One of my favorite weekend pastimes is to take in a Florida State League baseball game. On a glorious Sunday afternoon, I can get my tan on, cheat on my diet with a Philly Cheesesteak from Delco’s, enjoy a fabulous craft beer from McGillicuddy’s, and watch some very talented young men play baseball.
The game I have so passionately loved since my earliest memories. Although I watch for the pure love of the game, the true fan in me is always on the search for excellence, for that next big thing, so I can say, ‘I was there when….’
Of late, my Sunday afternoons have been spent at Boogie’s Wrestling Camp (BWC) and Hall of Fame Museum in beautiful, scenic, Shawsville, Virginia. Where is Shawsville, you may ask?
I have often joked that in order to locate this idyllic spot, simply type ‘Parts Unknown’ on Google Maps, and once you arrive, drive another 50 miles North. I will also tell you the drive is majestic, serene, and well worth the effort.
BWC is a very special place where everyone is loved, respected, and valued. Founded in 1992 by WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy ‘The Boogie Woogie Man’ Valiant, BWC has turned out 30 graduating classes, including WCW’s Frank ‘The Tank’ Parker BWC’s very first student) and former AEW World Champion ‘Hangman’ Adam Page.
Alas, while there are no Philly Cheesesteaks or craft beer at BWC, I can watch very talented young men and women learning the art of professional wrestling, something I have also passionately loved since my early youth.
And while I am the BWC Commissioner, the fan in me watches for the pure love of wrestling. But as in baseball, I am always on that search for excellence, for that next big thing, so I can say ‘I was there when….’
Sam Street – The Keeper Paves Her Own Way
At BWC, that next big thing is ‘The Keeper’, Sam Street. Hailing from the Star City of Roanoke, Virginia, Street has not only become one of the shining stars of Camp.
She has taken the Mid-Atlantic Region by storm (not to be confused with Scott Storm, another great BWC talent and current Southern Heavyweight Champion), wrestling for several promotions in the area and recently capturing both the Wrestling All-Stars Promotion’s (WASP) Women’s Championship, as well as the BWC International Championship (inaugural champion).
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let’s take a U-turn and learn a bit more about this burgeoning star. On her recent appearance on the ‘Dan and Benny In the Ring’, Sam Street mentioned watching a video package of Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn with her Dad at the age of 11 or 12.
She was so caught up in the storyline and emotion of this memorable feud that she distinctly remembers thinking,
“I don’t know what this is, but I want more of this.”
During high school and college, Street excelled at soccer, specifically goalkeeping. ‘The Keeper’ is a NCAA Mountain East Conference Champion, as well as an NCAA Atlantic Region Champion (Division 2). Although her collegiate athletic career still undoubtedly held more championships in the future, she knew that as regards professional wrestling, ‘her time was now’.
Street did her due diligence in researching wrestling schools and, upon the recommendation of a friend, decided to visit Boogie’s Wrestling Camp.
As Sam told Dan and Benny,
“From the moment you get there, and you see all the stuff on the walls, the Hall of Fame and everything, I just knew that’s where I was supposed to be.”
Sam Street is part of the 31st BWC Graduating Class, (not) coincidentally the same number she wore with her traveling soccer team. Talent is a great thing, but a little bit of Serendipity never hurt anyone.
While one would normally not draw any similarities between soccer and wrestling, Sam aptly noted that the footwork associated with goalkeeping greatly assisted in her wrestling transition.
“There are way more similarities between goalkeeping and professional wrestling than I expected. First of all, I always make the joke that in wrestling, we’re known for taking bumps, and goalkeeping is the one position in soccer where you’re known for taking bumps.
But I think the main thing is the footwork that’s required in soccer translates so perfectly to wrestling. Since I am not six feet tall, technical athleticism like footwork translated perfectly for me.”
In addition to her BWC training, Sam Street spends a considerable amount of time honing her craft under the watchful eye of another professional wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer, Ricky Morton.
Talking about The School of Morton (SOM), and Ricky in particular, Street noted
“What I noticed about him was that he really takes the time to invest in people, and helps us understand the little nuances of wrestling that not everyone gets.”
Although Sam has recently captured both the WASP and BWC titles mentioned earlier, ‘The Keeper’ is not one to rest on her laurels.
As she told Dan and Benny,
“I am always on the lookout for new titles. I wrestle for quite a few other promotions; I have a few that I wrestle for most, BWC, SOM, WASP, but I also wrestle for Pure Pro Wrestling in Virginia and North Carolina, I wrestle for All-Star Championship Wrestling, and most recently I made my debut for Ring Wars Carolina, and I happen to know they have a women’s champion, Audrey Allen.
I’ve won both of my matches at Ring Wars, and to say I’ve got my eye on her title is a bit of an understatement.”
Street’s finisher is called the ‘Dead End’, her version of the Shining Wizard. When asked why she chose this particular maneuver, Sam commented.
“Well I wanted something that I could kind of throw in from out of nowhere, I didn’t want there to have to be some massive setup for it, because with a finisher, you want to be able to use it whenever you see an opening.
But also, I think I led my search for a finisher off of my background in soccer. Obviously, kicks, that kind of thing, it comes very naturally to me at this point, and so, through experimenting and tape study and all this, I actually saw Tejan Knox’s Shining Wizard.
The original Shining Wizard, you end flipping over, but with her Shining Wizard, she just goes straight in, and it’s almost Claymore-like, but as a knee instead of a kick, and I loved it, and once I tried it, I instantly knew it’s what I had to use.”
Street’s talents supersede the athletic components of professional wrestling. Many a talented young professional could do it all in the ring, only for their career to be limited due to sub-par mic skills. Not so for Miss Street.
When asked if her promo acumen was derived from hours of preparation or an extension of her natural personality, Sam commented;
“Both. I’m a long-winded person naturally; I can talk for forever. Even my first day at Camp, I was asked to cut a promo. I was able to talk, but there was a certain amount of fine-tuning that had to happen.
I think the reason that my promos come across as natural is because I have no idea what I am going to say until I start saying it. I think the best promos happen when you’re allowed to say what’s on your mind.”
Although Sam Street is a fan of the current product, especially women’s wrestling, she is a true student of the sport, both past and present. In her spare time, Street will study classic territory wrestling in an effort to add to her ever-expanding bag of tricks.
One look at a Sam Street arm drag is proof positive that she has been watching some vintage Ricky Steamboat.
So what does the future hold for this rising young superstar? In response to the question, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?’ Sam replied,
“Let me just say this. I made my professional debut a little over 4 months ago. I’m 20 now, and when I first started training, I had no idea that at 20, I would be sitting here, double champion, working every weekend. I had no idea.
So I would almost dare to say that I have no idea where I’m going to be in 5 years. But I know that there will be more titles. I will go ahead and say that right now, I will capture many more titles in the next 5 years and every chance I get to improve myself, I’m gonna take it.
I had what a lot of people would consider to be the stereotypical golden opportunity as a college athlete. And I retired from that to take everything that I have and invest it into this sport.
I know that it’s a commonly used phrase in professional wrestling these days, but I really am all in on this, because I know this is something that I know I’m supposed to be doing. So, I don’t know exactly how far I’m going, but I’m gonna give it everything I have.”
I basked in the Florida sunshine, Philly Cheesesteak and craft beer in hand, in search of baseball’s next big thing. One day later, I sit here very confident that I have found wrestling’s equivalent.
As a charter member of the Street Fighters (Sam’s soon-to-be fan club), I very much look forward to Sam Street’s journey on wrestling’s Highway of Gold.