The purpose of this site is to talk lovingly about pro wrestling. I try not to focus on negativity and I really don’t complain about much in this space, there are plenty of people doing that and doing it better than I could on the internet, if you’re looking for negativity you should read someone else. I genuinely don’t have trouble finding things that I like about matches, even when the overall product is something that I’m not thrilled with. I say this because after Beyond Wrestling “Unbreakable” I began to feel like I had maybe seen too much independent wrestling to be enjoying myself like I usually do. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a great time at “Unbreakable” and it’s a show that I’m going to recommend, but at the same time it was four hours long and I felt like it could have been 3 1/2. That’s a thought I’ve never had leaving Fete. For any negativity that I might have though there was some stuff to genuinely love on Sunday at Fete so let’s talk about that shall we?
- This is not where you’ll find me blather on about Kimber Lee/Drew Gulak. My match of the night was one of the most emotional, stomach churning wrestling matches I’ve ever experienced live. I can’t say that I enjoyed all of Kimber Lee and Drew Gulak but part of what made it so wonderful was how uncomfortable much of it made me feel. I spent almost the entirety of the Beyond Wrestling newsletter this week talking about this match, so I will direct you there to find my thoughts but this was a great story with a great ending that established what I’ve been saying all along, that Kimber Lee is all of the bests.
- Seeing The Young Bucks live is a thing you really need to do. I could write this entire review about how awesome it was to see The Young Bucks at Fete Music. Did I act like a complete fan boy and exchange too sweets with Matt Jackson? Yes, yes I did. I regret nothing! The Bucks opened the show by superkicking Biff Busick’s face off to set up a six man tag main event, then proceeded to tear the mother-humpin’ roof off Fete Music with Kevin Steen, Busick and Team TREMENDOUS and then finished the night off setting up an amazing main event for Americanrana 2014 with the Juicy Product. There is no denying the energy that the Bucks bring to a room. The place explodes when they come out. It doesn’t matter that they’re coming out to Hanson,or that they’re matched up with the most popular three guys in the entire company — the Young Bucks are, from my perspective, always the most popular guys in the room. Quick example of how awesome the Bucks are, I was not alone on the stage in wishing that every match of the night would end with the Bucks just running out and super kicking everyone.
- It is statistically impossible for the Young Bucks to not be great. When was the last time you didn’t enjoy a Young Bucks match? Seriously. Hell I loved the Bucks in TNA and there is no redeeming qualities to anything TNA does. I wish I could recap everything that was awesome about the main event at “Unbreakable” but lets do a quick rundown of things that we saw — Dan Barry did a dive from the balcony to the floor, the Bucks super kicked Dan Barry out of midair during a shooting star press, the Bucks super kicked Biff Busick out of mid air during a diving lariat, Bill Carr dives, Kevin Steen in his Mount Rushmore/Young Bucks pants which were “so fucking tight” and the crotch chops – oh man so many crotch chops. This was a really fun match and it was the perfect end to a show that really needed to go out with a bang.
- A fitting goodbye to Kevin Steen. I mentioned in my preview that I hadn’t really seen a Kevin Steen match in Beyond Wrestling that I’d dub a “classic” and there is every reason to believe that Steen is heading to the big training center in Florida never to be seen in Fete Music again. This match was a fitting way for him to leave the company, having a great time, wrestling with his buddies in an epic encounter that the fans in Fete Music will be buzzing about for a long time. If that’s the end of Steen in Beyond Wrestling I’ll miss seeing him and the intensity he brings to the ring, but I’m very happy for his success and a much deserved chance to get paid.
- I like Michael Bennett and I’m not sorry about that. In the battle of Ring of Honor Michael’s I cheered for Bennett, sorry I’m not sorry. From the beginning of his storyline within Beyond Wrestling I’ve been a supporter of Michael Bennett’s. I don’t think what he said was that inflammatory to start and I honestly think his in-ring work is solid. His match with Elgin was a pretty standard issue Michael Elgin match, which if you like Michael Elgin (like I do) is a good thing, but Bennett injected a ton of comedy into the proceedings and his style works well with Elgin because headlocks and armbars are what you would want to use to slow down a powerhouse like Elgin. The match itself was a perfectly fine Ring of Honor style match that completely lost me when Elgin kicked out of a Bennett piledriver at one. I understand “fighting spirit” and when you’re exchanging chops I don’t mind seeing guys just shake off damage, but Elgin essentially no sold Bennett’s finisher, a move so deadly that it was banned in Ring of Honor and Elgin just shrugged it off, I dunno I just hated that part. Elgin is strong enough, and successful enough in Beyond Wrestling and elsewhere that he doesn’t need to have moments in matches like that, and it kind of makes you think that Bennett is simply incapable of ever beating someone like Elgin, if his finisher is just shrugged off like it’s no big deal. Elgin wound up winning and the storyline between Elgin and the Doom Patrol continued when Chris Dickinson came out to confront Elgin.
- That time where Michael Elgin became Taz. So Elgin grabbed a microphone before his match with Bennett and went into a promo about how he was tired of doing things the way they were laid out “in the back” and that from now on, everything we saw and everything we heard was going to be coming straight from Elgin. It’s a bit of a character shift which I think stemmed from his IWGP Heavyweight Title match the previous night. At one point during the promo Elgin told Bennett “win if you can” and I couldn’t help myself but to add in “survive if I let you.” Hey I’m all aboard the Michael Elgin express if he decides to just become a shoot monster hell bent on destroying everything. So yeah throw a towel over his head and start choking people out I’m all for it.
- A missed opportunity. So the next Beyond Wrestling show is on June 22nd which happens to be the same day as ROH “Best in the World 2014.” What that means is that some staple guys, Michael Elgin in particular won’t be at the next Beyond show. So Dickinson comes out and confronts Elgin who mentions that Dickinson has sent surrogates after him in the form of Jaka and Jimmy Jacobs but that Elgin won’t be around on June 22nd. Here’s the missed opportunity — Brian Cage will be in Beyond on June 22nd. Cage and Elgin are the Unbreakable F’n Machines — why would Elgin not use that opportunity to send his own surrogate after Dickinson and set up Brian Cage/Chris Dickinson for the next Beyond show? Felt like a missed opportunity.
- JT Dunn’s rapid descent into Johnny Gargano. I have to assume that JT Dunn’s thighs are sore this morning because he spent about 17 minutes slapping the shit out of his legs at “Unbreakable” during the Juicy Product/Colony match. I don’t remember Dunn ever being this reliant upon leg slapping (though I’ve been told that he was) but holy shit was it distracting on Sunday night, I mean at one point Dunn leg slapped a double stomp, why would you leg slap a double stomp? I am unabashedly a Dunn fan and have been singing his praises in this space for awhile – but he (and really everyone) needs to relax with the leg slapping. This is probably a good time to mention that I love Gargano, in the TWB100 (shout out Tom Holzerman) I voted Gargano in my Top 5, he’s the man, it’s not a bad thing to be a Gargano clone, but man the leg slapping is out of control right now. As for the match itself, I dunno — it didn’t really work for me. I mean Green Ant doing a Scorpion Crosslock was awesome, but the match felt like it dragged a little bit and it always felt like more of an appetizer to something bigger than a spotlight match. Also while I understand that he didn’t escape from it, Green Ant locking in the Chikara Special should always end a match. David Starr wound up breaking up the submission but I just feel like certain moves are protected for a reason and if Green Ant is going to get you in the Chikara Special, you should lose. Honestly, the FIP Tag Title match four way elimination from the Secret Show was better than this match, I’m as surprised to type that as you are to read it.
- This is not just a JT Dunn issue. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m singling out JT Dunn for the thigh slapping — it’s an epidemic in independent wrestling. For some reason everyone thinks that on every move they need to slap their thigh and I just don’t see how it’s needed. When you watch as much independent wrestling as I do some things just stick out and they’re hard to get them out of your brian. I see thigh slapping everywhere in the country, but because I spend so much time talking about how great JT Dunn is, it’d be hypocritical for me not to point out the one thing that’s doing that bores into my brain and lays eggs there.
- The Crusade for Change hits the nail on the head. After intermission Mr. Darius Carter and TJ Marconi hit the ring to call out Beyond Wrestling for selling their souls when they named a Beyond Wrestling show after an ROH wrestler. It is precisely the stance that they should be taking. They also mentioned an important point of contention that I have with them, which is that all they really do is talk. They haven’t been booked at Fete Music for anything other than the “Feeding Frenzy” match and it’s difficult to take them seriously as a movement if they’re not in front of the big room. They called out anyone in the back for some competition and got Tabernak de Team, a wonderful Canadian power duo (like Rush minus one member) that can wrestle on my show any day. The match itself was maybe a minute too long, TJ Marconi looked winded by the end and the Crusade finisher didn’t hit as crisp as it usually does, but it was a step in the right direction for two guys who have great character, just need the opportunity to showcase in the big room.
- I love watching Tommaso Ciampa work. A guy like Ciampa delivers the same way a guy like Dickinson delivers, through sheer intensity. I understand that professional wrestling is performance art/entertainment but sometimes it’s good to have guys who just seem like they’re going to legitimately hurt you in the ring. Everything Ciampa does is with a purpose, everything seems like it hurts and he’s just super-duper intense throughout his matches. He wrestled Jaka at “Unbreakable” in a match that continued the trend of Jaka just being on a roll but the thing that held it together was just the intensity with which Ciampa does everything. Plus he did a pretty great Air Raid Crash off the second turnbuckle and finished it with Project Ciampa.
- That Atomicos match was pure insanity. Much like I couldn’t really review the “Feeding Frenzy” match, I can’t really review the Team Epic/Team Cole atomicos incredibles match from “Unbreakable” either. What the match did was set the ground work for some future stories, and gave us a fun segment where each member of a team got to wrestle their corresponding partner on the other team. No surprise that during the teammate vs teammate segments Da Hoodz stood out. Seriously I can’t puff up Da Hoodz enough, those guys are on fire in Beyond right now. The main focus though was between Epic and Sugar Dunkerton as the #KOA continues to fall apart. Epic appears to be in the midst of a bit of a heel turn as he did some dasterdly things at many points throughout the match, and maybe took advantage of a situation to score the pinfall for the team (but more importantly for himself) over his partner Dave Cole. The other stand out for the match was Pinkie Sanchez who continues to be either the most amazing character in all of professional wrestling, or a legitimately insane person. If this cluster of a match was all leading up to a Sex & Candy v. Fear and Loathing in Rhode Island match at “Uncomfortable” I’m all for it as that would be a fitting end to a feud that has essentially existed since “Americanrana.”
- The opening four way was everything you hope these four ways will be. I think I fantasy booked the opening four way awhile ago when I responded to a question on twitter by saying that I hoped the four way would feature the four winners of the previous Fete Music four-ways and bingo that’s what we got here. All four guys in the four way are awesome as Latin Dragon, John Silver, Stockade and Buxx Belmar opened the festivities, but for purposes of this space lets talk about Stockade. I love Stockade. The guy is a big fat guy, he’s agile and mobile, and he does a Cactus elbow that always, always, always appears to injure every single person involved. He’s great and he should be booked on every Beyond Wrestling show in some capacity. At the same time, the Champion of the Four Way is John Silver, who is so fucking jacked that he tossed Latin Dragon off the stage like it was no big deal, and won the match with a super-power bomb on Stockade. Yes it was as awesome as it sounds. After the match Silver demanded to be put into something other than a four way at “Uncomfortable” and I think he’s absolutely earned a bump up the card (but so has Stockade, more Devil’s Outlaw please).
Match of the Night: Kimber Lee v. Drew Gulak. No question about it, the main event was great but nothing has stuck with me like Gulak/Lee and the promo which followed the match was just the icing on the cake.
Performer of the Night: Dan Barry. Between the new taco shirt, getting superkicked while upside down and launching himself off the balcony — Dan Barry stood out as the impact player in a six man tag team match featuring some of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. Also he did a little Good Cop/Bad Cop/Biff Cop and shookdown Kevin Steen to find out how to get booked in PWG. Hey PWG, seriously book Team TREMENDOUS they are wonderful.
Final Thoughts: Beyond Wrestling is a victim of their own success. It’s no secret that I love the promotion. I support them as much as I can. I write about these shows in as much detail as I can, I happily spend 8 hours on a Sunday watching this company put on two shows — I am a fan. I thought “Americanrana” was one of the most enjoyable entertainment experiences that I’d ever had and it pains me to miss so much as a #SecretShow. It’s because I love Beyond Wrestling so much that it makes me feel awkward to not just universally love everything they do. This show — I dunno, it just didn’t click for me. There are companies on the scene that would kill to put on a show like “Unbreakable” but when you set the bar as high as Beyond Wrestling has in my view, they’re not all going to be the best show I’ve ever been to, that’s just not possible. I highly recommend this show — there are two matches that I think are *must see* between the Kimber Lee/Gulak and Main Event six man tag team match. There were also some quality matches that probably would’ve been the highlights of some other shows, the Bennett/Elgin match (including the Elgin promo) were solid and the opening four way featured some awesome stuff. The atomicos incredibles match was out of control which is what you’d be looking for in a match like that, and hell even the matches that didn’t really work for me were not terrible, Juicy Product/Colony is probably going to get better with age. So yeah, I liked the show and I think you should one hundred percent check it out when the video is released but because I had this pegged as Card of the Year type levels I did leave Fete Music feeling like something was missing to put it over the high bar that I set for it.