2015 Regionals Recap

July 29th 2015

“To me, arm-wrestling is the closest thing to a fistfight, and Travis Bagent is the hardest dude in the room.”

Travis “The Beast” Bagent is no stranger to cockiness in The Pit. But at the World Armwrestling League’s 2015 regional championship on ESPN2 Wednesday night, that swagger got turned on its head.

Nick Zinna, a 33-year-old mechanic from Missouri, easily dispatched Bagent in the south right arm super heavyweight competition, shaking up the WAL’s established order and putting the rest of his weight class on notice in the lead-up to the WAL 2015 championship.

After referee Bart Wood strapped the two men up early in the match, Bagent blasted out of the gate in the first pull. But Zinna, ever the calm and composed competitor, withstood that initial barrage, pulled back and secured the first point in the best-of-three matchup.

In the second round, Bagent came hard out the gate, and again Zinna withstood the fury and pinned one of pro arm-wrestling’s luminaries to secure the win. After the match, Zinna said his plan was pretty simple: keep the match on his side of the table, use his back strength and dominate.

“And it worked,” he said.

Make no mistake, Bagent, a 38-year-old gym owner from West Virginia, easily ran throgh all comers on his dominant arm, the left, to capture the top seed in the 2015 WAL Championships, witha brief but vicious challenge from  52-year-old Christian Binnie, a retired corrections officer out of Florida.

Other WAL stalwarts held their ground as the league crowned its first Regional Champions at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas -- undefeated right-hand superheavyweight Dave “Easy Money” Chaffee, 38, handled a powerful attempt to usurp his place at the top of the game from WAL newcomer Jerry Cadorette, and kept his incredibe 

Other new blood also rose to challenge the reigning champions and make a name for themselves.

Massachusettes native Rob Vigeant Jr. pulled an epic match in the North left arm middleweight final, besting reigning WAL 2014 champion “Todzilla” Todd Hutchings, 48, an Ohio engineer. Hutchings scored a quick first point on an easy pin in the matchup, and Vigeant had to deal with a “running foul,” where his elbow came off the pad but he won the match, meaning he had only survived to try to beat Hutchings again.

In two grueling pulls, Vigeant bested Hutchings. But the two would call the day a draw, as Hutchings beat Vigeant in the north right middleweight battle.

While the WAL is all about including every competitor who can throw down with the best of them, not every newbie showed up the establishment at WAL’s regionals.
Eric “Mr. Nitrous” Opitz, a 22-year-old Rutgers college student, was handily dispatched by Shawn Lattimer in the North left super heavyweight final.

Lattimer, a 425-pound behemoth and engineer by day, dominated Opitz from the get go, with the up-and-comer struggling to even grip up with Lattimer’s massive paw.
After Lattimer ended it quickly, the champ raised Opitz’s hand.

“Give that boy two years, and I’m going to be scared of him,” Lattimer said.

The regionals also saw arm-wrestling legend Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes square up against defending 2014 champion Paul “The Hillbilly Assassin” Talbott in the North right lightweight final.

It was the match of the night. Talbott took the first pull, but Cobra turned the corner, engaged his shoulder and took the second point. Both men were exhausted. Chalk smeared its way across the face of Cobra, a 50-year-old chef out of Indiana.

Cobra was in trouble early during that final pull. Talbott, an Ohio train conductor, opened up his opponent’s wrist and the legend had nowhere to go against Talbott, the defending 2014 champ.

John Brzenk, heralded as perhaps the greatest living arm-wrestler, made his WAL TV debut against UPS employee Tom Nelson in the west left heavyweight final, where he made quick work of Nelson, who promised to return stronger than ever. Brzenk, a 51-year-old Arizona airline mechanic, also won the west right heavyweight title.

In other regional results, 2014 WAL champion Devon “No Limits” Larratt, a 40-year-old Canadian Special Forces soldier, bested 53-year-old Wisconsin construction worker Ron Bath for the South left heavyweight title.

Defending 2014 champ Marcio “The Phenom” Barboza, a 42-year-old iron worker originally from Brazil, cruised to the top of the pile in the North left and right arm heavyweight competition.

In the South, veteran South Carolina arm-wrestler Matt Harris and 30-year-old Floridian “Dan the Man” Worley took the top honors in the left lightweight and middleweight categories, respectively. Meanwhile, defending 2014 champ Janis “The Jedi” Amolins, a physical therapist, took the right lightweight crown, while South Carolina teacher “Bad” Chad Silvers beat out the rest to secure the right middleweight Southern title.

Out in the Western region, 30-year-old Canadian nuclear fuel maintenance mechanic Shea “The Swamp Thing” Dickie took the lightweight left. Thirty-one-year-old Wyoming hunting guide A.J. Henson took middleweight left and Eric Woelfel, a California solar mechanic, secured a win in the left superheavyweight bracket.

“Mr. Intensity” Allen Fisher, a 59-year-old marketing director took the tops in the right lightweight matches, with California construction worker Brian Brandon taking right middleweight and 43-year-old California pipefitter Matt Girdner taking right super heavyweight.

There is so much more WAL action coming to you on ESPN2 in the coming weeks. Check here for our weight class championship schedule, and check back for more re-airing dates for the regionals.