Blake Thomas with Taeler Hendrix
Everyone who enters the world of professional wrestling has a unique journey. Some start in high school while others find themselves turning to it after another career choice may not have worked. For most of us, we begin as fans. Fans who grew up watching superstars talk trash and perform stunts that we are told not to try at home. Blake Thomas is no different, but his journey is unique. From a fan to a rapper, he is now transitioned to a man with a wealth of knowledge behind the camera with a pen in his hand.
Blake Thomas enters the Wrestling Business
Like many of us, Blake began as a fan. His older brother Dee Thomas used to watch wrestling with him and would take him when it came to town.” I noticed he started getting into more when he started collecting wrestling dolls, wrestling figures, and magazines. When I took Blake to an event, he brought a real wrestling belt that cost I think 150 or more, as well as some posters.” Dee remembers. Around the age of 10, Blake told Dee that he would one day work
in the professional wrestling business.
Blake broke into the wrestling business when he wrote the theme song for the popular stable BLK OUT. BLK OUT was one of Combat Zone Wrestling, also known as CZW most popular groups, featuring Ruckus, Robbie Mireno, Blk Jeez, Chrissy Rivera, Joker and Eddie Kingston. Rivera discusses being there from the beginning of the journey. “In the early years, he was professional, open minded and had such a talent for music. I enjoyed working with him then when I was a quiet little manager in CZW to present day as he has always been full of amazing ideas.”
Chrissy Rivera and Blake
Blake’s friend of 10 years, Ronald James says his greatest gift is his passion. “ When he couples that with anything that he does, it’s always good. It’s his quality control.
That makes him different,” says -James.
On August 2nd, 2009 at RCW August Assault, wrestling fans got to witness Blake’s passion when he and his friends Taron and Dominic performed three different songs including BLK OUT’s theme song, Always Bet on BLK. Taron says it was a moment he will never forget. “He was so animated and into it and I noticed the crowd really banging with him. He stepped in the ring and lit up the atmosphere...it was sooo dope.” This was one of the few times fans got to see Blake in the forefront.
Ruckus, Blake and Blk Jeez
Blake loves creating art. Whether he is making music, taking pictures or booking a match, his loves expressing his creativity. Dee says he has always had computer skills, so being a photographer in wrestling only made sense. Ronald says Blake made an effortless transition into photography. Ronald explains, “From the beginning, there was a confidence about what he does. When he’s in it, he’s in it. He’s always finding new methods to better his craft. I admire that."
Understanding his subjects, he learned their characters better than some of the booking team. During this time, he started pitching ideas to Ruckus for the characters of RCW. “Ruckus told me, the ball is in your court, what is your vision.” Blake recognized the great responsibility of booking and it helped him learn a lot about the professional wrestling business. Blake eventually joined the booking team with Adam Flash.
Top - Frank Lawson, Ryan McBride Middle - Aki Kambayashi, Sarah Bridges, Mia Yim
Bottom - Blake
As time moved on, Frank Lawson, one of Blake’s biggest mentors, joined the booking team. Lawson continues to shower Blake with praise years later, “Anybody that can book a wrestling show, photograph all the wrestler and help set up promos for the next shows has to have one of the best work ethics. Blake Thomas never stopped working until we knew the show was right and if something was going wrong he was the first to jump in and fix the problems.” Blake would become the leader and he would get the wrestlers perspective of Robbie Mireno and Derek Frazier. He is grateful to have met a lot of people from his experience. Blake studies a lot of TV and a lot of art, and this is one of the reasons that many people reach out to him for ideas.
Blake Thomas goes to WSU
WSU's 10th Anniversary[/caption]
Photo Credit @HasMat3Photos
You will not find too many people who love and appreciate women’s wrestling more than Blake. During his time in RCW, Blake made sure that the women not only had a match but also had a story. In 2013 he starting working with Combat Zone Wrestling and Women’s Superstars Uncensored as their photographer for promotional shots. His passion for telling great stories in women's wrestling led him to speak with DJ Hyde about ideas for WSU as well as talent to bring in. In February 2016, DJ officially welcomed Blake to be a member of the booking and producing teams in addition to photography. With WSU being one of the longest running all women's wrestling promotions, a lot more women were exposed to his brilliance and creativity.
Allie, Mia Yim, and Blake
For years, Blake has put countless hours in studying women's wrestling. From
their backstage promos to their in-ring work, he generally cares about what they can do in the ring. CZW Superstar Greg Excellent says he has never met anyone with more passion that's exclusive for women's wrestling. Greg, who watches Blake who backstage, knows he isn't one to play favorites. Excellent says “The person in the opening match is just as important as the headliner in his eyes. He wants EVERYONE to shine and that creates a great working environment.”
During his time at WSU, Blake has had the opportunity to work with many women across the globe. KC Spinelli, who is based out of Canada, says she has known about his work for a long time. In 2016, she and her tag partner Xandra Bale brought their tag team, Bale Spin to WSU. Blake impressed Spinelli with the way he ran a locker room. “I think Blake has a good understanding of the angles and visions he wants which makes it easy to communicate to the workers.” Former WSU World Champion Allie says they are all fortunate to work with him. “He is such a genuinely warm person, and all of the girls will agree that he is so supportive. He wants us all to shine.” Faye Jackson has yet to work at WSU, but she has been backstage. “Blake really cares about this business and it shows in how he books WSU. He respects women's wrestling and the product shows.”
Top - Veda Scott, Solo Darling, Tessa Blanchard 2nd Row - Kay Lee Ray, Shanna, Leva Bates 3rd Row- Ivelisse Velez, Hania, Cherry Bomb (Allie) Bottom- KC Spinelli
WSU is something that is very close to Blake’s heart. Not only does he hold the almighty pen, but he is still behind the almighty lens. “He's ran pretty thin at shows handling bookings, themed photoshoots, and vignettes but the work he produces clearly doesn't suffer and also does not go unnoticed,” Spinelli explains.
The Evolution of Bliz Photography
While working in wrestling, Blake launched his company, Bliz Photography. Former Shine Wrestling and Impact Knockouts Champion, Jade (also known as Mia Yim) was there from the beginning. The two developed a really close friendship. As Jade’s career in the ring grew, so did Blake’s career behind the lens. “Everything he is learning, he is turning into perfection, It’s nice to see both us grow together and being there to help each other,” says the former Knockouts Champion. In October 2016, the two would work together again, this time for Impact Wrestling’s television tapings. From RCW to Ring of Honor to Shine Wrestling to WSU to Impact Wrestling, the duo of Blake and Jade continue to shine like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
Blake and Jade
Whether you are a man or a woman, Blake does his best to help you reach your full potential and feel confident in your work. Former CZW World Champion Blk Jeez calls him family. “When you are doing a shoot with him, it's so fun it never feels like work. Greg Excellent has always admired Blake’s ability to use photography to wipe away wrestlers insecurities, making them more of a special act than they can be on their own. Excellent continues by saying, “To see what the finished product is really, makes you feel invisible.”
Blk Jeez and Blake
The greatest thing a male photographer can do when working with females is to make them feel comfortable. Former Impact Knockouts Champion Allie has been working with him for over 5 years. “Whether it’s in a bikini or wrestler gear, he really helps you feel comfortable.” Leva Bates says he is really great to bounce ideas off of, but he is not afraid to tell you when you are wrong. “He tells you when you are not doing things right, Leva CHIN UP!” says Bates If anyone knows Blake, they know they he is never one to bite his tongue.
Blake and Leva Bates
There is never a rush job with Bliz Photography. Bates explains how he spends hours in the editing lab. “He always gives 110% when it comes to shooting and editing. He will spend hours adding a new background, fixing makeup, or color balancing.” Blake and Bates have worked on many themes including wrestling promos, headshots, cosplay and much more. “You’re getting the total package. He will take the extra mile to make sure your shoot and everything you are getting is top quality. Lawson adds, “Even when you look at his photos you can tell he doesn't quit until the job is perfect. He is the hardest working "behind the scenes" guy out there.”
Yolanda the Designer, Niya, and Blake
When it comes to photography overall, Blake takes his craft very serious. You will not find him taking a photo and uploading it without ensuring that it is the best that it can be. Blake passionately expresses, “I look at what The Rock says, he’s up 4:30 in the morning to motivate himself, and if he can do that, why can’t I take the equipment that I have and use it to make people look the best they can.” Each time Blake takes a photo, he wants to make sure that his subjects are
pleased with the final product.
As big as the business of Bliz Photography has grown, Blake wants everyone he works with to understand that they are a business as well. Spinelli says, “I think it's fair to say regarding Blake's Photography Myself included, a whole heck ton of Indy men and women wrestlers have received photos captured by Blake to promote themselves on social media, in magazines, and in promo pictures.” If you go to a lot of wrestling shows, chances are you have seen the Bliz Photography logo on the merchandise table. From rapper to photographer to booker, Blake Thomas is always sure to give it his all and everyone who works with him come away feeling better than they did before. Rivera has seen his evolution better than anyone. “Knowing Blake for many years I have watched him evolve from talented creative rapper to talented creative photographer."
Blake’s work has been featured in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Fighting Spirit Magazine as well as other various publications. He will be in Orlando WrestleMania, so if are you looking for a photoshoot or ideas for your characters, reach out to him on Twitter @ItsBliz. Stay tuned for the upcoming documentary on the Story of Bliz Photography.