Over WrestleMania weekend we reviewed several shows from the independent scene, but there was one that we largely left untouched. Until now… Featuring the stars of the indie scene, including Will Ospreay, Ricochet, Zack Sabre Jr., Chris Hero, Rey Mysterio and many many more, we finally dive into the WrestleCon show, and see just how badly Jeff Jarrett nearly killed the entire event.
#TLDR: At over three hours long, WrestleCon 2016’s supershow was a bit of a marathon, with a overly-long match that threatened to derail the entire show. If you can survive (or even fast forward!) past Jeff Jarrett’s attempt to kill the town, then you’ll surely enjoy a show that featured the some of the best independent talent from the US, Mexico and Europe. Just a shame they couldn’t get some Japanese involvement to round it off!
The six-man tag team match in the semi-main event slot stole the show, whilst stars from Lucha Underground and PROGRESS also put in a good showing to a crowd that didn’t seem overtly familiar with some of the guys in action.
The Full Review: In the same arena that ROH held their weekend shows, the WrestleCon convention ran a nine-match card featuring several guys who were, to put it mildly, extremely busy over that weekend.
Excalibur and Marty DeRosa are doing commentary on this, and this threatens to be something of a Marmite commentary team, particularly since they talk over a promo from Sami Callihan within seconds of the show starting.
Sami Callihan vs. Pentagon Jr.
Unadvertised, this is labelled as a “first time ever dream match”, with Callihan taking on a man made famous from Lucha Underground – Pentagon! Callihan spoils the party with a tope during Pentagon’s entrance, and he returns the favour with a tope con hilo before the bell even rings.
Callihan whips Pentagon into the crowd barrier, but takes a whip himself into the apron. A chop sends Callihan to the ground, and they finally make it into the ring, where Pentagon keeps Callihan on the mat with a series of spinning Slingblades, getting him a two-count in the process.
Callihan responds by taking Pentagon to the corner and connecting with knee strikes. Flipping off Pentagon wasn’t the smartest idea, and that earned Callihan a free flight, as he was turned inside out by a clothesline. A bicycle kick cuts off Pentagon though, and a brainbuster gets a near-fall for Callihan, before he walks into a superkick, and eventually a lungblower out of the corner from Pentagon for a near-fall.
Pentagon sets up Callihan on the top rope, but Callihan fights free and lands a sunset flip… but not the powerbomb, before kicking the ankle of Pentagon. A sitout powerbomb gets Callihan a near-fall, as he switches into a Stretch Muffler that forces Pentagon into the quick rope break.
Pentagon ducks a lariat on the apron, then superkicks Callihan to the floor, only to get kicked in the head himself during a tope connect. A death valley driver gets Callihan a near-fall, but Pentagon fires back with chops as they go back and forth, ending with a pumphandle driver for a near-fall from the Mexican star. A series of superkicks finally send Callihan to the mat, with Pentagon almost ripping Callihan’s arm out with an inverted armbreaker (“The Sacrifice”), and then finishing things off with the Fear Factor package piledriver. A fun opening match, with the crowd more than thrilled at this unadvertised appearance. ***½
PROGRESS World Title: Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll (c)
There’s a sizable number of people who know of these two, and indeed, of PROGRESS, even if the wider crowd (and commentary team) perhaps did not. This was actually Ospreay and Scurll’s second match of the day (sandwiching WrestleCon between their EVOLVE and WWN Supershow dates), but it didn’t show. The announcement of the “world title” made Excalibur and comedian Marty DeRosa confused, especially when Scurll went out with the title…
Scurll and Ospreay start on the mat, trading holds as Ospreay’s see-saw kipups evened things up for him. Ospreay landed on his feet from a huracanrana, shocking a seated Scurll, whose attempt at a chicken wing was promptly met by an elbow. Scurll followed up his “just kidding” superkick by kicking Ospreay low as he went for a headstand.
Ospreay goes for a 450 Splash but ends up taking Scurll’s boots to the face, before the champion bodyslams Ospreay into the ropes. Scurll adopts a surfboard before fish-hooking the nose to inflict extra pain, before Ospreay responds with a standing sky twister press for a near fall.
Scurll tweaked at Ospreay’s fingers to avoid a short-arm clothesline – something Scurll then quickly employed – before starting the ten count punches in the corner. It then goes a little fast paced, with Ospreay turning a Scurll suplex into an Ace Crusher, but an effort to hit a second one out of the corner saw Ospreay land into a Chicken Wing, but the challenger was able to roll out and smash his skull straight into that of Scurll.
Ospreay’s corkscrew kick floored Scurll once more, before they went back to the chops, before Ospreay countered a chicken wing with an enziguiri, followed by a standing shooting star press and a Phoenix splash, which Scurll turned into a roll-up that nearly saw him retain the title.
Scurll cracks the fingers of Ospreay, but Ospreay manages to follow up with a diving moonsault press… only to return to the ring and take a Crash Landing suplex into a chicken wing, as Marty Scurll retains his (new) World championship. This was a great advert for PROGRESS to a wider audience, that’s for sure. ***¾
Jake Manning & Zane Riley vs. Colt Cabana & Chuck Taylor
Ah, this is what happens when you book people because they work for your website. Jake Manning’s gimmick is the “Man Scout” when he’s in the ring (and a YouTube personality for HighSpots when he’s not), and they stick out like a sore thumb among some of the other names on this card. Chuck Taylor is one of those guys who, like Colt, has travelled around a lot, but somehow hasn’t quite gotten quite the same level of notoriety.
We started with comedy, as Manning looked at this Scout’s manual to buy time, as did his partner Riley. Once we got going, it was your basic grappling start, with Cabana and Riley working over wristlocks and hammerlocks, before Cabana actually landed some tiltawhirl headscissors for a two-count.
More comedy as Zane ran the rope and leapt repeatedly over Manning and Cabana, which left us with a blown up big guy as Manning took over for the Scouts. Taylor came in and sent Manning into the corner with a shoulder tackle, before landing a back elbow and a middle rope moonsault, with Taylor landing on his feet before selling a knee injury… which suckered in Manning for a small package and a near-fall.
Manning caught a baseball slide and tied up Taylor in the ropes, leaving him helpless and in pain thanks to a knot from the Man Scout. Riley got involved with Taylor on the outside, ramming him into the apron before tossing him back in as Cabana was left a virtual bystander on the apron.
Manning took down Taylor with a rear chinlock, before Riley came in to whip Taylor into the corner, but was met with an elbow, a boot and a dropkick as Riley tried to keep up the offence. Cabana finally got tagged in, and he went to work with chops on Manning, then a quebrada for a two-count. The Dusty Rhodes sequence ending with Manning and Riley taking a bionic elbow, before the a flying hip attack in the corner sent Manning to the mat.
A double jump bodysplash eventually caught Manning for a two-count as Riley broke it up, before the Scouts landed back suplexes. Manning sent Cabana into the corner with a sunset flip, where Colt ate a cannonball from Riley for a near-fall. Taylor came in and tried to slap away at Manning and Riley, but ate a 3D for his troubles.
Cabana nonchalantly shoved Riley off the top rope as the Scouts looked to hit a double team move on Taylor, but in the end Manning took a Doomsday Device from Taylor for the win. Not a bad match, but the crowd didn’t care about the heels – and with a gimmick like the Scouts, why would they? **½
“Crazy” Mary Dobson vs. Tessa Blanchard
Coming fresh off of her NXT appearance (which was taped two months’ earlier, but really aired a few days before this), Dobson is hoping for a good result, but given that she’s facing Tessa Blanchard (with her father, Tully, and her remix of the Four Horseman theme), you can guess the result, no?
The opening tie-up sees Dobson send Blanchard into the ropes, before a headlock sees Blanchard keep Dobson at bay. A drop toe hold takes Dobson down, as does an armdrag, before Dobson sends Blanchard into the ropes herself and follows up with a cartwheel kneedrop to the back of Blanchard’s head.
Dobson stays on top of Blanchard with a diving dropkick, but Blanchard lands a side Russian legsweep to break free of Dobson’s attacks. That infernal “count ahead of the ref” gimmick appeared here, before Blanchard lands a trio of hair-assisted takedowns. Blanchard gets a two-count after a springboard bulldog off the middle rope, but Dobson replied with a headbutt then a bodyslam for a near-fall of her own.
The crowd just about woke up to see Blanchard catch Dobson in a hammerlock, holding the arm in place for a DDT to get a near-fall, before Tessa tried her father’s famous slingshot back suplex. Dobson back flipped out of it though, and went to go for a German suplex, but it didn’t work, allowing Blanchard to hit the slingshot suplex at the second try for the win.
As much as the crowd didn’t care, this was a pretty decent, albeit short match. I guess that lack of reaction is what happens when you’re at a show of hardcore fans who’ve come to see the Lucha Underground stars and the best of the indies (that weren’t on other shows!). **¾
Speaking of Lucha Underground, they announced Melissa Santos to ring announce the next match, and she got a better reaction than the previous match.
Jack Evans, Tigre Uno & Bestia 666 vs. AeroStar, Drago & Octagon Jr.
Evans shoved longtime notorious indy fan “Green Lantern Fan” into his seat as he circled the ring, so no matter if he’s face or heel, he’s at the top of my appreciation list for that shot at the blowhard! Tigre Uno made his return from TNA anonymity here, whilst Octagon Jr. is now the luchador better known as Flamita.
Evans refuses to accept the cheers from the fans, and he runs laps of the ring to avoid Drago, so instead we end up with Octagon Jr and Tigre Uno. Plenty of backflips from these guys in the feeling out process, as they finish with dualling dropkicks before standing off.
We then get Evans vs. Drago, but Jack dives to the outside after a knuckle lock, returning in to face Aerostar, whose constant front flips sends Evans scurrying for cover. Aerostar dropkicks Evans into the ropes, then flips to the outside so he can return with a springboard ‘rana to take Evans back outside. Drago and Bestia come in now, with Bestia leaping over a charge, before Evans ran in and knocked Aerostar off the apron as things broke down a little bit.
The rudo (heel) team gets in the face of the referee as Drago takes a beating from Evans and Bestia, before a leaping sit-out splash from Tigre from the top rope softens up Drago some more. Bestia and Tigure hit a double dropkick as a set up for Jack Evans to nail a Phoenix splash for a near-fall. The match broke down again with bodies flying all over the place, ending with Evans and Bestia being sent to the outside by Aerostar and Octagon, who connect with topes… as Aerostar ended up in the third row with a tope con hilo!
Back in the ring, Drago aimed a kick at Tigre, who then found himself rolled into a pinning predicament for a near-fall. Evans lands a double stomp on Drago from the top rope for a two-count, before Aerostar leaps up the ropes and nails a corkscrew body press for another near-fall. Bestia breaks up the cover and then lands a quarter-nelson driver for a two count as Octagon broke things up.
Octagon avoids a charge in the corner and hits a 619, then takes Bestia up for a muscle buster into a gutbuster for another two-count – this time Tigre Uno breaking the count. Tigure then catches a kick and sweeps down Octagon, before enticing him outside, where Octagon was dumped over the crowd barrier and met with a Rob Van Dam-like legdrop to the outside.
Aerostar followed up with a step-up somersault dive to the outside, as Drago fought off Bestia and Evans in the ring, taking out Jack with a tornado DDT then sending Bestia to the outside. Another tope con hilo to Bestia followed, before Octagon returned to try and pick away at the proverbial bones of Evans, missing a corkscrew Phoenix Splash. Evans tried his luck with a 450 Splash, but Octagon got the knees up, before Evans tried a backslide for a near-fall, even with his feet on the ropes. Out of nowhere, Octagon snatched the win with a Spanish Fly as Evans came off the ropes to end the fast-paced affair. Decent match, and at ten minutes it didn’t outstay its welcome. ***¼
Team Jarrett (Jeff Jarrett, Sonjay Dutt, Brian Myers, Luke Hawx & Jessicka Havok) vs. Team Ryan (Joey Ryan, Candice LeRae, Sinestro, Tommy Dreamer, Shane Strickland)
Oh no, I’d heard bad things about this one. As in “it never ended”. Spoiler alert: this match lasts for over 20 minutes… but first, we have the intros:
Jeff and Karen come out first, with Jeff in his Bullet Club gear (trying desperately to stay relevant as Global Force Wrestling struggles to get off the ground as a promotion). Jarrett plugs Joey Ryan and censors his very-unsafe-for-work sponsor (but the crowd chants it anyway), and continues his promo, railing on the fans. Karen joins in with abusing the crowd, and finally we get the rest of Jarrett’s team, including GFW NEX*GEN champion Sonjay Dutt (and his huge belt). Instantly, this has to be the biggest crowd GFW’s been a part of, and yes, I am counting their brief TNA storyline.
Jarrett heckles a fan and tries to get someone thrown out for seemingly recording stuff on his iPhone, and this is set to Joey Ryan announcing his team. Sadly, we can barely hear in over a protesting Jarrett. Ryan introduces “Sinestro”, a generic luchador in a Luchador mask and the Lucha Underground t-shirt… then Shane Strickland, and finally a young up-and-comer in… Tommy Dreamer.
Karen spits at a fan as Jeff takes shots again, and seemingly the Jarretts are more concerned with hecklers than anyone else. Thin skins in wrestling, eh? Who’d have thought it?!
We finally get underway with Shane Strickland and Sonjay Dutt in the ring, and the two start out at a decent pace, before a handstand into some headscissors sent Dutt into the ropes, before he returned with some headscissors of his own and some armdrags. Brian Myers tags in, with the former Curt Hawkins facing the masked Sinestro, who succeeds with a wheelbarrow into an armdrag, followed by a bunch more armdrags and a dropkick. Sinestro then takes that as a cue to unmask… and it’s Matt Striker!
Myers responds by bodyslamming Striker, whilst Jeff Jarrett mocks the “yes” chants on the apron. Havok comes in, and I guess it’s not intergender? In comes LeRae, but she’s easily swatted down with a big boot, before rolling away from a legdrop. Luke Hawx comes in, and Joey Ryan gets tagged in… and proceeds to be really unsubtle about the move that made him go viral. Perhaps not like that.
Ryan tries to force Hawx to touch his genitals, and Hawx is having none of it, but he does take an inverted atomic drop then a dropkick. As Hawx takes a breather, a “cock” chant is started (either by, or aimed at Matt Striker), before Ryan tags in Tommy Dreamer and his Dusty Rhodes tribute gear.
Jarrett tags in and asks for the microphone to kill some more time. The crowd chant “shitty promo” at him before he even speaks. A bad microphone means that Joey Ryan can’t retort, but those fans weren’t wrong… Dreamer and Jarrett face off. Eventually.
Dreamer works some basic wrestling, including some grounded headscissors, before the crowd chants for Kurt Angle, as Karen gets a barrage of abuse from the fans who use her former husband to get to her. Another promo from Dreamer kills some more time, as he threatens to let the fans run into the ring and do something to Jarrett that really isn’t PG.
Jarrett finally decks Dreamer before doing his Fargo strut. To NO REACTION. He finally bored this crowd to sleep. Dreamer fires back with the Dusty Rhodes punches, finishing with a Bionic Elbow as Jarrett powders to the outside. In come Dutt and Ryan, with the former cowering as Ryan offers his crotch… and now I’m seeing why Jim Cornette doesn’t like Joey Ryan’s penis suplex.
Dutt finally touches it and sells it like death, but Jarrett kicks Ryan low to break up the, err, hold? Myers enters and suplexes Ryan, before Hawx enters with a kneedrop to a bunch of “who are you?” chants, landing a back senton for a near-fall. Jarrett returns to the ring and dropkicks Ryan, whilst Karen runs over and tries to grab Ryan’s leg. That had little effect, but Jarrett’s stalling suplex sure did.
Dutt came back with a grounded facelock on Ryan, who fires free with a superkick, and we’re back with Hawx and Strickland. A big boot from Strickland dazes Hawx, before Strickland knocks Hawx and Jarrett out of the ring. A Sasuke special from Strickland takes out Hawx on the outside, before Myers eats a High Fly Flow-style crossbody in the ring, before rolling up Hawx for a near-fall.
Everyone ends up in the ring briefly as things break down, with Strickland taking a back suplex from Myers. Strickland catches Myers on the top rope though, before Striker comes in, and we quickly have a tower of doom spot… well, we did when Havok tossed Jarrett out of the ring and took his spot to launch it with a powerbomb. We then get a loop of submission holds: Jarrett put a Figure Four on Strickland, before Striker armbar’d Jarrett, whilst Dutt added some legscissors around Striker’s head. Myers daisy-chained Strickland with a cross-face, and this just got incredibly hokey really quickly. Tommy Dreamer ended it with a claw-hold onto Havok as everyone else was tied up, before Havok’s rope break brought the spot to an end.
Strickland and Dutt exchange strikes in the ring, before Dutt nails a superkick, only to run into a rolling cutter. Hawx catches a crossbody from Strickland and lands a shoulderbreaker, but turns around into Matt Striker’s Pedigree, which gets the biggest reaction of the match. Myers replies with a spear, recalling his old days as an Edgehead, and Joey Ryan grabs the arm and forces Myers into the Penis Suplex. Havok comes in for a chokeslam on Ryan, and Dutt celebrates with a kiss… LeRae lands a Ballsplex on Dutt, but fails on a similar move on Havok, until Dreamer comes in to make it a double team Ballsplex.
Karen enters the ring and slaps Dreamer repeatedly, before Jeff saves her from a piledriver. Dreamer gets spiked with the Stroke, before LeRae attacks Jeff with a series of elbows and chops, and then lands the Ballsplex on Jarrett. She’s barely up before LeRae takes a superkick from Myers and Dutt, and the three then pile on top to mercifully end this one.
This was bad. Real bad. Nine of the participants did fine, but it was massively overshadowed by the Jarretts. I don’t want to go as low as marking it a dud just because of one man stinking out the joint, but this was the perfect example of a match being ruined by one man. ¼*
OMEGA Heavyweight Championship: Lance Storm vs. Matt Hardy (c)
Good luck in saving the show guys! After taking a year off, Storm’s wrestling his second match of the year, and he’s brought Missy Hyatt with him in a bid to counter Matt Hardy’s second, Reby Sky. Matt wasn’t quite broken here, and given it’s his company’s title on the line, I don’t think he’s losing here.
They tie-up to start, and Storm grabs a wristlock early on, as they trade reversals back and forth from armwringers, before Storm takes him down with a fireman’s carry. Hardy grabs a headlock, but Storm works free and catches Matt with a grounded headlock instead. Storm leaps over Matt in the corner then nails a takedown, sending the OMEGA champion to the outside to recuperate.
Back inside, Matt goes for the knuckle lock, but opts just to strike Lance with a forearm, and then launching into him with a clothesline in the corner. Storm replies with a dropkick as if they had no effect, before scoring a one-count from a side Russian legsweep. Hardy fights out of a rear chinlock, freeing himself with a jawbreaker, before Storm tossed him outside once more.
Storm followed up with a pescado to the outside, but Matt made it inside first and attacked Lance on his way back in, and took over from there. A neckbreaker got Matt a two-count, before scoring a series of legdrops for another near-fall. Matt catches Lance in a sleeperhold off the ropes; a hold that’s reversed by Storm, who ends up taking a back suplex as the referee starts a standing ten count.
They trade shots as they work back up to their feet, and Storm lands a spinning heel kick for a near-fall, but can’t quite get the single-leg crab locked in. Matt avoids it and scores with an elbow to the back of the neck, but Storm fires back with a superkick for a close near-fall. Storm tries to suplex Matt off the apron and into the ring, but Hardy switches it into the Side Effect for a near-fall.
Storm ducks a clothesline and locks in the single-leg crab, but Matt makes the ropes and takes advantage of a distraction from Reby to low blow Storm, and follow up with the Twist of Fate for another two-count. Matt goes for an enziguiri, but misses and that’s easily turned into the single-leg crab again from the Canadian, but Reby shoves the title belt into the ring, and the Easily Distracted (Easily Annoyed) Storm breaks the holt to get the belt out of harm’s way. In the middle of all that, Matt takes his boot off, and uses it to hit Storm with, and that’s the match. To quote another writer, “eh, it was a match”. Nothing spectacular, but a five-star classic compared to the Jarrett ten-man. **½
Post-match, Matt shoves Missy Hyatt into the ropes. Missy tries to remonstrate with Matt, who then pulls her into the path of a superkick from Lance Storm as the Hardys leave the ring. They do a segment afterwards where Hyatt plays amnesiac after superkick, and thinks she’s back in the 80s… this didn’t translate well to video, particularly because of the microphone’s echo.
Brian Cage, Chris Hero & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ricochet, Matt Sydal & Rey Mysterio Jr.
On paper, this match really defines the term “supercard”!
Ricochet and Sabre start off, as Sabre catches Ricochet in a cravat, but gets rolled through for an early one-count. Sabre moves onto a wristlock, but Ricochet reverses it, only for Sabre to use a leg to break the hold with ease, before moving onto a strait-jacket hold that Ricochet also reverses.
Sabre catches Ricochet’s leg during a leapfrog attempt, bringing the high-flyer down and then rolling him into a surfboard, which Ricochet rolls out of and gets a near-fall in the process. Some tags take us to Sydal and Hero, and Hero keeps Sydal grounded early on with a wristlock. Sydal reverses it, and Hero does the repeat kip-ups to escape before seeing a slow-mo roaring elbow ducked by Sydal.
Hero sends Sydal to the outside with an elbow, but then tags in Brian Cage, who throws Sydal in and takes him straight to the corner, and flinging him into the air with a massive back body drop! A stalling suplex follows from Cage, who holds a reluctant Sydal up for a twenty-count before dropping him to the mat, and then pulls off a standing moonsault for a cover.
Cage brings Hero back in, and Hero just kicks out at Sydal, but a springboard kick out of the corner decks Hero, allowing Sydal to make the tag to Rey Mysterio. Rey Rey leaps in with a springboard seated press, then a springboard cross body before landing a kick to the head of Hero for a two-count.
Some headscissors drops Hero into the ropes, but Rey takes too much time, and his 619 attempt is caught by Cage on the outside, who then rams Mysterio into the ringpost. A powerbomb into the ringpost follows, and right now I think we’re just missing Rey being strapped to a backboard and swing into the post for the hattrick. Instead, Cage gorilla presses Rey back into the ring, before nailing a deadlift superplex as Rey started from the apron. That was impressive.
Cage stretches out Mysterio, before sending him sliding out of the ring, under the bottom rope as if the canvas were a slip and slide. Back inside, Sabre gets tagged in and works over Rey’s left arm, stomping it on the mat, before Hero comes in to keep working over the smaller man. A leaping back senton gets Hero a two-count, before he almost loses Rey as Mysterio leapt to make a tag, before Hero dragged him around the ring for a while.
Sabre returns to the ring, but accidentally nails Hero, before Mysterio ducks again and results in Hero accidentally booting Sabre. The next shot wasn’t accidental, as Hero just levelled Sabre with a pump kick, and there’s some brief infighting that leads to Rey making an opening for himself, ending in him tagging Ricochet back in.
Ricochet clears Cage off the apron with a kick, before dropping Hero and Sabre, and then landing a roll-through into a DDT on Cage. A running Ace Crusher takes out Sabre, as Sydal comes in to land dualling flips on Sabre for a near-fall, before Ricochet takes down the Brit with a spinebuster as a set-up for… the people’s moonsault. Except Sabre catches Ricochet in a triangle on landing, and bridges to counter a flip through from Ricochet for a near-fall.
Sabre took an enziguiri from Ricochet, before catching another springboard and tying him up in an armbreaker as Cage fended off interference from Ricochet’s teammate. Cage got tagged in to start a trio of avalanche attacks to Ricochet, then a trio of finishers as Ricochet somehow found a way to kick out.
Cage tried for a powerbomb, then a pump handle slam, but Ricochet avoided both and hit an enziguiri before tagging in Sydal who landed a pop-up hurricanrana for a near-fall. Sydal avoided a powerbomb but took a tiltawhirl backbreaker, before Cage caught all three of the other team for a three-way death valley driver. Again, that was massively impressive!
Cage follows up with a stalling superplex, but Sydal knees his way out of it and lands his diving double knee strike, before diving into a European uppercut from Sabre. The ring fills for a parade of moves, ending with a discus lariat from Cage onto Mysterio. Hero gets tagged in and takes a kick from Sydal, before being taken to the top rope for a leaping super ‘rana… with Ricochet following up with a standing moonsault press, as Rey Mysterio got a near-fall with a big splash from the top of Sydal and Ricochet’s shoulders.
Rey’s attempt at a springboard met the boot of Hero, and then a discus elbow for a near-fall. Hero sent Rey into the ropes signalled for a rolling elbow, but was cut off by Sydal and Ricochet, allowing Rey to hit the 619. Ricochet and Sydal hit the double team Benadryller, allowing Mysterio to land the Frog Splash onto Hero for the win. A really good six-man tag, which served its purpose of showcasing everyone and not disappointing either. My only question is… why wasn’t this the main event? ****
Monster’s Ball: Andrew Everett vs. AR Fox vs. Trevor Lee vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Abyss vs. Jeff Hardy
Ah, that’s why. Gimmick match incoming! Pentagon is doing double duty, having wrestled in the opener, whilst (then) TNA X-Division champion Trevor Lee is accompanied by Shane Helms to the ring.
Everyone pairs off to start us with, as Hardy and Abyss take centre-stage. A legdrop sends Abuss to the outside, where Hardy follows up with a dive off the apron, whilst Trevor Lee aims an elbow to AR Fox, before Andrew Everett follows up with a standing moonsault. The cameraman missed Jeff’s first garbage can shot to Abyss, before picking up the second, as Fox took down Everett and Lee with headscissors and ‘cutters in the ring. This match is already becoming a mess with the cameraman missing a lot.
Hardy and Abyss have set up a table outside, but we don’t see it, whilst Lee and Everett grab a ladder from under the ring. Fox lands topes and dives to Lee, Everett and Abyss, before setting up the ladder as a bridge between the apron and the guard rail.
Finally Pentagon enters the ring and hits Fox with a trash can over the hard, before connecting with a superkick to Trevor Lee. Lee misses a dive into the corner, and Pentagon follows with an overhead belly-to-belly as Fox cannonballs into Lee. Everett gets a near-fall with a Falcon arrow on Pentagon, as Abyss enters the ring with Janice (his nail-laden baseball bat).
Abyss gets Janice stuck in the turnbuckle as Everett ducks, and then takes a bunch of kendo stick shots from Lee and Everett. Those two then turn on the other, with Lee being taken down with a ‘rana from Everett, as Hardy dumps a trash can onto Abyss’ head… which Lee then kicks clean off from the apron. Everett adds to the carnage outside with a shooting star press to the outside, and Fox adds to it with an imploding back senton off the top rope.
No dive from Pentagon, so guys crawl back into the ring, and we have Fox and Everett in the middle of the ring, before Shane Helms comes in to his old Hurricane music and lands a couple of chokeslams… failing when it comes to going after Abyss. Hardy lands a Twist of Fate on Helms, before being taken out by a kick from Lee. Everett tries to springboard up to the top, but Abyss catches him and chokeslams him through a table to the outside.
Back inside, Fox lands an OsCutter on Pentagon, who then enziguiri’s Fox off the top rope, sending him crashing through that ladder bridge. Pentagon then charges at Abyss, who lands the Black Hole Slam on the luchador, before pouring out a bag of thumbtacks onto the mat. Pentagon wisely exits the ring, but Lee doesn’t… and succeeds with a sunset flip powerbomb into the tacks on Abyss.
Abyss tries to seek cover by leaving the ring, but is met with a tope con hilo from Lee who dives over the turnbuckles to connect with his foe. Pentagon and Hardy are left in the ring, and the pair start to trade chops, before Hardy lands a flying forearm for a two-count. Pentagon avoids a Twist of Fate, then lands a trio of Slingblades for another near-fall, before going for a package piledriver. Hardy wriggles free, and connects with a Twist of Fate.
Instead of making the cover straight away, Jeff went to climb the ladder, and needed the referee to stabilize it before landing a senton bomb over the top of the ladder and onto Pentagon for the win.
Had this match been, say, ten years ago, it would have had a lot more effect, but in 2016, wrestling fans are now pretty much desensitized to run-of-the-mill “hardcore” matches, no matter what tag you give it. It was a decent enough match, but it didn’t come close to even matching the prior outing. ***½
As a supercard, this lived up to the label. Shying away from politically safe booking, we had matches between guys who typically compete in other promotions, finishing with a Monsters Ball match that saw a TNA guy beat a Lucha Underground guy.
Save for the elephant in the room that was the ten-person tag, this wasn’t a bad show. Yes, there was an undeniable whiff of a card that had far too many bodies on it, as evidenced by the four multi-man matches. But for a show whose priority was to get wrestling bookings from as many active guys at the convention as possible, this served its purpose.
If your idea of shows at wrestling conventions is “a show full of retired guys trying in vain to relive former glories”, then I’m happy to tell you that those days are gone. WrestleCon 2016 wasn’t perfect, but it’s about the only place you’ll be able to see this number of stars without needing to worry about being up to snuff on storylines.