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.

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NWL Episode 58

In honor of a special request I got through Twitter DMs, I’m going to back to review a couple episodes of NWL TV that I’d skipped.

Our Story So Far…
– Marti Belle has been trying to get Matt Jackson to book her in a match with Carolina Grizelda Esmeralda Rodriguez for quite some time now, but Jackson and Carolina have constantly thwarted her efforts.
Thomas “Livewire” Shire recently aligned with Drew Gold, who also manages Maverick.
 Jet Royal has been tagging with Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez while his brother, Jax, is out with injury.
– Gil Rogers was fired by Matt Jackson, but he’s still been gathering fan support outside the shows.
Now on to the show!

Marti Belle once again asks Matt Jackson about a match with Carolina. Jackson calls her a bully and says she’s not getting her match tonight.

NWL Tag Team Championships: The Foundation (Michael Strider & Ace Steel w/ Carolina) vs. Friendship Team 9000 (Jet Royal & Anthony Gutierrez)
Very nice tag team match here. Babyfaces run wild early, heel cut them off with some underhanded tactics (like Ace using Carolina as a shield) and isolate Gutierrez, Gutierrez finally breaks free and makes the hot tag, everyone gets some shine in, and the Foundation ultimately retain with a doomsday powerbomb. Solid as solid can get.
Winners – The Foundation

Impact Wrestling’s Kiera Hogan says she was invited to the NWL by Carolina. She’s here to make an “impact” and set this place on fire.

Drew Gold introduces Thomas Shire as having “the spirit of the past with the body of today.”

Thomas Shire w/ Drew Gold vs. Jack Foster
Shire shows a lot of character, walking around with that dopey smile, thinking he has everything under control. It works really well to show how foolish he is for not taking Foster seriously. He looks good when he’s on offense, too, opting for kicks, forearms, and other moves that don’t require him to pick the (admittedly not that much) bigger man up. Foster still controls most of the match, and Shire gets to show his backside a lot. Shire hits a final cut and pulls his straps down, ready to end it, but he gets a choke hold for his arrogance. Foster shoves him into Gold, knocking him off the apron. Shire avoids the chokeslam  but is immediately speared and pinned after that.
Winner – Jack Foster

Marti Belle says it’s like Groundhog Day, but she’s challenging Carolina again.  Carolina says she fights when she wants to, but she brings out Kiera Hogan as her replacement.

Marti Belle vs. Kiera Hogan
These two work pretty well together. Kiera doesn’t play heel; in fact, she’s not very happy when Carolina interferes on her behalf. She finally has enough and convinces the referee to eject Carolina from ringside. She does work on top for much of the match, though she doesn’t dominate. Marti ultimately gets the pin with a kneeling DDT, which i think suits her better than her spear, personally.
Winner – Marti Belle

Carolina runs back out and attacks Marti, but Kiera makes the save and helps Marti take her out. While they’re celebrating, Gil Rogers jumps the guardrail and gets a mic, saying that Matt Jackson can do whatever he wants, but he can’t silence Gil’s Army. Jackson and the staff come out, and Gil bails, saying that he’s still selling shirts outside.

Nice little wrestling show here. Can’t say it’s must-see for following the storylines, but it’s very enjoyable.

NWL Episode 64

Well, the NWL has gone out of business, but there are still three matches from the 64th episode of their TV show on their YouTube channel for me to review. They haven’t uploaded the complete episode yet, and they may not ever, so I’ll just cover these matches as they are.

Our Story So Far…
– In a recent NWL Tag Team Championship match between the Howletts and the Besties in the World, the referee called for the bell when he thought he saw Leonel Howlett tap to Davey Vega. Leonel and Marco were enraged, claiming that Leo was only reaching for the ropes. They nearly assaulted the ref backstage, but Matt Jackson talked them down.
Stephen Wolf used to wrestle in NWL STL as Marcellus Gaines, but they’re not going to mention that on this show. Just thought you might like to know.
Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez has been teaming with Jet Royal recently, but now that Jax Royal is back from injury, the Royal Blood have reunited, and Sharkbait seems to be back in the singles division.
Christian Rose enjoys making people mad.
Will Lowe is a newcomer who sometimes wrestles in a dragon-esque mask and sometimes doesn’t.
Now on to the show!

Anthony Gutierrez vs. Will Lowe
Will Lowe shows off some high-flying, and a lot of it looks good. His back handspring seems kind of slow to me, though. Sharkbait has really come into his own as a wrestler. He can fly, he can grapple, he’s got plenty of flashy moves, and he knows his way around the ring. My only qualm with him is that his kicks don’t look that realistic (which is weird since he’s a legit shoot fighter). I think it has to do with his size (he’s wiry) and the fact that he wrestles barefoot instead of using boots or kickpads. Those make strikes sound better, IMO. Anyway, Lowe gets to show some stuff, but Sharkbait takes most of the match and gets the submission victory with a rear naked choke after he catches Lowe on a handspring.
Winner – Anthony Gutierrez

Ben Miller interviews Sharkbait afterwards. He casts some shade on the Royal Blood for abandoning him and resolves to be his own man. He wants to be in the title picture because he runs Kansas City. Sounds like he’s leaning in a heelish direction without fully turning.

 

Stephen Wolf vs. Christian Rose
This is a solid match, but I feel that its strengths actually highlight some weaknesses. My main qualm is that Christian Rose employs such a smart game plan that it’s hard for me to believe he loses. He works over Wolf and counters a lot of his stuff so well that he obviously did his scouting beforehand. There isn’t even really a point where he blatantly makes a crucial mistake that leads to his downfall. I would have liked to see him fail because he got too cocky or went to a certain well once too often. Or he could’ve won and looked smart and crafty. Instead, he just gets countered and is then decisively pinned after a combo of moves. He had a similar showing against Dak Draper last time out, but at least that loss was against a former champion. I guess I just wanted a different story. My other issue is minor, and it’s that Wolf hits a standing shooting star press twice in one match. It looks good, especially at the finish as a follow-up to a springboard curb stomp, but it loses its impact as a finisher when it’s already been done before. Anyway, good match that doesn’t quite meet my storytelling desires.
Winner – Stephen Wolf

 

The Howletts & Michael Strider vs. The Besties in the World & Gary Jay
Good six-man action here. Jay and the Besties show up the heels early  (and for a while, actually). The bad guys get control, and Jay gets in the most peril. Strider intelligently cuts off the ring. When Jay gets the tag, everyone’s running around and hitting moves on each other. Fitchett gets left alone near the end and shows a lot of tenacity, almost handling all three opponents, but he finally gets put down with side slam/guillotine leg drop by the Howletts.
Winners – The Howletts & Michael Strider

Without seeing any other segments from this episode, I’ve got to give it an OK rating. I liked the main event a lot, but the other two matches disappointed me a bit. The first one was window dressing to a story I’m not that into, and the second one didn’t scratch the storytelling itch I hoped it would. I don’t know if we’re going to see anymore uploads from the NWL now that they’re gone, but if not, this episode is a bit of a flat one to end on, IMO.

NWL Episode 63

Our Story So Far…
Gil Rogers, who never won a single match in the NWL, was fired by Matt Jackson a few months back, but he’s been crashing shows and rallying fans ever since.
– Former NWL STL Champion Todd Letterman made a surprise return two episodes ago, attacking Dak Draper and aligning with Matt Jackson.
Buddy Shepherd recently turned babyface and made friends with Jack Foster, though Foster isn’t interested in joining the Buddy System.
Jeremy Wyatt defended the NWL KC Championship cleanly against Dak Draper but needed outside assistance to beat Eddie Kingston.
– When he isn’t wrestling as Danny Burch on NXT, British veteran Martin Stone works indies around the U.S. and U.K.
Now on to the show!

Gil Rogers manages to buy a general admission ticket to the show, promising not to cause any trouble.

Todd Letterman vs. Dak Draper
They go right at it with the Frye/Takayama punches. Dak gets to display some atypical offense due to his actually being the smaller man for once, as he pulls off a tilt-a-whirl flying headscissors on the giant jock. He also has to rely on strikes and body attacks for the most part. Letterman, of course, bullies him around when he’s in control. Dak can’t get him up for the doctor bomb, but he still frustrates Letterman enough that Letterman grabs a trash can lid for assistance. Dak gets him in an interesting figure four/arm lock submission hold, but Letterman grabs the lid and smacks him with it to disqualify himself.
Winner by DQ – Dak Draper

Letterman hits Dak with a spike driver to add…well, injury to injury, I guess.

Matt Jackson and Maddox are talking about weights until Marti Belle comes and asks once again for a singles match with Carolina. Jackson continues with the excuses, so Marti says she’s going to call her out herself. Jackson tells Maddox to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The Top Shelf (Niles Plonk & Rasheed Ali w/ Belvedere) vs. Foster Buddies (Buddy Shepherd & Jack Foster)
Fun stuff at the start when the faces trounce the heels in many entertaining ways. I personally like Ali taking a hiptoss to the floor onto Plonk and Belvedere. After Buddy gets the hot tag, Plonk does his best to avoid Foster, leaving Ali to take the brunt of the big man’s offense. But Plonk takes Foster out with an ice bucket shot behind the ref’s back, and then he pins Buddy with the uncorker.
Winners – Top Shelf

Marti comes out and gets blindsided by Carolina Grizelda Esmeralda Rodriguez. Security and Michael Strider pull her away as Gil Rogers checks on Marti from the other side of the guardrail. Strider attacks Rogers and throws him into the ring post. Staff have to help both Gil and Marti to the back.

Jack Foster in the back talks about his upcoming championship match and what it means to him and his family. Oddly, this has nothing to do with Niles Plonk or the events of the previous match.

NWL KC Championship: Jeremy Wyatt (c) vs. Martin Stone
Great stuff. I don’t think it will end up as my match of the year, but it’s on my top ten list of the year so far, at least. I wish Martin Stone could be a regular so I could see him wrestle more people. He does a lot of British-style catches and escapes. Wyatt isn’t outclassed, but he is put in jeopardy a few times. It’s pretty back-and-forth. The only thing that hurts it is that nobody believes Stone will win the title, but that’s par for the course when you give an outsider a shot. Wyatt retains in clean but crafty fashion; he baits Stone in to get snapped over the ropes, then does a sunset flip, rolls him through, and hits the piledriver.
Winner – Jeremy Wyatt

I have one complaint about this week’s episode, and it’s the placement of the Jack Foster promo. It’s very strange to me for a guy to lose a match and then cut a promo about his upcoming title shot without even touching on the loss. Sure, it wasn’t a clean loss, and he wasn’t the one pinned, but I would’ve expected him to be peeved at Niles Plonk for hitting him with a foreign object. I’m guessing the promo was taped before the tag match, but it would’ve made more sense to save it for a different episode, IMO.

The rest of the show was good, especially the opener and the main event. Also interested in Gil’s and Marti’s respective stories.

NWL Episode 61

Our Story So Far…
– Marti Belle has been petitioning Matt Jackson for a singles match with her rival, Carolina Grizelda Esmeralda Rodriguez. Every time she calls her out, Carolina has an excuse and a replacement, and Jackson has enabled her.
– After losing the NWL KC Championship in the NWL Rumble, Dak Draper came up short in his first title shot against Jeremy Wyatt.
– Christian Rose hates everyone.
– The Besties in the World have been working their way towards the NWL Tag Team Championships, but Michael Strider and Ace Steel kept denying them a shot. The Besties finally got them to agree to a title match by calling their respective legacies into question and challenging them to a no holds barred match.
Now on to the show!

We get a recap video of the Besties (Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett) making the challenge to The Foundation. They employ the Back to the Future method and call The Foundation (Michael Strider and Ace Steel) chicken. This leads to the acceptance of the title match as a Chicago Street Fight.

Carolina Grizelda Esmeralda Rodriguez & Laynie Luck vs. Marti Belle & Savanna Stone
Matt Jackson is on commentary to rip on Marti during the match. I do not like this because now we have two overbearing heel commentators to one straight man. But the match itself is solid, and I think everyone looks good in the parts that are shown. Savanna and Laynie aren’t given much as far as characters, but they’re mostly here to facilitate the Marti/Carolina story. Savanna looks like one to watch. Marti does get her hands on Carolina and takes out a lot of her frustration, but Carolina tags out and refuses to tag back in. She leaves Laynie hanging, and Marti spears her to finish her off.
Winners – Marti Belle & Savanna Stone

Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett in the back say that they’re not the underdogs that people think they are.

Dak Draper vs. Christian Rose
“Shame…on…you!” “No, I’m shameless!” Good story here as Rose seems to have counters for most of Dak’s regular offense. Draper is frustrated, but Rose can’t put him away and lets his cockiness get the best of him. I feel like Dak has been more fun to watch ever since he became a babyface. I like hearing the crowd chant “Drapers win” better than “Tighty whiteys.” Rose hits a Styles clash for some reason. Rose escapes one doctor bomb, but Draper nails the springboard forearm and pulls off another doctor bomb to get the pin.
Winner – Dak Draper

Draper says that Matt Jackson has been trying to distract him, but he can’t stop him from getting back the NWL KC Championship. Jackson comes back out and tells Dak that he has much bigger problems than Jeremy Wyatt. Suddenly, Todd Letterman attacks Dak from behind. This is Letterman’s first appearance in an NWL ring since the demise of NWL STL. Draper tries to fight back, but Letterman gives him a spike driver. Then he shakes Jackson’s hand.

NWL Tag Champs Michael Strider and Ace Steel are in the back. Steel is pissed at the Besties for questioning their abilities. Strider says that they’ve been spilling blood since the Besties were dating cheerleaders.

NWL Tag Team Championships, Chicago Street Fight: The Foundation (Michael Strider & Ace Steel w/ Carolina) vs. The Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett)
Have I described enough NWL matches as “brutal” yet? Because this is another one that fits that bill. Chairs, ladders, thumbtacks, Kendo sticks, and trash cans are all involved. There’s a brawl to the back of the floor crowd that’s hard to see because of dim lighting, but it’s not unwatchable, and they do come back to the ring soon enough. By the way, Ace and Strider pay tribute to Terry Funk with “VEGA SUCKS EGGS” and “FITCHETT SUCKS EGGS” T-shirts. Anyway, it’s pretty long and very violent. They go nuts at the home stretch. Vega duct tapes a brick to his thigh to enhance his barineater move. Fitchett kicks out of a Strider spiral onto tacks, then no-sells a doomsday device, landing on his feet and taking out both opponents. Then Vega hits Strider with the braineater on the brick to finally get the pin and win the titles.
Winners and NEW Champions: The Besties in the World

A couple thoughts about this kind of match…
First, I sometimes wonder how wrestlers can survive sickening bumps and keep fighting in these sorts of violent contests, and then end up losing a regular singles or tag match to an average finishing move. I suppose the logic is that the stakes are higher here and they can find the will to dig down deep. This isn’t a criticism, just a lingering thought I have whenever I see something like this.
Second, I know the fans love watching these hardcore matches, and I really believe that a lot of the wrestlers enjoy putting them on, but I personally have trouble getting past the long-term damage these guys are doing to themselves. I’m not trying to tell them not to do this stuff – they’re grown men who can make their own decisions – I just don’t want to come across as a guy who’s pushing them into it against their better judgment.

All in all, another good episode of NWL TV. And from what I gather about episode #62, it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down much going forward.

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.

CSW: War Games Match (December 16, 2006)

I’ve always enjoyed the War Games match, and I think it’s because it has a little bit of everything in its stipulations. It’s got faction wars like in the Survivor Series, staggered entrances like in the Royal Rumble, a steel cage, and all the chaos of the final battle of a feud. And the double ring gimmick is cool when you can get it (though a lot of indies can’t).

I’m excited to see what NXT does when they bring back War Games this month. Hearing about it reminded me that I once had the chance to see a War Games match live, but for reasons I can’t remember, I passed. It was a single-ring, single-cage version put on by the now-defunct Central States Wrestling promotion. CSW was my “hometown” indy fed for a sew years, and I constantly looked forward to going to their shows, so it’s kind of a bummer that I missed this one. I’ve since been able to see it via the video above, which is from the official DVD release, and now seems like an opportune time to write about it.

The match commentary and pre-match promos will fill you in on some of the details, but local favorite Michael Strider had been feuding with Steven J. Girthy and his Girthy Management Group for a while. I forget the inciting incident, but the GMG and Strider’s group, Project Aggression, were pretty bitter rivals, so a big team-based cage match seemed like a proper way to resolve things. Girthy had “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt (before he was “The Belt Collector” or “The Monarch”), the oddly-popular-despite-being-a-heel Hype Gotti, and Harley Race trainee Wade Chism in his charge, while Strider was partnered with “Superstar” Steve Fender (another race trainee) and Ace Steel (CM Punk’s friend and trainer). But someone took Ace out before the show, leaving Project Aggression one man down. Strider approached former rival Derek Stone to fill the spot, but due to their previous issues, Stone refused on principle.

On to the match (which starts at the 7:17 mark, by the way)!

It’s set up as three-on-two, which may upset some purists who remember the old matches with teams of four or more, but with only one ring and cage available, things would probably be too crowded with more than five or six guys in the ring.

Strider starts with Jeremy Wyatt, and Steve Girthy is on the outside. They spend the whole three-minute period trying to ram each other into the cage. Strider finally hip tosses Wyatt into it as the countdown for the next entrant is going on.

Hype Gotti is out next since the villains won the coin toss earlier. Strider takes advantage of his headstrong entrance and gets some shot in before Wyatt catches him from behind. The heels work over Strider, making a point to push and slam him into the cage.

Steve Fender comes in like he just got the hot tag, running wild on both opponents. He pairs off with Wyatt while Strider battles Gotti, and even though the heels get a few moves in (including Wyatt’s lightning spiral, a future finisher for him), the faces are on the advantage when the countdown ends.

Wade Chism is the last entrant on the Girthy side, and he goes right for Steve, clubbing him with clotheslines. Steve fights back but can’t maintain any momentum due to being outnumbered. Chism pounds on him and dares him to fight back. Strider, meanwhile, is bloodied up from being raked against the cage, and now he’s being double-teamed by Wyatt and Gotti.

The countdown for the final man comes and goes without anyone entering at first. The fans chant “We want Stone.” Finally, Derek Stone does come out, dressed in bunkhouse attire and brandishing a chair. He squares off with all three members of the GMG, perhaps teasing a “swerve,” but then he blasts them all in the heads with chair shots. Then he pulls out a trio of forks and hands one each to Strider and Steve.

As someone who was used to seeing Superstar Steve and Wade Chism at family-friendly World League Wrestling shows, seeing them in a match involving forks on foreheads is a bit surreal. It gets even weirder once a barbed wire bat and board are introduced, and Chism takes a couple unprotected chair shot to the head.

From the introduction of the forks, the match gets increasingly violent. Girthy beats up a referee* at ringside so he can get the barbed wire bat in through the door. Every wrestler except Steve bleeds. Five of them brawl outside so Strider can jump off the cage onto them. Wyatt gets locked out of the cage, so he tries to climb in, but he gets put through the barbed wire board with a tower of doom spot. Finally, Gotti is pinned after a piledriver from Stone and a big elbow from Steve while he’s trapped under the barbed wire board.

The crowd loved this match. It gave them all the violence they could’ve wanted, plus the joy of seeing their heroes win and the novelty of being the first War Games match in Kansas. I enjoyed it, too. I thought they made good use of their means to put on a memorable War Games match despite having small teams and only one ring. I also thought it was a good end to the feud, until…

After the match, Strider puts over the toughness of Wyatt, Gotti, and Chism, and tells them to stand up and leave the cage like men. He then says that the war is over. In a backstage promo, Girthy says that the war is over when he says it’s over. Also, Strider thanked Stone, and Stone said he did the right thing for the right reason.

Where Are They Now?

Michael Strider feuded with Jeremy Wyatt in CSW and Metro Pro, even coming out of retirement to battle him one last time. He’s currently a member of The Foundation in the National Wrasslin’ League and holds the tag team championships with Ace Steel.

Steve Fender continues to wrestle for World League Wrestling and currently holds their tag team titles with Brandon Espinosa.

Derek Stone has been a trainer at the NWL Training and Performance Center and makes occasional appearances on NWL shows to break up fights. He’s also going to be wrestling in a handicapped match this weekend for Gateway Elite Wrestling.

Jeremy Wyatt collected a lot of belts and briefly retired in the latter days of Metro Pro, but now he’s also a member of The Foundation with Strider and Steel.

Hype Gotti wrestles a lot for Pro Wrestling Phoenix in Iowa and Nebraska. He was retired for a bit, but he seems to be back now.

Wade Chism doesn’t seem to have wrestled since 2008, so I’m guessing he’s retired.

 

*The ringside referee, Adam, was actually a fan with whom I hung out at several CSW shows and pay-per-view watch parties. Fun times.