The one with the barbed wire Christmas Tree: Beyond Wrestling “Ends Meet” Reviewed

Initial Thought: The crowd looks really big.

 

JT fixes my bitch from “Tournament For Tomorrow 3”: If you read my TFT3 review you know that I was way down on the way that the JT Dunn/David Starr “break up” story unfolded. I thought the whole thing made both Dunn and Starr come off bad and I didn’t understand why they’d choose to handle things in that manner. This show opens with Dunn basically admitting that he was a baby at TFT3, and telling the crowd that he’s being helped by Chris Hero to get his mind right. Basically Dunn says he was wrong, and it’s time to move forward. I’m a fan of that being the story moving forward so lets see if they can keep the momentum going.

 

EYFBO v. Doom Patrol (w/ Larry Legend): Is this match still happening? The introductions for this match started around the 13 minute mark of my video, Jaka steps out f the ring at 44:00. The opening match, with no feud, no rivalry, no storyline support — took up 31 minutes. My criticism here isn’t of the match itself, lost somewhere in this bloated mess was an excellent tag team match. My problem is that this absolutely felt like four guys, going into business for themselves and deciding that they had thought of so many great spots that they’d just use them all and ignore the clock. I hate that. I’ve heard it said many times in conversation that anyone can have a compelling 20 minute match, it takes true artistry to tell a story in 4 minutes. This match was fine, but the length should be reserved for blood rivalries and well developed stories. You don’t need five different hot tag exchanges, you don’t need four different chop/slap exchanges, you don’t need a brawl to the outside including a pazuzu bomb off the stage into the crowd. You can have some of those things, but you don’t need all of those things. So was this match fine? Sure, but if it had come in closer to 15 minutes than 30 it would’ve been a lot better. Also, admittedly I’m looking through this lens with the benefit of knowing the future – but Angel Ortiz and Mike Draztik become member of Team Pazuzu — so, I dunno, if you’re ultimately going to be friends maybe don’t spend 30 minutes beating the holy hell out of each other including, like I said before, a pazuzu bomb off the stage.

 

Tommaso Ciampa v. Drew Gulak: There is a lesson here folks. The opener was a bloated mess that went almost a half hour. It was followed up by a brilliant, brutal, emotional fight between two longtime Beyond Wrestling rivals that clocks in under 10 minutes. This match is simple and gorgeous. From the minute Gulak hits the ring it’s a war between two guys who have a history in the promotion. The thing I love about both of these guys is that when they’re in the ring it feels like a fight. Yes, professional wrestling has a choreographed element, but the beauty is in constructing something so that the audience doesn’t see the wires. When Jay Lethal does a Lethal Injection without every looking over his shoulder because he knows his opponent is in position (because it’s rehearsed for him to be in position) that is bad. When Drew Gulak bounces off the ropes, hits his knees and slides into position to take Ciampa down into an ankle lock and it looks kind of ugly and disjointed – that’s the brilliance of two guys who know what they’re doing. Honestly, I wish the last match had gone 15 minutes shorter and this match went 5 minutes longer. In the end Ciampa hits Gulak with a lariat and knocks his effin’ head off to get the pin. At the end the crowd chants “WE WANT MORE” and I don’t need to tell you that they didn’t say that after the opener.

 

*Chile Lucha Libre All Stars World Championship*

Shynron © v. AR Fox: AR Fox is terrific in making you believe that he has absolutely no respect for Shynron. Gulak and Busick don’t like each other and that’s the story they’re telling. I don’t get the feeling that Fox doesn’t like Shynron. I get the feeling that he honestly can’t fathom a situation where Shynron is better than him and that it is’ own specific skill. That story actually works here too because Shynron absolutely proves that he’s the equal of AR Fox and at the end, Fox needs the help of the lovely Mrs. Foxy, a low blow to Kevin Quinn and a shot to Shynron’s head with the CLL belt to try and get the victory. But in an example of intelligent booking, Fox hits Shynron with the belt and tosses the belt to the point where it almost hits Kevin Quinn in the face. There is no doubt that Quinn saw the shot, so when a secondary ref tries to count three, Quinn interferes and throws the match out. So often you’d have the referee clearly in the line of sight of the interference and pretend they hadn’t seen anything. This was much more satisfying and sets up the inevitable feud ending speciality match (in this case a ladder match on March 1st).

 

Pinkie Sanchez (w/ Larry Legend) v. Colt Cabana: This was a match that happened. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I don’t like comedy in my wrestling – Chuck Taylor v. Archibald Peck remains one of my favorite matches of all time. That being said, this match combined a lot of things that I don’t particularly like into one place. I enjoy Colt Cabana as a podcast celebrity more than Colt Cabana the professional wrestler at this point. I’m not going to say much about this match because the whole thing just felt like going through the motions to get to the post match where Colt offers to tag with Pinkie and Jaka and Dickinson run out and beat Colt to a pulp. Then EYFBO come out because their 40 minute blood feud wasn’t enough earlier. Oh did you think that earlier brutal brawl indicated that these guys weren’t friends? Well you’d be wrong because now they’re all working together to beat up Colt Cabana. The entire segment, from the beginning of the match to the end of the interminable beat down lasts about 40 minutes. If you’re wondering 80 minutes of Team Pazuzu is *WAY* too long. Here’s my biggest problem – in the last 18 months we’ve seen this from Dickinson before, and then the next month he’s right back to looking for applause and trying to be a good guy. I’ll give this a general “wait and see” rating but man it took these guys a really long time to get the fireworks factory.

 

M1nute Men v. Garden State Gods: Let me start with the good. The M1nute Men turned “heel” at TFT3 by joining the Crusade For Change in the dumbest non-interference, interference spot that I can remember. This month they come out with new gear, face paint and (and this is the key) wrestling a different style. The key to getting a team over as having changed is to actually change them — M1nute Men did a great job of being more aggressive, but more grounded and doing things that actual bad guys would do instead of doing high spots to pop the crowd and then like, flipping them off. So, nice work by the M1nute Men in showing some actual growth and change. Unfortunately it wasn’t all good — for some unknown reason Mike Quest thought that the midway point in this match would be a great time to just take off all his clothes and wrestle in a speedo and skirt combination. It didn’t make any sense and kind of put an air of comedy on this match which was absolutely out of place and not called for. The second problem that I had is that the match ends with a Crusade For Change beatdown of the Garden State Gods — the second consecutive match that ends  with a prolonged gang style beat down. At least this one had some semblance of storyline behind it – the Gods had won the right to face Carter and Marconi, so Darius, after the beat down, gets on the microphone and forces the match to take place right then and there. Of course at this point it’s semantic and the Crusade pins the Garden State Gods with ease. Unlike the previous beat down that just went on forever with no real pay off, at least this had some direction and the crowd was legitimately involved in this one — so in that regard it’s a significant step up. But at some point I assume somebody watches these shows and maybe decides not to run two consecutive matches/angles that are strikingly similar.

 

David Starr v. Kimber Lee: At this point Kimber Lee’s alligator clutch pin is the most lethal move in Beyond Wrestling right? It can come at any point and it’s an automatic critical kill. My only problem (again) with this match was that it felt like it was only here to set up the post match stuff. After Kim gets the pin, Starr continues to argue with her and JT Dunn comes out to calm people down. This of course brings out Chris Hero who interjects himself into the fray and calms everyone down. After Starr and Kimber leave, Hero slaps Dunn in the face and admonishes him. I guess we’re going right into the next match.

 

Chris Hero & JT Dunn v. Brian Myers & Ryan Galeone: I have a confession to make — I’m not a big Chris Hero fan. Hero is one of those guys that is absolutely in my wheelhouse. I had kind of fallen out of love with independent wrestling around 2008/09 which meant that I missed a lot of Hero’s “peak” but I was never really a fan. With that being said I really liked Hero in this match, to the point where I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say this is my favorite Chris Hero match ever (hyperbole!). I can’t even explain why I liked this match so much. Hero’s strikes all seemed to have purpose and force, which is no small feat but an important aspect of striking for a guy who claims to be a world class striker. I also thought the way all four guys interacted was interesting. I was going to say that Hero and Dunn pausing near the end to time their strikes together showed a lack of focus — but then that exact thing (lack of focus) winds up costing them the match with Dunn being pinned by Galeone via backslide. I also really liked the post match stuff where Dunn reacted childish, shoving both Myers and Galeone until Hero got between them and basically had to straighten Dunn out. It plays off their mentor/mentee relationship while also establishing Dunn as the wildcard in this relationship. I am interested to see where this goes — which is a significant step up from some of the other things I’ve said in this review.

 

*Fans Bring the Weapons*

Matt Tremont v. Stockade: At the outset I need to mention that Matt Tremont is in rarified air at Fete Music. I don’t think his popularity rises to the level of Biff Busick or Dan Barry but I’d argue that outside of those two, there isn’t anyone in Beyond Wrestling more connected to the fans than Tremont. This match is a great example of why because this match is awesome. I am not a fan of deathmatch wrestling, or ultraviolence, but Tremont has a way of working these matches so that they don’t just seem like blood and gore fests. I defy anyone to not enjoy a match that features a barb wire Christmas tree. Stockade deserves some love as well because he upheld his end of the bargain, dishing out some violence but also taking some shots so that you understand that both guys were invested in this type of mayhem. I don’t think this was better than Busick/Tremont which was the first “Fans Bring the Weapons” match in Beyond Wrestling, but it was still excellent, and the finish was awesome. I was surprised that Stockade won the match, having already won the Bullrope Match at “TFT3” but I don’t think it was a bad decision either. Tremont is obviously invested in the success of Stockade as he’s essentially making him all over the wrestling landscape and this was no difference.  At this point I’d watch Matt Tremont in literally any situation but it’s obvious that he’s incredibly talented in laying out these ultraviolent matches and even to a non-fan his passion and his skill in this environment is recognizable. So yeah, keep up the great work Matt Tremont, you’re awesome.

 

Team TREMENDOUS v. Da Hoodz: Let me just start by saying that I’m glad Dan Barry isn’t dead. If you’ve seen this match than you know what I’m referencing. This match really convincing me that I’ve watched too many tag team matches in the last couple of days because it had every element that I really love and yet, I dunno, it didn’t exactly work for me. One thing about independent wrestling that I think can end is the idea that every tag team match has to be tornado tag rules. Most matches start off with like six minutes of regular tag team work and then everything just breaks apart and we never really get tags again. I’m kind of over that. If that’s going to be the system I’d prefer that U.S indys use Dragon Gate rules which at least require someone to go out of the ring before the next guy comes in.  This match started like that and then devolved into chaos, which in a four team or more situation I understand but this was a standard tag match between the top two regular tag teams on the Beyond roster. I’m just not crazy about everyone in the ring together at the same time. I’m also going to cut this match some slack – Dan Barry legitimately landed on his skull on the floor and I have to imagine that the brain damage he was suffering through might have played into the final five minutes or so. Even in a match that I didn’t totally love, this was still two great teams working a solid match together – the issue I really have is that I’ve seen these two teams in the ring together in better matches. I know what they’re capable of  and I’m not sure this ever reached that extra level (again, keep in mind, Dan Barry almost died so all is excused, survival trumps all).

 

Michael Bennett v. Biff Busick: This match is excellent. It’s kind of everything that I’ve talked about in this review which is to say focused and with a point. This match is intending to tell a story and they don’t waste time telling it — well almost, there are two different spots on the stage which probably weren’t really needed, but for the most part nothing felt unnecessary. I don’t need to tell you that a Biff Busick match in Fete Music was great, it’s a bit redundant at this point so instead I’m going to give some love to Michael Bennett. How many wrestlers embrace being true heels on the independent circuit? Not many. I assume a lot of that has to do with the fact that these guys make money on their ability to connect with a crowd, and nobody really wants to be universally loathed. I mean I criticized Chris Dickinson for it in this review. When you think of the top heels, guys like the Bullet Club, Adam Cole, Eddie Kingston — these guys are all bad guys who are popular and as such, sell merchandise. Bennett really isn’t that. Bennett does bad guy things, he rubs it in your face that he’s married to a woman that basically every male wrestling fan over the age of like 22 has had a crush on for years and oh by the way he’s also stealing your favorite WWE (former) wrestlers moves while being married to that guys ex-girlfriend. Bennett is also now incorporating attacking the crowd verbally into his schtick, which makes him about a pair of basketball shorts away from actually becoming early 2000’s CM Punk. Except, hell even early 2000’s CM Punk had the straight edge thing that endeared some members of the crowd to him. Bennett doesn’t even have that. He is literally only a heel with basically no redeeming quality (please disregard the fact that Michael Bennett has been incredibly gracious and kind to me when we’ve been within talking distance). I really admire the fact that he’s embraced being a true heel in an era where almost nobody wants to have that label. For the record I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Darius Carter has a similar trait which I equally respect.

 

*Best 3 out of 5 Falls*

Dave Cole v. Anthony Stone:  Incredible. Bell rings, Cole hits a brutal looking bit boot in the corner, top rope Dave Cole  bomb and Cole pins Stone within the first twenty seconds of the match. That basically set in motion how the rest of this match was going to play out. By way of history I should mention that to this point these two had previously been involved in 7 singles matches against each other, and were tied 3-3. So this is the tie breaker/feud ender. It’s the perfect type of match for this feud because though there has never been a 3 out of 5 falls match in Fete Music, it is a signature Beyond Wrestling match. If you go back through the history of Beyond Wrestling you’ll see that this match style pops up often. So to have it as the end-all-be-all of this particular feud seems fitting. One thing that I don’t really like about these types of matches is that they necessarily require you to break the rules of professional wrestling. You have to ignore the fact that in this match 5 falls take place, which means 4 times someone just got pinned and then got back up and continued a match where these two guys brutalized each other. I accept that as a necessary element of any multiple falls match – and I’m willing to excuse it here because holy mother of shit this match was excellent. Stone played a great underdog here, going down quickly 2-0 before storming back and winning the match 3-2. Cole for his part was excellent as the heavy, hitting some stiff and brutal looking strikes and keeping everything moving towards a logical conclusion. I’ve said before that these two were born to wrestle each other and nothing that happened here disproved that theory.  This was a great choice for the main event, and a perfect match to end 2014 on. For a company that booked most of the biggest names on the independent circuit to come to Fete Music in 2014 to go out with two essentially home grown talents putting on an amazing match is fitting. Even though names like the Young Bucks gain all the attention, guys like Stone and Cole were secretly the engines that powered the Beyond Wrestling machine in 2014 and it was great that the company let them close out the year in this fashion. This is a great motivator for everyone, Stone/Cole 1 took place at the RWA Chop Shop, the feud grew and grew and wound up being the main event of the final show of 2014 — that’s a great motivator for anyone who gets booked on the Dojo Wars shows, and it’s a great sign that while Beyond does bring in the big names, they’re always looking to build from within.


Verdict:
This was a great show. I know I bitched about the pacing in some of the segments, but honestly the good stuff far out weighed the bad stuff. Essentially everything from David Starr/Kimber Lee to the end was really good, and AR Fox/Shynron was excellent.  I really liked this show, I loved the main event. I do think that there was a little too much emphasis on “post match” stuff, mainly the Team Pazuzu stuff drove me crazy because their matches all went too long, and their post match stuff was all too long as well. On the flip side i did like the Crusade For Change stuff because it elicited a response from the crowd and if they’re booing it’s better than if they’re silent.  I would absolutely recommend this show, and I bet if you were there live that it’s translates even better on video because this seemed like it was a *super* long night at Fete Music and bless the crowd for hanging in there and giving some passion during the main event. I know how hard it is to stand around Fete Music during these drawn out shows and sometimes you lose the crowd by the end of the night, but it’s a testament to the crowd and to Anthony Stone and Dave Cole that everyone seemed to remain invested right to the end.

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Can I Interest You in Three Young Bucks Matches in One Night? Beyond Wrestling “TFT3″ Reviewed

So it’s Beyond Wrestling week here and as a major component of that my intent is to post reviews of all the Beyond shows which I’ve neglected up to this point. We’re starting together with “Tournament for Tomorrow 3″ and will be following up with “Ends Meet” and “Hit & Run” before the end of the week. As a reminder, Beyond Wrestling will present “King of Arts” at Fete Music on March 1st and you can (and should) buy your tickets right now. Also if you’re looking to pick up copies of these Beyond shows, they’re now all available through Smart Mark Video.

As a warning, I’m switching up my regular style of reviews because honestly there are a lot of hours to get through here and I want to make sure that this is done before Friday. Also you should note that I am reviewing the “raw footage w/ wrestler commentary’ which I don’t think impacts my feelings about the show, but it might, so keep that in mind.

Da Hoodz v. The Young Bucks: This was absolutely the right match to open the show and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t think that there was much question that Da Hoodz were going to lose this match, but the road that they took to get to the foregone conclusion of an outcome was great. Da Hoodz looked every bit as good as the Bucks in this match and it’s not easy to convey a story that two teams are equal when one of the teams is the best tag team in the world, but they did it here. Kris Pyro always looks good in situations where he can use his speed, but Davey Cash looked really good during this match as well, including a nice segment where he basically runs roughshod over both Jacksons. The end, with Pyro moonsaulting into a double superkick and Cash being laid out with the IndyTaker for three was excellent and the crowd actually boo’d the finish. When you can get an independent wrestling crowd to boo the Young Bucks winning a match – you’ve accomplished something special.  Da Hoodz won’t advance in the tournament, but they should feel good that they went toe to toe with the best tag team in the world and didn’t look out of place at all. Kudos to the live crowd at Fete for the “thank you both” chant aimed at Da Hoodz, one because Da Hoodz deserved the recognition, but also in storyline terms this tournament came about because of Da Hoodz.

 

Team TREMENDOUS v. The Gentlemen’s Club (Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy w/ Swamp Monster): I could talk about this match in total, but I’d rather just talk about Orange Cassidy. I’m not sure Cassidy gets enough credit for what he does. I can’t even begin to think how difficult it must be to wrestle with the style that Cassidy wrestles with. There are times when he’s legitimately just walking in a very deliberate pace but he’s always hitting his spots, he’s always in the right place – it’s actually pretty impressive. Also, it’s kind of a one note bit, but he’s able to keep a crowd in his hands throughout this match (in particular) and he deserves credit for that too. The match itself struggled at times because I think Barry and Carr work best when they’re the comic relief, and in this match they weren’t and it’s tough to take them seriously as the heavy (so to speak). Team TREMENDOUS advances in the tournament though after Dan Barry pins Orange Cassidy and this one was fun but I was just absorbed by Orange Cassidy which I think is a testament to him.

 

The Osirian Portal v. The Juicy Product: Lemme say this — I won’t begrudge you if you really dug this match. I understand that there is a very large group of wrestling fans that will watch this thing and just eat it up. Hell I’m in that group most of the time — but for some reason this thing just didn’t work for me. I don’t know when I turned on the Juicy Product but something about the act and the obvious Young Bucks cosplay thing just doesn’t work for me. It’s a tone deaf adaptation, essentially doing things that the Bucks do, but without the charisma or the purpose that the Bucks have. It might not make sense, but to me the Bucks aren’t impersonating DX (or the nWo) they’re putting their own twist on those acts, it’s a tribute. The Juicy Product is doing an impression of a team doing a tribute of someone else – and a copy of a copy of a copy is just never going to work. This match also was essentially tornado tag, no tags, everyone in the ring just hitting crazy finishing moves all over the place and kicking out. At one point JT Dunn even hits Amasis with a Canadian Destroyer on the ring apron and it’s like a transition. I dunno maybe it’s just me – I liked the stuff the Juicy Product was doing in between the worm and the dancing and the crotch chops, the stuff that got them to a place where people were putting them in the same sentence as the Young Bucks. The rest of it just never clicked for me and I was glad when it ended. For purposes of the tournament the JP move on.

 

Doom Patrol v. Da Hit Squad: I feel like a broken record here but could someone please tell me what in the world Chris Dickinson is doing? Sometimes he’s trying to be a good guy, sometimes he’s trying to be the devil may care bad ass, and other times (like early in this match) he’s a chickenshit heel. I maintain that Dickinson has the ability and the charisma to be the most important guy in the room at Fete, but he’s naturally a badass, devil-may-care type who plays like cocky, comedy character because he wants the crowd to love him. I hate it and it distracts me. The crowd would love him if he just embraced who he is naturally, instead he hedges his bets and it just ruins it for me. Really I’m just asking Dickinson to do what Jaka did in this match because Jaka was awesome here. Da Hit Squad was amazing. Actually the match itself (outside of my criticism of Dickinson) was great. The crowd ate it up, it was hard hitting and physical as it needed to be and it told a story (unlike the previous match which was just a series of finishers and taunts for 10 minutes). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am too much of a Kobashi fan to not get a little bent out of shape when Monsta Mack kicked out of a Burning Hammer at one, but at the same time I did chuckle. My only complaint about this match is that it went too long, by the end Da Hit Squad were wrestling like someone had thrown pianos on their respective backs, but otherwise this was a pretty fun brawl.

 

Silver Ant v. Eddie Edwards: This match was probably exactly what you thought it would be. If you like Eddie Edwards (like I do) than you will have enjoyed this match (which I did). On the other hand if you’re one of those people that thinks Edwards is a cheese and white bread type of performer than you can skip this one. It started off technical, the brawling picked up in the middle and Edwards was able to take advantage of Silver Ant’s injured knee to get Silver Ant to tap out to the single leg crab. I had fun, the crowd enjoyed it, and on a moments notice I’d say it’s Silver Ant’s best Beyond Wrestling performance even in a loss.

 

Pinkie Sanchez v. Brian Cage: This match was delightful. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Brian Cage match more. The sneaky thing about Cage is that everyone wants to put him into matches with other big guys for a hoss fight because he’s such a freak, but Cage is infinitely better in matches against smaller guys. Pinkie for his part is an insane person, so the dichotomy between these two is pitch perfect.  Honestly as of this point in the show, this is my favorite match and it’s not even close. Pinkie doing the body builder poses at the beginning, Cage catching Pinkie in a vertical suplex and running around the outside of the ring with him over his head, the terrible reverse rana that was awesome and hilarious and bad. The whole thing worked for me and I really dug it.

 

Doom Patrol v. Young Bucks: This is going to sound offensive or dismissive but I honestly can’t remember this match and I literally just finished watching it. I know the Bucks won with the package piledriver/superkick combo on Dickinson. Other than that there was nothing particularly memorable here. I thought it was interesting because the Bucks were brought into a more brawl oriented match which isn’t their style but they adapted well. Where the opening match made Da Hoodz seem on par with the Bucks, this match didn’t really feel like the Bucks were taken to the brink, but I also understand that at some point when you’re wrestling three times in one night that you can’t have every match be a knock down, drag out brawl. It was fine, if unforgettable if that makes sense. The highlight probably was Matt stealing the microphone before the match from Rich Palladino and introducing the Bucks as the “Greatest tag team in the world.”

 

Team TREMENDOUS v. Juicy Product: On the one hand, I liked this match more than the Juicy Product’s first round match because they kept the taunts to a minimum and just wrestled. On the other hand this match was kind of boring. I think the same problem plagued this match that plagued the Bucks second round match which is that it’s really hard to go full throttle for three matches in one night, so unfortunately the middle match suffers.  I’d say that I would like to see these two teams face each other in a different setting but the post match shenanigans pretty much confirms that won’t happen. Dunn storms out after blaming Starr for losing the match claiming it was supposed to be us “and the Young Bucks”. Here’s the problem — Dunn flips out on Starr (unfairly I might add) and walks out on his partner. So Dunn is the heel. Except that Starr then throws some shade at Kimber Lee, blaming her for this, during a time when the crowd is chanting “Thank You David” — so now he’s the heel. Basically the only person who doesn’t come off like an asshole in this segment is Kimber Lee, which I’m almost certain wasn’t the point.

 

*Texas Bullrope Match*

Matt Tremont v. Stockade: I love Beyond Wrestling. Before this match starts you can just hear a kid’s voice in the crowd yell “this is gonna be awesome!” Tremont is absolutely on the short list of most popular guys at Fete Music. The fact that Tremont is so beloved in Fete made this match a bit of a problem because Stockade wins after hitting Tremont with a Michinoku Driver on an open chair. The crowd didn’t really want to see Stockade win, so you could feel the air suck out of the room a bit. I’ll say that this is a tough stipulation to make work but these two did a hell of a job with it. Extra points to Tremont for calling back to the history of the Bull Rope Match and doing some Dusty Rhodes (daddy) bionic elbows. Just a solid brawl between two big hosses, I can’t be mad at that. After the match Tremont talks about the match being “old school” and then Tremont tells Stockade that they are not done, this was only Chapter 2. Next time we’re in Providence, Rhode Island, Tremont says he’s asking the fans to bring the weapons. Crowd loves that announcement because of course they do.

 

*TFT3:16 Finals*

Biff Busick & Drew Gulak v. Milk Chocolate v. Ninjas With Altitude v. Garden State Gods: You really do need to experience a Biff Busick entrance at Fete Music, it’s magic. For Beyond Wrestling this is the equivalent of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns against the Usos, Gold & Stardust and Miz & Mizdow, which is to say that it’s almost unfair — Gulak and Busick are super powered. I thought very highly of this match but I have to mention that this match does feature literally the worst, most nonsensical example of outside interference leading to a team getting eliminated that I can ever remember. Basically TJ Marconi and Darius Carter show up and distract the Garden State Gods, then two Guy Fawkes mask wearing dudes jump on the apron, the Gods turn their attention to the mask wearing guys, WHO NEVER GET IN THE RING, they unmask to reveal the M1nute Men, who then bail – this NOTHING HAPPENING is enough to distract Eric Corvis and force him out of the ring and allow Shynron to hit a spinning ace crusher on Mike Quest for the pin. If it sounds dumb than I’m doing a good job explaining it, because it was dumb. But here’s the thing it was effective in removing the Garden State Gods and leaving just the Ninjas with Altitude in the ring against Drew Gulak & Biff Busick. When I tell you that something is magic, you should trust me — the portion of this match between the final two teams was absolutely magic. Just four guys who have skill sets that perfectly compliment and play off one another. Shynron and Kitsune brought the speed and the kicks, Gulak and Busick provided perfect bases for the acrobatic offense, and had the power to counter things where necessary. Shynron at one point goes coast to coast the long way, jumping the entire span of the ring to dropkick Gulak in the corner and splash Busick — just incredible. I can’t even run down the insane offense here, but the finish was excellent with Gulak and Busick powerbombing Kitsune and Shynron together – just a mass of tangled humanity. The early portion of the match had me scared that it wouldn’t deliver, but the final two teams cleared a very high bar and as of this point in the show had beyond a shadow of a doubt stolen the show. I can’t imagine that the Bucks or Team TREMENDOUS were excited to try and follow that.

 

*TFT3 Finals*

The Young Bucks v. Team TREMENDOUS: Sometimes a wrestling match just has the power to make you feel good. That’s what this match did to me. It took me out of my critical mindset, it made me forget that I was going to be writing a review, and it allowed me to just sit back, smile and enjoy two teams operating at the highest level, tell a compelling story. Before watching this match I knew how it ended. I knew that Team TREMENDOUS won the tournament so I could deduce that Dan Barry wasn’t going to get pinned by the IndyTaker, or the superkick/package piledriver combo — but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t let myself get taken away by the story. When Barry kicked out of the second Bucks finisher (package piledriver/superkick) I actually laughed. I was convinced the match was over, and that somehow this video that I was watching was going to chance the space/time continuum as I knew it to exist. This match was excellent and it told a compelling story that actually began during the “Alive & Kicking” main event. Dan Barry’s resilence is the story — Dan Barry’s heart, and his determination is the story. The Young Bucks are the best tag team in the world, but on this night, no matter what they threw at Team TREMENDOUS it would not be enough. After the match Matt Jackson grabs the microphone and says “you two just beat the best tag team in the world, congratulations — enjoy it” which is about the most effusive praise you’ll ever get in the ring from either of the Bucks and it was well deserved. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed the end of a show more than Dan and Bill hugging in the middle of the ring along after winning the TFT3. That was awesome.


The Verdict:
This entire show would get my recommendation just for everything that happens from the elimination of the Garden State Gods during the TFT3:16  finals right through Dan and Bill hugging to end the show. I can’t imagine that there will ever be a show that featured three different Young Bucks matches and three different Team TREMENDOUS matches that I wouldn’t highly recommend. It didn’t all work — and you could tell that the weekend of wrestling took its toll on some of the people involved (the fans included), but seriously the last fifty minutes or so of this show is about as good as independent wrestling can be.

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The New Beginning in Osaka (02.11.2015) Reviewed

I wasn’t sure how to feel about the New Beginning in Osaka card before watching it. I won’t spoil my thoughts until the end but this show felt a little recycled to me and while I’m interested to see where we’re going from here, it was tough for me to shake the feeling that I had seen this show before.

Sho Tanaka v. Yohei Komatsu: I don’t want this to come out wrong but when these two are in the ring together it’s not super easy to identify them quickly. They’re both wearing black trunks, black boots, left knee brace. I think it’s fun that these two are basically learning on the job together as Tanakas’ entire entrance video is just clips of him wrestling Yohei Komatsu. While Tanaka got the win, Komatus shined in this one for me — his facial expressions were amazing when he was hooked in the single leg crab. Otherwise it was a bit bland but I give extra credit points for great facial work.

Capt. New Japan & Manabu Nakanishi v. Mascara Dorada & Tiger Mask IV: What happened here? Did New Japan just decide to throw all of the guys who typically take pinfall loses and put them into a match together? This thing kind of makes sense later on when it becomes clear that Dorada is going to be going after the Jr. Heavyweight Title but this match was a bit of a mess. It felt like Dorada had to move in half speed and most of his time in the ring was indiscriminately jumping around aimlessly and then pausing to wait for someone like Nakanishi to catch up to him. I dunno, I was glad when this was over. Dorada got the small package pinfall over Captain New Japan because I guess we’re trying to protect Capt. New Japan now?

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Thunder Liger v. Chase Owens & Rob Conway: Is it possible for a highlight of a match to simply be accessories? Bruce Tharpe is amazing. As good as Komatsu’s facial expressions were in the opener, Bruce Tharpe murders all expectations in this segment just going overboard on being great, not to mention he’s wearing a gold jacket with gold sunglasses. Rob Conway for his part is playing a weird Macho Man hybrid where he happens to have the most insane America jacket, cowboy hat, war medals? pinned to his chest look going that I’ve ever seen. Rob Conway is literally a billboard for accessories and I love him for it. It’s also amazing watching this match that Liger remains *super* popular in Japan. Dude has been the most popular guy in the room for like 30+ years, even Ric Flair went through periods where people wanted to see someone else. Chase Owens, the most Create-A-Wrestler lookin’ dude in all of Japan at this point winds up getting a pinfall win over Liger because I assume we’re building tension before their NWA Jr. Heavyweight Title rematch.

 

Kota Ibushi v. Tomoaki Honma: This match exceeded my expectations. I don’t know why I was concerned about it — Honma has an uncanny ability to get the crowd to fully commit to his cause, even when everyone is relatively certain that it’s a losing one. Both guys here made the other look like a million bucks and the crowd in Osaka ate this one up. I like that Ibushi isn’t just using his speed and kicks to take advantage of presumably slower heavyweights — he’s committed to matching them power for power because he truly believes that he can hang with any heavyweight, no guile necessary. The spot in the end where Ibushi turns Honma inside out with a lariat and drops him with a powerbomb was a nice touch. Also a nice bit of work was that Honma wouldn’t stay down for the power moves – and it took Ibushi hitting a 450 splash to put Honma away. I really liked this match – the crowd was heavily involved, Honma looked strong and Ibushi winds up looking even stronger because he went toe to toe with a heavyweight, took everything that Honma had and was still able to win. Obviously beating Honma and beating someone like Nakamura is significantly different, but for the time being it’s a good step in the right direction for Ibushi.

*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match*

reDRagon (c) v. Time Splitters v. The Young Bucks: Let me just say off the top that I went into this match with some significant reservations. It has felt (it may not be true, but it has felt) like some assemblage of these three teams have been involved in every Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title match since Wrestle Kingdom 8. I started to feel like maybe these guys were getting stale together. Through the first maybe 7-9 minutes of this match I thought I was vindicated because I wasn’t really liking the match. It was a good match but it was one I had seen before. All three of these teams are so good though that even in a match that I’ve seen before they add enough wrinkles that I find myself just wrapped up in the moment by the time it’s over. As weird as it sounds, I never thought reDRagon could retain. Most of the match felt like there was clearly going to be a title change — but I have to confess that after the Indy Taker didn’t finish it, I thought KUSHIDA was going to get the pin. That the Bucks won the match to become 2x IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions was a bit of a surprise. Now I’m just hoping that we get some freshening up of the division because as wonderful as these three teams are together, it’s time to get some new blood in the water.

*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match*

Kenny Omega (c) v. Ryusuke Taguchi: Kenny Omega is an anime character come to life. His facial expressions, his body movement, it’s all so over exaggerated and intense and I just love watching him walk around the ring. Taguchi on the other hand should don his Apollo 55 spacesuit and blast off to another planet. The strangest part of this match was the forced sodomoy by both guys using the Bullet Club flag. Apparently that wasn’t a DQ, though the referee did break up Omega using his chainsaw arm on Taguchi, so at least you know what is and is not allowed in these types of matches. The biggest cheer of the night probably came after Omega retained the belt and proceeded to destroy Taguchi (with a three man Indy Taker alongside the Young Bucks on a chair). When Mascara Dorada came out and made it very clear that he’s coming for the Jr. heavyweight title, the crowd seemed to finally care about what was happening in the ring — that’s not a great sign for the Funky Weapon. This match was overall fine, I liked their WK9 match more and I’ll be happy if Taguchi is away from the title scene for awhile.

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi) v. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba and Toru Yano): Yikes. Look I like the story being told of Okada basically running through the Bullet Club to reclaim his mojo and get back to the top of the mountain. I think it’s a compelling use of Okada and a good way to keep him away from the main event for a little while. I also understand that in order to tell that story sometimes you’re going to get this match. Is Sakuraba even in CHAOS? Five of the six guys in this match I have no use for – especially if Fale isn’t going to hit the Bad Luck Fall. Okada is the focal point throughout and gets the pinfall win for his team and I’m just happy this one is over.

 

Yuji Nagata, Tetsuya Naito & Satoshi Kojima v. Shinsuke Nakamura, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii: At the top lets get out of the way that Shinsuke Nakamura has more movement during his ring entrance on this show than Tomohiro Ishii has had during the entire time I’ve been regularly watching New Japan (about two years). I generally don’t enjoy these matches which are essentially just three singles matches happening at one time — but this one was ok to me. It was relatively paint-by-numbers for the most part, but near the end Naito winds up getting busted open inside his mouth and he stops before the Stardust Press and smiles (I assume at his own image on the entrance ramp screen) and it was a cool visual. I’m sure Naito knows exactly what he is — if he’s a good guy, or a cocky, arrogant heel but I wish he’d embrace the hate because he’s so more more convincing as an arrogant heel. Naito pins YOSHI-HASHI after a Stardust Press because YOSHI-HASHI.

*IWGP Tag Team Championship*

Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata) v. Bullet Club (Gallows & Anderson): I’m not entirely sure that I’m on board with another Bullet Club tag team title reign but I really liked this match. I really liked their WK9 match too. These are two teams that have really good chemsitry and their strengths play off one another really well. All that being said, did we really need a title change at WK9 only to switch the belts right back to the Bullet Club in Meiyu Tag’s first meaningful defense. Bullet Club had a year long title reign, interrupted by a month of Meiyu Tag when New Japan is essentially on hiatus, and then we come right back with Bullet Club. I don’t know if I’m ok with that but I’m willing to see where this thing goes. At least the match was solid.

*IWGP Heavyweight Championship*

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v. AJ Styles: My initial thought is — what?! By now you already know that AJ Styles wins to regain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and I’m a bit confused as to the timeline. Putting this into historical context though, Scott Norton was the last gaijin to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title more than once, and he did that in March 2001.  I think the finish threw me for a loop because I did like this match as it was happening. In the middle of the action Tanahashi hit his High Fly Flow to the outside and took out the entire Bullet Club. In the act though he smashed his head against Matt Jackson and was busted wide open. It was a pretty serious cut that would bleed regularly for the rest of the match. I think the blood added a ton of drama to the match. I have no real issue with Styles winning, he hit the Styles Clash and pinned Tanahashi clean but it’s a weird story right? We’re now left with two challengers, Okada who is trying to get his mojo back by running through the Bullet Club (to presumably Styles now), and Tanahashi who is the Ace, who was trying to avenge his friend’s broken neck and who himself wound up injured and beaten at the hands of the Bullet Club. Essentially we’re back in the Spring/Fall of 2014 again. Much like the other title changes on this show I’m willing to see where this one goes.


Verdict:
New Beginning in Osaka felt a little bit like a re-run. We’ve launched 2015 and the Bullet Club has re-established themselves as the top of the food chain. Coming into this show they held only the Jr. Heavyweight Title. Leaving Osaka the Bullet Club now has the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag, Heavyweight Tag, Jr. Heavyweight, and Heavyweight Title. The show itself goes off with Karl Anderson holding court in the ring, the Bullet Club victorious and it’s hard not to feel like we haven’t just hit the reset button and gone back to mid-2014. I think it’s an interesting position that New Japan is now in. The Bullet Club went from white hot lightning through a strange transition (Devitt to AJ Styles) and then into a period of stagnation and now we find them basically coming back around again – it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the roster mounts a response.

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“The Road to New Beginning” (01.30.2015) Reviewed

I’m slowly working my writing juices back as we enter 2015. I got burnt out at the end of 2014, mainly because the WWE product was so terrible. I kept up with New Japan, loved WK9 but was in Disney World with my family that weekend so I never got around to reviewing the show properly. While Wrestle Kingdom is the biggest show of the year, it’s also kind of the official end of the previous years campaign. Then New Japan hits a lull, they give you some CMLL with Fantasticmania and the 2015 campaign begins in earnest with “The New Beginning” from Osaka.

 

This show is the first of the “Road to New Beginning” shows that is available on New Japan World. In light of the fact that it’s a relatively low impact house show I’m not going to do a full review, I’ll provide my notes from while I was watching the show. This is more for reference points later on than anything else, but you’ll also get to see what I thought of that highly anticipated Kyle O’Reilly/Yohei Komatsu match.

 

Alex Shelley v. Jay White:  This was White’s New Japan debut and he accorded himself well. I sometimes feel like New Japan missed the boat on Shelley. During the 2013 “Best of the Super Jr.” tournament, Shelley was the most popular guy in the room. I know the story that was being told kind of required Devitt to win the tournament, but had Shelley won I think he’d be seen in a much different light right now. He’s a great tag team wrestler, and that’s about the extent of in New Japan. This was a perfectly acceptable match if a bit by the numbers. It felt slow, which is likely because White is still learning, but Shelley wins with the Air Raid Crash. The crowd gave White a nice ovation as he left the ring, which is a positive sign in your debut.

 

Kyle O’Reilly v. Yohei Komatsu: With both Komatsu and O’Reilly basically wearing black trunks, black boots, the camera angle being the hard cam only made this one a little tough to follow at first. Komatsu did a good job hanging with O’Reilly, and I loved Komatsu’s flashes of offense and his arrogance in getting into a striking exchange with O’Reilly. Ultimately the young lion falls short though as O’Reilly finishes him off with a package belly to belly.

 

Mascara Dorada & KUSHIDA v. Young Bucks: It might be due to the fact that I just haven’t seen the Bucks much lately (I haven’t seen much of anything lately) but I liked this match a lot. Dorada is super quick and he had a great dive during this match to the floor. The Bucks win the Indy Taker on Dorada and I’m all about watching these four in the ring whenever they want to spend a solid 9 minutes having fun. Here’s the thing about the Bucks — they’re working hard in this match. I can’t recall ever seeing the Bucks take a night off and it makes you think how much pressure they must put on themselves being the “best tag team in the world.” It must be exhausting to have to be The Young Bucks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in different countries all over the world. The Bucks *always* have to be on, and I really don’t remember the last time I saw them off. I just think it’s impressive that you can basically guarantee when you roll the Bucks out to the ring of precisely what you’re going to get – can you be as confident about any other professional wrestler in the world?

 

Manabu Nakanishi, Captain New Japan & Tiger Mask IV v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Jushin Thunder Liger: This match was significantly better than it had any right to be. I do like the idea that Liger showed up, saw that Capt. New Japan was on the *other* team and got excited because he knew he’d be getting a win. CNJ was actually great in this match – got the Honma falling head butt spot (missed it on Tenzan) and then put up a valiant fight against both members of TenCozy before tapping out to the Anaconda Vice.

 

Testsuya Naito, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata v. Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano: This is the most baffling entrance sequence I’ve ever seen. Yano and YOSHI-HASHI come out together, then Naito and Honma come out together and then all the real participants come out with their own entrances in this order, Ishii, Makabe, Nagata and then Nakamura. The Ishii/Makabe stuff was good, the very early Nakmura/Nagata stuff was fine too. At one point though Nakamura comes out of the corner for a Boma-Ye and Nagata is supposed to do a belly to belly throw, which he does, except Nakamura doesn’t launch and just kind of gets driven into the mat face first — the match was a mess after that, Nakamura is lucky he didn’t get seriously hurt. YOSHI-HASHI finally gets tagged in 30 seconds before the finish as Nagata hits a Backdrop Hold on YOSHI-HASHI for the pin. Solid match that got a bit sloppy at the finish. Just glad Nakamura isn’t dead.

 

Kazuchika Okada & Gedo v. Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale: It’s the Bullet Club’s Rudderless Ship department. I haven’t enjoyed a Bad Luck Fale match that didn’t involve Devitt or Shinsuke Nakamura and that didn’t change here. Takahashi has never been in a match that I enjoyed so you know he isn’t dragging this thing out of purgatory. Because I don’t really count the Fantasticmania shows as canon this match felt weird because Okada is now in a strange place professionally. He’s lost to Tanahashi. New Japan has already told the story of Okada losing at Wrestle Kingdom to Tanahashi, vowing to win the New Japan Cup and then winning the belt after the NJ Cup victory — they can’t possibly be going back to that well, so you’re left to wonder precisely what is happening with Okada. I don’t hate the idea that Okada has hit a string of “bad luck” and I think it could be interesting to see Okada continue to slid mentally and emotionally until he just breaks — but right now it just isn’t all that interesting. As for the match, Takahashi pins Gedo after the Miami Shine — I’ll ask one more time (I’ve been asking for almost two years), what is the point of Takahashi? Has anyone ever had a bigger *reveal* moment only to immediately turn it into a turd bowl of nothing?

 

Ryusuke Taguichi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto v. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Tama Tonga, Kenny Omega: If you’re ever watching NXT and trying to put into context how amazing Fergal Devitt truly is – just know that he made Ryusuke Taguichi awesome. This is how weird New Japan is — Tanahashi basically ended Wrestling Kingdom by telling a broken down and dejected Okada “you suck little boy, run home to your mommy” and he’s still the biggest good guy in the room. I love everything about it. I also find it difficult to boo Kenny Omega — how do you not cheer the guy pantomiming that his arm is a chainsaw? This was a completely fine match, lots of brawls involving everyone – the highlight was without a doubt the finish which saw Tanahashi hit Tama Tonga with a Styles Clash before the High Fly Flow for the pinfall. This match claims to have been 17 minutes long, it felt like 30 — that’s not a compliment. Team Tanahashi gets the win though as they should as the champion begins the road towards AJ Styles and redemption for his friend Yoshitatsu.


Final Verdict:
Absolutely skippable. Nothing really happened. It was a small, “house show” for lack of a better word that served it’s purpose. The matches weren’t bad, but nothing stood out as “must see” or even “should see”. I love that these shows are broadcast on New Japan World, but sometimes when you see them you realize why they weren’t a high priority before.

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The 2014 Beyond Wrestling “Match of the Year”

ICYMI: The 2014 Beyond Wrestling “Newcomer of the Year”

We’re rolling now with our Beyond Wrestling, end of the year ballot. As you should now know I write the Beyond Wrestling newsletter but that space just isn’t conducive to fleshing out the nominees so we’re using this space to do just that. We’ve already covered the “Newcomer of the Year” and now we’ll be opening up the voting for “Match of the Year”.

Voting is as follows — you can use the handy poll at the bottom of this post. You won’t be able to see the results, those are secret only for me until the time awards are officially unveiled. You can also email me at xjdrochex[at]gmail[.]com, or get at me on Twitter (@JRoche3MR). I’ll be looking for feedback and memories about the nominees and your votes so reach out if you can.

Biff Busick v. Timothy Thatcher (Secret Show, 4.13.2014): For me personally, this was the match that “broke” Thatcher. I’d suggest that the initial early 2014 East Coast run for Thatcher was maybe less then exhilarating. He was put in a real crap position by CZW in March where he and Dalton Castle where basically boo’d out of the Flyer’s Skate Zone. It wasn’t Thatcher’s fault for sure, it was a card placement issue and a style issue. When Thatcher finally got in the ring with some like-minded grapplers he excelled and between this match, and the CZW World Title Match held in FIP with Drew Gulak Thatcher started to click with many people around the mid point of April. Busick’s name will show up a ton on this list because he’s basically the ace of Beyond Wrestling, but I give equal credit to Thatcher for this match, it’s excellent, it’s available for free on YouTube, you should be watching it already.

Drew Gulak v. Kimber Lee (Unbreakable, 5.18.2104): Sometimes the story is just as important as the quality of the match. Kimber Lee has been a Beyond Wrestling staple, Drew Gulak is (or was) the highest rated wrestler in Beyond and also happened to be at least partially responsible for Kim’s training. This was a teacher/student match that saw Gulak, typically a fan favorite, quickly switch into an asshole heel when the crowd basically turned him. My biggest complaint at the time was that Lee seemingly stole the pin out of nowhere, and it kind of felt like Gulak’s “you’re not strong enough” storyline was being held true. However, since this match Kim has used the alligator clutch to win basically every single match she’s been involved in and you can see the earliest phase of that character development here. This was a hard hitting, brutal match but the story was more important and it set the stage for Kimber Lee to be one of the main players in Beyond Wrestling in 2014 (and presumably into the future).

Biff Busick, Team TREMENDOUS v. Kevin Steen, Young Bucks (Unbreakable, 5.18.2014): The match that wasn’t announced but everyone totally thought was going to happen anyway, main event of Unbreakable. This match was awesome and served as a great introduction to Beyond for the Bucks, as well as a farewell to the promotion from Kevin Steen. This match introduced two concepts to a Beyond ring that I hadn’t seen before, the first, of course was Dan Barry’s insane dive from the balcony, and the second was the shooting star press by Barry that ends with him being superkicked while upside down by both Nick and Matt Jackson. The other amazing part of this match was the matching outfits worn by all three guys including Steen’s pants which were “so fucking tight”. This was a great match.

Matt Tremont v. Biff Busick (Uncomfortable, 6.22.2014): The first ever “FANS BRING THE WEAPONS” match in Beyond Wrestling history was, without a doubt, the most insane war that I’d ever seen. Tremont became an absolute favorite of mine in 2014 based almost exclusively on his work in Beyond Wrestling. I came into the year as one of those people who looked down their nose at “deathmatch” wrestlers but watching this match absolutely changed my mind — I stopped thinking of it as bloodsport and saw it as an art form. This match also seemed so out of character for Busick that everything was exciting.  Everyone knows Busick is amazing, throw him in the ring with a pinata and he’s still amazing, this match turned me around on Tremont and I’ve been loving his work in 2014 ever since.

JT Dunn v. Chris Hero (Uncomfortable, 6.22.2014): This is the “LAST MAN STANDING” match that basically everyone in Fete Music shit all over, I think you should go back and watch it because it’s fantastic. The stipulation stinks, it’s almost impossible to construct a match that is compelling when part of the outcome requires both guys to constantly be standing around as a referee counts near fall 10 counts. Within the stipulation though they worked really well and even though the crowd turned on the match when they realized Dunn was going to win, the match itself was still excellent and both guys busted their asses.

Juicy Product v. Young Bucks (Americanrana ’14, 7.26.2014): The great Danielle Matheson has a theory that JT Dunn just assumes the persona of his next opponent, essentially trying to steal their essence and become that person. When he was in the ring with Chris Hero he suddenly became a KO artist, and with the Bucks, Dunn and David Starr were suddenly teamwork experts who were both in the ring at the same time, listening to cheesy pop songs and taunting and posing all over the place. The beauty of that is when the real thing shows up, you kind of catch some magic in the ring. The Bucks can’t have a bad match, they just can’t, it’s not possible and I’m not sure you can even point to a bad Bucks match to disprove my point. The JP boys doing a Bucks cosplay in July of 2014 were also basically incapable of having a bad match — this match was glorious and should have been the main event.   The Bucks are able to put a series of moves together in a perfect blend of seamless offense and at this point in July so were Dunn and Starr, so you’d get sequences that were like 15 moves long without a breath being taken, it was beautiful.  This match was basically where the Juicy Product peaked, a lot of that has to do with the Bucks, but Dunn and Starr deserve a ton of credit for being able to go toe to toe with the best tag team act in the world, on the biggest stage of the year for Beyond Wrestling.

Eric Corvis, Ricky Shane Page, Davey Vega v. Crusade for Change (Battle of New England, 8.31.2014): This one might seem surprising but if you’ve been following along with my Beyond Wrestling coverage in 2014 you probably expected to see this match on the list. My praise for Darius Carter’s character work is boundless, the guy has just become his character to the point where I legitimately don’t think he knows where his character ends and his real personality begins. What made this match special though was Ricky Shane Page, who was one of those Beyond Wrestling guys in a storage locker in Ohio when the company began, showed up at Fete for the first time, won the crowd over and was absolutely the star of #BONE.  Here’s my review of the match from my initial “Battle of New England” review:

I loved this match, Page was easily the stand out performer, but I have to give a tip of the hat to Darius Carter who continues to be the most committed performer in Beyond Wrestling. He looks like a tiny little man but when he gets in the ring he hits with such speed and precision that he can convincingly be a danger. It’s not as easy a thing to do as you’d think — just see Gresham, Jonathan on this same show. This was my favorite match of the show, it told a great story, it built off an already established thread and it left us wanting more. Corvis grabbing the corkscrew from Vega because he wanted to use it himself, ultimately leading to his teams downfall was great storytelling.

Biff Busick v. Mike Bailey (Alive & Kicking, 11.29.2014): This match was so recent that I’m just going to re-post my thoughts from my review. Is anyone having a more underrated 2014 than Mike Bailey. In my opinion he absolutely stole the show at CZW “Best of the Best 13″, and he’s had MOTYC with Kevin Steen and Biff Busick in C*4. Here’s the crazy thing about Bailey – even knowing eerything that I know about how great he is, I’m still SHOCKED at how awesome this match was. It’s inconceivable to me that someone who has been on such a hot streak can still manage to be so underrated. I have to assume it’s the fact that he doesn’t wear shoes. The great thing about this match is that you can’t really hear the strikes on the raw footage, but you can watch the people at ringside — every time Bailey connected with a kick, someone ringside would cringe. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about this being the best Beyond match of the year — it’s certainly one of the best and a match you should absolutely go out of your way to catch.

Biff Busick, Drew Gulak v. Garden State Gods v. Ninjas with Altitude v. Milk Chocolate (Tournament For Tomorrow 3, 11.30.2014): The only match on the list that I haven’t actually seen yet. I fell  behind in my review of the TFT3 Weekend so I haven’t actually gotten to this match yet, but looking at the people involved there is no doubt that it must have been awesome.

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The 2014 Beyond Wrestling “Newcomer of the Year” Nominees

If you’re a follower of my twitter (@JRoche3MR) or a subscriber to the Beyond Wrestling newsletter (which I happen to write) then you already know I’m working on End of the Year awards for Beyond Wrestling. Because this is the largest space that I have at my disposal, all of my recaps and rundowns for the nominees will be placed here, with a final vote and award show being done somewhere else (to be determined). For the record the period covered by this award show is January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2014. I know that puts “Ends Meet” right in the cross hairs, but if something happens this weekend at Fete Music we’ll update the list accordingly.

Voting is as follows — you can use the handy poll at the bottom of this post. You won’t be able to see the results, those are secret only for me until the time awards are officially unveiled. You can also email me at xjdrochex[at]gmail[.]com, or get at me on Twitter (@JRoche3MR). I’ll be looking for feedback and memories about the nominees and your votes so reach out if you can.

The first category for our 2014 Year End Awards is “Newcomer of the Year.” This award will be handed out to the performer who made their debut at either a #SecretShow or at Fete Music this year, and who deserves special recognition.

“Speedball” Mike Bailey: Here’s what happens — Mike Bailey shows up at “Alive & Kicking” and when nobody is paying attention he just slips in and steals the show. Bailey and Biff Busick put on an independent wrestling clinic at “Alive & Kicking” and even if Bailey never wrestles another match of that quality in Beyond again, it’s tough to say that anyone had a better one match sample size than Bailey. I’d argue that this bizarre trio with Mathieu St-Jacques and Buxx Belmar satisfies any fear that he’d be a one match wonder, but man, what a match. It’d be easy to look at Bailey’s performance over #TFT3 Weekend and hand him the award. He had the stand out match on Saturday and it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind. Some of the other nominees have more of a record to work with, but a solid, hard hitting, brutal match with Biff Busick has been known to win awards for people before.

The Young Bucks: Lets forget for a moment that they’re the best tag team in the world. The Bucks made a legitimate splash in Beyond Wrestling in 2014, debuting to much fan fare at “Unbreakable” where I’d guess 1/3 of the people in attendance were wearing “Bullet Club” t-shirts. The Bucks returned to Beyond at “Americanrana ’14” to face the Juicy Product and then put on a wrestling clinic over Tournament For Tomorrow 3 weekend, including wrestling three times on Sunday. The thing about the Bucks is that they impact a wrestling show a couple of different ways. First off, they’re legitimate stars, the atmosphere in the room changes when the Bucks are around. More people are buying merch, more people are excited, more people are engaged. More than that, the boys and girls in the back are motivated. If you want to get a great tag match on your show, book the Bucks – not because they’ll have a great match (which they will) but every other tag team pulls out all the stops to step up when they know the Nick and Matt Jackson are in the room. For my money 2014 was the “Year of the Bucks” as they really turned their act into a worldwide phenomena. Their work in New Japan was great (though irrelevant to this ballot). The matches they’ve had in Beyond have all been amazing, but you can say that about basically every match they’ve had everywhere. The Bucks are always the biggest stars in the room, regardless of who else is in that room and the fact that they went toe to toe with the best that Beyond had to offer at #TFT3 leaves you to wonder what is left for them in Providence should the Bucks come back for 2015.

Jimmy Jacobs: Jacobs debuted by pulling off a lucha mask at “Feeding Frenzy” and stabbing Eric Corvis in the face. It might’ve been a little more involved then that, but the Zombie Princess certainly made an impact in this time with Beyond Wrestling in 2014. Jacobs went toe to toe with Michael Elgin at CRITICAL! Acclaim and had a poorly timed First Blood Match with Corvis at Americanrana ’14. Jacobs is the kind of guy from my perspective that brings more to the table outside of the ring than inside of it. His promo work leading up to the match with Corvis was solid, and his interactions with the Crusade for Change helped grease the skids for the current #CFC that we see in Beyond Wrestling today. It wasn’t Jacobs or Corvis’ fault that Nicholas Kaye got busted open and bled buckets at “Americanrana ’14” before the First Blood Match but it’s tough not to dock the Corvis/Jacobs match points for it anyway. With only two matches under his belt I still thought Jacobs had at least two memorable moments in Beyond — his debut, and Elgin catching him in mid air during a spear attempt at “Unbreakable.”

Stockade: I’m not sure anyone on this list was more consistently involved in the fabric of Beyond Wrestling than Stockade. The Devil’s Favorite Outlaw debuted as part of a show opening Four Way at CRITICAL! Acclaim which you may recall as that time the big fat guy dropped a Cactus Elbow off the stage at Fete. Since then Stockade has been featured at both Secret Shows and on the main show, and has also shown himself to be a pretty adept commentator when called upon to do so as part of the Beyond Wrestling RAW footage. Recently we’ve seen Stockade get involved with Matt Tremont in a feud that looks to turn up the violence at “End’s Meet” in the second ever FANS BRING THE WEAPONS match. I am a huge fan of Stockade, I think he’s absolutely made the most of the opportunity given to him with Beyond Wrestling and the fact that he’s turned that opportunity into a pretty frequent and regular spot in the Beyond rotation is proof positive of a guy who is running with the ball when given the opportunity.

SUPERcop Dick Justice: I’m not sure anyone on this list had a more lasting impact than SUPERcop Dick Justice. The officially unofficial host of Americanrana ’14 only stepped into the ring once at Fete Music but boy did people talk about his performance for awhile after “Uncomfortable”. Sure, most of the talk coming out of his debut revolved around Colt Cabana and rape culture in independent wrestling, but Dick Justice was a big hit in the ring and outside of it and he deserved some recognition.

Brian Cage: Here’s the thing about Brian Cage — he’s awesome. There should be a qualifier in there because I haven’t actually thought Brian Cage was very awesome during his stint in Beyond Wrestling. His debut match against Chris Dickinson didn’t work for me on a number of levels that I’ve talked about before, and his performance in the West Coast v. East Coast elimination match at “Alive & Kicking” only stands out because of how stupid his delay vertical suplex spot was. That being said, Cage is still a premier athlete and he did come into Beyond and go toe to toe with Chris Dickinson, the baddest man on the block.

Jay Freddie: The fact that Jay Freddie exploded on the scene in Beyond Wrestling isn’t a surprise to anyone who follows 2CW in upstate New York. Freddie is an ace and is capable of doing incredible things in the ring. It was only a matter of time before he started to branch out and he got his chance with Beyond this year, most prominently in a series of matches with Brian Fury. I would argue that Freddie only scratched the surface of what he is capable of with his performances in Beyond this year and I expect that we’ll be talking a lot more about him in 2015.

So there’s your ballot, as old style machine politicians would say “vote early, vote often”. The official results will be unveiled after the New Year in a ceremony to be held — well okay we haven’t really figured out what we’re doing yet, but stay tuned.

 

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Beyond Wrestling “Alive & Kicking” Reviewed: The One Where Biff Busick and Mike Bailey Happens

The first of two Fete Music shows held over the weekend of November 29 – 30th by “Beyond Wrestling” was aptly titled “Alive & Kicking”. Making their return to Fete for the first time in over three months Beyond went big with an elimination tag main event that featured an East Coast (read: Beyond Wrestling) team against a West Coast (read: PWG team). The highlight of the show was obviously the fact that the Young Bucks were in the building but man so much good stuff happened before that.

  • Good lord Biff Busick and “Speedball” Mike Bailey. Is anyone having a more underrated 2014 than Mike Bailey. In my opinion he absolutely stole the show at CZW “Best of the Best 13″, and he’s had MOTYC with Kevin Steen and Biff Busick in C*4. Here’s the crazy thing about Bailey – even knowing eerything that I know about how great he is, I’m still SHOCKED at how awesome this match was. It’s inconceivable to me that someone who has been on such a hot streak can still manage to be so underrated. I have to assume it’s the fact that he doesn’t wear shoes. The great thing about this match is that you can’t really hear the strikes on the raw footage, but you can watch the people at ringside — every time Bailey connected with a kick, someone ringside would cringe. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about this being the best Beyond match of the year — it’s certainly one of the best and a match you should absolutely go out of your way to catch.
  • Biff in Fete Music. There is nothing else like it. I can’t think of a single independent wrestler who has a similar impact on an entire room than Biff Busick in Fete Music. I know that certain promotions have their “favorites” which is to be expected, but Biff Busick shows up in Fete Music and the entire atmosphere changes. His ring entrance is unlike anything else that happens during a Beyond show, the crowd could be in a coma before he comes out and they’d all be singing in unison. Busick has the capacity to turn the entire atmosphere in Fete Music around -and that’s not just based upon this match, I’ve been in the room and felt it happen before. He provides a palpable jolt of electricity to the proceedings, it’s amazing. If you’re on the fence about going to a Beyond Wrestling show you should absolutely do it if only to experience Biff Busick before he’s gone forever, and let’s face it, Biff will be gone sooner or later to greener pastures.
  • The Young Bucks Anywhere. Here’s the thing about the Bucks, everyone else around them seems less important. Just like I find it hard to compare Biff’s presence at Fete Music, it’s hard to put into words what the Young Bucks are. They do not have an equal. Even the teams that are theoretically on the same level do not feel equal. In the main event, a 10 man elimination tag it always felt like there were 8 guys in the match and two *super* stars. That’s the impact of the Bucks. The only thing I can compare it to is when Eddie Guerrero made those independent dates early in the 2000’s. It always felt weird that Eddie was wrestling in ROH or IWA:MS and even though he’d be in the ring with Punk and he’d play it off like they were equals, at that time, you knew they weren’t. It’s the same thing with the Bucks. The difference is that they Bucks haven’t reached that level by being global WWE stars, they’re global stars to be sure, but they’ve done it by basically just being great tag team wrestlers who are also over the top characters that people have grabbed onto.
  • The Passion of Dan Barry. The main event was wild, and it’s basically impossible for me to recap it and do it any justice, so I’ll focus primarily on the end. After a wild match the match winds down with Trevor Lee and the Bucks against Dan Barry. I loved the story that those four told with Barry just basically going balls out trying to keep all three of his opponents separated and look for an opening to pick them off one by one. The damned numbers game is too much for him but he is able to snipe Trevor Lee and even the odds, and then the beautiful destruction of Dan Barry commences with the Bucks using all of their tandem offense to systematically break Barry down — but he keeps kicking out, and he won’t die. Ultimately the end is a foregone conclusion, there is no way that Barry can survive and win the match against the best tag team in the world – but he kind of convinces you for a moment that they can’t beat him. I loved the story, and the Bucks finally putting him down was inevitable but still depressing and it immediately made me want to watch Team TREMENDOUS/Young Bucks from the Sunday show (still to come), which I’m assuming was the whole point.
  • A dumb thing at the right time. One of the highlights of the 10 man main event was a Brian Cage (Taylor) moment where he body slammed every member of the East Coast team, and then proceeded to body slam every member of his own team. Cage then picks up the ref and does bicep curls with him before indiscriminately tossing him over the top rope and into a pile of the other competitors. In a vacuum it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen (throwing the ref) but because it came during a comedy spot I laughed out loud. It’s call context.
  • A dumb thing at a dumb time. On the flip side, Brian Cage pulls JT Dunn onto the Fete Music stage and proceeds to a perform a delay vertical suplex while 8 guys comically stand on the floor getting ready to catch Dunn. The problem is that they’re just standing around holding each other and waiting for the suplex to end — they’re not fighting, they’re not engaging, they’re literally just standing and looking up for someone to be dropped like 9 feet on top of all their heads. It is the single dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match and I mean that without hyperbole. It was so stupid that it took me right out of the match. Look I know wrestling is choreographed, but the art form part of it is to not let me see the wires. If you’re just going to go out there and do something that only works if the 8 other guys not involved are all standing on their spot and comically waiting for a thing to happen then that’s not art, it’s nothing, it’s stupid and lazy and I hated it.
  • The Dave Cole/Anthony Stone Feud Continues to be Great. Cole and Stone were genetically engineered in a lab to wrestle each other. I’m sure of it. A 2 out of 3 falls match is a risky proposal when you’re heading into Hour 5 of a wrestling show for many people (those who went to the Secret Show first). Heading into the match Stone was up 3-2 in the series. Because I’ve been watching wrestling my entire life I knew that meant that Cole would win the first fall, Stone would win the second fall and then we’d know whether this feud was over or not by who won the third fall. It’s not easy to find new things to do when you’ve wrestled each other all over New England for the better part of a year but this match managed to show me some new things. I love, love, loved the Super Dave Cole bomb to put Stone away and the fact that Cole tied things up at 4-4 in what is apparently a Best of 9 series is awesome. It was already announced that this feud will end on December 28th at “Ends Meet” and even though I know it has to conclude, these two were born to wrestle each other.
  • The other rivalry match didn’t work as well for me. I liked Jay Freddie/Brian Fury III enough but I wasn’t crazy about everything leading up to the final sequence. I liked how the end of the match built off the previous two matches but something about this one just didn’t really click for me. I think the best way to describe it was Freddie’s sharpshooter — it was a sharpshooter and it got him the win, but it was ugly as sin. Also in fairness, something completely out of either guys control but the commentary team for this match was pretty disinterested in the match. I’m okay if I never notice you on commentary and I like when you enhance a match but if I notice you because you’re negatively impacting my enjoyment that’s not great. Freddie wound up getting Fury to tap in the sharpshooter and in theory he wins the feud 2-1 but we’ll see if there’s another chapter to be written in this one.
  • Matt Tremont, Beyond Wrestling’s Performer of the Year. I’m not turning in my ballot right now but I can’t think of someone who elevated their game more in 2014 than Matt Tremont. When this year began I never thought I’d be anxiously anticipating a match between Tremont and Silver Ant, and yet I couldn’t wait to see this match and I was not disappointed. I loved the story being told — Tremont is a brute, so he’s throwing haymakers and Silver Ant tries to brawl back but keeps getting cut off at the knees. When Silver Ant takes things to the ground, or works submissions Tremont has NO counters — his only escape is that he’s so strong that when Silver Ant puts him in a hold, he turns it into a pinning situation so Silver has to break it. It was kind of genius, and the story was how could Silver Ant use his technical advantage versus how could Tremont use his brute strength without playing into the opponents hands? A highlight for me was Silver Ant twice on the outside sliding into the ring holding Tremont’s arm into a triangle choke. The second time Tremont just picked Silver up and power bombed him into the steel post that is ringside. Ultimately Silver gets the win when Tremont makes a mistake and Silver Ant gets a quick roll up for three. I’ve loved Tremont this year in Beyond and this match was no exception. Great work all around in this one.
  • I don’t really have anything to say about this match. At some point during the show Kimber Lee and Drew Gulak teamed up to wrestle Cherry Bomb and Pepper Parks. As weird as it sounds, this match was a completely nothing to me. The highlight was probably Pepper Parks doing bicep curls while choking Drew Gulak with a resistance band that Cherry Bomb threw to him while the ref was distracted, that was actually pretty great. Also, Trevor Lee kept saying that Pepper Parks had “peanut butter complexion” and HOLE-E-SHIT that is a delightful thing to hear from a Southern. Other then that it was a fine match that tried to tell a nice story. The whole time I just wanted Kim and Cherry to hug it out and beat the tar out of Pepper and Gulak so there’s that. At the end Kimber Lee gets the alligator clutch pin on Pepper Parks and she remains undefeated and undefeatable in Fete Music.
  • Da Hoodz make The Influence look great, get me upset in the process. So “Alive & Kicking” takes place on Saturday night with “Tournament For Tomorrow 3″ set for Sunday afternoon. We already know Da Hoodz are going to wrestle The Young Bucks on Sunday. On Saturday they take on The Influence and make them look like a billion dollars. Seriously you will never see a better The Influence match. Here’s the problem. Earlier in the day we watched them get legit squashed by the Devastation Corporation, and we know that they’re RWA trainees who aren’t particularly great. If Da Hoodz can blitz them, why should we even contemplate a world where Da Hoodz can beat the Bucks? I did love the end of the match though where Da Hoodz used the Bucks, assisted tombstone finisher to get the win and taunt the Bucks in the process. Make no mistake, in a vacuum this is a good match that speaks volumes about Da Hoodz ability to pull solid matches out of anyone, but in context it does make them look kind of weak heading into the biggest match of their career.
  • Hey Colin Delaney and John Silver are here. I will watch John Silver toss anyone around a wrestling ring at any time. So that was a fun thing to see.
  • The opening four way answers an age old question. Did you realize the EYFBO stood for “Entertaining Your Fuckin’ Balls Off”? Seriously is that what it means, if that’s true I will always be thankful for the opening match for explaining that to me. The traditional four way match at Fete was a tag team match featuring the Osirian Portal, EYFBO, M1nute Men and The Batiri and it was exactly the type of clusterfuck insanity that gets you hyped up for a wrestling show. The match was really hard to follow for purposes of a recap but there was a dance off in the middle that was pretty great. The Osirian Portal wind up winning after one of the most ridiculous nonesense moves I’ve ever seen (and at this point I’d already seen two Shynron matches) where a handstand turns into Ophidian being on Amasis’ shoulders and hitting a tower suplex on Devin Blaze which leads to the pinfall victory for the Portal. I’m not saying it made a ton of sense, but I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Match of the Night: Biff Busick v. “Speedball” Mike Bailey

Performer of the Night: Matt Tremont

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