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A 'Dynamite' homecoming for a Hoosier wrestling star

AEW Dynamite is at Indiana Farmers Coliseum
Ruby Soho
Posted at 12:47 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 17:01:20-05

INDIANAPOLIS — When ring announcer Justin Roberts says "from Lafayette, Indiana" before announcing Ruby Soho to the ring, that — as they say in the pro wrestling business — is a 'shoot', meaning its real.

It's one of many reasons Ruby is looking forward to performing for the "home crowd" Wednesday night, as AEW Dynamite makes its return to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

"I am very excited to have really good wrestling brought to Indiana. I don't think that happens super often," Soho said ahead of her first professional visit to her home state since signing with All Elite Wrestling in September.

Ruby's surprise debut as part of the Women's Casino Battle Royale at AEW's "All Out" pay-per-view show in Chicago made waves in the wrestling world. She had recently been released by WWE — despite her work being generally seen as some of the best in the company.

She trained to be a pro wrestler in Lafayette at the school run by the self-proclaimed wrestling "King of Indiana" Billy Roc; Roc closed the school in 2016.

"I was drawn to professional wrestling because of the freedom that it represented. I was a very awkward and introverted young girl who grew up to be an equally awkward adult. Professional wrestling does this thing where it heightens and accepts the awkward things that make you different," Soho said. "Wrestling is one of those things where I felt free to be who I wanted to be."

She wrestled for independent companies as Heidi Lovelace, a name she has said in other interviews she didn't like, because it was chosen for her.

She became Ruby Riott (first Riot with one 't', then later with two) when she was hired by WWE in 2016. But Ruby had to search for another name after she was released by WWE this past June, as the world's largest wrestling company seemed to be de-emphasizing women's wrestling.

It wasn't long before AEW came calling.

The two-year-old company is owned by Jacksonville Jaguars executive Tony Khan, and the brand has seen more commercial success than the football team has of late. "Dynamite" on Wednesdays and Friday night show "Rampage" are consistently among the highest rated shows on cable.

Ruby became Ruby Soho, named after the song from punk icons Rancid. She is friends with Rancid guitarist and singer Lars Frederiksen, and he gave her his blessing to use the name and the song.

"I have the best job in the whole world, and I work for the most incredible and special company that is out there right now," Soho said. "And we have the most amazing fans in professional wrestling. From the moment I walk out on stage, the smile that creeps across my face is real and genuine."

AEW was the brain child of Khan and several pro wrestlers with a variety of backgrounds. They are wrestlers who became famous among hardcore fans for their work in independent promotions or other companies (The Young Bucks - Matt and Nick Jackson and current AEW World Champion Kenny Omega), plus one (Cody Rhodes) who is the son of Dusty Rhodes, one of the best known pro wrestlers to ever step into the squared circle.

Cody Rhodes was an established star in WWE, but he had grown tired of the way he was used (or not used) on television and in storylines. He left WWE when his contract expired in 2016, wrestling around the world and becoming friends with the Jackson brothers and Omega while working for promotions such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. As the Jacksons wrote in their memoir "Killing The Business", the wrestlers were first approached by Khan about creating a new promotion in 2018, as their contracts with various other companies were coming to an end.

AEW has built its brand rapidly with a roster of several wrestlers who worked much of their careers on the independent scene. But the company is also drawing the casual viewer with some of the biggest stars in wrestling, such as Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan in WWE) Adam Cole, Sting and Matt Hardy. It's also making new stars of young, eye catching talent like 'Jungle Boy' (Jack Perry, son of the late actor Luke Perry), "Hangman" Adam Page, Sammy Guevara and notorious 'bad guy' MJF.

Along with Soho, the AEW women's division is one of the strongest in the sport. At the top is Women's World Champion Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. That isn't a wrestling gimmick; Dr. Baker is actually a practicing dentist, in addition to maintaining a full-time wrestling schedule. Some of Japan's top women's wrestlers are also featured, such as Riho, Hikaru Shida, and Emi Sakura, as well as Mexican-American veteran Thunder Rosa. Expected back in action soon is Brandi Rhodes, Cody's wife and also AEW's Chief Brand Officer. Rhodes is training to return to in-ring action after giving birth to the couple's first child in June.

If you attend Wednesday's show, don't be surprised if you are asked to join a cult. Only, the Dark Order is not a cult, it's members insist. "We're about helping others in need. We're a group of people who feel lost, who have no direction, who barely had people who backed them up. Losers, to be honest," said Dark Order member Evil Uno, an opinion seconded by longtime tag team partner Stu Grayson. "We're a group of misfits who have become family, and we fight for each other no matter what." Uno and Grayson wrestled for more than a decade in their native Canada and around the world, first as The Super Smash Brothers and then as Dark Order — a group that was, pardon the pun, much darker in its beginnings.

The faction was eventually headed by Mr. Brodie Lee, who had come to AEW after obtaining his release from WWE. He had become well known for his smooth in-ring work as Luke Harper, but he was also disenchanted with the way he was used. Lee - real name Jon Huber - gave Dark Order a new direction; serious butt kickers on television, and hilarious clowns on 'Being The Elite' - the YouTube series created by the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. The entire wrestling world was stunned when Huber died at the age of 41 in December 2020 of a non-COVID-related lung condition.

Now, Dark Order doesn't have a leader per se. But its members — John Silver, Alex Reynolds, Alan "5" Angels, Pres10 Vance, Anna Jay and one of the godfathers of independent wrestling, Colt Cabana — are fan favorites everywhere they go.

AEW Dynamite is at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Wednesday night. Silver and Reynolds will join Ruby Soho and English superstar Pac for a fan meet-and-greet at 5:30pm Wednesday at the Coliseum, with meet-and-greet tickets going on sale at Noon. Masks are required for the meet-and-greet.

The show begins at 7 p.m., with the live broadcast on TNT starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are available here.