With Ring of Honor’s impending tag team tournament less than a week away in Baltimore, MD, six out of the eight teams have been announced. Of those six, five teams have previously garnered notoriety in front of the Ring of Honor faithful. But for BLK Out, the tandem force comprised of the Baltimore based Ruckus and Philadelphia-based Jeez, the tournament will serve as their inaugural excursion into the company as a team.
But despite their lack of familiarity with the ROH fans, the men behind BLK Out aren’t concerned with the stigmas associated with coming in as outsiders. “That just gives us a better advantage,” Ruckus told ROHWorld.com. “Everybody’s already seen [the other competitors in the tournament]. When they get a taste of what we bring to the table, they’ll wake up and see we should have been there from the start.”
With their start coming in 2004 in Combat Zone Wrestling, a company notorious for showcasing an ultraviolent style of professional wrestling, the BLK Out stable (Or “label” as they called it) began running rough-shot over the independent wrestling circuit. “CZW saw that all of us were friends outside of wrestling, so they put us together because of the chemistry we already had to see what would happen,” said Jeez, BLK Out’s second representative, who at the time wrestled under the moniker of Sabian. “We took the ball and ran with it.”
Originally comprised of Ruckus, Robbie Mireno, Joker, Sabian, and current Chikara grand champion Eddie Kingston, the BLK Out came to fruition out of the members’ desires to push the envelope and bring something different to wrestling. “We wanted to make it different from most wrestling groups you see,” Ruckus said. “The whole BLK Out “gimmick” is a play off our own personalities, so it works great that way. The crowd can relate to us more because we’re not out there being fake. We started feuding with people like Team Ca$h, The Backseat Boys, the H8 Club, and it kicked off from there.”
The BLK Out label amassed a loyal following among the independent wrestling crowd, and soon the group was a hot commodity. “A lot of other promotions love it, so they bring us in to do it wherever we go, because it just instantly gets over with the crowd,” Ruckus continued.
BLK Out partook in a series of stellar matches with the Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli as both teams were shooting up the CZW ranks, which invariably served as a major learning experience for Jeez and Ruckus. “Any time you’re in there with [Hero and Castagnoli) you've got to step your game up and really bring it," Jeez explained. "Claudio's one of the most athletic dudes out there, and Hero's on point as a character. I came away better as a character, definitely."
Together, the BLK Out have carved a legacy for themselves. But Jeez and Ruckus--the two men who will be representing the BLK Out in Ring of Honor's upcoming tournament--are no strangers to singles competition.
An alumnus of the Brainbusters Wrestling School under Chad Olsen and Axl Rotten, Ruckus started his career as a surprisingly athletic heavyweight, renowned for his ability to land a 450 splash at well over 300 pounds. "I was about 350 pounds at my heaviest," Ruckus said, who today walks around at about 215.
The primary motivator behind Ruckus shedding well over a hundred pounds was a 2006 WWE tryout, where Ruckus was told that losing about a hundred pounds would maximize the impressiveness with which he hit his acrobatic moves despite being a tad bit heavy. "It was basically a safety issue," Ruckus said. "I changed the way I was eating all together, and a lot of cardio like every single day."
Now almost 150 pounds lighter, Ruckus reflects on the way in which his high flying abilities were perceived by fans at the time. "To me it was just normal stuff. I never saw anything special about it," he said. "I guess it was because I was delusional, I really didn't see myself as a big guy. So the first time I did stuff in CZW, I was pulling off moves a guy my size shouldn't have been able to do, and that would amaze anybody."
As he worked to improve his craft, Ruckus went to war with the likes of El Generico, Chris Hero, and Claudio Castagnoli. Ruckus even went on to win CZW's Best of the Best tournament, truly a crowning feather in the cap of any CZW performer. "If I had to pick one guy I worked with that would really stand out, it would have to be Trent Acid, Chris Cash, or Sonjay Dutt," he said.
As Ruckus continued to string together impressive performance after impressive performance, officials at Ring of Honor took notice, and soon Ruckus was a part of the Vulture Squad in ROH's Stable Wars. In a surprising turn of events, Ruckus beat out 14 other ROH wrestlers in the inaugural Honor Rumble to earn a shot against then Ring of Honor world champion Nigel McGuinness. "I really wasn't expecting it given the spot we had on the card," Ruckus admitted. "I enjoyed the match a lot. I wish we could have done a little more, but for what [ROH] was going for it worked.”
By the time he challenged McGuinness for the title, Ruckus was already acclimated to a very similar style after various forays into German Wrestling Promotion, where he worked with Joey Legend, eventually capturing the company’s world title.
Now the well-traveled Ruckus steps in an ROH ring once again, this time alongside fellow BLK out originator Jeez.
In what truly might be a history-making trifecta, Jeez made his presence felt on WWE Smackdown at the end of May, on an episode of Impact Wrestling six days later followed by an appearance at the Destination X pay-per-view, and now a shot at contention for the Ring of Honor tag titles on August 3. “I would say it was a coincidence, timing,” Jeez said. “It felt good to make history like that. When I did Smackdown, I had already been in talks with TNA. It just ended up where I did Smackdown and then the TNA deal.”
Aside from making an impact on three different wrestling promotions in the course of about three months, Jeez has also made his presence felt in Japan as part of Big Japan Pro Wrestling on tours spanning upwards of eight weeks. “I loved it right away,” he said. “That was a main goal when I first got into wrestling. When I got there, I was so amazed by everything that I didn’t want to come back home.”
Jeez’s fascination with Japanese wrestling dates back to his introduction to New Japan Pro Wrestling, particularly the days of Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Ultimo Dragon, and Jushin Liger. “That’s what really made me want to be a wrestler,” jeez said. “That’s all I ever studied when I got into wrestling, and even after a few years when I was already in it, I just kept studying Japanese wrestling and hoping and dreaming that one day I would be able to go over there.”
But now Jeez is focused on the U.S. and his opportunity to leave his mark in Ring of Honor. Even with the tag title tournament looming, Jeez might have some unfinished business waiting for him in Ring of Honor. Jeez’s third and final CZW Jr. World Heavyweight Championship reign was cut short by current Ring of Honor world television champion Adam Cole. With the roles reversed, Jeez is excited at the prospect of exacting some revenge on the upstart champion. “I’m in ROH now,” Jeez said. “I’m going to have my sights set on more than just the tag title. You never know. I’m going to say that [Adam Cole] better keep looking over his shoulder, because Jeez might be coming for him and that TV title. You never know.”
With the unpredictable nature of most tournaments, Jeez was excited to speculate on who he and Ruckus might face on August 3 and at the finals on September 15 for Death Before Dishonor X in Chicago. “Whenever the Briscoes and BLK Out are in the ring together it’s money,” Jeez said. “We’ve been in there with them a bunch of times, and every time we get in there we kill it. It’s a no-brainer that if the ROH fanbase sees a match between BLK Out and the Briscoes, it will be a match that they remember; it would be match of the year. That’s one match that will definitely open the eyes of ROH officials to say, “Hey, we want BLK Out to be here”. Whether it’s first round, or whether it’s finals, BLK Out and the Briscoes is definitely a match to see.”
Regardless of the competition, and there will be competition, BLK out is ready to take on all comers. “We’re going to be the standouts in the tournament,” Ruckus said. “Whoever we’re in there with, we’re going to rip it up.”
Be sure to check the all-new ROHWorld.com for all of the up-to-date Ring of Honor tournament news and notes.