WWN’s annual supershow was a pleasing mash-up of the promotions they’d brought to down, as DDT and wXw came to play.
We’re inside La Boom for a rather changed show, as injuries to Bobby Gunns and Lucky Kid meant that they were off of “Team wXw” for their trios match. Gabe sure loves trying to recapture that six man spirit, eh? Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi are booming in the ring for their usual EVOLVE-like show open to run down the stacked card.
FIP World Heavyweight Championship: Absolute Andy vs. Anthony Henry (c)
Andy gets his proper music, and Rainer Ringer is your ref. I think some may suspect foul play here…
Andy looked to be taking Henry lightly early… something that Henry didn’t take too kindly too, as he took Andy down for an armbar attempt, only for it to be broken quickly in the ropes. Shoulder tackles from Andy look to keep the champion down, but a crucifix roll-up surprised him… as did a dropkick. Andy heads outside, where he catches a tope from Henry and throws him into the ringpost, before a running backbreaker kept the champion down. It’s a rather methodical, but measured beatdown from Andy, who made a point of going after Henry’s lower back, only for Henry to make his way back in with an enziguiri and a Dragon screw in the corner. A series of kicks stung Andy before he was sent outside for a PK… but that just fired up the former 16 Carat Gold winner, who looked to powerbomb Henry outside, only to get met with a stomp and a lowpe.
Back inside a PK and a stomp to the leg has Andy in trouble as an ankle lock followed. A rope break’s next, but Henry’s right back to the ankle as Andy tried to suplex free. He manages to get free again, but his top rope ‘rana’s blocked by Henry… whose crossbody is caught ahead of a running spinebuster that almost led to a title change. A moonsault from Andy sees him crash and burn, before Henry slid back in with an ankle lock once again. It’s shoved off, as Henry countered back with a tornado DDT for a near-fall as he then ran into a superkick as the back-and-forth continued on. In the end though, Andy goes for a F5, which gets countered into a crossface, then into an ankle lock for the eventual submission. Decent stuff this, with Andy’s size difference being neutralised by Henry’s kicks – but let’s be real here, did anyone see Andy winning the belt and defending it in Florida? ***¼
Elimination Rules: Cyrus Satin vs. Barrett Brown vs. Anthony Greene vs. Colby Corino vs. John Silver vs. Harlem Bravado vs. Shotzi Blackheart
Winner gets a WWN Contract, whatever they’re worth these days… about the same as this venue’s sound system, which once again peaks so much you could barely hear ring announcer Trevin Adams.
Shotzi Blackheart added herself to this match before the bell, demanding the same opportunity as the guys. She made a good first impression too, nailing Cyrus Satin with forearms and a DDT for the pin after three seconds as he tried to say she “didn’t belong here”. Back to ACW for you then! Harlem Bravado tries the same trick, but Colby Corino dumps Shotzi outside as the ring quickly cleared, which meant we had two in and four out of the ring for a rather sprightly match, with folks coming and going like it were lucha rules. Poor Colby Corino got hurled across the ring repeatedly by John Silver, before Shotzi Blackheart came in with superkicks to Barrett Brown ahead of a step-up ‘rana.
A back senton for Shotzi almost went south in a hurry as nobody but Greene out of a pile of four caught her. Back in the ring, Silver wrecks Brown with a German suplex and a modified back cracker for a near-fall… and I’m surprised we went so far here without the annoying trope of pins being broken in an elimination match. Corino ragdolls Shotzi with a backbreaker and a German suplex for a near-fall, only for Brown to come a little closer with a big knee strike. Harlem Bravado shows off as he stacked up Corino and Brown in a stacked up Fireman’s carry… but John Silver suplexes all three of them at once! Silver goes on a tear that the camera crew struggled to follow, before a frog splash flattened Green… only for Corino to roll Silver up for an elimination.
Corino quickly gets kneed in the head by Brown, before Shotzi slaps Barrett in a bid to get him to engage. An enziguiri followed, as did a 619 in the corner, before a back senton flattened Brown for the next elimination. Bravado and Corino looked to form an alliance to get rid of Shotzi… but it backfires as Shotzi nails a springboard Destroyer on Bravado. Except it didn’t lead to a pin, as Shotzi looked to catch Corino in a Cloverleaf, only for Bravado to return with the Straight Cash Homey as Shotzi got elimination. Yeah, the crowd did not like that.
The final three continued as Greene nearly lost when Corino rolled through his crossbody, before a step-up Unprettier out of the corner got rid of the Unwanted one. That left us with Greene and Bravado, but it’s the “Retro” Greene who had to fight back from an uppercut in the corner, then a Tower of London out of the corner. Bravado went for Straight Cash Homey again, but it’s blocked as he instead took Greene out of a chair at ringside with a Meteora, before a cross-legged suplex let to a near-fall – right after you heard one guy yell out audibly “take it home!”
…and take it home they did when Greene countered out of another Straight Cash Homey and hit a step-up Unprettier out of the corner for the win. This was fine, but I kinda get the feeling that the folks who lost the contract aren’t not going to be booked, so what was the point? **¾
Post-match, Greene gets the contract, which he holds aloft… despite a fan yelling at him to “read it” first and “don’t sign it”. I wonder if they’re more watertight than those vaunted MLW deals?
SHINE x Tokyo Joshi Pro Princess Of Princess Championships: Miyu Yamashita (TJP) vs. Allysin Kay (SHINE)
It’s only striking me now, just how many dual championship matches we’ve had this weekend…
Mercedes Martinez interrupted before the bell, in street clothes, hitting out at Allysin Kay for missing a SHINE title defence against her last month. They have a staredown ahead of their match in SHINE… The pair start off on the mat, but Yamashita perhaps misjudges the size of the ring as she grabbed the heels of Kay… right by the ropes. Things broke down into a forearm battle, then a battle of checked kicks before Yamashita got caught in a rear naked choke. She rolled back to try and pin Kay, before working around into a leg lock. Kay gets free and lands a Samoan drop for a near-fall, before trapping her foe in a knee bar. That’s escaped as chops and forearms rang around the room, ending with a big boot from Kay to leave both women down. Yamashita’s back up as she tries to kick through Kay, only for the SHINE champion to respond with a high kick to get another near-fall.
Kay looks to finish Miyu with a Jig ‘n’ Tonic, but the TJP champion’s able to kick out, and after withstanding another flurry of strikes she almost won with a deadlift German suplex. A rear spin kick from Miyu just wrecks Kay, ahead of a Judo throw/cobra clutch combo that had Allysin trapped – leading the eventual ref stoppage. Kay’s furious at that since the stoppage meant she lost the title… adamant that she never tapped out. I’m not keen on how the story of this was “Kay lost because of a bad call”, especially since Yamashita told her to head to Japan if she wanted her belt back. A weird ending to a match that was fine, but not much else. ***
Darby Allin & Priscilla Kelly vs. Austin Theory & Brandi Lauren
Allin and Theory have been freuding for a while in EVOLVE, and they certainly shot out of the gates as Allin charged into the EVOLVE champ with a tope early on.
In the ring, Allin sent Priscilla Kelly into the corner for a Bronco Buster, while Darby went on to nearly snatch a win with the Code Red. Kicks from Kelly led to Darby trolling the referee as he tried to hold Brandi Lauren in the ropes for his partner, all while Austin Theory was MIA.
Theory returned to toss Allin across the ring with a gutwrench suplex, before he punted him in the ribs for good measure. A snap suplex from Theory nearly sent Allin crashing into Brandi Lauren, who was just walking around the ring aimlessly, watching Theory pick Darby apart. Given what the long term feud was, she seems to be a bit of a third wheel in this match… Chops from Theory keep Allin down, while Lauren remembered Priscilla Kelly was around… so she knocks her off the apron. As the ref checks on Kelly, a low blow from Lauren nearly got Theory the win in what was damn near a handicap match. Finally Kelly makes her way back in with a head kick and a bicycle kick to Lauren, before a cannonball off the apron took down Theory.
Back inside, Allin nails a flip stunner, whole Kelly’s STO stacked up for a near-fall… another big boot takes out Theory as a low-pe from Darby smashed him through the guard rail, before Priscilla Kelly just got caught with a modified Blockbuster from Brandi Lauren for the flat win. This’d be Allin and Kay’s last date for the WWN group… which is likely to go down as two more folks whom EVOLVE somehow managed to screw up and eventually lose grip on. Remember that long run where Allin was portrayed the plucky underdog destined for the big title win? It seems like that all fell apart after he beat WALTER last summer… **½
After the match, Theory and Lauren continue to beat down Allin and Kelly, until Josh Briggs hobbled in, holding his injured him, to chase them off. That’ll be the next feud when Briggs is recovered, but given the last “can’t miss” prospect was, erm, a miss… I’d be worried for Josh.
The Unwanted (Eddie Kingston, Joe Gacy & Shane Strickland) vs. Team wXw (Alexander James, Jurn Simmons & Marius Al-Ani)
Genuine question: why would the Unwanted get pyro that (presumably) someone in WWN cues up? There’s a weird vibe in the Unwanted’s introduction as the ring announcer pretty much said “they don’t want any reactions”. Given some of the prior EVOLVE crowds, that’s not a big ask.
Meanwhile, Team wXw had to recruit the Crown – Jurn Simmons and Alexander James – to replace the injured Bobby Gunns and Lucky Kid. Commentary helpfully advises us that this’ll be more of a brawl than a flippy do match, which is a shame because I was fully expecting to see Jurn doing Sky Twister Presses… Al-Ani brings some of the flash here in the early going, while Jurn and James worked well with some double-teams on Eddie Kingston. The Unwanted work as a group to isolate al-Ani for a while, but all we’re getting is heat on the Unwanted as opposed to sympathy for the relatively known and makeshift wXw team. Eventually Marius hits a DDT to get free and make a tag to Jurn, who comes in like a house afire with clotheslines before he bonked Strickland into Kingston and Gacy with a press slam.
Double-team chokeslams await everyone before Marius came back in with his sunset flip/Exploder combo, only to get caught in a powerbomb/neckbreaker for a near-fall. A Parade of Moves ensued as both sides traded the advantage, with wXw edging ahead before James caught a Gacy handspring into an armbreaker. Strickland turned it around on his own, stomping James off the apron, then finish off Marius with a Swerve Stomp and the arm snapper before a JML Driver got the win. This was fine, but a combination of a heel WWN crew and a heel/unfamilar wXw side meant that this was hard for the crowd to get invested in. **½
WWN Championship: Kazusada Higuchi vs. JD Drake (c)
I’d poo-poo the idea of Higuchi winning, but we’ve already had one WWN title go back to Japan here so…
Drake and Higuchi start off with shoulder tackles and a buttload of chops as Drake seems to be finding a new element as when it comes to beating the absolute piss out of someone with chops. Higuchi’s got plenty in return, but he’s quickly blasted through with a sliding clothesline for a two-count. Higuchi hits back with a powerslam for a near-fall after blistering Drake with clotheslines, only to get caught with a Shining Wizard for a near-fall… and we’re back to chops. This is goddamn brilliant – if only because it’s actually getting the crowd on their feet. Gabe: this is what you need to make EVOLVE: big lads lighting each other up!
Drake shows off some agility as he leaps over Higuchi in the corner, but can’t avoid a lariat as he almost drops the title right there. More chops, including a spinning back chop, stun Drake, who just replies with a short lariat before the Drill Bit got a near-fall. HOW?! Higuchi came closer with a Doctor Bomb as he hurked up Drake off the mat, before Drake ‘rana’d out of a second one, hit a hattrick of Stunners, then a cannonball into the corner. One moonsault later, and Higuchi’s crushed enough to take the fall. My God on Heaven, this was amazing. I might be a little high because of the crowd, but if you get this crowd onside, then you’ve had an absolute cracker! ****¼
Colby Corino tries to jump Drake afterwards, but gets dispatched like a geek, only for Joe Gacy, Eddie Kingston and Shane Strickland to turn the tables. Drake’s laid out ahead of an arm snapper, since Shane Strickland’s wrestling him for EVOLVE next week.
The Skulk (Adrian Alanis, AR Fox & Leon Ruff) vs. DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki, Soma Takao & Tetsuya Endo)
Now this match has more chance of matching the legendary Dragon Gate trios match that Gabe’s been trying to replicate for years.
Endo and Fox start out briskly, but we go through the initial series of tags in and out without the crowd really being able to back any side. See, the original Dragon Gate six man was between two Dragon Gate trios who quickly established sides… they let the match talk, rather than the modern day deal of picking names for ”workrate”. Daisuke Sasaki tried to beg off, but it’s a ruse as Fox cheapshotted him, only to get tripped in the ropes as the DAMNATION trio began to pick their shots to keep the more experienced Fox in there. A handspring double cutter out of the corner gets Fox a breather before he tagged in Leon Ruff to do all the flips… then get shoved off the top rope and into the guard rail by Sasaki.
Fox comes to help out, fighting back as he puts Takao on the apron, before he looked for a stage dive legdrop onto the apron… and missed. Somehow commentary missed the build-up to that. Back in the ring, Ruff remains on the defensive as Sasaki rakes the eyes ahead of a pumphandle backbreaker, before Endo took his turn to pick apart the smallest man in the match. Takao’s back in as we’re well beyond the so-called Steamboat rule… and this feels like it’s dragging. Eventually Ruff hits a flying DDT out of the corner, as tags bring in Alanis and Sasaki, with Alanis really unloading with body blows to Sasaki in the corner. The DDT trio come back in with a hattrick of submission attempts, only for Alanis to power up and break all three of them apart. A Tiger Bomb from Alanis gets a near-fall as Sasaki kicked out into a German suplex and a senton bomb for another near-fall.
Sasaki’s back with a Codebreaker, holding Alanis in for a springboard stomp and a springboard lariat, before Takao landed another stomp. Hey, this is finally kicking into life! A trio of topes from the Skulk wreck the guard rails… and show a side of the seating deck that’s largely cleared out… with just cause, because they keep diving! Alanis has a dive in him too, but he only connect with his partners before Takao hit a corkscrew Asai moonsault into the second row. NICE! Back in the ring, Endo comes close with a rack bomb to Alanis, before AR Fox caught him on the top rope with a forearm exchange that sent Endo to the mat… allowing him to his a Pele kick. Endo goes for an avalanche death valley driver, but it almost goes horribly wrong as Fox landed on the rope and was fortunate to land on his feet-ish rather than go straight down head-first.
Alanis looks for a modified gutbuster, but it’s blocked as DAMNATION come in three-on-one for a spike Fire Thunder Driver. There’s more wackiness as Ruff leaps into superkicks, before a shooting star press to Alanis got the win. This was fine, but got real good when they actually slipped into gear – it’s just a shame the dynamic was never there to have the crowd hot all match long! ***½
Take out that awesome Drake/Higuchi match, and this show has to be seen as a let down. While the wXw trios match had issues with late changes, the “us versus them” aspect of these shows seemed to have been random. I mean, the original wXw team was Bobby Gunns, Lucky Kid and Marius al-Ani – what on earth was even one heel doing up against WWN’s lead heel team? Much like EVOLVE and WWN as a whole, this was a decent supershow with matches largely above the “average” line, but on the whole this felt like a card that paled in comparison to lineups from years gone by, least of all last year’s absolute home run of a show.