Friday, September 16, 2016
I’ve never watched an AAW show before. It’s a promotion that I’ve wanted to get into but haven’t had the time. Finally, I decided to dive in with a pretty show considering it has the last AAW match of NXT star Tommaso Ciampa, as well as a stacked list of talent that includes Pentagon Jr., Fenix, Chris Hero and many others. The show takes place in Berwyn, Illinois in a building that I’ve seen many times on SHIMMER events.
The show opens with a shot of the long line outside of the Eagles Club. Two guys, who I only assume are the commentary team, welcomed the fans to the show. Chris Hero came out to interrupt and announce that his scheduled opponent for the night, Tommy End, is unable to make it to the arena. He put Tommy over and issued an open challenge. Drew Galloway walked out to answer and a new match was set for later.
Outside of Galloway/Hero and the main event, no other match is announced so the people coming out get an even better reaction.
DJ Z cut a promo in the back about 2016 being his year. Crist came out of the blocks with a boot instantly. As DJ Z fired up, Crist went under the ring to avoid a dive and came around the opposite side to kick DJ Z. Davidson go tin a cheap shot outside to help Crist out. Crist tried the “go under the ring” spot again, so DJ Z was ready and sent him outside before following with a somersault dive. Crist came back with an awesome tornado DDT on the apron variation that I’ve never seen before. A springboard cutter got him the win. I thought this was a good opener, featuring strong performances from both men
I’ve never seen Irie. He’s pretty over and one thick son of a gun. Cabana had his usual fun. He slapped Irie at one point and apologized. He offered a slap back but Irie rolled him up instead for two. Cabana delivered some loud chops but they had little to no effect on the thick boy. Irie came close on a big lariat and a whoopee cushion. However, Cabana escaped that before hitting an elbow and going into an interesting pinning combination to win. Decent little match that was seemingly here to be a lighthearted part of the card.
Okay, this one piqued my interest the second I saw the guys come out. Commentary straight up said “this could have happened in Ring of Honor, but they are MORONS!” Ouch. Early on, they had some fun with a battle of seeing who was in better shape, with Cedric talking about his abs and Mike bringing up his muscles and “dumper”. Yes, there was a “dumper” chant. Once they got down to the action, the action was really good. Elgin showed off his power with a nice powerslam and stalling suplex, while Alexander used his athleticism on a dive outside and springboard tornado DDT. Elgin murdered him with two badass lariats but only got near falls, including one for only a one count. Elgin nailed the buckle bomb, but Cedric came out with a high knee only to eat a sick spinning back fist. Just insane back and forth. Alexander still came back from that with a brainbuster right into the Lumbar Check for a fantastic false finish. Alexander had a top rope rana countered into a super bomb. Elgin followed that with a Buckle Bomb and Elgin Bomb, but Cedric still somehow got a shoulder up! Finally, it took a Burning Hammer to keep Alexander down. A tremendous match that was far better than I ever expected. No need for any underlying story here. It was just two guys trying to prove who the better man was. Insane closing stretch to cap a great match featuring two guys in the midst of the best stretches of their careers.
After the match, Michael Elgin put Cedric Alexander over as one of the best he’s ever been in the ring with. He said the cream rises to the top and the fans alternated “thank you Cedric/you deserve it” chants as he heads off to the WWE.
Apparently, Young is a former two-time AAW Champion. He came out to “Don’t Stop Believing”, which I remember him using before he became the serious “last real man in wrestling” character. His pre-match promo, which ended with “let’s see how technical you are when I’m kicking the shit out of you” is good old fashioned heel work. Sabre spent the first few minutes just bending and twisting Silas in strange ways. It’s a staple of Sabre matches. Silas started to come back with some manly offense. Sabre targeted the knee for the most part, which Silas did a good job of selling. To cap off the back and forth, Sabre applied a Liontamer variation and made Silas tap out. Another good match. Smart limb work and things clicked well.
Pentagon Jr. cut a promo about the main event in the back. He’s a fantastic promo despite not speaking English.
Sami Callihan wore a Pentagon Jr. mask to the ring, since it was Pentagon who took the AAW Title from him. Here he took on Pentagon’s real life brother, Fenix. Callihan played the completely disrespectful dick heel and kept going for Fenix’s mask. Fenix took out all three men outside with a somersault off the top. Someone in the crowd kept blowing an annoying horn that hurt the overall enjoyment of this at times. Callihan took over and was really aggressive with Fenix. Of course, Fenix’s rally saw him bust out the high impact offense, including a near fall on a springboard rana. A highlight came when Fenix hit a rolling cutter on the apron. The closing stretch was good and the finish saw Fenix nail a 450 splash. Callihan pulled his mask completely off and got disqualified. Probably my favorite work form Sami this year, but that isn’t saying much since his second indy run has been shit. He played the asshole great on this night though.
Pentagon Jr. ran out with a new mask for his brother and they forced Sami to exit. In the back, both Michael Elgin and Silas Young cut promos in the back.
This is Drew Galloway’s AAW debut. Two of the biggest brutes on the indies went to chain wrestling early on and it was good. Once they graduated to chops, you could hear them echo throughout the building. Hero even had to walk off a few of them. Hero pulled out the BIG BOY SENTON! The rest of this match just saw these two beat the shit out of each other. At one point, Galloway tossed Hero from the top while hanging upside down, which was impressive considering the size of both men. Hero survived a fair amount here, including kicking out of the Future Shock DDT and a snap Piledriver. To end a hard hitting war, Hero nailed five elbow variations and kept Galloway down. Commentary hyped it up as the sixth straight AAW win for Hero. My kind of match. I’ve come to really enjoy it when two guys just fuck each other up.
The crowd sung along to “Psycho Killer”, which is Tommaso Ciampa’s theme song and it was awesome. They really liked Pentagon but they were way behind Tommaso. The atmosphere was great and these guys added to it when Ciampa flipped him the bird and Pentagon responded with “Cero Miedo”. Ciampa came out of the blocks hot, looking to win the title that has eluded him for over a year. He beat up Pentagon outside of the ring, punctuated by a big running knee. Once back inside, things became more even as neither guy was able to gain a clear advantage. Ciampa countered a package Piledriver into an armbar somehow. He got two on a second rope air raid crash and started to show his frustration. He blocked Pentagon’s Canadian (or Mexican) Destroyer and hit one of his own, followed by a running knee that still somehow only got two. Ciampa kicked out of a package Piledriver, but then Pentagon hit him with his own Project Ciampa move and retained the gold. Great match. They knew they had a relatively short time and did a lot with it. Ciampa looked desperate to win the title but couldn’t get past the greatness that was Pentagon Jr.
After the match, Pentagon got on the mic and said that he respected him and put him over before hugging him and leaving. Ciampa cut a passionate promo after Pentagon left about how the past year was his last shot. He and his wife discussed him leaving the business if he didn’t make it, but now he has. He brought in a kid to the ring, who was apparently his biggest fan, and gave him his entrance mask. The locker room emptied for a “Psycho Killer” sing along.
Overall: A really good choice for my first AAW show. The only thing that I would consider a skip on this show is the Cabana match. Everything else gets at least three stars and the final few matches all deliver. The main event had a big fight feel for sure. Though I’m not a big Callihan fan, his angle came off well, There is an insane collection of talent on this card and most guys bring their “A” game. If you have to only one watch match, make it the excellent Alexander/Elgin one but you can’t really go wrong here.