What can lead a young man from humble beginnings to a place where he can comfortably call himself “King of VWE”? What can drive him to want to be inside the ring when he was only 18-years-old? With this Spotlight, we’ll be diving headfirst into the life of Braden Karsin. A man who has traveled all over the world, performed in front of as small a number as a few to wrestling in front of the entire VWE Universe.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Braden and his younger brother, Michael, grew up as fans of professional wrestling. When Karsin had reached adulthood, at 18, he signed up for XWA, the company that would later be known as VWE. His training was fast-paced, but he absorbed all the information like a sponge with Derrick Cult taking personal attention with the young high-flyer. After his impressive debut against Nick Firecaster, Braden even earned a shot at becoming one-half of the inaugural VWE Tag Team Champions in the large battle royale at the very first WrestleSeries. During the battle royale, Braden was tossed out by Sam “the Man” Jarvin, who would go to the end of the match, winning and being teamed with Curt Bombastic as the first-ever VWE Tag Team Champions.
But all was not well for Braden, who thought he was not living up to his potential within XWA. Perhaps it was hubris or simply call it “ego” but Karsin felt that he and XWA were not traveling the same path together. Braden immediately started taking bookings on the indy scene and quickly found another rising talent, a fellow daredevil who believed they were destined to etch their names in the stratosphere. Together, they formed a duo known as Hollywood Elite, a pair of superstars who would do anything to achieve the stardom they thought they were owed. It was as this Hollywood Elite that Braden starting finding his groove as a wrestler. With his partner behind him, Braden quickly captured one company’s Tag Team Championship and rocked out as a dual champion winning their United States Championship.
During this time on the indy’s, Braden was traveling the globe, wrestling some of the best upcoming talents, including his younger brother Michael. Eventually, Hollywood Elite fell apart. Braden’s partner believed it was because Karsin wanted to team with his brother, and for a time, that was true. Braden took Michael under his wing as the Karsin Brothers. The two (Braden and Michael) have been allies and enemies, always seemingly finding themselves at odds due to the ego.
There are two kinds of ego, the one that helps push someone to be better today than they were yesterday and the type that is just a mask someone with insecurities wears. Unfortunately, Braden in 2011, was the latter. After teaming with Michael to face some of the best teams in the world, finding team success as well as continuing his upwards trajectory as a singles competitor, the demons inside Braden caught up to him. Depression ran rampant on Braden, to the point where he quit, severed all ties to professional wrestling and thought he would never return. The money, the women, the expensive vacations; all just a front to the pain Karsin was dealing with at home. He kept it locked away from himself, his family, and his friends. During his time away from wrestling, Braden found a new way to express his emotions, finding happiness in his life and even was able to support his brother, Michael, as he continued to find success in wrestling.
In 2012, Braden felt like a new man, returning to the ring and making his return to VWE, this time teaming with Michael again and finding more success as the Karsin Brothers, now called “Redemption” perhaps in honor of Braden finding his own, dethroning Benja Nirvana and Brakman Wilder, the team known as “Big Money” to become the VWE Tag Team Champions. After Redemption was defeated by another brother tag team, Michael decided to try to renegotiate his contract with VWE and unfortunately, the talks fell through, so Michael left. On his own for the first time in quite a while, Braden had to decide what kind of man he was. Would he back down from this adversity or would he rise up to the challenge?
At this time, as Braden was starting to find a groove as a singles competitor again, the VWE European Championship was highly contested and Karsin found himself in a career-making moment against a dominant woman who had gone through all the other challengers and found herself as the European Champion. Braden found himself going head to head with this woman at VWE Six Feet Under in 2012 and won to become the new VWE European Champion. For two months, Braden went out each and every match, lighting it up and helping promote the European Title, but in the business of professional wrestling, injuries happen and luck finally ran out for Braden Karsin. In a match to defend the title against John Struk, Braden felt a pain in his head. After the match was over and Struk was the new champion, Karsin went to the VWE trainers to see what had happened. Turns out that Braden had suffered a concussion and it was not a minor one. Apparently, he had been through a few and hadn’t realized it.
Concussions in professional wrestling are a very serious thing and because of that, Braden was required to take an extended leave from in-ring competition. After a team of physicians that Braden went to clear him, he was disappointed to find out that VWE did not agree and thought he would need at least another three months off the road. Upset and perhaps a little angry over the decision of VWE, Karsin asked for and was granted his release. During this time, Braden found himself on the indy’s again and relished the freedom it brought him. He knew this was his life and no one was going to tell him he couldn’t do it.
This time working on the independent scene, Braden found that not only was he good at throwing his body into dangerous situations but that he now had the experience for solid strategy when it came to his matches. He was changing as a performer and as a man, becoming more trusting in his abilities as well as finding a new sense of confidence. It was late 2015 and success was finding Karsin around every corner and eventually, Virtual Wrestling Entertainment came looking for him. Stuart Warf, CEO of VWE, had sought out Braden and brought him in for a few tests just to make sure the concussion situation from before was at a solid place. Once the doctors were satisfied, Braden was offered a new contract, to bring him back up to the global stage.
Braden Karsin made his return to the home that had spawned him as a professional wrestler in late 2015, just in time for him to be part of an Elevation X Match at WrestleSeries 7. But with his return came a new attitude for Braden. He was no longer the happy-go-lucky guy that left, he was more focused on what he wanted and had a mean-streak to push harder and chase opportunities down. Perhaps the biggest opportunity came a year later at WrestleSeries 8 when Braden won a 7-Man Ladder Match to become the # 1 Contender to the VWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Being the # 1 Contender is not a guarantee to becoming the champion, but it is a step in the right direction. And on April 5, 2017, at VWE Shockwave, Braden Karsin silenced the doubters, defeating Vince Easterwood to become the VWE World Heavyweight Champion. Winning the World Title was the crowning achievement that makes the hardships, triumphs, setbacks, and successes all worth it to Braden. Afterward, he came out to the VWE crowd and announced himself the rightful “King of VWE”. So far, no one has been able to dethrone him and even at King of the Arena this year, he successfully retained the title in an Iron Man Match, a rematch against Vince Easterwood. And then followed up that victory by entering the Tag Team Classic with Lyra Phoenix as his partner, fighting through four matches in two days to become the first-ever VWE Intergender Tag Team Champions.
Whether you agree with his tactics or disagree, the fact remains that Braden has overcome his own personal demons and professional setbacks to rise to the top and become a dual champion again. For at least one-half of Hollywood Elite, the future certainly did bring one star to shine brighter in the cosmos.