Metro Pro: Jake Dirden vs. Niles Plonk (May 19, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Jack Foster is back (in black) to being “DirdEY” Jake Dirden. He’s only slightly less hairy, and he’s still quite popular with the crowd. As Dirden, he was the final Metro Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, but he doesn’t come out with the belt here, so I guess that’s been dropped for now.
“The Connoisseur” Niles Plonk is still the same snob he always was under that monicker; he’s just short a butler. He and Dirden have had a few matches in the past, one of which ended when Plonk hit Dirden (then Foster) with an ice bucket.
– Plonk cuts his typical promo about bringing class to this “two-buck chuck” town.

Another solid match by two consistent performers. Not a lot to write home about. It felt to me like an introduction to both characters, which I guess makes sense since this is the first show of this new Metro Pro run. But I would think that most of the crowd are carrying over from the NWL and already know who’s who.

Anyway, Dirden is powerful, but Plonk is crafty. Highlights of Plonk’s period on offense are his use of Dirden’s beard to get leverage for a snapmare, as well as his facial expressions later on when he can’t seem to put the big man away.

Plonk cuts off a couple of comebacks, but the DirdEY (pronounced like “dirty”) one won’t be denied. Once Foster gets his hand around Plonk’s throat, Plonk sees the writing on the wall. He fights it off for as long as he can, but it just keeps coming back until he’s lifted up and slammed down. A spear finishes him off, giving the crowd another fan favorite win in the early goings of the show.

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Metro Pro: Anthony Gutierrez vs. Rasheed Ali (May 19, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– After the closing of the NWL, Metro Pro Wrestling is back!
“Greatness Personified” Rasheed Ali is accompanied by Shane Sanders and The Iceman (formerly Niles Plonk’s butler, Belvedere, a much different character). Ali, Iceman, and Niles Plonk were called Top Shelf in the NWL.
Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez still fights in MMA about once per year. He’s coming off a decision victory in the Kansas City Fighting Alliance about 14 days before this.

I liked this as an opener. Sharkbait’s energy bookended the match, hyping up the crowd and bringing them into the show on a happy note. He performed most of his greatest hits and was only stunted temporarily thanks to the expected outside interference. Ali was fine during the heat segment, but he didn’t do anything that really captured my attention. I like that he’s got a posse, as I fell like he’s stronger as part of a group.

Sharkbait knocked Ali loopy with a high kick before throwing him down and slapping on an armbar. Then he transitioned that into a triangle choke to force Ali to tap.

Metro Pro: Jeremy Wyatt vs. Dak Draper, 2-Out-of-3 Falls (May 19, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Dak Draper was the first NWL KC Champion. He won the title in the finals of a tournament and held it until the first (and only) NWL Rumble. He was actually a villain in the eyes of the fans until he turned on the Matt Jackson regime and tried to help Major Baisden retain control of the NWL.
Jeremy Wyatt defeated Dak in the match that got Matt Jackson into power in the NWL. Then he won the title by winning the NWL Rumble (with a little help from Matt Jackson and friends). He went on to cleanly defend against Draper in a really good match. Draper was working his way back towards a title shot when the NWL folded.

The first fall is grapple-heavy. It’s almost all technical mat work, reversals, holds, etc. They fire up with some strikes and stuff closer to the end, but I’d say most of it is top-notch stuff for fans of Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, the Ring of Honor Pure Championship, etc. Dak tweaks his knee missing a handstand knee drop, and Wyatt attacks it. It doesn’t really play into the fall, though, as Wyatt gets a sudden pin countering a school boy into another type of roll up.

The second fall is much more vicious, and much shorter. Wyatt attacks immediately. Draper eventually fights back and takes Wyatt outside a couple times. I notice that he’s not selling that knee he hurt anymore; this will likely bother some viewers more than others. He hits Wyatt with perhaps the scariest move I’ve seen in Metro Pro – a powerbomb from the apron onto the apron. I do not envy Wyatt’s spine, because that looked brutal. After taking a moment to recover, Draper takes Wyatt back into the ring and gets the second fall with a doctor bomb.

The third fall is a long one. Draper tried to get a quick pin right away, but Wyatt gets the ropes. Draper’s left shoulder soon eats the post, and now he’s got a hurt arm that Wyatt can work on. There are some SLICK transitions and counters during this fall that I just love. Neither guy seems to have a hard and fast grip on control, because the other guy always seems to be able to pull something out of nowhere when they’re on the brink. Draper kicks out of the flying elbow and the lightning spiral. He doesn’t really keep up with the arm selling, because he pulls off a superplex while Wyatt is on the apron. Draper kicks out of a piledriver, and then Wyatt kicks out of a doctor bomb (nice show of strength the way Draper muscles him up). It all boils down to them fighting for a backslide, and Wyatt rolls back over Draper and pulls him into a quick piledriver to win the third fall and the match.

Very good stuff, though I do feel a bit nitpicky about the limb work not playing into anything. Call me a whiny smart mark or whatever. But I still liked the match and have added it to my playlist of favorite matches from this year. Did I like it better than their NWL match? That’s a good question; I’ll have to go watch that one again to know for sure.

Afterwards, they both throw pretense to the wind and hug. Wyatt holds up Dak’s arm and leaves him alone in the ring to soak in the applause. Dak’s favoring his arm again, so he gives one more “Shame on you” with the good one.

And that was Metro Pro’s return show, though it felt more like an NWL farewell show with a lower budget. This is not a bad thing at all; the fans never got to really say goodbye to the NWL, so this was their chance. The babyfaces won every match until the main event, and the only match on the show that didn’t solely feature NWL talent wasn’t posted to YouTube. Dak Draper, surely the face of the NWL, was the last face seen at the end as he waved goodbye one last time. I don’t know if that means he won’t be around Kansas City anymore, but I’m fairly certain he hasn’t been signed anywhere yet. Likewise, I’m not sure if Metro Pro is coming back soon, but if it does, I suspect it will look a bit different than this show. Either way, I look forward to what’s next from everyone involved.

3XW: Jeremy Wyatt vs. Maverick (June 1, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Jeremy Wyatt is a five-time former 3XW Heavyweight Champion and the final NWL Champion. He recently returned to 3XW after the demise of the NWL.
– Maverick was a two-time, and the final, Spirit of the NWL Champion.
– This match actually happened at least once before. It was at a VIP show of some sort, and it streamed on Facebook, but I’m pretty sure the video went away when the NWL Facebook page did.

This is very good. Big surprise, right?  Maverick is a hoss, and Wyatt can’t match him in the chopping and striking department, but he’s able to get the advantage by getting crafty on the floor. This isn’t until after he’s tossed up into the low ceiling, breaking out a piece of drywall with his recently-shaved head. I wonder how much that cost them?

They do some nice, smooth transitions. Maverick pounds Wyatt and throws him around. Wyatt chokes Maverick and methodically picks him apart. Neither man hits his finisher. Maverick kicks out after the lightning spiral, and Wyatt does the same after a Death Valley driver. Wyatt finally uses the ref as a distraction, pulling him in front of a Maverick charge. He uses the hesitation to roll Maverick into a hammerlock pinning combination for the three count.

I look forward to these two matching up again, especially in a situation with some bigger stakes.

ROH: Besties in the World vs. One Mean Team (April 15, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Future of Honor is Ring of Honor’s showcase of up-and-coming talent from either the ROH Dojo or around the indies.
– If you read this blog, you know who the Besties in the World are. If you don’t, they’re Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett, and they’ve held a lot of tag team gold in the U.S., including being the final NWL Tag Team Champions.
– One Mean Team are Justin Pusser and Brian Johnson, managed by Miss Jasmine. They seem to wrestle mostly in the Northeast for D2W, but they’ve been on Future of Honor before.
– This is an “Underdog Challenge.” The winners will challenge the Briscoes for the ROH Tag Team Championships later in the show.

A fine tag match here, and probably a good introduction to both teams. Granted, if you watch Future of Honor regularly, it’s pretty similar to every other match you’ve seen there. The heels try to jump start things until the babyfaces send them packing by just being too good. Something sneaky happens (the lights go off briefly here) so that the bad guys can turn it around and get the heat. The hot tag comes, and the fresh face (Fitchett) runs wild with all his signatures. Finally, someone wins.

The finish here actually surprised me, though, mainly because I wasn’t paying attention to commentary. I figured that One Mean Team would come out with some cheap win since they’re kind of Future of Honor mainstays, so when one of the Besties kicked out of their double team move, it caught me off guard. I guess I was thinking that this match had come after the Besties’ match with the Briscoes, not before. Anyway, the Besties come back to pin one of OMT with that crazy brain damage move they do.

I hope Vega and Fitchett get to return to ROH, though I do think they look a little out of place with their style of gear to the rest of the roster.

IPW: Nathen Edwards vs. Clay Cooper (May 12, 2018)

Our Story So Far…
– Clay Cooper and Nathen Edwards were The Fight & Flight Connection, a popular rookie tag team, before they had a falling out. You see, Clay’s brother, Dalton Cooper, constantly interfered in their matches, and Edwards was upset at how Clay kept getting distracted.
– Clay and Dalton finally had it out in a Des Moines death match, and in losing, Clay was beholden to the stipulation that he shave his head and never show his face in IPW again.
– During Clay’s time away, Nathen Edwards became a bit of a cocky jerk, so Clay used a loophole in the stipulation and returned in a mask to put his old friend in his place.

I like the story going into this match. When I saw the result of the Des Moines death match, I knew there had to be some kind of angle in kind to bring Clay back. He’s too young to be retiring already, and even if he was, I’d expect a happier sendoff for him than being humiliated by his brother. I love how the “never show your face again” stip led to a masked gimmick for him. Wish I’d thought of it.

Similarly, I’m a bit curious about where they’re going from here. After a lengthy bout where Clay looks nearly unstoppable and Edwards really has to push back hard to justify his arrogance, Dalton Cooper shows up after a ref bump and pushes Clay off the top rope. He and Edwards hug and start looking for more ways to punish Clay, but a man identified as Edwards and Cooper’s high school football coach takes out Dalton and snaps Edwards over the top rope.

This seems like an obvious, fell-good finish, but Edwards kicks out of a curb stomp and ends up getting the pin with a Death Valley driver! The announcers try to put it over as a cheap win, but I have trouble seeing it that way. Clay was able to recover from Dalton’s interference, and the coach’s interference proved ineffective, so really, they were both back to a level playing field at the end there. Thus, while I probably can’t call it a “clean” win, I still think it comes across as fairer than it was supposed to.

Then again, maybe there’s something I’m not seeing that will make sense on the next go around. It happened last time, after all.

Clay and Edwards are both really enjoyable to watch. They’re not perfect in everything they do, but they work hard and entertain me, and I dig their story.

NWL Episode 59

Another requested review of a show I missed!

Our Story So Far…
– Dak Draper is on the road to getting back the NWL KC Championship from Jeremy Wyatt.
– The Besties in the World are on the hunt for the NWL Tag Team Championships currently held by The Foundation.
– Leonel Howlett has a win over Jimmy Jacobs, but he recently lost to Eddie Kingston.
– Thor Theriot and Jeremy Wyatt had a series of matches in the early months of the NWL, with Thor coming out on top in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Since then, though, Wyatt has gained the top title in the promotion, while Thor hasn’t been too focused.
– Gil Rogers was fired by Matt Jackson, but he refuses to go away, and the fans have been rallying behind him.
Now on to the show!

Matt Jackson is with Ace Steel and Michael Strider in the back. They make fun of Mat Fitchett and Davey Vega and say they aren’t worthy of a title shot.

Dak Draper vs. Leonel Howlett
Both guys have been really good lately. I was a bit critical of Dak’s in-ring work in the early days of the NWL, but he’s definitely come into his own in my eyes. Despite his size, he’s good at working from beneath as a babyface against the aggressive Leonel Howlett. They do a lot of reversals and counters in the latter half, keeping me guessing as to who has the advantage. After a slugfest, Dak flapjacks Leonel, and out comes Marco Howlett for a distraction. He ends up accidentally superkicked by Leonel, but it doesn’t quite lead to the finish. Instead, after a couple more slams and pin attempts by both men, Dak wriggles out of a fireman’s carry and pulls Leonel right into a doctor bomb for the pin. Love that sequence.
Winner – Dak Draper

Gil Rogers is out in the lobby with a large group of chanting fans. He says that Matt Jackson can’t silence them.

NWL KC Championship: Jeremy Wyatt (c) vs. Thor Theriot
This one’s lengthy, as expected, and very engaging. They match up very well, and they go back and forth throughout the match. There are plenty of nearfalls and big moves down the stretch. Thor gets his knees up against Wyatt’s elbow drop, something I don’t see very often. They almost reach a double count out after a clothesline to the floor, but both men make it back just in time. Thor kicks out of the lightning spiral, but I guess everyone does that nowadays. He makes the mistake of rolling Wyatt into what maybe was going to be an Alabama slam, and Wyatt uses it to pull him into a piledriver and gets the clean win.
Winner – Jeremy Wyatt

Gil Rogers is escorted out by security, but he reiterates that he can’t be silenced and he’ll be back.

The Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) vs. Top Shelf (Niles Plonk & Rasheed Ali w/ Belvedere)
Plonk is in the ring up until the commercial break, showing off his skills and then taking some double team attacks from the Besties. After the break, Vega is in peril for a few moments before making the hot tag to Fitchett. Fitchett goes wild on everyone and hits a moonsault kick to Rasheed while both are on the apron. I’ve gotta say, Fitchett has been one of my favorite NWL guys to watch since almost the beginning. Belvedere provides a distraction that saves Rasheed Ali, and then Plonk hits the uncorker on Fitchett. He feeds him to Ali for the money driver DDT, but Vega makes the save. Top Shelf then try to steal the Besties’ wacky new finishing move, Total Taker, but the Besties counter and hit it on them for the win. Total Taker, by the way, is Fitchett performing a tombstone and a last ride at the same time on two guys.
Winners – The Besties

The Besties call out The Foundation after the match. Ace says they’re crazy if they think they’ll give them a title shot. Fitchett challenges them to a no holds barred match. Vega says it’s The Foundation’s match, as Ace is a veteran and Strider is a local hardcore icon. Ace still says no, and Vega calls them chickens (taking the old Back to the Future route). Strider takes it personally and accepts the match against Ace’s wishes. (This match happened on episode 61, and it was wild.)

Good stuff on this episode. If not for the big challenge at the end, I would have preferred the Wyatt/Theriot match be the main event. That one’s really worth watching, and I hope they do it again in Metro Pro or elsewhere.