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. 

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.

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.