Monday, March 27, 2017

AIW Gauntlet For The Gold 10 Review

AIW hosts the tenth edition of their annual Gauntlet For The Gold Match!

AIW Gauntlet For The Gold 10
Cleveland, Ohio 3/20/15

1.) Six-Way Scramble - Eric Ryan vs. Flip Kendrick vs. Nikki Storm vs. Tracy Williams vs. Tyler Thomas vs. Tyson Dux: ***1/4

This was pretty standard opening contest. There were some entertaining spots throughout, and everyone seemed to get a chance to shine with the time they were given. In particular, I really enjoyed Nikki Storm. She’s so charismatic, plus she’s a very good wrestler. How could you not love her? Another story that developed here is that Tracy Williams & Tyson Dux worked together at numerous points, which obviously teases the fact that they’ll be forming a tag team in the future. In the end, Flip Kendrick got the victory, which was a big deal, since (I guess) Kendrick had never won a scramble the finish. The finish was actually pretty cool, as Eric Ryan was on the shoulders of Tracy Williams, and then Flip Kendrick jumped off the top rope and hit an insane reverse hurricanrana.

2.) Alexia Nicole vs. Jasmin: **

This was Jasmin’s last match in AIW before she got signed by WWE. These two had been teaming on the last few shows as Team Barely Legal, but at I-Choo-Choo-Choose You!, things broke down, and the two attacked each other. The match itself was….ok. Let’s just say that you could really tell in this match that both of these girls were still green. It wasn’t awful, but it was the worst match on the show by the wide margin. Alexia Nicole would end up getting the win here with a really nice wheelbarrow stunner.

After the match, the two embraced (seemingly putting their issues aside), as Jasmin was now on her way to WWE.

3.) AIW Tag Team Titles - The Forgotten (Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer) vs. To Infinity & Beyond (Cheech & Colin Delaney): ***1/4

Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer have been holding these titles for several months at this point. In hindsight, the outcome of this match was never really in question, as Jimmy Jacobs would soon be off to WWE to take a job as a member of the creative team. With that being said, however, these two teams put together a pretty solid match with some good action throughout. Jacobs & Whitmer have always been a really good team, and they worked well here with Cheech & Colin Delaney, who had become a fine team in their own right. In the end, the AIW Tag Team Titles would end up changing hands, as To Infinity & Beyond scored the victory!

After the match, Jacobs & Whitmer embraced in the ring. Jacobs took the mic, and said that he truly appreciated every fan that comes out to see AIW. He said he’s had a long career, traveling all over the country, and added that it didn’t matter how many people were in the crowd on any given show, because he gave it his all every singled time. Jacobs thanked everyone once again before leaving with Whitmer.

4.) AIW Intense Title - Fatal Four-Way Match - Davey Vega vs. Candice LeRae vs. Chris Sabin vs. Louis Lyndon: ***1/4

Davey Vega was almost nine months into his reign as AIW Intense Champion, and in that time, he had successfully defended his title nine times against a plethora of opponents. Here, he was facing three incredibly different and unique opponents. I thought this was a pretty good Fatal Four-Way. It was very similar to the Six-Way Scramble the night before. There were plenty of entertaining moments, and everyone involved had the chance to shine. In one particular section of the match, Candice LeRae hit the ballsplex on her three opponents, and they all retorted by giving her a triple superkick. Ultimately, Davey Vega managed to pick up the win to retain his AIW Intense Title.

5.) Johnny Gargano vs. Raymond Rowe: ***1/2

This match is taking place in the context of the larger feud between AIW and the Dudes On TV. I was actually excited to see this one, considering who was involved. You weren’t going to see this match anywhere else, since Rowe was in ROH and Gargano was with EVOLVE. This ended up being a really good match. There was some solid back & forth action in this one, and for the most part, I liked it. Unfortunately, the finish took away from the match a bit. Towards the end of the match, Raymond Rowe went for his shotgun knees in the corner, but accidentally took out the referee. Rowe took this opportunity to hit Johnny Gargano with the ringbell. A second referee comes out to count the pin, but Gargano kicked out! Despite fighting back, Gargano would still end up losing to Rowe. Again, this was a really good match, though I don’t think the referee bump towards the end was necessary.

6.) Rickey Shane Page vs. 2 Cold Scorpio: ***3/4

I’ve heard a lot of good things about 2 Cold Scorpio over the years, but I think this is the first time that I’m watching one of his matches. Here, he’s taking on Rickey Shane Page. As a whole, I really enjoyed this match. There was a LONG feeling out process at the start, and that did hurt the match a little bit (in my eyes), but the second half was legitimately GREAT. Rickey Shane Page always works hard, but 2 Cold Scorpio really put on a show here. As I already mentioned, the latter portion of the match was particularly awesome, with a ton of cool moves from 2 Cold Scorpio and a number of nice near falls. In the end. 2 Cold Scorpio would get the victory after hitting a moonsault double stomp. I thought this was the best match on the undercard, without question. Some might complain that Rickey Shane Page lost to a guy who was only in for this show, but the result of the main event really overshadowed the result of this match.

After the match, 2 Cold Scorpio took the mic, and he thanked Rickey Shane Page for the match. The two shook hands, and then the legendary 2 Cold Scorpio thanked all of the fans for coming out, as they chant “please come back”.

7.) AIW Absolute Title - Josh Alexander (with Veda Scott) vs. Dick Justice: **3/4

This was a very odd title match, to say the least. I guess you can explain this by saying that WWE has treated their title matches on Royal Rumble shows in a similar manner, as the champion defended their title against a mid-card opponent who isn’t realistically a title contender. Josh Alexander dominated most of this match, but Dick Justice really put up a fight. At one point, Dick Justice ripped off his shirt, and got fired up, which was certainly a sight. Later on, Veda Scott pulled the referee out of the ring during a pin attempt, which led to Dick Justice grabbing her by her hair on the ring apron. It looked like he might hit her, but he kissed her instead. This distraction allows Josh Alexander to take advantage once again. He busted Dick Justice open with repeated punches to the face, and Alexander just attacked him with more vicious strikes until he got the pin. Dick Justice had no shot of winning the AIW Absolute Title here, but he was a decent opponent for Josh Alexander, as he got a strong victory.

After the match, Veda Scott took the mic, and said that the only people to blame for the beating Dick Justice just took are the fans themselves. The crowd drowns the duo out with boos, but Scott said that she & Josh Alexander control their own destiny.

8.) 30-Man Gauntlet For The Gold Match: ***3/4

The Gauntlet For The Gold Match is, of course, a major highlight of AIW’s year. It’s basically their version of the Royal Rumble Match (with a new entrant coming in every ninety seconds). I won’t go over the entire match, but I will bring up some important highlights and moments.

Entrants #1 & #2 were Marion Fontaine & Nikki Storm. They seemed to develop a fun little relationship here, but that got interrupted quickly. Alessandro Del Bruno was Entrant #3, and he accidentally threw a soccer ball right in the gut of Nikki Storm. Ray Rowe was Entrant #6 and cleaned house, eliminating four competitors right out the gate. Rickey Shane Page came out as Entrant #10, and he would eliminate three guys right out of the gate. Johnny Gargano came out as Entrant #12, and went right after Ray Rowe, but his emotions got the best of him, and was eliminated by Rowe in about a minute. Josh Prohibition was Entrant #14, and also went right after Ray Rowe. He eliminated Rowe quickly, but then he nearly got tossed out by BJ Whitmer. Prohibition then noticed that Rowe was going after Gargano (who was still at ringside), and was so focused on Rowe that he eliminated himself so he could go after Rowe. In an interesting note, Davey Vega (the AIW Intense Division Champion), was eliminated by Chris Sabin, so there might be a title shot in Sabin’s future. Gregory Iron came out as Entrant #20, but just hung out around ringside. Chris Sabin hid under the ring at one point, and Marion Fontaine went after him. Meanwhile, Facade made his AIW return as Entrant #21. The ring really started filling up with competitors by this point. Joshua Singh eliminated Gregory Iron, and then Singh was then eliminated by Benjamin Boone. This led to Iron brawling with Singh to the back. Eddie Kingston came out with The Duke as Entrant #30, and eliminated three guys almost immediately. 

The final four were BJ Whitmer, Eddie Kingston, Ethan Page, & Rickey Shane Page. Rickey Shane Page eliminated BJ Whitmer. Ethan Page & Rickey Shame Page then tried to team up to eliminate Eddie Kingston, and they did, but The Duke had the referees distracted, so Kingston slipped back into the ring, and threw out Ethan Page out between the middle and top ropes. He collided with the referees, and they thought (with convincing from The Duke & Eddie Kingston) that Ethan Page had indeed gone over the top rope. The Duke then got in the ring to help Eddie Kingston, but Ethan Page quickly disposed of him, and took out Kingston. It came down to Eddie Kingston vs. Rickey Shane Page, and in the end, Rickey Shane Page scored the elimination to win Gauntlet For The Gold!! The match as a whole was relatively fun. It’s hard for these kinds of matches to be less than good (though WWE has proven otherwise on certain occasions), and as a whole, AIW put on a very good rendition of their annual Gauntlet For The Gold. The only negative note about this match was how they handled the final four. I get that they wanted to continue the Eddie Kingston/Ethan Page feud, but I think in doing that, it hurt the end of the match. It’s only a minor complaint, because otherwise, I liked the match, and it was very cool to see Rickey Shane Page get such a huge win. He would go on to get his title shot at Absolution X.

Overall: 7.25/10

This was a very solid showing from AIW. There wasn’t a truly great match on this card, but the show did feature a number of good to really good matches. Of course, the Gauntlet For The Gold Match itself was entertaining, while 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Rickey Shane Page really stole the show on the undercard. I would definitely recommend checking that one out. There were minor problems here and there with some of the finishes to certain matches, but other than that, it was a mostly entertaining card.

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