It is very easy to become overcome with hyperbole after seeing something that you enjoy. When you’re experiencing something in real time, it’s difficult to put that thing through the lens of time and accurately reflect on it’s place in history. Beyond Wrestling has been in business since 2009, so to say that what happened on July 21, 2013 at Fete Music in Providence, Rhode Island was the most important night in the companies history is a statement rife with hyperbole. But, I was there on Sunday afternoon in Providence, and if what I witnessed first hand wasn’t a company coming of age, than I’m not sure I am qualified to even have thoughts on professional wrestling. Since I left Fete Music on Sunday evening my head has been buzzing — I’m not even sure that I can coherently put into words how great of an event “Americanrana” was, and how different it felt. This was the night Beyond Wrestling broke through, and if that’s insulting to all of the previous great nights that Beyond Wrestling has had, well I apologize, but this just felt different…and now I’ll do my best to describe why.
- From the minute the door to the venue opened, my brain could not process what was happening. This was my thought of the night. Fete Music is an awesome venue, when you went through the front door there was a merchandise room set up off to the right hand side. It was packed so I just got into a line that looked like it would be going into the “main” part of the venue. When the doors opened I was not prepared for what we got. Doors opened, empty dance floor, just a ring set up, no chairs, the entire locker room (sans the guys signing autographs outside) crowded around the ring banging on the canvas, Shane Strickland, Latin Dragon, David Starr & Sozio all sitting on turnbuckles, the show started when the doors opened, the crowd gathered around the ring, banging on the canvas and we were off and running. This was going to be different.
- I should probably not gloss over that “pre-show” match. So the crowd warm up match of the night featured two of my favorite guys on the independent scene right now, Shane Strickland and David Starr (who wore an amazing “LOOK AT IT” tank top all night), plus Latin Dragon and Sozio who are both fantastic in their own right. Latin Dragon won with like a burning hammer type move and got the pin over Shane Strickland, but when the match ended one of the people near me echoed my own thoughts “if that’s the opener, this is going to be amazing.”
- I could watch Eddie Edwards and Biff Busick wrestle every day. This was the main event, I’m going to get to the rest of the card, but WHOLE-E-SHIT people Eddie Edwards and Biff Busick are amazing in the ring together. Last week when I reviewed “We Care A Lot” I said that Edwards/Busick was a very real candidate for my Match of the Year. Their bout at “Americanrana” might have been better. The crowd was absolutely molten for this match with dueling “LETS GO BIFF” and “EDDIE EDWARDS” chants throughout. At this time the balcony had closed so almost everyone was standing on the floor around the ring, and the atmosphere was incredible. These two exchanged some of the stiffest chops I’ve ever seen to the point where Edwards chest was beat red. It’s not a surprise to me that Edwards was amazing, dude is easily one of the best working wrestlers in the independent scene — but Biff Busick just continues to impress the hell out of me. If you’re a promoter you should absolutely be booking Biff Busick. The story these two told was pretty good too, with Edwards playing the dominate force and Busick playing the plucky underdog — at one point Edwards had Busick on the outside and a chant of “DONT HURT MY BIFF” broke out, Edwards promptly chopped Busick in half. I can’t give enough accolades to this match, just know that Kevin Steen was video taping it and the crowd on his phone, and after the match we broke out a very serious “THANK YOU BOTH” chant. Eddie couldn’t even leave Biff in the ring alone as Eddie got cheered back into the ring, grabbed the microphone and thanked the crowd for a great night. It looked like these two might be convinced to have a rubber match, and if it happens on September 15th I will be a very happy boy. Oh right, Edwards won the match when he put Busick in a single leg Boston Crab and proceeded to stomp on his face until Bryce Remsberg called for the bell.
- Dear Dan Barry, you are amazing, love everyone. The second best match of the night (in my opinion) was the four corners, winner take all tag team match that featured Da Hoodz, EFBYO, M1nute Men and Team Tremendous, and holy shit guys these eight guys were amazing. I don’t know if it’s possible for Team Tremendous to not be amazing, but this was the perfect assortment of teams to make their schtick even better. The highlight of the match was forever captured on video by some intrepid Dan Barry fan, and featured Det. Dan Barry trying to razor’s edge one of the M1nute Men onto the other guys on the floor, except that the move was countered into a hurricanrana and Barry went flying. In words it’s not great…but seriously check out the video, it’s amazing. Team Tremendous won the match but I hope all four teams are back with Beyond soon because they all had great moments during the match and I was very impressed.
- Drew Gulak, for a better…oh shit these guys are going to kill each other aren’t they? The opening match was a “there must be a winner match” between Drew Gulak and Chris Dickinson and though I don’t think it was intentional, at one point I thought we had seen Drew Gulak actually die. If I’m being honest, I’m not a huge fan of either guy but for a match that was a “grudge match” so to speak these two did a really good job of displaying some real beef between them, including a point where Dickinson kicked Gulak so hard that I started wondering whether he was maybe going over the line. The scariest moment of the match came when Gulak tried to lock in an armbar over the top rope off the turnbuckle, but the two were so sweaty that Gulak slipped right off Dickinson and fell head first on the floor. The match ended with a stiff as all hell looking roaring elbow from Gulak which KO’d Dickinson. After the match Dickinson who headlined the first Beyond Wrestling show in 2009 thanked the fans for coming out and letting them know how important this night was for him.
- Tabarnak De Team caused the crowd to sing Hulk Hogan’s WWF theme song. No really, this is a thing that happened. Tabarnak De Team is a Canadian team that speaks exclusively in French while in the ring — except for one moment where one of the members did yell “SHIT” after he got hit. This crowd first sang the National Anthem, then another patriotic song which for the life of me I can’t remember and rounded it all off with Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme song. On top of all that Aaron Epic did a face in peril comeback with a Hulk Hogan head shake and big finger point, great moment, great crowd. The only real downside of this match is that Sugar Dunkerton was not in the house and was replaced in the #KOA for the night by Dave Cole (no offense to Dave Cole, but he’s not Sugar).
- I’m 1300 words in and I haven’t mentioned the best wrestler in the world. Did I forget to even mention that Johnny Gargano was in the house? Or that he had an amazing match with JT Dunn? This is the best way to describe the quality of this show — Gargano and Dunn had a match that on any other night would probably be one that I’m still talking about, but on this card, it was just another in a string of amazing matches. I think my biggest disappointment (maybe my only disappointment) on the night was that Gargano didn’t have the Open the Freedom Gate title with him. Dunn really impressed me in this match as he hung move for move in with the guy who I have been calling the best in the world this year, and I was convinced at one point that Dunn was about to pick up the win only to have Gargano lock in the Gargan-NO Escape and get the tap out victory.
- Anthony Stone, star making performance. During the show I walked past Anthony Stone, he said hello to me — I did not recognize him. After his incredible gritty match with AR Fox that will not happen again. First a note about Fox, he was pitch perfect here. He came to the ring with all of his title belts, he smiled and laughed as he beat on the undersized and obviously over-matched Stone, and he constantly talked about how “you’re not in my league Stone.” The thing about that statement though is that it’s true, Anthony Stone isn’t in the same league as AR Fox — but the arrogance caught up to Fox and Stone was able to turn the tide and caught the over-confident Lucha Libre champion of Chile in a reverse into a sit down pinning combination for the victory. The win was amazing, the crowd popped huge for Stone who looked legitimately touched by the reaction and overwhelmed by the victory. Also of note, Stone’s son (I’d guess 2-3 years old) was ringside chanting “lets go daddy” which was the most adorable thing of all time, and I’m really happy to have been a part of that win. No question this is a HUGE moment for Anthony Stone and just looking over results this week will get people to pay attention because a victory over AR Fox is a big deal.
- What have I missed — oh yeah, Kevin Steen and Masada were there. This is how amazing the show was — I haven’t even talked about Kevin Steen and Masada. I was very worried about the match heading into it, and seeing Masada at 4 o’clock walking out of the bathroom at Fete Music very visibly limping did not give me much confidence. I have to admit though, I was wrong — and I have a TON of respect for Masada who put on a hell of a match in significant pain. Steen also deserves a ton of credit for using the knee to his advantage, focusing on it throughout the match. The tide really turned when Masada pulled some wooden skewers out of his wrist tape and stabbed Steen in the head. The visual of the skewers sticking out of Steens head as the two wrestled will not be soon forgotten by me and is about the limit of my tolerance for that type of wrestling. However, Steen snapped after the skewering, pounding on Masada’s knee and finishing the CZW World Champion with an cannonball into the injured knee into a sharpshooter and Masada had to tap. After the match Steen said Masada was crazy but had a ton of guts for wrestling on that knee and the two shook hands. I give a ton of credit to Masada because the match was really good, told a great story and was significantly better than I thought it would be, and Steen I knew could go – but Masada more then held his own in this match.
- Colt Cabana and Jaka was what I expected. I’m just not sure that was good enough on this particular card. Cabana is probably the top name on the independent scene right now just based upon his exposure, and it was great to see him do his thing on this card. But this show was so goddamn stacked, that when I put this match up against everything else that happened at Americanrana it’s this far down the list for a reason. Oh, but Cabana did win the match with a GO TO SLEEP, so there was that.
- Return date Sept. 15, who’s going to be there? Oh nobody you’d know, just Chuck Taylor….Michael Elgin….and….oh right, ACH.
Wrestler of the Night: Biff Busick. He lost, but a white-hot crowd ended an amazing night of wrestling chanting his name while he stood alone in the middle of the ring, if you don’t think Biff Busick was a made man after last night you weren’t paying attention. I’m giving an honorable mention to Masada because that dude is obviously fighting through a ton of pain.
Match of the Night: Biff Busick/Eddie Edwards. My MOTY ballot right now is Edwards/Busick I, Johnny Gargano/Samuray Del Sol and Edwards/Busick II in any order. I was honored to be there last night to see these two, I was very happy to start a “THANK YOU BOTH” chant and I hope that I can see them wrestle against on Sept. 15th.
Should I Buy This DVD? If you’re still asking yourself that question than I have failed. Being there makes it impossible for me to not overrate the night, but this was a show that bashed you in the face from the moment the door opened and just never let up. The “THIS SHOWS AWESOME” chants were frequent and loud, even the down matches were great, and there are a ton of memorable moments. The main event alone was worth the price of admission, but then again so was the Pre Show match.