IPW: Hall of Fame Classic Second Round (July 27, 2018)

Brian Cage vs. Colt Cabana
Brian Cage beat Curt Stallion. Colt Cabana beat Bob Holly. 

I like this match. Cabana comically fails to match power with Cage, so he resorts to dirty tricks and slick escapes to get the advantage. Cage still throws him around a bit, and he has him up for an F5, but Colt escapes, kicks him running in, and dives into the alligator clutch for the three count. The Impact Wrestling X-Division Champion loses clean! They eventually shake after the match, though Colt still poses by himself.

 

Austin Aries vs. Air Wolf
Austin Aries beat James Jeffries. Air Wolf beat DJZ.

Aries insults the crowd and tells Air Wolf he won’t be much of a challenge because he was trained by Ken Anderson and Shawn Daivari, and Aries always schooled them. He tells Air Wolf the same as he told James Jeffries before – he can’t give him an Impact Wrestling (not Impact Pro) Championship shot, but if Air Wolf beats him, he’ll give him one another time.

I like this match. It’s pretty similar to the Jeffries match. Aries is cocky early, and he gets frustrated when Air Wolf shows him up. Aries takes over and gets the heat. Air Wolf makes a comeback and rams his head into the buckles several times. Things are looking good for Air Wolf until Aries tricks the ref into looking away so he can go low, and then he gets the pin with a roll-up.
Winner – Austin Aries

 

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IPW: Hall of Fame Classic First Round (July 27, 2018)

Every year during the Tragos/Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame’s induction weekend, Impact Pro puts on a show featuring a lot of indy wrestling stars. I look forward to this show every year…well, the videos of it, at least. Last year, they held the first annual Hall of Fame Classic Tournament. Chuck Taylor won it and had his name permanently enshrined in the Hall. For this post, I’m going to look at the full first round of the 2018 tournament, which features the big names of Brian Cage, DJZ, Colt Cabana, Bob Holly, and Austin Aries, as well as Midwestern standouts Curt Stallion and Air Wolf. And rounding it out is former IPW Heavyweight Champion James Jeffries. The tournament is split between two shows in one day. Let’s see if it turns out as stellar as it looks.

 

Brian Cage vs. Curt Stallion

I like this match. Cage is a big guy the fans love to watch show off his strength. Stallion isn’t small, but he’s definitely thinner than Cage. He’s also craftier and has a strong headbutt. I’m not a fan of headbutts, but at least Stallion’s is pushed as being a force; his biggest stretch of offense begins with one. He manages to keep Cage at bay for a bit, but Cage ultimately proves too much for him and win with the drill claw.

 

DJZ (Zema Ion) vs. Air Wolf

I like this match. These two mix well with their speed and agility. DJZ is the cocky, experienced heel who isn’t afraid to bend some rules. Air Wolf is the rising babyface who proves he can go hold-for-hold and acrobatic-feat-for-acrobatic-feat with the vet. They keep it in the ring and don’t do a ton of flips, but there are a couple cartwheels and a lot of counters. Air Wolf is able to block the ZDT and catch DJZ with a standing Spanish fly for the pin.

 

Bob Holly vs. Colt Cabana

Hey, this match has happened at least once before. And I like this one even better than their first one. Colt is still the heel, though he’s less overt about it at first. He starts taking shortcuts taunting the crowd later. It’s a certainly a slower-paced match than DJZ/Air Wolf, but it’s smartly worked around Holly’s loud chops and Cabana’s technical prowess and shortcuts. Holly gets his signature kick to the abdomen in, but I don’t think I noticed any dropkicks. Colt avoids the Alabama slam a couple times and pulls out the victory with a sunset flip transitioned into an alligator clutch, though Holly’s shoulder kind of gets up during the count.

Afterwards, Holly calls Colt back in, and Colt prepares to be chopped, but Holly gives him a peck on the cheek (?!) and shakes his hand.

 

Austin Aries vs. James Jeffries

Aries is the Impact Wrestling Champion, and he opens with a promo about the confusion between that company and Impact Pro. He gives IPW respect for being one of the first promotions to book him outside his hometown, but he says that Jeffries doesn’t deserve to be in the ring with him. He promises, though, that if Jeffries somehow beats him, he’ll maybe try to get him an Impact Wrestling tryout sometime.

I really like this match. It’s a great presentation of the arrogant superstar champion against the scrappy local babyface. Jeffries is more than game, and Aries gets really frustrated when he’s able to show him up several times. They actually spill to the floor in this one, though they don’t go very far. Aries gets close with the last chancery, but Jeffries gets the ropes. Jeffries gets a bunch of convincing nearfalls down the stretch, including one where Aries needs the ropes to break the pin attempt after a sliced bread #2, Jeffries’ finisher. Aries brings the belt into the ring, but it gets dropped. Jeffries picks it up a few minutes later, and when the referee takes it away, Aries hits a rolling elbow from behind and finishes him off with a brainbuster. If Aries isn’t winning the whole tournament, I’m curious to see how they get him out of it.

Afterwards, Jeffries is disappointed, but Midnight Guthrie lifts his spirits by telling him he’ll get to tag with Davey Boy Smith Jr. at the evening show.

All in all, a great first round by my standards. Aries and Jeffries had my favorite match, but DJZ vs. Air Wolf was a fairly close second, followed by Holly vs. Cabana. Cage vs. Stallion was the worst least best. Can’t wait for the rest of the event to surface.

RMP: Left Coast Guerrillas vs. Riegel Twins (June 2018)

So my wife and I just had a baby about a month ago, and I haven’t been using my moments of free time to watch or write about a lot of wrestling. I think, if I’m going to continue with match reviews, they’re going to have to be more succinct. That’s kind of difficult for a match like this, because it’s long and has a but of nuance to it. But here goes.

I like this match. It has a bit of everything. They start with technical stuff, but it ramps up fairly quickly into the higher-impact moves. The Riegels are subtle heels due to this being the Guerrillas home turf. The Guerrillas are more vicious, though. The Riegels actually don’t do as much flying as I was expecting. It breaks down into a brawl around the ring that the camera has trouble following. The Guerrillas splash both Riegels through tables, but they kick out. One of the Riegels gets a con-chair-to. The Guerrillas eventually get the pin with an elevated cutter. Good display of both teams’ strengths, though I did want to see some more flips.

After the match, they all hug and share cans of beer. It really feels like their last match ever, but I don’t think either team got signed away. Hoodie actually had a match with Logan after this (it was okay, not as epic), and both Riegels actually tagged with Anaya on Rocky Mountain Pro’s TV show against Trigger Warning.

NWL: Jeremy Wyatt vs. Mat Fitchett (January 27, 2018)

My wife just had a baby last weekend, so updating blog posts is not going to be as easy as before, especially when I have to watch matches before writing. But I don’t want my blogs to go stagnant, so I’m going to try to post short reviews whenever I have the time and motivation.

Sadly, the NWL has removed most of their videos from their YouTube channel. The good news is that Jeremy Wyatt was able to upload several of his matches to his own channel, and I think he got the word out about the situation in time for others to rip videos so they can host them personally, as well. This match is one that I never reviewed before, but it’s between two of my favorites, so I thought I’d give it a look.

Jeremy Wyatt is defending the NWL KC Championship.

Fitchett runs wild right off the bat and hits the busaiku knee, but Wyatt rolls out. Wyatt takes over and zeroes in on Fitchett’s back. This comes up later when Fitchett can’t do a running move because his back hurts too much. Wyatt spends a lot of time taunting the crowd, though, and allows Fitchett to fight back. Surprisingly, though, he doesn’t tap out to any of Wyatt’s wicked submissions near the end. He and Wyatt both kick out of big moves. Fitchett gets very defiant at the end, but Wyatt drops him with the piledriver to put him away.

Nice match, very good work from both guys. No interference, not seconds at ringside, just two guys wrestling. The finish was never in doubt for me, but it was fun to see how much fight Fitchett had in him. I’d love to see a rematch.

Metro Pro: Haku vs. Hoodie Howlett, Tongan Street Fight (May 19, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Leonel Howlett didn’t revert back to his old name of Hoodlum but is instead now known as Hoodie Howlett. In the NWL, he and his brother Marco made a lot of threats and raised a lot of hell. They were also members of Matt Jackson’s administration, and as such were affiliated with The Foundation.
– WWF and WCW legend Haku (AKA Meng) is widely regarded as the toughest man in all of pro wrestling, both in and out of the ring.
– Before the match, Hoodie cuts an impassioned promo about becoming a legend (dropping some shade on NWL owner Major Baisden in the process). He basically says that in the near future, he will be credited with the outside-of-the-ring accomplishments that people these days revere Haku for.

This match obviously means a lot to Hoodie Howlett, so I don’t want to rip on it, but I will say that it isn’t really the kind of match that I find entertaining. Due mostly to the 59-year-old Haku’s limitations, there are not very many wrestling moves, and Haku himself doesn’t take many bumps (though he does take a couple chairs to the back). Hoodie certainly bumps himself around quite a bit, including getting a gourd buster onto chairs on the floor. But as one might expect, most of the match is punching, kicking, chopping, and choking, and it mainly takes place on the outside. To Hoodie’s credit, he’s fired up. To Haku’s credit, he still hits hard. But it’s all pretty slow.

The Foundation of Michael Strider and Ace Steel run in to beat on Haku for an extended period, and I thought for sure that Hoodie was going to turn face and save his idol, but he didn’t. They actually leave without getting any comeuppance. But I think the match is the most interesting from this point on. Hoodie fires up against Haku’s chops and strikes, but he gets whipped into the post on the outside. He takes a couple trademark side kicks, and Haku plants him with a piledriver on the floor. Then Haku crawls back into the ring, and Hoodie is counted out (or counted down, since it’s a street fight).

The real golden part of the whole thing is the post-match, though. Hoodie pulls himself into the ring and Haku picks him up to his feet. After a pause, he tells Hoodie that it’s time to pass the torch. “I think you can be Haku.” He embraces Hoodie and takes off his King Haku shirt, giving it to Hoodie. Then he holds his arm up as the fans applaud.

So most of the match wasn’t really my bag, but the aftermath definitely was. I wonder if Hoodie is going to be announced as “The New Haku” from now on.

Metro Pro: The Riegel Twins vs. The Foundation (May 19, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
The Foundation of Ace Steel and Michael Strider were the first NWL Tag Team Champions. They’re veterans of the Midwest wrestling scene and were also members of Matt Jackson’s heel administration while he was GM of the NWL.
Logan and Sterling Riegel (formerly Jax and Jet Royal) are from my hometown! And they’re really athletic high flyers. Their tag team was put on hold for a good chunk of 2017 because Jax was injured, so I don’t believe they ever wrestled The Foundation two-on-two before. They did face them in a six-person tag that also involved Marti Belle and Carolina Rodriguez/Lucy Mendez.

Great veteran heel work by Strider and Steel. They look like they just own the ring (not to mention the area surrounding it), and they know it. They’re here to put these young blond punks in their place. Ace is super-cocky, and Strider almost seems disgusted by the youth and athleticism of his opponents. A couple of their highlights include Strider catching Sterling on an moonsault from the apron and lawn-darting him into the post, and Ace powerbombing Sterling (I think) from the ring onto Strider and Logan on the floor. There’s a lot of snap in their attacks.

The Riegels give a strong sense of fighting from below, working very hard to match their more experienced opponents. They take their best shots without giving up, and they manage to catch them off guard a few times with their flips and body attacks. Their highlights include a nice series of tandem attacks that ends with a through-the-ropes frog splash, and a sort of sling blade onto Strider on the apron. There is one bit where Logan fumbles on a moonsault transition, but he recovers from it pretty smoothly, I think.

The Riegels take a lot of punishment and don’t get in a ton of offense, even after the hot tag, but their tenacity pays off when they counter a doomsday device attempt and Logan (I think) catches Strider with a top rope springboard Ace crusher to get the pin.

While I feel that it’s missing a little bit more back-and-forth in the closing stretch, I still think this is a very good tag match and a top-notch performance from the Foundation.

Metro Pro: Marti Belle vs. Lucy Mendez, No DQ (May 19, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– In the NWL, “Dominican Dynamite” Marti Belle had beef with Lucy Mendez (then known as Carolina Grizelda Esmeralda Redriguez), but Mendez constantly made excuses and found substitutes to so she wouldn’t have to wrestle her. Then-NWL general manager Matt Jackson constantly aided her, refusing to make the match and calling Marti a bully.
– Jackson comes out before the match looking quite disheveled. His hair’s a mess, he’s missing a shoe, and he’s got Elmo pajama pants on. He claims that he’s down on his luck, living like Oscar the Grouch out of a garbage can, and he ultimately blames the fans for it. Marti comes out and defends the fans, telling Matt that’s he’s the only one at fault. Jackson says he has just enough power to finally put her in a no DQ match with Lucy. Marti says she never backs down from a fight.

This is an NWL tribute/closure match if there ever was one. Actually, this whole show is starting to remind me of the first “ECW One Night Stand” pay-per-view. It’s “NWL One Night Stand,” and I’m enjoying it.

Both women do the no DQ stipulation justice without getting too crazy. The only foreign object involved is a chair, and no one bleeds. There’s a lot of chops, forearms, and choking, and not a lot of classical technique. Matt gets involved a few times; in fact, Lucy only gains and then regains the advantage because of him. But her hubris gets the best of her, because she sits Marti in the chair and chooses to waste time yelling in her face. This only serves to fire Marti up, and she fires off some forearms before dropping Lucy face-first into the chair, Raven-style. Then she applies something like a camel clutch through the chair, pulling on Lucy’s hair and forcing her to tap.

Afterwards, Matt wants to throw down, but he falls while taking off his one shoe. Marti pounces on him, but then she lets him up and ducks his clothesline attempt. He stops to roar to the heavens, and then Marti beats him into the corner and smashes him with a running hip attack. She finally throws his shoe at him for good measure, then poses and high-fives some fans. That was all a little sloppy, but it kind of suited the goofiness of the situation, and the crowd ate it up.

If you were into the feud between Marti, Lucy/Carolina, and Matt, then this match and its aftermath ought to feel pretty cathartic.