FIP Establish Dominance 2017
Orlando, Florida 4/2/17
This event took place as part of a “Broken Tailgate Party” hosted by The Hardys. In addition to that, there were a few other things that made this show incredibly unique. Not only did it take place in the middle of a street (which was obviously blocked off for the tailgate) in downtown Orlando, but it also took place on Sunday afternoon, right before WrestleMania. I thought it was very interesting to see a promotion run a show the same day as WWE’s biggest show of the year, particularly in the afternoon. It was a unique experiment, but if any promotion was going to give it a shot, it would be FIP.
1.) Eight-Man Tag - ACH, Keith Lee, “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, & Sammy Guevara (with Aria Blake) vs. Uncle John’s Friends (AR Fox, Sami Callihan, Dave Crist, & Jake Crist with Darby Allin & Priscilla Kelly): ****
The show kicked off with a group of babyfaces teaming up to take on Uncle John’s Friends. Now originally, Darby Allin was scheduled to be in this match, but I believe he suffered some sort of injury during the primary WWN events (I’m guessing it was during his Anything Goes Match against Ethan Page at Evolve 81). Jake Crist ended up filling in for Allin, which made sense, since his brother Dave Crist was already in the group. In my review of FIP Everything Burns 2017 (which was the first show in this “new era” of FIP), I eviscerated the booking behind the formation of Uncle John’s Friends. However, I never had issues with those who made up the group. They’re all really good talents, fully capable of putting on strong matches. Well, they ended up having the best match on the show here against this team of babyfaces. It was a wild match right from the start, as the two sides started brawling all over the place with the Orlando Skyline serving as the backdrop. There was a ton of chaotic action in this one, and everyone involved had a chance to shine. Ultimately, Uncle John’s Friends emerged victorious after an assisted spike tombstone piledriver on Guevara. This was soooo much fun to watch!! I loved every second of it.
2.) FIP World Heavyweight Title - Fred Yehi vs. Dezmond Xavier: ***1/2
Well, we started off the show with an eight-man tag that I thought would definitely be the main event. Up next, we had another bout that I could’ve easily seen main eventing this show. I guess they decided to put all of the important matches first, so that if people decided to leave early to go to ‘Mania, they could at least say they saw the best matches. Fred Yehi was the champion coming in, and he successfully retained his title about catching Dezmond Xavier with a submission out of nowhere (it looked more like an Anaconda Vice than a Koji Clutch). This was a really good title match that featured some very solid action throughout. In general, Yehi had an underrated weekend in Orlando, as he had a number of strong performances across the various WWN events (this one included). Xavier looked pretty good here as well, with this being only a few months before he broke out (in a way) when got some expose on GFW/Impact Wrestling as part of their X-Division.
3.) FIP Florida Heritage Title - Martin Stone vs. Jon Davis: ***3/4
This bout pretty much confirms my theory about the layout of this show. Martin Stone (also known as Danny Burch in NXT) came into this as the champion, and had successfully retained against Jon Davis on the last two FIP events. Presumably, this was Davis’ last shot at the title. When the dust settled, this ended up being even better than the FIP World Heavyweight Title bout that came before it. This quickly turned into a brawl, as the two took their battle onto the street itself. They just beat the crap out of each other on the incredibly hot tarmac…...in the blistering heat!! It was certainly an incredible sight, that’s for sure. Eventually, they fought back to the ring, and in the end, Davis finally managed to the defeat Stone to capture the FIP Florida Heritage Title. This was just a fight, plain and simple. These two worked hard in conditions that weren’t exactly ideal, and they absolutely delivered.
Afterwards, Jon Davis celebrated with the title, but then Stone snatched it from his grasp. Stone then took the mic. He jarred with the fans initially, but then showed respect to Davis, saying that he earned the title.
4.) Austin Theory vs. Caleb Konley: ***1/4
If this was a normal FIP event, these next three matches would’ve been on earlier. Instead, because of the unique circumstances surrounding this show, they’re happening later. In this particular bout, Caleb Konley would end up scoring the victory over Austin Theory after hitting his double jump moonsault. I have to say, this result was a bit of a surprise. With Konley being mainly a TNA/Impact Wrestling guy at this point, I thought he was just being used here to put over a new top prospect in Theory. With that being said, I was happy to see Konley get the win here. While he is part of TNA/Impact Wrestling (as I previously mentioned) he was rarely used in his first six months or so with the company. It honestly felt like he fell off the face of the earth for a bit, but it was cool to see Konley resurface. I’ve always enjoyed him in the ring. As for this match, it was pretty solid from start to finish, though it didn’t really stand out. Of course, it was going to be incredibly hard (or next to impossible) for them to follow the three matches that came before, but in general, they still did a fine job.
5.) Aria Blake vs. Priscilla Kelly: **1/4
This was the lone women’s match on the show, and unfortunately, it ended up being the worst match on the card. That’s not to say that it was bad, however, as both women did put forth effort here. I think they were just victims of placement, as they weren’t going to follow anything that occurred beforehand (again, this show had a very unique structure). Priscilla Kelly ultimately got the win over Aria Blake in a match that was ok, but easily forgettable.
6.) Anthony Henry vs. Jason Cade: ***3/4
The main event of this very special FIP event ended up being a match with…...no real stakes to it. I’m guessing this would’ve been the opener under normal circumstances, but again, they’re in this spot because of the show’s inverted lineup. These two ended up having a really strong match that was about on par with the Martin Stone/Jon Davis FIP Florida Heritage Title bout from earlier in the card. Both men are incredibly talented performers, and they really got to show off what they could do here. There was entertaining action throughout, and these two seemed to have some very solid chemistry. In the end, Henry would score the victory after getting Cade to tap out to an ankle lock.
I didn’t have high hopes for this “new” and “edgier” FIP after watching Everything Burns 2017, but after hearing some positive reviews about this show, I decided to check it out. I’m glad that I did, because I really enjoyed! All the crap that I associated with this version of FIP was nowhere to be seen on this card (aside from the reminder that Uncle John’s Friends is actually the name of a wrestling stable). It was straight up wrestling show with six matches that featured very little nonsense. Out of those six bouts, five of them were very good to great. If you have the chance, I would go check it out, because in my view, it was one of the most underrated shows during this big weekend in Orlando.