The Futures Showcase tournament returned for 2021 as we looked to see who’d break out of the pack.
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 – First Round: Billie Starkz pinned Chase Holliday & Ron Bass Jr. in 5:31 (**)
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 – First Round: Robert Martyr pinned Merrick Donovan & Hoodfoot in 8:48 (**¾)
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 – First Round: Eli Knight pinned The Whisper & Landon Hale in 8:20 (**¾)
Eric Taylor & Mikey Montgomery pinned Conan Lycan & Solomon Tupu in 11:09 (***)
Brogan Finlay pinned Pete Youngblood in 5:24 (**¾)
Erron Wade & Kody Manhorn pinned Damion Turner & Arthur McArthur in 7:04 (**½)
Damyan Tangra & Alex Kane submitted Brandon Williams & Daniel Makabe in 14:04 (***½)
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 – Final: Robert Martyr pinned Eli Knight & Billie Starkz in 8:30 (***¼)
A matinee show ahead of the second night of the SCI, the ACTION Futures Showcase hit the TWE Arena in Red Bank, TN as a one-show tournament to complement the SCI. It’s all three-way matches in the tournament – three first-round matches, and a three-way final to wrap up the show.
Commentary’s from Dylan Hales and John Moseley.
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 First Round: Billie Starkz vs. Chase Holliday vs. Ron Bass Jr.
I think the deck may be a little stacked against Starkz here…
Holiday and Starkz gang up on Bass to start, but the son of the Outlaw fought free before he dove through Chase with a clothesline. Starkz breaks up the cover, but gets powerbombed onto Chase, then got back up to sidestep a lariat off the middle rope from Bass.
Starkz gets caught when she went up top, but she’s made to splash Ron Bass Jr. out of an electric chair. Holiday’s knees drop Starkz as he then went to catch Bass with a face-washing boot… then Explode Starkz into Bass in the corner for a near-fall.
Starkz tries to fire back, but she ran into a chop from Chase, kicking out at two before Bass and Holiday traded blows. A Black Hole Slam from Bass drops Chase, but he’s caught by a senton bomb that Starkz couldn’t even get a one-count off of. Chase knocks Bass down, then went for Starkz with a back elbow, only to get caught with a rebound German suplex as Starkz snuck out the win. **
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 First Round: Robert Martyr vs. Merrick Donovan vs. Hoodfoot
Martyr gets in Donovan and Hoodfoot’s face at the bell, but got barged down as the bigger lads decided to have a go at themselves.
Martyr takes Hoodfoot and Donovan into the corner for running forearms, then enziguiris as he was making the most of his speed advantage. Until Donovan landed a backfist and a half-nelson suplex…
On the outside, Donovan and Martyr trade shots until Hoodfoot decided to dive onto them. Back in the ring, Donovan squared up to Hoodfoot, throwing clotheslines until a STO took him down. Out goes Donovan, in comes Martyr, whose slaps just angered Hoodfoot, who eventually hit a chop in return.
A chop to the head KO’s Martyr, but Donovan takes over with back-and-forth forearms. Donovan lands a German suplex, then was given one in return, before Martyr countered a Sky High into a Kimura. Donovan breaks it up, but gets rolled into a heel hook… Hoodfoot breaks it up, only to get caught in a levering armbar as a nonchalant elbow drop was caught.
A choke from Hoodfoot stops the hold as Donovan’s kick breaks up the pile. Hoodfoot throws more chops as he looked to pull ahead, eventually clotheslining Martyr for a forced DDT on Donovan. Picking up the pieces, Hoodfoot tries to go for Martyr, but gets met with some headbutts ahead of a diving kick that nearly wins it.
Martyr tries to cradle Donovan for the win, but has more luck with an O’Connor roll.. Only to get pulled into a rear naked choke, only to flip back out of it and pin Donovan while in the hold. Some good stuff here with Martyr having to hit and run a lot, before snatching the win at the end. **¾
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 First Round: Landon Hale vs. Eli Knight vs. The Whisper
There were some grumblings over The Whisper being in a “Futures” tournament, given he’d had a run in CHIKARA, but what’s in a name?
The action kicks off with lots of rope running as Whisper was taken down, allowing Hale and Knight to break out some lucha roll throughs before Knight stuck himself in the ropes to measure up for a springboard dropkick on Whisper. In response, Whisper hits a satellite DDT, only to get chopped as Hale went airborne with some headscissors to Knight.
Hale keeps pushing on, taking Whisper outside too for a dive, before a flip into Knight left Hale open for a dive from Whisper. Knight threw in another dive, going over the ring post with a tope con giro, before Knight almost got the win with a death valley driver slam.
Whisper’s caught up top by Knight, but Knight’s punched down and into a sorta Blue Thunder Bomb by Hale. Strikes from Hale keep Knight down, before a set-up for a Spanish Fly in the corner led to a wacky headscissors/Spanish Fly combo with the three men. The trio trade strikes after getting back to their feet, following up with a chain of Angle slams before Whisper’s corkscrew moonsault was broken up, with Knight’s shooting star press landing to break up and steal the pin. Some good flying on show here as we had yet another short-ish qualifying match. **¾
The Bitcoin Boyz (Eric Taylor & Mikey Montgomery) vs. Conan Lycan & Solomon Tupu
Some non-tournament action here (of course), and we start with Lycan pushing around Montgomery, whose lone efforts at shoulder tackles proved ineffectual.
Tags bring in Tupu and Taylor, with the former doing the Haka before he shrugged off some throws into the buckles. A headbutt dumps Taylor, who got taken into a corner for a hip attack, which drew a near-fall. Montgomery tries to make the save, but ends up in a stacked-up Samoan drop while Lycon’s standing moonsault left the commentary crew agog.
The Bitcoin Boys get LAUNCHED onto each other as the big lads head after them outside to keep up the beating. Taylor manages to post Lycan, but Tupu just takes over and chases Montgomery into the ring, where the Bitcoin Boyz managed to pull ahead with some double-teaming.
Stomps keep Tupu in the corner, as does some choking, before Tupu came close with a pop-up Samoan drop. Lycan tags in to clear house, dumping Montgomery with a Bossman slam… then Taylor with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall, before Lycan headed outside for a moonsault off the apron.
Back in the ring, a swinging side slam’s countered by Taylor… but he gets pulled into a pumphandle’d chokeslam for a near-fall, before Tupu’s full nelson bomb kept things going. We’ve an accidental ref bump as Tupu squashes the official, as Montgomery hit Eat Defeat… but there’s no ref! So he wanders out to grab a chair, and pulled the Eddie Guerrero. Except everyone did the same, with all four “laid out.”
Unsure what to do, the ref does nothing, as the four men get up and trade strikes… bu tin the end it’s a sneaky roll-up that got the Bitcoin Boyz the banana peel win. I enjoyed this as a big vs. small tag match. Tupu and Lycan looked unreal and I’d like to see them both again, either as tags or in singles. ***
Pete Youngblood vs. Brogan Finlay
Brogan missed out on qualifying for the Futures tournament, losing to Robert Martyr in a qualifier on a recent ACTION show… Youngblood’s listed as a trainee of Jaden Newman by commentary.
We open with a lock-up with Youngblood clattering Finlay into the ropes early on, then to the outside. Finlay recovers back inside with a pop-up uppercut to Youngblood for a two-count, before the pair resorted to trading strikes… but Finlay trips Youngblood into a calf slicer.
Dragging Youngblood away from the ropes, Finlay reapplies the hold, but we get the rope break anyway, before a sunset flip got Youngblood a two-count, then followed up with a rebound clothesline a la Tyler Bate for a two-count. More pinning attempts nearly cost Finlay, as Youngblood returned with a knee strike, only to get caught with a roll-up for another two-count.
A rolling death valley driver from Youngblood’s next, then a running clothesline, before Finlay hauled Youngblood into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall. Finlay follows with a Stretch Muffler, but he couldn’t hook it in deeply as Youngblood got to the ropes, then pulled himself up for headscissors.
Problem was, Youngblood’s leg was toast, and it gives out as he ends up running into an Air Raid Crash, giving Finlay the win. Solid, but short, as both guys here have some potential for the future. **¾
Arthur McArthur & Damion Turner vs. Squatting Dragons (Erron Wade & Kody Manhorn)
More non-tournament action here, and I’d be betting against the makeshift team here.
McArthur charges down Wade early on with shoulder tackles, as Kody Manhorn looking to out-coach the old-timey muscle man. A whistle blow deafens McArthur, as the “Coach” made McArthur squat, but McArthur kicks Manhorn in the gut instead before running into an Manhattan drop.
Tags bring us to Wade and Turner, with Wade hitting armdrags and a low dropkick for just a one-count. Manhorn’s in with a step-up headbutt into the corner, then a slam on Turner for a two-count, before Turner escaped a submission attempt and began to work over Manhorn. McArthur tags in to slap Manhorn down, before he choked Manhorn in the ropes.
Turner’s back to bully Manhorn into a backbreaker for a two-count, before Manhorn ducked a charge in the corner, causing Turner to crash and burn. Eventually Manhorn tagged out to Wade, who runs wild with kicks, before a knee and a crane kick caught out Turner for a near-fall, before Wade lawn-darted Manhorn into Turner for the win. A decent, but short sorta-comedy tag, with the characters coming off strong here. **½
Brandon Williams & Daniel Makabe vs. Suplex Science (Alex Kane & Damyan Tangra)
Holy big-time surprise Batman! The way the introductions went, the crowd seemed to be expecting Makabe vs. Williams… except this turned out to be a warm-up tag for Alex Kane and Damyan Tangra ahead of their debut as a team at ACTION.
Makabe and Tangra start, picking up where they left off at the TWE show a few days earlier as neither man found an early advantage. Williams comes in and swaps wristlocks with Tangra, before a headlock takedown led to Tangra needing the ropes to force a break.
Williams asks for Kane to tag in, as those two lock-up, only for Kane to hit his first suplex in the form of a front facelock suplex. Kane keeps the facelock on as he rolls Williams, but ends up losing his grip before hitting a back suplex on the “Locksmith.” Makabe’s in next, looking for a lock-up as Makabe ended up getting caught in a waistlock and dragged into the corner.
Tangra tags in and takes over the front facelock, then handed Makabe over to Kane for a takedown. They frustrate the Canadian, who then had to defend a wristlock and hammerlock from Tangra, eventually breaking free and bringing Williams back in to take things to the mat. Makabe’s quickly back in as Tangra’s kept in the wrong corner, with quick tags keeping Tangra at bay.
The pair trade submissions on Tangra, who eventually kicks free and charged Williams into the opposite corner. Kane’s back in to hit a standing frog splash on Williams for a two-count, before a second one landed in Williams’ knees. We go back to Makabe and Tangra, but Kane’s still in there as Makabe’s having to fight off a numerical disadvantage, throwing shots before taking Kane outside.
Tangra gets flipped to the mat as a Makabe Lock trapped him in the middle of the ring, only for Tangra to back into the ropes for a break. Kane comes in to trip Makabe from behind as Tangra and Makabe were caught in ankle locks… and decide to slap each other about before breaking the holds. The pair scramble back up and look for a leg lock, getting heel hooks at the same time as their partners stomped it apart… only to get heel hooked instead.
Tangra and Makabe are still legal, and trade strikes, with Tangra trying to give Makabe a dead leg, before he caught a Big Unit punch. Kane’s in and avoids a second one to lariat Makabe down, before Kane’s search for a suplex took him to a German suplex by the ropes as Tangra threw one of his own.
A discus elbow from Kane takes him into a Bulgarian Gutbuster, before Kane hits an X-Plex for a near-fall… Makabe defends a Mark of Kane with some strikes, then hit a bridging German suplex that Tangra barely broke up in time by kicking out the bridging leg. Williams is back to batter Tangra, following with a suplex into the buckles for a two-count. An ankle lock from Williams is quickly rolled out of, with Tangra then trapping him in the dreaded STF… Makabe hobbled in to make a save, but gets thrown from the inside out by Kane, as Turner was left with no choice but to submit. Yep, this was exactly my kind of wrestling – everything felt nice and competitive, with some stuff feeling a little rough, but that’s the way it’s meant to be. If you like the grounded stuff, bookmark quarter of an hour and get this one watched on IWTV! ***½
Futures Showcase Tournament 2021 Final: Billie Starkz vs. Robert Martyr vs. Eli Knight
A slightly more “fair fight” for Billie than her opener, while Martyr also doesn’t have to deal with size differences here…
Martyr mouthed off about how long he’d been around to get here… but we’re dealing with a couple of youngsters in this main event. Starkz gets thrown outside as Martyr and Knight chop each other silly, before an armdrag and a scissors kick waffled Martyr as Knight almost won this in the opening minute.
Starkz is in to roll out of a sunset flip, then caught Knight with a spin kick… Martyr takes over, but gets dropped onto Knight with a Gory special that saw him almost win the match unawares. A lucha roll through for Martyr took him into a Boston crab on Starkz, but Knight’s dropkick breaks it apart before Billie slapped him down.
Martyr dumps Starkz with a brainbuster, but gets caught with a powerbomb by Knight before he could make the cover. The pair trade strikes from there, before Knight’s springboard dropkick was caught and rolled into a Boston crab attempt. Starkz comes in and looks for a German suplex, only for Martyr to counter out. Billie gets the German suplex off moments later though, before she went to the apron for a Code Red on Knight.
Martyr’s back to knee Billie off the apron seconds later, then dragged Knight in for a deathlock’d STF. Starkz grabs the hand to stop Knight from tapping as she breaks up the hold, then set up for a senton bomb on Martyr… but misses. Knight clobbers her into the corner with a leg lariat as a quick Parade of Moves broke out, leading to a German suplex from Starkz for a near-fall.
Knight takes a senton bomb, but Martyr breaks it up and took Starks out with a knee strike… then put away Knight with a Tiger Driver for the win. An enjoyable sprint of a final, with all three finalists swinging for the fences to leave with that medal. ***¼
The format of the Futures tournament might not be to your taste – three-way matches which all ran under ten minutes – but as a showcase of names you may not have been aware of, the SCI Futures served its purpose… and now the 20-year old Martyr has a big achievement on his record as he looks to push on in this business.