Chris Hero bade farewell to the indy scene (again) with a Sunday afternoon show that didn’t have any breaking ropes (for once!)
The show was originally uploaded in three parts on FloSlam, but the final (taped-together) version shocks me, as we don’t have an hour of preliminary looping video! PROGRESS! Speaking of, we have a new ring after yesterday’s debacle, and the first match it graces… is an odd one.
Barrett Brown vs. Darby Allin
I’d never seen Barrett Brown before… turns out this guy was one of the many jobbers Braun Strowman rolled through last year (under the gimmck of “Americo”). We don’t even get going as Ethan Page walks into the aisle as the Gatekeepers come from behind to double-team Allin, and I guess this match isn’t happening… Page orders that the Gatekeepers put their boots to Darby, at least until Barrett Brown tries to make the save. He just gets a clothesline for the fun of it. Ethan calls Allin “worthless”, before suggesting that Allin and Brown wrestle the Gatekeepers. Allin baits Page into making this a handicap match… and we’re on.
Barrett Brown, Darby Allin & Zack Sabre Jr.vs. Ethan Page & The Gatekeepers
For whatever reason, the Gatekeepers don’t have names, and for the sake of not being racist, I’m going to call them “bald” and “not bald” – respectively, Blaster McMassive and Flex Rumblecrunch, for those who know these guys from CHIKARA.
Allin takes down Bald Gatekeeper before Not Bald takes a superkick from Brown, as the underdogs start off hot. Brown moonsaults onto the Gatekeepers, which leaves us with Ethan and Darby in the ring… but Page takes a while to get in, and that’s just a ruse for the Gatekeepers to attack Allin, eventually sending him flying with a back body drop to Brown on the floor.
Bald Gatekeeper hits the ropes and flies out with a tope con hilo into the aisle! He rolls Allin back in so Page can isolate Darby, before an overhead suplex takes Allin into the turnbuckles. Allin charges at Page, but he immediately tags out to Not Bald who hits a back suplex and a knee drop, before Bald just wails him with a chop. Darby tries to fight back with a chop, but Bald just grabs a sleeperhold and drags him into the corner, where not Bald comes in, before he’s pushed to the outside. Not Bald then yanks Brown off the apron and throws him into the ringpost, leaving Allin one-on-three, as he unwisely keeps going for Page, rather than the guys in the ring.
A double chokeslam sends down Allin, and of course, Page now wants in. He threatens to dump Darby with a package piledriver, but Allin gets out and lands a headbutt… so in comes Not Bald to cut off that fightback. Allin overcomes them, before he goes to make a tag as Zack Sabre Jr. makes an impromptu appearance as Allin’s partner. Sabre comes in and cleans house on the Gatekeepers, dropkicking Not Bald into the corner before the pair receives a series of running uppercuts.
A springboard roundhouse out of the corner barely fazes Bald, as some slaps knock him down for a PK-style knee to the face for a near-fall. Another PK is blocked as Sabre turns around into a spear from Not Bald, and Barrett Brown takes down the Gatekeepers with a double missile dropkick. Ethan Page kills Barrett with a big boot, before he looks to hit a package piledriver, before he instead dumps him onto the pile outside with a crucifix powerbomb. Sabre, who was still in shorts and trainers, slaps Ethan outside, before he’s taken into the crowd by the Canadian. Everyone else joins them, which gives Allin a reason to climb a supporting column, before throwing himself off in a Nestea plunge from almost-ceiling height.
Darby’s going to kill himself with that one of these days.
Allin returns to the ring to stalk page, before he turns around into a discus clothesline from Not Bald. Brown takes him down with a tornado DDT, before running into a swinging flatliner from Page, who then gets caught in a triangle armbar from Sabre. Page kicks himself free, before turning into a swandive headbutt from Allin, who then eats a Black Hole Slam from Bald.
Sabre elbows away at Bald from the corner, before leaping onto him with a triangle choke… that’s turned into a Kimura, as the makeshift trio of Allin, Brown and Sabre get the win. A fun opener, and we’ll ignore the logic of “Ethan only agreed to a handicap match”! ***¼
Laredo Kid vs. Tracy Williams
We get some grounded stuff to open off with, which was a surprise as everyone was expecting Laredo Kid to fly into action here.
Kid uses his speed to catch Williams with a crucifix pin for a near-fall, before we got some forearms from both men. A roll-up from Williams gets a near-fall as he goes for a cross-face that sent Kid into the ropes… they come back with some lucha-inspired stuff, before Kid superkicks Williams to the floor.
Kid flies next with a senton dive off of the ringpost, eventually getting a two-count after rolling Williams back inside. A loud chop cracks Williams’ chest in the corner, but it only serves to enrage “Hot Sauce”, who tried to fight back with a shotgun dropkick to knock Laredo Kid down. Williams lands a brainbuster for a near-fall, and that’s where the tide turned, as the unofficial Catch Point leader started working over Kid with some shots. Kid tries to fire back, but a big boot knocks him down for an eventual crossface that’s quickly broken via the ropes. The next fightback ends with a Michinoku driver for a near-fall from Williams, before Kid takes a clothesline as the Ricky Steamboat rule was in full effect (that is, despite being overwhelmed, he’d at least try to fight back, even if those fightbacks were useless).
Laredo Kid finally lands a big move with a half-nelson driver for a near-fall, before a Phoenix Splash misses… leading to a diving forearm from Williams and a crossface for the quick submission. A decent exhibition – nothing more, nothing less. **¾
Jason Kincaid & Sammy Guevara vs. Chris Dickinson & Jaka
Guevara got a good response, what with him being a Texas native, and we had a tentative start with Jaka and Kincaid swapping wristlocks.
The pair squared off after Kincaid meditated after a sunset flip, and that somehow leads to Sammy Guevara tagging in. Dickinson comes in and works over Guevara with a rear chinlock, before Guevara’s flashy leapfrogs lead to a dropkick to Dickinson, then to Jaka. A blind tag from Kincaid leads to a slingshot rolling neckbreaker from the apron before he tags Guevara back in… who just takes a big suplex from Dickinson after some showing off.
Guevara finds himself isolated for a spell, as Dickinson hits a snapmare then a kick to the back for a near-fall, before an inverted Boston crab forces Guevara to crawl into the ropes. Unfortunately it’s the wrong corner, and he just finds himself double-teamed for a while before Jaka flings him across the ring with a belly-to-belly for a near-fall. A clothesline from Dickinson folds Guevara in half, as he went to a Lion Tamer-esque Boston cra that again forced Guevara into the ropes.
The Catch Point team dump Guevara with a double-team suplex for a near-fall, before Kincaid finally gets the tag in, as he takes out Dickinson and Jaka. A jawbreaker rocks Jaka before Kincaid surprises Dickinson on the outside with a tope, then knocks Jaka into the front row with a sunset bomb to the floor.
Guevara throws in a shooting star press to the floor as the dives keep a coming, before Kincaid looked to dive onto Jaka back in the ring. Despite Jaka scurrying into the corner, the dive still happened, as Kincaid WALKED ACROSS THE TOP ROPE then hit a Coast to Coast dropkick. Good Lord!
From there, Guevara landed a 630 Splash to Jaka… who wasn’t the legal man, so Dickinson broke up the cover with a German suplex. Kincaid takes a powerbomb, before he’s hoisted up into a Jaka German suplex… but Jaka’s still not legal as this thing kinda breaks down. Jaka finally tags in, but falls to a double springboard dropkick from Guevara, who unloads with corner dropkicks.
Jaka and Dickinson avoid double stomps and 450s as Guevara and Kincaid went airborne, and from there Kincaid took the fall from a Samoan driver, then Doomsday Chokeslam. A fun final sprint, and a decent match in what was really an exhibition for the Catch Point pairing. ***¼
After the match, Tracy Williams comes out and gives a backhanded compliment to Guevara and Kincaid… before Larry Dallas heads out to hijack the segment. Dallas threatens to press charges if anyone attacks him, as he’s “an outsider chasing developing stories”. Yeah, that’s a crappy gimmick… Dallas stirs the pot by suggesting that Jaka and Dickinson should get a title shot – and create a Catch Point vs. Catch Point title match. Kincaid offers a pearl of wisdom, which seemed to suggest that Catch Point would destroy itself, and Dickinson didn’t take too kindly to that, as the segment just ends. Whatever they paid Larry for this was too much.
ACH vs. Fred Yehi
Yehi starts by trying to ground ACH with a neck crank, but the former NOAH and ROH star was able to get out and grab a headlock… which sparked a shoving war.
The grappling continues as Yehi grounds ACH with some headscissors, but again ACH gets out and into a headlock which Yehi reverses before catching a leapfrog and attempts some big stomps. Finally Yehi lands some chops to cut-off ACH’s kicks, as a shotgun dropkick takes down ACH, before a stump puller wears down on ACH’s neck. Yehi switches it into the old Lasso from El Paso (fitting, since they were in Texas!), before a series of chops give way to a floatover suplex for a near-fall.
A German suplex comes next as ACH finds himself on the defensive for a long spell, but a second German is called for – and blocked as ACH smoothly rolls out and ties up Yehi in a Muta lock. Yehi’s too close to the ropes though, and he easily breaks the hold, only to get an errant chop to the face as ACH gets a series of one-counts.
ACH continues with a standing dropkick for a near-fall, then lands a double stomp and a low dropkick to send the tag team champion to the outside. Yehi recovers, but gets hiptossed to the outside, as ACH lands a PK off the apron, before both men return to the ring for a slapping battle. The back and forth continues as Yehi misses a palm strike to the foot, before a series of roll-ups see both men exchange near-falls. They move onto chopping each other hard against the ropes, and that leads to the end as ACH pulls out a high-angle brainbuster and that’s enough to get the surprise win. A good back-and-forth outing, and ACH getting the win over someone of Yehi’s profile here establishes him somewhat. ***½
No Disqualification: DUSTIN vs. Matt Riddle
DUSTIN’s been going after Riddle for a while – and he comes out with the chair he DDT’d Matt onto the previous night. Again, RIddle’s wearing that PROGRESS Atlas title, and hey, that Bayern Munich fan who’s front row for nearly every bloody WWE show is here too!
DUSTIN starts by trying to swipe Riddle with a chair, but Bro ducks and gets a waistlock takedown instead, throwing in some knees to the ribs too as DUSTIN tried in vain to reach that chair. A leaping forearm sends DUSTIN staggering out of the corner and into an Exploder suplex and a back senton.
Riddle slides to the outside to chase after DUSTIN, who wallops the chair across his back before Jimmy Havoc’ing Riddle into the fifth row of seats. Eventually Riddle returns the favour, hiptossing DUSTIN into the crowd, before unloading with forearms on a seated not-Chuck Taylor. A fan holds a chair for Riddle, who then takes a run-up from the merch tables before booting the chair through DUSTIN’s head. DUSTIN recovers and sets up a series of chairs on the floor – not quite as Kevin Owens would the next day – but of course, Wrestling Logic returns as DUSTIN would take a suplex onto the pile of chairs. Those chairs would then be used on the back of DUSTIN, who’d then go onto the merch tables before suplexing Bro off of it… sending his beloved PROGRESS scarf flying.
After posting Riddle, DUSTIN went under the ring for another table, which was used as a bed for Riddle, who then had a chair thrown on him, before DUSTIN headed into the ring and flew onto Riddle with a tope con hilo. Riddle gets thrown in for a double stomp off the top, but he kicks out at one before he Hulked up… and took a superkick. So Dustin gets some more chairs, DDTing Riddle onto one for another near-fall.
Even more chairs come into the ring as DUSTIN goes full Kevin Owens with a landing pad made out of chairs, folding four chairs side-by-side before adding another level of them. For some reason, DUSTIN then jumped up top, but Riddle catches him, and we can see Wrestling Logic here, as DUSTIN took a superplex onto the double-decker chair pile.
Yeah, that looked like it sucked BAD.
From there it was elementary as Riddle stomped and pounded on DUSTIN’s head, before making the cover… and let’s be fair, the superplex probably was enough, but Riddle got the three-count to push him into that eventual match with Drew Galloway. This was a hell of a war – making the no DQ stuff more than filler, actually building to spots, ending with that monstrous superplex. ****
EVOLVE Championship: Jeff Cobb vs. Timothy Thatcher (c)
So, despite losing in their tag team outing the prior night, Cobb gets his shot at Timothy Thatcher. Speaking of, him coming out to not-classical music is weird as all hell. As is him wearing a scarf underneath a jacket. Indoors. In Texas.
Speaking of, since Stokely Hathaway’s got the belt, Thatcher’s left to hold aloft his scarf, proudly proclaiming “Die Matte ist Heilig”. Or “the mat is sacred”, for those of us not fluent in German. Before the match started, Cobb gets the microphone and declares that he’ll be dedicating this match to his and “Timmy”’s trainer, Oliver John.
You know how this’ll go – plenty of grappling, and Cobb doesn’t disappoint as he gets a waistlock takedown before rolling away from a wristlock. Thatcher tries to go for a Kimura, but Cobb’s attempts to block just end up with him taking a drop toe hold, which Cobb switches out from as they head back to their corners. Cobb then uses his elbow to fight out of a hold before grabbing a front facelock, before he counters a chicken wing with a suplex.
Cobb misses a dive into the corner, and from there Thatcher dumps him with a Divorce Court for a near-fall, as Thatcher started to target Cobb’s right arm. A floatover doesn’t quie work for Cobb, who has to head into the ropes to break a hammerlock, before throwing Cobb onto the apron before the pair headed outside. Thatcher launches into Cobb with European uppercuts, before they return to the ring as Thatcher lands a side Russian legsweep as a set-up for a cross armbreaker – something that Cobb breaks by rolling backwards into the ropes.
After the rope break, they resume striking, before Cobb’s arm meant that he couldn’t lift Thatcher up… so Timmy keeps targeting it as Cobb gets taken into the corner. Timmy busts out a smirk (a second facial expression?!), before he tries for a gutwrench on Cobb… something that didn’t quite work out, as a knee to the ribs sends the challenger down instead. More strikes see Cobb actually take an advantage, as a right hand sends Thatcher down like a tree, but that’s only good for a near-fall after Cobb could barely get a lateral press on the champion.
Cobb recovers with a gutwrench suplex – so his arm’s suddenly better for a while… at least until Thatcher counters some punches with an arm whip before mounting Cobb en route to another cross armbreaker, which sees Thatcher use his leg to avoid Cobb from easily making the ropes. Thatcher tries for a butterfly suplex, but he can’t get the underhook, and ends up taking a backdrop into a bridge for a near-fall.
Thatcher pops straight back up and manages that butterfly suplex as he fired back with a near-fall, before Cobb retaliated again with a German suplex. A high-angle belly to back suplex, then a standing moonsault follows… but Cobb misses a standing shooting star press as Thatcher grabs an armbar, only for Cobb to gutwrench his way free. Another gutwrench is countered with an armbar from Thatcher, but a German suplex sees Cobb get another two count… whilst still in the armbar, before Thatcher turns him around into a pinning predicament for the win. This a hell of a technical outing, and is one you should probably hunt down unless you massively hate Thatcher. ****
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Chris Hero
Billed as “A Hero’s Exit”, this was Chris Hero’s final match before returning to NXT. Again. Look, I’m not going to get obssessed with details, I know he’s already done two matches on the “Largo Loop” before this farewell weekend.
Sabre launches into Hero after a prolonged spell of stalling, grabbing a cross arm breaker, but Hero escaped by crawling out of the ring before the pair traded some stiff shots on the floor. Hero returned to the ring and teased a dive, but he was caught again as Sabre went for the armbar, hanging off of Hero like a monkey. So Hero just collapses into some fans in the front row to free himself, and flatten a chair or two in the process!
Sabre responds with a variety of running uppercuts outside the ring, before missing a PK back inside as Hero retaliated with a massive Yakuza kick. A suplex gets Hero a near-fall, before a brief flurry of strikes from Sabre ends with a bicycle knee in the corner for just a one-count. After that, Hero ties up Sabre in the STF, before rolling Zack over into a knee drop to the face for a two-count.
Out of nowhere, Hero’s caught in a cross armbreaker, which he stands up from and lands a back senton to Sabre to send the Brit outside. Another back senton follows as Sabre’s squashed on the floor, leading to Hero mocking Sabre by advising him to take a count-out loss rather than fight on. When Sabre tried to get in, he was knocked off the apron with another big boot… then again as Hero looked hell bent on keeping Sabre at bay.
Chris Hero instantly becomes my hero when he flips off a handful of fans who do the “count ahead of the ref” gimmick just so they can do the “Ten! Ten! Ten!” bollocks. Sabre returns to the ring finally and tries to scissor Hero for a roll-up for a near-fall, before the future Kassius Ohno took a crucifix bomb and a PK as Sabre slumped into the ropes. Sabre kicks at Hero from the ground, as the Brit went for another up-kick, only for Hero to block and land another back senton.
Hero takes Sabre into the corner, but Zack rebounds out with a tornado DDT, before his roundhouse kick attempt was caught and met with a simple punch. Then a big boot, as Hero threatened to dump Sabre with a piledriver off the middle rope… but instead, Sabre fought his way free, only to take another swiping slap from Hero. Undeterred, Hero went for the piledriver again, but Sabre flipped over as he tried for a powerbomb, before ultimately dropkicking Hero’s knees.
A PK follows, but Hero’s back up and drills Zack with a rolling elbow, before he knocks Sabre back down with another elbow. The shots keep coming, as do the kicks, and Sabre looks like a rag doll as he’s pulled up by the wrist for a ripcord elbow, but he turns it into a backslide… only for Hero to come back with a Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Hero continues to toy with Sabre with chops, with Hero’s chops seemingly having much more power… but a tombstone attempt from Hero gets rolled through as Sabre nearly snatches the win.
Nevermind… Hero goes back to the tombstone and snaps into it as Sabre’s forced to kick out at two, before the Death Blow elbow is caught by Sabre, who turns it into a crucifix from the bottom for a near-fall. A rolling elbow to a kneeling Sabre gets another two-count, so Hero goes for the Pedigree… because everyone leaving for WWE has to.
The crowd boos as Hero slowly sets up for it, but Sabre instantly kicks out of it and lays into Hero with forearms… before damn near getting decapitated with a Yakuza kick and a snap short piledriver. Another piledriver follows, but Sabre counters the Gotch piledriver and grabs a double armbar that eventually forced Hero to tap… and Zack Sabre Jr. finally gets his win over Hero in a sublime main event! ****¾
After the match came the send-off for Hero, who gave a long speech to the crowd (when they let him speak, that is!), referencing his prior battles with Sabre Jr – going all the way back to their first outing in 2008 for 1PW – before taking a shot at Timothy Thatcher on the way out by campaigning for Sabre to get a title match in EVOLVE.
ACH came out – and instantly had his kayfabe shattered – to continue to put over Hero, before trying to usurp Sabre in the queue for a title shot. That brings out Stokely Hathaway, who plays a game of piggy in the middle with the microphone for a spell. Stokely declares that he decides who’s next for a title shot, before his mic cuts out again. He speaks to the title like its a lover, before denying both men a shot.
Instead, Timothy Thatcher comes out to further rain on the parade… and he just points at Zack Sabre Jr… so that looks to be the next title match, despite what Stokely says. Sabre offers ACH a title shot once he wins it, and we’re back to the Chris Hero love-in! The locker room empties to watch Hero’s final words on the indy circuit, as he promised to see the crowd again as he got a standing ovation for his farewell.
Whilst the first night’s show as one that drew some repeat viewers for the spectacle of an unsafe ring, the second part of “A Hero’s Exit” is one that deserves to be seen for the quality of in-ring work alone. That main event was one for the ages, with two of the best on the indy scene (for now!) putting on a clinic, and is a 23-minute slice of graps that you really ought to go out of your way to see!