When Alex Reynolds and John Silver walk to the ring Wednesday night at UBS Arena, it will mark a major milestone not only in their careers, but in the history of the Long Island pro wrestling scene.
The long-time tag team partners, who came up training out of Deer Park’s New York Wrestling Connection school, are among a half-dozen wrestlers who grew up on Long Island and have gotten their big break working for All Elite Wrestling -- the three-year-old wrestling startup that has built a sizable television audience with its "Dynamite" program Wednesday nights on TNT.
"When we first started in AEW, we would talk about, ‘Oh man, how cool would it be if they did ‘Dynamite’ on Long Island and we were a part of it?’" said Reynolds, of Islip, and a member of the mysterious Dark Order faction, along with Silver. "You always want to wrestle where you grew up . . . So it’s really cool that we get to wrestle there early and have such a big show."
Reynolds and Silver credit their success, and that of other Long Island-based wrestlers on the AEW roster, to their trainer, former 1990s extreme wrestling star Mikey Whipwreck.
"He was very big on the basics and fundamentals and footwork. It’s the little things that only someone with his experience was able to teach," said Reynolds. "I think that gave us such a solid foundation. And then we drilled that into that second generation."
That generation includes one of the hottest acts to emerge in AEW—Maxwell Jacob Friedman, better known to fans as the world-class agitator, MJF.
"You just knew he was going to get under people’s skin," Reynolds said of the former Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School football player. "He has a very punchable face."
Silver, from Wantagh, also identified MJF as special from early on in his training.
"It’s hard to explain. When you watch wrestling, you know, ‘OK, that person has something,’" Silver said. "And that something was that he was a jerk. It worked. And it made you want to watch."
Other AEW performers with Long Island roots include Kris Statlander, Max Caster, Tony Neese and arguably the company’s biggest star, Chris Jericho, who grew up in Manhasset.
Another particularly well-known AEW star will be standing across the ring from Silver on Wednesday night as his opponent: Bryan Danielson, who is fresh off an 11-year-run in WWE as "Daniel Bryan."
"This is a match that I’ve wanted for years," Silver said. "He’s definitely someone I want to beat up. I’m excited."