Shellfish Beyond Belief - The Underwater Union
by Ryan Jalda, GrappleFanatics.net

January 2006: What's Next For SWF's Resident Super Heroes?

One of the constants of Supreme Wrestling Federation shows over the past three years has been the presence of the Underwater Union. The super hero stable consisting of Lobster Warrior (leader and resident technical expert), Calamari Kid (lightweight high flier) and Jumbo Shrimp (super heavyweight powerhouse) has appeared in some form on every pay-per-view the company has put out since February 2003, and has been pretty successful in the process (two North American title reigns for Lobster Warrior, one Shooting Star title reign for Calamari Kid, and three World Tag Team reigns between various combinations of the three wrestlers). However, recently the team seems to have become stuck in a rut, rooted firmly in the mass of bodies that makes up the SWF midcard. So what happens next for the sea-dwellers? Is it time to go back to the fish tank for a rethink, or to travel deeper into the uncharted waters of the midcard region, never to be seen again? Let's start by looking at the three men involved, and their route to the SWF.

Chris "Lobster Warrior" Morrisette first started coming to the wrestling world's attention eight years ago, at the age of 24. He had only been wrestling for a few years, but was already living a double life. To fans of the NYCW, his main employer, he was Chris Storm, the talented rookie who regularly fought in the opening matches on shows, but rarely picked up the win. To fans of the local Philly Power Pro Wrestling promotion on the East Coast, he was their beloved Tri State champion (the company's premier singles title) "The Shooter" Chris Rockwell. This was the time of the legendary "East Coast war", where four different promotions were battling it out to control the Tri State region. As history has shown, it was Danger And Violence Extreme, headed by the visionary duo of Phil Vibert and Nemesis, who won the war. The end of the war was the famous "Final Battle 1998" show in March 1998, in which the four promotions entered their champions into a one-night single elimination tournament to unify the titles and leave one promotion standing (of course, in reality the war was already over by this point, with Vibert having bought out the other three; the show was simply a clever marketing ploy to unite the four fan bases behind one promotion, that company being DAVE).

Rockwell, being one of the four champions, was of course a focal point of the show, and defeated XFW champion "Lone Wolf" Shawn Gonzalez in the first semi-final, adding that world title to his list of accomplishments. Of course, the future Lobster Warrior went on to suffer defeat in the finals, as DAVE's figurehead Johnny Martin pinned him with a German Suplex to unify all four titles into one Unified championship. "The Shooter" would remain with DAVE for the next four months, as the aftermath of the "war" saw DAVE absorb many of the stars of the three defunct promotions. Unlike some of the other new faces, like XFW's Shawn Gonzalez and RPW's Alex Braun, Chris was never truly accepted by the DAVE fans, many of whom still resented him for being the face of PPPW, their most hated rivals for years. So, by the end of 1998 "The Shooter" was gone, and indeed was gone from the US scene entirely, as his alter-ego Chris Storm left NYCW too, and he headed up to Canada to join CGC.

Canadian Golden Combat was a time of rebirth for Morrisette, as for the first time he wrestled under his real name, ditching the characters he had played in the States. It was over the next two years that he really developed into a versatile wrestler, adding fine technical skills to the brawling style that he had used while on the East Coast. Over the next three years, Morrisette became one of the most consistent performers on the roster, notching up three separate CGC Canadian title reigns, and engaging in lengthy feuds with wrestlers as varied as Ed Monton, John Maverick and the DeColt boys. By 2002, it seemed that he had achieved all he was going to. Having feuded with virtually everyone on the roster, and clearly not being seen as a potential world champion, a change was required. It was at this point that CGC saw the debut of his new character, the comedic super hero Lobster Man. Morrisette had seen that CGC were attempting to bring in a younger fan base, and wanted to capitalise on that. The new character became a big hit, and led to a fourth reign as CGC Canadian champion. This new wave of popularity soon got the attention of other promoters, and in February 2003 he was returning to America with the SWF, where the character was renamed Lobster Warrior and given a brand new costume.

The future Jumbo Shrimp, Aaron Jackson, started into wrestling late, having worked as a security guard until he was 25. Through the summer of 2000 the massive 6'6 450lb rookie was trained by "Everest" Elmer Kelly, who while only a year older than Jackson, was already nearly a decade into his career. While not possessing much in the way of speed or dexterity, Aaron's size and willingness to work hard and learn meant that by early 2001 he was making his debut for New York City Wrestling, after Kelly had used his contacts in the industry to get the spot for him. NYCW was the perfect place for the big rookie (wrestling as Jumbo Jackson) at that point in time, as their old-school booking suited him to the ground. The formula was simple; he would rumble through several low-level wrestlers, squashing them with brute power, before coming up against one of the big names who would inevitably find a way to outsmart him and get the win. Simple it may have been, but the NYCW fans loved it, and Jumbo Jackson was a top heel for the next year and a half in NYCW, and many of the independent promotions in the surrounding area.

In the summer of 2002, Jumbo Jackson had fought everyone there was to fight on the NYCW roster, and was beginning to get stale. It was at this point that his teacher, "Everest" Elmer Kelly, was about to debut for Canadian Golden Combat to feud with the DeColt family. Needing a tag partner, he made the call, and in August of that year CGC saw the debut of the mighty Everest and his tag team partner Avalanche, of course played by Aaron Jackson. Their stay was short (Everest was only in for six months before leaving to return to BHOTWG) but eventful, as they became the premier monster heel attraction in the company, and main evented several shows. It was here that Aaron first met Chris Morrisette, who was in the first stages of his run as Lobster Man. At the start of 2003, Chris was in SWF as Lobster Warrior, where he was proposing a stable where each member would be of a different style. For the part of the team powerhouse, he recommended his CGC colleague Avalance, and in March 2003 Aaron Jackson signed a contract to become Jumbo Shrimp, the second member of the Underwater Union combination.

Samuel "Calamari Kid" Pratt is probably the strangest tale of the three, as he had (and has) no formal wrestling training at all, unlike the other two. A talented gymnast at school, Pratt was also a keen wrestling fan, but lacked the size to compete. Instead, he used to do backyard wrestling, and was part of the Michigan scene that was the center of the US backyard wrestling craze. Over the course of 2000 and 2001, he was featured several times on the low-budget "Stars Of The Backyard" DVD compilations. In 2002 he was shown (and interviewed) on a prime time in-depth news report on the dangers of this type of wrestling, and it was there that he first came to the attention of Richard Eisen's son, Eric. It was Eric's idea to bring the youngster in to SWF for six months to capitalise on his publicity, by having him be beaten by the professionals, to show that backyard wrestling was nothing compared to the real deal. Seeing six months of regular pay, Pratt agreed, and spent the latter half of 2002 being stretched and beaten by legit tough guys like Enforcer Roberts and Black Hat Bailey.

As 2003 started, the buzz had died down, and Pratt seemed on his way out. However, a strange twist had happened - by spending so much time in the ring with men like Roberts and Bailey, he had actually learnt a great deal, and was now a relatively solid wrestler, not the spot monkey that he had been when he arrived. Still, this seemed unlikely to help keep him around, even though he had won over an initially hostile locker room and was now accepted as "one of the boys". At this point, Pratt had a stroke of luck. Lobster Warrior was about to debut with his stable, and the idea was that he would have two partners, one a hulking powerhouse and the other a high flier. Warrior's plan had been to bring in fellow CGC alumni Jumbo "Avalance" Jackson and young star Ryan Powell to fill those roles, but Powell had chosen to remain in Canada. As a result there was an opening in the stable, and after impressing Warrior with a strong match against Sam Keith, Pratt was repackaged as Calamari Kid, the final member of the stable, and awarded a full-time contract.

So, the Underwater Union is now almost three years old, and has achieved a lot. So what options are open to them?

Split Up: Lobster Warrior is already a proven draw, having headlined CGC shows, but has yet to win a major world championship. Many feel he has the skills to do so, so perhaps splitting the group up would allow him to focus more on his singles career and try to win the elusive SWF title. The other two would probably have less to gain than their leader, but wouldn't be out of a job; Calamari is a cornerstone of the Shooting Star title "division", and Jumbo Shrimp has the size to at least maintain a midcard spot. So splitting up could open up new possibilities for all of them.

Heel Turn: Since their inception, the Union has been strictly a babyface team. Would their characters translate well as heels? Probably not. However, when he was fighting as Chris Rockwell many years ago Lobster Warrior showed that he can work well as a heel, and Jumbo spent his entire career before SWF working as a rule-breaker, so at the very least, two-thirds of the stable have the experience to make it work.

Drop The Gimmicks: Their underwater gimmicks may have won them a loyal fanbase amongst the younger SWF followers, but it's rare that comedy gimmicks make it to the main event. Looking at SWF's main stars, you can't see the wacky masks causing fear in the likes of Runaway Train, Remo, Steve Frehley, Skull DeBones and Sam Keith. However, losing the gimmicks could backfire - neither Lobster Warrior nor Calamari Kid have a "superstar" look without their masks, and if there is one thing that SWF likes in its main eventers, it's a certain look. Jumbo Shrimp probably has the size and look to be credible without the mask, but lacks the in-ring skills to step up to the main event scene.

Don't Change: Possibly the safest call of all would be to stay as they are. They have a solid spot in the midcard, and job security cannot be ignored as a major motivator. They get regular TV time (in fact Lobster Warrior currently holds the record for most consecutive pay-per-view wrestling appearances for SWF, having not missed a single show since his debut), occasional title reigns, and sell more merchandise than anyone outside of the main eventers. While it may mean they never get a genuine chance to see if they could hold a main event slot, there are a lot of positives for the Underwater Union continuing as they are.

In this writer's opinion, it's time for the three super heroes to go their separate ways and see what they can achieve. "The Shooter" Chris Rockwell vs. Runaway Train at The Supreme Challenge for the SWF World title this summer? Don't bet against it.