With FloSlam going south, we’re dipping into Powerbomb.tv – so expect quite a few “huh?” moments as we dip into the wealth of content over there.
We’re starting with NOVA Pro, a Virginia-based promotion that’s gotten quite the buzz among the US scene – there’s a lot of names we’re new to, so we’re not going to pretend to know about them.
Ethan Alexander Sharpe & Rayo vs. Beau Crockett & Innocent Isaiah
Sharpe looks to have a karate-ish gimmick, like Mike Bailey with proper boots, whilst Rayo is a… football player? Like a “proper” football player, not the NFL stuff. He’s getting bullied about by Sharpe and his manager, Brandon “Money” Greenie, who looks like Simon Gotch gone wrong. It’s the hideously-coloured suit, I think. Apparently Greenie is Sharpe’s benefactor… so why is his gear so… odd?
Isaiah’s act seems to be that he’s “flamboyant”, whilst Beau Crockett is the reluctant partner in all this. They’ve been renamed “cutie and the beast” by Isaiah, who starts off against Rayo as the two little guys get it going, with a pacey open before some armdrags and duelling dropkicks led to a handshake. Sharpe doesn’t like the “flippy nonsense”… and this was before the first Ospreay/Ricochet match blew up the internet.
Crockett and Isaiah work well as a tandem, but Isaiah looked to slip on the ropes as he went for a springboard. Apparently Greenie hit him with his cane as we get some heel manager cheating, which opened the door for Rayo to hit a back senton for a pinning attempt. Crockett powers through his opponents, with a spinebuster dropping Rayo, before Isaiah plants a kiss on Rayo… which I think he’d been planning on doing for a while. In the end, Crockett pops up Isaiah onto Rayo, and that’s enough for the pin. This was… fine to open with, I guess. The reluctant partner stuff worked, at least until Beau had to underline that “I’m not that kinda person”. Hey, we don’t judge. **½
Bobby Shields vs. John Kermon
White-meat babyface vs. guy the crowd boos for reasons I don’t know. Both these guys have been wrestling for over a decade, so rookies these ain’t. Kermon seems to have a MMA-style gimmick as he came down wearing some gym’s t-shirt, wearing kickpads but no boots and was going for ankle locks early.
They move to chopping each other really loudly, but Shields comes out ahead with a jawbreaker as the pair keep going back and forth. Kermon tries for an Octopus stretch, but Shields turned it into an Air Raid Crash for a near-fall. From there, he hits a brainbuster, but misses a moonsault as Kermon fires back with a series of kicks and elbows.
So, he’s a kickboxing MMA wrestler now!?
A grounded ankle lock sees Shields break via the ropes, before he staggered into the corner and telegraphed something, before blowing back with a Yakuza kick! The Falcon arrow follows for a two-count, but the momentum continues to shift until Shields dropped the fighter with a Gory Bomb… and that’s enough for the win! This was fine, but felt very weird – I didn’t know who I was meant to cheer/boo and why… and it started to feel a bit wonky towards the end. Not exactly the finesse you’d expect from folks with experience. **½
Amanda Rodriguez vs. Maria Manic
Yes, this is the ACR that you’ll have seen all over SHINE. Writing this 18 months later, it’s like it’s two different people!
Apparently this was NOVA’s first women’s match, and to start with… it wasn’t good, with armdrags looking not as crisp as you’d perhaps see elsewhere. Manic fell to the mat for… reasons, as Rodriguez threw forearms her way, before scoring with a series of roll-ups. ACR heads outside as Manic gives chase, only to get hung up on the top rope as the veteran Rodriguez outclassed the rookie.
Manic fights back from a chinlock, but quickly gets dropped with a clothesline for a two-count as ACR just got off her rather than see a kick-out. This is the kind of stuff that I rail on the Candy Cartwrights for, but at least Manic had the asterisk here of being a rookie. A series of rolling suplexes only get a one count despite some head drops, and again Manic comes back with a bodyslam, before charging her into the corner.
Manic gets Rodriguez up for an Alabama Slam, but ACR kicked out at two, then nails Manic with an enziguiri, which proved to be the finish as we have Death By Roll-up! A roll-up with a handful of tights does the job, and thankfully “the right person won”. This wasn’t TNA-levels of bad, but this wasn’t good. Strikes were bad, bumping looked off at times. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right? ½*
The Brutes (Jimmy Parker & Mark James) vs. Dan O’Hare & Jeff Cannonball
The Brutes kinda remind me of the Revival, with a bit more timber on them. One’s bald, one isn’t, but sadly they’re in the same gear so this may get some getting used to. O’Hare – also known as the “Big Scare” – and Cannonball are more deathmatch guys, with Cannonball actually making it to the semis of this year’s Tournament of Death.
So yeah, this is big lads’ tag wrestling! O’Hare swaps hammerlocks with one of the Brutes, before Cannonball comes in to help with a double-team suplex. Weirdly, the Brutes struggled to get into this, before Jimmy Parker came in (I think) to dump O’Hare on his head with a simple trip. From there, Parker traps O’Hare on the mat, before dragging him into the corner so James could issue some headbutts and body blows.
An impressive dropkick from James gets a two-count, but he starts to get annoyed at how he could only get a one-count later on. The Brutes start to fake tag each other in behind the ref’s back as they gradually wear down O’Hare, before going to the standard heel tactic of distracting the referee to stop a tag.
Except the referee allows it! That’s basic stuff, but I kinda like the “turnaround is fair play” idea.
Parker gets mad that his clothesline doesn’t win the match again, and eventually gets slammed by O’Hare, who finally brings Cannonball back in. An Exploder gets Jeff a two-count on James, but Parker returns to stop a Doomsday Device as the Brutes double-team Cannonball in the corner. Another double-team’s broken up when O’Hare gets a double dropkick to the Brutes, before the old Demolition Decapitation – the side slam/elbow drop – got the CZW tandem the win! Some pretty solid big lads’ wrestling – I’d have liked the Brutes to be less identikit, but this was fun for what it was. ***
Arik Royal vs. Tim Donst
Donst was somewhat resurgent here, having had a cancer scare the prior year, but early on he was struggling to find a way past one of NOVA’s hot prospects in Royal.
Donst, who had an amateur grappler gimmick in a past like in CHIKARA, was finding Arik was equally capable. Some kravats kept Royal at bay, before a Cactus clothesline took both men to the outside ahead of a tope from Donst! Back inside, a spinning heel kick gets Royal a two-count, as he shows his wrestling chops, with a stump puller!
Royal nearly gets the win with a leaping shoulder tackle that he called Space Jam as the pair go tit-for-tat – an Ace Crusher from Donst is replied to with a lariat before both men crumple to the mat. Donst tries for the Ace Crusher again, but has to make do with a brainbuster for a near-fall as Royal again makes a comeback, absorbing some pretty nifty chops before pouncing Donst for a close two-count.
A corner clothesline from Donst nearly did the job as Royal seemed to be fading, but it was a ruse – Donst went for a La Magistral cradle after a swinging neckbreaker, but Royal sat down on it, and that was enough to snatch the win! This was pretty decent stuff – not fast-paced or extraordinarily polished, but this was the best thing on the show to this point. Gotta love some proper wrestling! ***¼
CWF Mid-Atlantic TV Championship: Joe Keyes vs. Ken Dixon vs. Frankie Pickard vs. Smith Garrett (c)
Someone forgot Keyes music, so he threw a fit because they didn’t have Careless Whisper. He’s no Love Making Demon! Dixon got music, which I swear wXw has used before, and the names on these guys… as generic as it was, there’s something to be said for the NXT Name Generator!
Garrett seems to relish the three-on-one handicap that he’s got, and he’s had to have eyes in the back of his head as he ducked a clothesline from Keyes, which ended up sending Pickard to the outside. Keyes looks to take the early advantage, before Dixon tries to roll up Keyes… and gets a knee to the head for his troubles.
Garrett tries to make a comeback, but is instantly dispatched as we go back to Dixon and Pickard, with Dixon eating a pair of DDTs before Keyes lands a gutwrench suplex.Dixon looked to get covered, but his foot was well under the ropes so the ref didn’t make the count… and that looked to be the cue for Garrett to throw Keyes back outside, before blasting Dixon with a kick to the head for the win. Huh. This never had a chance to get out of first gear – the match wasn’t bad, but nobody had enough time to do anything. Disappointing, but I’d like to see these guys again, perhaps in singles matches… **
Brandon Day vs. Matt Tremont
There’s a no holds barred match in the main event… but I don’t exactly see Matt Tremont keeping it catch as catch can here. Day’s nickname is “Unchained”, carrying on the motif with him carrying a chain around… it’s like 2017’s Strangler Davis, except without any of the problematic overtones.
Bloody hell, they started with a lock-up! Tremont’s barking like a modern incarnation of Rick Steiner, before he and Day roll around the ropes in a collar-and-elbow tie-up. My jaw’s hit the floor. Day’s early offence ended as he ate a clothesline, with Tremont taking him around the ring, throwing his head into the top turnbuckles. If this were a strap match, I think Day would technically have won…
He recovers by kicking the rope into Tremont after the world’s briefest cat and mouse chase as commentary noted that Tremont had been in a last man standing match the prior night, and so was likely nursing several wounds. Day charges a knee into the thigh of Tremont in the corner, before he grounded Tremont with a rear chinlock. Deadly!
Still, Day keeps on top as Tremont removed a bandana that was covering a cut, and I have a feeling we’re gonna see some red. He ducked a clothesline and drops Day with a death valley driver for a near-fall, before keeping Day on the back foot with some headbutts. It looked like Day’s opportunity had come and gone, but he manages to block an Irish whip before Tremont gets off another death valley driver for a near-fall.
Frustrated, Day goes for his chain, but instead he just drags Tremont into the chain in the corner… and that’s enough for the win! Not sure how being pulled into two dangling bits of chain is enough to knock out someone for a pin, but it did and after the match Tremont’s got a trickle of juice on his forehead just in case you thought the chain wasn’t that bad. **½
No Holds Barred: Logan Easton LaRoux vs. Sonjay Dutt
I’m getting an essence of Kerwin White around LaRoux, except without the awkwardness. He’s got a thing for the BMW logo and wearing sweaters like a shawl… Sonjay Dutt stops to take a picture with a fan who had a sign for him – and it’s those sort of touches that I love about smaller shows like these.
Apparently Dutt lost in a title match a few months earlier because of LaRoux, which is the reason for this match, I guess. Dutt keeps it technical early on, going through wristlocks before barging LaRoux down to the mat. It’s all Sonjay too, as he takes Logan to the outside with a diving dropkick, before Dutt threw him into a supporting pillar and threw a bin on him. Yep, it’s no holds barred – keeping strictly on the right side of the caution tape barrier!
Hey, Sonjay made him wear a bin and superkick it off… because who doesn’t love people wearing inanimate objects? They head into the crowd as some racks of chairs comes into play, with Dutto batting LaRoux between the two sets of trollies. Hey, that’s something different! They headed up onto the stage, but Logan gets a cheapshot in before his leap off the stage just gets him punched in the gut.
Commentary takes a hike as they go back onto the stage, where LaRoux grabs the mic off of commentary – but he unplugs it so it doesn’t do anything but act as a prop. The no-DQ part of this comes into play again as Dutt has the bell rang into his crotch, before Sonjay reverses a suplex onto the stage.
Somehow Sonjay Brookesd LaRoux by throwing him off the stage into some chairs, before a flip dive took him down. Back towards ringside, Logan sneaks in an RKO on the floor, which prompts the locker room to come out and check on Dutt… which Logan wasn’t impressed with as he dove onto the pile on the outside as punches and low blows put paid to the good guys.
In the ring, Logan gets another RKO, but Dutt kicks out at two, leading to a brief shoving match with the ref… who fires back with some chops? The hell?! He goes full Ric Flair, before Dutt spears Logan as he charged at the ref. That gets a two-count, so Logan superkicks the ref. Then Sonjay.
Another RKO drops Sonjay onto the chair as a second ref came in to make the two-count. Dutt rebounds with a Shotei as LaRoux was on the top rope, before getting off a superplex and a Calcutta Cutter for a two-count. A lot of RKOs here, eh? Logan grabs his sweater, and unsights Sonjay with it for another superkick, before Sonjay replied with one of his own before a tornado DDT and big splash off the top gets the win! This was a fun main event – when you’re not doing brawling in every match, it really stands out – and created a fitting end to the show. ***¼
After the match, LaRoux and Dutt put each other over, but Logan ends things by kicking Sonjay low… before he grabbed a table from under the ring. John Kermon makes the save to chase away Logan, and thankfully this didn’t end up being another swerve as that table ended the night intact!
As a show, this isn’t going to blow your socks off, but there’s some pretty solid stuff here, with a little something for everyone. Out of the entire card, I enjoyed Donst/Royal the most – with Royal showing flashes of the hype that I’ve been hearing about for a while now. Unfortunately, the down sides were pretty low: the women’s match didn’t have much going for it, and that four-way was over before it ever got going. This wasn’t a bad show, but we’ll need to see more of NOVA before we can really pass judgment.