Prepare for the onslaught. In addition to the 6-7 hour spectacle that is WWE WrestleMania 34 itself, well over 50-hours of professional wrestling can — and will! — be consumed by diehard smarks throughout a 4-day span this coming WrestleMania Weekend. From April 5th to April 8th, nearly every major independent wrestling promotion in the U.S., Mexico and the U.K. will be showing off their whole f’n show.
Here, your boy Moody rates, ranks and reviews every match and event down in #Nola. Yeah — he crazy!
***GCW Presents… Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport***
Knockout Or Submission Only Match: Dominic Garrini vs. KTB – 1/5 (The very first match at Mania Weekend could very well end up the worst.)
Knockout Or Submission Only Match: Eddie Kingston vs. Tracy Williams – 3/5 (I liked this. After the awkward opening dud, the crowd was hot for Eddie and we started to see more than collegiate wrestling. Awkward, yet cool finish.)
Knockout Or Submission Only Match: Martin Stone vs. MASADA – 1.5/5 (MASADA, a hardcore wrestler, was clearly out of his element here and then… somehow won? The start of some silly yet abrupt finishes on this show. Funny seeing NXT’s “Danny Burch” here, jobbing to a Raven wannabe..)
No Ropes, No Pinfalls Match: Tom Lawlor vs. WALTER – 3.5/5 (Easily the best match of the first half… you could sense the crowd caring more and WALTER is quickly becoming one of the indy scenes bright stars. Great “worked shoot” here. Wish these matches weren’t all so damn quick.)
***Intermission – A show like this, with 3-8 minute matches, doesn’t need an intermission. People boo.***
Singles Match: Chris Dickinson vs. Dan Severn – 3/5 (This was pretty good because it felt real. Maybe Dan refusing to job made it so? Lol)
No Ropes, No Pinfalls Match: Nick Gage vs. Timothy Thatcher – 3.25/5 (Finally somethin different, and both guys took their mits to the outside. You knew Gage was gonna get some hardcore shit in, despite the pancreas format.. another abrupt finish, but I guess that’s the point? Fuckin’ kayfabe…)
Knockout Or Submission Only Match: Minoru Suzuki vs. Matt Riddle – 3.75/5 (The crowd finally woke up after that initial 30-minute delay, some terrible openers and abrupt/awkward finishes.. That said, this mighta been the best 8-minute match I’ve seen since Goldberg and Brock! Both guys looked like they had the time of their lives out there, and if they got another 8 minutes, this coulda been a Top 10 MOTY. Just a shame Riddle–the show’s host– totally no-sold Suzuki’s rear naked choke when it was over, smiling, dancing and grabbing the mic, thanking everyone… lol… still loved this tho!)
Overall = 2.75/5 Bibles.
While the overall score dictates a severe letdown to one of the weekend’s most anticipated shows, there are worse ways to kick off this WrestleMania Weekend in NOLA. Kudos to Riddle for attempting to do something different in a sea of 4000 other wrestling shows. My advice for Bloodsport II? Just have 4-5 matches next year and give everyone a little more time to show what they got. Since there are so few highspots and movement, 12-14 minutes MIGHT deem a little long for simple matt-based contests, but at least no one will be killing themselves in these “worked shoots” for the rest of their weekend agendas; that will make it feel more like a full brunch than a Pu-Pu for two.
Austin Theory vs. DJZ – 3/5 (Pretty sound match with some nice highflying, few mistakes, clean transitions.. crowd didn’t seem to care as much for DJZ as I imagined.. but booed the hell out of Theory, who humorously cut a post-match promo against WWN in favor of the WWE…lol)
Ospreay is NOT Dead Match: AR Fox vs. Will Ospreay – 4/5 (Just saw our Apostle Phil Abraham fist-bump Will before the match! If not for one glaring miss-spot, this could very well have wound up in the 4.25+. What a match! Os certainly didn’t hold back.. taking many twists and dives, many of which landed on AR’s entourage outside. Fox almost pulled it off with his 450 at the end too. Lovely.)
Tag Team Scramble: The End vs. James Drake & Anthony Henry vs. Dominic Garrini & Tracy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson & Jaka – 2.25/5 (This shoulda been called Clusterfuck, too.. some decent action.. didn’t seem like anyone was terribly over.. but why would The End NOT try and pin the champs? Stupid match rules/logic killed it for me).
Keith Lee vs. Darby Allin – 3.25/5 (Although I’ve seen this tried-and-true tail time and time again at PWG …Darby worked hard.. he took down Lee with a few impressive dives, but nonetheless the outcome was clear. I didn’t mind a squash here. Title for Title w/ Austin Theory seems next!)
Ringkampf vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Munenori Sawa – 4.25/5 (Took a little bit to get going — Sawa hadn’t wrestled in 7 years! — but this Strong Style AF was a blast if you don’t mind the slower paced Big Japan/All Japan style. Lots of quick tags early from Ringkampf workin on the Muscle Monster.. but once Sawa and Thatcher mixed it up, and Walter started flyin’ around, this was great. The double German spot was pitch perfect, but the crowd seemed to only explode for that spot. Some post-match garbage weakened what we just saw… but nonetheless I was fully invested for all 20+!)
EVOLVE Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Matt Riddle – 4/5 (Rematch from perhaps the Most Overlooked Match of 2018 from just less than 2 weeks ago at PWG! At Time is a Flat Circle, Matt had an answer for EVERYTHING Zack threw at him, and tonight was the opposite; Riddle was the aggressor here, with Sabre answering much of Matt’s repertoire. Fun note: A usual gotch style tombstone spot become a gotch style slam due to the LSAC rules… it’s pro wrestling.. I know… and while this one seems on-par with the PWG match, it’s a toss-up — although the quieter-than-usual PWG crowd was still hotter than this one — EVOLVE 102‘s rematch had the more dramatic finish with the Bromission from your new champ! Will this be Zack’s last match at EVOLVE?)
Overall = 3.5/5 Bibles
Take away the silly 4-team scramble thing and this was about as close to NXT TakeOver quality as you could get. A very good show that should only kick off even greater matches throughout the weekend. I’m not sure why the crowd felt a little stale– maybe sitting through Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport did that to them?– and a lot of the post-match shenanigans don’t always sit well with me. It’s probably because I’m not used to seeing (m)any at PWG, and when they happen in ROH or NJPW (or even WWE), they’re executed so much better. I know EVOLVE is always trying to put over new talent and create storylines, but I’m just not that invested in about a third of their roster. That said, the big names on this show came up big; that Ringkampf/Sekimoto & Sawa for tag match of the weekend will be tough to beat, and you could say that Riddle and ZSJ had as good of a much as the one 13 days ago, if not better. If you’re looking for an event to watch this early into WrestleMania Weekend, EVOLVE 102 is a very solid start.
–Penta el Cero M vs. Joey Janella – 3.5/5 (Seems like Joey lately has been “taking it easy”, having nice opening matches instead of the epic death-defying stuff he’s known for. Seeing how he and Penta have another 100 matches to go this weekend, this was all you could hope for. Penta superkicking Penelope didn’t get the best reaction tho…lol)
–Joey Ryan “Open Challenge” – DUD/5 or “6 stars!”/5 (The in-ring mic audio on some of these shows has been dreadful. I guess that’s what I get for enjoying Mania Weekend at home. And, a great swerve here! I almost don’t want to spoil it! Let’s just say “The King of Dong Style” was blessed with wrestling ROYALTY.)
–Intergender 10-Person Tag: Tenille Dashwood, Nicole Savoy, Tessa Blanchard, Shazza McKenzie and Penelope Ford vs. Trevor Lee, Caleb Konley, MJF, Zane Riley and Jake Manning – 3.25/5 (Spotfest. Fun stuff. The ladies looked great, tossing the men around at will, and the men didn’t!)
-Jeff Cobb vs. Tomohiro Ishii – 4/5 (Holy fuck this match! You knew by the card that this would the slugfest of the show and def one of the hardest hitting matches of the weekend.. but damn. Hoping for a great rematch at this year’s G1 Climax, if Cobb’s good duty from Tag League gets him in..)
-Flamita & Bandito vs. Rey Fenix & Ray Horus – 4.25/5 (Lucha 101. This was a damn near flawless Lucha tag. Blink, and you missed something. While his bro is more known, Fenix might be the best from Mexico. All four luchadores brought it, but it’ll sadly get lost among all the big New Japan names and gaga buffoonery..)
–Chico el Luchador & The Mexicools vs. Matt Classic, Jason Cade and Teddy Hart – 2.25/5 (…because in between all the serious PWG-level pure wrestling contests is THIS. Hey, it was funny. Seeing Super Crazy wrestle Hart — Super CRAZIER — was even nuttier…)
–Fatal 4-Way: Will Ospreay vs. Adam Brooks vs. Sammy Guevara vs. Shane Strickland – 4/5 (I mean.. what is there to say? Look at the talent in the ring. You tell me what you think happened. It happened.)
-Sami, Juice and Tanahashi vs. David Starr, Brian Cage and Minoru Suzuki!!! – 3.25/5 (This is when the show became clear that WrestleCon = the bastard orgy baby of PWG, The Crash & NJPW! Since only 2 1/2 matches were announced, this 6-man was indeed the surprise of the day. While not exactly as great a match as the names would tell you, just having them unannounced in the Sugar Mill was blissful enough. Oh, and that Sami/Suzuki staredown!!)
–Golden Lovers vs. Chuckie T & Flip Gordon – 3.25/5 (Poor Flip. Booed right away, unless the mystery partner was Cody or X-Pac.. haha.. Flip was gettin the X-Pac heat. Def unfair, and it didn’t help he was put in the position to prevent a good # of the Lovers signature spots. Either way, this was a fun match, certainly nowhere a great one.. and teasing the Best Friends with a “cigarette break” was probably the highlight. Again, poor Flip.)
Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles
I *HAD* to give this an extra 0.25 (hey, the math works if you include Joey Ryan’s segment as 6-stars 😂) because of how incredibly fun this show was. Only Joey Janella’s Sprink Break tonight had a chance to be craazier (and it will). Despite having 3 matches hit a 4 scale or higher, this was a show clearly celebrating the wide diversity of styles in professional wrestling. WrestleCon’s Super Show was just that. It had it all: lucha, gaga, super juniors, intergender, legends, surprises, big names, etc. I’m jealous of all my buds who got to witness this in person. This is one Mania weekend indy show that will be tough to top!
***Beyond Wrestling “Lit Up”***
NOTE: This was a fun show, but it won’t be reviewed/rated due to the nature of the card. If intergender wrestling is something you’re a fan of or the wee bit curious about, def check it out. It was a fun time!
***The Crash WrestleCon***
Fatal Four Way Mixed Tag Team Match: Joey Ryan & Barbi Hayden vs. Black Danger & Lacey Lane vs. Douglas James & Thunder Rosa vs. Angel Fashion & Christi Jaynes – 2.75/5 (The type of crazy you expect on a show like this. Joey’s power cock spot never gets old. All the female luchadoras seem to hit their high-spots much crisper than current WWE/NXT talent.)
Daga vs. El Bandido – 3/5 (Fun high-flying action, nothing to complain about here.)
Triple Threat Match: Flip Gordon vs. Laredo Kid vs. Rey Horus – 3.25/5 (As you’d expect; nice, crisp high-flying. Horus is Mister Consistency on the Lucha scene, Flip got a MUCH better reaction here on this Friday morning than Thursday night at WrestleCon, and Laredo Kid impressed. Nothing to write home about, but impressive action nontheless.)
Fatal Four Way Tag: Scarlet And Graves (Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier) vs. oVe (Dave Crist & Jake Crist) vs. Black Diamond & Aeroboy vs. Jason Cade & Curt Stallion – 3.5/5 (Blink, and you missed it. Maybe THIS is how you do a WrestleMania Weekend match. A zillion quick high-spots, but everything seemed safe, the pace was like lightning, everyone got their shit in, and the crowd deeply appreciated the most fluid action of the night. Another big victory for the team otherwise known as The Rascalz!)
Brian Cage vs. Willie Mack vs. Sami Callihan – 3.75/5 (Ironically, the best match of the show wasn’t a lucha one. I guess that will all go down on tastes, but either way this was awesome — even with things switched around, made into a Triple Threat, with Daga out. The crowd was actually in support of Sami until he got destroyed by both guys at the end. Willie’s stunners were perfect! Cage was awesome as usual. Loved this match.)
Rey Fenix vs. La Flamita – 3/5 (This match was supposed to have Rich Swann. Yeah. Still, I figured Fenix and Flamita — 2 Luchas I’m very familiar with from PWG — were gonna kill it, a clear-cut Match of the Show winner, etc., but I guess that’s what happens during this loco weekend when every guy has 100 dates to make. Crowd didn’t seem too thrilled either, more so polite with some light cheers and golf claps. Still, a nice match that didn’t live up to this smark’s enormous high standard.)
LA Park, Nicho El Millonario & Damian 666 vs. Bestia 666, Garza Jr & Mr. 450 – 2/5 (LWO! Yes! This was one of those retro-legends shitshow matches you see on almost every non PROGRESS/EVOLVE show this weekend. While it was fun seein L.A. Park hit a monster tope suicida and Damian give his own son a neckbreaker (!!), this one can only be fairly assessed by the most diehard of Lucha fan.)
Penta El Zero M vs. Austin Aries – 3.5/5 (It’s both easy to get excited for this match as it is to be disappointed by it. I’m not sure what it is about both guys, Aires as of late on IMPACT and Penta 0M during his multitude of appearances this weekend, but there seems to be something missing–either match psychology, or match length, or added drama. I’m just not sure. That said, Penta has been nothing if not consistent, and while the crowd didn’t like the result, putting over Aires — who’s clearly due to do some more dates down in Tijuana — was the right choice. There were a lot of awesome moments in this battle, such as Aires’ apron DVD, but The Crash‘s main event just didn’t hit that next level.)
Overall = 3/5 Bibles
Hey, I’m neither a Lucha expert, having watched very little of Lucha Underground (outside of Rey/Pentagon/Puma’s stuff) and CMLL (outside of the annual Fantastica Mania); but I have seen plenty of the card’s talent down in PWG and on IMPACT television, so take that for what it’s worth. A lot of fun to watch, The Crash @ WrestleCon could’ve used some more excited commentary on Highspots to push the talent; the lone gunman was very knowledgeable but lacked the charisma of say, Josh Matthews and Matt Striker, that you can hear on the Lucha vs. IMPACT show (I know, it’s crazy I’m even saying that, but it’s true). In the end, if you’re a fan of the genre, I would def seek this one out.
***PROGRESS (Day 1)***
***RPW “Live In New Orleans”***
***RevPro “Live in New Orleans” Review***
Martin Stone vs. David Starr – 3.25/5 (Nice match, as you’d expect from these two talents.)
Adam Brooks vs. Brian Cage – 3.5/5 (Man, I fuckin’ love Adam Brooks.. and he plays his fiesty dickhead pest role oh so very well. Nice to see Cage getting so many dates this weekend and having superb results.)
6-Man Tag: CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Rocky Romero & Chuck Taylor) vs. Kota Ibushi, Flip Gordon & Shane Strickland – 4.25/5 (How good was this indie card? This would’ve been the best match at last night’s ROH event, maybe save for the — surprise! — one Ibushi had there as well. Everyone, even Flip (who had some X-Pac heat fot his flat-earth thinking, but was lauded when he landed on his feet after nailing Os with a tremendous dive to the outside), got over. The Ibushi/Ospreay confrontation was EVERYTHING. Easily my favorite multi-person match of the weekend.)
Jeff Cobb vs. Minoru Suzuki – 3.75/5 (As one half of the British TT champs w/ Sabre Jr, Suzuki is a king in RevPro– and lord did he feel like it. My only issue was never thinking Cobb, who’s been great all weekend, had a chance. Minoru’s interactions with the crowd deserve an extra 0.25 alone.)
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) – 3.25/5 (This was good. I don’t know much about Aussie Open but they were fine. Tana seems like he’s hobbling through WM wknd, but at least his the High Fly Flow without killing himself. Juice is the man.)
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii – 4.25/5 (The rubber match! Sabre beat Ishii in the G1 last year, and Ishii beat Sabre in the U.S. tourney last year in Long Beach. You really couldn’t have a better main event for an indie, save for Riddle/Ospreay. And this was arguably the best of the three! What a war — a tremendoua way to finish one of the weekend’s best events. Ishii’s “Epic Encounter” with Lee next month should only be THAT!)
Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles
Why wasn’t THIS called “Supercard of Honor“? You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought this was the best non-NXT event of the weekend. Not every match was great, but it certainly had enough goodies to make the most diehard of smark satisfied. RevPro really is one of my fav indie promotions and having that relationship with NJPW really can’t hurt. These guys killed it.
WWN Title vs. FIP World Hvy Championship: Keith Lee vs. Austin Theory – 3/5 (This was Keith Lee’s swansong, just the first in a string of big disappointments for EVOLVE’s 2nd show of the evening. While this lacked any sort of big drama, the methodical pace helped Theory not appear like a smaller guy who got lucky. Keith Lee will be a BIG assett to the WWE.)
Timothy Thatcher vs. Dominic Garrini – 2.25/5 (This 5-minute matt rollaround seemed suited better for yesterday’s Bloodsport event; hell, it woulda been better than Garrini’s joke of a contest that took place there. Nice to see Tim win a singles match this weekend, too)
DJZ vs. Jason Kincaid vs. AR Fox vs. Chris Brookes – 3/5 (What the show needed. Everyone here worked hard, hit spot after spot after spot; the crowd — mad that they were missing Ibushi — didn’t seem to care too much though.)
Chris Dickinson vs. Mark Haskins – 2.5/5 (This was definitely 5-minutes too long. Minus the last match and the Sawa/Jaka brawl, I was not too thrilled with the pace/energy of this show at all. While it had a good, grueling finish, this one bored me to tears. Travis Fucking Banks was desperately missed.)
Tracy Williams vs. WALTER – 3.75/5 (WALTER has what is probably the best match on the show? Say it ain’t so! Like Riddle, props to Tracy for working his butt of all frackin’ day Thursday and taking a zillion chops that caved in his already caved-in chest — in the place of Darby Allin nonetheless. Funny, great finish too, since it appeared WALTER actually tapped when all he meant to sell was frustration; in turn, the big man put away the Hot Sauce with a picture-perfect Koji Clutch.)
Munenori Sawa vs. Jaka – 3.5/5 (Sawa x Jaka just SOUNDS like a fight, now, doesn’t it? Glad these 3 matces–while nothing that will wind up the match of the day–saved this show from being trash. The crowd, probably all the folks who were relegated to that BEYOND show last night instead of WrestleCon, were likely jaded they were here for this instead of that RevPro show. I know, I know; I’d be pissed too.)
EVOLVE Championship Match: Matt Riddle vs. Daisuke Sekimoto – 3.75/5 (This was very good, with some of the best facials of the weekend, and that’s a wrestling term, nerds; get cha minds out the gutta. Maybe we’re already so spoiled from yesterday’s zingers at EVOLVE 102 and WrestleCon that anything less than perfection is just that. Maybe it’s just my energy feeling depleted after utter disappointment. Either way, this main event a great war that felt in line with the Suzuki Bloodsport match and Riddle’s “no rope break” rules. Can we get Daisuke and Ishii.. like.. NOW???)
Overall = 3/5 Bibles
At least the second half of this show was very strong. If you made it to 102 and not 103, consider yourself lucky. If you made it to RevPro’s show — which I still have yet to see, but that card if F’N ridic — instead, consider yourself lucky. The good thing is, with Riddle as champ and inevitable future opponents like Theory, Fox and WALTER comin’ to a head, EVOLVE’s future isn’t as brittle as imagined; I just wish Keith Lee had a Zack Sabre-esque send-off than the Facebook preshow match stuff he got here.
***WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 2018***
AR Fox, DJ Z & Trey Miguel vs. Austin Theory, Travis Banks & Zachary Wentz – 3.5/5 (Awesome chaos. Now this is how you start a show, WWN! Not the plodding matt-based stuff we had to begin to EVOLVE 103. “Ugh” for the horrible Jarek-jumping-Kincaid segment that happened post-match..)
Munenori Sawa vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – 4/5 (A nice contrast of styles from the opener, if the 2018 frontrunner for Wrestler of the Year is in the 2nd match, then you know youre in for a great night! Fantastic heelwork from Sabre as usual, and Sawa fought valiantly and often matched Sabre move-for-move, even performing ZSJ’s signature Octopus strangle. The final match at EVOLVE for Sabre was a dandy.).
Street Fight: Catch Point (Tracy Williams & Dominic Garrini) vs. James Drake & Anthony Henry vs. The End (Odinson & Parrow) – 2.75/5 (A much better match for those heavily invested in the EVOLVE promotion.)
SHINE Championship: Holidead vs. LuFisto (c) – NA/5 (Why are women’s indy promotions so confusing.. Stardom, Shimmer, SHINE. Yeah. Nice seeing Kimber Lee appear post match after all of the streaming issues. Nice job, WWN!)
Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Keith Lee – 3.75/5 (Like ZSJ, this would be the end for Lee — who surprisingly didn’t show up at TakeOver tonight.. and this was a better effort than the Allin/Theory stuff he had the past 2 WWN shows. His opponent was a perfect one for Lee, who go to show his nasty side to a guy who could match him in power. This also had a nice surprise finish before Nick Gage came in and cut another wild promo on Lee and the fans!)
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship: RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) vs. Catch Point (Jaka & Chris Dickinson) (c) – 3.5/5 (The only merch I wanted from N.O. this wknd was a WALTER KILLS t-shirt and ofc it’s sold out. Hope he brings some with him to PWG! Oh, the match was pretty strong but I didn’t care for Catch Point just outright winning over the hottest tag team on the indie scene…)
EVOLVE Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Matt Riddle (c) – 4.5/5 (This WAS the Match of the Weekend.. yeah.. until TakeOver happened tonight. Two of the best wrestlers in the world today fought like jackals, with Ospreay taking another nasty spill on his head — thankfully in the ring, but still — and Riddle having a heelish moment while 6 refs tended to him and told Riddle to fuck off. Shit was so great. Thankfully the “injury” was def a work, WE THINK, and Os fought back valiantly before Oscutting himself into a BroMission. God damn.)
Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles
The WWN Supershow is typically always great, and this was no exception. Much like my Lucha reviews from earlier, if you’re REALLY invested in EVOLVE storylines and their extended roster, you’re going to love this show even more than I did. Still, this was the best indie show this weekend that I’ve seen, and that Riddle/Ospreay match will go down as a Mania Weekend classic. Sad to see Daisuke, Sawa, Lee and Sabre Jr. all go without so much of a righteous goodbye.
***IMPACT! Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground***
Moose vs. Matt Sydal vs. MATANZA vs. Caleb Konley vs. Jack Evans vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. – 2.75/5 (At this point, this is your typical “throw everyone in and see what happens” match. Not bad.)
Knockouts Championship: Taya Valkyrie vs. Allie – 3.25/5 (Lots of strong suplexes and hard slams from some ladies!)
Scott Steiner & Teddy Hart vs. OVE (Dave & Jake Crist) – 2.25/5 (Steiner Recliner! HAHAHA!!! That is all.)
King Cuerno, Drago, & Aerostar vs. Andrew Everett, Dezmond Xavier, & DJZ – 3.75/5 (A lot of these high-flying 6-man tags and multi-team matches this weekend have been a blast and this was no different. 2nd best match of the show, with a cool unexpected submission finish.)
Marty The Moth vs. Trevor Lee – 2/5 (Blah.)
Tag Team Championship: LAX vs. Killshot & The Mack – 3.75/5 (Awesome tag team match, despite knowing the finish. Willie’s had a good day.)
Eli Drake vs. Brian Cage – 2.75/5 (A suitable contest. Cage is that next dude for IMPACT.)
I Quit Match: Eddie Edwards vs. Jeremiah Crane – 2.5/5 (Not worth the hype. Funny seeing Don Callis on TV… not the ending we wanted. A few missed spots on some danger moves… Eddie was resilient but never got the uproarious crowd support the show had in the first half.)
Triple Threat: Pentagon Jr. vs. Austin Aries vs. Fenix – 3.75/5 (Even with Alberto El Noshow, this was fantastic. For under 10-minutes, these guys seemed to do more here in the time alloted than on The Crash show in the same morning. Fenix hit a crazy corkscrew plancha outside.. the constant on and off double teams on Aires from the Lucha Bros was great. Austin’s timing here was top-notch, hitting a perfect 450, and Penta’s pop-up powerbomb was en fuego!)
Overall = 3.25/5 Bibles
A less consistent evening that The Crash show from earlier in the day, but when the high points hit, they hit. I gotta commend the presentation, a free stream on Twitch that suffered no hickups, had a hot crowd throughout and — yes, you don’t need to check my pulse — really good commentary from Josh Matthews and Matt Striker. Trust me–I hated these guys! Their chemistry was so good, I’d say they could be a Top 3 booth if the IMPACT marriage with L.U. was a real thing. Hell, I’ll reward this show’s score with a 0.25 just for having best commentary of the weekend. Hopefully this show becomes a staple every April. Oh and “Fuck El Patron!”
***GCW Presents… Joey Janella’s Spring Break 2***
6-Man Scramble: Eli Everfly vs. DJZ vs. Tony Deppen vs. Gringo Loco vs. KTB vs. Teddy Hart – 3.5/5 (The “Spot Monkey Fest” of the Year! Without the Young Bucks, nonetheless! THIS is how you start a Spring Break — with a Teddy Hart TakeOver! Crowd popped for the oft-troubled Hart Family member who has quite a weekend here in New Orleans. While I didn’t know many guys here, they all flew around and did their thing. Fun is an understatement. LA’s Everfly — who I saw 2 weeks ago at the last PWG — is def one hella highflyer to watch!)
Champion vs. Champion Match: James Ellsworth vs. Matt Riddle – 2.5/5 (Ellsworth catchin’ some early match hear via chopblock was great.. Riddle beat him up for a while but the crowd was still SUPER hot.. and the “no chin” saved Ells from a flying Riddle knee! Best 2.5 Bible match ever!)
Virgil shows up! Uh, yeah.
Pierre Carl Oulette vs. WALTER – 4.25/5 (How the fuck did this become a Mania Weekend CLASSIC!?? Because of god damn Pierre Carl Oulette! Yes, the former Quebecer/WCW job guy just had an INSANE match with one of the busiest premiere indie athletes this weekend. The 50-year old PCO also took some of the most insane dives, nearly killing himself and the REFEREE on a moonsault from the top to the outside. PCO also, later, went chop-for-chop furiously with the big man.. that had the crowd steaming and giving a standing O.)
GCW Championship: Penta 0M vs. Nick Gage – 3/5 (Opened up with some terrifying chair shots from Penta which is banned from the Louisiana State Athletic Commision. Hell, how did this whole show NOT get banned? After Penta beat up Gage the whole match, he reversed a table spot and won abruptly. This woulda been a fine ECW match 20 years ago. Gage both embraced his fans and wanted to fight some in the parking lot after the show… lol.. no filter!)
David Starr vs. Mike Quackenbush – 3.25/5 (This seemed like the “bathroom break” match of the night, considering the wonderful matt-techniques of both guys, one “Lightning” Mike who was in Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate about a decade ago. He still looks great. Despite wrestling their ass off, hardly anyone gave a shit… and WALTER buried Starr on guest commentary. Ha! Hey, at Spring Break there’s somethin’ for everybody!)
Clusterfuck!!!!!! – 3/5 (Rules: Pin, Submissions, Over-The-Top-Rope, and…DEATH! Ron Funches on commentary! Drunken Female Bronco Busters! SWOGGLE!! Grado Belly Bashes! An Invisible Wrestler! Hulk Hogan! Ehhh!!! The Beast OLDcarnate! Alabama Doink!! Drew Gulak’s music! Err, his brother! So awesome and fun then went on way too long!! Like 20-minutes too long?? I passed THE FUCK out before seeing Mikey Whipwreck enter and woke up just in time for…)
Joey Janela vs. The Great Sasuke – 3.25/5 (This slowest hardcore match of all time was still enjoyable for all the crash-and-burns both the 28-year old Janella and 48-year old Sasuke did. While commendable, it didn’t feel as electric as warranted because of a tired and fickle audience that it took a rivetting match-end promo from Joey to fire up, telling all the nerds rushing out to get cheaper LYFT & UBER rides to their hotels to fuck themselves. Hard to blame them.. but.. I mean, dudes, we just saw a match with an inflatable alligator! Janella and Sasuke, especially, just KILLED themselves in the main event of the weekend’s most popular indie show and these spoiled snobs dont give a shit… what a bunch of hapless fucks. Sure, it was a mess and 26-minutes is 10 minutes way too long for a 3 am death match… but still. I’m giving them an extra half-bible just for singing Jon Bon Jovi karoake when it was all said and done! #itsmylife)
Overall = 3.25/5 Bibles
Fuck my bibles. Rating these Spring Break matches doesn’t do them any justice. Joey Janella’s Spring Break 2 was a party, and although they def overstayed their welcome in the final hour, it was still a fuckin blast and a great way to spend a Friday night alone eating hummus and pita. On an entertainment scale, this was def a 4/5… That said, there was some actual great wrestling here too. Trim the Clusterfuck by 16 and the main event by 10 and this is an indie classic. Don’t go by my rating and go find this fuckin’ show!!!
***Pro Wrestling Revolver “Pancakes and Piledrivers 2”***
Jeff Cobb vs. Shane Strickland – 3.25/5
Mixed Tag: Colt Cabana & Marty DeRosa vs. Joey Ryan & Session Moth Martina – 1.75/5
Eddie Kingston vs. Juice Robinson – 3/5
Triple Threat – Fight Club Pro Title: Jessicka Havok vs. Meiko Satomura vs. Kimber Lee – 3.25/5
AAW Heavyweight Championship: ACH vs. Trevor Lee – 2.5/5 (This was a total 1-minute squash, but I hate Trevor Lee, so this was fine by me!)
6 Man Tornado Tag: OI4K (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist & Dave Crist) vs. Brian Cage, AR Fox & Joey Janela – 3.25/5
Open Invitational – PWR Scramble Championship: Matt Palmer vs. Ace Romero vs. Jake Manning vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Trey Miguel – 2.75/5
The Lucha Brothers (Penta El 0M & Rey Fénix) vs. Teddy Hart & Jack Evans – 3/5
Triple Threat Ladder – AAW Tag Team & PWR Tag Team Championships: Besties In The World vs. Aussie Open vs. The Rascalz – 4/5
Overall = 3/5
While a slight letdown from the overall quality of Pancakes & Piledrivers Numero Uno, there were a lot of memorable moments on this card: Former WCW Champ David Arquette hopped the barricade in the main event, comedian Marty DeRosa hit a top rope rana on Joey Ryan, Japanese legend Meiko Satomura’s crane-kick finish was INSANE, Cobb and Strickland hit each other with 2 of the best suplexes of the day, fans ate pancakes not prepared by the New Day, 300+ pounder Ace Romero tope-squashed an entire scramble, an AAW title match was a 1-minute long, Jake Crist top rope cut AR Fox to smithereens, and Teddy Hart still hasn’t sold a damn thing. The main event was the only killer match, but everything else was either entertaining or strong. I like the AAW brand and just got my tickets for their 2-day show in Chitown just before #ALLIN, so expect some live reports come Labor Day.
***PROGRESS (Day 2)***
-Walter vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
-Jinny & Mercedes Martinez
vs. Toni Storm & Millie McKenzie
***Combat Zone Wrestling “Welcome to the Combat Zone”***
10-Man Tag: Peter Avalon, Stevie Fierce, Suede Thompson, Matt Knicks & Douglas James vs. Dan Barry, Ace Austin, Kit Osborne, Dan Ohare & Josh Briggs – 2.75/5
MJF vs. KTB – 2/5
Tag Team Triple Threat: Myron Reed & Trey Miguel vs. Flamita & Bandito vs. OVE (Dave and Jake Crist) – 3/5
Mixed Tag Team Match: Janelope (Joey Janela & Penelope Ford) vs. Joey Ryan & Laura James – 3.5/5
David Starr vs. Juice Robinson – 3.5/5
Fatal 4-Way: Zachary Wentz vs. Ace Romero vs. Jason Cade vs. Adam Brooks – 3.25/5
Joe Gacy vs. Jeff Cobb – 3/5
CZW World Heavyweight Championship: Rickey Shane Page vs. Ethan Page – 2.75/5
Will Ospreay vs. Dezmond Xavier – 4/5
Overall = 3/5 Bibles
Combat Zone Wrestling is known far more for their hardcore antics (ala ECW) than actual wrestling, so this was a way to showcase their skills in front of a hustle-and-bustle Mania weekend crowd. A lot of CZW diehards were disappointed in the card beforehand, claiming it to be safe; but with the LSAC rules preventing any sort of extremity, particularly for an entire card, CZW did what they could with what was given. Perhaps that’s the chief reason why the original main event, Joey Janela vs. Sami Callihan, was canceled; but with Sami involved.. who really fuckin’ knows? And I know the Joey Ryan-type gaga isn’t for everyone, but Janela tagging with Penelope against JR & Laura James was funny AF! Well done. Ospreay and Xavier also had a Top 25-for-the-wknd main event that you should probably seek out. Considering all the circumstances, CZW put on a solid show.
Chelsea Green & Britt Baker vs. Charli Evans & Jessica Troy – 2.25/5
Mia Yim, Kay Lee Ray, & Rhia O’Reilly vs. Kellyannne, Veda Scott, & Zoe Lucas – 3/5
Samantha Heights vs. Kimber Lee – 2.5/5
SHIMMER Tag Team Championship: Leva Bates & Delilah Doom vs. Lufisto & Hudson Envy – 2/5
Cheerleader Melissa vs. Shotzi Blackheart – 2.75/5
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Madison Eagles – 3.75/5
Toni Storm vs. Nicole Matthews – 3.25/5
Heart of SHIMMER Championship: Tessa Blanchard vs. Shazza Mckenzie – 3.5/5
SHIMMER Championship: Nicole Savoy vs. Mercedes Martinez – 3.5/5
Overall = 3/5 Bibles.
Do yourself a favor and skip to the final hour of this show: it’s friggin’ good. It’s a shame that 5 matches of plentiful mistakes and half-ass action got me so tired for a very prominent final hour. Maybe all of these Mania Weekend shows should go only an hour and 15-minutes a piece, so everyone could see the majority of them in person. This was my first time ever watching Shimmer, but, of course, many of the faces were familiar from the Mae Young Classic, and, not surprisingly, many of those some gals are in the last 4 contests. I can only imagine being there live, with the last hour of great action detered by a nothing-more-than-polite crowd of folks; the others seemed to have had enough after the first 90 and maybe had to leave early to get to another show. I wonder if sometimes staying at home for Mania weekend is a blessing. Either way, you’ve heard the names Tessa Blanchard, Deonna Purrazzo, Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez; now, do yourself a favor and check out the women they faced in these very good matches. They may just have a future date with Ronda Rousey on RAW.
***WWN Style Battle***
Style Battle 1st Round: Tracer X vs. AR Fox – 2.75/5
Style Battle 1st Round: Anthony Henry vs. Jason Kincaid – 2.75/5
Style Battle 1st Round: Snoop Strikes vs. Matt Riddle – 2.5/5
Style Battle 1st Round: Keith Lee vs. Nick Gage – 2.25/5
WWA4 Wrestling School Scramble Thing – 1.25/5
Style Battle Semifinals: AR Fox vs. Anthony Henry – 2.75/5
Style Battle Semifinals: Matt Riddle vs. Keith Lee – N/A/5
Curt Matthews & Jared Wayne vs. Matt Knicks & Stevie Fierce vs. Chance Champion & Omar Amir vs. Purple Haze & Blake Wilder vs. Crazy Boy & Aero Boy vs. Jimmy Lloyd & Tony Deppen – 1/5
Logan Creed vs. Joey Ozbourne vs. Francisco Ciatso vs. Andrew Jackson vs. Blanco Loco – 1.5/5
Style Battle Final: Anthony Henry vs. Matt Riddle – 3.5/5
Overall = 2/5 Bibles
Look. This show was doomed from the start. First off, very few people knew about; very few people even know what Style Battle is. Hell, its official Twitter account sponsored by indie pro wrestling conglomerate, WWN — @WWNStyleBattle — only has 790 Followers. I’m not even one of them. Its most recent tweet, its only tweet in over a month, has 2 likes and 2 retweets. Not that social media is the be-all/end-all, but this is all crazy to me considering that this tournament of diverse styles billed such big indie names like Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Darby Allin, Dave Crist (later replaced by Snoop Strikes), and Nick Gage. If you’re not gonna bother promoting it, why bother putting it on? How did you even make money doing this show? Second, this little $10 number had to go up against NXT TakeOver. Even people who weren’t lucky enough to attend that classic (marks who probably cried on the plane the whole way back to wherever the fuck they came from) didn’t care to attend a $10 wrestling show with Lee and Riddle. In all, it had mostly good wrestling–matches that truthfully would’ve earned higher ratings had they been in front of more than 22 people. There was SERIOUSLY no more than 50 people at the venue and that might be reaching. While I know this is only Season 1, maybe Season 2 can think twice about becoming a reality.
***House of Hardcore 40***
“Wildcard” J Spade vs. “Outlaw” Matt Lancie – 2/5
Twitch TV Title Semifinal: Alex Reynolds vs. Swoggle – 1.75/5
Twitch TV Title Semifinal: Willie Mack vs. Killer Kross – 2.5/5
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express & Hurricane Helms vs. The Spirit Squad – 2/5
MVP vs. Carlito – 2.5/5
Joey Ryan vs. Teddy Hart – 3/5
Fatal 5-Way: Super Crazy vs. Clayton Gainz vs. Ace Romero vs. Trey Miguel vs. Myron Reed – 2.25/5
Austin Aries vs. Brian Cage – 3.25/5
Killer Elite Squad vs. Tommy Dreamer & Billy Gunn – 2.25/5
Triple Threat – Twitch TV Championship: Willie Mack vs. Alex Reynolds vs. Sami Callihan – 3.5/5
Overall = 2.5/5 Bibles
OK, OK. I know, I know. This isn’t even the type of event that should be rated, or even reviewed. One look at what is the, *sniffle*card would tell the whole story, would let you know what this is really all about. On one hand, I was really impressed with Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore 40 for many of the reasons why people go gaga over Joey Janella’s Spring Break. It’s SORT OF the same concept, perhaps a little less goofier — and that’s saying something, seeing how we had a TITLE TOURNAMENT match with Swoggle, Joey Ryan vs. Teddy Hart, and the return of the Rock N’ Roll Express with THE HURRICANE(!) against the fuckin’ Spirit Squad. Yeah, it’s like all the crazy shit you hated about the Attitude Era coming back to haunt you, and make your realize how much you missed that shit. Despite not being so much “Hardcore” due to all the LSAC rules (which they had a blast playing along with, especially in the Dreamer match), this might be the most fun average wrestling show you’ll see. If you like legends, silliness, with a nice group of indie studs thrown in for good measure (Willie Mack, Sami Callihan, Austin Aires and Brian Cage were all pretty great), you can watch this on Twitch for free.