Style Battle returned for a fifth outing, with two fantastic outings tucked as away as Matt Riddle made an appearance to defend his WWN title!
There’s a sprinkling of new faces and recycled entrants this time, as Anthony Henry returned to the tournament as he declared that if he doesn’t win, he’s done with this tournament. Meanwhile, Fred Yehi’s in the tournament once again, whilst Joey Janela gets a booking… as does Jimmy Lloyd. Trevin Adams and MSL are your hosts again as the show returned to the Orpheum in Ybor City, away from the open-air Ivy Astoria. Timothy Barr is back as your ring announcer, so it’s business as usual.
First Round: Anthony Henry vs. Matt Tremont
You know how I complained that Style Battle wasn’t really highlighting different styles? Well, this really is a clash of styles, as Anthony Henry – a rather technical, “orthodox” wrestler – is taking on Matt Tremont. A man known for his hardcore style and his willingness to bleed in matches… but they only hint at the differences here. Oh well.
Henry rushes into Tremont with Yakuza kicks in the corner, before a pratfall tripped up the big man for a superkick to the head. A clothesline from Tremont leaves Henry down though, and now they head to the outside as Trevin Adams calls Tremont the CZW champ… a title he’d not held since last September. Back inside, the pair trade forearms and punches, which seem to fire up Henry, who then caught Tremont in the corner for a Dragon screw in the ropes.
A double stomp to the knee follows as Henry targets a figure four on the big man, but his follow-up of a cross body is caught and turned into a Samoan drop, then a death valley driver. Tremont looks to finish him off with a powerbomb, but Henry rolled through into a sunset flip and snatched the win! As is typical of Style Battle, a short opening-round match, but plenty of fire… and thankfully not in Tremont’s usual sense either! ***
If only the FloSlam player would let us get a still of Trevin Adams’ grimace as he tried to sneak past Tremont after the post-match promo…
First Round: Jimmy Lloyd vs. Joey Janela
I’m surprised it took Joey Janela this long to make it onto a “lower level” WWN show – and it at least sounded like some folks in the Floridian crowd had heard of him!
Lloyd bulldozed into Janela at the bell, as the pair then decide to have a chop battle before Lloyd lands a Tiger Driver for a one-count. They headed outside where Lloyd moved the ring steps so he could flapjack Janela into them, before missing a cannonball and landing on them as the pair brawled around the venue. A Blue Thunder Driver gets Lloyd a near-fall, but the two are really evenly matched as Janela relies on speed and strikes to knock Jimmy down with a lariat. Janela follows him outside with a tope, then leaps off the top rope with an Ace crusher that spiked Lloyd for a near-fall, before a double stomp connected wildly with Lloyd’s knees!
Somehow Lloyd blocked a stomp then landed a belly-to-back piledriver for a near-fall, before he misses a moonsault off the top. That led to some superkicks back and forth before Janela hit a pair of rolling forearms for yet another two-count. Janela manages to counter a superplex into a sunset bomb, then hit a double stomp off the top flush onto Lloyd to book his place in the semis. Maybe not a polished outing, but loads of fun and vastly different to what the opener way. ***¼
After the match, Janela cut a passioned, if not goofy promo where he declared himself a dream catcher and a dream taker. Joey’s got his sights on Anthony Henry, and he promises to ruin his dreams of success… before promising to beat Fred Yehi for the FIP title the next night. Well, he killed two birds with one stone!
First Round: Francisco Ciatso vs. Teddy Stigma
Stigma, who came out with a barbed wire board and a chair, perhaps confused this for Tournament of Death. Considering he’s a Florida indy regular, he got shockingly little reaction, but I guess the crowd used their pops up already?
Ciatso is something of a veteran on the indy scene, but that didn’t stop him from being taken to the outside early on by Stigma, who wanted to use a chair before the ref stopped him. Finally back inside, Ciatso dominates Stigma with a scoop slam that almost won it for him, only for him to get caught with a version of Eat Defeat. The pair traded boots as Stigma again teased going to the barbed wire board, before he instead landed a powerbomb for a near-fall. Stigma gets his “death stick”, but the ensuing pull-apart with the ref leaves Stigma open for a Flatliner – inadvertently onto the barbed wire board – for the win. This one barely went five minutes, and hardly got out of first gear. **
First Round: Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Fred Yehi
Okay, so Friedman was announced only as “Maxwell Jacob” by Timothy Barr for some reason. I know he goes by the “Feinstein” moniker in some groups – a surname that’s going to fly about as much as “Benoit” will in WWE – but I’m guessing that the announcer robot couldn’t store more than two names on this occasion.
Yehi frustrates Friedman in the opening moments, mixing in amateur-style grappling with more orthodox stuff, before MJF started to get a little too cocksure. That just led to him getting stomped by Yehi, before kipping up to avoid his face getting caved in by another stomp. We get a display of sportsmanship, but of course there’s cheap shots as Yehi outsmarted MJF with some more stomps, as he raced into MJR with dropkicks and a German suplex. MJF uses the referee to cause a distraction as he turns things around, poking Yehi’s eye then throwing him into the corner as his dastardly ways looked to get him the win.
MJF stomps on Yehi before slingshotting into the ring, taking out Yehi’s arm with almost a Codebreaker to it as he continued to wear down on Yehi’s left arm. The back-and-forth continues as Yehi started to slap away at Friedman, who kept up on the arm, only to get taken down with a low tackle. An Exploder follows from Yehi, who started to creep back into the match, only for MJF to tease an armbar and instead hit a half-and-half suplex before a Shining Wizard collected a near-fall.
From the kick-out, Yehi tries to headbutt his way free, but he ends up taking a half-nelson driver for a near-fall, only to rebound with a powerbomb then a Koji Clutch as he forced Friedman to tap. Easily the best of the first-round outings – and even if the storylines don’t add-up, there’s a reason why Yehi’s in these tournaments: you’re always guaranteed a good match out of him! ***¾
Semi-Final: Anthony Henry vs. Joey Janela
Plenty of grappling early as Henry tried to control Janela’s wrist, before they swivelled on the mat for any kind of advantage. The pair worked a nice series from a test of strength, pulling off monkey flips before Henry catches Janela in some body scissors that led to a rope break.
Eventually the technical stuff gave way to kicks after Henry forced Janela into a pratfall, only to get caught with a DDT off the apron to the floor when his dive attempt was blocked. The pair end up brawling through the crowd, with Henry taking a neckbreaker onto a bar, before they returned to the ring, where Janela wrenched back some more on Henry’s neck.
Another neckbreaker follows for a near-fall, before they headed outside to trade more forearms, leading to Henry firing back with a barrage of those in the ring… then hitting a scoop slam as Janela tried to build momentum. A Shibata-esque diving dropkick scores a near-fall, but Henry keeps on top of Janela with a tope con hilo as he went to the outside, before a missile dropkick in the ring earned another two-count.
Janela counters Henry’s ripcord boot with a tombstone, before hitting a pair of death valley drivers – rolling through to dump Henry onto the apron with the second. Henry barely beat the ten-count, and walked straight into a package powerbomb for another near-fall, before the pair traded superkicks until Henry’s lariat left both men laying.
Janela popped up to his feet and hit a moon-stomp for yet-another near-fall, only to take a pop-up powerbomb and a snap piledriver as Henry booked his place in the finals. This was wonderful stuff, but perhaps commentary underplayed the self-imposed “lose and bust” stipulation on Henry. Yeah, it’d have telegraphed a result, but I don’t think they mentioned that once. I loved the back and forth here, with Janela coming oh so close to winning… hopefully he’ll be back! ***¾
Semi-Final: Francisco Ciatso vs. Fred Yehi
Generic Italian music means it’s time for Francisco Ciatso to make his semi-final appearance – and he’s feeling his left elbow after his match with Teddy Stigma. He’s also either just had a shower or he’s sweating buckets… neither can be good! Ciatso takes Yehi into the ropes at the bell before spinning into a forearm as Yehi quickly stomps away on Ciatso’s hands. The veteran flips Yehi with a back body drop as he came off the ropes, then again with a powerslam out of the corner… and this pace is so fast, there’s no way Ciatso’s going anywhere close to the time limit here.
Yehi tried for an armbar, but Ciatso stands up and turned it into a Samoan drop for a near-fall, before battering Ciatso kept Yehi on the mat with some forearms. A uranage’s attempted, but Yehi ends up switching it into a Koji clutch instead for the quick tap-out. They did what they could, but without being too unkind, it was clear to see that perhaps Ciatso perhaps shouldn’t have been booked for double-duty here. **¼
That leaves us with a Yehi/Henry final – and that’s a repeat of the only draw we had, when both these men were eliminated in the first round of the inaugural Style Battle. Not that Fred Yehi acknowledged that in the post-match promo…
AR Fox vs. David Ali vs. Tommy Maserati vs. Alan Angels vs. Leon Ruff vs. Kavron Kanyon
Instead of Fray, we had a six-way here involving talent from the WWA4 Academy – with lucha rules, so there’s no need for tags. Not that they’d have made use of them! Everyone came out at the same time, led by AR Fox, which kinda reminds me of those WrestleMania battle royals where nobody stands out. Most of these guys have been on a Style Battle before, with Ruff being the only newbie to this show.
We start out hot with Fox blasting Ali with a bicycle kick, and we instantly go to the rapid-fire spots with Ruff taking down Angels with a lucha-style armdrag before Fox and Ruff ducked a series of strikes. Ruff leapt off the apron to avoid a cartwheel kick from Fox, but Ruff seemed to spill his way rather than land gracefully before Fox’s 619 on the apron knocked him down eventually.
Fox handstands out of an Ace crusher, but Ali gets back in with running uppercuts and a butterfly suplex… only for Tommy Maserati to clock him with an enziguiri. Kavron Kanyon – he of the “farmer strong style” comes in and lands an apron enziguiri to Angels, and for a bigger guy, Kanyon’s moving pretty swiftly in short bursts. A double Ace crusher takes down Angels and Maserati before Kanyon hit a senton off the middle rope, before he swatted away Angels’ low-pe with a forearm.
Leon Ruff flew into Kanyon with a dive that ended up taking Ruff into the barstools, and we’re back to the dives with a corkscrew senton off the turnbuckles by Maserati. A flip dive from Maserati puts Ali down, but AR Fox returns to hit a dive towards the bar – taking out Angels and Kanyon in the process. The dives continue, with Fox hitting an imploding springboard 450 onto his students on the floor, and they all head up onto the stage where Angels takes Ruff down with a Spanish Fly!
Okay, I’ve never seen that before!
Tommy Maserati looked to capitalise on Ali, who he chopped in the groin as he tried to climb the turnbuckles, but Kanyon dove to just-about break up a cover from there. A leaping DDT into a knee strike sees Kanyon take the initiative, along with a pull-up into a uranage and a package piledriver on Maserati… but again that’s broken up, this time by Ali. A Fireman’s carry slam takes down Maserati as Ali followed in with a top rope elbow for a near-fall, and we go back to the spots as a pair of standing Spanish Flys saw Ruff and Angels succeed… Angels followed up with another one to Ruff before Fox almost stole a win on Maserati with a Lo Mein Pain whilst Alan Angels just laughed at him.
Angels hit a wacky Destroyer on Ali from a reverse DDT – almost like an reverse Rainham Maker – that Fox barely broke up the cover from, before a big boot from Fox left Angels laying. Fox gets caught in a single leg crab after being thrown off the top rope, but he’s able to make the ropes, before Maserati stops Angels from slingshotting into the ring… that allows Fox to catch him with a small package driver, and that’s enough for the win! A little spotty at times, but this was plenty enjoyable with plenty of “wow”… that will need to be distilled down if these guys are going to go far. ***
WWN Championship: Martin Stone vs. Matt Riddle (c)
Hey, Stone’s using his Rev Pro song – and Riddle’s got a brand new tee, mimicking the New Japan logo. I think Bushiroad may be onto him soon…
This was the first time the WWN strap had been defended on a “lower level” WWN show, and it’s fair to say that Riddle’s booking was done to try and boost attendance. It worked, even if it did mean he had to pull himself from a PWG show on the same day.
Riddle opens by taking Stone to the mat with a waistlock takedown, but the Brit was equal to it as the pair grappled around looking for an advantage. Stone scored with an overhead belly-to-belly before the pair just started to chop away at each others’ chests – which made for plenty of impressive cracking noises!
Eventually Riddle got ahead, taking Stone into the corner for a forearm and an Exploder, before a crushing back senton collected a near-fall, as Riddle just decided to throw in an extra knee to the ribs for the hell of it. A series of deadlift gutwrench suplexes followed, but Stone avoided a second senton before clotheslining the champion into the ropes as they went back and forth again.
Riddle looked to edge ahead, before falling into a drop toe hold as Stone instead pinned back his arms for some clubbing forearms to the back of the head. Stone counters out of a Bro To Sleep as Riddle came back, but he never learned… you can’t German suplex a Bro! All three times, Riddle popped back up, before finally hitting a Fisherman Bomb for a near-fall, only to leap into an Exploder as Stone looked like he’d nicked the title.
Riddle countered a pop-up into a forearm before stringing together a Bro to Sleep and a bridging German suplex for a near-fall… so he starts to kick away at Stone’s chest. Stone comes back with a pop-up powerbomb and a headbutt, but after a kick-out he rolls Riddle into a crossface that Riddle rolls back into for a near-fall.
Then comes the insanity: Stone hits a Destroyer, but Riddle popped back up and lands the tombstone slam. For a one-count! Enraged, Riddle just mounts Stone and locks in the Bromission, which eventually forces the submission. Glorious stuff, but a match that I’m sure is going to sail well under the radar because of where it took place. It shouldn’t – and if you have FloSlam, you ought to seek this out! ****¼
Final: Anthony Henry vs. Fred Yehi
This was touted as a rematch after the time limit draw between the two on episode one – and Henry looked to end it instantly with a roundhouse kick as the pair went at each other with some fury in the opening moments.
Of course, Yehi stomped his way back into the match, before dropkicking Henry onto the apron – and Yehi took the match to the outside as he chopped Henry into a chair for a brief moment. Back in the ring Henry dishes out a series of strikes, but Yehi retaliates with some knees as he started to hook away on Henry before booting him repeatedly in the back.
Henry elbows out of some Exploder attempts, so Yehi just chops him back as we go back and forth again, with Yehi ultimately scoring with some rolling German suplexes. Yehi keeps on top of Henry with some more stomps, then a Fisherman’s buster for another two-count before going to some grounded headscissors as he tried to force a submission.
Yehi gets a couple of near-falls out of a gutwrench suplex as he tried to wear down Henry by his own kick-outs, before a Dragon screw was hit… and instantly turned into a small package for a near-fall. Henry finally mounts a comeback with an enziguiri, only to get thrown in an overhead belly-to-belly as he tried a springboard as Yehi’s offence continued.
A spinning backfist was countered into a Northern Lights suplex as Henry tried to keep Yehi at bay, almost teasing a double knock-out too. Henry comes back with a hiptoss into the turnbuckles before a bridging half-nelson suplex earned him a near-fall, before Yehi escaped the Vertebreaker/Kudo Driver and locked in the Koji Clutch!
Henry hangs on and gets his foot to the ropes to break it, before throwing out of another half-nelson suplex. Some spinning heel kicks knock Yehi down once again, but the pair just get back up and throw bombs at each other, with Yehi using some Mongolian chops before going for the Koji Clutch once more. That’s avoided with some elbows as Henry’s pop-up powerbomb gets him a near-fall, before pulling Yehi up into a piledriver for yet another two-count.
Another piledriver follows from the kick-out for a near-fall, as Henry goes back to the spinning heel kicks before landing the Kudo Driver to win the tournament! A bloody fantastic main event – and as I type that his better half (Amber Young) hit the ring to celebrate. A fine story of a man who’d put everything on the line to win this tournament, and fighting through fatigue and injuries to get the job done. ****¼
This was a massive step up from episode four which seemed to plateau at “average” – this instalment of Style Battle was a smash hit… save for two matches. Even the spotty multi-man match was more good than meh. We had some legitimate clashes of styles, and a show-long story that paid off… even if it was kept low-key throughout. I’d have preferred some sort of sign-posting that the draw in episode one could have paid off later on, but the delivery was as good as you’d expect for a tournament whose individual brackets are ad-hoc.
This is an episode you should really seek out, as even the “bad” was so short that you can easily fast-forward through – or just make a coffee for!