Cleveland’s Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW) has been a well thought of part of the independent scene since its inception in 2005. And if you pay attention to pro wrestling in general or the indies in particular, you know it’s rare to refer to a promotion as “well thought of”.
Native son Johnny Gargano was an AIW fixture before signing with WWE, and pretty much anyone with a name on the indies (or who’s spent some time on the indies in between contracts with the WWEs & AEWs of the world) has worked an AIW show.
Credit for AIW’s booking and reputation goes to the man in charge, John Thorne — but also to his partner from 2005 until his death in 2017, Chris “Chandler Biggins” Bryan. With WWE in Cleveland last night (June 19) on the sixth anniversary of Biggins’ death, one of their biggest stars took the time to say thanks to AIW and Biggins for their role in his career.
Kevin Owens only wrestled for AIW a handful of times before signing with WWE in 2014, but his time there — and especially the time he spent with Biggins — had a lasting impact on his career. As he said in his post-show promo, they helped re-inspire his love of pro wrestling.
Never thought I’d cry at Monday Night Raw, what a truly incredible moment. pic.twitter.com/bBtOBzqstU— John Thorne (@JohnThorneAIW) June 20, 2023
KO’s tribute to Biggins actually started on the broadcast, with an assist from another AIW alum, Raw commentator Corey Graves:
And it continued after he left the ring, when he met up with Thorne & Biggins’ mother backstage.
Backstage at Raw with Chandler’s mom. pic.twitter.com/WxhyGqFvxH— John Thorne (@JohnThorneAIW) June 20, 2023
Good stuff from a good guy about a couple of other good guys.