In the city of Tampa Bay, professional wrestling has a rich history that this past weekend was only supposed to get richer, as the city planned to host WrestleMania 36, emanating from Raymond James Stadium, the home stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead of a Kairi Sane entrance from Captain Fear’s (based off of the legendary Jose’ Gaspar) ship, all of the WWE’s superstars travelled about 85 miles off of the itinerary to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando due to the outbreak of COVID 19.
Unfortunately, while the WWE got to run their biggest show, the Independent circuit which was running strong than ever up to this point, was not able to. Promotions around the globe, from PROGRESS to GCW, had to either cancel or postpone their biggest meal ticket of the year. Tampa Bay’s local scene, which is on the rise, was zero exception in a week where it was anticipating far more eyes than ever before. Clearly, due to the virus putting the world in an unexpected and untimely pandemic, the wrestling scene of the Bay area could not run any of their shows. This greatly impacted a large number of talents, including one of the local scenes youngest talents Anthony McKelvey, who competes under the ring name Logan Rights. Fortunately for Anthony, or as his friends call him “Kels”, “Kelsington,” or if you’re a nerd for anything That ’70s Show like I am, “Kelso”, PSE’s Jameus Mooney caught up with him just a week after the biggest week of his year was up in smoke.
Born in Centereach, Long Island, just an hour out from Manhattan, Anthony was born the oldest of three boys, to two parents who love wrestling just has much as he did, so much so that it was the most regular thing on television in his household growing up. In fact, Anthony says that his parents as well as his younger brother Aaron are by far the most supportive people in his life as he chases his dream. However, there were mainly two superstars who stood out to him from a young age: Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle and his all-time favorite Triple H, citing that they “had such personalities that almost anything that they have done, I’ve found some sort of enjoyment out of.”
While there isn’t a specific moment that stood out to him that this is what he wanted to do, Anthony always knew that this was the only viable career path for him, thus he moved to Palm Harbor, Florida right after graduation and it was there that he signed up for Jay Lethal’s school in St. Petersburg.
Jay Lethal, of course, resides in St. Pete and has even thrown out the first pitch at Tampa Bay Rays games. Dubbed “The Franchise, Lethal is one of the best wrestlers in the world, winning the ROH World Championship on two separate occasions, is their longest reigning Television Champion in ROH history (567 days), as well as being a six time TNA X-Division Champion. “I don’t know how it is with any other world renown wrestler but with Jay, you get a real hands on experience working with him; he’s there at every practice helping you mold and learn. What I’ve heard, not trying to talk badly of any schools, but a lot of schools are named after wrestlers but you don’t have as much training with that schools namesake. Jay is ALWAYS there every single practice and it just shows how much he cares about his students,” Anthony explains after he signed up for Jay’s school through a Facebook ad in 2017, fresh out of high school. “Thee Technical Alchemist” David Mercury is the main trainer at the school and a 17 year veteran of the Pro Wrestling industry. Although it took Anthony about 6 months to get down the basics, he was considered by both to be one of the more advanced students in the class. That isn’t to say that it didn’t come without difficulties for McKelvey, no. “Training had its ups and downs,” he explains, “the athletic part I never had a hard time with. It’s the memorization and the absolute most difficult part is breaking out of your shell. You can’t be shy in the wrestling business that’s something I’m still learning till this day.”
Anthony is somebody I’ve known for 5 and a half years, and alas, he is one of the more shy people that I know. But it’s not the man behind the character that matters, it’s what the man transforms into in front of the audience or the camera. For Anthony, he always loved the name “Logan Rights”, even as far back as 2015 when we were first discussing what his name would be with our friend Zack. Those two dreamed of being the “Stone Dragon Kliq (which always saddens me knowing it isn’t a Mulan reference) Logan Rights and Evan Andrews.” All of these years later, Anthony is just a boy chasing the dream, trying to find his footing in not only life, but also pro wrestling, the only thing that he’s ever known. Christened the “Sky Rebel”, Logan Rights floundered out of the gate. His first match was a battle royal, which is routine for greener wrestlers at their beginning, but his first real match where he got to show what he can do was an 8-man tag where he worked with seven other graduates from his Lethal Academy class. The idea of the Sky Rebel wasn’t Anthony’s and he really didn’t quite grasp what the persona was supposed to be. “To say it was a ‘little frustrating’ would be an understatement”, explains Anthony. “I stopped caring as much because I hated what I was doing. [Eventually] I was given advice: ‘don’t let anyone dictate your gimmick on the indies, it’s the indies do what you want to do.'” Anthony did and he hasn’t looked back.
From that point forward, the message Logan Rights became a message of dissimulated progress. The Logan Rights became the jaded, societal Karen meme that 2020 is all-too-familiar with. The emergence of social media has given a platform to the toxic, stereotypical social justice warriors and the Logan Rights character became Anthony McKelvey’s view on society, completely dialed up. “I became the leader of the #OFFENDED movement and so many more ideas have formed. It’s brought a lot of inspiration that I haven’t had before, and I’d have to thank my dad for helping me form this persona. We worked for hours and days trying to make something that would be enjoyable that you can take serious but have fun with it as well, it’s naturally just easy to be #OFFENDED,” Anthony continues, “literally everything is offensive to Logan Rights think of anything and that potentially offends Logan. You just can’t disrupt his progressive nature and EVERYTHING and EVERYONE wants to interfere with that. It’s societies fault for making it so easy.”
The character is partly inspired by the heel work that Sami Zayn has been doing for the past year and a half or so, a desperate plea to change the world for the betterment of all. In essence, the character Logan Rights is the one person you’ll see on Twitter telling somebody why their obvious joke is “offensive” and Logan is one of the triggered masses. In Anthony’s words, “Logan Rights is the PC warrior that you see on social media telling you how wrong you are. He’s the first one to be triggered by the dark joke. He’s the better than you ‘progressive’ that he says he is. That’s what the Logan Rights persona is. He has a motive he has a goal and that goal is to spread the message of progress through his #MOVEMENT.”
But the look of Logan Rights? That’s just how Anthony is, according to the superstar himself. “The man bun and glasses and flannel is honestly just generic alternative hipster number one, which is what I dress like on a normal day.” The only real standout that separates the man from the character in the look is the tights, which the pristine green and white colors were his vision for the character itself. The vibrant green is the first color he associates with “ecofriendly”, thus fitting Logan Rights to a tee.
For Anthony McKelvey, the COVID 19 outbreak came at the absolute worst possible time, even if the Logan Rights character probably would’ve predicted it from a mile away. When asked about the impact the virus had on his schedule, he was open and frank. “It was a real bummer for me. I really wanted to work WrestleMania week. [I wanted to] be out in Tampa for that week. It’s a big opportunity for tons of wrestlers. I personally got myself onto three shows within that week, one of them being a small appearance at WrestleCon but still it was a big deal. It’s sad but us, the Florida wrestlers, are tough and there are so many talented wrestlers that after this is all over it’ll be like none of us missed a beat.” WrestleCon, for those who don’t know, is a convention that would have featured some of the world’s biggest rising stars such as NJPW’s El Phantasmo, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., Juice Robinson (NXT’s “CJ Parker”) among others, as well as many former WWE talents such as Ken Anderson (“Mr. Kennedy”), TJ Perkins, KENTA (“Hideo Itami”), Ken Shamrock and D’Lo Brown all in action. On top of that, the convention would’ve featured meet’n’greets with legends such as Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Sgt. Slaughter among other of the best legends in the history of professional wrestling. To say that this booking, which would’ve been in a battle royal, was a big deal wouldn’t even come close to putting it in any kind of perspective. He had two other matches that week planned, one with fellow Jay Lethal academy graduate “Dick Danger” at “TBPW Presents: Against All Odds” as well as a match at a crossover promotion for all three Independent federations in the Tampa Bay area (TBPW, IWA Florida and Pride of Wrestling). The latter booking was especially a big deal because his short term goal for wrestling is to work all across the Florida wrestling scene.
Also impacted due to the outbreak is the biggest deal for Tampa Bay Pro Wrestling up to this point, Anthony explains. “If there was no COVID you’d be seeing me on Tampa Bay Pro Wrestling, wrestling out of the Campbell Park Rec Center in St. Pete Florida. You can catch TBPW on FITE TV for free.” Anthony’s debut on FITE TV, one of the biggest streaming services for combat sports (mainly pro wrestling, MMA and boxing) would’ve been relatively soon, putting him in front of a more global audience as FITE TV has over 2 million subscribers.
The current climate of the world hasn’t completely deterred Anthony’s career progression, though, as two days ago he officially launched his store at Pro Wrestling Tees. PWTees, based out of Chicago, has sold merchandise for over 1500 professional wrestlers, including legends such as Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, CM Punk, Edge, The Iron Sheik and Bret Hart. They currently run the merchandise store for Tony Khan’s All Elite Wrestling, as well as Impact Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. PWTees features stores for Independent Wrestlers ranging from Marty Scurll to Danhausen. Logan Rights partnering with the biggest provider for wrestling merchandise in the world is the first step toward his movement taking it over to make it a better place. The store launched two days ago and will soon have more designs up. You find the store here.
One thing Logan Rights has done really well and different is his textbook use of Facebook to promote his brand, which you can “like” here. To book Logan Rights, you can reach him at email@example.com.
As I mentioned in every previous piece in this series, the wrestlers who compete aren’t the only one’s to lose income and bookings due to the virus, but also the photographers who shoot these events. PSE would like to thank Headlocks and Headshots for allowing us to use their photos.
PSE would also like to thank Anthony McKelvey/Logan Rights for sitting down and allowing us the interview.
Editor’s/Writer’s Note: In a difficult time like this, most artists chasing a dream have seen said dream go up in smoke due to an unforeseen and unimaginable circumstance out of their control. At PSE, our goal for you is to support whatever local artist you feel adds something to your life, whether it be a pro wrestler, a local band, a more traditional artist who does different kinds of canvas’, or whatever the case may be. The entire goal amidst the outbreak for me right now is to use the platform to help others, and this is a small way to do it. Support doesn’t have to be buying merchandise, as all of us are losing valuable income. However, sharing their work can ultimately go a far way. Thank you.-JM