We’re back at the Garden Centre (or the Ivy Astoria in Ybor City, to give it its real name) for May’s fourth round of Style Battle.

Timothy Barr is our MC once again, not swearing, whilst Trevin Adams and MSL provide commentary.

Alan Angels, Jaxxon Ville & Ryan Rembrandt vs. Damien Parker, Kavron Kanyon & Rudy Wristlock
Rudy Wristlock? Is this a CHIKARA jobber?! Kavron Kanyon is the King of Farmer Style, which is something I didn’t know wrestling needed. The sum of the analysis in the opening minutes was “someone’s being turned into a pretzel” as Jaxxon Ville was struggling against I assume Rudy Wristlock… before he picked him up and buckle bomb’d him.

Wristlock’s suplexed into the turnbuckles, before (I assume) Ryan Rembrandt hits a Jeff Cobb-esque spinning back suplex. Out of nowhere, Wristlock hits a back-cracker out of the corner then brings in the big farmer Kanyon. Many better! Alan Angels tags in, and I know who he is because his name is on his gear!

To be fair, this was a six-man that was played like a six-way given all the spots thrown in, and it’s a shame that a lot of these guys had such generic gear because it meant that few of them got much name time. Or indeed, any value from this outside of footage for their expected best-of music videos. One of them, I think Damien Parker, landed a flip senton to Rembrandt in the ropes, but it could have been anyone.

Thing go spotty again as we get a Destroyer thrown in with a Snapmare Driver, then a knee stomp x Pedigree before the farmer guy’s package piledriver and Exploder gets him on top. Angel forces Kanyon to tag out from a crossface attempt, before returning to pull a guy into a uranage before he took a slingshot codebreaker. Yup. Very very spotty, and as such the crowd barely reacted to any of it before Rembrandt’s frog splash to Parker (?) got the win. Oh so spotty, and I’ll remember none of this by the time I time I blink. **

Before the main show got going, Trevin Adams started in the ring and paid tribute to Wayne van Dyke – aka Richard Delicious – as they held a ten bell salute in his memory. Then, everyone just paused and looked awkward before the first music hit…

First Round: Jason Cade vs. Socorro
Socorro, whose emo mohawk is somewhat of a regular on the Louisiana scene, has a jacket that declares STRONG STYLE with barbed wire baseball bats. Cade’s trying to make a living out of beating Will Ospreay in a ten man tag over WrestleMania weekend… more power to you!

They do plenty of flips early before Socorro took Cade outside for a vicious chop, as the bigger wrestler tried to assert his dominance. Cade came back with kicks then a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall, then again with a Fisherman’s suplex before Socorro hit a Michinoku driver to keep the momentum swinging.

A back kick from Cade leaves both men laying after a strike exchange, but Cade is able to hit back with a roll-through into a Fisherman bomb for yet another near-fall. An inverted suplex gets Socorro back into it, but he takes too long with a superplex as Cade flipped over and took him down for a Five Borough Frog Splash for the win. Simple enough – but it’s the curse of one-night tournaments: basic, but decent graps with little popping out from the page. ***

First Round: Odinson vs. Fred Yehi
Odinson reminds me of a Viking Sheamus – similar beard, similar poses, except this guy’s carrying a sprayer. Kinda like how Rick Martel used to back in the day. Fred Yehi was apparently a late replacement for Austin Theory, who took ill earlier in the day and apparently was going to be in the fray later in the show.

It’s all Yehi early on, chopping and forearming Odinson in the corner, before going to those stomps as a way to unsettle Odinson. The big guy’s power helped him catch a crossbody, before scoring with a belly-to-belly superplex then a dropkick as the size and power difference started to really play a part. A neck crank kept Yehi down, but he was able to come back with a pair of German suplexes off the ropes, only for Odinson to hit a half-and-half suplex for a near-fall. He then looked to finish off Yehi with the F5, but Yehi switched it mid-spin into a Koji Clutch that took Odinson to the mat for the submission. Solid enough and it told a good, succinct David vs. Goliath story. **¾

First Round: Sean Maluta vs. Jason Kincaid
Kincaid is a regular for EVOLVE these days, whilst Maluta’s somewhat known for a string of WWE dates in the past year, including last year’s Cruiserweight Classic. Sadly, it led to silence for his entrance, although that could just as easily be because of the small crowd…

Kincaid’s forced to escape a waistlock early after a Maluta takedown, before he looks to score the win with a series of cradles. Maluta rolled to the outside, where he was stamped on as Kincaid teased a dive before landing a springboard forearm to knock Maluta onto the apron. Kincaid goes into the crowd to mock/cheer Maluta – and had his pick of empty seats! – before Maluta caught him back inside with some face-washing boots.

Some chops really seem to sting Maluta, who replied in kind before a spinning suplex into the corner got him a near-fall, as did a swandive headbutt off the middle rope, but his insistence on using kicks helped Kincaid get back into it, before Maluta was whipped into the ropes and somehow got caught between the top and middle strands. Something tells me those were a little on the loose side!

Kincaid springboards into a Blockbuster to the seated Maluta for a near-fall, then again with a corkscrew slingshot neckbreaker as Kincaid was clearly targeting the head after Maluta’s snafu in the ropes. Just like that, a sit-out suplex sees Maluta come back into it, as does a Shining Wizard, before a frog splash got Maluta another two-count. An attempted dive gets cut-off by Kincaid, who then scores with a double stomp off the top, and that’s him in the next round. Decent enough, and I liked how they worked the slip-up into the match with Kincaid working on the neck for a spell. ***

Like one person clapped for Kincaid after the match, and two more as Maluta left the ring. When a crowd is this small, it comes across as sad, especially for the guys who are busting a gut.

First Round: Ethan Case vs. James Drake
No, it’s not “All Ego”. No, it’s not the guy from Blackpool. This James Drake also competed at the last Style Battle, and he looks like he’s undergone something of a Revival since he was last in action.

Apparently this is a rematch of Case’s first ever match, and with both men around the same size, this is could border on a hoss battle. Case scored a near-fall with an impressive hiptoss into a bridge, before a springboard cross body got him a similar result as commentary goes on about “Southern Strong Style” vs. “Streamer Style”. I think that’s a cliche that’s gone beyond passe, no?

After taking a short-arm clothesline, Case tried to come back with an Ace crusher… but Drake shoved him off and hits a running shooting star press for a near-fall. Drake throws a knee lift to knock Case back down, before Ethan was able to block some charges with some boots before throwing in a ‘rana! Drake heads outside into the crowd as Case baseball slid to the floor… only to get popped up into the ropes for a forearm smash.

Somehow Case beat the count-out, but ran into a diving knee for another near-fall, the a clothesline for a similar result… which ended up waking up Case who slipped out of a slam before delivering a pop up forearm of his own. Case’s Ace Crusher gets Drake down, as does an Iconoclasm, before the cameraman decided to focus on a guy celebrating Drake’s belly-to-belly into the corner.

A top rope moonsault got Drake a near-fall as that guy in the Yoda hat was shown again. Case hits another Ace crusher, only to get suplexed into a Fire Thunder Driver as Drake booked his spot in the semis. On paper, this was a pretty good big lad’s match, but much like good crowds can help boost a match, this anaemic crowd hurt it. ***½

Semi-Final: Jason Cade vs. Fred Yehi
Cade laid out Yehi with a superkick during the introductions as he tried to make short-work of the FIP champ, but Yehi came back with a flip tackle as he dumps Cade with a German suplex.

Another Cade superkick rocks Yehi on the floor, as does a boot off the apron, only for Yehi to trip Cade on the apron and then rush back into the ring for a folding powerbomb that nearly did it. Cade responds by kicking Yehi into the corner and trapping him for a double-stomp as the action flowed thick-and-fast, with neither man maintaining an advantage for too long.

A springboard into a Codebreaker put Yehi on the defensive, before he rebounds with an Exploder, then a clothesline to end some back-and-forth strikes. Cade’s bulldog surprises Yehi, but he’s able to get the knees up to block a frog splash… and the end doesn’t come too long after that as Cade got back to his feet and tried to springboard off the ropes again, but he misses and falls into a Koji Clutch for the submission. Disappointingly short, but this was pretty good for what they did. ***

Semi-Final: Jason Kincaid vs. James Drake
Well, if you will insist on leaping off the top rope after meditating during your entrance, you will leave yourself open for, say, a James Drake to dive at you with a knee as you land.

It started out all-action as Drake took down Kincaid with a forearm off the ropes, before Kincaid hit back with a tornado DDT. Kincaid needed to hit fast and hit hard to try and keep Drake at bay, but a missed double stomp left him open for a spike DDT as Drake hauled himself to the top rope for a moonsault.

Kincaid rolled away in time and succeeded with a standing Sliced Break before locking in the Compassionate Release (Dragon sleeper) as the referee waved off the match via stoppage. Well.. that was alright, but insanely short as they played up that Drake was fatigued after his first round match. We’ve got two matches and almost 90 minutes left on this video… so it’s either a really long interval, or FloSlam’s done their trick of not editing down the live stream… a month after the show! **½

After the match Kincaid cut a promo… but it was so quiet he was actually drowned out by those 2-3 fans who I’m guessing were sat next to the mobile camera whose mic was still on?

Style Battle Fray
It’s another one of those Royal Rumble matches with pinfall eliminations… which Timothy Barr helpfully tells us as he runs down the rules of Fray. I just thought it was “don’t get blocked”.

AR Fox opens us off with a huge sneer, as he’s initially up against David Ali, trading forearms and hiptosses as the duelling dropkicks provide the perfect timing for number three to come out: Schaff. Fox gets thrown to the outside as Schaff then catches a tope from Ali, before awkwardly powerbombing him through a chair. Number four J. Spade takes his time to gladhand the fans as Schaff dumped Fox with a torture rack neckbreaker, before hitting the ring to land a spinning heel kick to Schaff.

Spade lands a diving knee to Ali as Austin Theory actually hit the ring despite missing the entire Style Battle tournament with stomach flu. Yeah, he didn’t look too great coming out, and he barely entered the ring before the next man came out: Bu Ku Dao. In the middle of that, a 450 Splash from Fox eliminated Ali, before Theory took out Fox with a Fisherman’s bomb. Despite illness, Theory hit a nice standing moonsault, only to be knocked down by Schaff… who was then met with a TKO!

Anthony Henry was out next as Schaff was pinned and eliminated, as it was then Dao’s turn to get some stuff in, only to get caught with a Bossman slam. Anthony Henry took his time getting in, and by the time he hit the ring Matt Lancie was called as the next entrant, and he too decided to watch from ringside rather than get involved. This sort of stuff makes me think that this has been overly scripted, since you’d expect guys to get in the ring and, I don’t know, brawl as they waited for their “turn”?

The last man out, Danny Flamingo, also took his time as Matt Lancie took out Spade with a gutwrench powerbomb for a near-fall, and now Flamingo gets in. And does nothing as AR Fox kicks Spade off the top then hits a 450 to score the elimination. Flamingo finally strings in some offence, dropping Dao with a spinebuster before going after Fox and Henry with a double flip neckbreaker.

Theory comes back, but gets eliminated with a schoolboy from Fox, who then took a Samoan drop from Flamingo for a near-fall. Henry and Dao trade massive forearms and knees for a while, until Henry hit a massive back heel kick, before a Vertebreaker eliminated Dao. Hendry quickly rolled out as AR Fox made a beeline for him, allowing Lancie to spear Flamingo for the next elimination… Fox comes back with a superkick to Lancie then a brainbuster for the next elimination… that leaves us with Fox and Henry!

The pair of them trade boots before Henry was taken outside for a tope, which was returned in kind as the pair just kept going back and forth with those aerial attacks. Fox’s moonsault off the apron left Henry in a heap, but Henry came back with a TKO, hanging Fox across the top rope before Fox blocked a half-and-half suplex on the apron, only to take an Air Raid Crash instead.

Back in the ring, Fox’s springboard cutter and senton bomb gets a near-fall, but he misses a 450 as Henry tried to mount a comeback, scoring with a series of Germans then a bridging back suplex for a near-fall. Another Vertebreaker’s attempted, but Fox rolls through for a near-fall. A Lo Mein Pain then a 450 Splash sees Fox collect yet another near-fall, only for Henry to snap back in with a pop-up backbreaker then a torqued Dragon sleeper… which Henry released before Fox could get the ropes. The hold’s re-applied, and that’s enough for Fox to give up. Once we got the overly-choreographed elimination stuff out of the way, this was quite good, with Fox/Henry being quite the fun match. ***½

After the match, Henry got the microphone and lamented not being part of tonight’s Style Battle. He wanted another opportunity – after failing to win any of the first three tournaments – and I’m guessing because of his Fray win, he’s going to get another crack… with the self-inflicted caveat that if he doesn’t win, he’s done with the show. I guess we have the June winner locked down then!

Final – Fred Yehi vs. Jason Kincaid
Yehi dove for Kincaid’s legs at the bell as the pair neutralised each other… with Kincaid opting to meditate on the turnbuckles from the break.

Kincaid looked to take the initiative, wrenching on Yehi’s arm before being fought back to a neutral position as the pair grappled back and forth, with Yehi clinging onto a side headlock to keep Kincaid down.

Yehi attempts to stomp away at Kincaid, before changing his tactics and going down into a leglock… only for Kincaid to try and play Yehi at his own game. A Lucha armdrag and a dropkick sees Kincaid score a pinfall attempt, but Yehi kicked out before the referee’s arm even hit the mat as the pair refused to give an inch.

Yehi bites out of a hold from Kincaid, who hit back with a butterfly suplex to keep him on the mat, before wrenching in some headscissors to force Yehi into the ropes. The stomps finally pay-off as Yehi gets Kincaid’s hands, before a low dropkick sent him into the corner ahead of a release German suplex. Or three. It’s all Yehi from there as chops and a superplex put him firmly in the driver’s seat.

Yehi pulls Kincaid up into an Exploder into the corner, then waits for Kincaid to get back to his feet… that didn’t seem like a sound idea, especially as Yehi slapped Kincaid repeatedly, sparking a striking battle, with Kincaid utilising some leaping knees. Kincaid then busts out an ushigoroshi before wrapping up Yehi in the Compassionate Release… but Yehi stands up and turns it into a back body drop instead.

Just like that though, Kincaid lands a stomp of his own before re-applying the hold… but unlike James Drake the referee doesn’t wave off the match, as Yehi stands up and puts Kincaid onto the top turnbuckle… only to get taken straight back down with a tornado DDT. Yehi instantly rolled through into a death valley driver as both men were left laid out.

An attempted suplex in sees Kincaid switch it into a stunner, before coming back with a slingshot Falcon Arrow and then a stomp off the top rope… and that’s enough for Kincaid to seal the tournament win! Both men saved their best for last with a nice back-and-forth contest, to the delight of the dozens in attendance. That match wouldn’t have been out of place on many other WWN cards! ***¾

That’s three tournament losses now for Yehi, who somehow doesn’t find himself in the same predicament as Anthony Henry – with both of them on June’s fifth tournament… which we will get around to shortly! The fourth Style Battle was a passable show, with some high spots… but just like how a good crowd can make a good show great, a bad/non-existent crowd can drag down a card too. That was the case here. Part of the problem with Style Battle’s presentation, I feel, is that they’re just presenting generic one-night tournaments. Sure, having everything be “this man’s a kicker” vs. “this man is known for submissions” would get old quickly, but what they’re doing doesn’t seem to be working either. Especially when commentary doesn’t tell us (or remind us, in case it was hinted in an early press release back in January) what the overall winner will get.

We’re halfway through the Style Battle “heats”, for want of a better term, and with June’s (already happened, at time of writing) show having seen the addition of Matt Riddle to the card in an effort to boost interest, this format may well be on the wane, as sad as it is to say.