NWL: 29-Man Rumble for the NWL KC Title (December 8, 2017)

I was thinking about doing a long review of the CWF Mid-Atlantic Rumble from last fall, but it happened months ago, and so much in the CWF has changed since then that it just seems outdated. Fortunately, the NWL had their own rumble match just last month, and they recently put the video online. I think this is a good opportunity to look at a lot of the NWL talent and catch this blog up on the storylines that have been going on since I stopped reviewing them regularly.

This NWL Rumble is special because the NWL KC Championship is on the line. GM Matt Jackson was going to make the winner of the Rumble the #1 contender, but champion Dak Draper insisted he’d put the title up in the match itself. Then he proceeded to officially turn babyface and run down all of Jackson’s cronies. A brief, impromptu match with Jeremy Wyatt ultimately turned into a brawl between pretty much the whole roster as a teaser for what we have here.

This is my first time reviewing such a long match with so many participants. Just assume that if I don’t write much during certain parts, it means guys are just doing generic battle royal stuff. So here we go.

Entrant #1 – NWL KC Champion Dak Draper is the first and so-far only Kansas City Champion, winning the belt in the finals of a torunament back in April. He’s been an arrogant frat boy-type character, but he’s also been dominant. Unless I miss my guess, only two men have pinned him in the NWL, and they both did it in multi-man matches. He’s had issues with NWL owner Major Baisden, but he shockingly joined his team to battle Jackson’s in an elimination match that saw him come up on the losing end and Jackson take control of the NWL matchmaking department.

#2 – Michael Strider is part of Matt Jackson’s establishment as well as a founding member of The Foundation. He’s currently one half of the NWL Tag Team Champions with Ace Steel. He’s a grizzled local veteran. He and Dak slug it out, and Dak has the advantage until the next guy comes in.

#3 – Ace Steel is Strider’s partner and is best known as one of CM Punk’s trainers, so he’s a veteran, too. He and Strider double team Dak, but Dak is able to fight back without getting eliminated.

#4 – Leonel Howlett is also part of Team Jackson, is coming off a win over Jimmy Jacobs, and is possibly the best promo in the NWL. You may also see him and his brother pop up in a Future of Honor match on Ring of Honor’s YouTube channel from time to time. An ally of Strider and Steel, of course he joins in on the beating of the champion. But then we get a severe weather warning on the screen, and out comes our first surprise of the night…

#5 – Bolt Brady is the original persona of Blaine Meeks from his pre-NWL days. Meeks, a very well-toned nerd, was a big fan favorite in the NWL as Draper’s main foil. He lost to Dak in the title tournament, but he came back to pin him in a tag match. Draper put him out for many months after breaking his leg in a No DQ match. Now he’s back with a bleached mohawk, and he looks like he’s ready for revenge…but then he turns and eliminates all three heels, one by one, single-handedly!

Ace Steel, Leonel Howlett, and Michael Strider are eliminated.

Now he has Dak alone, and they start to jaw at each other.

#6 – Marco Howlett is Leonel’s brother (I think). He gets the advantage on Bolt and Dak, but they fight back (though not together). Marco does surprisingly well for himself against two top guys.

#7 – Rasheed Ali (“Privilege Personified”) is a Pitbull-looking record producer character and a partner of Niles Plonk and Everett Connors in Top Shelf. He gets to have a little flurry on Marco. Now we have four guys with no allegiances with one another, so they pair off.

#8 – JoJo Bravo is a short guy who had a match or two in Metro Pro. It looks like he had his first NWL match on this same card, and he’s an underdog babyface-type character. He takes down Bolt with a headscissors into a face plant, and then goes after others without much fanfare.

#9 – Fuego del Sol is a young high-flyer who’s been putting on fun matches but hasn’t won a whole lot. He’s had a bit of a mini feud going with Niles Plonk and Top Shelf. He flies in with a dropkick to two guy and avoids being eliminated by Bolt. JoJo Bravo, meanwhile, actually catches Dak with a crossbody.

#10 – Niles Plonk, resident wine snob (and unheralded good worker), comes out with butler Belvedere. Plonk goes after Dak and Fuego, but doesn’t stay on anyone long. Meanwhile, Fuego avoids elimination and decides to hug the ring post on the outside. He tells the fans not to let anyone know. Marco sees him but gets an eye poke. Fuego comes back in before the next entrant.

#11 – Jeremy Wyatt is the long-time king of Kansas City wrestling, holding belts in Metro Pro and Central States Wrestling. He’s never really gotten an NWL title shot, though. He’s the other founding member of The Foundation and aligned with Matt Jackson. He and Dak go right at it, but they’re quickly pulled apart.

#12 – Mav…no, wait, it’s Drew Gold, Maverick’s manager. He joined with Maverick back in the NWL STL days to help him with the St. Louis Championship. He’s a great mouthpiece. He comes out dressed as Maverick and does his whole entrance, but when he sees all the wrestlers standing against him, he tries to back out. They all beat on him, but no one manages to eliminate him.

#13 – Jack Foster will probably be the biggest guy in the match. He’s a hairy dude who likes to fight (he’s not really doing the “I am pro wrestling” gimmick anymore). He’s coming off a big feud with Jeremy Wyatt, and he was supposed to be in the previously-mentioned elimination match on Major Baisden’s team, but was taken out by the Howlett’s and Maddox. He comes in and takes down several guys before JoJo Bravo challenges him. He tosses Bravo, who lands on the apron. When he makes to springboard back in, Foster roars at him, so he just hops down and eliminates himself. He’s not messing with that after all.

JoJo Bravo is eliminated.

Foster grabs Rasheed Ali by the throat and puts him on the top rope, then headbutts him out to the floor.

Rasheed Ali is eliminated.

Foster tosses Drew Gold.

Drew Gold is eliminated.

Foster gets Jeremy Wyatt by the throat, but he’s distracted by the next entrant’s music.

#14 – Maddox debuted before the elimination match to take out Jack Foster. Since then, he’s been acting almost as a bodyguard for Matt Jackson. He’s about as tall as Foster and seems to have a larger pectoral area. He’s the third member of the Howletts, though I don’t think he’s a blood relative. He stares down Foster. Niles Plonk and Fuego del Sol try to attack them from behind, but they get tossed aside, and the big guys go at it, exchanging big boots and clotheslining each other down.

#15 – Mat Fitchett, one half of the Besties in the World with Davey Vega, has wrestled all over the country and probably the world. He and Davey were friends with Matt Jackson since long before the NWL, but after Jackson turned on them, they teased quitting. Ultimately, they chose to stick around and go after the tag titles held by The Foundation. He tees off on a few guys but get caught by Maddox. Jack Foster helps him, though, and they team up to send Maddox out.

Maddox is eliminated.

#16 – Christian Rose is “the absolute best at being the absolute worst.” He used to be Tommy Flagg in NWL STL, then joined with Matt Jackson’s #Anarchy group back before Jackson turned on the Besties. Since then, he’s just been a lowlife loner. He hits almost everyone with elbows, including Jack Foster, before seemingly being eliminated by accidentally stepping off the apron and onto the timekeeper’s table. The table falls, but Rose lands with one foot in the air. Since both feet haven’t touched the floor, he’s still in it. (If the table breaking was a botch, then credit to him for saving it and making a moment out of it.) He hops back in on one foot.

#17 – Thor Theriot had a great series of match with Jeremy Wyatt early in 2017, and has since been kind of gunning for a championship. There hasn’t been as much focus on him in a while, but he’s one of my favorites. He takes down a lot of people with running strikes and avoids being tossed by Foster.

#18 – Ken Dharma hasn’t been a focus of the NWL since his feud with Hans Ruger over who had the better body. Dharma is well-toned and incredibly flexible (he’s Matt Sydal’s brother). He’s also a staunch vegan and yoga enthusiast, so the crowd isn’t high on him. He and Thor Theriot pair off. Meanwhile, Niles plonks’ butler, Belvedere, gets ejected from ringside by the referees for constantly helping his employer avoid elimination.

#19 – Roscoe Leech is not a wrestler. He’s a manager with the Leech Talent Agency and most recently has been running the concession stands at shows. He’s been a lovable goof and a crowd favorite ever since hitting a stunner on manager/wrestler Buddy Shepherd. He crawls through the window of the concession stand and comes in through the crowd. He low blows Christian Rose and tries in vain to attack other guys. Then he hits a series of stunners, including one on Jack Foster. I can’t believe Foster sells for him.

#20 – Buddy Shepherd is like a TV preacher who preaches about the Buddy System instead of the Gospel. He was a babyface in St. Louis, but he’s always been heel in Kansas City. His Buddy System squad has been pretty empty of late, and he himself doesn’t wrestle a lot outside of comedy matches. Roscoe tries to stun him, but he gets out and muscles Roscoe onto the apron. He offers a handshake but then kicks Roscoe low, and Roscoe falls to the floor.

Roscoe Leech is eliminated.

#21 – Davey Vega is Mat Fitchett’s partner in the Besties in the World. He pulls the ring rope down as Buddy runs at him, and Buddy takes a tumble.

Buddy Shepherd is eliminated.

Davey kicks Bolt Brady in the head, and he and Fitchett hug. Niles plonk goes for the grape stomp on Fuego del Sol, but the Besties dump him out from behind.

Niles Plonk is eliminated. Fans do the “Na na na na…” chant to him.

Ken Dharm’a flexibility prevents him from being lifted by Fuego del Sol. The Besties clothesline former ally Christian Rose out.

Christian Rose is eliminated.

#22 – Maverick is out for real this time. He’s a hoss, and aside from Drew Gold, he has no friends  He turned heel at the end of the NWL STL’s run and became St. Louis Champion thanks to Drew Gold. He only recently lost that title to Gary Jay in a match that has never been shown for whatever reason. He hits power moves on a number of guys before Jack Foster slugs it out with him.

#23 – Cody Summers is new, and this is apparently his first appearance in a televised match. I know nothing about him. I’m guessing he’s a graduate of the NWL Training and Performance Center? He hits a nice slingshot cutter. Meanwhile, Davey Vega suplexes Marco Howlett out.

Marco Howlett is eliminated.

#24 – Mike Outlaw used to be Dez Wellston. Then NWL STL died, and he went back to his old name. He was associated with Matt Jackson until Jackson turned on the Besties. Then he turned face. Aside from being at odds with Jackson, he hasn’t really had a specific program. He fights for a second with Marco on the floor before going in. Jack Foster tries to toss him, but he skins the cat. Somewhere during his entrance, Mat Fitchett is thrown out.

Mat Fitchett is eliminated.

#25 – Thomas Shire is another guy I know nothing about. He’s tall and blonde, and the announcers say he was trained by Dory Funk Jr. He hits Dak Draper with a sort of DVD, so he must be pretty strong.

#26 – Shane Sanders (“The Blue Collar Brawler”) was once one of the orange shirt staff members who often took beatings from guys like the Howletts. Now he’s got ring gear and babyface fire. He’s pretty tall, and I’m almost positive he comes from the NWL’s Training and Performance Center. He doesn’t make much of an impact until Thomas Shire and Cody Summers have a three-way new guy fight with him.

#27 – Anthony Gutierrez, commonly referred to as “Sharkbait,” is a former MMA fighter who was on The Ultimate Fighter once upon a time. He’s not very big, but he’s been doing well mixing his MMA strikes and holds with high-flying moves. He had a little feud with Michael Strider and company, and he’s recently been teaming with Jet Royal as Friendship Team 9000 while Jax Royal is injured. He comes in kicking and actually gets some offense in of Maverick without getting flattened. A few moments later, Maverick picks up Fuego del Sol and plows into Cody Summers, sending him out. Then he presses Fuego onto him.

Cody Summers and Fuego del Sol are eliminated.

Gutierrez kicks at Maverick’s leg and seems to do damage.

#28 – Jet Royal, one half of the Royal Blood with twin brother Jax, has still mostly focused on tag team action since his brother was injured. His athleticism and local roots have made him a big fan favorite. He gets big air coming in with a crossbody on Jeremy Wyatt. He spikes Bolt Brady with a Canadian destroyer-esque DDT he calls “Jet Lag” and knocks Jack Foster with a dropkick. Soon, Mike Outlaw hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Ken Dharma and flings him.

Ken Dharma is eliminated.

#29 – Everett Connors used to be Skyler Beckett of the Buddy System, but he disappeared for a while and came back under his former name doing a Justin Bieber gimmick. Interestingly, the announcers never mention that he was Beckett before. Connors is Rasheed Ali’s top signing and is continually teasing the debut of his new hit single. He superkicks a couple guys and does silly poses. Jet Royal and Jeremy Wyatt almost eliminate each other.

#30 – Gil Rogers is the final competitor. The ultimate underdog, Gil hasn’t won a single match in the NWL (outside of a tainted tag victory that he refuses to acknowledge), but he’s always got a lot of heart and insists on playing by the rules. The crowd adores him, as this is his first time back in a while. He comes in with a series of old school atomic drops.

Now it’s time to focus on eliminations.

Shane Sanders and Everett Connors are eliminated by Gil Rogers in similar fashion.

Thor Theriot is eliminated by a big clothesline on the apron from Maverick.

Mike Outlaw is eliminated by Maverick tossing him.

Jet Royal avoids elimination by landing on the guardrail and using a chair to hop back into the ring.

Davey Vega is eliminated by Jeremy Wyatt tossing him.

Thomas Shire is eliminated somehow. It sounded like the ring announcer said he went under the top rope, but he never comes back, so whatever.

Jack Foster is eliminated when he goes for a double chokeslam but is shoves out by a group of guys.

Anthony Gutierrez is eliminated by Maverick. He had Maverick in an armbar over the rope, but Maverick powered him up and slammed him on the apron, causing him to roll to the floor.

Jet Royal is eliminated after several attempts by Jeremy Wyatt. Royal kept holding onto the top rope from the apron, but Wyatt finally slapped his hand and caused him to fall.

Bolt Brady is eliminated by a Jremy Wyatt backdrop from the apron.

Gil Rogers is eliminated after trying to eliminate three guys at once. They all landed on the apron, and Maverick came back in and threw him out from behind.

Wyatt and Dak Draper slug it out on the apron. Maverick charges, and they pull the top rope down, so…

Maverick is eliminated.

Wyatt and Draper face off in the ring. Draper shows off some great agility for a tall guy. Wyatt hits the lightning spiral (his former finisher). Draper escapes a piledriver. He clotheslines Wyatt over the top, but Matt Jackson and his cronies have come out and distracted both of the referees, so they don’t see it. Wyatt comes back in and throws Draper out while he’s celebrating.

Dak Draper is eliminated.

The winner and NEW NWL KC Champion – Jeremy Wyatt

Wyatt celebrates with Jackson and The Foundation while Draper protests on the floor.

This was a pretty good rumble. Not the best of all time, but they can’t all be 1992. The finish reminded me of 1997 when Austin was thrown out but the refs were distracted by two other wrestlers, so he snuck back in and threw out Bret to win. The difference is that this distraction by Jackson was deliberate. My favorite moment was the return/debut of Bolt Brady, and I’m very interested in what he does going forward. I could see him turning heel now that Dak is a face, but I could also see him challenging Wyatt.

Anyway, if you like rumbles and you’ve got time, this one has some fun stuff. I hope they do another one in 2018.

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