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+

Glory Pro: Above the Law

header photograph copyright Sarah Souders Photography (@stepstoolsarahx)

January 6th was Glory Pro Wrestling’s first event of 2019, the Bandido-titled Above the Law from the new home digs in Collinsville, IL. Since the Mike Elgin scandal and divestment in February 2017, GPW has dealt with several venue issues but despite everything has managed to put on good shows and maintain a solid core roster. They haven’t managed to match a booking at the level of Elgin bringing in Naito, but they have consistently brought in top outside talent including Jeff Cobb, Jordynne Grace, Moose, PCO, Anthony Henry & James Drake, Marko Stunt, Brody King, and the aforementioned Bandido, arguably the top young light heavyweight in the world.

The biggest win of all has perhaps been the move to the new home venue of the Collinsville KC hall. The venue is ideal with at least half the ring under the high ceiling, promotion-controlled concessions for much better and cheaper food ($1 tacos are genius), a better bar, better accessibility, better merch setups, and a subtle feeling of stability and purpose. IndependentWrestling.TV (F.K.A. Powerbomb.tv) has filmed the last two shows and I will guess that it’s been no coincidence that the shows have felt tighter and better than the previous GPW catalog. On this show they managed 9 matches in just over 2 1/2 hours, which is a great pace.

Bandido performs a head first dive to the floor onto Curt Stallion. This move is known as a tope suicida.
Bandido with a tope suicida into Curt Stallion – copyright Sarah Souders Photography

I think one of the reasons that Glory Pro is now consistently doing the best shows in the area is the reach not just into Chicagoland for talent, but also the South. AJ Gray has been a mainstay since his arrival last February but recent months have brought Aaron Solow, Joey Lynch, the Gymnasty Boys, and Kevin Ku into the GPW rotation and all have had impactful appearances. Improving the bottom of the card is actually much better for show quality than improving the top and GPW has knocked that task out of the park. For instance, former dark match participant Aaron Orion was given a chance to work solo against Warhorse Jake Parnell on this show and really delivered a fantastic match. The widening of the talent net is bringing up the average match quality significantly.

Aaron Orion sits up and realizes he has a major advantage in the match while Warhorse Jake Parnell struggles on his back.
Aaron Orion with a rare spot of advantage against Warhorse – copyright Sarah Souders Photography

It is this average quality that leads me to say without reservation that Above the Law is easily the best show Glory Pro has ever done. 9 matches and not a single one wasn’t good. That’s nearly unheard of for a small indie to pull off. Any promotions with cash can pay the money to bring in a name but to actually bring in names and have over 2 1/2 hours of quality matches? That takes faith and reach. Even the dark match was very over with Brooke Valentine looking like she may make a serious mark in Glory Pro in the future. Not sure a person in the building knew who Mark Wheeler was and he looked like a champion.

The crowd was large and hot, easily the biggest crowd at the new home field. Bandido’s profile brought in a lot of new faces and after seeing the type of show that they saw, many of them will be coming back. I talked to folks after the show and scrolled through the tweets and there were dozens saying they came for Bandido and were blown away by the show. That’s actually the way you grow a promotion, not just bringing in the draw. I think we are now in a position where Glory Pro may be the 2nd best promotion in the Midwest after AAW. Coming months will prove or deny this but in the meantime the future looks extremely bright for this company.

Show rating: B-

Eddie Kingston performs a brutal chop to Paco Gonzalez's chest in the corner of the ring while the referee grimaces
Eddie Kingston lays the lumber into Paco – copyright Sarah Souders Photography

Match Ratings

Aaron Orion v Warhorse 1+

Mike Outlaw v Aaron Solow 1

Orion Creed v Craig Mitchell v Tootie Lynn Ramsey (Seishin) v Mark Wheeler 1+

Barackus v Kobe Durst 1

AJ Gray v Jake Something 1+

Paco Gonzalez v Eddie Kingston 2

Jake Lander v Joey Lynch v Shane Sabre 1+

Vanessa Azure v Alley Kat 1

TLC match for United Glory Tag Championships: Stephen Wolf & Myron Reed (c) v Besties in the World v No New Friends 1+

Crown of Glory Championship: Curt Stallion v Bandido 1+