Since I live in the area I decided to purchase and attend Honor United: Edinburgh last night at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, and what a fun show this was to be a part of as the live audience.
This was ROH’s 2nd show in Edinburgh following last year’s major success with their War of the Worlds Tour which was personally my favourite show to be a part of live outside of WWE events. While the line-up this year wasn’t as stacked as the card given to us almost a year ago I had a tonne of excitement going into this as ROH usually delivers a great experience live, at least from the shows I’ve attended.
I normally don’t keep track of the ROH product as much as I do the WWE product, but I still knew who each talent was, what they entail & what to expect from most the card as it went along. Because this was a UK show the crowd itself was as fun & savage as you could imagine, some wrestlers got less slack than others but at times they really tore into some of the stars present which had mixed results throughout the evening.
I’m not going to waste much time here and shall jump straight into the show itself, hope you guys enjoy!
Match #1: Shane Taylor vs Scorpio Sky
I knew very little about Shane Taylor heading into this one, at most I’ve heard of the mans name as well as his inspiring journey of weight loss over the last number of years but besides that he was a completely new face to me. Scorpion Sky on the other hand I’ve always liked both from an in-ring perspective and his person under SoCal Uncensored and was a face I’m fairly familiar with.
SoCal Uncensored are fantastic, like most things involving Daniels & Kazarian who are one of my personal favourite comedy acts in wrestling and went on to cut a quick pre-match promo running down Taylor and positioning themselves above the competition. Taylor denied their request to not compete tonight and instead wanted a piece of Scorpion Sky.
The match started off pretty standard, with both men engaging in traditional lock-ups and establishing Shane Taylor as the powerhouse of this contest before Sky jumped at the opportunity of an advantageous situation. Most of the middle section of this match was by the numbers and pretty standard but did its job before Taylor regained some momentum.
Taylor ended up regaining that momentum and despite a distraction from Daniels & Kazarian, ended up coming out victorious with a great Samoan Driver. This was a perfectly solid start to the show, but from the perspective of being in the live crowd it was clear that neither of these two were that big of a draw for the audience.
Winner: Shane Taylor via Samoan Driver
Match #2: The Addiction (Daniels & Kazarian) vs IWGP Tag Team Champions EVIL & SANADA
Right off the back of the opener both Daniels & Kazarian stuck around and hyped themselves up as the best tag team in professional wrestling, which some could genuinely make a case for at least if you’re arguing for them being the most underrated. To prove their worth, they called out their scheduled opponents for the evening, the IWGP Tag Team Champions of EVIL & SANADA.
EVIL & SANADA have been on an absolute role lately, especially to those familiar with the Japanese wrestling product and have produced constant great matches in the last number of months so this definitely had the crowd engage far more. It started off with EVIL & SANADA dominating their opponents, with the rabid fanbase only adding to the aura that the IWGP Champions brought to the ring with them clearly wanting blood.
The one thing The Addiction does so well is blend comedy in with their wrestling, a feat few in the business can achieve at this level (Personally only the New Day do it just as well from my experience). Despite their opponents being serious threats their brilliant blend of comedy with serious in-ring ability makes everything they do so entertaining, especially when you’re a part of the live audience. Throughout the match Kazarian was constantly interacting with the crowd, in particular a fan next to us who had some less than kind words for his current gimmick but it all felt organic and never diminished the threat of the IWGP Champions.
SANADA eventually made the hot tag and cleaned house, his use of the Tumbleweed Cradle got an awesome reaction from the live crowd and an even bigger response for Daniels topple to the mat off that move. The closing 3 to 4 minutes were filled with the break of pin attempts and great saves on both team’s parts to keep the match going but eventually the Champions got the better of their confident challengers and secured yet another impressive victory.
This was a major step up from the opener, the crowd seemed far more invested in not just the talent but the flow of the match itself. It wasn’t the best match of the night by any means, but I really loved the blend of styles both teams brought here, and it made everything so much fun to sit through.
Winners: IWGP Tag Team Champions EVIL & SANADA via Evil is Everything
Match #3: Kelly Klein & Chardonnay vs Tenille Dashwood & Sumi Sakai
Aside from seeing Sakai won the Women of Honor Championship at Supercard of Honor XII in January, this was my first match featuring the Women of Honor in any form, so I was anxious to see what they brought out.
Tenille Dashwood, the former Emma in WWE was who my eyes were on, as she boasts an insane amount of talent that for the most part has been untapped throughout her professional wrestling career. Sumi Sakai was fairly impressive when I saw her win the title, but I wasn’t really familiar with either Kleni or Chardonnay, the latter who’ll be challenging Sakai for the gold later on in this tour.
The 4 ladies produced a fairly basic match, one that did its job of establishing the challenger as a formidable threat and the heart of the Champion herself. Sakai did a good job of selling the damage inflicted on her during the middle portion of the match but the crowd for the most part was fairly flat here. Dashwood eventually got the hot tag and shifted the tide in their favour, but I can’t help but think a talent such as her is better suited in the role of a heel as opposed to babyface which is her current gimmick.
Klein & Chardonnay picked up the victory following a role-up on Dashwood, sending a message to the champion ahead of their upcoming match on this very tour. I might not sound too excited about this match, and that’s because there was little to get excited over looking back at it. The pacing and structure of it was fairly one-note, it was by no means a bad match just one that gave us little to no excitement at the time and no reason to care about the upcoming championship match. It was fine for what it was, just bare average at best.
Winners: Kelly Klein & Chardonnay
Match #4: Kenny King vs Punishment Martinez
I was deeply worried about this one, deeply worried. Kenny King has always been a really great talent that as of late seems to be struggling to find his footing in ROH. Punishment Martinez on the other hand has always come across fairly bland to me and never really gave me a reason to care if I’m being honest. Both men in my eyes needed a win here but more importantly needed to standout.
Thankfully, this match was a lot of fun to sit through. Martinez for someone I haven’t seen that much of prior to this really took me by surprise here and offered a lot more than you would think judging by his immediate persona and mixing it up with Kenny King gave us some really exciting moments. The first half of the match was fairly standard but really picked itself up in the 2nd half when King found his groove.
Most reviews for this match claimed that the crowd lost interest for the two talents as the match went on, but I never really felt that at all. The crowd live was engaged for most of it but started jumping on Martinez when one fan called him out for being a ‘Cheap Roman Reigns’ or ‘Cheap Baron Corbin’ and constantly using both the mentioned WWE superstars to diminish his credibility, which it almost did but this in no way translated to the crowd not being engaged.
The closing minutes of this match were great though, featuring several great near falls and some fantastic combinations from both men. Martinez finally claimed the victory after a lengthy series of trading pins with a chokeslam variation and seemed to actually silence a section of the crowd on their early criticisms. Up to this point, I felt this was the best match on the card and really took me by surprise with some genuinely great moments.
Whether or not the crowd interactions took away or added to the experience of those watching at home, is something I need to revisit at a later date.
Winner: Punishment Martinez via South of Heaven Chokeslam
Match #5: Matt & Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks) vs NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis & Mark Haskins
Am I jumping on a bandwagon when I say the Young Bucks are one of the most entertaining things in professional wrestling?
Because The Young Bucks are one of the most entertaining things in professional wrestling.
This match was announced not too long before I attended this show, so hearing I got to see the debut of Nick Aldis (the former Magnus in TNA) in ROH was something I personally held excitement for being a big fan of the man and his past work. Having Mark Haskins just added to this, as Haskins has to be one of the most underrated performers in the business today and I see no argument against this.
As for the match itself, it was fantastic from bell to bell. Not only was the crowd red hot throughout the entire length of this match but the action never slowed down for a second. The Bucks put on their trademark taunts and toyed with both Haskins & Aldis for a little while before the British duo gained control and held down the Bullet Club members.
The hot tag made to Nick Jackson is a firm reminder that The Young Bucks hold the title of ‘Best Hot Tag in Wrestling’ because he lit a fire under this Edinburgh crowd after he ran wild on both Aldis & Haskins. What ensued was some fantastic wrestling action, from high spots to some vicious in-ring signature moves which combined with some tension-filled near falls which added to the match in a very big way. My personal favourite spot of the night came in the form of a Meltzer Driver from Aldis & Haskins to the Bucks, which Haskins delivered following a Hurricanrana off the top rope to Nick onto brother Matt and was just as beautiful as it sounds.
Matt & Nick managed to secure an extremely impressive victory after a Meltzer Driver to Haskins in the middle of the ring to an explosion of cheers from the live audience. Being live for this was a wonderful experience and reminded me of why I love The Young Bucks as much as I do and just how fantastic of a duo they are in a wrestling ring. Without question my personal match of the night this time round and definitely worth checking out to anyone who loves any of these 4 men, or even tag team wrestling.
Winners: The Young Bucks via Meltzer Driver
Match #6: The Boys vs Yano & Delirious
I’m not going to say much about this, just because it really isn’t worth noting.
In no way do I mean to sound overly harsh, especially considering what this match followed and that the crowd must have been a little exhausted. But nothing here really worked in anyway, it was clearly placed as filler before the evenings 3 big matches went underway and for the most part just seemed to overstay its welcome.
Comedic matched in wrestling don’t really need over 10 minutes to do their job, and this match would have been perfect clocking in somewhere around the 5 to 7-minute mark, but instead we got a really dragged out match which never did anything for anyone. Delirious attempted to use comedy to engage the crowd further, as did Yano but it never really worked and instead dragged the match on.
From a personal perspective, I’ve never really liked The Boys or their gimmick and can’t ever seem to take them seriously. Definitely the bathroom break match for those who were watching live, if they had cut down the length and made this something quick and to the point, it would have been a lot more bearable.
Winners: The Boys via Lung Blower/Codebreaker Combo
Match #7: ROH Television Champion Silas Young vs Joe Hendry – ROH Television Championship Match
Edinburgh locals loved this match and who could blame them? Having their hometown hero Joe Hendry debut in ROH was a wonderful sight to see and garnered one hell of a reaction from the live audience, playing the role of the traditional underdog. Anyone who saw last years War of the Worlds tour saw Silas Young headline the event in a near 30-minute war against Jay Lethal and he walked into this years show with some gold around his waist, so personally my anticipation for this was quite high.
This was my 5th time seeing Joe Hendry live in person and I’d be lying if I said his previous efforts were anything spectacular, they were certainly decent but never really ‘clicked’, this was thankfully the best performance I’ve seen from the man to date. While it was your standard heel veteran vs local babyface match, everything they were going for here worked.
The contest started with your traditional mat wrestling, takedowns and all but slowly moved into a straight up fight between the two athletes. Silas Young’s style certainly matches that of Joe Hendry, both men have more ground and pound styles as opposed to some of the faster paced offense we saw from many of the other athletes throughout the evening and this produced some very hard-hitting moments.
Without question the highlight of the match was an incredible sequence towards the match’s conclusion which saw Hendry lock in an Ankle Lock on the reigning champion, which sparked arguably the biggest pop of the entire evening. This effort never transpired the way the challenger imagined unfortunately, as he shortly fell Young’s misery finisher for the fatal 3-count.
Silas Young might have walked out victorious from Edinburgh for the 2nd consecutive year, but nobody is going to take away anything from Joe Hendry’s performance on this evening which resulted in a fantastic ROH debut for the local up and comer. If the middle points of this match had featured something a little more rambunctious this might have turned out to be the match of the night, but this was a fantastic effort to see live regardless.
Winner: Silas Young via Misery
Match #8: ROH 6-Man Tag Team Champions The Kingdom (Taven, Vinny & O’Ryan) vs ROH World Heavyweight Champion Dalton Castle, Jay Lethal & Hiroshi Tanahashi – ROH 6-Man Tag Team Championship Match
Almost one year ago, it was the ROH 6-Man Tag Title match that stole the show during the War of the Worlds tour and gave the fans in attendance a title change that shook the Corn Exchange, so I don’t think there was anyone that wasn’t anticipating something fantastic from this semi-main event. The talent was certainly there in the form of the challengers too, one of my personal favourites Jay Lethal, ROH World Champion Dalton Castle & one of the finest wrestlers on the planet in Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Sadly, this match was a let-down which is something I hate to admit to myself.
I’m not sure if it was that lack of drama or believability regarding a title change since most people knew Dalton Castle was set to defend his gold against EVIL later on this week or just some of the matches clunky pacing throughout, but something felt off. The match started off showcasing each individual talent in the ring as most multi-man matches lightly do, but we never really got out of 2nd gear after that.
The match itself plateaued, never really getting to that next level and always seemed as if nothing was happening in a match that spanned almost 20 minutes. There were a few nice spots here and there, showing glimpses of what could have been a fantastic match, but it just never got the crowd nearly as invested as they should have and could have been. While comparing it to the WWE formula may not be entirely necessary, this is exactly how it felt to me, like your traditional house show match that did the bare minimum to extract even the slightest bit of interest from the audience.
Even the matches ending was as uncreative as you could imagine, with EVIL taking out the ROH World Champion in an effort to hype up their scheduled match later on in the tour which received little to no reaction from the live crowd. The matches ending came in the form of the Rockstar Supernova to Jay Lethal to the absolute dud of a reaction from the live crowd.
I don’t mean to be too harsh here but this was a massive disappointment for a match boasting so much talent and potential. Almost nothing felt exciting, the pacing was all over the place and never really tried but worst of all one of the tours special guests in Hiroshi Tanahashi was completely wasted from the get-go. What a shame.
Winners: The Kingdom via Rockstar Supernova
Main Event: ROH World Tag Team Champions The Briscoes vs Cody & Adam Page w/Brandi Rhodes
The evenings main event on paper seemed like one primed on cramming the maximum number of stars into one match in order to live up to the advertised card. Cody & Adam Page while both respective members of Bullet Club do not have a storied history as a tandem, which obviously wasn’t the case for the Briscoes.
A concern I definitely understand is the issue of believability which certainly wasn’t the first time this evenings this issue had come about. While many had issues believing Cody & Page could pull of the upset, this didn’t stop the main event from being incredibly entertaining. Cody might not be one of the modern-day Bret Hart’s in terms of his in-ring ability but certainly has the charisma to grant him the biggest reaction of the evening. Adam Page on the other hand was one fire throughout this match and definitely added to the action in the ring with some incredible moments.
Despite a familiar setup to most of the prior tag team matches on the card the one thing that made this work was the aggression of both teams, primarily the Briscoes who oozed their blend of heel charisma into the match. As opposed to the previous matches, this side of the Briscoes persona definitely aided the middle section of the matches as their offense during beat downs in handled with aggressive tendencies and not the traditional headlocks like so many tag team matches.
Everything after Adam Pages hot tag was also fantastic in bringing the crowd to life, including an insane dropkick into a moonsault which I personally loved. One thing however that didn’t work as the match reached its conclusion was the recognition amongst the crowd regarding a title change, which we all basically never saw as a reality. Some moments that occurred could have provided far more impact if we had a long-standing tandem in the place of Cody & Page, potentially even the Young Bucks in retrospect.
Nonetheless, this was a really well worked and hard-hitting main event that did its job. Everyone involved seemed incredibly motivated to put on the best match possible under the circumstances, which primarily began to show as the match progressed into its closing moments.
Winners: The Briscoes via Jay Driller on Hangman
Honor United: Edinburgh was a really fun show to be a part of as a member of the live audience and I can’t wait to go back and watch it again in a few days. The majority of the card did exactly what it set out to do, we were never expecting anything 5-star or revolutionary to occur, just a good 3-hours of wrestling for us to sit through and we got just that. Young Bucks vs Aldis & Haskins and Young vs Hendry were my personal standout matches but we also got a really solid main event and a surprisingly good match out of King & Martinez which I actually think is worth checking out. The rest of the card was entertaining albeit, forgettable. I still think the 6-Man Tag Team Match was a colossal let down and the filler tag team match got way too much time, but other than that this show gets an easy thumbs up from me!
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #15 – AAW Defining Moment 2018
Harry covers a show that helped to continue Sami Callihan’s 2018 infamy. AAW Defining Moment should be a fun trip down memory lane!
Apologies for the slight delay getting to this but it’s Harry here once again. And for as verbose as I can be at times, I don’t feel the need to waste any time getting to this one. This is the second part of the double shot for AAW on ‘All In’ weekend in Chicago.
The WayBack Machine takes us to August 31st, 2018 as we once again arrive at the Logan Square Auditorium (and oh boy does that become important later) for AAW’s Defining Moment 2018.
What I Watched #15
AAW Defining Moment 2018
Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL
Runtime: 3:18:22 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork)
Commentary By: Tyler Volz (PBP) and Marty DeRosa (Color)
- Match 1: Curt Stallion/Jake Something def. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana, Something pins Cabana @ 8:41
- Match 2: Shane Strickland pins Darby Allin, top-rope Swerve Stomp @ 13:30
- Match 3: Jessicka Havoc def. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders, pinning Cruise with a Chokeslam @ 2:52
- Match 4: OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) def. Ace Austin/Brian Cage, Dave pins Austin @ 5:55
- Match 5: AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © pins DJ Z (Shiima Xion), roll-through on CBB with tights @ 13:30
- Match 6: AR Fox/Myron Reed def. Bandido/Flamita, double cover @ 15:42
- Match 7: Maxwell Jacob Friedman taps Marko Stunt, Salt of the Earth @ 10:41
- Match 8: Sami Callihan pins Jimmy Jacobs, Cactus Driver on a bridged guardrail @ 17:52
- Match 9: AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © def. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett, Cobb pins Fitchett @ 14:19
- Match 10: AAW Heavyweight Title- Brody King pins ACH ©, All Seeing Eye (Whiplash) @ 22:46
Curt Stallion/Jake Something vs. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana
*The match was decent but nothing special. A pretty big win for Something at the end with the three count over Cabana, who has a storied past in Chicago and was one of the biggest names in independent wrestling. That said, I personally don’t love the flukish nature that Something pins Cabana, as I think Something could have used a defining pinfall to really give him a rub going forward.
Cabana usually makes for a fun watch and I’ve grown to enjoy Ace Romero the more I see him (he especially stands out for Limitless, which I hope to get to one day soon). Jake Something is a huge star in the making and you can see it even early in the run of AAW that he has. Stallion is what Stallion is. Solid opener, but nothing you’ll remember post show. (**½)
Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland
*Showstealer, plain and simple. Strickland had been with AAW for a while but to the best of my memory, it was more often in a tag team with Keith Lee (funny how that works out with 2022 eyes on it, as Swerve and Keith are the current AEW tag champions at the time of writing). I do believe this is only Darby’s second match in AAW (the prior being a five-ish minute loss to Brody King). Both guys are huge names now and with efforts like this, it’s easy to see how. Darby tries to keep pace with Swerve and is able to do so for a good portion of the contest until Swerve finds that next gear down the stretch and puts Allin down with the Swerve Stomp to a massive (deserved) ovation from the crowd. (****)
Jessicka Havok vs. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders
*I dislike handicap matches in general. However, unlike certain other writers for this site, I don’t mind intergender wrestling. But the suspension of disbelief gets lost here when you have two dudes the size of Cruise and Manders struggling with Jessicka Havok, who should realistically not being coming in at 100% after taking the Ganso Bomb from Brody King through the chairs the night before. I won’t rate the match due to the Larry Csonka (RIP) Rule of not rating anything shorter than three minutes, but I’m calling this a miss regardless. (X)
OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) vs. Ace Austin/Brian Cage
*The Brothers Crist come out to ringside to stand next to Havok after said match and call out Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs. They get one of those two men as Jacobs makes his way out, but informs Dave and Jake that neither he nor Brody will be facing them due to having prior obligations, but he did find the perfect opponents for OI4K. As for the opponent, Cage does make for a good size fill-in for Brody King. Ace Austin is a OI4K trainee that hadn’t quite made a name for himself at the time but has since turned into a pretty good wrestler, having just competed for NJPW in Best of the Super Jr’s as well as being Impact Wrestling’s X Division champion for a while.
The match itself was not memorable at all. I will admit to typing this review on a bit of a delay and other than the finish (a Tiger Driver ‘98 by Dave to Austin), I don’t remember anything that happened during the course of the contest. Not the best impression for these four men to leave. (**)
AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © vs. DJ Z
*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I like DJ Z. I liked him more under his previous identity, but this was him using the Impact Wrestling name for more notoriety with the casual fan. That being said, despite DJZ winning a three way relatively quickly the night before while Trevor was in a war with Ace Romero, I never felt the title was in jeopardy here. For as much as I like DJZ’s run with AAW, this misfortune of his injury just so happened to coincide with Trevor Lee becoming one of the hottest acts on the undercard and there wasn’t anything in the build up to the rematch (despite some good promo work from Z) that made me think that the strap was switching here.
As for the match itself, they have really good chemistry together and that isn’t a surprise given how many of the same promotions they were working for at the time as well as their history in AAW up to this point. I do think this match does a nice job of setting the stage for a return match as it is DJZ’s offensive attack at the end of the contest that gets reversed into the cradle (with a handful of tights) for the finish. The nature of the victory leads me to believe that the story with these two isn’t over quite yet. (***½)
AR Fox/Myron Reed vs. Bandido/Flamita
*This was similar to the main event the night before, but didn’t have the same crowd investment that match did. Bandido and Flamita once again shine here and it is easy to see why they become semi-regulars in AAW after this weekend. AR Fox and Myron Reed (Team Firefox, as they were referred to by Sarah Shockey) get a massive victory with a double pinfall following stereo 450 splashes. This sets up Fox and Reed for a title match against the winners of WRSTLING vs. Besties later in the night, but honestly, I think that Bandido/Flamita was the better pairing to have go forward to a title shot. Firefox had previously unsuccessfully challenged for the tag belts and if I’m being fully honest, I prefer AR Fox as a singles wrestler over being in a tag team. Good match, but I think the wrong team wins. (***½)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Marko Stunt
*Marko had just made a name for himself at GCW’s Lost in New York (a show I have watched) and this was a way for him to break out back in his Midwest home. MJF has been on a hot streak point up to this point (believe he is the current CZW Heavyweight champion, though I don’t think he ever actually defends that title) and MJF would make himself a known commodity the next night opening the ‘All In’ PPV against Matt Cross (in a losing effort)
Easy story to tell with MJF taking the much smaller Stunt lightly and Marko making him pay for it. It is unfortunate that more people didn’t get to see what Stunt is capable of, because his run in the indie scene before he went to AEW was quite special to watch due to his ability to connect with a crowd (no different here). The finish sees MJF take advantage of the arm work that he did early in match and after Marko escapes a fujiwara armbar, MJF is able to catch Marko in ‘Salt of the Earth’, a wakigatame (Marko on stomach as MJF applies a cross-armbreaker) for the the tapout. Very good work and Marko does really well for himself in his debut with another high end US Independent. (***)
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sami Callihan
*Ooooh, boy. A lot to unwrap with this one. Let’s get the match first, because the drama that it creates leads to the fallout that has to be discussed. It is honestly a pretty standard Sami brawl for the time frame. PWG used to have what was known as the “Sami Sprint”…by which it would be Callihan vs. Opponent and the match would run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes of hard hitting back and forth action with little in terms of a cohesive story or selling. Pretty much a ‘can you top this?’ kind of situation. This feels like that in a sense because the match features both Sami and Jimmy going into their well of tricks (the crowd brawling, the spike, the guardrail that gets used in the finish) while maintaining the crowd reaction from the prior night’s tag match. Fittingly, the finish is visually impressive as Callihan hits the ‘Cactus Driver’ (pulling piledriver) on a guardrail bridged across two metal folding chairs to secure the three count. (***½)
The bigger story coming out of this is that this match almost costs AAW the Logan Square Auditorium and almost ends even more disastrously personally for Callihan. At one point, Callihan and Jacobs are brawling over by the stage in the venue (traditionally used for concerts) where Callihan buries Jacobs under a portion of the stage. Callihan then starts winging metal sitting chairs (not the standard folding ones you see in most companies because the four legged dinner table type chairs) at Jacobs. A voice comes over the house mic telling Callihan to stop, causing a loud visceral boo from the crowd. Callihan more or less tells said voice to “fuck himself” and hurls more chairs at Jacobs.
At first, I thought it was Danny Daniels telling Callihan to stop, but it turns out it was actually building management. This becomes important when after the three count goes down, building security surrounds the ring to escort Callihan out of the building as they were pissed at Sami for throwing chairs that the venue used for other events. As I’ve heard the story, Callihan thinks this is part of a storyline and begins to push the security guys until one of them shows Callihan that he is carrying a real pistol and will use it if necessary. Things break down from there with the rest of OI4K getting involved and eventually Sami is escorted to the back (and presumably out of the building).
How much of this is real? How much of this is scripted? How much of this was sensationalized for additional attention? I don’t have the answers for those questions. I do know that cooler heads would prevail and AAW was able to continue running at LSA, however I feel the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It may have been a planned altercation to play off the recklessness of Callihan. It may have been a real reaction from the building to what they perceived as damage to personal property. The old axiom in wrestling is “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”. Overall, it makes for a great story with a relatively happy ending all considered. But man does it take the wind of the crowd for quite a while. And I will have to check out the follow up AAW shows to see what the fallout truly is.
AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © vs. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett
*Trevor Lee’s promo before the match is not one I can do justice. I recommend the show in general, but Trevor’s asshole smarmy heel persona in AAW (Impact Superstar Trevor Lee) is one of the best things going in the company.
Match is good but you’d have to expect that from the four men involved. Kingston and Cobb work surprisingly well as a team and despite being on separate pages for most of the bout, Vega and Fitchett do link up for a few double teams (corner enzuigiri/Kippou kick combo being standout among them) to continue to prove why they are one of the best tag teams in pro wrestling (still are to this day, though not known as the Besties in the World anymore). The finish sees the final stab from Vega to Fitchett as Vega chooses to take Scarlett to the back after she gets knocked off the apron, leaving Fitchett alone to take a one-two combo of the Backfist to the Future from Kingston that staggers him into a Tour of the Islands from Cobb to finish the contest. The ring work is on point, the story is very well told and you can hear the disappointment from the crowd when Vega chooses the hussy over his long-time tag partner. (****)
AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Brody King
*Unfortunately, something gets lost during the course of this contest through no direct fault of the participants. As I understand it, Brody King got concussed relatively early in the bout. Credit to ACH for keeping things together as well as he did, but I would be curious to see what they are capable of with both competitors at 100% capacity for the full duration of the match.
As for the match, it does tell a pretty good story. ACH comes in still pretty beat up from the match with Jeff Cobb the night before. However, ACH lets his pride (or perhaps his ego) get the better of him as he once again tries to hang step for step, strike for strike and move for move with a man much bigger than he is. It ends up coming back to bite him at the end as a distraction from Jimmy Jacobs allows Brody King to take a distracted ACH up into the All Seeing Eye (fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver) for the three count to crown a new champion. Slightly cheap on the distraction ending but does help get Jimmy some of the heat he lost earlier in the evening back after dropping the contest to Callihan. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
Overall, a better show then the day before but not without a couple flaws. Obviously, the big story to come out of this show would be the fact that AAW almost lost Logan Square Auditorium due to the issues in the Callihan-Jacobs match. Thankfully, those would be resolved and to my knowledge, AAW is still running there. But it gets awfully hairy there for a few.
The highs: two four star matches on this show and they come in completely different type contests. Eddie Kingston continues his march of dominance in AAW and cuts one hell of a promo at the end of the show to run down how ACH let him down by losing the title. Marko Stunt has a fun debut and quickly gets the crowd behind him. The lows: that handicap match helped no one and the tag match that followed wasn’t much better. The main event isn’t what it could have been either, but that’s a case of shit happens with the early concussion to King. I will also say that I thought Sarah Shockey did a better job on color commentary yesterday then Marty DeRosa does here.
We’ll call it an 8 overall. As I said, it is a better top to bottom show then Destination Chicago is. And while high on the guest stars (for obvious reasons), you also get a really good look at what the overall AAW roster is all about too. I look forward to coming back to AAW down the road (ironically, upcoming shows are a double shot as well for the ‘Jim Lynam Memorial’ tournament), but I do want to mix in some other odds and ends before I do so.
Best Match/Moment: Shane Strickland vs. Darby Allin
Worst Match/Moment: The Havok handicap. Especially when you consider what Steve Manders would come to mean for AAW, it’s a really inauspicious debut.
Overall Show Score: 8/10
MVP: Eddie Kingston. The key part of a match that tied for best match of the night honors and absolutely shows why he is viewed the way he is when it comes to talking with an amazing promo to close out the show.
So, where does ‘What I Watched’ go from here? I go on vacation in about a week’s time and will be gone for most of August. I spoke to Andrew and what I hope to do is reformat the ‘All In’ report that I did to the new style so you guys have something to tide you over. As for where I go when I get back from vacation…well, the Peacock WWE Network watch-through that I am working on has reached a show that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen (and if I have, it has been quite a while). Therefore, ‘What I Watched’ #16 will be ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999 to set the tone for a year where all hell breaks loose in two of the three major promotions. Hopefully, you guys enjoy the ‘All In’ redo to hold you over and I’ll be back later in August with Guilty as Charged. I appreciate everyone who has been checking these out and if you’ve missed any, feel free to click on my name at the top of the article to check out my archive. Thanks for reading.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #14 – AAW Destination Chicago 2018
2018 was a hype year for professional wrestling and Harry continues to find some Independent gems to reminisce about. AAW Destination Chicago is up now!
Allow me to set a scene for you all. Oh, hi. Harry here once again with another new edition of ‘What I Watched’…now, as I said, allow me to set a scene for you. The Young Bucks and Cody (can’t legally call him) Rhodes (at the time) decide that they want to put on the biggest independent wrestling show in US history. With the assistance of ROH and New Japan, that vision became ‘All In’, a show I have reviewed in my archives but plan to re-release in the new format down the road. ‘All In’ is set for the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago on September 1st (a Saturday if memory serves).
The reason I share that information here is because much like WrestleMania, All In became the place for independent promotions to run a show. One of the main players in Chicagoland, AAW, decided to run two (Thursday and Friday). I found it kind of interesting that my watch through for 2018 AAW reached these shows right as I brought back ‘What I Watched’ and thus decided to make this double shot my next set of reviews. With all that said, we once again hop into our WayBack Machine takes us to August 30th, 2018 and to Chicago proper as All American Wrestling (AAW) presents ‘Destination Chicago’ 2018
What I Watched #14
AAW Destination Chicago 2018
Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL
Runtime: 2:47:37 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork. Not sure how the current branch out that HighSpots is doing is going to affect this, however)
Commentary By: Tyler Volz (PBP) and Sarah Shockey (Color)
- Match 1: AAW Tag Titles- David Starr/Eddie Kingston def. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett © w/ Scarlett Bordeaux to win the titles, Starr pins Fitchett @ 6:42
- Match 2: PACO (Paco Gonzalez) pins Stephen Wolf, rollup @ 5:42
- Match 3: DJZ (Shiima Xion) wins 3 way, pinning Laredo Kid with a ZDT @ 7:09 in a match that also involved Myron Reed
- Match 4: Trevor Lee pins Ace Romero, mid-ring CBB counter to powerslam @ 14:28
- Match 5: Curt Stallion/Jake Something def. OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist), Something pins Jake @ 7:32
- Match 6: Brody King/Jimmy Jacobs def. Jessicka Havok/Sami Callihan, King pins Havok @ 12:59
- Match 7: Maxwell Jacob Friedman pins Colt Cabana, dick kick —> rollup @ 8:59
- Match 8: AAW Heavyweight TItle- ACH © pins Jeff Cobb, brainbuster #2 (believe ACH calls it the ‘Buster Call’) @ 23:12
- Match 9: Fenix/Pentagon Jr. def. Bandido/Flamita, Pentagon Jr pins Bandido @ 17:12
AAW Tag Titles- Besties in the World © vs. WRSTLING
*Sigh…it’s times like this match that make it hard to be a wrestling supporter. Three absolutely amazing guys and performers in this match in Davey Vega, Eddie Kingston and Mat Fitchett. And then you have David Starr…who has (justifiably) been exiled from wrestling for being a Joey Ryan level scumbag.
In an attempt to do the other three competitors justice, we’ll focus on the match. The story of the reinvention of Eddie Kingston in AAW was fantastically done and I feel like the big payoff will eventually be a ‘GFY’ to Starr and the other members of WRSTLING (Wrestling without the Entertainment). They do when the tag titles here as Starr gets the pin Fitchett with ‘Product Placement’, a arm capture German suplex. Vega is distracted during this as Jeff Cobb (another member of WRSTLING) came to ringside and abducted Scarlett Bordeaux causing Vega to lose his focus on the contest at hand. The match is good for what it is but kind of short given that Starr was flying out to Germany that same day to wrestle for wXw. (***)
Stephen Wolf vs PACO
*Five and a half minutes and even that felt like it overstayed its welcome. I’ve seen PACO in way better matches. I seem to recall a main event match from Glory Pro against AJ Gray that really delivered. Stephen Wolf was a competent guy in tag matches but this one did absolutely nothing for me. The post match attack by Wolf seems to set up a direction for his character as a single but I do have questions on his ability to deliver on said direction. (*½)
Lucha Libre 3 way
*I am a big fan of DJ Z (Shiima Xion) having been around in some of his formative years here in Ohio. Myron Reed has improved as a singles wrestler but I do prefer him as a tag guy with Trey Miguel. Laredo Kid is someone I’ve not seen much of; what I have seen, I’ve enjoyed though. I didn’t mind this match but it seemed like it was there to give DJ Z a win to continue his road back to Trevor Lee and the Heritage title. He catches both Myron and Laredo with the ZDT (rolling stalled DDT) and pins Laredo off of it. Everything is more or less clean during the match (not something you can always say about lucha libre as you’ll later see in the main event), so bonus points for that but nothing has any real consequence and if you’ve been following the product for a while, the winner was never in doubt. (**)
Ace Romero vs. Trevor Lee
*Romero had been a breakout star in AAW since he debuted earlier in the year (February, I think). This was supposed to be his shot at Trevor Lee’s Heritage title, but Trevor weaseled out of that by saying he forgot the belt back in North Carolina and that this would be a non-title match. You may know Ace from his run as part of XXXL in Impact Wrestling. Trevor Lee is now better known as Cameron Grimes in NXT.
The match itself is decent but truthfully, a little underwhelming. I’m willing to bet this does get run back at some point and maybe they left something in the tank for that, but as a fan that may have been at this show, I would’ve expected more. The finish is visually impressive with Trevor catching Ace as he comes off the ropes and into the mid-ring flipping powerslam for the three count. It looks gravity defying and one of those moves that always comes off looking cool if not necessarily always realistic. (**½)
Curt Stallion/Jake Something vs. O14K (Dave/Jake Crist)
*Much the same as our opening contest…oof. Curt Stallion is a transphobe (he has apparently apologized for the remarks made but whether or not he was sincere in said apology is up for debate). Dave Crist is a woman beater who is now also exiled from pro wrestling; to the point even his own brother wants nothing to do with him. Jake Something and Jake Crist are stand-up dudes, however.
Match is good for its placement but does play a bit of background, especially as we get to the finish…Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs come out to distract the Crist’s (Dave specifically takes the bait) and Jacobs is then able to push Jake off the top turnbuckle into the waiting arms of Jake Something. The catch itself was a little sloppy but Something was able to recover nicely and powered Jake up to make the Bossman Slam look worthy of the three count that followed. (***)
Brody King/Jimmy Jacobs vs. Jessicka Havok/Sami Callihan
*So, your enjoyment of this match will depend on how you feel about the Attitude Era in WWF. If you like the crowd brawls, the weapons and the chaos, you’ll probably like this. If you did not, you probably won’t. If you are too young to remember the Attitude Era; way to make me feel old. My thoughts: I thought it was okay but not what it could have been (seemingly a theme this evening). I like Jacobs and Callihan. I more or less like Havok (she’s had some bad matches, but everyone has an off day now and then). I’m not sold one way or the other on Brody yet because I’ve not seen enough.
I will say that I enjoy the way that it plays out with the brawling to sell the emotion of the feud going back to King attacking Havok after she challenged for the AAW Women’s Title against Kimber Lee (oof) in the main event a couple months prior. The finish sees King pinning Havok with a powerbomb into a set of open chairs. Later it was revealed that King would have the Heavyweight title shot the next night, so that makes sense. But I feel pinning Callihan (“The Draw” in AAW) would have made a bigger statement for Brody. (***)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Colt Cabana
*For what it was, enjoyable. This was kind of a comedy break match, which one might come to expect from Cabana. The whole storyline where Cabana is MJF’s long lost dad is one of those funny in wrestling kinda things where you can just accept the absurd soap-opera nature of it all. The commentators do an excellent job in putting over the emotion at the end when Cabana and MJF play catch (yes, that’s a real sentence) before MJF dick-kicks Cabana into a rollup for the pinfall. Light, breezy and entertaining. (**½)
AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Jeff Cobb
*As good as this match is and it is quite good, I think their match at the LaSalle show earlier in the month of August (Jawbreaker) is a little bit better. That match is a little more concise and tells the same story that this one does minus about five minutes. That’s not to say that this is a bad match because it definitely isn’t. ACH and Cobb have quite the battle and seeing the strength of a dude like ACH as he muscles Cobb up into the ‘Buster Call’ is impressive. I wish ACH was in a better place mentally (and the NXT merchandise people weren’t morons) because that is a dude who deserves to have made a long living at the top of what NXT used to be (and he seemed to be trending in that direction too). Cobb is sadly one of those “what could have been” stories to wrestling fans. He’s had minor exposure in AEW a couple times but never anything sustained. His most prolonged run in the US was under a mask in Lucha Underground (he was Mantanza Cueto). Cobb spends most of his time in NJPW these days and that sadly leaves him a secret to most American wrestling fans. (****)
Fenix/Penta El Zero M vs. Bandido/Flamita
*I made a statement earlier about the cleanliness (or lack thereof) in lucha libre. This match moves a million miles per minute and while the vast majority is executed damn near flawlessly, there is a chicken fight sequence that gets so badly blown even the announcers have to say something to try to cover for it. Everything is not going to go perfectly every time, but a situation like that does cost it match of the night honors to me because I felt ACH vs Cobb was much smoother.
The rest of the match is more or less balls to the wall action. And on a personal note: does Rey Fenix have something against guardrails at wrestling events? The three count, following a beautifully done spiked Fear Factor on Bandido for the win is preceded by a ‘tope con hilo’ from Fenix to Flamita with such velocity that it sends both guys shooting over the guardrail and into the crowd. It reminded me of the way Homicide used to do the ‘tope con hilo’ in ROH. (EDS NOTE: Andrew does indeed inform me that Fenix vs. Guardrail is indeed a long standing rivalry) (****)
THE FINAL REACTION
Top to bottom, it’s a pretty strong card for the time in independent wrestling, which should come as no surprise giving the amount of talent that was in Chicago on this particular weekend. The main event is absolutely bananas (which is a bit of a surprise given that all four would play huge roles at ‘All In’ just two nights later. The Heavyweight title match is an excellent ‘big vs little man’ story and ACH shows off his deceptive strength quite impressively. As for the undercard, the opening couple contests are nothing to write home about (PACO vs. Wolf especially) but there is enough of an investment in the story of the company to keep one intrigued. You’ll want to watch for the second half of the show, but there is a little something for everyone if you’ll pardon the cliche. Call it a 7.5, for what I believe is the highest rating of my return thus far.
Best Match/Moment: ACH vs. Jeff Cobb just barely squeaks this one out over the main event.
Worst Match/Moment: PACO vs. Stephen Wolf. Nothing against either guy, just didn’t click. And the short run time on a stacked card probably didn’t help either.
Overall Show Score: 7.5/10
MVP: Man, this is a tough one. Usually on these shows, it is an easy decision. But here, there are good matches and a couple really good promos. I’ll give it to Fenix for trying to kill himself for our entertainment in the main event.
Normally, I’d have a big writeup here asking for ideas and questioning myself about my wrestling life choices. This time, there is no such reason to do so. This is part one of a double shot AAW weekend and it just makes sense to cover the next show as well. ‘What I Watched’ #15 will cover AAW’s “Defining Moment” 2018. Hope to see you there, everyone. Thanks for reading.
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