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.
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.
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:
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.
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+