Sunday, November 30, 2014

AAW Bound By Hate 2014 Review

The Men of the Year are no more!!

AAW Bound By Hate 2014
Berwyn, Illinois 6/20/14

1.) The Batiri vs. Zero Gravity: ***1/4

CHIKARA was going to be running two shows in Chicago the next day, so that's why The Batiri were booked for this show. Here they're facing Zero Gravity. This was a pretty solid opener. Similarly to when Los Ben Dejos came in a few months prior, The Batiri got a shot to impress against an established team in AAW, and they did just that. Both sides got their stuff in and it proved to be a pretty solid opening match, though Zero Gravity would get the win. 

2.) #1 Contender's Fatal Four-Way Match - ACH vs. Louis Lyndon vs. Marek Brave vs. AAW Tag Team Champion #AllEgo: ***1/2

The winner of this match would face Shane Hollister later in the night for the AAW Heavyweight Title. In a funny moment, #AllEgo had to go back to his merch table during his entrance to get his AAW Tag Team Title belt (guess he forgot about it). This was a pretty solid match. All four guys got to hit their stuff and everyone looked good. ACH would eventually pick up the win, and moves on to face Shane Hollister in the Main Event.

3.) Keith Walker (with Tweek Phoenix & Nikki Mayday) vs. Shane Saber: 3/4*

Before the match, Tweek Phoenix cuts an angry promo, talking about We Are Here's leader, Kevin Harvey, not being there after being injured at the hands of Rhino. They say that they can still be successful despite Harvey not being there. Tweek challenges Tony Rican & Ryan Boz to a Street Fight, against himself & Keith Walker, at the July 18th AAW Show. Walker then went on to defeat Shane Saber in what was essentially a squash. It was ok for what it was, though I think Saber got in a bit more offense in than he should have.

Up next we have Derek St. Holmes interviewing Knight Wagner (with Justice Jones & Alex Bernadino) in the ring. Wagner talks about coming into AAW many years ago and the class of wrestlers from Iowa who were (or still are) a part of AAW (Tyler Black/Seth Rollins, Shane Hollister, Marek Brave, and himself). He berates the fans for not respecting him and ponders why Marek Brave was put in a #1 Contender's Match earlier tonight. Derek St. Holmes says that it sounds like a bunch of whining on Wagner's part. This leads to a shoving match. Wagner holds St. Holmes back as Justice Jones beats up a bunch of local guys. Eventually Marek Brave comes out with a chair to make the save, and although it looks like he was going to be taken out, he is able to escape.

4.) Silas Young vs. John Silver: ***3/4

John Silver is mainly known for being on half of the Beaver Boys in CZW, along with Alex Reynolds. He's also made spastic appearances in Evolve & ROH. He's another talent who is in Chicago for the CHIKARA Shows (obviously won't say who he portrays) and is getting an opportunity against an established star in AAW. This was a really good match. Silas is always on his game in AAW, but Silver definitely impressed. Lots of solid action in this match. Eventually, Silas is able to pick up the win over Silver. Young puts Silver over on the mic after the match. 

5.) Christian Faith (with Gregory Iron & The Iron Curtain) vs. Colt Cabana:

This was originally supposed to be Christian Faith vs. Colt Cabana in a singles match, but before the match, Cabana is surrounded by The Iron Curtain. Cabana retreats and takes the mic, saying that he won't be outnumbered, and that he has friends in the locker room who will back him up in this fight. Marion Fontaine & Junthai Miller come out, and attack The Iron Curtain. It looks like we now have a Six Man Tag!

5.) Six Man Tag - Colt Cabana, Junthai Miller & Marion Fontaine vs. The Iron Curtain (Christian Faith, Benjamin Boone & Joey Vincent Martini with Gregory Iron): ***

Junthai Miller has teamed with Cabana many times previously, and Fontaine seems like a natural fit with them as a trio. A pretty entertaining match here. We saw some good action and everyone played their rolls well. Gregory Iron would get involved, going after Colt Cabana. He provokes him, and Cabana chases him to the back. This however, leaves his team at a 3-on-2 disadvantage, and Christian Faith pins Marion Fontaine to score the win for The Iron Curtain.

6.) #WalkingWeapon vs. AAW Tag Team Champion "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin: ****

After being sidelined with an injury, #WalkingWeapon made his return on the more recent AAW Shows, going after Men of the Year, specifically being upset about #AllEgo teaming up with Michael Elgin following his injury. This was a very interesting match. I though that, for the most part, it was a a really great match. There were, however, a few things that prevented it from being fantastic. Firstly, I felt like the match never really got to that next level. The action was great, and the intensity picked up at various points, but it never reached a higher gear like it should have. Secondly, I wasn't the biggest fan of the finish. There was a ref bump, which allowed #WalkingWeapon to get a low blow on Elgin. #AllEgo then comes out, seeming to defend Elgin, but then turns around and clocks Elgin with one of the AAW Tag Team Title belts. While the turn made sense (and was further explained in a backstage promo), it did end of taking away from the match, in my opinion. Still, the match was really great. Anytime you get Elgin & #WalkingWeapon in a match, you know it's going to be good. Elgin cuts a promo afterwords, essentially implying that he'll be coming for revenge.

7.) Eddie Kingston vs. Jimmy Jacobs: ***1/4

This is a very interesting matchup, as these two were facing each other, on the same weekend, for two different promotions (AAW & CHIKARA). Before the match began, Eddie Kingston cut a promo. He turns on his valet Jordynne Grace, questioning why she wasn't with him at ringside for his Steel Cage Match with Silas Young back at Day Of Defiance. When she fails to provide an explanation, he (very crudely) tells her to hit the bricks and that they're done. Grace leaves before Jacobs makes his entrance.

These two had a pretty good match. It was on the shorter side, but it was still entertaining. Kingston got in a lot of offense, but Jacobs did get some spots in as well and looked good. In the end, however, Kingston is able to pick up the win over Jacobs.

8.) Dan Lawrence & Markus Crane vs. The L.O.S.E.R.S. (Moondog Bernard & Sea Man): *3/4

Crane tells the announcer to refer to him & Lawrence as The Wet Bandits. This was ok for what it was. The L.O.S.E.R.S. get in a bit of offense, but Lawrence & Crane got in most of the offense and ended up getting the win.

After the match, Markus Crane takes the mic, and touts their victory. In a moment of overconfidence, he calls out Ryan Boz, much to the dismay of Dan Lawrence. Boz comes out, and The Wet Bandits taunt him, smacking his beer out of his hand. This sets Boz off, and he laid out both Lawrence & Crane (giving Crane an awkward piledriver off of the top rope through a bunch of Chairs). We Are Here then come out, and Keith Walker brawls with Ryan Boz, and lays him out with a chain. This brings out Tony Rican, who tries to defend Boz, but then gets chokeslammed through a chair for his troubles.

9.) AAW Heritage Title - Matt Cage vs. Heidi Lovelace: ***1/4

Matt Cage, the AAW Heritage Champion, issued an open challenge for the evening, which Heidi Lovelace accepted. Cage cuts a quick promo, questioning why a woman is out here. Lovelace slaps him in response, and the match is on! It was actually a pretty solid match. Lovelace looked really good in here, getting to hit a good deal of offense on Cage, while Cage looked good as well, with some of his facials being really good (specifically in reference to Lovelace kicking out late in the match). Despite Lovelace's efforts, Cage is able to pick up the win and retains his title.

After the match, Jordynne Grace comes out. She cuts a promo berating Heidi, calling her "washed up", and also referring the fact that she "dumped" Eddie Kingston as well as that she herself is only 18 Years Old (WOW......that's......really weird). She challenges Heidi to a match right now, and claims that she is the new face of AAW Women's Wrestling, but Silas Young comes out. He tells her that he was going to let her "slide" when it came to her being on Kingston's side during his feud with The War King, but now that she came out to berate Heidi, he changed his mind. It look like, for a second, that Silas is going to let Grace leave, but he ends up taking her out with his Backbreaker/Clothesline Combo.

10.) AAW Heavyweight Title - Shane Hollister (with Scarlett Bordeaux) vs. ACH: ***1/2

As previously mentioned, ACH won a Fatal Four-Way Match earlier in the night to earn this title shot. It was a pretty good match, but it wasn't a great match. Both ACH & Shane Hollister are very good wrestlers (as we all well know), and while this match was good, I don't think it lived up to the quality of being a Main Event Title Match. Hollister has had an interesting title reign. His title matches have all been good, but he's only really had one or two great title matches as champion, which really isn't something you want. The fact that he retains his title with a rollup (where he pulled the tights of ACH) doesn't really help his cause. The match was still pretty good, but I didn't like the finish that much and it wasn't a Main Event Quality Match.

Overall: 8.0/10

This was a pretty solid show from AAW. When you look back at the card, it was actually really consistent. You had one match that cracked ****, and seven matches that were in the ***+ range. In that regard, the show was pretty easy to sit through. A show doesn't necessarily need to have a bunch of amazing matches, as a show with several matches in the ***+ range can still be really entertaining.   We also saw a lot of storyline advancement on this show, and that's always good, especially for an independent promotion like AAW. At the same time however, this show did have some issues, particularly with some match finishes, and Shane Hollister, the AAW Heavyweight Champion, not putting on Main Event caliber performances. In the end, despite these issues, it was a very solid show from AAW.

New Japan Pro Wrestling - Dominion 2014 Review

The Bullet Club takes over!

Before I start the actual review, I want to make note of some things that were announced during the show. They announced the Blocks for the 2014 G1 Climax during the show. They also announced that ROH's Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Bobby Fish, Michael Bennett, & Maria Kanellis would be at the G1 Climax Finals Show at the Seibu Dome.

They also air a vignette with Jeff Jarrett, who announced that Global Force Wrestling (GFW) was entering a partnership with New Japan.

NJPW Dominion 2014
Osaka, Japan 6/21/14

1.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters: ****1/2

The Young Bucks have held the Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles since late 2013. Simply put, this match was awesome!!! These two worked their asses off, and put together a great opening match. They told a really good story with The Young Bucks working over the injured soldier of Alex Shelley. Lots of great back & forth action, as you would expect, and eventually, KUSHIDA gets Matt Jackson to tap out! The Time Splitters win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles!!

2.) Tetsuya Naito vs. Tama Tonga: **1/2

It's kinda strange to see how much Naito has fallen down the card in recent months. He was in the IWGP Heavyweight Title Match against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 8, and now he's in the second match on the card, wrestling (what is essentially) The Bullet Club's lowest ranking member. The match itself was solid. Naito got the win, which was the right move. Not much else to say.

3.) Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata: ****

Anytime you get these four guys in here, you know it's going to be a slugfest, and that's exactly what we got. These guys just beat the crap out of the each other. Really hard hitting action throughout. Nagata & Shibata start brawling in the crowd, while in the ring, Goto takes out Honma to score the win for his team. The aforementioned Nagata & Shibata continue to brawl to the back, even after the match had ended.

4.) NWA World Tag Team Titles - Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. The Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer with Taka Michinoku): ***3/4

These teams have faced each other a number of times in the recent past, but no matter how many times they've faced each other, they always seem to put on really good matches. This one was another example of that. Really good tag team match here. Tenzan & Kojima eventually put away The Killer Elite Squad to retain the NWA World Tag Team Titles.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Kota Ibushi vs. Ricochet: ****1/2

Ricochet got this title shot by virtue of winning the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament (representing Dragon Gate). If you thought the The Young Bucks/Time Splitters match was awesome, this match was INSANE!!! It amazes me how athletic both of these guys are, it's crazy. They put together a really fantastic match. It was every bit as awesome as you would think. Eventually, Kota Ibushi gets the win to retain his title. This match is a must see!!

6.) Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba: **

There was a recent turn of events in this seemingly never-ending feud. Takashi Iizuka, who had been a member of CHAOS alongside Toru Yano, turned on him to join Suzukigun. Yano needed a new partner, and Sakuraba stepped up to the plate. This went pretty much as you would expect. The match was relatively boring, with a lot of brawling on the outside. Suzukigun would get the win, but this would plant the seeds for a Suzuki/Sakuraba feud.

7.) CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & NEVER Openweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii) vs. The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Champion "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles & Yujiro Takahashi): ***1/2

Kind of weird that the IWGP Heavyweight Title isn't being defended on a PPV, but since the G1 Climax is coming up, I can see why they would do this. Here we have Okada teaming up with fellow CHAOS member, and NEVER Openweight Champion, Tomohiro Ishii, against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles and Yujiro Takahashi, the man who cost Okada the title and turned on CHAOS to join The Bullet Club. This was a pretty good tag team match. We got to see some diversity in here, with Styles & Ishii locking up for the first time, and Okada getting his hands on both Styles & Takahashi. Some solid action in this one. Takahashi would eventually score the win for his team by pinning Ishii, serving as a bit of a preview for their upcoming NEVER Openweight Title Match.

8.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe: ***1/4

Tanahashi & Makabe earned this title shot by defeated Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata in a #1 Contender's Match at the last PPV, Back to the Yokohama Arena. This was a fine match. You could tell they were all working hard, and they told a pretty good story, but I just didn't find this match to reach the level of being really good. Perhaps going overboard on finishers towards the end of the match contributed to that a little bit, but I'm not sure. Regardless, Gallows & Anderson retain their titles in a relatively solid defense.

9.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bad Luck Fale: ***1/2

I believe this is the first time that Bad Luck Fale has been in a Main Event Singles Match on PPV. He's facing one of the best in Shinsuke Nakamura. While not necessarily the type of match, from a quality perspective, that you would expect from the Main Event of a New Japan PPV, this was still a really good match. We all know that Fale is someone who, while not totally bad, needs to be carried to have really good matches. Nakamura did a fantastic job in that regard. Fale looked like a monster, which is exactly what New Japan is going for. Nakamura was his awesome self, but he was not able to overcome "The Underboss", as Fale got the win and the IWGP Intercontinental Title. 

After the match, The Bullet Club come out to celebrate with Fale, while Nakamura is stretchered out of the arena. Karl Anderson cuts a promo about how awesome & powerful The Bullet Club is to close the show.

Overall: 8.5/10

This was another really good PPV from New Japan, though it could have been even better. The first half of this show was absolutely fantastic. You had two amazing matches for New Japan's two Junior Titles (Heavyweight & Tag Team), as well the NWA World Tag Team Title Match and the Goto/Shibata vs. Nagata/Honma Tag Team Match, which were both really good. The second half was a bit disappointing. While we knew the Yano vs. Suzuki Tag Team Match wasn't going to be good, the remaining three matches (featuring a lot of New Japan's top stars) underperformed (for various reasons). I'm not saying any of those match were bad, but it just wasn't the best way to finish out a PPV. Had these matches been a little better, we could have had a show of the year contender. Instead, we got a really good show that had a fantastic first half with a weaker (though still relatively good) second half.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WWE Payback 2014 Review

The Shield's last hurrah...

WWE Payback 2014
Chicago, Illinois 6/1/14


1.) Hair vs. Mask Match - Hornswoggle (with 3MB) vs. El Torito (with Los Matadores): *3/4

So if you will recall, these had a....surprisingly fantastic WeeLC Match on the Extreme Rules Pre-Show, but the stakes have been raised in this rematch. If Hornswoggle wins, El Torito must unmask, but if El Torito wins, then Hornswoggle will get his head shaved bald. While this was nowhere near as entertaining as their WeeLC Match, it was ok for what it was. Both sides have played their roles really well, so at least there's that. At one point, Hornswoggle rips off El Torito's Mask, but he's wearing another mask, and this leads to El Torito getting the win! This then leads to Hornswoggle being led up the entrance ramp to the barber's chair, where his head gets shaved bald by Los Matadores & El Torito.


1.) WWE United States Title - Sheamus vs. Cesaro (with Paul Heyman): ***1/2

Before the match, Paul Heyman cuts one of his brilliant promos. Of course, with it being Chicago, the crowd was chanting for CM Punk almost immediately. Heyman addresses this in his promo, saying that he wasn't here because he was on the other side of town at the United Center watching his Chicago Blackhawks....lose to the LA Kings! That bit alone is why Heyman is so good.

 As for the match itself, it was pretty freaking good! Of course it's pretty easy for me to get into Cesaro (with him being an ROH guy), but I'm a fan of Sheamus as well. I thought both guys worked really well together. It was just two tough guys beating the crap out of each other for a championship. What more could you want? Sheamus eventually gets the win with a small package to retain his title.

2.) The Rhodes Brothers (Cody Rhodes & Goldust) vs. RybAxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel): **3/4

While this match was added at the last minute, it has a story that's been building for a few weeks. There's been tension building up between Cody Rhodes and Goldust for several weeks, and it seemed like a breakup was coming sooner rather than later. Here they face off against Ryback & Curtis Axel. It was a fine match. Pretty basic WWE tag team match. For the time it was given, it was perfectly acceptable. Ryback & Curtis Axel pick up the win over The Rhodes Brothers.

After the match, Cody Rhodes takes the mic, and says that Goldust would have to find a better tag team partner, and walked out.

3.) Rusev (with Lana) vs. Big E: **1/2

Last time we saw Rusev on PPV at Extreme Rules, he defeated R-Truth & Xavier Woods in a Handicap Match. This time, he's facing Big E. While the match itself was a pretty short, it was entertaining. Big E had really good "Hoss Division" style match against Bad News Barrett at Extreme Rules, and he had another good one against Rusev. His spear through the ropes to the floor in really impressive. Unfortunately for Big E, he would get, in the words of Lana, crushed by Rusev, who wins the match with The Accolade.

4.) Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas: N/A

Here we have our second match of night that was added onto the show at the last minute. The match never happened, however, as Kane came out and beat the crap out of Kofi. After he was laid out, Bo Dallas cut a promo telling Kofi to "Bo-lieve". I honestly don't get why this was on the PPV.

5.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam: ***1/4

Bad News Barrett won the Intercontinental Title from Big E at Extreme Rules. Here he's defending it against Rob Van Dam, who himself is a former multi-time Intercontinental Champion. While the match was nothing outstanding, it was still pretty solid. Barrett looked really good here, as did RVD. Solid stuff here from both guys. Barrett eventually puts away RVD with the Bull Hammer to retain his title.

Up next we had a segment that actually belonged on a PPV! WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan had been sidelined with an injury, and Stephanie McMahon said that Bryan, by this show, had to either surrender the titles or be fired. After telling Bryan & his wife, Brie Bella (who came out with Bryan) to set a good example for all the children out there, Brie decides to step in. Brie called Stephanie a bitch, and after some banter, Brie (in a shocking turn of events) quit WWE, and slapped Stephanie IN THE FACE!! Stephanie runs off embarrassed while Bryan & Brie celebrate in the ring.

6.) Last Man Standing Match - John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (with The Wyatt Family): ****1/2

To say this feud has had its fair share of ups & downs would be an understatement. They had a very solid match at WrestleMania XXX, but their Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules was atrocious. Since they are 1-1, this match will decide the feud. The Wyatt Family get involved very early on but The Usos come out to the aid of Cena. We get a some solid action between Cena & Wyatt (with various near counts) before all hell breaks loose!! We saw a lot of crazy stuff after this point. Cena getting put through a table by Wyatt, Cena LAUNCHING the steel stairs at Wyatt, Luke Harper superplexing one of the Usos from the top rope, to the floor, through two tables!!!! Cena & Wyatt eventually brawl towards the stage area, where Cena puts Wyatt through some type of crate, and then another large crate on top of Wyatt, thus trapping him and rendering him unable to answer the 10 Count. This was just wild and out of control, in a good way. Really fun match to watch. Thankfully these two were able to redeem themselves from the disasterpiece we got the month before. Cena & Wyatt looked really good in here, while The Wyatt Family & The Usos got to shine through there involvement as well. My only complaint was that they feasibly could have had Wyatt win this (since Cena wouldn't be getting pinned or submitted in this type of match), but regardless, this was an awesome match.

7.) WWE Divas Title - Paige vs. Alicia Fox: **

Alicia Fox had recently taken on this gimmick where she throws ridiculous temper tantrums after she loses matches. She then went on a bit of a winning streak (with equally ridiculous celebrations) to earn this match with Paige. It was a fine match for what it was, but with it being placed between the two big matches on the card (like most Divas matches are these days), the crowd wasn't into it that much. I'm a big Paige fan, so I was happy that she won and retained her title.

8.) No Holds Barred Elimination Match - The Shield vs. Evolution: ****1/4

The Shield won their encounter at Extreme Rules, and this rematch was quickly made thereafter. For some reason, Batista is wearing all blue attire, while Triple H & Randy Orton are in black. This got #Bluetista trending on Twitter. One thing that really annoyed me about this match (and it annoyed a lot of other people as well) is that they started the match with a brawl, and then they wrestled a normal-style tag team match. In a No Holds Barred environment, this makes absolutely no sense (and this is not an isolated incident. WWE always seems to do this, especially recently, when it comes to these types of matches). It would eventually break down again, as one would expect. There was a long portion of the match, where Evolution just dominated The Shield, beating them within an inch of their lives it felt like. The Shield eventually started a comeback after Seth Rollins hit a big dive off a section of the entrance stage!! Batista was eliminated, then Randy Orton, before Triple H was finally eliminated, giving Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns a clean sweep victory over Evolution. While not quite as good as their Extreme Rules Match, this was still very good. Evolution looked strong as a group, but The Shield winning was the right move (though I don't think anyone predicted a shutout). There only a few gripes I had (the aforementioned issues with how they worked the beginning of the match, plus the match went a little long), but nothing much else besides that. The Shield stand tall (for what would be the last time, though we didn't know that yet) to close the show.

Overall: 8.0/10

This was a pretty solid PPV from WWE. Unlike Extremes Rules from the month prior, this was a much more consistent show in terms of match quality. You had the two big Main Event Matches (Cena/Wyatt & The Shield Evolution) that really delivered, and are well worth going out of your way to see. The rest of the undercard was pretty solid as well, with matches like Sheamus vs. Cesaro for the United States Title leading the way. There really wasn't any bad match on the card, which is always a good thing. Plus you had a segment on the PPV that actually belonged on the PPV (as opposed to segments that feel like they belong on RAW). Definitely one of the better WWE PPV's of 2014.

Wrestling is Fun!: 2014 Tag World Grand Prix: Night 3 Review

The Tag World Grand Prix comes to its conclusion!

This show is being held the day before CHIKARA's big return show, You Only Live Twice. It was also announced that the winner of the Tag World Grand Prix would be added as the 4th Team in a Four Way Tag Team Elimination Match on You Only Live Twice, which already included GEKIDO (17 & deviANT), 3.0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews), and The Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw & The Shard).

Wrestling is Fun! Tag World Grand Prix 2014: Night 2
Easton, Pennsylvania 5/24/14

1.) Tag World Grand Prix 2014 - Block A - Semi-Finals - The Devastation Corporation (Max Smashmaster & Blaster McMassive with Sidney Bakabella) vs. The Osirian Portal (Amasis & Ophidian): ***

These were the two teams that made it out of Block A on Night 1. I thought this was a pretty solid opener. While it was entertaining, there a number of various rough points/kinda-sorta-maybe botches that hurt the match for me. Still, it was a fine opener. Devastation Corporation score the win, and advance to the Finals.

2.) Tag World Grand Prix 2014 - Block B - Semi-Finals - Knight Eye For The Pirate Guy (Lance Steel & Jolly Roger) vs. The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & "Mr. Touchdown" Mark Angelosetti): ***

Lance Steel & Jolly Roger are still carrying around the CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas, which Princess Kimber Lee purchased for them. Speaking of Princess Kimber Lee, she is nowhere to found for this match, meaning KE4TPG are on their own. Another fine tag team match. I've really come onto the Hatfield/Touchdown tandem, especially after they put their differences aside (in the storyline) and turned Touchdown into a full-fledged tecnico. KE4TPG looked good in here also, but it would be The Throwbacks who took the match, and punched their ticket to the Finals.

3.) Oleg The Usurper vs. Eric Corvis: **1/2

Sidney Bakabella originally accompanies Oleg The Usurper to the ring, but says that he's going to go to the back to help prepare The Devastation Corporation for the Finals of the Tag World Grand Prix, meaning Oleg is on his own against the innovative Eric Corvis. This was a decent match, which saw Oleg, at various points, try to use Corvis' wrist contraction that he came out with during his entrance (I think he got music going at one point), and this would lead to his downfall, as Corvis would score the victory on a quick pin. Bakabella was not pleased with Oleg following the loss.

4.) Flex Rumblecrunch (with Sidney Bakabella) vs. Leech Landa: DUD

This was a squash. Flex Rumblecrunch makes quick work of Leech Landa. Not much else to say.

5.) Jaka (with Sidney Bakabella) vs. Shynron: ***1/4

Here are two of the standouts from the "Wrestling is..." Universe. This was a pretty entertaining match. I've quickly become a fan of both guys, so it was pretty easy for me to get into it. Solid action from both Jaka & Shynron in this one. It looks like Shynron is going to get the win, but a distraction from Joe Pittman (who was on commentary) leads to Jaka taking the advantage and scoring a submission victory.

6.) The Submission Squad (Evan Gelistico & Pierre Abernathy) vs. Los Ice Creams: **1/4

As you would expect, this match really was more about the entertaining the crowd with comedy as opposed to straight up wrestling, and in promotions like CHIKARA & Wrestling is Fun!, that's certainly welcome. You always get wackiness out of Los Ice Creams, and this was actually (I think) seeing The Submission Squad in a CHIKARA/Wrestling is Fun! environment, as the only one or two matches I've seen of them were in AIW, so it was certainly interesting. Gelistico & Abernathy get the victory.

7.) Joe Pittman vs. Gary "The Barn Owl" Jay: **

Here we have another member of The Submission Squad in the form of Gary "The Barn Owl" Jay, who's taking on Joe Pittman. It was an ok match. Nothing really much else to say. Pittman got the win, which was the right call, especially if they plan on using Pittman more going forward.

Before the match, we get a promo from Juan Francisco de Coronado. He basically calls out Amasis for a WiF! Banana Championship Match at the next show in Reading, PA. He then says that Easton doesn't deserve to see him wrestle tonight, and leaves.

8.) Tag World Grand Prix 2014 - Finals - The Devastation Corporation (Max Smashmaster & Blaster McMassive with Sidney Bakabella) vs. The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & "Mr. Touchdown" Mark Angelosetti): ***3/4

So here we go. The Finals of the 2014 Tag World Grand Prix. I really enjoyed this match. It was a lot of fun (pun not intended). As I said earlier, I really like the Dasher Hatfield/Mr. Touchdown pairing, but I have to give The Devastation Corporation a lot of credit as well. They've come a long way since there initial appearances in the CHIKARA/"Wrestling is..." Universe back in late 2012. Lots of back & forth action in this one, with a lot of near falls. The crowd was really into it. After a long, hard fought battle, The Throwbacks score the win! They claim the "Golden Pears" and the title of 2014 Tag World Grand Prix Champions. The Throwbacks celebrate their victory to close the show.

Overall: 7.0/10

This was a fine Wrestling is Fun! Show. The only match that's really worth going out of your way to see is the Tag World Grand Prix Finals between The Throwbacks and The Devastation Corporation. Aside from one squash match, the rest of the matches are ok to good, with Jaka vs. Shynron being the other stand out match, and the two Semi-Final Matches being solid. Other then that, there's not much else to see here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

AIW JT Lightning Invitational Tournament 2014: Night 2 Review

Michael Elgin fights to both win the tournament and retain his Absolute Title!

AIW JT Lightning Invitational Tournament 2014: Night 2
Cleveland, Ohio 5/24/14

1.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Quarter Finals - Tim Donst vs. Josh Prohibition: ***1/2

These two are both mainstays in AIW, and the Cleveland Wrestling scene in general. I really enjoyed this match! Donst has really grown on me since CHIKARA "closed down" in 2013, and his work in AIW especially has been nothing short of fantastic. Josh Prohibition is someone who I've gotten to know through watching AIW, and I feel like he's very underrated, both as an in-ring performer and as a promo guy. All of these elements made for a really good match. Donst was eventually able to score the win and advances to the Semi-Finals

After the match, Josh Prohibition cuts a promo, talking about JT Lightning as well as his issues with Matt Cross (essentially a condensed version of the promo he cut on the Night 1 MP4/DVD). He challenges Cross to a match at Absolution IX.

2.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Quarter Finals - Relaxed Rules Match - Eric Ryan vs. Danny Havoc: **3/4

Before the match started, Ryan asked for this to be a Relaxed Rules Match, and Danny Havoc agreed to it. The match itself was fine. There were so light hardcore elements in here, but not a whole lot. Ryan gets the victory and advances to the Semi-Finals.

3.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Quarter Finals - Matt Cross vs. #Sparx: ***1/4

Here we have another interesting matchup in the Quarter Finals. It's an interesting mash up as #Sparx actually appears to be a tiny bit bigger than Matt Cross, who's the heel in this case. This actually turned out to be really solid. I thought it was pretty fun to watch, and both Cross & #Sparx came out of it looked good. Cross eventually puts #Sparx away with a Top Rope Death Valley Driver to advance to the Semi-Finals.

4.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Quarter Finals - #AllEgo vs. Buff Bagwell: **1/2

Of course this match is probably known most for the fact that Buff Bagwell hit a freaking Canadian Destroyer on #AllEgo!! As a whole, while it wasn't on the same level as some of the other matches on this show or over the weekend, it was still entertaining. Bagwell sang the "American Males" song, and #AllEgo once again played his role perfectly. Enjoyable all around. #AllEgo eventually gets the win and advances to the Semi-Finals.

5.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Quarter Finals - AIW Intense Champion Louis Lyndon vs. Sonjay Dutt: ***1/4

Once again, we had another solid performance from Sonjay Dutt. Like I said in my Night 1 Review, you can always count on Dutt to put on really consistent matches almost every time out, and he had another really solid match here with Louis Lyndon. We also got to see how good Lyndon is as well. In the end, Lyndon would get away with the victory and advance to the Semi-Finals.

6.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Quarter Finals - AIW Absolute Title - "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. Heidi Lovelace (with Sammy Geodollno): **

Here we have our last match of the Quarter Finals. The story of this match is that Elgin does not want to fight Heidi Lovelace (with the obvious size & power difference), but Heidi would keep hitting and hitting, basically forcing Elgin to hit back. This is a very odd direction to go in, considering that inter-gender wrestling has become a commonplace in AIW. The crowd wasn't into the strange things they were trying to do in this one, and it definitely hurt the match. Michael Elgin eventually gets the win to retain his title and advance to the next round in this very strange affair.

7.) Eight Person Tag Team Match - Gregory Iron & The Iron Curtain (Benjamin Boone, Dick Justice, & Joey Vincent Martini) vs. Colin Delaney, Marion Fontaine, UltraMantis Black, and Veda Scott: ***

This match was match last night after a Delaney, Fontaine & UltraMantis Black saved Veda Scott from an Iron Curtain attack. It was a fun match, albeit a messy one, as there was no real rhyme or reason. People just went in and out of the ring at will. Still, it was an entertaining to watch. I'm fans of everyone on the babyface team so it wasn't hard to for me to enjoy it. The real star of this match, however, was Dick Justice. You would NEVER think that a guy of his size could move around like he does. It's insane. In the end, Veda's team gets the win, and Scott challenges Gregory Iron to a one-on-one match at Absolution IX, which Iron accepts.

8.) AIW Tag Team Titles - The Jollyville Fuck-Its (Russ Myers & T-Money) vs. The Forgotten (BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs): N/A

Long story short, this ended in a no contest after both teams knocked out the referee right from the start, and then they spent a good amount of time just brawling all over the building until they brawled out of the building. I get what they were trying to do here, and I was fine with that, but I did not like how this match actually started. Both teams came down, and calmly waited for their introductions, which makes no sense to me, as if you're in an intense rivalry, where both sides hate each other's guts, they shouldn't calmly make their entrance and wait for their introductions. I think an attack during one of the team's entrances would have been a lot better. Jimmy Jacobs also came out in street clothes, with no shoes on, which I think spoiled where this whole thing was going.

9.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Semi-Finals - #AllEgo vs. AIW Intense Champion Louis Lyndon: ***1/4

This is actually a very interesting match, as these two are stablemates in the group known as The Unit (consisting of themselves & #Sparx). They teased Lyndon lying down for #AllEgo, but it was a trick and the match was on. They had a good back & forth exchange, with of course, a number of hellish tactics thrown in. Eventually, #AllEgo is able to pick up the win and punch his ticket to the Finals.

10.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Semi-Finals - Matt Cross vs. Tim Donst: ***1/2

Cross came out and jumped Donst from behind to get the match started. This was another really solid outing from Tim Donst tonight. The story was that Donst was selling a neck injury after his match earlier in the night with Josh Prohibition. Cross really did a good job playing the heel here, and Donst was once again great as he always is in AIW. Donst is able to score the win with a roll-up to move on the Finals. As I said earlier, another very good match from Tim Donst.

Afterwords, #AllEgo came out and viciously attacked Tim Donst with a chair, seemingly taking Donst out of the tournament all together.

11.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Semi-Finals - AIW Absolute Title - "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. Eric Ryan: **1/4

This was a very strange match. It seemed like they were going for another Relaxed Rules Match (although it was never announced) with all of the brawling they did outside the ring. Elgin just dominated the whole match, and it seemed almost like a squash. I heard that Ryan potentially injured his leg in this, as he quickly tapped out to Elgin when he locked in a leg submission, and he had to be carried to the back. Elgin, once again, retained his title and moved on the Finals.

12.) Chris Sabin vs. Johnny Gargano: ***3/4

Sabin is just coming off of being released by TNA. Gargano was originally scheduled to be in the JT Lightning Invitational Tournament, but had to pull out because he had to be at PWG's Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n' Roll. He was able to make it back for this show, however, and we got this match. This was a really good match. Gargano is one of best wrestlers in the world, so you know you're going to get a great match every singe time. Sabin looked really good in here as well. Obviously his in-ring style has had to change a little bit due to injuring both of his knees while in TNA, but he's still a very capable wrestler, and he proved that here against Gargano. Lots of back & forth action. Gargano is eventually able to put away Sabin and win what was arguably the best Match of the Weekend.

Afterwords, Sabin cuts a promo afterwords, putting over Johnny Gargano & AIW.

13.) Six-Man Scramble - Bobby Beverly vs. Davey Vega vs. Eddie Kingston vs. Flip Kendrick vs. Rickey Shane Page vs. Tyson Dux: **3/4

Here we have a Six-Way Match consisting of competitors who lost their tournament matches on Night 1, except for Tyson Dux, who wasn't in the tournament at all. You would expect this to be just a wild, out of control match, and that's pretty much what we got. The action was all over the place in this one. Tyson Dux & Bobby Beverly brawled to the back, while towards the end of the match, The Duke came out and attacked Rickey Shane Page. Through all of this mayhem, Davey Vega was able to score the win via pinning Flip Kendrick. Again, a perfectly fine match for what it was.

After the match, The Duke wanted Eddie Kingston to attack Rickey Shane Page. Kingston wasn't initially interested, but after The Duke offered him a wad of cash, Kingston changed his mind, getting back in the ring and attacking Rickey Shane Page. The Duke says he & Kingston are going to destroy Page, while Kingston remarks that it's "nothing personal....just business".

14.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - Finals - Three-Way Elimination Match - AIW Absolute Title - "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. #AllEgo vs. Tim Donst: ***1/2

This was initially announced as a singles match, with everyone assuming Donst was out due to his injuries, but as soon as the match started, Donst comes out, and it looks like we're going to get that Three-Way after all. That didn't last very long, however, as Donst (selling his injuries) was eliminated by #AllEgo about a minute later. Thus, it came down to Elgin & #AllEgo, and Elgin was eventually able to put away #AllEgo to retain his title and wins the 2014 JT Lightning Invitational Tournament. The match itself was good, but I felt like there were a number of things wrong with it. Firstly, despite being on the biggest (and most popular) stars in AIW, I question putting Donst in the tournament all, especially if the AIW Absolute Title was on the line throughout. He already had a guaranteed title shot after winning Gauntlet For The Gold, so it didn't make a lot of sense for him to be here at all. Second, despite my first point, the idea of seeing an Elgin/Donst/#AllEgo Three-Way Match, was appealing to both myself and probably a lot of people in attendance, so the crowd got taken out of it when Donst was eliminated so quickly. Had he been in there a bit longer, I think it would have worked. Finally, the Elgin/#AllEgo portion of the match was nowhere near as good as their title encounter from Dead Presidents back in December. It was good, yes, but it didn't meet up to those expectations.

Afterwords, Elgin celebrates with his title, and the winner's trophy. He talks about how he is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and how him winning a tournament where he had to defend his title four times in two nights proved that once again.

Overall: 7.5/10

I thought Night 2 was slightly better than Night 1, but my general thoughts were about the same. There was no match that really stood out as being amazing, but we saw a lot of really solid and very entertaining matches. Gargano/Sabin had the Match of the Night, and Tim Donst had two of the better matches in the tournament. One thing I will say about this show (and this could apply to Night 1, but it was more of a Night 2 issue) was that it was just too long. Fourteen Matches is asinine for any independent wrestling show. It's acceptable to do something like Twelve Matches due to there being a tournament (see PWG's BOLA), but Fourteen Matches is not necessary. I think splitting this tournament into three nights would have been a lot better, but I understand that would have been next to impossible on this particular weekend, with PWG running and CHIKARA making its big return. I just could not watch this show in one sitting. With a runtime of almost four hours, it was a little too much. That complaint aside, I still enjoyed this show and the tournament as a whole. AIW is a promotion that's been on the rise in recent years, and it's one people should be paying a lot more attention to.

AIW JT Lightning Invitational Tournament 2014: Night 1 Review

One of Cleveland's newest traditions begins with the First Round!

AIW JT Lightning Invitational Tournament 2014: Night 1
Cleveland, Ohio 5/23/14

Before any of the matches took place, all of the competitors came out and posed for a group photo with the JT Lightning Invitational Tournament Trophy. JT Lightning was a legend in the Cleveland Independent Wrestling scene, who had a hand in training many wrestlers from the Cleveland Area (Johnny Gargano, Matt Cross, and others).

There is also this INCREDIBLE promo from Josh Prohibition, which is included in the MP4 release (and I assume the DVD release as well), that details the history between himself and Matt Cross, after Matt Cross turned on him at the previous show.

1.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Matt Cross vs. Flip Kendrick: ***1/4

For those who missed it, Matt Cross recently became a heel after turning on his tag team partner and longtime friend Josh Prohibition at the last show. This was a pretty good match. Cross seems to have settled into his new role as a heel pretty well, and he has a solid match here with Flip Kendrick. Cross wins to advance to the Quarter Finals.

2.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Tim Donst vs. Marion Fontaine: ***

This is a very interesting first round matchup. Even though the result of this match was pretty much a foregone conclusion, it was still very solid. Donst continued his streak of wrestling people with different styles, and Fontaine looked good in here as well. An entertaining really can't ask for more than that. Donst wins to advance to the Quarter Finals.

3.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Jimmy Jacobs vs. Eric Ryan: **1/4

At the last show, we saw Jimmy Jacobs for yet another heel stable. This time, he formed The Forgotten, which consists of himself, BJ Whitmer, & Tommy Mercer (formerly known as Crimson in TNA). This match turned more into an angle as AIW's Tag Team Champions, The Jollyville Fuck-Its, came out and heckled Jacobs from the front row (They're feuding with The Forgotten). This caused Jacobs to be distracted an allowed Eric Ryan to roll him up for the win. Ryan advances to the Quarter Finals

4.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Rickey Shane Page vs. Heidi Lovelace (with Sammy Geodollno): ***1/4

So Heidi Lovelace is accompanied by her....rather interesting friend Sammy Geodollno. Here we a real contrast as Page had the definite size advantage, though Heidi was the heel. This was another pretty fun match. I find Rickey Shane Page as someone who doesn't quite get the attention that he deserves, because he's a very solid performer. Heidi also deserves a lot of credit but she took a BEATING at several points during this match. Lovelace is eventually able to fight back and score the victory over Rickey Shane Page to advance to the Quarter Finals.

5.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - AIW Intense Champion Louis Lyndon vs. Bobby Beverly: ***1/4

Lyndon made it imperative that his AIW Intense Title is not on the line in this match (in contrast to Michael Elgin's AIW Absolute Title). Once again, we had another pretty solid match. Both guys are good in the ring and that obviously translated through this match. The only thing I'll say is that I'm a little surprised that Beverly didn't get out the first round. Nonetheless, Lyndon advances to the Quarter Finals.

6.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Buff Bagwell vs. Jock Sampson: *3/4

Now THIS was something. I honestly don't know what to say about this one. It was so much a match as it was an entertaining spectacle. We got all sorts of crazy & weird tactics, some of which involved dancing and Bagwell's female valet. There really isn't much else I can say. It has to seen for it to truly be believed. Bagwell is able to score the win in this odd & ridiculous encounter to advance to the Quarter Finals.

7.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - BJ Whitmer vs. #Sparx: **

#Sparx is the second female entered in the tournament, and is someone who's been on a bit of a roll as of late, having a very strong performance in the Gauntlet For The Gold Match. Once again, however, the big story about this match was The Jollyville Fuck-Its appearing in the front row to heckle at BJ Whitmer. These two were able to have a good match until Whitmer got DQ'ed (I believe he hit the referee, but I'm not sure) and a brawl between The Jollyville Fuck-Its & The Forgotten broke out. The match might have been better if it had an actually finish, but I get that they're trying to advance an angle. #Sparx advances to the Quarter Finals.

8.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Sonjay Dutt vs. Davey Vega: ***1/2

Dutt is making his return to AIW here against Davey Vega, whose broken out as a singles competitor over the last few months. This was a really good match. Definitely one of the better matches on the shows. Sonjay Dutt is someone who will always put on a solid & consistent performance, and I thought he meshed really well with Davey Vega. Dutt was eventually able to catch Vega with a roll-up to score the win and advance to the Quarter Finals. I though Vega was going to win here, but given what they did with him the next night, I'm fine with it.

Sonjay Dutt cuts a promo, putting over Davey Vega & AIW.

9.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - No DQ Match - Danny Havoc vs. UltraMantis Black: ***

In lieu of this being a No DQ Match, the commentators pointed out that UltraMantis Black had a "hardcore/death match past". This wasn't quite as good as the Hardcore Match between Danny Havoc & Tim Donst earlier in the year, but it was still a very solid match. Light Tubes, Chairs, and Barbed Wire were all involved in this match. We got to see a side of UltraMantis Black that we don't normally see. The match was perfectly fine for what it was. Danny Havoc wins and advances to the Quarter Finals.

10.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - Colin Delaney vs. Josh Prohibition: ***

This match was a freaking sprint! It only went five minutes or so, but they packed a lot action into it. The fact that the second move of the match was Josh Prohibition's Finisher, The Drunken Driver (also known as Jay Briscoe's Jay Driller), says a lot. Again, a lot of good action in here packed into a very short amount of time. A second Drunken Driver gets the victory for Josh Prohibition, who advances to the Quarter Finals.

11.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - #AllEgo vs. Veda Scott: ***

Veda Scott is the third female participant in this year's JT Lightning Invitational Tournament. This was again...another solid match. #AllEgo was as fantastic and entertaining as he always is, and Veda Scott put in a very solid performance as well, getting in a good deal of offense in. Unfortunately for her, she would fall short and #AllEgo would score the win, advancing to the Quarter Finals.

After the match, Gregory Iron came out with his Iron Curtain and surrounded the ring. It looked like they were going to attack Veda Scott, but Colin Delaney, Marion Fontaine, and UltraMantis Black (who had all lost their First Round Matches) came out to even the odds. Their was a challenge for an Eight Person Tag Match the next night, which was accepted!

12.) JT Lightning Invitational 2014 - First Round - AIW Absolute Title - "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Kingston: ***3/4

This is a first time ever matchup, and it's honestly surprising that no other independent promotion had booked this match until now. Michael Elgin stated beforehand that his AIW Absolute Title will be on line throughout the tournament. I thought this was a very good match, one that I think was the best match on the show. We got some of the brawling that we would come to expect from these two, but we also got a lot of Elgin working over Kingston's arm, leading to him getting a submission victory, which I thought was very impressive. I feel as though I liked this a bit more than most, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Michael Elgin advances to the Quarter Finals.

Both Michael Elgin & Eddie Kingston take turns cutting promos afterwords. Kingston puts over Elgin and says he wants a rematch sometime in the future. Elgin says that tonight showed just how good of a wrestler he is, and that he's going to win this tournament.

Overall: 7.25/10

The first night of the 2014 JT Lightning Invitational was relatively solid. There wasn't a single match on this show that was really blow-away, but there were a lot of really good matches in the *** range that make for a really entertaining show. You get to see a diverse field of competitors, which is always cool to see, and a lot of different matches. If you're into tournaments, then this is another one that you should look into. In the end, it was a really solid night of wrestling, and you can't ask for much more than that.