After following AAW thoroughly via the Highspots Network in the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that this promotion is very likely the best independent professional wrestling on American soil not named PWG (hey, I know EVOLVE would have a problem with that, but being a literal farm system for NXT does have its pitfalls).
That said, Destination Chicago was my first live showing of the promotion and I, along with many, walked away from the Logan Memorial Auditorium very pleased. And away we go…
AAW Tag Team Championship: The Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) vs. Wrestling (David Starr & Eddie Kingston) – And we start off with a burner! After Starr cut a promo explaining that he had a flight to Germany (wXw, probs) to catch, him and his pal Kingston, also manager of Impact’s LAX OGz, challenged the Besties right away. Wrestling faction member Jeff Cobb pulled a Randy with Elizabeth and took Vega’s lady Scarlett away from him, causing the distraction. Just a few minutes earlier Ms. Bordeaux hit a Doomsday Device off the top turnbuckle in heels. Yes, Jenn super popped for that! Starr took advantage of the interference and nailed Fitchett — whose hot tags in the match were tremendous — with the tag strap. Fun opener, new champs. 3.5/5
Stephen Wolf vs. Paco – A little unannounced ditty we typically would have seen open the card if not for this huge fly-in crowd for All In. Paco has the whole 1-2-3 Kid dynamic going for him, while Wolf is the above average athlete with a howling gimmick. Yeah. Small packages are cheesy, and Wolf thought so too, turning heel after the match with a Paco Bell beatdown. This was fine. 2.75/5
Myron Reed vs. Laredo Kid vs. DJZ – 7-minutes of thrills! Imagine a super 205 Live match except with a crowd that actually fuckin’ cares. Every guy was over, as DJZ is the most heralded of the three, and Myron has been the upstart with the biggest push. But it was Laredo Kid who wowed the most in the match, defying gravity in a lot of spots that just made you happy he left the match alive. Impact’s DJZ hit a nutty twin reverse rana on both fellas, pinning Reed after an even more insane rolling DDT spot. 3.75/5
Lee Left His Heritage in El Segundo Match: Ace Romero vs. Trevor Lee – Lee explained to Romero that he couldn’t get his “Intercontinental” strap through security, hence a non-title match. So you’d think Acey Baby would win then right? Wrong. This grudge match told one of the best stories of the night, and the crowd was real heated throughout. It had a nice finish too, with Lee reversing Romero’s momentum into a fallaway. 3.75/5
Curt Stallion & Jake Something vs. OI4K (Dave & Jake Crist) – Strange seeing OvE a.k.a. OI4K wrestle baby here, after seeing them as such violent heels on Impact and other promotions. This was your typical brawl for it all over the place that predictably meshed into the next match. Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs stuck their noses in to give Something the second to nail Jake with a Big Bossman Slam. 2.25/5
Brody King & Jimmy Jacobs vs. Jessica Havok & Sami Callihan – AA-Dub! AA-Dub! Hey, AAW rules do say “No DQ, No Countouts, Just Wrestling!” This was an, as expected, insane match, beginning with Sandman level kendo stick shots from Sami, followed by some nutty (but sneaky safe) chairshots from the pair. It was also fun seeing “The Zombie Princess” get his by a real girl, as former AAW Women’s Champ Jessica Havok kicked his ass all over the arena; Callihan would later murder Jimmy on the stage with a piledriver. Neither Jacobs or King took it easy on Havok though, a she later took a DVD off a set of upright chaits from the middle ropes from Brody for the pin! Agh! If you like your stuff hardcore, this one was fun as hell. 3.75/5
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Colt Cabana – The much-needed and appreciated gaga comedy “breather” match between father & son. This one had it all: amazing pre-match promos, a surplus of hugs, a Bull Durham moment of family catch, complete with baseball mitts and ball. It was hilarious. MJF & Colt had a solid match thrown in there, too. 3.25/5
AAW Heavyweight Championship: ACH vs. Jeff Cobb – Well, I’d say this was a surprise seeing how they just main evented LaSalle earlier in the month, but ACH challenged Cobb after the opening contest. To our delight, this re-up was even better. I also figured Cobb would get the win, you know, since it was All In weekend — and the fact that Wrestling owned all 3 of the other non-women’s titles in AAW. But, nope! Make that 3 out of 4, again, as Super ACH (who loved my SSGSS Vegeta phonecase after the event, btw) picked up the W via brainbuster! Again! King/Kingston are next. At a very heated and contested 23-minutes, this was your MOTN. 4/5
The Lucha Brothers (Penta 0M & Rey Fenix) vs. MexiBlood (Bandido & Flamita) – As wild as you’d imagine. This was the type of match that draws crowds from all over the country, and the Lucha Rules main event definitely didn’t disappoint. Despite two misfortunes (hard to call them botches when these cats are attempting spots hardly anyone else in the world can do), it was pure rolling thunder out there, lightning speed catch-as-catch-can, suicide dives (that even destroyed people in their seats), double stomps, panama sunrises, spike package piledrivers, corkscrew planchas, innovative double team sequences, hard chops, and one hell of a delighted crowd. Again, a little sloppiness is gonna happen when you’ve got 2 guys going 200 mph — Fenix and Flamita — and Bandito and Penta delivering their own versions of graceful violencia! 4/5
Overall = 3.75/5
Match rating math may show a 3.5, but with how well this show flowed and gave us a previously unannounced world title shot between two of the best in the indies, how could I not bump this show up a notch? It didn’t hurt to have 2nd row seats with 2 empties in front of us either. This crowd was hot! As someone who hasn’t missed an AAW since last year, Destination Chicago proved to be the best one or two I’ve seen yet; hell, take away two matches and this is one of 2018’s best events. Defining Moments tonight should be no less the thrill.