Black Label Pro return for the first show of a double-header – and they’ve got a no-frills card to get going with!
Yes, there’s no women’s matches on this show. No, I’m absolutely not touching that with a barge pole.
Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku pinned Alex Zayne & Blake Christian in 12:20 (***½)
AJ Gray pinned Arik Royal in 9:00 (***¾)
WARHORSE pinned A Very Good Professional Wrestler to retain the Independent Wrestling Championship in 12:20 (***¼)
Anthony Henry submitted Benjamin Carter in 11:00 (***¾)
Isaias Velazquez pinned Alex Shelley in 13:30 (***½)
Josh Alexander pinned Lee Moriarty in 13:10 (****)
Tom Lawlor submitted BSTRD Cassidy in 8:30 (***)
Calvin Tankman pinned Erick Stevens in 18:10 to win the Black Label Pro Championship (****¼)
Jake Something pinned Calvin Tankman in 0:30 to win the Black Label Pro Championship (NR)
We’re at the RDS Gym in Crown Point, Indiana, in front of an intentionally-restricted crowd of 30, and they’ve switched the hard camera from the last time I saw Black Label Pro. Sarah Shockey and Percy Davis are on commentary…
Alex Zayne & Blake Christian vs. Violence is Forever (Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku)
I mean, this is a heck of a way to get things on the road…
Garrini and Zayne start us off, with Dominic trying to invite Zayne to the guard, but Alex just cartwheels away. They scramble on the mat looking for a body part, but it’s Garrini who grabbed and rolled from a front facelock before he worked Zayne’s wrist. My feed stutters a little as Zayne comes back with a senton atomic onto a doubled-over Garrini, then a corkscrew senton for a near-fall on the martial artist. Christian tags in, but he’s shoved into Zayne in the corner as Kevin Ku tags in. A ‘rana is floated out of by Christian as Ku flips around for fun too, before a spot of rope running led to Ku getting tripped. He’s right back up to charge down Christian, who responds with a spinning heel kick and a standing moonsault for a near-fall.
Christian goes for a wheelbarrow, but Ku had tagged out… and when the ref refused to count the pin, Garrini’s able to pick up Christian for an uppercut-assisted German suplex. Garrini keeps going with knees and a suplex as he took Christian into the corner, where Ku tags in again for a deathlock attempt. I buffer as Christian tries to kick his way free, but Ku just traps him in a cross-legged STF right by the ropes.
My feed drops out again as we’re getting audio but maybe one frame every few seconds. Luckily, commentary’s sorta filling in the blanks as Garrini tagged in and began to punt away on Christian. Elbows and an Irish whip take Christian into the corner, before he fought back, knocking Garrini down before lifting Ku to the outside… but that proved to be a bad move as Ku pulls Zayne off the apron just before a tag could be made. Ku and Garrini batter Christian with kicks for a near-fall, before Ku and Christian trade chops in the corner. Ku stops to try and go for Zayne, but it buys Christian time as he got free and tagged in Zayne who clears house… crotching Ku onto the top rope before a springboard senton almost put Garrini away.
Garrini ends up avoiding shooting star knees before a high/low almost gets the win, as Christian had to break up the pin. Christian lands a backfist and a bulldog on Ku as the ring filled up… Garrini makes Christian pay with a German suplex, only for Blake to pop up as he kicked Garrini back down before Dominic replied with a Go 2 Sleep. Ku’s Dragon suplex, then a diving elbow from Garrini gets a near-fall as Zayne breaks it up. Christian hits a half-nelson suplex, then tags in Zayne for shooting star knees to the back before a 450 from Christian almost got the win. Ku takes his frustrations out on Christian as a Parade of Moves starts, leading to Zayne trying for a Taco Driver on Ku… but things switch around as Ku and Garrini hit a kick-assisted brainbuster for the win. A wild opener with plenty of action to get us going – you know, I could see Zayne and Christian being a hell of a team if someone books them regularly as one. ***½
I appreciate J Rose taking the effort to mask up until it’s time to ring announce. The kid’s taking this stuff seriously!
Arik Royal vs. AJ Gray
Ahem. HOSS FIGHT!
Gray starts with a waistlock as the pair jockeyed for position. A leg trip sees Gray take Royal into a side headlock, but Arik just stands up and slips out of the headlock before he grabbed a wristlock… only to get tripped back to the mat as Gray went for an ankle lock.
A rope break gives Royal some respite, before he went in for a Test of Strength that Royal edged ahead on, spinning round into a sorta neckbreaker. That just annoys Gray, who got in Royal’s face as the pair began to trade off with elbows, before Gray just lit up Royal with a chop by the ropes. Those sound proofing things on the wall aren’t doing squat! Royal’s back with a slam before he caught a crossbody and threw Gray with a belly-to-belly. A Saito suplex is next from Royal for a near-fall, but Gray catches Royal up top with a Koppo kick before an Iconoclasm threw Arik down to the mat hard. Elbows knock Arik back into the ropes for another chop, before an eye rake cut off an attempted comeback as Gray continued to build momentum.
A charge in the corner and a powerslam almost puts Royal through the ring for a near-fall, before he followed up with a neat spinebuster in the centre of the ring. Gray doesn’t go for a cover, and instead heads up top for a moonsault… but Royal rolls away as AJ got nothing but mat. Arik comes back with some T-bone suplexes and Exploders as he threw around Gray as if he weighed nothing, before a charge into the corner set up for a Bossman Slam/Backbreaker for a near-fall. A running crossbody from Royal’s turned into a small package for a near-fall, before he caught Royal with a leaping STO called the Space Jam for another near-fall. Uppercuts from Royal keep Gray at bay, but AJ slips underneath and flips him into a pumphandled Emerald Frosion for the win. Jesus, that came out of nowhere – but that was an enthralling sprint of a hoss fight. I want more of this in my wrestling! ***¾
Independent Wrestling Championship: A Very Good Professional Wrestler vs. WARHORSE (c)
AVGPW is the former Dasher Hatfield, who (like a lot of the CHIKARA roster) has changed his ring name… and his ring music too, is the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” looped in a certain spot.
Very Good takes down WARHORSE with a side headlock, with WARHORSE trying to roll into a pinning attempt before they got up and traded shoulder tackles. A shoulder tackle’s faked out into a roll-up as Very Good almost stole it early, ahead of a backslide attempt that turned into a Magistral from WARHORSE as they traded pin attempts. Heading into the corner has no effect on WARHORSE as he head bangs willingly, before headbutting Very Good ahead of a delayed Northern Lights suplex. WARHORSE levels Very Good in a corner, before a floatover attempt was countered with a kick from Very Good… who ends up getting tripped as WARHORSE rolls him into a modified Cloverleaf that forced the challenger into the ropes at haste. Things head outside for a scrap, as WARHORSE tried to clear the crowd, only to get Irish whipped into the ring post.
After standing on WARHORSE’s head, Very Good rolls him back into the ring… but WARHORSE rolls to the other side as he ends up getting met with more stomps. Back inside, a slingshot senton atomico turns into a pinning attempt as Very Good stayed on the champion with a grounded full nelson. He keeps going back to the full nelson, this time with a trapped leg. WARHORSE stomps his way free, but is quickly back on the mat as A Very Good Professional Wrestler went for a Fisherman buster, landing it for a near-fall. Out of nowhere, WARHORSE hits back with a lariat that spun Very Good to the mat, before WARHORSE’s slingshot sunset flip led to no pinning attempt… so he comes in with forearms and chops.
Another lariat drops A Very Good Professional Wrestler, before WARHORSE went up for an elbow drop. The leg is up, so A Very Good Professional Wrestler gets caught and turned into a Sharpshooter, only for the challenger to hand-walk his way to the ropes for a break. A springboard lariat kocks A Very Good Professional Wrestler off the apron ahead of a stomp to the back of the head, but he gets caught on the top rope as the challenger instead brings him down with an avalanche back body drop! A Gory Special dumps WARHORSE into the buckles for a near-fall as the tide changed, before A Very Good Professional Wrestler caught WARHORSE in a running Ligerbomb for another near-fall! WARHORSE returns fire with a shotgun-ish dropkick, before an over-the-knee brainbuster and a butterfly brainbuster left the challenger down and out… as the top rope elbow drop secured the win. A very good match here, with the former Dasher Hatfield having a game plan that in the end didn’t do its job. ***¼
After the match, Erick Stevens comes out to throttle WARHORSE and beat him down. He’s playing the “I don’t like gimmick wrestlers” game today, as Very Good walked away. WARHORSE lariats Erick away before he stomped him on the outside.
Benjamin Carter vs. Anthony Henry
This one should be a sleeper hit – Carter’s making a name for himself on the US indies and apparently is getting interest from Impact.
A handshake is quickly eschewed as Henry ran in with a sucker kick to Carter in the corner for an early two-count. Henry stays on him with chops in the ropes, which earns receipts before some leapfrogs led Carter into a dropkick. The Jersey lad keeps going with chops, before he floated over Henry in the corner and flipped around for a superkick… which he switches into an enziguiri that took Henry outside. Carter follows him outside with a trio of topes… but the third one was caught and turned into a knee breaker on the chair as Henry changed things in a heartbeat. Henry stalks Carter with some kicks to the damaged knee, before a knee breaker on the apron led to an ugly torque on impact as Henry just brutalised his opponent.
Back inside, Henry cranks away on a toe hold as commentary wondered how badly Carter’s prospects would be damaged with this injury… as a Trailer Hitch just exacerbates things. Carter gets a hand to the ropes, but he floats free as Henry pulled him up and looked for a flash pin. On one leg, Carter keeps going with a big boot, before Henry trapped both legs for a double Dragon screw! Carter tries to chop away at Henry, but he’s met with mid kicks before he stung him with another Dragon screw in the corner. He tries to reset, but an uppercut led to him crotching himself before Henry hits a superplex… but Carter rolls through into a small package after the impact before the pair clobbered each other with lariats.
Henry keeps kicking away at Carter’s quad, adding to the dead leg he surely has gotten, but he ends up getting caught as Carter tries to fire back with chops. Henry returns the favour, but Carter seemed to edge ahead despite having a bloodied chest. CHRIST. A sucker punch knocks down Henry before Carter went Coast to Coast with a dropkick… a stomp off the top misses, aggravating the knee some more, but Carter’s up with superkicks . He’s back up top for a frog splash that nearly gets the win, but he misses a Phoenix splash as Henry caught him in an ankle lock for the submission. Carter may have lost, but this was a damn clinic with Henry’s early work on the knees paying off. ***¾
Post-match, Henry went to hug Carter, but kicked his knee out…
Isaias Velazquez vs. Alex Shelley
We get going with Shelley taking Velazquez into the corner… and there’s a clean break, too. Velazquez works the wrist, but gets countered into a hammerlock as they go back-and-forth until we hit a stalemate.
A side headlock from Shelley is tightened as Velazquez tries to push away, before he got snapmared to the mat and punted in the back. That just annoyed Velazquez, who sparked a chop battle going back-and-forth with Shelley… until a big boot derailed him briefly. A low dropkick from Shelley takes him down, but Velazquez gets back in with a gamengiri in the corner and a stomp to the arm as he proceeded to work over it. Velazquez nails a hammerlock DDT as Shelley looked to be caught out, and it looked to force him into taking shortcuts… but hair pulling and eye rakes didn’t help much as Velazquez clung on and began to wrench the arm over his shoulder. Shelley manages to come back in with a drop toe hold as my feed again buffers… I refresh as Shelley’s running dropkick caught Velazquez… but Isaias recovers as Shelley went outside, only to get caught with a low dropkick on the apron.
More buffering and frame rate stuff means I get audio only, recovering as Velazquez is hung up in the ropes as Shelley hits a flying knee drop back into the ring. The pair trade chops and punches before Velazquez just crumbled to the mat as he was whipped towards the corner. Shelley aims for the knee with some kicks, then landed a knee breaker, then a Dragon screw before a Figure Four looked to trap Velazquez in the middle of the ring. Velazquez gets to the ropes to force a break, but another Dragon screw wrenches him down before he surprised Shelley with a roll-up. A Magistral cradle keeps the near falls going, before he finagled his way into a backslide that almost won it, as a head kick left both men laying. They get back up, trading shots… but Velazquez swats away an enziguiri before he PK’s Shelley’s arm.
Slaps break up Shelley’s attempt at another Dragon screw, but he hits a rolling elbow instead to take Velazquez into the corner. Velazquez is back up, but runs into a knee as Shelley goes for Sliced Bread… Velazquez pushes away and hits a running Shiranui of his own for a near-fall, before he caught Shelley with a gamengiri in the corner and followed up with a stomp off the top for another two-count. More kicks have Shelley down, but he finds a second wind… only to almost lose to a roll-up as the ref counted two. I’ll need to check tape, but Shelley’s right back with Shellshock and a Border City Stretch… only for Velazquez to roll him up for the win. Someone watched his AIW tapes – and in spite of the wacky finishing stretch, this was a pretty damn good match on an indie card that’s more than held its own. ***½
Lee Moriarty vs. Josh Alexander
Ooh, this one should be real good! If you’ve not seen much of Moriarty before, watch his trilogy with Alex Shelley in AIW in late 2019/early 2020.
But first, watch this. They start at a fast pace, rolling on the mat as they looked for a hold, before Alexander charged Moriarty into the corner for a break. Moriarty’s back with a wristlock, but Alexander just slams his way free. A hammerlock sees Moriarty try to force his way back in, but Alexander grabs a headlock… and gets shoved off before returning with a big shoulder tackle. Moriarty traps Alexander with an arm snapper before sailing into the air for a springboard armdrag… another kick to the arm followed, but his leapfrog’s caught as Alexander ends up chopping him down to the mat. A dropkick from Moriarty switches things again, only for him to dump Alexander onto the apron with a hammerlock’d STO. I don’t think I’ve seen that before.
Back inside, Alexander chops away, but Moriarty drops onto the arm again, and my feed goes. Alexander’s back with a suplex as my feed recovers, as he proceeds to fish-hook at Moriarty’s nose, then dump Moriarty with a vicious back elbow before a high-torqued half crab looked to force a submission. Moriarty gets to the ropes to save himself, then began to trade chops with Alexander in the corner. Stopping for breath was a bad idea as Moriarty got booted down, as Alexander went back to the kicks… but Moriarty then surprises him with an attempt at the Joint Custody armbar, but a pendulum backbreaker cuts all that off.
A series of kicks led to a spinning back kick that caught Alexander flush, as Moriarty found a fresh impetus en route to a diving gamengiri in the corner. Alexander avoids a Goomba stomp, but Moriarty goes back to the arm, only to get flipped back to the mat in an inverted Fireman’s carry. Josh can’t build on it though, and ends up taking a lunging European uppercut as Moriarty was on his knees, leaving both men on the deck.
Alexander and Moriarty trade right hands from their knees, with Josh just whaling away on him with swinging elbows, but Moriarty goes back to the arm with shoulder tackles before he pulled him into a Joint Custody attempt that ended in the ropes. Another elbow smash from Alexander rocks Moriarty, before he ran through a shoulder tackle to boot Lee for a near-fall… and now here comes the stomps! Alexander’s stomp to the ankle softens up Moriarty for an ankle lock, but Lee rolls free. He runs into an elbow to the back of the head, as Alexander tries to lift him up again, but more elbows just weaken Moriarty as Josh lifts him to the top rope for a superplex. Instead, Moriarty grabs the arm and grabs a Kimura on the top rope to force a break, before a flying stomp to the other arm left Alexander, erm, armless…
A rolling kick is next to take Alexander down for a near-fall. Alexander turtles up to avoid kicks, but Moriarty kicks away the arms before he went for a La Mistica… another Joint Custody is countered with a roll-up, before a hammerlock clothesline from Moriarty was countered with a vicious elbow. Somehow, Alexander’s back with a spinning tombstone, and that’s enough to push it over the line. Bloody lovely, hard-hitting stuff this, and you’d better be keeping tabs on Moriarty. ****
BSTRD Cassidy vs. Tom Lawlor
I don’t mean this in an unkind way, but BSTRD Cassidy has clearly been inspired by Dave Mastiff. He’s also very raw.
Tom Lawlor’s in proper Daisy Dukes, taking them off to show the short jorts he’d wrestled in for New Japan. We get going with Lawlor testing his range with jabs and elbows, as Cassidy seemed to take a dead leg early. Chops light up Cassidy, but he returns fire before he tripped Lawlor… as Tom then kicked out the bad leg again. Lawlor traps Cassidy in the corner with forearms and more kicks, but BSTRD comes back out with more chops as he took Lawlor into the ropes. A shoulder tackle from Lawlor barely budges Cassidy, as Lawlor just bounced off him… so Tom stomps on the foot and unloads with some elbows to the side of the head that knocked Cassidy loopy, before he was finally taken down with a shoulder tackle.
More kicks from Lawlor keep Cassidy on the mat, but a wild lariat knocks Lawlor down as he came off the ropes – and almost got the upset for the rookie. Apparently he’s only four months in, which is a little jawdropping considering it’s “four months in… during a pandemic.” Lawlor looks to choke out Cassidy with a front chancery, throwing in some knees too, but the BSTRD slams his way free! The pair trade elbows back-and-forth, but Lawlor just kicks out the bad leg again before a chop to the back left Cassidy woozy… only for him to catch Lawlor off the top rope. Lawlor quickly counters into a guillotine, but Cassidy counters out with a suplex for a near-fall. A gutwrench suplex is next for a near-fall, before he knocked Lawlor down with palm strikes.
Lawlor’s back with cravat knees, but Cassidy counters out with a German suplex, following up with a lariat that nearly got the win… but in the end though, Lawlor gets the back and chokes out Cassidy… who wanders to the ropes. A gamengiri stops Cassidy before Lawlor tied him up for a modified Regalplex – the best way I can describe it – before a knee bar forced the submission. A pretty dominant win for Lawlor, but BSTRD more than held his own, looking impressive for the brief ring time he supposedly had. ***
Black Label Pro Championship: Calvin Tankman vs. Erick Stevens (c)
Of course, Erick booked himself in the main event. He got a smattering of boos, which commentary put down to the WARHORSE attack earlier in the show.
This was Tankmans’ BLP debut, and he started by taking Stevens into the corner while looking for a takedown. A side headlock came to nought as Tankman just pushed him away, before the obligatory resulting shoulder tackles barely moved the challenger. Tankman leapfrogs over Stevens as he came off the ropes, then took him outside with a dropkick… and now we’re on the outside. They trade chops, with Tankman edging ahead with his shots… but Stevens was thrown back in, and while he went for a low-pe, he’s caught as Tankman pops him onto the apron with a spinebuster. Ow. Back inside, Tankman hurls Stevens with a Beele throw across the ring, before an attempted Irish whip from Stevens was blocked… so he suckers Tankman into the ropes with a drop toe hold, before a dropkick on the apron found its mark.
Stevens flips off the crowd, as he then went for a death valley driver on the apron. It’s blocked, as Tankman instead went for a running slam… but Stevens slips inside and hits an armbreaker instead. A knee lift brings Tankman back inside through the ropes, before the pair went a-clubbering, only for Stevens to take down Calvin with an arm whip. A stomp to the shoulder and arm follows, as did a trapped-arm armbar on Tankman… but Tankman comes right back in with a POUNCE! Period. Gotta love a good Pounce. Tankman keeps going with a clothesline to Stevens in the corner, before a swinging backbreaker and another lariat decked the champion for a near-fall. Stevens goes back to the arm to try and find a way back in, but he just runs into a one-armed slam as Tankman… the hell?! He went for a running shooting star press that misses, as my jaw hit the floor.
Stevens went for some punches and a crossface from there, but Tankman rolls free and hauls up Stevens, who tries to elbow free… so Tankman just hoists him up into a powerbomb for a near-fall. Tankman scales the turnbuckles, but gets caught by Stevens who crotches him on the ropes for a short-range clothesline that gets an eventual two-count. From the kick-out, Stevens goes for a Kimura, but Tankman gets free and unloads with a kick to the gut. Stevens tries his luck with elbows, but a headbutt clonks him silly… as does his receipt before Tankman scooped him up into a Fire Thunder driver for a near-fall! Tankman looks for a piledriver, but Stevens floats out as the champion fires back with rolling elbows… they knock Tankman down ahead of an elbow to the back of the head, but Tankman rolls towards the ropes to avoid being pinned.
From there, Stevens hauls him up for a Northern Lights Bomb, but it’s still not enough! Stevens tries to one-up things, battering Tankman with more elbows in the corner as the ref forces a separation, before Erick tried to haul him to the top rope. He goes for a superplex, with Stevens looking wobbly… and Tankman capitalises with an avalanche powerbomb that nearly put the champ through the ring! The delayed cover gets a near-fall, before Tankman hit the ropes for a lariat, only for Stevens to roll him down into a cross armbreaker, which morphs into a Lebell lock, before Tankman tried to steal a pin. Tankman’s back with a spinebuster before a diving forearm to the back of the head got just a one-count?! Stevens isn’t giving up, so Tankman knocks his gumshield out with an elbow before he went up top for a monster moonsault… and it’s still not enough! Tankman follows that up with the GSD – a cross-armed version of the Drilla piledriver – and that is it, my friends! An absolute banger of a main event that ends with a new champion. Well deserved for Tankman, who adds to the buzz he’s been getting in 2020 with another singles belt. ****¼
After the match, Stevens gave Tankman his title, before Jake Something came out to put over the new champ and shake his hand… only to knock him out with a forearm. A belt shot follows, and I guess that’s likely Calvin’s first defence booked. For now, apparently, as Something cashed in his Greatest Rumble win for an instant title shot.
Black Label Pro Championship: Jake Something vs. Calvin Tankman (c)
This was short, with Tankman beaten down from the earlier match… Something wins the belt in thirty seconds with a Black Hole Slam. Not quite the happy ending people were hoping for, as the Erick Stevens show ended with a new champ… but not the one we expected.
For a “gimmick show” presented as “professional wrestling,” this was a real humdinger of a card. Look past the Twitter stuff that broke out before this card and enjoy the matches – literally every single one of them delivered and showed that as much as the US indies have their gimmicks, there’s a LOT of people on the scene who can really go. Nothing outlasted its welcome, and it made for perhaps the best show in Black Label Pro’s history. Carve out a couple of hours on IWTV and enjoy some of the best on the scene today.