Fightin’ And Fitness:The Elijah Dean Story

“The first time I ever stepped in his ring, I just knew”

Elijah Dean, a Pittsburgh-based pro wrestler that ranks among the best on the independent circuit, felt at home the first time the soles of his shoes touched the woven canvas of a wrestling ring. No, it wasn’t his first day of training to pursue the sport, that would come a few years later at a converted storage facility, but rather alongside one of his high school pals that bought an actual ring to put in his backyard. The enthusiastic teenage that was able to convince his parents to allow him to put a pro ring on their property was current 2PW champion, Jami Jameson.

Elijah and Jami remain boned to this day more than a decade later through their shared passion of the ring, both accomplished champions in the sport that they emulated as teenagers before they finished their math homework that night.

“Elijah Dean, whether it be friend or foe, he is one of the best in the game. He truly sets the standard for the western Pennsylvania pro wrestling scene,” said Jameson.

From the time their teenage wrestling shenanigans quite literally drew a crowd of neighbors to see what the rascals were up to, Elijah Dean stayed laser focused on his goal to compete as an actual pro wrestler, knowing the house party contests were fun, but only a way to experience the sport before he took the steps to become a legitimate professional performer.

Dean stuck to the plan, as he signed up to train at the IWC Wrestling Academy when he was just 18. The training center is associated with the International Wrestling Cartel, an organization that was originally founded by radio persona, Bubba The Bulldog and then run successfully for nearly a decade under the direction of Norm Connors, the godfather of the Pittsburgh independent scene. Ownership changed hands throughout the years, with Justin Plummer, a former video host for the organization, promoting the brand very successfully for the past several years. Regardless of who ran the promotion, the IWC maintains its reputation as the group that brought the biggest stars in the industry to the region.

“I attended IWC shows during high school, it was the first ever indy company I saw,” said Dean of what led to his initial decision to choose the IWC school as his place of pro wrestling education.

Similar to the promotion itself, which has seen stars of the area rotate as the staples of different eras of the company, the IWC school saw a myriad of trainers over the years to help keep the philosophy and training regiment fresh for aspiring hopefuls. When Elijah Dean walked into the facility and saw the same IWC logo on the wall that he was so familiar with in 2017, Chris LeRusso, a more than 20-year pro with an accomplished tenure of zigzagging across the independent scene over those two decades, was the man tasked with his wrestling education.

“First, let me say that there isn’t a better trainer around than LeRusso. The dedication he put in to helping Pittsburgh wrestling should be respected a lot more. The most important thing I’d say I learned was just to respect everyone. Don’t be the guy that somebody doesn’t want to be around,” Dean said of his earliest lessons inside the ring ropes.

“The thing most people notice about Dime is, his supreme confidence, but it’s not unfounded. I’ve seen this man transform his body in the time he’s been in the business. He has always been in good shape, but he’s next level now. I’ve seen someone who had great natural talent and charisma also become a great student of the game, and one of the more cerebral and intellectual wrestlers in the area. He is confident because he has put in the time and discipline and he knows how good he is,” added Chris LeRusso, who is also the current matchmaker for Ryse Wrestling.

Similar to how he felt at home the first time he stepped into a wrestling ring as a teenager, when “The Man Dime” Elijah Dean, his brash over-the-top in-ring persona, laced up actual wrestling boots for his pro debut in 2018, many in attendance saw the natural poise he had for the squared circle. Despite being in his rookie year of the sport, Dean showed skills well beyond his level of experience, prompting many to tout the bright future they saw for him in the genre.

After a few years of one of the top young lions of the industry, the momentum that Dean, and the rest of the wrestling world had was stalled by the global pandemic in 2020. IWC promoter, Justin Plummer went to extra lengths to continue to provide events for his audience, running limited capacity events in doors, while promoting outdoor events at the Washington Wild Things minor league baseball park to allow for socially distanced seating for the fans. For Dean, he was paired with another youngster that was also considered a natural by many, the equally brash Zach Nystrom, forming the duo Money Shot, a tag team that had an extensive reign as IWC tag team champions.

“I have insight like nobody else. We’ve spent countless hours training together, traveling in the car together, and hundreds of matches preforming together. The number one thing that sticks out about him through all of that time together is his drive and vision. Whether it’s workout plans, promos, matches or anything else there are very few that can speak things into existence like he can. I’ve seen it happen time and time again he comes up with a vision, creates a plan, and executes it through tireless hard work,” commented Nystrom.

After pandemic restrictions were lifted and with a successful tag title run, Elijah Dean looked for the top prize in the organization, the IWC heavyweight championship, a title that he saw defended years earlier from the front row of the audience. Dean obtained that goal, defeating the stellar Bill Collier for the belt in mid-2022. After he six-month tenure as champion, he lost a highly competitive bout against Collier and departed IWC.

Dean spent last year focused on tag team bouts with Nystrom, winning multiple tag titles, including the Ryse Wrestling and Absolute Intense Wrestling tag team championships with simultaneous reigns in each organization. It wasn’t until Money Shot held the Ryse tag belts for almost a full calendar year that they lost the belts last December. With another historic tag title reign on his resume, Dean looked to return to where it all started for him, the International Wrestling Cartel.

After more than a year away, the venue in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, the home base for IWC for the past 18 years, erupted when “The Man Dime” walked back into the building in February. He challenged Collier for the championship the following month, losing a very evenly-matched bout, but now finds himself at odds with Plummer.

“My return to IWC thus far has been nothing short of incredible. I’m in a very different head space from the last time I was there in 2022. I’ve matured a lot. I like to see all promotions in Pittsburgh strive and do big things. But IWC is my home, and where I started. So, this run to me is extremely personal. I look forward to helping the younger guys on that roster grow, and it’s going to be a very memorable moment when I get my hands on that slimy punk Justin Plummer,” remarked Dean.

Along with his IWC return, Elijah, a fitness fanatic since he was in middle school, launched his personal training business, offering workout and meal plans online or in-person for clients that look to focus on their health goals.

“As far as my training plans go, currently that’s something I’m putting a lot of time and effort into. I believe that a big key to happiness in life is having good health. Health is wealth. Currently, I’m offering workout & diet routines, and as of recently, I’m starting to take in person clients. No matter what a person’s goal is, I believe I can help, mainly because I care about helping. That’s what separates me from a lot, I believe. It’s not just about the money. Everybody’s body and genetics are different, so it’s all about finding out what works for you,” Elijah explained.

“It’s safe to say if you want to set a goal and actually follow through and achieve it I couldn’t recommend anyone better to have in your corner than him,” added Nystrom.

At just 25, despite the slew of accomplishments already, Elijah Dean has yet to enter the prime of his career, with undoubtedly a bright future in the pro wrestling industry. The first time he stepped into a wrestling ring was in Jami Jameson’s backyard when he was a teenager. The next time he steps into the squared circle will be this Saturday when he competes at the CFS Bank Event Center, the historic venue formerly known as The Rostraver Ice Garden. Dean is set to compete against Plummer’s hand-picked opponent, Anthony Catena as a part of the IWC Superstar Showdown, an event that will feature Team 3D, Tommy Dreamer, Teddy Long, Ron Simmons, and other stars.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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