By Michael Abelson
You’ve probably never been to Orono, Maine. Closer to the Canadian border than Portland, Orono is home to the University of Maine and not much more.
But amidst the trees next to the pizza shop, and across from the thrift store with the broken sign, sits American Legion Post 84. It was there in the dregs of the the viciously cold Maine winter of 2016 that a small independent wrestling company changed the scene in the Pine Tree State.
The show was Under Fire. The company was Limitless Wrestling. It was their third show ever. The main event was Chris Hero vs Zack Sabre Jr.
“It was a monumental thing to happen on our third show,” Limitless’ promoter Randy Carver said of Hero-Sabre. “We went from being a local Maine company to having a lot of fans across the US looking at this match, looking at this show. The buzz was totally there after that. It’s exactly what we needed. Definitely something that helped us start out on the right foot.”
Before Hero, before Sabre, and before Limitless, Randy Carver was a kid in La Grange, Maine. Growing up in a town with less than 800 people doesn’t offer many opportunities, but for Carver there was wrestling.
Carver is only 20 years old but has loved the sport since he was a kid. He traveled up and down the Northeast watching wrestling and realized pretty quickly that Maine wrestling didn’t measure up.
“Maine wrestling was just really really bad for a lot of years,” Carver said. “I grew up watching it and really the only guys we had were Eddie Edwards every now and then, [maybe] Matt Taven. But the actual overall cards on the show were not very good.”
After seeing companies like Beyond Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and Chikara do their thing Carver wanted into the business. So at age 15 he reached out to the local companies in Central Maine to see if they would give him a chance, and one, Independent Wrestling Entertainment, gave him a shot.
“I give a lot of credit to promotions like that because it’s a place where the opportunities are there for dudes off the street to earn a spot somehow,” Carver said. “I did ring crew for 4-5 months and an announcer no showed so I became an announcer. That’s what kicked off being in the business for me and over the next few years I was able to travel New England and make a bunch of connections.”
While still in high school Carver matured into a jack of all trades for IWE. He would help manage the company’s social media, and he anchored the backstage promo videos for YouTube. He continued his ring announcing duties.
More importantly, he got involved with booking and card building. Carver said that learning on the job and having to work in chaotic situations like when wrestlers cancelled a booking was invaluable experience for him.
Going into his senior year of high school Carver was itching to put on a show of his own and put his life on hold to do it.
“You just get to a point where I’m in my senior year of high school and I budgeted out [a show],” Carver said. “I didn’t want to wait on this. I knew what I wanted to do and it seemed ludicrous to wait longer to do something I knew I could get done. Senior year I basically put everything on the back burner and saved money so I could get it off the ground as soon as possible. We got lucky and turned a pretty good profit the first show.”
So on September 12, 2015 Carver ran his first wrestling show in Brewer, Maine: Stage One. Limitless Wrestling was born.
Two strong shows got Limitless off the ground, and Under Fire was the night where everything blew up for Carver and his promotion. A lot of that can be attributed to Beyond Wrestling and its promoter Drew Cordeiro.
Cordeiro has built Beyond into one of the top independent companies in the country and can say that current NXT signings Donovan Dijak, Abbey Laith, and Oney Lorcan all got their big break in a Beyond ring. Carver was a fan of Beyond and he struck up a relationship with Cordeiro several years back.
“Randy used to come to the shows,” Cordeiro said. “When we did ur first ever studio taping that we some fans in for [Tournament for Tomorrow 2], he and his mom came. To have the chance to talk to Randy and his mom you could tell he was a passionate guy. Just in my brief interactions with him he seemed like someone that had a good head on his shoulders.”
Cordeiro helped coordinate travel for Hero and Sabre. The match was a success and since then it’s been a revolving door of top names coming to Limitless. JT Dunn has become a regular, as has AR Fox. Cody Rhodes, Super Crazy, and Rey Fenix have all wrestled there. Ricochet and Matt Sydal put on a classic earlier this year.
“I was extremely lucky to form a great working relationship with Drew Cordeiro from Beyond Wrestling early on,” Carver said. “That match wouldn’t have happened without Beyond Wrestling.”
But any company, given the right amount of money, can book the big names. Limitless has done the hard work of building local Maine and New England wrestlers into main-event caliber stars that put on big matches each and every show.
That very first night in that small room in Brewer both Ace Romero and Anthony Greene wrestled. Danger Kid and Adian Aggro helped build the ring. Romero was actually in the main event.
Now, this weekend Romero and Greene go one on one in the main event of Limitless’ second anniversary show, and Danger & Aggro, now part of the Maine State Posse, will wrestle in a trios match that features Joey Ryan.
The card will feature Dunn, Fox, Joey Janela, Jack Swagger and other stars from TV. But the headlining match is two locals, including the Maine-born Romero. That’s a testament to how much Carver has committed to building up the local wrestlers into bona fide stars that can pack a room of 500 fans.
“From the start it was building the homegrown talent and mixing in with the more well-known talent,” Romero said. “The big thing Randy wanted to was build his own talent from the ground up. He wanted us to get the opportunity we hadn’t gotten anywhere else. Now we’re main eventing the two year anniversary.”
Beyond the stars, Limitless has become a place for Brian Fury’s trainees to work and wrestle in big spots. Fury, the lead coach at the New England Pro Wrestling who has trained the likes of Dijak, Sasha Banks, Kofi Kingston, Greene and others, said that Limitless is a proving ground for anyone and everyone and loves seeing his trainees get a shot.
“I love it when people I have trained succeed anywhere,” Fury said. “Limitless is great because they have a chance to test themselves against some of the best in the world to see how they matchup.”
The proof is in the pudding for Limitless as the anniversary show is expected to sell out and culminate the feud between Greene and Romero. It would be easy to look down the card and move a “bigger” match into the main event, like Jack Swagger vs AR Fox or Joey Janela vs JT Dunn, but the true big names are the ones tasked with closing the show.
“It’s guys like Ace Romero, Anthony Greene, Maine State Posse those are the year one guys that built Limitless Wrestling,” Carver said. “I don’t see how we could abandon that. They’re all attractions, in my head. I say this to the locker room before shows, we’re building this together. It’s not just the names coming in for the first time like a Cody or a Ricochet, and it’s not just the locals that are here every night. Everyone who comes through is just as instrumental as building this as the next person.”
Two years in and the sky is limitless for Randy Carver. His company has gone from running in front of 100 people in Central Maine to working in front of sellout crowds in the Portland area every show.
With a strong stable of local wrestlers, and a laundry list of international stars coming in to perform, Limitless Wrestling can go as high as Carver wants to take it.
“Randy’s hungry. He wanted to end the stereotype of Maine being a bad wrestling scene,” Romero said. “To do that he brought in top talent to mix with the local talent and put on the best show Maine has ever seen.
“I don’t know what comes next, but the work doesn’t stop. The work’s going to get harder. Everyone on the roster is hungry, and the fact that we’re getting 400, 500 people in attendance that’s something major for us. We don’t ever want to lose that. We’re ready for it.”