Wrestling Heavyweight Champion finally came to an end. At Bridge City Slam 2 this past Saturday, January 4, CEW Hall of Famer and former champion “Pop Icon” Donnie Peppercricket, defeated Nautilus in a bloody, out of control street fight.
Peppercricket’s victory brought this rivalry full circle. It was Nautilus who ended the “Pop Icons” first CEW Heavyweight Championship reign years ago. Since then, Nautilus became a dominant force within the CEW locker room. He dispatched all who crossed his path.
Nautilus was last pinned over two years ago. He entered the match extremely confident. However, Nautilus’ came in with unmatched intensity. There was no waiving to the crowd or his usual upbeat demeanor. Donnie Peppercricket was laser-focused. He knew that his CEW career was over if he were to fail in his conquest.
Starting with an intense staredown, the match didn’t take long to spill out into the ringside area. The 6’8” Nautilus wowed the Ottumwa crowd with a dive through the middle rope onto Peppercricket.
From there these two long-time rivals held nothing back using a variety of weapons to gain the upper hand as they battled down the raised entrance ramp. Nautilus’ use of a staple gun, a weapon Peppercricket introduced to the match, provided Peppercricket the crimson mask he wore for most of this contest.
Back in the ring, Nautilus battered his bloodied opponent with a crutch. He attempted to throw the “Pop Icon” through a table he had set up in one of the ring corners. But, Peppercricket was able to reverse the momentum before abusing Nautilus with a steel chair and trash can.
With a steady stream of blood flooding down his face, Peppercricket wouldn’t be deterred. He finished off the dominant champ with a body splash from the top turnbuckle through a table, earning the momentous victory.
After the match, Nautilus announced this would be his final match in Central Empire Wrestling and told Peppercricket that if anyone was going to beat him he was glad it was him. Then in the ultimate show of respect, Nautilus handed over the CEW Championship before the two rivals embraced.
Donnie Peppercricket wasn’t the only new champion crowned at Bridge City Slam 2. Valentina Loca completed her year-long journey towards the Central Empire Wrestling Ladies Championship defeating, Rahne Victoria.
A year ago, at Bridge City Slam 1, Loca fell short in winning the championship in a physical contest against Savanna Stone. It was a match most in attendance proclaimed stole the show. Their rematch three months later in Oskaloosa, was another barn burner. It ended the same as their first, with Stone’s hand raised in victory.
For the remainder of 2019 Loca battled her way through the ranks of the CEW Ladies division. She did with the hopes of earning another shot at the title.
In September, Stone’s reign as champion came to an end at the hands of Sierra. But the new champion didn’t keep the belt long. She surrendered it ten days later to take some time away from wrestling.
With no Ladies Champion, CEW promoter Austin Bayliss originally scheduled the Ladies Championship match between Loca and Branae. But an injury kept Branae from competing. Taking advantage of the opportunity to wrestle for a championship was Rahne Victoria out of St. Louis.
Victoria took control of the match early, using her size advantage to gain the upper hand, almost winning the match mere seconds into the contest with a crucifix roll-up.
Loca responded to the early near fall with a renewed sense of aggression. She utilized a variety of submission holds to try and wear down her opponent.
When her straight forward approach didn’t work, ever the wily Loca, went to her bag of underhanded tricks to help pick up the victory. A referee distraction followed by a low blow led to the roll-up that gave Loca the win. The fact that she pulled Victoria’s tights made it impossible for her opponent to kick out before the three count.
Winning the championship in the same venue she failed at a year ago was the ultimate redemption for the Southwest Spitfire and now CEW fans are left wondering “if she bled chasing the championship, what will she do in order to keep it?”
Central Empire Wrestling begins the year with a ton of momentum and with two new champions leading the way, CEW could be on the cusp of a historic 2020.