WWN’s third edition of Style Battle hit Ybor City earlier this month, with a slight twist at the end for this episode’s winner.
With SHINE and Florida’s ACW promotion sharing weekend billing on FloSlam, it was ACW who received showcase billing, with the group’s tag team titles providing the buffer between tournament matches. Featured in this month’s tournament are Parrow, Martin Stone, Jason Cade and Anthony Henry. Yet again. There were technical issues during the live stream, so we eschew the usual pre-show speech from Trevin Adams and MSL, so we go straight to the action, with Timothy “It’s not FIP, so I don’t swear” Barr doing the introductions here.
First Round: Jason Cade vs. Kyle Matthews
Kyle Matthews is one of those names I’ve heard of before, but don’t recall having seen wrestle – which is odd, given that he’s wrestled for a myriad of groups, including CHIKARA (as 17), and has had incredibly-brief stints in EVOLVE and ROH several years ago.
Cade starts with some headscissors to take Matthews to the outside, where a tope con hilo follows to little reaction other than the basic whoops from the crowd. Matthews comes back by shoving Cade into the apron, then back into the ring as he tried to get a win with a suplex… but only got a one-count out of that.
Matthews grounds Cade with some body scissors, but Cade freed himself and hit back with a dropkick, only to get caught in a Boston crab from the relative veteran. Cade rolls free, but gets an immediate knee into the ribs as Matthews tried to keep the flier down… but he failed as Cade flew in with a Yakuza kick, then a top rope ‘rana, before hitting a handspring Codebreaker for a near-fall.
Matthews backdrops Cade out of a Pedigree and gets a lungblower for a near-fall, but Cade replies to some chops with a bicycle kick, only to get caught with a tornado DDT by Matthews. A spinning heel kick takes both men down, but Matthews gets up first with an apron enziguiri, before a corner dropkick almost got him the win.
A Muta Lock follows from Matthews, but he can’t keep the neck bridge as Cade is able to make that rope break. Cade slips out of a superplex and hits a Cheeky Nando’s kick, then a double stomp as he headed up for a Frog Splash that won him the match. Pretty decent, but like with all one-night tournament shows, you’re left feeling that they held back a little since one of these guys would be back for more later. ***
First Round: Anthony Henry vs. Martin Stone
Oh no, it’s the wXw overdub theme again… so that means that Anthony Henry’s getting another crack in the tournament, after being eliminated in episode one via a time limit draw, and then being a losing finalist last time out. To be fair, AR Fox got the same courtesy after losing the final in episode one, but this is kinda getting ridiculous…
A tentative start to this sees Henry take Stone into the ropes, but eventually Stone trips down Henry into a crossface that ends with a quick rope break. Stone kips up after a takedown from Henry, before switched waistlocks lead to another takedown from Henry who seemed to be edging into an advantage.
Stone eases out of some grounded headscissors as he delivers a crotch chop to Henry… who goes back to the waistlock, which this time leads to more arm-based offence from both men, in a welcome departure from the flippy-style that usually pervades these shows. A version of the La Magistral gets Henry a near-fall, and a begrudging handshake from Stone as he goes back to working Stone’s arm, this time using a grounded hammerlock and an armbar.
A dropkick from Henry sends Stone to the outside, but the Brit countered a tope with a right hand, and that turns the match around in the Guv’nor’s favour briefly, until a trip and a kick from Henry leads to a low dropkick. Stone fights out of a heel hook, but gets caught in a leg-spreader as Henry remained on top of the Londoner, kicking Stone in the knee to keep him on the mat.
Henry rolls Stone into a reverse figure four, forcing him into the ropes, only to end up in a battle of forearms as Stone looked to take over with uppercuts. Those strikes at least got Stone back into it, before he no-sold a German suplex and dropped Henry with a Stone-KO to leave both men laying. Another kick knocks Stone to the floor, where Henry flips over for a diving knee off the apron that almost saw Henry miss and crash into a supporting column in the Orpheum.
A single-underhook suplex takes down Stone in the ring, as does a missile dropkick, but again Stone kicks out at two and just walks through a series of kicks from Henry… who then springboards towards the Brit, and falls into a crossface in the middle of the ring. Somehow, Henry reverses out into an ankle lock, but Stone rolls back into the crossface that ended in another rope break.
Henry catches the leg of Stone and goes back to the ankle lock, dragging the Brit into the middle of the ring, before setting him down for a PK for a near-fall. Another roundhouse kick connects, so Henry heads up top for a double stomp for another two-count. A missed charge gives Stone a window back in, hitting an Exploder suplex, then a gutwrench powerbomb , before finishing off Henry with a headbutt for another near-fall.
After the kick-out, Stone goes back to the crossface, then rolls Henry back into the middle of the ring, only to get caught with a pinning roll-up as they exchange more shots, before Stone lands his London Bridge rope-hung DDT… and despite Henry having his foot on the rope, the referee misses it as Stone hooks that leg for the win. An excellent encounter here, with Henry doing really well on these shows without getting the big W he’s after. Throughout commentary they hinted at that, and I’ve a feeling that despite what Gabe Sapolsky has said publicly, the screwy ending will get Henry into a fourth Style Battle tournament, which he’s got to win, right? ****
Martin Stone called out Henry as “the most over-rated mug on the internet”, labelling him a Finn Balor double-stomp wannabe. He’s having some fun against Balor-a-likes this year, isn’t he?
First Round: Jon Davis vs. James Drake
Okay, here’s the confusing part… James Drake here isn’t the James Drake who works for PROGRESS and others in the UK, but he is a big lad, so we’re moving from big lads wrestling to some hoss fighting.
Drake takes down Davis with a shoulder tackle, but gets a receipt pretty much straight away before Drake hits a dropkick to take Davis to the floor. He’s awkwardly dragged down onto the apron, selling his left arm after landing, and that’s what Davis immediately targets, clubbing away on that arm before sending it into the apron.
Drake makes a comeback, bouncing Davis off the ropes on the outside into an uppercut… but when things switched around back in the ring, Drake popped up from a slam then poked Davis in the eye to keep things going his way for a little longer, until Davis gave him a Flatliner into the middle turnbuckle, then a back suplex that almost went wrong.
The pair exchange kicks and forearms until Davis connects with a dropkick for a near-fall, but the back-and-forth continued with another back suplex, this time from Drake, but the damage to Drake’s arm told as Davis hit an armbreaker, then an arm whip to force a two-count. An armbar follows, as Davis torques the wrist to add more pain, but Drake fought free… and took some more kicks to the head from Davis for another two-count.
Drake chops away at Davis, who then tapes down the straps on his singlet as we get a chop battle! Big lads chopping! A double big boot rocks them, before Davis popped up from a diving boot to leave Drake laying with a spinebuster. Davis hangs onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick, but he can’t stop an overhead belly-to-belly, as another diving boot gets Drake a near-fall. An Exploder gets Davis back into it though, before he rolls away from a cannonball in the corner by Drake.
They head up for a superplex attempt, but Drake throws Davis into the ring so he can go for a frog splash… and he hits it! Davis kicked out at two from that, then gets a near-fall himself out of a Jackhammer, before he ducks a clothesline and gets a Torture Rack into a Blue Thunder Bomb… but Drake still kicked out before the count of three! More back and forth ends with Davis finally getting an armbreaker, which Drake powerbombs free of, before Davis rolls him into a crossface.
They look to be visibly tiring as that roll into an armbreaker went a little wonky, as did Drake’s roll-back from the crossface for a two-count, before a sky-high spinebuster – labelled the Best Spinebuster Ever – gets Drake another near-fall. Drake goes for, and misses, a moonsault, but recovers to hit a rolling forearm, then a superkick, before he runs into a pop-up powerbomb en route to a lariat as it’s Jon Davis who books his semi-final spot. This was fine until the final stretches, when it looked like both guys tired and started getting a little sloppy with their stuff. A fun match up until then though! **¾
First Round: Jon Cruz vs. Parrow
Oh, poor, poor Cruz. He’s done some enhancement stuff for NXT recently, but other than that he’s largely been on the Florida indies. Tonight, I fear he’ll be splatted by the monstrous Parrow, who doesn’t have his running buddy Drennan with him, as apparently Style Battle ban seconds, managers, valets or whatever catch-all term you want to use.
Cruz leaps into Parrow during the introductions, but he’s quickly caught in a chokeslam and thrown to the mat. Parrow catches a crossbody, but Cruz slips out and hits an enziguiri, then a superkick as he tries to knock the big man down with an endless array of strikes. Cruz ran towards Parrow in the ropes, and I guess he was meant to dive into him and send the pair to the floor… the end result was the same though. A tope gets caught as Parrow snake eyes’ Cruz into the ring post, before Parrow rolls him into the ring for a two-count. Parrow propels Cruz with a back body drop, then sends him flying with a clothesline for another two-count, but Cruz keeps on trying to knock down the big man… only to get caught in another crossbody.
Parrow flings Cruz into the turnbuckles with a fallaway slam, but he takes too long going for the cover. Another Cruz comeback sees him land a superkick, before a Meteora off the top finally gets him a near-fall… but Parrow’s kick-out almost sends Cruz to the floor! Some superkicks follow again, but Parrow stands up and drills Cruz with a pop-up powerbomb for the win. It was what it was, a fun, enhanced squash. **¼
Semi-Final: Jason Cade vs. Martin Stone
From the off, Stone makes a beeline for Cade’s wrist, wrenching away on it, but Cade worked free and put Stone on the top rope for a ‘rana for a near-fall as he looked to add to the punishment that Anthony Henry had inflicted early.
Cade hits a Pedigree for a two-count as he tied to get a flash win, but Stone comes back with a missile dropkick that just exposed his knee for some more offence from Cade. A corner enziguiri and an Exploder gets Stone on top again though, getting a near-fall from that brief flurry, before he uses his head to knock down a flying Cade.
More back-and-forth shots send Cade onto the defence, as Stone lands a gutwrench powerbomb then a short-arm lariat after Cade had tried to fight back with a bicycle knee. That lariat gets Stone a near-fall as Cade got his foot on the rope… this time with the referee catching Martin as he pulled it off. Good to see the referees learned from their mistakes during the night! Stone argued the call with the referee, and then gets caught in a small package for the win! Perfectly acceptable graps – little in the way of anything memorable, but it had its moments. ***
Semi-Final: Jon Davis vs. Parrow
Davis is still sweating bullets after his first round match, and I severely doubt this is going anywhere near the 45 minute time limit. Unless it’s all chinlocks.
Parrow instantly runs into Davis and throws him across the ring with a fallaway slam – with the greatest of ease! Davis makes a comeback with some shots and a leaping forearm into the corner… but Parrow again goes for the fallaway slam, throwing Davis into the turnbuckles like he was nothing. A Jackhammer from Parrow is countered as Davis collects a near-fall, but Parrow instantly scoops him up for a sit-out tombstone that gets him another two-count. I’ve gotta say, this is all massively hard-hitting, with very little else between the notes.
They set-up for a top rope fallaway slam, but Davis fights free and manages to get a sunset flip powerbomb, then rolls up into a German suplex before a lariat gets Davis into the finals. Short and sweet – just how it ought to have been given that these were both big lads who’d already wrestled tonight. **½
After the match Parrow freaks out, throwing chairs around the venue before sauntering to the back.
ACW Tag Team Championship: KRAKEN (Chip Day & Murder-1) vs. Chance Champion & Omar Amir vs. Dirty Blondes (Michael Patrick & Leo Brien) vs. Lacey Twins (Gabe Lacey & Greyson Lacey) (c)
This match came via the American Combat Wrestling promotion in Florida… the Dirty Blondes looked a lot like someone’d mashed up Dusty Rhodes and Steve Corino, with Leo Brien looking more Dusty-like and Patrick more like Corino. The Lacey Twins are a comedic little-and-large team, and have held the belts since last summer when they beat the Dirty Blondes.
We start with Gabe Lacey – wearing a shoulder strap – and Omar Amir, with the latter landing a shoulder tackle, before getting slammed down by Gabe. Greyson slams his brother onto him for a near-fall, before he gets a crossbody… that Amir catches and turns into a spinebuster for a two-count as only Gabe Lacey was interested in breaking up the cover.
Patrick comes in against Chance Champion, a Southern indy wrestler name if there ever was one, and it’s Chance who gets a headlock takedown, only for Patrick to fight free. A double clothesline leaves both men laying, and for some reason the two managers at ringside get involved for the hell of it. Erik Essex and Skinny Vinny get knocked off the apron, before Murder-1 drops Brien with an Ace Crusher.
Champion slams Day for a near-fall, but the ring fills up and control gets lost as Gabe Lacey gets a blind tag, but has to wait before he comes in. Gabe catches a crossbody from Chip Day, then turns it into a death valley driver before Greyson hits a 630 Splash for the win. Far too short to be anything beyond a showcase, and it got really awkward at the end as folks seemed determined to get their stuff in. **¼
Final: Jason Cade vs. Jon Davis
Before this match, Gabe Sapolsky tweeted that the winner of this match would be entered into the elimination match to crown a WWN champion on April 1. Those who know both guys’ upcoming bookings kinda knew the result from there…
Davis was still swearing after his efforts earlier in the day, and during his pre-match promo Davis nonchalantly sidestepped as Cade tried to attack him off the top rope… which just meant that Cade flew back through the entrance curtain. Cade returns with a chair, throwing it into Davis’ face, and since the bell didn’t ring, those chairshots were legal.
A tope con hilo follows as Cade demanded that the referee started counting… but the match hadn’t started so we had to wait for Davis to hit the ring so we could get going. Davis rolls into the ring as the match gets underway, where Cade flies into him with a leaping knee into the corner as Martin Stone joined the commentary team.
Cade catches Davis with a poison ‘rana for a near-fall (because of course it did), whilst Martin Stone complained of being robbed against Cade in the semi-finals. A slow-mo handspring Codebreaker takes down Davis for a near-fall, but the big guy comes back with a delayed suplex, before he chopped Cade to the floor.
Some more chops send Cade cringing to the floor in pain as Davis press slams him onto the apron – a unique spot, given how much apron spots have proliferated wrestling in recent months. Yet more chops rock Cade in the corner, but he comes back with a spike DDT for a near-fall, only for Davis to make his size count as the pace was brought back down.
Cade sends Davis to the outside, but his slingshot ‘rana is caught and turned into a powerbomb on the apron for added ouch. Somehow, Cade barely beat the ten-count back in, only to get turfed straight back outside, where he’s given a Snake Eyes across a part of the bar as Davis looks for the count-out again. Again, Cade beats the count-out, but gets immediately covered for a near-fall, before he tries to mount another comeback with some enziguiris from the apron… then leaps out of a deadlift superplex and delivers a double-stomp to Davis… but Cade’s too spent and somehow this goes from a pinning attempt to both men having to beat a standing ten-count.
Cade gets up and hits the All Hail (Pedigree) for another two-count, before a chokeslam gets Davis a similar result. Another handspring from Cade’s caught in a Torture Rack, but he gets a headscissor to free himself, before succeeding with a Destroyer! That’s still only good for a two-count, as Davis simply knocks down Cade with a punch, only for Cade to reply with a Cutter for another two-count.
From that kick-out, Davis unloads into Cade with a final flurry – a pop-up powerbomb, rolling up into a German suplex, before finishing with a short-arm lariat to win the tournament! A really good back-and-forth match, with Davis using his size to overpower the faster Cade. Really enjoyable stuff to end the show on. ***½
After the match, Trevin Adams congratulates Davis on his tournament win… and springs the surprise that Davis is in the WWN title elimination match as a result of this. They called Davis a two-time Style Battle champion, with that first one coming in the early days of EVOLVE when Gabe Sapolsky tried this idea as a round robin tournament.
Martin Stone jumps off from commentary to tell Davis to look ahead to April 2 instead, as those two will be facing off for Stone’s FIP title at the Hardy Tailgate party ahead of WrestleMania…. Davis vows to win that title for the USA, before he launched into a promo about how he fought for so long (including against a still downed Jason Cade), and that his journey will culminate in that WWN title.
Overall, a decent show – perhaps not on the same level as prior Style Battles due to the second half of that first round, and but yet again Anthony Henry had the match of the night here. Keep an eye on that name… I’ve a feeling he’ll become a major player in the not too distant future.