AML Wrestling Monsters Unleashed
July 30 2017
We’re in Winston Salem, North Carolina. This is a dip into the unknown as I’ve never even heard of AML. But I’m also aware I might be missing out on a lot of American Indie talent so I’m diving in where I can. This is a completely random selection and if it sucks it’s entirely the fault of Highspots. Incidentally Highspots have a ridiculous amount of content for the ten bucks it costs to take up their VOD for a month. Give it a shot. I’m immediately rewarded as one of the commentators sounds like Mr Mackie from South Park.
We’re joined in mid-match with Punishment Martinez slaughtering the jamokes in the dark match. CW Anderson, local Southern match-maker, books the Punishmenter into a match.
Punishment Martinez vs. Damien Wayne
As we kick things off I can get a look around the building. It’s an armoury and it’s way too bright, showing what a crappy building this is and revealing an assortment of company officials and hangers on happily strolling through the curtains in the back. There are around 100-150 people there but the hard cam is opposite a side where there are about twenty people. It’s a constant reminder that this is not well attended. There is a level of professionalism as they’ve got their own entranceways, the ring looks nice and there are guardrails. It’s not an amateur set up. The crowd is a mixture but there are more than a few kids. It’s a warm summers day and the door is open in the back of the building. None of this is ideal. As a venue snob I wouldn’t watch a show there.
Punishment Martinez is new to the promotion so you’d think they’d want him to squash one of the local boys to get over. He certainly gets the lions share of the match but it’s an extended squash with too many rest holds. Martinez is another in the string of ‘big guys who do flips’. I’m finding them less impressive with each outing. I remember Mike Awesome blew my mind but the type has been done too much. Now if the big wrestler doesn’t have more than one string to his bow it’s tough to get behind him. The match goes really long with Wayne continually mounting comebacks. Then Damien wins with a Savage Elbow, completely catching me off guard. I figured this was an extended squash but it’s actually an upset.
Final Rating: **1/4
Zane Riley vs. Billy Brash
Billy Brash looks inbred. Like someone tried to clone the Miz but got it wrong. Riley is a fat redneck covered in tattoos.
AML have a tidy little split screen gimmick to air pre-recorded interviews. Every promotion should have some form of promo involved to allow the wrestlers the chance to get used to talking in character. These were very Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Zane is a goofy bastard and he has a gimmick where he can stop time by yelling “time out”. So Billy has to stand there ‘frozen’ until Riley yells “time in”. It’s an…interesting thing to see outside of DDT. The wrestling is routinely awful with Zane attempting things he cannot do and getting blown up in a few minutes. His cardio is embarrassing. Brash is slightly better but gets in some really obvious stuff, like slapping his thigh. The fat one wins with a roll up and then rolls out of the ring gasping for air. To say his level of conditioning is poor would be an understatement.
Final Rating: *
AML Tag Team Championship Series Match One
The Geordie Bulldogs (c) vs. The Heatseekers
The Geordie Bulldogs are from Virginia. Apart from saying “lads” a lot and wearing lots of British gear they are thoroughly American. The Heatseekers are the current NWA tag team champions. Those belts have sure dropped out of importance huh? The tag champs manager is George South, who worked for the NWA in the 80s and was a favoured opponent of Ric Flair. The Geordies have flashy gear but the best wrestler out there is Sigmon of the Heatseekers. He reminds me of Lance Storm. His movements are similar. He’s not as graceful as Lance but he’s rock solid. His partner Elliot Russell is like a smaller Drew Galloway in appearance but he doesn’t have that high impact style. The Heatseekers are a throwback team. Perhaps predictably Cornette likes them. Russell is very deliberate with his strikes and I’m not convinced by them. His style is a little too laid back and when compared to his more aggressive partner it exposes his work. The Heatseekers run formula into the ground on an isolated Sean Denny. The hot tag brings in Mark Denny, another Southern fat-ass with terrible cardio.
The finish is straight out of the Big Book of Southern Rasslin’ finishes with Sigmon accidentally bashing his partner with the title belt but when Mark takes it from him the referee turns around to see him. George South stooges him out and the referee, despite seeing nothing, rules it a DQ.
Final Rating: *3/4
Dante Caballero vs. Axton Ray
Cabellero has an island gimmick (as in Puerto Rico, not Samoa) and sips on a mojito pre-match. Axton looks like Crispin Glover after a personality removal operation. His nickname is “The Renegade” but he’s so vanilla it’s painful. Cabellero is shit out of luck as Carlito is advertised for AML’s next show. Axton shuts my mouth when he starts wrestling. He might be dull on the mic but he’s a really good wrestler. His offence is superior to everything else on this show and his selling is good too. He has a nice mixture of stuff and his impact strikes are tidy as fuck. If the aim of watching this show was to explore new talents; mission accomplished. He’s a five-year pro who’s starting to get noticed. CWF booked him in June. Cabellero gets to beat him here thanks to another finish from the Southern Rasslin’ playbook! Cabellero sneaks out for a mojito and to attack with his belt. The ref takes the belt but misses the mojito getting spat into Axton’s face. Dante gets the win but Axton caught my eye. It takes two to tango. Both these lads showed a lot of promise.
Final Rating: ***
Chris Payne vs. CW Anderson
Payne is from the North-East, which means he’s out of his usual hunting grounds and making his AML debut. See Dub used to be in ECW. He continued after that into ECW-style tribute shows before getting a semi-regular gig for Zero1. He had a brief run for the WWE’s version of ECW in 2006 before disappearing into the Southern Indies. I honestly thought he’d retired as I’ve not seen him wrestle since 2007 when he finished up with Zero1. But here he is. He’s in decent shape, considering he’s 46 years old. A quick skim through Cagematch reveals I did actually see him wrestle last year for Zero1, teaming with Steve Corino, but that felt like a one-off. Payne is a solid worker. Everything he does looks purposeful and his execution is consistent. When he’s punching CW in the face it looks good. He has long control segments and they don’t feel tired or overdone. Anderson has never been a showy wrestler but everything he did as his peak he still does now and he’s barely lost anything. His superkick puts Payne away and this was a tidy little match. Plus it had a clean finish!
Final Rating: ***
Post Match: Billy Brash attacks CW Anderson, an attempt at revenge for losing to CW twice recently. Damien Wayne makes the save.
The Dixon Line (Joe Keyes, Rob Locke & Ken Dixon) vs. Da Powah (Ian Maxwell, Montana Black & Big Time Ya)
Joe Keyes looks like a cross between Tyler Breeze and David Spade. I immediately take a shine to him. Montana Black is the largest man on the show, and I am including Punishment Martinez in that. He’s huge. He’s not doing flipz either. He’s just clubberin’. He’s also very inexperienced and he’s so green that some of his strikes miss high by a foot. Once he’s done fucking around the Dixon Line run formula. The problem with running heat is that if no one in the crowd is responding to it then you should stop. Instead the match just grinds along, boring the bejesus out of me, and the fans by the looks of it. The storyline revolves around Big Time Ya and his displeasure at Da Powah’s lack of focus. He goes to walk off and a distracted Maxwell gets rolled up for the pin. This was boring. Sorry fellas. The post match is better with Big Time Ya waiting for Montana to be out of the ring before laying out the much smaller Maxwell.
Final Rating: *
AML Prestige Championship
Brandon Scott (c) vs. Caleb Konley vs. Myron Reed
Myron Reed is 20 years old but is already getting booked nationwide. Caleb wrestles on TV for TNA (Impact Wrestling/GWF etc) and yet he doesn’t exude star power. Brandon Scott used to be a referee before turning into a wrestler some nine years ago. Dubbed “Mr Excellence” he’s the defending champion. He’s the fourth AML Prestige champion. The first? Cedric Alexander. All three guys are capable, which is why they’re at the top end of the card. Myron Reed looks like a prospect. His movement around the ring is impressive and he has cool ideas about dodging offence. Konley vs. Scott is bland but competent. It feels like two guys just going through the motions. Myron is the exciting talent. He doesn’t have the experience and technical skill of the other two but he’s eye-catching. If it wasn’t for the dead crowd this would be a nice little match up. Myron is doing all manner of wacky shit like reverse rana’s and flip dives. It looks someone from BritWres got dumped into the dirty south. Konley hits the BME but Scott throws him out of the ring and steals the pin. The ultimate opportunist. Myron Reed was a stand-out here. The other two looked good. Best match on the show.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Zane Dawson (c) vs. Jax Dane
Dawson is at the head of the heel stable that includes George South and the NWA tag champs the Heatseekers. Dawson is a monster heel but Dane is a monster face. Hence the title of the show; “Monsters Unleashed”. It’s Big Lads wrestling time. Dane won a tournament for AML earlier in the year called the Big Man Bash. He actually overcame Drew Galloway on that show. Like Caleb Konley Dane is on TV for Impact Wrestling. Not that this makes a shred of difference in front of this crowd, who are hot and disinterested. It’s not church boys. Although it is a Sunday so maybe the fans are being civil. Or maybe it’s just too fucking hot. They waste a load of time before we get underway, with the Heatseekers being banished in the process. When they finally get into it there’s only ten minutes left on the show. Jax opts for a lengthy brawl to kill even more time, upsetting the portly heel commentator that sounds like Mr Mackie in the process. The champ is a big fatty so they have to take it easy. Meanwhile Jax isn’t getting that fat TV money so he’s not bothered. Occasionally Dawson hits a redonkulous power move with apparent ease, showing that he’s not just a lard-bucket. His bumps are inconsistent and he’s not a main event talent, by any stretch of the imagination, but at least he’s got that power. The heels run a numbers game allowing Dawson to hit a lousy belt shot. Dane doesn’t go down so Zane adds a lariat for the pin. This was ponderous and nowhere near good enough to be the main event. You could probably make a half decent highlights package of the power stuff. Hoss vs. hoss. Post match Jax grabs the mic and demands a four-on-four showdown with the bad guys.
Final Rating: **
Jax called this “one of the most premier independent promotions in the world” after the show ended. That’s a fucking stretch mate. Their production is ok. I’ll give them that much. The standard of the wrestling was highly inconsistent. Some of it was downright poor. The show peaked at ***1/4 and given the lacklustre crowd it was never likely to go any higher. Positives – I got to see Myron Reed and Axton Ray. Both names to watch out for.