Glory Pro: Day of the Dragon Recap and Photos

Sunday, July 28th brought the family again to the home venue of the Collins Club in Collinsville, Illinois for Day of the Dragon, named thus for guest of honor Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. I got there somewhat late this time so we grabbed a tray full of $1 tacos and hurried to the seats for the 2nd good card in about a week in STL.

The opener was a 1st round scramble for advancement in the tourney for the upcoming Midwest Territory Championship, which is a secondary belt Glory Pro is introducing this fall between Billy Brash, Josh Bishop, Kody Lane, Mark Wheeler, Mike Outlaw, and Steve Manders. To my knowledge these were debut matches for Brash and Bishop but the others are all returning talent. I’ve been particularly intrigued by Mark Wheeler’s work in limited action and would really like to see him in solo competition at some point. Manders has been a staple on the preshow and I have to say he’s finally starting to grow on me. He’s big and powerful, that’s obvious, but he’s starting to also show a little personality and a flair for showmanship. Brash and Bishop impressed in their debuts but Manders was able to secure the victory and probably assure his spot on the GPW card for a long time to come. Really great match for a scramble, which is not easy.

Following this high energy affair, local dom/sub Jake Something with Tommy Vendetta returned to take on the reckless and talented Kobe Durst. Durst is always a welcome sight at GPW. Ethan Page brings a carload of Canadians every show and they’re all really great wrestlers. Something, despite his despicable actions in recent months, still has some crowd support but this one probably went a some way toward eliminating that. Vendetta was often a pest and although his interference did not determine the outcome, it took Kobe’s focus away from Something, who he actually competed with. Kobe managed to use his speed and skill to obtain some extremely close near-falls but was not able to put Something away, ultimately succumbing to an enormous side slam.

After the contest, Something posed another challenge to his boy servant Vendetta to prove he is worthy of following the former champ into battle. Thus far these contests have resulted in Vendetta mostly embarrassing himself. This time up was former Something opponent Barackus, who absolutely squashed Vendetta in about 3 minutes flat. A disappointed Something couldn’t even bring himself to punish Vendetta, just disgustedly tossing him back his hood. Daddy isn’t mad, he’s just disappointed, Tommy.

Next on the card was a three-way tag scramble between three of the best comedic-oriented tag teams in the middle continent, Space Pirates, Gym Nasty Boys, and Halal Beefcake. It was Gym Nasty’s debut but they are one of the hottest teams in the mid-South and have branched into regulars on many Midwest promotions as well so many in the crowd was familiar with them. The Space Pirates may the single most over team in Glory Pro right now, their reaction is always red hot. I’m not going to do the play-by-play on a match with a bunch of really funny stuff, but the core dynamic was Halal Beefcake immediately establishing themselves as the heel team and White Mike immediately making shit super weird as he is wont to do. A great match, all these teams are a joy to have on a card.

After this stellar tag, we have another 1st round match in the Midwest Territory Championship Tournament, this time between former United Glory Tag Team Champions Myron Reed and Stephen Wolf. There’s been some animosity between the two since losing the belts with Reed blaming Wolf for his misstep in the championship match. Still, the light feud between the two seemed more a matter of frustration and rivalry than real heat. That doesn’t mean they weren’t coming at it in this match with former Crown of Glory champ Reed looking to claim new hardware while the guy who maybe gained the most from the WWE EVOLVE show, Wolf, looking to cement his spot as a top singles competitor. Unsurprisingly, this was probably the best match of the show. While you might have expected a lot of high flying from the arial pair, their speed roughly cancelled each other out and they were mostly left to prove their superiority on the ground. That’s not to say there weren’t high spots, and the highest was Reed’s springboard 450 that almost ended the match. In the end, Wolf was able to snatch the victory with a brutal jumping tombstone and the boys were able to bury the hatchet. I would imagine and hope this is not the last time we see Wolf and Reed share a ring either together or apart.

Next up was an appearance by the guest of honor, NWA and WWE legend Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. It’s impossible to state how big Ricky was and is for a certain kind of nerd of a certain age demo. He was a guy who really brought the highest quality wrestling to the biggest stages and people still think of him extremely fondly, which is rare for performers of that era in 2019. Of course they did the whole heels-come-out-and-get-murdered bit, which is cliché but beloved. This time Matt Knicks served as the bait, which led to an intriguing thing happening later on in the show. I caught Ricky at the bar with the wrestlers giving them feedback and advice on their matches, which is a really amazing thing for guy held in the esteem of Steamboat to do for wrestlers.

The bout following Steamboat was a championship bout between Impact Tag Champs The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander, formerly Monster Mafia) and EVOLVE and East Coast/Mid-south mainstays the WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake). I’m not crazy with the cliché of having a belt that’s impossible to lose defended although I get the idea of it as a title enhancer. It just screams booking outcomes far too loud. This was a pretty darn good match that was tough to fully invest in because of the title reason but also because I said that WorkHorsemen’s match against the Besties a week ago was probably the best live match I’d ever seen in STL and this one obviously did not quite meet that standard. Still, really hope to see Alexander back in the future now that his visa issues are mostly resolved. Overall, a recommended tussle.

The 3rd 1st round match in the tournament followed the intermission between Seishin, fka Tootie Lynn Ramsey, and Midwest stalwart Laynie Luck. I honestly would have told you fairly recently that I wasn’t super high on Luck as a wrestler but credit where credit is due, she’s done nothing but get better and better and is pretty dependable on a card now. Seishin is a massive talent and has an extraordinarily high ceiling. I sometimes feel she pushes her moveset too far and gets in over her head but I also am guessing that if you checked back in 2-3 years she’ll be one of the hottest acts in the Midwest. This match was good, not great, and unfortunately I didn’t get many good photos. There were a lot of fun comedic moments that were genuinely good, Laynie forcing her opponent to do the whip is a pretty great spot. Transition work dragged a bit but nothing egregious.

The final 1st round tourney match was between No New Friends’ own Danny Adams and longtime Glory Pro regular and Impact star Hakim Zane. I felt like the pace of this was kind of off, Zane is spending a lot of time preening trying to get over as a heel and I’m not entirely sure it’s been working. I think the crowd generally likes the guy and wants to cheer him. I felt like some of the minor problems were offset by some really cool spots around the ropes including Adams tying up Zane, chopping the shit out of him, then dropkicking him off onto the apron. Near the end, Karam, a huge-ass motherfucker who has mightily impressed in recent preshow matches, showed up to interfere on Zane’s behalf, nearly throwing Adams through the floor with a pop-up powerbomb thing. Zane referred to them as “the hustle and the muscle” after and maybe Karam is the thing that will get Zane real heat in GPW. He’s certainly the most imposing figure in the promotion south of maybe Jake Something.

A late injury to Crown of Glory champ Eddie Kingston unfortunately put the kibosh on the planned championship 3-way between Kingston, the most hated man in Glory Pro—Paco Gonzalez, and former champ Curt Stallion. Paco came out to talk some shit about Kingston and the crowd to real strong heat. Gonzalez is one of the only dudes on the GPW roster with legitimate heat with fans. Let’s actually stop for a moment to discuss the case of Paco.

One of the coolest things about Glory Pro as a regular promotions is the willingness to subvert people’s established roles in the Midwest as a whole. Paco and Matt Knicks are two of the biggest underdog babyfaces in Chicago but in Collinsville they are the public enemy. Danny Adams is reviled almost everywhere but has somehow found a niche as a doormat babyface in GPW. They even talked Kylie Rae into doing a heel turn, which is honestly one of the most shocking things I’ve ever seen on a Midwest show. I think that’s cool to do, it probably makes talent want to come when they know you’re open to allow them to test out some new roles.

Now that being said, Paco’s promo was a little stilted as I don’t think he’s used to being a heel but I’m really proud of him trying to stretch and do something different. It’s the most reaction I’ve ever seen him garner in a ring. He claimed he was going to walk since he already got paid and was confronted by Curt Stallion letting him know that he wasn’t leaving the ring without a fight today. They went at it extremely bitterly for about 8 minutes or so, eventually throwing the ref out of the ring to continue brawling and the match was scored a no-contest. They fought until eventually the locker room came to help break them up. I could have probably passed on doing this because it was actually done earlier this year and a little locker room action goes a long way. I thought this was wonderful booking considering the last minute chang. This turns up the heat on the upcoming match to 11 and Paco walks into this match in the future with nuclear heat from both Kingston and Stallion. What preview we did get between Paco and Stallion was pretty intriguing wrestling.

The semi-main came next between new Black Label Pro Midwest Territory and Paradigm Pro champion AJ Gray and high impact newcomer Jake Lander. This was Lander’s first high profile singles as his match last month with Joey Lynch was cut due to travel issues so I was very much looking forward to this. It seems like some of the core Anarchy guys are out for good at Glory Pro, which is fine, you have to have differentiation. There’s so much talent in the area it’s hard enough to get all the good wrestlers on either show and eliminating some overlap is probably helpful to both. To me AJ has taken Jake Parnell’s prior spot as the crowd favorite babyface. This match was fantastic, and despite the size disadvantage of Lander, he really didn’t work from under the entire time like I expected. He’s added a crucifix driver a la Saki Akai that he probably ought to be using for his finisher. Gray was able to prevail, and I thought overall he was probably the favorite coming in, but Lander showed why he’s not going anywhere in this match.

Afterwards, Jake Something came down to make Lander an offer to become his new boy slave and help mold him into a champion but chose to take the harder road against Something, potentially setting up an alliance with Gray. I hope they haven’t bought themselves more trouble than they can handle. Lander may not want to join Something’s gimp army but someone else will, and while Vendetta has not been successful in singles thus far, he continues to be a threat. These two may be in over their heads faster than they can process what happened. Jake Something is officially the horniest wrestler at Glory Pro and I am really here for it.

The final match and replacement main was between United Glory champions Besties in the World and the Four Star Heroes, Chris Castro and Matt Knicks. Knicks came out complaining that he was injured by Steamboat and would not be able to wrestle. Instead of cancelling the match, the Besties were surprised by the debut of Nick Brubaker to GPW. I had to look Brubaker up because I had no idea who he was but he’s a vet with a ton of experience in Chicagoland including on the defunct AAW LaSalle show. Seems promising! Surprisingly, Knicks actually didn’t do much in this to interfere aside from breaking up a match-ending pin by Vega which I think helped to sell the strength of Castro and Brubaker. Brubaker was impressive in his first match and the Four Star Heroes extended universe was able to capture the United Glory tag titles after smashing Vega with one of the title belts. They attempted to beat up on the Besties after but No New Friends came out to clean up shop, peaking with the surprise return of Kevin Lee Davidson from injury to a massive pop. Despite the STL boys ending the night in the ring united they still lost the gold and will have to regroup as twice now the resourceful Knicks and Castro have come with significant help.

Overall this was a great show, there was good story service throughout, solid matches up and down, an appearance by a true legend of wrestling, and some great formal debuts from people who seem like they’ll be around for a very long time. I was really struck by the fact that everyone on the card feels like they have a program going into the next show. This is something so many indies miss on, so it’s good news that GPW seems to be really leaning into this, as it could be the thing to make them stand apart from a high quality field in the mid-states.

Show Rating: B

Watch it on IWTV: https://iwtv.live/promotion/Glory-Pro#5D45VyzLPj

Match Ratings

1st Round Scramble in Midwest Territory Championship Tournament: Billy Brash vs. Josh Bishop vs. Kody Lane vs. Mark Wheeler vs. Mike Outlaw vs. Steve Manders – 1+

Jake Something (w/Tommy Vendetta) vs. “Diamond Tiger” Kobe Durst – 1+

Barackus vs. Tommy Vendetta (w/Jake Something) – NR (squash)

Halal Beefcake (Idris Abraham & Joe Coleman) vs. The Gym Nasty Boyz (Timmy Lou Retton & White Mike), The Space Pirates (Shane Sabre & Space Monkey) – 1+

1st Round in Midwest Territory Championship Tournament: Myron Reed vs. Stephen Wolf – 2

*** Ricky Steamboat appearance ***

Impact World Tag Team Title: The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander) (c) vs. The WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake) – 2

1st Round in Midwest Territory Championship Tournament: Laynie Luck vs. Seishin – 1

1st Round in Midwest Territory Championship Tournament: Danny Adams vs. Hakim Zane – 1

Curt Stallion vs. Paco Gonzalez – 1

1st Round in Midwest Territory Championship Tournament: AJ Gray vs. Jake Lander – 2

United Glory Tag Team Championships: The Besties In The World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) (c) vs. The Four-Star Heroes (Chris Castro & Nick Brubaker) – 1+

G1 Climax 29 Thread

Contents

3 Rated Matches:

Night 5 – Kota Ibushi v Will Ospreay – 3+

Night 6 – Jon Moxley v Tomohiro Ishii – 3

Night 7 – Kazuchika Okada v Will Ospreay – 3+

Night 10 – Tomohiro Ishii v Juice Robinson – 3

Night 14 – Tetsuya Naito v Shingo Takagi – 3

Night 16 – Shingo Takagi v Tomohiro Ishii – 3

Night 17 – Kota Ibushi v Kazuchika Okada – 3+

Night 18 – Taichi v Tomohiro Ishii – 3

Final – Kota Ibushi v Jay White – 3

2+ Rated Matches:

  • Night 1 – Lance Archer v Will Ospreay
  • Night 1 – SANADA v Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Night 1 – Kazuchika Okada v Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • Night 2 – Juice Robinson v Shingo Takagi
  • Night 3 – Will Ospreay v SANADA
  • Night 3 – EVIL v Kota Ibushi
  • Night 4 – Tomohiro Ishii v Jay White
  • Night 8 – Tetsuya Naito v Tomohiro Ishii
  • Night 9 – Kazuchika Okada v KENTA
  • Night 10 – Jon Moxley v Tetsuya Naito
  • Night 11 – Zack Sabre Jr. v Will Ospreay
  • Night 12 – Hirooki Goto v Tomohiro Ishii
  • Night 13 – SANADA v Kazuchika Okada
  • Night 15 – Will Ospreay v KENTA
  • Night 15 – Kota Ibushi v Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Night 17 – Zack Sabre Jr. v KENTA
  • Night 17 – Will Ospreay v Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • Night 18 – Shingo Takagi v Hirooki Goto

Complete Ratings:

NightWinnerLoserRating
Night 1Lance ArcherWill Ospreay2+
Bad Luck FaleEVIL1+
SANADAZack Sabre Jr.2+
KENTAKota Ibushi2
Kazuchika OkadaHiroshi Tanahashi2+
Night 2Juice RobinsonShingo Takagi2+
TaichiJon Moxley1+
Toru YanoTetsuya Naito1+
Tomohiro IshiiJeff Cobb1
Hirooki GotoJay White1+
Night 3Lance ArcherBad Luck Fale2
Will OspreaySANADA2+
Kazuchika OkadaZack Sabre Jr2
EVILKota Ibushi2+
KENTAHiroshi Tanahashi2
Night 4Shingo TakagiToru Yano1
Juice RobinsonHirooki Goto1+
Jon MoxleyJeff Cobb1
Tomohiro IshiiJay White2+
TaichiTetsuya Naito2
Night 5KENTALance Archer1+
EVILSANADA2
Kazuchika OkadaBad Luck Fale1
Hiroshi TanahashiZack Sabre Jr.2
Kota IbushiWill Ospreay3+
Night 6Shingo TakagiTaichi2
Jeff CobbJuice Robinson1+
Toru YanoJay White0+
Tetsuya NaitoHirooki Goto1+
Jon MoxleyTomohiro Ishii3
Night 7Zack Sabre Jr.Bad Luck Fale2
Hiroshi TanahashiLance Archer1+
KENTAEVIL1+
Kota IbushiSANADA1+
Kazuchika OkadaWill Ospreay3+
Night 8Juice RobinsonToru Yano1
TaichiHirooki Goto1+
Jon MoxleyShingo Takagi2
Jay WhiteJeff Cobb1
Tetsuya NaitoTomohiro Ishii2+
Night 9Kota IbushiLance Archer2
Will OspreayBad Luck Fale0+
EVILZack Sabre Jr.1
Hiroshi TanahashiSANADA1+
Kazuchika OkadaKENTA2+
Night 10Hirooki GotoToru Yano0+
Tomohiro IshiiJuice Robinson3
Jeff CobbTaichi1+
Jay WhiteShingo Takagi2
Jon MoxelyTetsuya Naito2+
Night 11Kota IbushiBad Luck Fale0
Zack Sabre Jr.Will Ospreay2+
Kazuchika OkadaLance Archer2
SANADAKENTA2
Hiroshi TanahashiEVIL1+
Night 12Jeff CobbShingo Takagi1+
Toru YanoJon Moxley2
Tetsuya NaitoJuice Robinson1+
Jay WhiteTaichi1+
Hirooki GotoTomohiro Ishii2+
Night 13Bad Luck FaleKENTA1
Zack Sabre Jr.Lance Archer1+
EVILWill Ospreay2
Kota IbushiHiroshi Tanahashi2
SANADAKazuchika Okada2+
Night 14Tomohiro IshiiToru Yano2
TaichiJuice Robinson1
Hirooki GotoJeff Cobb1
Jay WhiteJon Moxley1
Tetsuya NaitoShingo Takagi2+
Night 15SANADALance Archer1
Bad Luck FaleHiroshi Tanahashi0+
Will OspreayKENTA2+
Kota IbushiZack Sabre Jr.2+
Kazuchika OkadaEVIL2
Night 16Toru YanoTaichi1+
Tetsuya NaitoJeff Cobb2
Hirooki GotoJon Moxley2
Jay WhiteJuice Robinson2
Shingo TakagiTomohiro Ishii3
Night 17Lance ArcherEVIL2
Bad Luck FaleSANADA1+
Zack Sabre Jr.KENTA2+
Will OspreayHiroshi Tanahashi2+
Kota IbushiKazuchika Okada3+
Night 18Jeff CobbToru Yano1+
TaichiTomohiro Ishii3
Juice RobinsonJon Moxley2
Shingo TakagiHirooki Goto2+
Jay WhiteTetsuya Naito2
FinalKota IbushiJay White3

Blessed Content

Complete Stats

A Block Average Score: 1.94

B Block Average Score: 1.79

Best Nights:

  1. Night 17, A Block, Tokyo
  2. Night 1, A Block, Dallas
  3. Night 18, B Block, Tokyo
  4. Night 3, A Block, Tokyo
  5. Night 16, B Block, Yokohama

Worst Nights:

  1. Night 9, A Block, Nagoya
  2. Night 14, B Block, Osaka
  3. Night 4, B Block, Sapporo
  4. Night 11, A Block, Takamatsu
  5. Night 8, B Block, Hiroshima

MVP: Tomohiro Ishii (2.5 avg)

LVP: Bad Luck Fale (1.11 avg)

Final Match Quality Rankings:

  1. Tomohiro Ishii
  2. Will Ospreay
  3. Kazuchika Okada
  4. Shingo Takagi
  5. Kota Ibushi
  6. Zack Sabre Jr.
  7. Tetsuya Naito
  8. KENTA
  9. Jon Moxley
  10. Juice Robinson
  11. Taichi
  12. SANADA
  13. Lance Archer
  14. EVIL
  15. Hiroshi Tanahashi
  16. Jay White
  17. Hirooki Goto
  18. Toru Yano
  19. Jeff Cobb
  20. Bad Luck Fale

10 Best Matches:

  1. Kazuchika Okada v Will Ospreay
  2. Kota Ibushi v Will Ospreay
  3. Kota Ibushi v Kazuchika Okada
  4. Kota Ibushi v Jay White
  5. Tomohiro Ishii v Juice Robinson
  6. Jon Moxley v Tomohiro Ishii
  7. Shingo Takagi v Tomohiro Ishii
  8. Taichi v Tomohiro Ishii
  9. Tetsuya Naito v Shingo Takagi

5 Worst Matches:

  1. Kota Ibushi v Bad Luck Fale
  2. Hirooki Goto v Toru Yano
  3. Jon Moxley v Jeff Cobb
  4. Jay White v Jon Moxley
  5. EVIL v Zack Sabre Jr.

St. Louis Anarchy: Circus Maximus 2019

It’s probably fair to say at this point that with a long and storied history going back more than a decade, Circus Maximus can be considered Anarchy’s “big show.” Unlike many of the big shows in other mid-indie promotions, Circus Maximus has always been more about servicing feuds and showcasing home talent than bringing in big names. Certainly there were some big names brought in on this card, and we’ll get to that, but the thing that strikes you if you were a first timer at Spaulding is how hot the crowd is for the people that are there every month. The big boys like PWG and GCW might be able to float on fly-ins, but if you’re running 300 seats, you need the local talent to draw and Anarchy is right there with Freelance as the hottest regular talent base in the Midwest.

I happened to be at the show well before doors opened and was surprised at the lack of a line outside. Sometimes at Anarchy shows people will be winding down both hallways and out onto the street before the doors even opened and this night was somewhat low on early attendance so I was concerned about the draw. Looking back, that concern was ridiculous as by the end of the first match almost every chair in Spaulding was filled. If capacity was 300, there were probably 320. I don’t know if the attendance was higher or lower than for the Nick Gage show but it was within a dozen either way. As far as environments go, when Spaulding is full and lit it can match any venue in the US for raw excitement and as you will see when the video drops on IWTV.live (code ANARCHY for 2 free weeks), it was very much both.

There was an announcement prior to the show that Spaulding was attempting to set a sales record for their indie-famous pizzas (I’ll not leave you in suspense, said record was obliterated), but the only knock I can really have on the live show was that the bar queue was basically impenetrable. It may have been due to the ridiculous number of pizza sales but Spaulding is going to have to either get three bartenders or a side table with canned beers on these big shows. I’m not exaggerating a 15-20 minute wait to order.

First up is a matchup between two high-impact newcomers to the reboot of Anarchy, Craig Mitchell and Larry D. I’m not sure I really need to tell you the tone or cadence of this one. These boys hit each other fast and hard. I had heard Larry was able to hit a destroyer but seeing a guy that big actually do it is something far more terrifying than it was in my brain. He almost pitched Mitchell clear out of the ring. After a failed first attempt, Mitchell was able to use Larry’s momentum to slam him with a huge Samoan drop. This was probably an upset but nothing really feels like an upset when you’re talking about Mitchell, the man is a wrecking ball. I forgot to mention that along with the stellar ref team of Adam Kennedy and Nick Chubb, they were joined by famed AEW and Chikara referee Bryce Remsburg! How cool is that?

A debuting Jaden Newman followed up with a contest against Kody Lane next. I was surprised that with Newman’s limited exposure outside the Mid-South that he actually got a nice pop and Lane definitely had some heat with the crowd. This was a fine match between two guys with high ceilings. I feel like I haven’t been able to really connect to Lane but I see a lot of promise in him. Newman is probably a future star and more Midwestern shows need to start bringing this guy up. The pace was a little fast here for either guy to really establish themselves fully but Lane pulled off a nice win.

Next up was Greg Jovi’s dickhead squad of Dirden, Rose, and Shire v. house favorite Big Beef Garvin with the debuting Gym Nasty Boys. It was good, but it could have perhaps been a touch shorter without missing anything. That’s such a minor nitpick when six highly talented wrestlers are sharing the ring though. Gym Nasty is perfect aesthetically for Anarchy and should probably return in the future. I’m not going to continue to harp every post on how good Thomas Shire is and what a bunch of bullshit it is that he isn’t a mainstay on every regional show. Maybe he needs to get out more or whatever but at some point it’s on promoters to do their homework and actually pay attention to the talent in the region. This motherfucker UFOed Timmy Lou Retton effortlessly. After Jovi grabbed the mic to absolutely nuclear heat and put the Anarchy roster on notice that they were coming for what they feel they are owed. You’d be insane to bet against them at this point.

Raoul the Bear, accompanied by Everett Connors, made their way out for a surprise opponent to replace the last-minute cancellation of Chuck Mambo, who apparently could not pass up the opportunity to wrestle in the moribund Impact Wrestling TV tapings. As a numbers game, that probably the right move. We rightfully dunk on Impact’s lack of viewership and popularity but 10K is a lot more eyes than 800. My only complaint is waiting until a few days before and skipping out on two shows (he missed the Journey Pro show in KC as well) is incredibly unprofessional. Then again, unprofessional is pretty much the name of the game up North, so that’s no surprise.

Luckily Anarchy found a brilliant replacement in Freelance star Isaias Velazquez, who AFAIK, has not been around STL anytime in recent days, if ever. Velazquez is one of those dudes who is so over in Chicago it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t caught on more places, but it’s probably only a matter of time. He was great, and I could nitpick parts of this but it was likely due to Connors and Velazquez’s general unfamiliarity with each other. I cannot imagine where they would have crossed paths before. Despite Raoul’s attempts at interference, Velazquez was able to control most of the match, even nearly superkicking Raoul’s head off at one point. Still, Connors is a savvy wrestler and by the end was able to turn the tide in his favor. Velazquez needs to come back here, that’s the bottom line. He’s such a talent and could be on the cusp of a major breakout.

The final match prior to intermission were the home ace team of the Besties in the World taking on the national juggernaut WorkHorsemen: former WWN Champ JD Drake and Anthony Henry, the runner up in the cursed Style Battle WWN sub-promotion. If you don’t know anything about the WorkHorsemen, which you might actually not if you don’t follow EVOLVE, they are a criminally underexposed duo both as a tag team and as individuals. They share that with the Besties and this felt like a match for these teams to challenge for that next rung on the national ladder. While the match went to the visitors, I think they both successfully made the case that they are as good as any tag teams in the US. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this has to be one of the best tag matches in the history of STL wrestling and probably the best match I’ve seen live in STL.

Up-and-coming tag duo Chip Day and Logan James had the unenviable task of serving as the cooler to that post-intermission. Maybe because of that, the match had some issues where it felt like there was a bit too much happening but it was a minor complaint. I actually think minus James nearly killing himself on a Spanish fly, they actually served as a good transition out of the break. I believe this was Day and James’s first win as a duo. Rayne Victoria accompanied them, which I wonder if that was thrown in at the last minute because she didn’t really do that much, but I actually liked the dynamic in theory. I hope they attempt to keep it going to better returns in the future as I know Victoria can bump in her own right. I’m going to expound at length sometime on how much I like Chip Day and how great he’s been in Anarchy but that will have to wait until another post.

The home stretch then began with Gary Jay going against visiting Chikara legend Jigsaw. I don’t know how Matt Jackson is securing these bookings as the top Chikara talent rarely leaves the East Coast but don’t think the fans don’t fully appreciate what they have gotten this year. Hallowicked put on an absolute banger earlier this year against Jay and Jigsaw was also great. It sure seemed like he had a good time and I hope it would encourage him to make his way over to Spaulding once a year and take on some more of Anarchy’s talent.

Jigsaw momentarily escapes Gary Jay’s strikes outside the ring

Following the guest of honor for the evening was a long-delayed grudge match from Evan Gelistico and Matt Kenway. Last year they actually had a really fun weapons match that hinted at a storyline they seem to have finally picked up again. I’m not sure what the delay was but there was a much more clear path forward with this one. Normally I find dog collar matches pretty cheesy because it’s generally an excuse for people to blade in a standard-ass hardcore match but this one was actually really fun because they ACTUALLY USED THE FUCKING CHAIN! Not everything has to be this complicated story and if you are going to include a prop in a match you need to bother to tell a story with it. Naturally Kenway tapped because he is a coward, so Gelistico was able to get his revenge from the earlier match.

After the match, Gelistico found a copy of The Rules which was dragged out from under the ring (how long had that thing been under there?). Longtime followers of Evan/Buddy kind of know what this is about but I’m not 100% sure the direction Anarchy is going to take this so I’m going to leave it for you to find out.

“No one is above the law!”

The main event was a rematch of Jake Parnell v long time champ Jeremy Wyatt from the cursed blizzard show (which I actually attended and was lucky to make it to and from alive). That was a solid match—nothing to call out as an all-timer—but something felt different all month about this one. Parnell and Wyatt cut an extended face-to-face interview promo earlier in the month that was actually one of the more unique and involved things I’ve seen from a mid-indie in awhile. It really upped the heat level for the affair and myself and probably everyone in the building felt that Wyatt’s 18th defense would be his last and Parnell would walk out as the new face of Anarchy.

I’m sure Wyatt is actually a totally normal person IRL but everyone in the building wants to see him straight up get murdered. He’s such a glorious piece of shit, which I suppose means he’s good at his job. The other reason he’s good at his job is that he’s an absolutely phenomenal wrestler. Lucky for us the good guy has also turned into one of the best talents in the region. However, and this should not be construed as disrespect at Parnell, I’ve never seen him work something on this level. He’s come close in several brilliant matches with Gary Jay including their standout match from WrestleMania weekend and their infamous Zero1 last man standing affair, but this was next level. Parnell and Wyatt’s styles clashed perfectly, with Wyatt’s smarmy technical prowess getting the best of early combat, but Warhorse was able to claw back with smart tactics before really taking advantage with his greater power. I’m fairly certain that everyone in that building thought he was going to win and then this happened:

The tide turns

It was enough to turn the tide in favor of Wyatt, and although Parnell threatened, he was weakened enough by his trip to the floor to allow Wyatt to retain yet again with an unprecedented 18th defense of the Gateway Heritage Championship. Goddamned if the boys didn’t get an extended ovation and Wyatt even won the grudging respect of many in the building. If you look at the series of defenses Wyatt has had, he has a good 5 or 6 extreme quality matches in there. There was no way I thought he could match his bout with Jonathan Gresham earlier in the year. He didn’t, he surpassed it.

To be honest, I don’t know where Anarchy goes from here with the title. Although Parnell has been the greatest challenger to Wyatt, it was his second unsuccessful attempt and he has a brutal mountain to climb against the god Nick Gage in September. If he wins maybe he’s back in line but if he doesn’t, that’s two high profile losses in a row. That’s not a good situation for the Horse. Maybe Gary Jay gets back in the mix with a win over Chris Dickinson, maybe the Thomas Shire train keeps rolling through the promotion and onto a title shot, maybe Dirden or Mitchell can get a shot? There’s people capable but no one who really seems deserving. Maybe fuckin’ Dingo comes out of retirement, I don’t even know.

I have faith that Matt Jackson has a plan though, so you won’t want to miss what comes next. Hints have been dropped that big thangs are on the horizon for Anarchy. While I’m sure those things will be cool, the biggest thang of all has already been done: a promotion that was surprisingly retrieved out of the ashes of the (unfairly) locally-reviled NWL has run a full year of can’t miss shows. They’ve filled Spaulding to near capacity three times and have brought in some bookings that would satisfy even the pickiest fans: Nick Gage, Kylie Rae, Kimber Lee, Hallowicked, Jon Gresham, JD Drake, Anthony Henry, and Jigsaw just to name a few. Maybe the most surprising of all, with all those names, it’s the home talent of Jay, Parnell, the Besties, and Shire to name a few that have been the biggest stars.

Truly if you are a bi-state wrestling fan and you’re still asleep on Anarchy, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s absolutely insane that with where the scene was a few years ago that there are two STL promotions in Anarchy and Glory Pro that are running pretty much attendance-mandatory shows every time out. Make sure you’re not left out next time.

I had this piece I never finished regarding Jake Something and AJ Gray’s match at Glory Pro in Belleville and whether it was a 3 or not (I ended up giving it a 2+ after much debate) where the question of interest was whether a 3 was really a possible thing at a mid-indie. I ended up deciding that if a promotion the size of PWG or early ROH could have a 3, then surely it would be possible for a mid-indie to have one as an outlier. Well what a stupid debate I never published because I hung two on this show.

Rating: A-

Watch It: https://iwtv.live/promotion/stl-anarchy#rp7l8Vk7Vx

Match Ratings

Craig Mitchell v “Legendary” Larry D – 1+

Kody Lane v Jaden Newman – 1

Jake Dirden, Christian Rose, and Thomas Shire v “Big Beef” Gnarls Garvin and the Gym Nasty Boyz (Timmy Lou Retton & White Mike) – 1+

Everett Connors w/Raoul v Isaias Velazquez – 1

The WorkHorsemen (J.D. Drake & Anthony Henry) v The Besties in the World (Mat Fitchett & Davey Vega) – 3!!!

Kicks ‘n’ Shit (Chip Day & Logan James) w/Rayne Victoria v Diamond Dogs (Graham Bell and Luke Langley) – 1

Gary Jay v Jigsaw – 1+

Dog Collar Match: Evan Gelistico v Matt Kenway – 1+

Gateway Heritage Championship Pure Rules: Jeremy Wyatt (c) v “Warhorse” Jake Parnell – 3!!!

Bonus: Bryce “Fiddlesticks” Remburg reffing at Spaulding – 2+

WrestleMania Week Show Reviews

Beyond Wrestling: Uncharted Territory Episode 1

A very wrestle-wrestle show but extremely good. All the matches were decent to good. If they can get bodies to Electric Haze every week this is going to be a good series.

Best Match: David Starr v Masato Tanaka
Rating: B

WrestlePro: Does Funny = Money?

Answer? No.

Dan Maff beat up Hornswoggle. Worst tag gauntlet ever.

Best Match: fuck, I dunno, Demon Bunny v Team Tremendous I guess? It was wrestling at least.
Rating: F

IWTV Family Reunion

This was a free-ish showcase to kick off The Collective. It was fun and had some really nice matches. The Alpha-1 six man was a highlight.

Best Match: Gary Jay v Jake Parnell – Last Man Standing
Rating: B-

wXw: Amerika Ist Wunderbar

Good matches but was a little uneven and didn’t have much in the way of stakes for a US audience. Mostly will be famous for Starr’s promo.

Best Match: David Starr v Lucky Kid
Rating: C+

GCW: Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport

Vastly improved from last year. Only bad match was Severn v Mir. It would be cool if GCW could do more than one of these a year. I don’t think you could carry an entire promotion of this in 2019 but maybe 3 a year?

Best Matches: JR Kratos v Simon Grimm; Minoru Suzuki v Josh Barnett
Rating: B+

DDT: Coming to America

DDT did a phenomenal job putting this show together for an English audience. I don’t even want to pick anything out because it was all so good. A must watch.

Best Match: Konosuke Takeshita v Daisuke Sasaki
Rating: A

AIW: Slumber Party Massacre

A wee bit of a trash fire show but that was the point. Fun stuff, mostly.

Best Match: the title 4-way
Rating: C

Kaiju Big Battel: Silver Jamboree

Kaiju on Mania week is always fun because you know there’s a ton of famous wrestlers in the suits but no one knows who they are. Watching Kaiju for the matches is a little against the point but the show was very entertaining and the crowd was hot. Fuck Dr. Cube.

Best Match: n/a
Rating: B

Chikara: Once Upon a Beginning

A really standout show for Chikara’s season premiere. Lots of great matches with all the available guests.

Best Match: Airwolf v A-Kid
Rating: B

Shimmer 113

Great show, starting the thing with Matsumoto and Savoy was risky but it paid off. Really solid show.

Best Match: Team Surf & Turf v Team Blue Nation (Kris Wolf’s final Shimmer match)
Rating: B

Black Label Pro: Adventures in Wrestling

Really fun mostly low stakes event. Well booked and the rumble with everyone in the back was extremely cool.

Best Match: Shigehiro Irie v Jonathan Gresham
Rating: B

Rev Pro: Live in New York

The two big astroturf NJPW matches were phenomenal, the rest of the show was somewhat lackluster.

Best Match: Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. v Hiroshi Tanahashi & Will Ospreay
Rating: B-

Stardom: American Dream 2019

Plenty of technical issues including a broken ring aside, the matches were great and the crowd was pretty hot. If this had just gone smoother it likely would have been an A show.

Best Match: Momo Watanabe v Utami Hayashishita
Rating: B+

NXT: TakeOver New York

Started out with one of the best tag matches in forever, followed up with a near classic. The entire middle dragged. People liked the Walter/Dunne match and I really don’t see why. They had trouble working to the crowd size. It was maybe the 30th best Walter match I’ve seen the last 2 years.

Best Match: War Raiders v Aleister Black
Rating: B+

Joey Ryan’s Penis Party

Well Tracy Smothers nearly tanked this show and DDT nearly saved it. Instead it was just generally cursed.

Best Match: DDT Heavymetalweight Rumble
Rating: C-

NJPW/ROH: G1 Supercard

ROH is a shit-tier promotion with a few good wrestlers. Take away Bandido, Cobb, and Haskins and this promotion is worse than the top Midwest indies. They tried to tank this show but couldn’t. This was easily the best show New Japan has had in the US despite their jackassery so win some lose some. Only good ROH match on the card was the ladder and it went overlong.

Best Matches: Kota Ibushi v Tetsuya Naito; Jeff Cobb v Will Ospreay
Rating: B+

GCW: Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 Pt. 1

An incredibly blessed show, a little something for everyone.

Best Match: A-Kid v Australian Suicide v Jake Atlas v Shane Mercer v Slim J v Jungle Boy
Rating: A-

GCW: Orange Cassidy is doing something, or whatever… who knows?

Pure comedy show with good jokes and good wrestling. This is really everything you could want in a novelty show, except for listening to Teddy Hart. That obnoxious segment took this from an A- show to a B one. Book Teddy Hart at the bottom of the ocean.

Best Match: Lucky 13 v Jigsaw v Airwolf v Champion Dan v Jake Atlas v Sonny DeFarge
Rating: B

WrestleCon: US v The World

A showcase that lost most of its heat when all the DG guys dropped out. They did their best.

Best Match: The Rascalz v Adam Brooks, Australian Suicide, and Robbie Eagles
Rating: C+

WrestleCon: Mark Hitchcock Memorial Supershow

Same as above but this event ended up being better than the 2nd.

Best Match: Bandido v Will Ospreay
Rating: B

WWE: WrestleMania 35

Yes I actually watched it this year because I went to a party. It was fine in the 1st half, fairly dire in the 2nd. Ronda is still sloppy as fuck, I could pick any random joshi 14 year old that’s better than her. I don’t get why she gets bonus credit, you crackers need to step up your standards.

Best Matches: Daniel Bryan v Kofi Kingston; Men’s SmackDown Title 4-way
Rating: C

GCW: Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 pt 2

Possibly the greatest avant-garde indie show in US history. You can criticize GCW/Janela for booking the likes of Teddy Hart but to me this was an exploration of the zeitgeist of the week. Hart wasn’t there for one show.

Best Matches: LAX v Rock ‘n’ Roll Express; The Greatest Clusterfuck
Rating: A+

Mania Week Streaming

These are the shows I have access to and may be streaming privately. All times are Central.

Help pay the bills: https://cash.me/$paulg

Wednesday, April 3rd

  • 7pm – WrestlePro: Does Funny = Money?
  • 7pm – Beyond Wrestling: Uncharted Territory Premiere

Thursday, April 4th

  • 11am – IWTV: Family Reunion
  • 3pm – wXw: Amerika Ist Wunderbar
  • 3pm – Destiny Wrestling / Fight Club Pro: Fight for Destiny
  • 6pm – WrestleCon Supershow
  • 7pm – DDT: Coming to America
  • 7pm – Interspecies Wrestling: Boner Jam IV
  • 10pm – IMPACT: United We Stand
  • 11pm – Kaiju Big Battel: Silver Jubilee

Friday, April 5th

  • 10am – WrestleCon: US v The World
  • 10am – SHIMMER
  • 11am – Chikara: Once Upon a Beginning
  • 2pm – Rev Pro: Live in New York
  • 2pm – WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising
  • 2:30 – Black Label Pro: Adventures in Wrestling
  • 3pm – Stardom World Wonder Ring
  • 7pm – Joey Ryan’s Penis Party
  • 7pm – GCW: Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 pt 1

Saturday, April 6th

  • 10am – Pro Wrestling Revolver: Pancakes and Piledrivers
  • 11am – GCW: Orange Cassidy is doing something, or whatever… who knows?
  • 1pm – House of Glory: Culture Clash 19
  • 3pm – IWS: Unstoppable
  • 5:30pm – Drags and Dropkicks
  • 6:30pm – G1 Supercard
  • 6:30pm – WrestlePro v CZW
  • 11pm – GCW: Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 pt 2

Glory Pro: Phoenix Rising – 2nd Anniversary

New Glory Pro heads Danny Adams and a currently-injured Kevin Lee Davidson celebrated a full year of ownership of one of the Midwest’s hottest promotion with another great card at the new home venue on Sunday, February 24. The card had a few last minute changes due to injuries and an emergency cancellation from headliner Jody Fleisch, but was still extremely strong on paper. Fleisch is a legend, certainly, but was replaced by recent AAA Cruiserweight Champion and sometimes AAA English commentator Australian Suicide, who is quite honestly the superior wrestler in 2019. It was another IWTV show, and I think it’s been for the best that the cameras have kept the bookings much tighter than in the past.

I called last month’s show the best show in Glory Pro’s history and they beat that mark again this month. The card was just a teensy bit stronger and the matches just slightly better up and down. It was subtle, but it was better. I was looking forward to seeing both the debuts of Jody Threat and Sheldon Jean in singles action, but the reshuffling pushed them into a tornado instead. No matter, they still managed to impress in short action. Other debuts included O’Shea Edwards, Tom Lawlor, Halal Beefcake, The Four Star Heroes (Matt Knicks & Chris Castro), and the aforementioned Australian Suicide.

The opener was a ripper of a gauntlet match between GPW house favorite “Warhorse” Jake Parnell, O’Shea Edwards, and the currently feuding Jake Something and AJ Gray. It was a great opener that built well upon the story that AJ and Jake are servicing. After was maybe my most anticipated match on the card between a couple of real-life shooters, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez. They absolutely knocked it out of the park with a brilliant match that highlighted their outstanding fighting abilities. Gutierrez had on the previous Thursday, worked what was widely reported as a banger match against Jeremy Wyatt at Journey Pro in Kansas City and followed up with this a few days later. With having a promising MMA career, Gutierrez has to keep his weight down but I firmly believe he could be a star if he gains some weight and looks more intimidating. He has all the tools. Lawlor, who recently retired from professional MMA, can roid out and get huge and blow up in wrestling now.

A few welcome returns over the next few matches were Impact Wrestling’s Hakim Zane and Ethan Page, both of whom received loud pops. Page filled in wonderfully as the extra Bestie for Davey Vega, who was injured at Over the Top in Ireland. He spent a lot of the match calling out to Vega for advice on how to tag wrestle, which was extremely funny. He’s going to be back in March for the Pentagon and Fenix show and everyone could not be happier. Su Yung and Seishin was another great match and I thought this was easily the best singles match I’d seen from the former Tootie Lynn Ramsey. Castro & Knicks did their job but their match against No New Friends was basically a push to establish them as characters. I look forward to their return in a longer match as this one was a bit of an eject, but still entertaining.

The co-main was the 2 falls blowoff of the shockingly good 3 month back-and-forth between Paco Gonzalez and Eddie Kingston. I called their last encounter easily the best match of the show and this one was the same. Paco scored an early fall but Kingston was able to overcome injury and shocking brutality from former underdog babyface Paco to take the 2/3 to win the series. Paco won Kingston’s respect but it was not enough to satisfy him, attacking Kingston’s injured knee after the match to complete the full heel turn. Folks, there’s really no overemphasizing what an underrated wrestler Eddie Kingston is. I think everyone knows that he’s one of the best promos in the business but he’s so efficient and precise in the ring also. For as long as he decides to stick around, we are extremely blessed to have him.

The main of GPW champ Curt Stallion v Australian Suicide was another in the “International Series” and I have to say this one was slightly better than last month’s tussle between Stallion and Bandido. They had a little better chemistry in this one and it led to a tighter match. We have one more month of this series coming up, and while the belt isn’t absolutely crucial in a promotion like this, I’ll be glad to see GPW get back to having the belt actually in play. Overall, another great show, so I have to give this one a slight uptick from the last one.

Show Rating: B

Match Ratings

AJ Gray v O’Shea Edwards v Jake Parnell v Jake Something – 1+

Anthony Gutierrez v Tom Lawlor – 2

Shane Sabre v Hakim Zane – 1

Alpha Omega v Halal Beefcake v Barackus & Aaron Orion – 1

United Glory Tag Team Championship: Bestegos (Mat Fitchett & Ethan Page) (c) v Stephen Wolf & Myron Reed – 1+

–intermission–

Allie Kat v Sheldon Jean v Kody Lane v Jody Threat v Mark Wheeler v Jake Lander – 1+

Seishin (fka Tootie Lynn Ramsey) v Su Yung – 1+

Four Star Heroes (Matt Knicks & Chris Castro) v No New Friends (Danny Adams & Mike Outlaw) – 0+

2 Falls: Paco Gonzalez v Eddie Kingston – 2

Crown of Glory International Series: Curt Stallion (c) v Australian Suicide – 1+

DDT: Judgement 2019 ~ DDT Raising an Army 22nd Anniversary ~ Review

This past weekend was another glorious free live stream of the other major DDT show than Peter Pan, the anniversary show Judgement. The card reads like a damn fantasy booking for fans of Japanese wrestling–almost everyone was on this thing! While it had the typical problem of a lot of the DDT shows of a lot of the jokes being impenetrable if you don’t speak Japanese, I’ve learned to just let the weirdness wash over me and the wrestling more than made up for it.

Apart from the opener (did not log on early enough to see the pre-show), everything is good. Honestly even the first match wasn’t bad, it’s just that Jason Kincaid is a walking exercise in how not to appeal to me. Not a hunk, weird-ass no psychology botch-heavy style, new age gimmick, incredibly dorky tattoo. Can’t get into it, despite enjoying seeing Space Monkey get booked on big shows.

The Iron Man Heavy Metal Gauntlet was weird on paper and even weirder in reality, but was absolutely wonderful. The right person won, got to show off her incredible new finisher, and then blessed the booth with some extremely good commentary until the break. It was also most people’s first exposure to Maku Donaruto and, holy fuck. Donaruto is basically a psychotic rapist version of Ronald McDonald that works in a strange comedy promotion called Udon Pro and I was actually impressed that DDT would put a gimmick that is so commercially hostile on a major card.

Say what you will, but at least Yuni was long gone

Beef boy battle followed and was predictably excellent. There was a cool trivia attached that one of the wrestlers was Taiho’s grandson making his debut in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. I’ll watch anything with Daisuke Sekimoto anyway. Following this was a match that I was looking forward to between T-Hawk and Akito that simply did not go well. They had little chemistry and the entire end of the match was bizarre and confusing, even for DDT standards. Danshoku Dino’s match accompanied by Pokotan was wonderful, one of the best comedy matches of the year. Watching the other team kick Pokotan’s head in was one of the highlights of the night.

The six-man hardcore really punched above its weight. I fell in love with Takumi Iroha during the SEAdLINNNG tournament and she teamed with DAMNATION in this match against her mentor Chigusa Nagayo, deathmatch legend Ryuji Ito, and Sanshiro Takagi in full mecha paint. The crowd was absolutely batshit for Nagayo. She is obviously somewhat limited in 2019 but women were screaming for her like it was 1992 all over again. The match was exceptionally fun and Iroha got put over huge. I didn’t count but Soma Takao had to have gotten at least 15 containers smashed over his head.

MAO and Mike Bailey defended their tag belts after the break and proved why they are one of the best in the world. This is one of the great sprint matches of the year thus far and a must see. Following this was a surprisingly great defense of the Extreme Title by Shinya Aoki, who it must be reiterated always, has limited puro training.

The semi-main of Naomichi Marifuji versus Tetsuya Endo was honestly a disappointment, and not because of Endo. Marifuji has to change up his style more because his physical condition is obviously declining. He can still do a lot but this match did not play to his strengths and the ending felt like a bit of a botch. Endo looked like a world beater and probably needs to be back in the title picture soon.

Headlining was the KO-D Title match of Konosuke Takeshita and Daisuke Sasaki. Everything leading up to this told me that Takeshita was going over, and arguably Sasaki did not get the run he should have with the belt. As a standalone event though, this is one of the best matches of the year. Insane, brutal spots throughout and incredible drama until the final three count. It was a fitting end to another DDT big show that delivered from beginning to end.

Show Rating: A-

Match Ratings

ALL OUT (Shunma Katsumata & Space Monkey) & Yuki Ueno vs. Antonio Honda, Jason Kincaid & Naomi Yoshimura – 0+

DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Title Gauntlet Battle Royal – ASUKA (c) vs. Chinsuke Nakamura vs. El Lindaman vs. Gorgeous Matsuno vs. Gota Ihashi vs. Hoshitango vs. Kazuki Hirata vs. Keisuke Okuda vs. Makoto Oishi vs. Maku Donaruto vs. Mina Shirakawa vs. Saki Akai vs. Scorpio X 2 vs. Super Sasadango Machine vs. Tomomitsu Matsunaga vs. Yasu Urano vs. Yuka Sakazaki vs. Yuni – 1+

Daisuke Sekimoto, Toru Owashi & Yuki Ino vs. Go Shiozaki, Kazusada Higuchi & Yukio Naya – 2

Akito vs. T-Hawk – 1

Danshoku Dino, KUDO & Pokotan vs. Keisuke Ishii, Kota Umeda & Mizuki Watase – 1+

Hardcore Six Man Tag Team Match: Chigusa Nagayo, Ryuji Ito & Sanshiro Takagi vs. DAMNATION (Mad Paulie & Soma Takao) & Takumi Iroha – 2

KO-D Tag Team Title Three Way Match: Moonlight Express (MAO & Mike Bailey) (c) vs. Shuten Doji (Masahiro Takanashi & Yukio Sakaguchi) vs. Strong Hearts (CIMA & Seiki Yoshioka) – 2+

DDT Extreme Title Pride On The Line Match: Shinya Aoki (c) vs. HARASHIMA – 2

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Tetsuya Endo – 1

KO-D Openweight Title Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs. Konosuke Takeshita – 3!!!

New Beginning 2019 Ratings

New Beginning in Sapporo Night 1

Ren Narita v Yuya Uemura – 0+

Toa Henare & Manabu Nakanishi v Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida – 0

Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask – 1

Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa v Ryuske Taguchi, Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, & Tomoaki Honma – 1

Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, & BUSHI v Taichi, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 1+

SANADA v Minoru Suzuki – 2

EVIL v Zack Sabre Jr. – 2

Bad Luck Fale & Jay White v Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi – 1+

New Beginning in Sapporo Night 2

Toa Henare v Yota Tsuji – 1

Tiger Mask & Manabu Nakanishi v Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida – 1+

Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Ren Narita – 1

Taiji Ishimori, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa v Ryuske Taguchi, Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, & Tomoaki Honma – 1+

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, & YOSHI-HASHI v Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, & Chase Owens – 1

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships – Shingo Takagi & BUSHI (c) v El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 2

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships – EVIL & SANADA (c) v Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki – 2

IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Tetsuya Naito (c) v Taichi – 2+

New Beginning in Osaka

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jyushin Thunder Liger, & Satoshi Kojima v Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, & Taka Michinoku – 1+

EVIL & SANADA v Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida – 1

Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, & Shingo Takagi v Taichi, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 1+

Tomoaki Honma & YOSHI-HASHI v Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi – 0+

G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) v Togi Makabe & Toru Yano – 1

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – Taiji Ishimori (c) v Ryuske Taguchi – 2+

Bad Luck Fale v Kazuchika Okada – 1+

IWGP Heavyweight Championship – Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v Jay White – 2+

NJPW: New Beginning USA in Nashville

While in Nashville for a conference weekend, I somehow scammed my wife into letting us stay late to attend the NJPW Nashville show in exchange for driving the 5 hours home afterward alone. The New Beginning USA tour was meant to be a step forward in a new and solid house show schedule for the US apart from the big shows like G1 Special. Nashville was an extra date added for who knows why but it just so happened we were in town that weekend. Certified fuckboy and rapist-president Donald Trump’s government shutdown over the useless border wall put a kibosh to New Japan’s plans to bring in Nagata and Ishii, but they assembled some of their finest gaijin to do the best show they could possibly put together on short notice.

Ring with the dress apron

Despite the lack of serious New Japan talent, the crowd was red hot and very open to being excited about the show. The L.A. dojo has heavily factored in to these US house shows, providing a role very similar to the Japanese Young Lions. Katsuyori Shibata came out to an extended standing ovation prior to the matches to apologize for the lack of Japanese talent but to assure that the dojo boys and the other wrestlers carried with them the spirit of New Japan. If the crowd was disappointed, they didn’t show it. They had long known what had occurred in booking and while the place wasn’t near sold out (specifically very few in the 2nd tier balcony), they were hyped as much as they possibly could be for the event.

It also turned out that the reports in the dirtsheets were correct and that this was the final appearance of Greg and Dustin in a New Japan ring. Maybe the weird gaijin-only show was an unfortunate unceremonious end to a promising and successful run (especially for Greg, who was a longtime tag star in the Junior ranks), but business is business. The boys were in Vegas a few days later to announce they had joined All Elite Wrestling, which was probably the least surprising thing ever. They always felt underused there despite Greg’s looming singles push, and Chuck should have been brought it much more on the English commentary. All-in-all the boys had to consider it a successful run. Who could have possibly imagined that Chuck Taylor, of all people, would headline a show for a major tournament (New Japan Cup 2018 night 4)?

Deathmatch Dustin, R.I.P.

As weird as the entire card was, it was honestly great. The matches were well done, wrestlers went out of their way to make it a cool show, and the dojo boys acquitted themselves marvelously. Alex Coughlin, in particular, looks like a potential superstar, but I want to make clear that everyone looked great. L.A. Dojo is not a vanity project, they are training guys who will truly be able to step into the mix at NJPW someday. If Shibata never enters a ring competitively again, and it’s likely he won’t, he’s doing work out there that actually may be vastly more important long term than competing in a ring or hanging around the Japanese Dojo.

Overall, there wasn’t a bad match on the bill. The 2nd and 3rd were fairly pedestrian but it was nice to get a live taste of the Great-O-Kharn (Tomoyuki Oka), who is developing a really cool martial arts/American heel brawler style that should immediately set him apart when he leaves excursion. The matches involving the Young Lions were standouts and the Cobb/King and CHAOS/Lifeblood eliminations were highly recommended if they ever put this show out on NJPW World. There was even an appearance by the legendary Tiger Hattori reffing the main event, which may have been the single biggest pop of the night.

It would be impossible not to think what might have been if this wasn’t basically an ROH show with the L.A. Dojo’s help, but they got by with a lot of help from their friends and delivered a really solid show with some nice appearances for a decent value over normal NJPW ticket prices. You can complain about the cards but if you buy tickets blind you’re kind of a mark anyway and I don’t really feel bad for you. I didn’t die on the solitary and foggy journey through rural Kentucky and Illinois, got a chance to say goodbye to the best boys and snap a photo with Deathmatch Dustin, eat some really shitty pizza in the rapidly gentrifying hellscape of Nashville, hold a four year old while she slept for three hours, and enjoy a fine night of almost-New Japan wrestling instead of being pissed off for having my weekend wasted.

Show Rating: B

Match Ratings

Alex Coughlin v Karl Fredericks – 1+

Lance Archer & Shane Taylor v Colt Cabana & Jonathan Gresham – 1

Great-O-Kharn v Harlem Bravado – 1

Clark Connors v Marty Scurll – 1+

Jeff Cobb v Brody King – 2

CHAOS (Beretta, Chuckie T, & Rocky Romero) v Lifeblood (David Finlay, Juice Robinson, & Tracy Williams) – Elimination match – 2

ROH: Honor Reigns Supreme

Match Ratings

Corey Hollis, John Skyler, & Josie Quinn v Cheesburger, Ryan Nova, & Eli Isom 0+

Beer City Bruiser v Mark Haskins 1+

Best Friends v David Finlay & Juice Robinson 1+

Flip Gordon v Tracy Williams 0

Luchasaurus, Delirious, and Shane Hurricane Helms v The Kingdom 0+

Bandido v PJ Black 1+

TV Title Proving Ground: Jeff Cobb (c) v Jonathan Gresham v Shane Taylor v Rhett Titus 1+

Street fight for WOH Championship: Kelly Klein (c) v Jenny Rose 1

The Briscoes & Silas Young v Villian Enterprises 2

ROH Championship: Jay Lethal (c) v Dalton Castle 1+