We’re back to the cold-and-windy Ivy Astoria in Ybor City, Florida as Full Impact Pro received a makeover. For the worse.
Having not run since September 2016, FIP – a promotion perhaps whose fame probably should be way more than “that group that had a match with CM Punk and Homicide enter a strip club” – returned with the promise of a new attitude… which may set some alarm bells a-ringing.
After fast-forwarding through my favourite FloSlam annoyance – over half an hour of the FIP logo looping – we start with our ring announcer… except you couldn’t hear ANYTHING. So we get someone I’ve never seen before hit the ring… and he takes a spray of green mist by Su Yung. Again, no sound, and the mobile camera shows us anything but the ring for a while.
Get the Contract Fight For All Match
Our ring announcer tries in vain to stop the carnage, as Austin Theory gets dumped on the apron by Dezmond Xavier… who then gets swatted with a cane shot by Yung. Apparently this is an official match – the “Get the Contract Fight For All” – with the winner getting a shot at Fred Yehi’s FIP title later on. Kincaid comes in and gets the same treatment, and I’m guessing the ring announcer has the contract – just a sheet of paper- which they have to claim from her?
The lack of sound is a massive detriment here, I must say.
I check to see who’s in this, and for the record, it’s: Alexander Rudolph, Anthony Henry, AR Fox, Austin Theory, Billy Barboza, Darby Allin, Dave Crist, Dezmond Xavier, Jason Cade, Jason Kincaid, Sami Callihan, Sammy Guevara, Su Yung and Teddy Stigma. A LOT of names I’m not familiar with/only seen once…
We finally get sound as Yung fends off the entire roster with her kendo stick, before diving to the pile on the outside with a tope. Teddy Stigma’s in with a barbed wire board, and he just grabs the contract from her. That’s it… Well, this was the polar opposite of WrestleKingdom – and the sound issues didn’t help! -****
Yes, minus-four is harsh, but had we had sound, a clue what was going on it may have been great. However, all we got was “it’s chaotic here, what’s going on?!” so this just came across as an insult to all involved. Flo rushed this up without sound-checking when I was watching, so it is what it is.
Anyway, the “new” FIP is hosted by Timothy Barr in jeans and a sport coat, swearing like a sailor, along with a second ring announcer, Kacy Lennox. Before we can get going, Billy Barboza and his manager Weevil Whitaker come out to interrupt things. Whitaker looks like Screech, and he claims to have “a list, of the book of greatest moves of all time”. Yeah, this is making no sense to a first-time viewer either.
Whitaker calls the first match an abomination… a little too close to the truth there! Apparently as punishment, Barboza won’t be wrestling (again). They get the goodbye song, but their departure is interrupted by Alexander Rudolph… and this is an impromptu match.
Billy Barboza vs. Alexander Rudolph
Trevin Adams tells us that FIP has no DQs or count-outs, so that’s a thing, I guess. Rudolph takes down Barboza with a diving headbutt for a near-fall, before Barboza grabs Rudolph’s beard and throws him across the middle rope.
Barboza kicks the face of Rudolph as he had a neck crank on the go, before a missed charge in the corner let Rudolph throw down Barboza with ease with a powerbomb. Some back chops and a dropkick rock Barboza, before a chokeslam backbreaker gets a near-fall.
Weevil Whitaker smashes Rudolph with that book, before Barboza hits a low blow, and goes for “The Greatest Move”… he reads from the book, move number 42 – and it’s something he massively overplays to the point where Rudolph is back on his feet. So Barboza’s slammed to the mat a la Ric Flair, then dumped on his head with a German suplex for the win. Pretty much by the numbers, but this ain’t anywhere near the level you’d expect if you thought this was a “feeder” for EVOLVE. *
We’re back to Timothy Barr and Kacy Lennox, and Barr’s still swearing to hammer home that “no rules and no mercy” attitude. For me, you needed to have Barr do either Style Battle OR FIP – having him do both just shows how fake on this new “attitude” is.
Desmond Xavier & Sammy Guevara vs. Sami Callihan & Dave Crist
Speaking of Style Battle, these first-round opponents are teaming up to take on Callihan and Crist… and Callihan throws a chair into the ring during their entrance.
Darby Allin comes out before the bell rings, and sits in the middle of the ring… he’s offered a chair, but he just throws it straight back out. Allin asks if Xavier and Guevara know who Uncle John is… they don’t. Callihan and Crist do, and they drop their opponents with bicycle kicks. A three-on-two beatdown ensues from “Uncle John’s Friends”, and our match is off before it can start. (Not Rating)
Back to Kacy and Timothy, and for once, he’s not throwing in swears like he’s just learned them.
Jason Cade vs. Jason Kincaid vs. AR Fox
They needed to put guys with very similar names in a throw-away triple threat?! It’s the same stuff as before – Allin, Crist and Callihan come out and ask the three guys if they know who Uncle John is. AR Fox does… Beatdown ensues. No match. Getting bored. (Not Rating)
Back to the ring announcing duo, and more swears as we go to “our women’s wrestling showcase”.
Priscilla Kelly vs. Aria Blake
Kelly is like two-third Tye Dillinger, as she leads chants of “666”… she starts with a punt kick to Blake, then a back suplex for an early near-fall – and it’s all Kelly early on.
The commentary team seem to be keen in telling us how little Kelly and Blake are wearing in this weather… despite it being more than the guys. Kelly lands a crossbody for a near-fall, but Blake turns a suplex into a small package for a near-fall before a clothesline-laden comeback, which ends when Kelly misses a kick and gets rolled up for the win. Painfully short, think mid 2000s WWE women’s matches. The wrestling was good, but way too short. **
After the match, Kelly screeches that she didn’t want to lose her FIP debut, then warns Blake that “she knows Uncle John”. Just like Luke Harper’s daily tweets, you know what that means… a five-on-one beatdown, and I’m beyond bored of this gimmick now. This finally leads to the calvary coming out as Dezmond Xavier, Jason Kincaid, Jason Cade and Sammy Guevara making the save, and then throwing themselves into Uncle John’s friends with topes. Somehow they broke one of the turnbuckles, and this apparently leads into an eight-man tag main event.
After five official matches (okay, two of them were scratched off), Kacy tells us “we’re in for a night of action, and we’re just getting started!” Hopefully this is where the improvement starts because we’re at TripleMania 2015 levels here!
Austin Theory vs. Anthony Henry
Okay, so Theory we’ve seen once, but if you relied on the graphics, you’d think he was facing Dontay Brown. In reality, it’s Anthony Henry, with a tattoo’d valet called Amber Young in an entrance that’d never be shown on Raw. Speaking of Henry, he’s using a track that wXw used for their over-dubs for Broken Rulz, which is making me scared that I’m going to get the World Tag Team League earworm back sometime soon…
Now we get Dontay Brown out – hence the early nameplate. Austin Theory does push-ups to while away the time here, and it seems that Dontay’s put money on Austin Theory to win. Dontay asks the fans if they want to wager, and of course Amber wants to bet on her guy. Dontay accepts, but doesn’t specify what the wager is…
Theory gets chants of “Justin Bieber”, and he gets slapped by Henry early on as the pair trade chops and punches in the corner. Theory blocks a sunset flip and deadlifts Henry into a suplex, but Henry blocks it twice, before landing on the apron where he uses the ropes to assist with a rear naked choke – and there’s no rope breaks in FIP, so there’s no reason why he broke the hold. A missile dropkick takes Theory into the corner, before he wriggles out of a fireman’s carry onto the apron, then slingshots his way into a Henry knee to the face. Henry sunset flips to the outside as he tries a powerbomb, but Theory blocks it only to take a superkick on the floor, before a leg lariat knocks Theory out of a fan’s chair.
Henry takes a few chairs and piles them on top of Theory for a double stomp off the apron. Another double stomp in the ring misses as Henry is picked up in a torture rack powerbomb for a two-count, before a running shooting star press gets a similar result for Theory. Henry comes back with another double stomp as he pulls up the pin into a cobra clutch crossface… but Theory counters into a roll-up for a near-fall, then lands a cross-legged over-the-knee neckbreaker for a near-fall.
Theory gets dumped across the top rope by Henry, who hits a rope-walk Spanish fly and a PK for a near-fall. Henry fires up with kicks to Theory’s chest, but one’s caught and replied with some forearms, before Theory gets some receipts. A cobra clutch backcracker follows from Henry, but of course there’s no rope breaks… but Henry gets distracted by an argument between Amber Young and Dontay Brown, which allows Theory to score a roll-up with his feet on the ropes for the win. Hands down the best thing all show. Which isn’t saying much. **¾
So, Dontay’s got something to claim? He asks Amber to pay up, but since she has no money, there’s some innuendo instead. Amber slaps Dontay, who threatens to collect in the end. Just what wrestling needs in 2017…
Sweary ring-announcer has learned a new swear, and now we have a title match!
FIP Florida Heritage Championship: Jon Davis vs. Martin Stone (c)
Huh… Martin Stone (or Danny Burch for those who saw him in the UK Championship tournament) has been the Florida Heritage champion for over six months, and he lays into Davis with headbutts and right hands right from the off.
Davis pops up from the mat with a flapjack as he tears into Stone, before responding to Stone’s European uppercut with a good ol’ fashioned pounce! Stone goes to the outside and grabs the mic to face a Brexit joke, and calls back to old World of Sport favourites like Rollerball Rocco and Marty Jones, and offers a “good, old-fashioned wrestling match”. Even in the attitude-heavy era, Davis’ sexual retort can’t be repeated by the commentary team, but we go back to a wrestling-heavy match as Stone and Davis trade holds. Well, until Davis fights out, then he just shoves Stone down hard. Stone heads outside and bemoans how Davis isn’t wrestling… and then we resume.
Endless arm-wringers barely faze Davis, who lands a stiff bodyslam, before taking down Stone with a superplex. Stone pulls himself up to avoid a ten-count, before sending Davis to the floor, where Stone takes over with some stomps by the apron. Back inside, Stone takes down Davis in a rear chinlock, only for Davis to fight back up and end a striking sequence with a diving lariat.
Another deadlift from Davis sees Stone thrown into the corner with a bucklebomb, before a spinebuster nearly saw us get a new champion. Nevertheless, Stone came back with the Stone-KO for a near-fall, so Stone goes to someone in the crowd and grabs a chain from their bag. How bad is Ybor City for a woman to need to carry a chain in her purse?! There’s no DQ’s in the new FIP, but after ducking a chain-assisted punch, Davis fell to a choke with the chain… before finally taking a chain-assisted punch and a low blow. But Stone doesn’t go for the cover, and instead just takes the knock-out win. That was a bit… flat? Wrestling’s usually had guys win via pinfall after a foreign object, but I guess they needed to establish their new rules? ***
FIP World Tag Team Championship: Drennen & Parrow vs. The Hooligans (Devin Cutter & Mason Cutter) (c)
Oh God, these are NOT the UK Hooligans… this is more the Hillbilly Jim Hooligans! They’re joined by Uncle Leo, but Parrow chases the trio to the back… before they return and take down the big guy with chairshots.
Of course, no DQs here, so Parrow has no answer for the chairshots, and that leaves Drennen in the ring for a two-on-one beatdown. Devin and Mason run into the corner, with Mason hitting a big cannonball, but the Hooligans spend too long celebrating as Parrow returns to throw Mason into the crowd. All four men end up on the outside, as the producer cuts away from Drennen being Irish whipped into the wall by Devin Cutter, whilst Parrow and Mason Cutter fight on the other side of the ring. Mason comes back with a table that he props on the ring apron, but instead they go deeper into the crowd as Parrow runs into a supporting column as Drennan’s sent under a pile of chairs a la Terry Funk.
Yep, this show feels like it’s lasting forever, forever, forever…
The Hooligans promise to make use of that table, but Parrow comes back and tries to powerbomb Mason… and needs two attempts before sending Mason into Devin and through that table. Back in the ring, Mason takes a lariat from Parrow for a near-fall, before Drennan comes in and hits what was meant to be a double axehandle for another two-count. In this “Wild West” version of FIP, tag matches are just tornado matches with no DQs… and sure enough, Devin comes in with a bit of that broken table, and smashes that in half over Drennan’s arm. He’s then taken down by Parrow, as the challengers continue to focus on Mason Cutter.
Drennan and Parrow set up a table, but a Bossman slam takes down Devin as he’s nowhere near the table. Mason low-bridges Parrow to the floor, before Drennan’s dumped with a sit-out slam off the top rope onto a pile of chairs by Mason. The Cutters come back with a litany of chops to Parrow, who then resists an Irish whip from both of the champions before fighting back with a double chokeslam.
Parrow sets up Mason for a powerbomb through the table, but Devin uses a chairshot to make the save, before Parrow takes the EVIL baseball-bat-with-a-chair spot. Drennan is next, but he begs off… before trying to hit a double low blow, which is blocked as the Hooligans hit a double team assisted slam onto a chair. A double team powerbomb through a table in the corner’s next for Drennan, before a stuff sit-out tombstone piledriver gets the win. This was wild and a decent use of the “anything goes” FIP rules, but I can see “anything goes” becoming worn-out extremely quickly. **¾
Yet more swearing from ring announcer Timothy Barr follows as he told the crowd that the earlier Henry/Theory match “blew that Omega/Okada shit out the water”. Credibility… gone. Even the crowd booed him as he tried to save face…
FIP World Heavyweight Championship: Teddy Stigma vs. Fred Yehi (c)
The audio goes a little weird again here as Stigma comes out, and he’s so wild, he almost knocked over one of the outdoor heaters. This is the guy who won the title shot in that opening match that we all ought to forget, and he’s back out with liquor and that barbed wire bat.
Stigma goes after Yehi with the barbed wire board, and let’s be fair here, in the Wild West of FIP, this is actually a good strategy. At least until someone gets a big enough board with a nail in it to close this place down… Yehi disarms Stigma and chops him early on, before a series of low dropkicks sets up Yehi for his trademark stomps.
Another dropkick gets Yehi a two-count, before yet more stomps keep Stigma at bay. He finally recovers to catch Yehi in a tiltawhirl into a Big Ending-esque backbreaker for a near-fall… and Stigma actually sells the knee that Yehi was just stomping on, before using the bottom and middle ropes to choke Yehi for a near-fall.
Stigma tried to keep hold of Yehi, but the champion fires back with some elbows that knock Stigma to the mat, only for the challenger to pepper Yehi with a quartet of big boots as he goes in search of a win by knockout. After Yehi gets up, Stigma goes under the ring and pulls out a black bag… but a dropkick from Yehi stops him from using whatever was in it.
Stigma fights back and hangs up Yehi with a draping neckbreaker off the top rope for a near-fall. They go out on the floor, Yehi runs up at Stigma, who pops him onto the apron, only for the champion to dive back onto him with an elbow, before a German suplex leads to Yehi going for that black bag…. And to my surprise, it’s not thumb tacks, but dozens of bottle caps – apparently all drunk by Teddy Stigma himself.
Yehi goes to dump Stigma into the bottle caps, but a German suplex, then an Exploder is blocked, before Stigma gets the ropes… but of course, there’s no rope break, so Yehi tries to use some strikes, only to be caught as Stigma powerbombed him into those bottle tops. That’s only enough for a two-count, so Stigma goes back to his barbed wire board, but Yehi ducks it and lands a facebuster into the board.
From there, Yehi throws the board into Stigma’s face and wraps himself around the challenger with the Koji Clutch – and the combination of the wire and the hold forces the submission. A pretty good match in spite of the continued forcing home of the “anything goes” rules. ***½
Yet again Timothy Barr talks over Trevin Adams during a plug for upcoming shows… and yet again Barr apologises for “sounding ignorant” for his earlier bragging… instead saying that Omega and Okada were really blown out of the water by that last match between Yehi and Stigma. Stop trying so hard damnit! Barr’s so happy that someone agreed with him, and I think he’s a firm challenger for Alex Shane in the try-hard stakes. Thankfully, this is his last segment…
Sami Callihan, Darby Allin, Dave Crist & AR Fox vs. Jason Kincaid, Dezmond Xavier, Sammy Guevara & Jason Cade
This is what the first hour was ruined for… but “Uncle John’s Friends” were jumped in the entrance way by their opponents as we start on the floor.
The bell rings before anyone’s so much as touched the ring, and this is already in “chaotic, too hard to follow” territory as it seems that every fan’s seat has been turned into a weapon. Aria Blake and Priscilla Kelly are out there continuing their fight from earlier, despite neither being involved in this officially. We see Sami Callihan throw a chair at Xavier, before suplexing him through a couple of chairs as Jason Kincaid lands an armdrag facebuster on Crist in the ring. AR Fox Matrix’s out of a Kincaid lariat, before a spinning brainbuster sees him take out Kincaid, only to run into a headscissor takedown from Xavier.
Callihan and Guevara face-off in the ring, and Sammy’s spat at… so he returns the favour. That gets him a punch to the groin as Callihan lands a bicycle knee, only for Cade to come in for the first time and take down Callihan with a corner dropkick. A Fisherman buster from Cade keeps Callihan down, but another dropkick is blocked as Callihan sends him onto the apron for a clothesline, then a kick on the apron.
Xavier throws in a dive to the floor, before Crist and Cade out-do themselves with Spacer Flying Tiger Drops at the same time. Guevara’s next, but AR Fox hits a kick to cut him off, then he does a tope con hilo across the ring post as our diving segment concludes. Nope, Guevara concludes it with a shooting star press, before popping up and trying for a second dive… but Dave Crist catches him up top and we end up with a tower of doom onto the floor!
Darby Allin and Jason Kincaid climb away from the floor, with AR Fox going into what I can only assume was an unused balcony. Kincaid hits a 619 to Allin, before Fox hits a senton off the balcony to the pile below. Allin’s next as he and Kincaid climb on the wall as if they were New Jack on the scaffold back in ECW, with the pair plunging to the floor with a legsweep-like move.
We’re finally back in the ring as Callihan ducks a Yakuza kick from Cade, then pulls him into a Tree of Woe so Guevara could get hiptossed into him. Simultaneous Coast to Coast dropkicks from Fox and Crist get a near-fall on Cade, before Xavier makes a comeback as he headscissors Fox into Crist in the corner, and then nails a corkscrew senton bomb for a near-fall. Xavier gets tripped into the corner as Callihan hits some big boots in the corner to the downed Dezmond… before a ‘rana’s turned into a Tiger Bomb for a near-fall.
From the kickout, Callihan locks in the Stretch Muffler, and holds onto it until Guevara’s landed a quartet of superkicks. A jumping enziguiri from Guevara knocks down Callihan for a 630 splash, but Allin breaks that up, before a Nestea plunge to Guevara on the floor keeps that youngster down.
Jason Cade slingshots into the ring to land a Destroyer, then a Tiger Driver and a Frog Splash on Crist for another near-fall. Cade tries to set up Crist for a superplex, but Callihan superkicks Cade to the mat as this becomes another parade of diving moves, until a load of chairshots leave just Blake and Kelly to come in for some forearms. If Joey Styles were still with WWN, he probably would have yelled “catfight” here…
Everyone pulls themselves to their feet, before eight bicycle kicks knock them all down again. Then again. Guevara and Callihan get back to their feet for some forearm strikes, ending with a spike tombstone to Guevara for a near-fall – despite all of Uncle John’s friends piling on. Fox comes back with a springboard Spanish fly, then the Fox Catcher fisherman’s buster gets the win. Huh… that was really out-of-nowhere… that spike tombstone would have been a better ending, but I’ll take it. A chaotic match, but for me I had already been soured by the way this was set-up. ***
After the match, Darby Allin takes the microphone and asks everyone if they know Uncle John. I think by this point nobody cared… Callihan calls the five-some Uncle John’s Friends, but apparently we all know Uncle John now?
What Worked: I’m struggling, Trevin Adams and Mister Saint Laurent worked extremely well on commentary together – even if they were starting to be WWE-like in hitting us over the head with FIP’s new rules. Or lack thereof.
What Didn’t: UNCLE JOHN’S FRIENDS. Or at least, how their set-up killed the first hour of the show. The opening “anything goes” contract match. Would have worked better had it been framed, at least on-demand; FIP’s new direction just came across like a kid who’d learned some swears and was thrilled to show them off to his friends. It just came across as phony, at least from an “authority” standpoint… ditto the wrestlers, especially the guys who appeared the prior night and were neutral at best!
Thumbs: Down. Although the show recovered with some decent matches by the end, the first hour was irrevocably bad. If you strip out everything until the Theory/Henry match, you’ve got a thumbs in the middle-leaning-up show… such was the damage of that first portion.
For a relaunch, and a first show on a new platform, FIP did nothing to help introduce new fans to the product, instead just throwing out a bunch of matches. Endless no-DQ matches will get old quickly, and if FIP’s new “edgy” direction beyond that is just limited to the ring announcer dropping F-bombs like an over-excited teenager who just learned the word, it’s safe to say this firmly is going to fall into “not my graps” territory. This show took us several days to watch, since the opening hour nearly ran us off… Eh, at least we tried it, I guess!