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
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+