The Work Horsemen and Violence is Forever clashed one more time – this time under Iron Man rules to try and find out who the better team were.
We’re at Crown Point, Indiana for this one, with commentary coming via Dave Prazak and Sarah Shockey. There’s an eclectic line-up for this mega-card, as Black Label have brought in the likes of Ren Narita, Tom Lawlor and UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar. Check out that run-time by the way. Almost FOUR HOURS across TWELVE matches. One of them being that 30 minute man Iron Man match. This may be a bit of a rushed undercard…
Black Label Pro Tag Team Championship: Ethan Page, Swoggle & Danhausen vs. Blood Diamond (Jake Lander, Joshua Bishop & Tre Lamar) (c)
The continuation of the feud between Blood Diamond and Ethan Page saw originally was going to see Ethan Page in a handicap match for the Black Label Pro tag titles… but instead he got some unexpected help from Swoggle and Danhausen. With Danhausen coming out from under the ring…
“Is hell really under the ring?” Probably. So we’ve a trios match to start us off, with Danhausen and Ethan Page dancing and kicking to the tune of Tequila. Well, mostly. When we got going, Swoggle was the obvious target, but he managed to hit a powerbomb on Lamar before Page came in to clear house. There’s a MASSIVE back body drop from Page to Lamar as Lander tagged in… and was quickly taken to the corner.
There’s a turnaround as Bishop chokes Page in the ropes, along with some help from Lander and Lamar behind the ref’s back. Lander racks Page before spinning it out into a rack bomb. Page quickly responds with an Iconoclasm, before Danhausen tagged in to run riot… dumping Lamar into Lander with a German suplex. Swoggle comes back in to catch a superkick, only to get clocked in the mush with a Pele kick from Lamar… but Danhausen and Page return to tease a double-team chokeslam that Bishop broke up.
In the end, Bishop eats the double team chokeslam/powerbomb combo with Swoggle, and that’s all folks! A fun opener, even if the verdict seemed to kill some of the lighting! Page dubbed the team “Two and a Half Menhausen”, and I expect the t-shirts will be ready yesterday… ***
Brett Ison vs. Tom Lawlor
Lawlor’s been in the news lately after some speculation over his future – which some suspect may just be a MLW storyline. There’s a lot to be said for tuxedo t-shirts too…
We start with a lot of chops and forearms as both men were swinging for the fences. Forearms turned to jabs from Lawlor, then kicks, before Ison pushed back with a shoulder tackle. Lawlor tries to come back with a guillotine, but he’s just suplexed as Ison kept control… at least until Ison blocked a Saito suplex. A back suplex comes off instead, as does some knees from Lawlor that almost won the match.
Lawlor flies into Ison with a spinning heel kick, then went in for an airplane spin… but Ison spun out and hit a forearm for a near-fall. A butterfly suplex from Ison’s countered with an Exploder, before a STF forced a quick submission. This was fine, but it felt a little truncated after those shots early on. **¾
Lawlor left his shoes in the ring after the match, perhaps signifying he’s done with BLP – he had tweeted earlier that he’s not taking bookings after this year. We’ll see…
No New Friends (Danny Adams & Kevin Lee Davidson) vs. The Space Pirates (Shane Sabre & Space Monkey)
Adams and Space Monkey begin here in what they billed as Davidson’s return match for Black Label Pro.
Danny’s wrestling in glasses as he became “Dan the Dad”. His back hurts, so he needed help to get up as he proceeded to roll-up Space Monkey, because it was a ruse! A brief exchange between Sabre and Davidson is just that, as “Dan the Dad” ends up being isolated by the Space Pirates. A moonsault from Sabre’s good for a near-fall, before Adams slapped Space Monkey using his own arm. I get the impression the Indiana crowd doesn’t connect with the Dad wrestler, who manages to take down the simian with a rope-hung uranage, before tags followed with Davidson just clotheslining Sabre.
A response is blocked as Davidson hits a pumphandle driver for a near-fall, with Space Monkey breaking up the cover before he got thrown back into Sabre. There’s some boos as Adams returned trying to monkey flip Davidson into Sabre for a near-fall, but the Space Pirates just overwhelmed him… Davidson spears away Sabre, before he caught a moonsault from Space Money, turning it into a Magic Killer for the win. This just didn’t seem to work – I know the “Dad” character is new, but there’s changes needed if it’s sticking around here. *½
Isaias Velazquez vs. Ren Narita
This’ll be a trivia question one day – this was Ren Narita’s first match on the indies after starting his excursion from New Japan… but he’s technically with the LA Dojo, so he gets that music and t-shirt rather than a full makeover a la Great O-Kharn.
We start with some grappling as Velazquez took down Narita, bit it’s quickly swapped around as they went back-and-forth on holds. An armdrag took Narita into the ropes, but Ren’s back in with a side headlock then a shoulder tackle before he’s taken into the corner for a Shibata-ish dropkick for a near-fall.
Narita’s kept down with a neck crank (face the hard camera, kid!), that ends in the ropes, where Velazquez followed with a forearm before he caught caught with a release overhead belly-to-belly. Ren keeps up with an elbow and a suplex, dropping Isaias for a near-fall, before he caught Velazquez in the Narita Special #3 (leg lace). That ends in the ropes, as Narita kept up the aggression, as Velazquez hit back with a standing Shiranui for a near-fall, before the pair traded forearms.
A leg spreader from Narita keeps Velazquez on the mat, before he’s deadlifted up into a suplex. Velazquez clung to the rope to avoid the Narita Special #4, coming back instead with a head kick, before he ran into a dropkick as the Narita Special #4 bridging belly-to-belly got Narita the win on his debut. This was good, but like a lot of this show so far it was short. ***
We’ve under two hours left and EIGHT matches remain on the card. I’m expecting a lot of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it outings.
Billie Starkz vs. Kylie Rae
“The girl who smiled too much”… that could describe either of these women. Starkz is relatively new, in her second year in wrestling, starting to get a higher-profile outings.
Everyone does the Batista pose before we start, as the match begins with some grappling, trading wristlocks and escapes. Starkz bites Kylie in a wristlock, then went for a roll-up. Kylie bit back, as both women went for the ref’s hands. I guess he can’t count a pin now, right? The wrestling resumes with armdrags and roll-ups as the ref stopped selling the nibbles, before a kick from Starkz had Rae down.
Kylie comes back with forearms and short-range shoulder tackles, which led to a near-fall, before Starkz ducked some chops. Rae’s back with a trip and a cannonball for a two-count, following that up with a nerve hold, which Starkz escaped as she eventually took down Kylie with a German suplex for a near-fall. A belly-to-back piledriver’s next, bouncing Kylie off the mat as the rope saved her at the last moment, allowing her to come back in with a crossface before a superkick put Starkz away. Huh. I was fixing to hate this after the ref biting stuff, but things picked up a little by the end. **
Logan James vs. Stephan Bonnar
Logan’s been putting himself around the indies since he left OVW in the summer of 2018. He pledged to knock out Bonnar… who wasn’t exactly making his wrestling debut here, having done stuff with Impact a few years ago, along with a few other spot shots along the way.
Bonnar towers over James, who slapped him as they tried for a lock-up. Of course, Bonnar charges him into the corner, then Beeles him out of it as suplexes and slams awaited the former OVW TV champ. A slam looked to finish Logan, but Bonnar pulls him up and went for an armbar that ended in the ropes. James tries to use the ref as a human shield so he could catch Bonnar with a wheelbarrow stomp, before he roughed up the former UFC fighter with chokes. I do like how Logan’s making this a bit of a streetfight to try and counter the mixed martial artist. Problem was, things like chopping Bonnar just hurt Logan more, but James still had enough to wildly break up a guillotine choke by diving to the outside. I think Rip Rogers would have approved.
A low-pe followed from LJ, then a second, before a tope con giro saw him crash and burn as it became clear that Stephan Bonnar wasn’t a catcher. OOF. James is somehow back to his feet first, but went for a dive off the apron that just went wacky as Bonnar caught him and hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex before fans were offered a piece of Logan. Bonnar went for a superkick but hit the ring post before he got hurled into the front row, allowing LJ to seek a count-out… Bonnar beat the count as James tried to knock him out with forearms, only for a GODDAMN SPINNING LEG LARIAT to change the game. A Batista bomb follows, before Bonnar went up top and finished off James with an elbow drop for the win. This was grand, but the part of the match that went all indie was where it fell away badly. They picked up at the end, but man, if they’d just kept it simple, this’d have been a corker. **¾
WAIT. WE’RE HAVING INTERMISSION?! At least the Cheerful Wrestling Show’s a pretty decent watch, complete with Jody Fleisch perhaps taking a dig at someone from ROH past. Moonsaults off a cage. But still, it’s twenty minutes off the show that’s already packed – longer than any match so far. Ah well…
The second half starts with Josh Alexander coming to the ring to tell the crowd he tore his bicep the prior night… so his Black Label Pro debut will have to wait. He’s interrupted by Kobe Durst, who put over Alexander for the sort of things he’s overcome… then heeled on him by saying he’d have defended the belt and beaten him. A superkick from Durst lays out Alexander, as Erick Stevens made the save… and demanded a match right now. I loved the snivelling look on Durst’s face when Stevens came out. That’s gonna be a calling card I feel, much like it was for William Regal back in the day.
Anyway, we get our match…
Black Label Pro Heavyweight Championship: Erick Stevens vs. Kobe Durst (c)
Stevens clobbers Durst with two clotheslines at the bell, then put him away with a Northern Lights Bomb. New champ!
That’s two of the last three BLP shows Stevens has won titles on. Hopefully he doesn’t keep the pattern up and drop it on the next one.
Air Wolf vs. Blake Christian
This was apparently a bonus match, added after Air Wolf impressed in a pre-show seminar. Sucks for Blake Christian, who lost a title shot with the change…
The pair start by working over each other’s arms before they worked up into the obligatory double dropkick spot. Air Wolf picked up the pace though, rolling Christian down for a crucifix, before Blake kicked him down for a low dropkick as we began teasing our dives. Christian lands his low-pe, before Air Wolf sent him back out for a huge plancha over the top!
Back in the ring, Christian springboards in with a leaping stomp to the neck of Air Wolf for a near-fall, before a scoop slam led to another close call. A running uppercut from Air Wolf caught Christian in the corner for a low 619, following up with a snap German suplex and a butterfly suplex attempt… only for Blake to roll out for a near-fall. The pair trade shots, with Christian’s spinning leg lariat and a clothesline finding its mark, before a clothesline dumped Air Wolf to nearly end the match. A German suplex and another head kick followed for another near-fall, but Blake’s caught up top with a Pele kick, only to recover with a leaping back senton on the top turnbuckle, as a twisting splash of the top gets Christian the win. This was fine, but you sensed it lost the crowd in the middle as they went MOVEZ heavy, but at least they didn’t go too deep in the proverbial weeds with all that. ***¼
Black Label Pro Midwest Championship: Gary Jay vs. AJ Gray (c)
The battle of recent Discovery Gauntlet entrants was almost an anagram of itself.
Gray and Jay start off with a side headlock, but the defending champion’s quickly in with a brainbuster and a Tennessee Jam that almost saw him touch the ceiling before he landed for a near-fall. Jay’s back with a flying Flatliner, taking Gray outside for a tope or two, before Jay ran in to chop the champ. Another forearm drops Gray for a near-fall, but the champion’s back up with a superplex, before he was almost cradled for the win. Jay keeps going, but he’s met with a lariat… then replies with a back senton as Gray was on all fours. This match is an absolute nightmare to type up as I keep swapping names around, just like the momentum was shifting lots…
Gray’s sit-out powerbomb’s good for a near-fall, as was a Tiger suplex, before Jay hits back with forearms as he tried to force a knock-out, landing on Gray for a near-fall. It’s back to the chops, before Gray caught Jay up top with another superplex… and this time rolled through after the impact for an Emerald Fusion for the win. Really good stuff, but again, far too sprinty for my liking. ***½
Jake Atlas vs. Jake Something
We’re going from anagrams to the same names. Yeah, I’m gonna go by surnames for this…
Atlas, supposedly due to be heading to WWE in the New Year, was giving up a bit size difference to Something here. Atlas has to stick and run, which he did well to evade Something early, before he got thrown into the ropes for a clothesline. Atlas literally rebounds with a springboard armdrag, before a chop took him into a lucha armdrag off the top rope. Something’s back with another clothesline, which seemed to be Atlas’ kryptonite, as that took Atlas outside for a battle of forearms and chops that had the front row scurrying.
Sure enough, Something ends up in the front row after a 619 on the apron before Atlas cartwheeled on the apron ahead of a ‘rana.. That was caught and turned into an apron bomb. Back inside, Atlas slaps Something and gets met with a discus forearm for a two-count, as we’re back to chops until Atlas landed a German suplex, then a running knee for a near-fall. From there, Atlas lifts up Something in a Fireman’s carry, but ends up losing him as he had to make do with a superkick, before he ran into a Michinoku driver for a near-fall.
Another powerbomb from Something nearly went awry, as Atlas hit back with a reverse ‘rana and a moonsault, crushing Something for a near-fall. Atlas heads back up top for his cartwheel LGBDDT, but it’s blocked as Something hit back with a Flatliner for a near-fall… more back and forth ensues, ending with a Black Hole Slam from Something for the win. Another good, sprint of a match, which was insanely even throughout until Something hit something big at the end for the W. ***½
IWTV Independent Wrestling Championship: Tony Deppen vs. WARHORSE (c)
Deppen hit the ground running, diving into WARHORSE before he got into the ring, then threw him inside to come close from a top rope splash.
Deppen commandeered WARHORSE’s vest and wore it… but a chop has no effect on WARHORSE, who hit back with a chop of his own and some mounted headbutts in the corner. A powerslam off the ropes follows for a near-fall, before Deppen was clotheslined to the floor as a tope into the merch table followed. Back inside, there’s more chops as Deppen didn’t get the hint about taking off the vest, but he’s back with a knee strike and a low dropkick to take down WARHORSE for a two-count. Deppen looked to work over WARHORSE’s leg, using a Dragon screw and some stomps, before he KICKED WARHORSE’S LEG OUT OF HIS LEG.
That sent WARHORSE outside, clutching his knee, but Deppen stayed on top of him with some forearms… but back inside, WARHORSE hit back with a dropkick along with a bunch of clotheslines in the corner. Deppen’s back with one of his own, as the match descended into a battle of chops, with Deppen again aiming for the knee, but WARHORSE responds with a half-nelson suplex for another near-fall.
Clotheslines follow from WARHORSE after that, only for Deppen to hit back with a brainbuster for a near-fall, before a struggle in the corner led to Deppen getting knocked onto the apron. A stomp to Deppen misses, as the challenger hit almost an STO on the apron, then a Shining Wizard back inside for a near-fall. A double stomp from Deppen misses as they kept swinging for the fences, throwing palm strikes for fun, but it’s WARHORSE who pushes on with a Saito suplex, before another apron stomp connects, then another one in the ring for the win. Quite aptly for WARHORSE, these guys went balls to the wall, and at a little under 12 minutes, was the longest match of the night. Well worth a watch. ***½
We get a hell of a video package to recap the first two meetings between the Work Horsemen and Violence is Forever, which is on YouTube… so go watch:
30 Minute Iron Man Match: Violence Is Forever (Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku) vs. Work Horsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake)
They found a way to get past the one-fall stuff!
The Work Horsemen jump their opponents during the introductions, and we’ve an instant trio of disqualifications as Drake and Henry used chairs as Garrini and Ku raced into a 3-0 lead within the opening minute. They were left down on the mat, not exactly celebrating, as the Work Horsemen set up a door/chair bridge, placing Ku on it with Garrini underneath as a stomp from Henry earned a fourth DQ. I get what they aimed for, but the confusion over what the DQs were for didn’t exactly help the crowd…
The tactics worked as Henry racked up some quick pins to make it 4-2 as I’m sure sticklers for Iron Man match rules would have been frothing at the mouth over the referee not waiting for Kevin Ku to get back to his feet before he counted any pins. Nor indeed, the lack of any “rest” periods between falls.
Ku’s booted in the chest before a Drill Bit from Drake made it 4-3. Then 4-4. Those sticklers are still frothing at the mouth, as ring announcer J Rose seemed to botch the count, so we’ve suddenly magicked up to 5-4. A Batista Bomb gets Drake another pin to tie-up at 5-5 as Dave Prazak on commentary was openly talking of a blow-out. Henry lands another kick on Ku to make it 6-5 Work Horsemen, before a drop toe hold into the knees and a stomp killed Ku again, but this time Drake didn’t go for a cover, instead intent on wearing down Ku with chops and more kicks. Ku fires back with a snapmare and a kick to the back of Drake, but Henry rushes in… as does Garrini, and man, this ref is awful.
A knee drop off the middle rope from Henry keeps us going, but Ku kicks out. Garrini gets involved, dragging Drake outside before he almost tagged in… but he’s pulled off the apron by Drake as the Work Horsemen continued. More kicks from Henry followed until Ku hit back with an Alphamare Waterslide, as he finally made the tag out to Garrini. Garrini was the proverbial house afire, but the ref missed the tag as we crossed the ten minute mark. Not to worry, Kevin Ku rolls up Henry to tie the scores again at 6-6, and now we get the tag out! Garrini charges through Henry with a clothesline, before tossing Drake down to the mat… an Exploder on Henry tosses him into Drake too, but Henry’s back as he pulled Garrini off the top rope into a shotgun dropkick to regain the lead at 7-6.
A head kick makes it 8-6 to the Work Horsemen, as we were faced with the prospect of another lead being run up, especially as the Work Horsemen were isolating Garrini just like they had Ku earlier. Out of nowhere, Garrini picks the leg, but his leg lock is punched away as the pair resumed trading strikes. Ku tags back in and charges into Henry with running uppercuts, as we finally get an on-screen clock!
Double-teaming sees Henry taken outside after a pop-up forearm, before duelling low-pes almost went horribly wrong. Garrini thoughts against using a chair on Drake in the crowd, while Drake lambasted the referee to try and stop him from counting him out. A dropkick from Drake takes Garrini into the crowd, while Garrini and Drake had a bar fight. The pandemonium continues on the floor as the camera crew had a hell of a time keeping track… Drake cannonballs into Garrini in the wall, and while the ref was distracted, Henry sets up another chair/door bridge…
The ref gets into position as Ku ended up dropping Henry on the apron instead of through the door, as I’m wondering in my head how many double count-outs we’ve had by now. Ku tries to powerbomb Henry through the door, but instead ate a stomp, then an apron bomb from Drake as Henry went back up top… but back inside Ku and Garrini hit back with a kick-assisted brainbuster to pull it back to 8-7 with ten minutes left.
Garrini looks for a German suplex, but ends up eating a brainbuster as the Work Horsemen again looked to isolate, catching Garrini in the corner with running knees and a cannonball, which set-up for a murderous Henry stomp and a Drake moonsault… but Drake lands in a triangle armbar in the middle of the ring as Garrini levelled things up with the submission! It’s 8-8, with all four men running on fumes, with Drake needing the ropes to help himself up. Henry’s still got plenty left in him to stagger Ku with a chop, but there’s receipts as things degenerated into another slugfest, ending with kicks from Henry and Ku before a Drake lariat left everyone on the deck. We head towards the final five, with Henry and Ku trading kicks on the apron, but Henry again surges ahead, knocking Ku to his knees with a head kick before Ku slipped back inside.
An errant chop from Drake knocks Henry off the apron and through the door on the floor – allowing Ku to pull Drake down with a crossface. Garrini throws on a second crossface at the same time, before they switched to duelling armbars as Violence is Forever gained the 9-8 lead with minutes left on the clock. Anthony Henry’s still out on the outside, so Ku goes back in with a Rings of Saturn to try and build a lead… but Henry’s back up to break up the hold as everyone was spent.
Henry tries to pull up Drake as we entered the final two minutes, but due to fatigue there was no urgency as Ku and Henry checked kicks, then found their marks, sending each other back to their knees. The final minute’s shouted out as Henry and Ku wheeled away on each other, then rolled around looking for a pin, with Henry throwing bombs only for Garrini to break up the covers. Drake’s back in for the final ten seconds as he looked to tie it up with a moonsault, but Garrini clung onto the ankle to stop him from getting to the top rope… and time runs out as Violence is Forever claim the spoils.
Where do I start? This was a good match, but boy, it had issues – I loved the Work Horsemen’s tactics of laying out their opponents early on with a series of quick-fire chairshots, but it seemed to be “too quick” as the score ticked ahead a little further than it should. From there, the wacky brawling spell in the middle where count-outs were paused because Drake shouted at the referee may put off a lot of fans… but if you can overlook those inconsistencies, this was a wild, hard-hitting match that befit the rivalry. ****
Post-match, an exhausted Drake put over Ku and Garrini, in particular how much they’d improved and earned their respect. Drake called Ku and Garrini the next BLP tag champs, before Henry seemed to signal that their time on the indies – at least as a tag team – may be up before he wrapped up. I wonder what 2020 holds for all four men here… For Ku and Garrini, it’s likely to be another feud, as 1 Called Manders and “Big Beef Garvin” hit the ring to attack them. Ku ate a sitout gutwrench powerbomb from Manders, before the pair known as “Corn Fed Beef” did a runner as the show went off the air.
As Black Label Pro’s final show of the year, they sure went all out. I didn’t have an issue with the length of the show as such the way the matches were presented – with over half of the matches being ten minutes or less, nothing aside from the main event seemed to have any importance. If this card had to have been 12 matches, then it should have run longer… this combination of 12 matches in a card that lasted a little over three and a half hours (excluding intermission) just presented too much too quickly on top of each other. Slamilton 2 was a fun show to watch – just don’t take it seriously, or expect much in the way of mat classics, and you’ll have a blast.