Saturday, June 30, 2018

Evolve 85 Review

Two big title matches headline Evolve's debut in Michigan!!

My star ratings for Evolve 85 are listed below, but please be sure to read my full review of the show on Voices of Wrestling:

Evolve 85
Livonia, Michigan 5/21/18

1.) Dominic Garrini vs. Alex Daniels: **1/4

2.) Evolve Tag Team Titles - Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka with Stokely Hathaway & Tracy Williams) vs. Austin Theory & Jason Kincaid: ***1/2

3.) Allysin Kay vs. Priscilla Kelly: **1/4

4.) "All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Donovan Dijak: ***3/4

5.) Kyle O'Reilly vs. Tracy Williams: ***1/2 

6.) Keith Lee vs. Fred Yehi: ****

7.) WWN Title - Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb: ***1/2

8.) Evolve Title - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lio Rush: ****1/4

Overall: 8.25/10

Evolve 84 Review

Kyle O'Reilly challenges Matt Riddle for the WWN Title as Evolve debuts in Chicago!!

My star ratings for Evolve 84 are listed below, but please be sure to read my full review of the show on Voices of Wrestling:

Evolve 84
Summit, Illinois 5/20/18

1.) Donovan Dijak vs. Keith Lee: ****1/4

2.) Fred Yehi vs. Jason Kincaid: ***

3.) Austin Theory vs. Lio Rush: ***1/2

4.) Jeff Cobb vs. Tracy Williams (with Catch Point): ***1/4

5.) Evolve Tag Team Titles - Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. Isaias Velazquez & Matt Knicks: ***1/4

6.) Evolve Title - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page: ****

7.) WWN Title - Matt Riddle def. Kyle O'Reilly: ****1/2

Overall: 8.75/10

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Evolve 83 Review

Drew Galloway makes his final Evolve appearance as he faces Matt Riddle in an I Quit Match!!

My star ratings for Evolve 83 are listed below, but please be sure to read my full review of the show on Voices of Wrestling:

Evolve 83
Brooklyn, New York 4/23/17

1.) "All Ego" Ethan Page (with Blaster McMassive) vs. Austin Theory: ***1/4

2.) Chris Dickinson (with Jaka) vs. Tracy Williams: ***1/4

3.) ACH vs. Jaka: ***1/2

4.) David Starr vs. Keith Lee: ***1/2

5.) Kyle O'Reilly vs. Fred Yehi: ***3/4

6.) Evolve Title - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lio Rush: ****

7.) WWN Title - I Quit Match - Matt Riddle vs. Drew Galloway: ***1/4

Overall: 7.75/10

Monday, April 30, 2018

Evolve 82 Review

Darby Allin & Ethan Page do battle one more time!

Evolve 82
Woodside, Queens, New York 4/22/18

The show kicked off with the first-ever WWN Champion Matt Riddle. Of course, he became the inaugural champion at Mercury Rising 2017. Riddle refers to himself as the "champion of all champions", and added that it's not just about winning a title like this, but being able to keep it. He then brings up the fact that Timothy Thatcher is the one person he's never beaten in Evolve, and called out "Trashy Tim". This brought out Stokely Hathaway, who reminds Riddle that Thatcher beat him three times last year. Hathaway proclaimed that he'll soon be managing the WWN Champion, and wanted the title match to happen right now! It looks like we have our opener.

1.) WWN Title - Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher (with Stokely Hathaway): ***1/4

This was a pretty solid opening contest. There was grappling, as you would expect, but it was a physical match at points as well. The bout only went about ten minutes or so, and Riddle would score the victory after getting Thatcher to tap out to the Bromission. While this was a fine way to kick off the show, it did feel like a relatively weak first defense for this brand new title, and it did seem weird that this feud that was a big part of Evolve in 2016 just....ended in a good, but nondescript, ten minute opener.

Afterwards, Stokely Hathaway got in the ring and had a stare down with Timothy Thatcher. Then, Hathaway turned his attention to Matt Riddle. He said that everyone knows that he's managed champions. While Thatcher wrestled, he took care of all the other stuff that comes with being a champion. Hathaway then seemed to make an offer to Matt Riddle to join the Dream Team (in the middle of this promo, Thatcher went to the back). Riddle responds by saying that he decides what he does, and he finds what he does (hanging out with fans, signing autographs) to be fun. The WWN Champion then left after basically rejecting Hathaway's offer.

2.) ACH vs. Austin Theory: ***1/2

I was pretty excited to see what these two could do together, and when the dust settled, they ended up having a really good match. It went about thirteen minutes or so, and it featured some very solid action throughout. After suffering some tough losses to Zack Sabre Jr. & Pete Dunne during the big WrestleMania Weekend events in Orlando, ACH showed more aggression here as he looked to bounce back. Meanwhile, Austin Theory (who was still a babyface at this point) continued to impress after being signed by WWN only a few months prior. Even though he came up short here against ACH, he still looked strong in defeat.

Before the next match, we got a Drew Galloway promo. Of course, he was taken out of the WWN Title bout at Mercury Rising 2017 to appear at NXT TakeOver, and had since then officially signed with WWE. Thus, this was his last weekend in Evolve. Galloway said that he's finished with Evolve, and added that after giving this promotion everything, he's been met with nothing but disrespect, especially since he lost the Evolve Title. He complained that he didn't tap out the last time he was in La Boom (when he faced Matt Riddle), and called himself a "gift to wrestling". He alone decides where his career goes, and puts down La Boom and the Evolve fans. Galloway said he doesn't have to be here, but he chose to be, because he wanted to take back everything he gave to Evolve. He claims that Zack Sabre Jr. will always live in his shadow, and then took out the referee, saying that he simply "couldn't be trusted". He told Sabre to fight him like a man, and the match is on.

3.) Non-Title Match - Evolve Champion Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Galloway: N/R

This was more of an angle than an actual match. They had a really fun brawl that lasted about six or seven minutes, but it ended when Ethan Page & The Gatekeepers came out. The trio attacked Zack Sabre Jr., and Page handed the Evolve Title to Drew Galloway, who then decided he was going to destroy the title with a sledgehammer. Before he could go through with it, however, Keith Lee made the save and took out the heels. Zack Sabre Jr. then recovered, and managed to break the arm of one of The Gatekeepers (the former Flex Rumblecrunch from CHIKARA). After the heels retreated, Lee gave the Evolve Title back to the Sabre, but made it clear that he had his sights set on it (especially after his victory over the "technical wizard" at Evolve 78). Lee took the mic, and noted that while he was in the mode to play, Page and Galloway clearly weren't. He then called out Kyle O'Reilly for their big singles bout, and that was next!

4.) Keith Lee vs. Kyle O'Reilly: ****

For those who might not remember, Kyle O'Reilly wrestled in the very first match on the debut Evolve event back in January 2010 (against Bobby Fish, oddly enough). He was a part of Evolve in its early days before moving over to ROH. This was his return to the promotion, as he was basically waiting to go to NXT after he decided to leave ROH earlier in the year (interesting enough, Keith Lee also left ROH earlier in the year). It was an interesting matchup from a style perspective, as you had a power wrestler vs. the technical/MMA influenced wrestler, but when the dust settled, this ended up being a pretty great match. There was really good action throughout, and in general, it was a lot of fun to watch. There was an odd moment towards the end, where the bout appeared to accidentally end on a DQ after an inadvertent low blow from O'Reilly, who contests the decision. Keith Lee demands the match be restarted, and they picked things up from there. Ultimately, O'Reilly would get the win anyway after he somehow managed to hit a brainbuster. Strange moment aside, this was great.

5.) Evolve Tag Team Titles - Catch Point (Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi) vs. The Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka): ****

I used the "Doom Patrol" name for Chris Dickinson & Jaka, just so I could differentiate them from their Catch Point stablemates. This went about fifteen minutes or so, and as a whole, it was a great tag team encounter! While it has the same rating as Keith Lee/Kyle O'Reilly, the unintentional DQ in that one prevents it from taking that honor, in my view. There was some really good back and forth action, and the closing stretch was particularly strong. While I was extremely happy to see Chris Dickinson & Jaka to win the titles here, it came off as a somewhat shocking title change at the time (to me, at least). Catch Point always talks about the importance of competition, even amongst themselves, and this was a perfect example of that, as they went to war against each other over the Evolve Tag Team Titles. An awesome tag team affair, without question.

After the match, Larry Dallas came out to "stir the drink" once again, as he had a scoop about Catch Point. Dallas claimed that Stokely Hathaway was in talks with Tracy Williams about become the new manager of Catch Point. This brings out Hathaway, but Williams bails. Hathaway follows him out, while Fred Yehi goes after Larry Dallas & Earl Cooter (the bodyguard for Dallas). Yehi actually dished out a ton of punishment, as he hit Dallas with three German Suplexes. He was then wrapped in a ring apron and carried out. It was actually pretty hilarious to see someone FINALLY beat the crap out of Larry Dallas, but the stuff with Catch Point (the "rumor" about Hathaway potentially being their new manager) was a significant development for sure. This story would continue the next night at Evolve 83.

6.) Last Man Standing Match - "All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin: ***1/4

These two had an epic and bloody war at Evolve 81, which saw Darby Allin finally get that elusive victory over Ethan Page. That seemed like the blowoff to the feud, but we would end up seeing one more clash between the two in the form of a Last Man Standing Match. As a whole, this was good, but it was ultimately unnecessary. The aforementioned bout at Evolve 81 was a great way to end the feud, and it should've ended. This match simply wasn't needed, and it wasn't nearly as good as their encounter in Orlando. The Gatekeepers got involved at will, and attempts by Austin Theory and Priscilla Kelly to help Allin proved to be futile. At one point, Allin's elbow suffered an incredibly nasty gash after being hit with a shovel by Page (this would actually keep Allin out of action for a month or so). Later, we got shenanigans involving a bodybag, thumbtacks, and duct tape, and eventually, Ethan Page finally put away Darby Allin to win. Again, I didn't totally hate this match, but it didn't need to happen. The feud peaked in Orlando, and that's when it should've ended. As a follow up, this just didn't click.

Overall: 7.5/10

As a whole, this was a pretty solid show from EVOLVE. Keith Lee/Kyle O'Reilly (despite the initial DQ) and the battle between the two Catch Point teams over the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles were the best match on the show by far. The first two bouts (Riddle vs. Thatcher & ACH vs. Theory) ended up being good as well. For what it was, the Drew Galloway/Zack Sabre Jr. confrontation worked, as it continued a number of different stories. As for the main event, it was a relatively fine brawl in a vacuum, but it was totally unnecessary continuation of a feud that culminated so perfectly at EVOLVE 81.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

WrestleCircus/Pro-Wrestling Revolver Midnight-ish After Mania Review

You thought WrestleMania Weekend was over?! Not so fast!!

WrestleCircus/Pro-Wrestling Revolver Midnight-ish After Mania
Orlando, Florida 4/3/17

In 2016, VIP Wrestling (an independent that I believe is based in the Dallas, Texas area) ran a show following WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium. When 2017 came around, there weren’t official plans for any of the promotions that came to the Orlando area that weekend to run an event after WrestleMania 33. Then, WrestleCircus (a growing independent promotion out of Texas) and Pro-Wrestling Revolver (Sami Callihan’s promotion) decided to put together a cross-promotional event right after the big event in Camping World Stadium. What did we get? Well, let’s find out….

1.) WrestleCircus Ringmaster Title - Brian Cage (with Melissa Santos) vs. Dezmond Xavier: ***1/2

Brian Cage, with Melissa Santos by his side, was representing WrestleCircus here as their Ringmaster Champion (I believe that’s their primary title), while Dezmond Xavier was presumably representing Pro-Wrestling Revolver. This was a super entertaining sprint that went about five minutes or so. Of course, with the match being so short, they had to pack in a ton of action if they wanted to make it exciting. Both men ended up doing a very good job in that regard. Cage ultimately retained his title.

Before the next bout began, Louden Noxious (the former Gavin Loudspeaker from CHIKARA and the ring announcer for WrestleCircus) had a brief interaction with Shawn T (I guess that’s his name?), who was the ring announcer from PWR.

2.) ACH vs. Martin Stone: ***

ACH came out to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, which was pretty cool. I’m not exactly sure which promotion these guys are representing. Martin Stone might be a WrestleCircus guy, and I think ACH might represent both? I don’t know. Anyway, this was another entertaining five minute sprint, though it wasn’t quite as good as the opener. ACH would end up getting the win here.

After the match, Martin Stone did some air guitar stuff with ACH before he shook his hand.

3.) “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. Shane Strickland: ***3/4

This was easily the best match on this card. Despite being tired from working several matches over the course of this crazy weekend in Orlando, both men really put forth effort in this one. There was some exciting action throughout, as Elgin showed off his power while Strickland used his speed and athleticism to his advantage. There was actually a botch with the ring bell towards the end of the bout (I think it was prematurely rung before the match actually ended), but they kept going, and Elgin managed to pick up the win.

4.) WrestleCircus Lady Of The Ring Title - Rachael Ellering vs. Angel Rose: **3/4

As the name (obviously) implies, the Lady Of The Ring Title is the WrestleCircus Women’s Title. Rachael Ellering came into this match as the champion, and successfully defended it against Angel Rose, who (at the time) had recently rose to prominence as a member of the newly reformed LAX in TNA/Impact Wrestling. This was a relatively decent bout. They ended up using some famous finishers at one point (such as the Stone Cold Stunner, The People’s Elbow, attempts at hitting the Pedigree). There really isn’t much else to say about this one. It was fine for what it was.

After the match ended, Angel Rose raised the hand of Rachael Ellering in a sign of respect.

Before the next bout, we got another verbal interaction between two ring announcers, and they seemed to be antagonizing each other.

5.) Mixed Tag Team Match - Sami Callihan & Jessicka Havok vs. The World’s Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae): ***1/4

I don’t have too many thoughts on this particular matchup. It was a relatively entertaining mixed tag team bout that featured a fair amount of comedy (which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering some of the participants involved). There was some solid wrestling as well, and the bout proved to be fun for what it was. Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae would score the win here.

6.) Jake Manning (with Samantha Heights) vs. Leva Bates: *

Before the match began, Manning took the mic, and mockingly asked the fans if they enjoyed WrestleMania 33. He said that his favorite part was when the women weren’t wrestling on the show, and this of course got booes. Manning then complained about the fact that a black woman (Naomi) won a title on the biggest show of the year. He said the only thing women are good for is “making his sheets warm” (oof). Manning then turned his attention to Leva Bates, and he said that he felt sorry for her. It was “past her bedtime”, Manning claimed, and added that he has no idea how Bates was going to do her chores in the morning. Well, I think it’s fair to say that Manning turned his misogynist character all the way up to eleven here.

Then, Leva Bates came out cosplaying as Sgt. Slaughter. Once the match finally got going, it wasn’t very good at all. It was easily the worst on this show. Manning accidentally took out Heights at the start, but he still managed to win. Bates then cut a Sgt. Slaughter style promo on Manning afterwards. This was pretty bad.

7.) Eight-Man Tag - Team WrestleCircus (Johnny Mundo, Sammy Guevara, & Extra Talented [Aaron Solow, Ricky Starks]) vs. Team Pro-Wrestling Revolver (Dave Crist, Curt Stallion, David Starr, & Zachary Wentz): ***1/4

After that Jake Manning/Leva Bates fiasco, we finally got back to some actual wrestling. Jake Crist was supposed to be in this match, but he apparently got sun poisoning (probably during the FIP event, which was outdoors, earlier in the day), so Curt Stallion took his spot. Johnny Mundo was playing his “Boone The Bounty Hunter” character here. Aaron Solow cut a promo before the match began, calling the PWR team a bunch of “Nickelback rejects”. He then added that they (I guess he’s referring to himself and Starks) have been “all over the network”, and are future Hall Of Famers. Solow then talked about he and Starks are teaming with a “movie star” in Boone The Bounty Hunter. This ended up being a pretty entertaining eight-man tag. There was some good wrestling throughout, but they also threw in some comedy. They did this skit in the middle of the match where Boone The Bounty Hunter found “contraband” on Zachary Wentz. Then, JT Davidson got hit with this “mysterious powder” and went crazy (I’m pretty sure it’s implied that it was cocaine, but it was probably just that powder that’s used all the time in wrestling matches). He put himself through two tables, and I think he gave everyone a spinebuster. The match came to an end when Boone The Bounty Hunter & Sammy Guevara hit Curt Stallion with a Double Spanish Fly off the top rope to win the match for Team WrestleCircus. This was certainly wacky, but it was a ton of fun to watch from start to finish.

Afterwards, Boone The Bounty Hunter “arrested” Zachary Wentz.

8.) WrestleCircus Sideshow Title/PWR Scramble Title - Scramble Match: ***

So this match is for both the WrestleCircus Sideshow Title (the midcard title in that promotion) and the PWR Scramble Title, which is usually defended in this kind of match. The format of this one basically followed the Royal Rumble formula. Two participants started, and there was a new entrant every thirty seconds. Eliminations occurred via pinfall or submission. The participants in the match included AR Fox, Caleb Konley, Tessa Blanchard, Palmer, Scorpio Sky, Jordan Lennox, Willie Mack, Lio Rush, Mr. 450, Rickey Shane Page, Davey Vega, Mascarita Dorada, Jeremiah, Trey Miguel, Andy Dalton, Suicide, and Jason Cade, who was the defending PWR Scramble Champion after winning it from AR Fox in a crazy multi-man Ladder Match at the Pancakes & Piledrivers event earlier in the weekend. As for the Sideshow Title, this was for the vacant title, as the previous title holder was….reddit (yes, you read that correctly). Anyway, this was one giant clusterf*ck, but for what it was, it was mostly fine. We did get some cool moments sprinkled throughout, such as AR Fox, Jason Cade, & Mr. 450 eliminated Willie Mack, Suicide, & Trey Miguel respectively with simultaneous 450 splashes. Eventually, it came down to AR Fox vs. Jason Cade, and AR Fox got the win to capture both titles.

AR Fox took the mic after the match. He said that he’s so proud of this weekend, and added that this (I believe he’s referring to all of the independent shows that took place over ‘Mania Weekend) is what pro-wrestling is really about. Fox said that these two companies define what wrestling is today, and proclaimed that titles he just earned are true championships. He promised to wear them proudly, but was then interrupted by Moose. He brought up that AR Fox just said that he’d defend his title anywhere and against anyone, and wanted a shot right now! Without hesitation, Fox accepted, and we have one more match!

9.) WrestleCircus Sideshow Title/PWR Scramble Title - AR Fox vs. Moose: ***

This was a wild sprint that featured some fun action throughout. It wasn’t quite as good as some of the sprints we saw earlier, but it was still enjoyable to watch, despite being so short. AR Fox would ultimately get the win to retain his title.

Afterwards, AR Fox & Moose shook hands. Fox then took the mic, and thanked the fans once again for coming out. He also told the fans to keep supporting both promotions. Sami Callihan came out and said basically the same thing, before telling everyone to leave so they could take the ring down before the venue kicked them out.

Overall: 7.0/10

For a show that came about on such short notice, it proved to be pretty entertaining, for the most part. Aside from one noticeable hiccup (Jake Manning vs. Leva Bates), most of the matches on this show were pretty solid, with Michael Elgin vs. Shane Strickland and Brian Cage vs. Dezmond Xavier being the standouts. I’m not sure what the viability is of an independent show right after WrestleMania in the future, but as this show proved, people will show up.

FIP Establish Dominance 2017 Review

FIP puts on a show in the middle of The Hardy's Broken Tailgate Party!

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… 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… 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.

Overall: 8.0/10

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.

Beyond Wrestling: Caffeine Review

Donovan Dijak & Matt Riddle face off in the main event!

Beyond Wrestling: Caffeine
Orlando, Florida 4/1/17

1.) Keith Lee vs. Jeff Cobb: ***1/4

With two big guys like this, you know you’re in for a hoss fight. This wasn’t as great as I was expecting, but it was still a pretty solid opening contest. It went about ten minutes, and there was good action throughout (with both men showing off their power), though it didn’t really get to that next level. Lee would end up getting the win after catching Cobb in a victory roll (of all things), and the two men shook hands after the match.

2.) Deonna Purrazzo vs. LuFisto: ***1/4

This was billed as a “Women’s Wrestling Revolution Showcase”. For those who might not know, WWR is an offshoot promotion from Beyond that focuses primarily on women’s wrestling (as the name would indicate, obviously). I was actually looking forward to this one, since I know that both of these women are very talented wrestlers. They ended up having a very solid back and forth match that was about on par with the opener, in terms of quality. Purrazzo tried her best to keep LuFisto grounded, and at one point, locked her in the Fujiwara Armbar. However, LuFisto was able to escape the hold, and got the win after hitting a Tiger Driver. Then, much like Keith Lee & Jeff Cobb did after the opener, these two women shook hands following this match.

3.) Eight-Man Tag - Team Pazuzu (Chris Dickinson, Jaka, & TNA/Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Champions LAX [Ortiz & Santana]) vs. The Gentleman’s Club (Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy) & Team Tremendous: ***1/2

I pretty behind when it comes to watching Beyond Wrestling, but I was very aware of the stable known as Team Pazuzu. At the time, however, there had been some recent developments with some of his members. EYFBO were brought into TNA/Impact Wrestling (under the new Jeff Jarrett regime) and became part of the newly reformed LAX. They had only been with the company for a few weeks, but they had already capturing the TNA/Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Titles. They were pretty over with this crowd when they came out. As for the match itself, I thought it was a really entertaining eight-man tag. I got a good amount of time (clocking in at just over sixteen minutes) and there was a lot of fun action from beginning to end. There were some comedic elements here and there (mainly from The Gentleman’s Club & Team Tremendous), but this was mostly nonstop action. The only negative thing to say about this one is that it had a weird finish. Towards the end of the bout, Bill Carr accidentally hit Orange Cassidy with a Black Hole Slam. LAX takes advantage of this mishap, as they trap Cassidy in a Jackknife Pin for the victory.

4.) Sami Callihan vs. David Starr: ***1/2

While these two are technically part of the same group (JML), they’re not afraid to fight each other. This was a sub-seven minute sprint that was packed with nonstop action from start to finish. I’ve said this consistently in many of my past reviews, but it’s worth repeating. Sami Callihan’s best work is in sprints. That’s where he excels, and this particular bout was a perfect example of where he does well. This match was hard hitting, and filled with energy, which is exactly the kind of bout that this show needs (since it started just before midnight). Starr would ultimately get the win in this one. It certainly wasn’t a contender for match of the weekend, but I loved every second of it.

After the match, Sami Callihan took the mic. He said that, at this point, he’s wrestled nine matches over the course of this big weekend. Callihan proclaimed that this was part of the reason why he left WWE, so he could wrestle for great independent companies like Beyond Wrestling on ‘Mania Weekend. He put over David Starr, and the two left together.

5.) Mixed Tag Team Match - Joey Janela & Penelope Ford vs. The World’s Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae): ***

Up next, we had a mixed tag team encounter. Janela takes the mic. This went just under eight minutes, and it ended up being a relatively solid bout. Of course, you did get some intergender spots with Penelope Ford & Candice LeRae going after their respective male opponents. Of course, we did get some weird spots, like Ford trying to rip of Ryan’s chest hair. On a more serious note, both teams work together so well (both as actual teams, and in this match in particular), and it resulted in an entertaining. In the end, Janela would get the pin on Ryan following a splash off the top rope.

Afterwards, Joey Janela took the mic, and mockingly congratulates them on their efforts. Janela then proclaimed that, since he just pinned Joey Ryan, he should be awarded the DDT Iron-Man Heavy Metal Weight Champion. Bryce Remsberg (the referee for the Mixed Tag Team Match) then had no choice but to award Janela the title, and Janela says he’ll see Joey Ryan in Japan. Of course, Janela didn’t hold onto the title for very long, but you can follow the escapades of that title in the United States on YouTube.

6.) AR Fox vs. John Silver: ***1/4

This singles bout was very similar to the opener. It went right around ten minutes (in this case, just under ten minutes), and the action throughout was very solid, but as a whole, I was expecting this to be slightly better. Still, it was a fun match to watch for sure. Fox utilized his speed and athleticism, while Silver showed off some of his freaky strength. Eventually, Silver managed to put Fox away after hitting a Canadian Destroyer. This didn’t really set the world on fire, but as a whole, it proved to be pretty entertaining.

7.) Da Hit Squad (Dan Maff & Monsta Mack) vs. The Unbreakable F’N Machines (Brian Cage & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin): ***1/4

While they’ve on the independent scene for a very long time, I’ve only seen Da Hit Squad a few times. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this bout, but it ended up being very similar to the Sami Callihan/David Starr match from earlier in the show. It was an absolute sprint that was packed with action. In hindsight, I suppose that was for the best, since Da Hit Squad probably aren’t physically capable of doing a long match. This was a hoss fight, but in the form of a tag team match. These four just through bombs each other for almost eight minutes, and it was incredibly entertaining to watch. Da Hit Squad getting the win here was a bit of a surprise, but they are Beyond Wrestling regulars, so I probably shouldn’t have been shocked.

Afterwards, the two teams shook hands.

8.) Donovan Dijak vs. Matt Riddle: ****

These two nearly got into it during Riddle’s entrance, and needed to be separated before the match could officially begin. The story here is that Dijak has been obsessed with facing Riddle again after he failed to beat him in the 2016 Tournament For Tomorrow Finals. I was expecting this to be a great match, and it met my expectations perfect. This was an awesome main event and a great way to close out the show. At just over eleven minutes, it was a little shorter than I was expecting, but it was still awesome to watch. There was plenty of back and forth action in this one. Both guys used every move in their arsenal in an attempt to put each other away. Dijak wanted this victory so bad, but unfortunately, he came up short against “The King Of Bros” once again. Once again, this was a incredible match from start to finish.

Overall: 8.0/10

This was technically the last show of the WWNLive Experience on this big weekend in Orlando, Florida (if you don’t count the Broken Tailgate on Sunday, which features shows from ACW & FIP). It wasn’t an event that really stood out amongst all of the other shows, but from top to bottom, I thought this was an incredibly consistent show. While the main event was the only bout that was truly great, the rest of the undercard featured several very entertaining matches, all in the ***-***1/2. Plus, the commentary (from Sugar Dunkerton & Veda Scott) was pretty solid as well. It’s unfortunate that this show got lost in the shuffle on this massive weekend, because it was a very enjoyable show to watch from beginning to end.