Beyond Wrestling Lit Up
April 5 2018 (just).
We’re in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is my second show of the weekend. Beyond realised early doors that it would be tough to stand out during a crowded weekend of shows and with Joey Janela getting so much buzz for his Spring Break, and Matt Riddle doing an MMA themed show for GCW, Beyond went ahead and booked an all intergender show. It’s an interesting concept and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how Tim Thatcher vs. Toni Storm plays out. It’s 6am Friday morning in the Furious household and I’m already short on sleep. Let’s get going with show two!
Oh wow, this is sparsely attended! I know it was on late but man up, wrestling fans!
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle is wrestling his third match today, having already contested bouts with Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. Riddle could literally wrestle non-stop for four days though. He’s a fucking machine.
He’s also a gent, regardless of opponent. He’ll dish out as much abuse as he feels his opponent can take. You’ll get a totally different Riddle here compared to the Riddle that wrestled Suzuki. Deonna wrestles a smart match, going after Riddle’s exposed feet and trying to take him by surprise. Riddle responds with a powerbomb and a knee to the face to win in short order, having been drawn into a fight. “I had to, she was beating my ass”.
Final Rating: **3/4
Post Match: James Ellsworth blindsides Riddle with a belt shot. What a day Matthew Riddle has had! Riddle runs Jimmy off and the poor chinless bastard forgets his belt.
— Jocay 🇪🇨 (@Jocay19) April 6, 2018
Jordynne Grace & LuFisto vs. EYFBO
Team PAWG start fast and hard, which is similar to the aggression of Deonna in the opening match. EYFBO take over with tag team skill. The crowd are fairly muted, presumably because it’s after midnight in NOLA. They have a fun little match and the Weapons of Ass Destruction looks to have it won for PAWG but Ortiz is late on breaking up the pin. Grace drops Draztik moments later rendering the whole spot pointless. This was fine, shame about the pre-finish timing.
Final Rating: **1/4
Daviene vs. Josh Briggs
I’ve never seen Daviene before. She’s wrestling this monster:
Daviene goes right after him from the start. “We’ve not seen this before” says Emil Jay. Are you drunk? That’s what just happened in the first two matches! Daviene, having received a lukewarm reaction, actually works heel. Josh responds by kicking her face off and screaming “I don’t like you” at her. It’s a real slobberknocker. Daviene, who came in a stranger, makes a point of battering Josh, who’s much bigger than her. She’s like a good Jessica Havok. Briggs puts her away but it’s Daviene who comes away with the most gained.
Final Rating: **3/4
Chris Dickinson & Jaka vs. Thunder Rosa & Holidead
The crowd amuse themselves by doing Jaka impressions. YEOW! The Twisted Sisters are the first women to not attack quickly, instead relying on mind games. Rosa brings the lucha stuff to counter Jaka while Holidead flat out gets in Dickinson’s face. The difference on Twitter between this and Bloodsport is huge. Maybe I just don’t follow a lot of non-Europeans but it’s so quiet. In the match Thunder Rosa impresses the most. She’s all fired up and eager to impress. Her flying rana doesn’t quite come off but a lot of her lucha sends Jaka flying around the ring. There are some timing issues, particularly with the spot that sends Dickinson to the floor. Rosa and Dickinson have no chemistry at all, which is a pity as the match structure is heading toward epic. Lots of near finishes and breaking up pins but it just lacks that bit of polish. Jaka gets spiked on his head with the Praying Mantis Bomb and the Sisters take the win.
Final Rating: ***
Karen Q vs. Jonathan Gresham
I did not know there were so many matches on this show. I should have known Beyond would throw out a bunch of stuff past 1am on a Thursday. Gresham is one of the smoothest technicians in the Biz. Karen finds it hard to live on Gresham’s level although she has a bash at it. It’s very mat heavy for something taking place at 1am. They switch it up to strike duels and Gresham’s lack of size makes it all entirely believable. It’s mostly well executed although Karen Q can’t quite connect on a few moves, like the spin kick in the corner. They have a few great counter sequences. The waistlock counters bit before Gresh wins with a roll up is terrific.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Joey Ryan & Laura James vs. Travis Huckabee & Solo Darling
The Rumblebees are a Chikara act. Solo Darling is really good. Travis is also good but doesn’t look like a wrestler at all and this hinders him before he wrestles. Bad first impression. Speaking of which, if you’d never seen Joey Ryan wrestle before his opening gambit is asking Travis to touch his dick.
You know what you’re getting with Joey Ryan and fair play to him, he makes a living by getting strangers/co-workers to touch his penis. Living the dream. Laura James is pretty new to wrestling, compared to Joey, and she does a lot of butt stuff. Not like that. Oh god, it’s too early. It’s too damn early to be talking about butt stuff. The filth is decent but the sluggish nature of the match is murder on this crowd. It’s 1.30am local time. They have one great spot; Joey Ryan hitting a powerslam on the apron to block a Solo dive. It’s an evening of intergender wrestling but only Joey makes it weird. The Boobplex? Solo gets revenge with a Texas Cloverleaf and this is over.
Final Rating: *3/4
Powerbomb TV Independent Wrestling Championship
Tracy Williams (c) vs. Kimber Lee
Kimber is back after an ill-fated NXT run came to a swift and brutal conclusion. Tracy is a guy I’m not that into but he’s technically very sound and that pays off for him here.
Although the crowd definitely need rousing at this point (almost 2am). Tracy has some terrific ideas and I love the DDT into the buckles from up top. It’s very cool. They fire off some serious effort and I buy into Kimber’s near falls. The German suplex and the Swanton both feel like finishes. I start debating whether Powerbomb should put the strap on Kimber to capitalise on her NXT street cred. Is that a thing if you wash out? Hot Sauce puts her away with the Crossface to retain. Good near falls and a solid bout but approaching 2am the crowd is dying.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Mia Yim vs. Tessa Blanchard vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Wheeler YUTA
MJF’s manager is Big Stoke, which is my first Hathaway sighting of the weekend. David Starr was originally in this match but he’s been replaced by Wheeler YUTA.
MJF, establishing himself as both top heel and top talent, cuts an abusive pre-match promo on the other three.
Note: this is the point where I had to go to work. If the show had been 2 hours long and started on time I’d have got the live review up. Oh well.
The trouble with throwing out a bunch of intergender matches is that most of the men haven’t worked with the women before. So the timing isn’t great and there’s a very careful vibe to everything. Nobody wants to be the jerk who injures a woman. MJF behaves like a jerk but he doesn’t hit like one. Eye pokes are about the extent of it. Given the speed they go at I’d rather have seen Tessa vs. Mia Yim. But hey, once you’re balls deep into a gimmick show you might as well shoot your load. In fairness Wheeler YUTA does good work here. Especially going for a piledriver, causing minor conniptions throughout the crowd. MJF bumps into YUTA and Tessa pins him in a flat finish.
Final Rating: **3/4
Jimmy Havoc vs. Jessicka Havok
Oh Havocs collide. I see what they did there. Unlike the other matches there’s a size difference in favour of the woman with Jimmy giving up 100lbs or so. Jess is 264lbs and Jimmy is billed at 169lbs. Jimmy is in a mood to banter and the few guys in attendance yell shit out to him. As with the other bouts Havoc (Jimmy that is) is a little reticent to bash Jess across the face. The trouble with having two brawlers who don’t want to hurt each other is the brawl is tame. Also it’s 2am and the crowd are sleepy. Jess gives significantly less of a fuck about Jimmy. Including kicking out of his finisher. Jimmy throws himself into Jessicka’s big moves but they still don’t look good. A few chokeslams finish and I could have lived without this.
Final Rating: **
Joey Janela & Penelope Ford vs. Orange Cassidy & Session Moth Martina
Well this is certainly a combination of people. Cassidy is a wonderful character. A guy who can barely get motivated to walk to the ring and they’ve teamed him with hyperactive pisshead Martina. It’s inspired really. Neither one of them does anything remotely serious. I’ll give them credit too, it wakes the crowd up. Cassidy’s lacksidaisical performance aside. Cassidy’s running the ropes is always good stuff. Martina’s shtick gets over pretty quickly and it probably will in Japan too. What was originally considered something that would never get over outside of Ireland has gotten over everywhere. “I’m gonna beat you and then I’m gonna beat your kids” – Janela. Yeah, beat up those fictional babies! Orange Cassidy’s hot tag offence might be the greatest thing I’ll see all weekend.
Orange Cassidy is the greatest hot tag in pro wrestling #morethanmania
— Absolute Arnie (@ArnoldFurious) April 6, 2018
Then they spit beer and juice all over the place and I feel bad for Tim Thatcher and Toni Storm who have to wrestle in this ring. And then Martina pulls out Mr Cocko. Has she inherited Jack Sexsmith’s old gimmick? And then Canadian Destroyer!
Only really, really slowly so I don’t think it counts. Penelope Ford ends up pinning a celebrating Orange Cassidy and much fun was had by all.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Toni Storm vs. Tim Thatcher
Toni comes out to her Progress music, figuring Beyond can use it on demand. She also comes out here without a title belt and she looks weird. I’m used to seeing her carrying a strap of some kind. Whether it be Progress or Stardom or whatever. They are very deliberate about going to the mat but with charisma, so they avoid the size/power issues. Only Tim cranks on those holds, sending Toni panicking into the ropes. Tim has clearly told Toni to not worry about hurting him because she boots him pretty hard and he cranks the shit out of those submissions.
Tim eats the abuse on Toni’s strikes and basically ignores it. It’s tonally perfect, especially compared to the rest of the show. There’s nothing tentative here and everything makes sense. Thatcher has been superb in Germany this year as a babyface but he’s a terrific heel here, just bullying an uber-face in Toni. The way he slaps her down is borderline ‘too much’. It’s a legal strike but it just seems wrong. Toni goes for big desperation stuff, bloodies his nose and beats him with an armbar!
This was great. Toni played face in peril, Thatcher was the dastardly villain without breaking any rules and the comeback and lucky but hard fought win was perfectly done.
Final Rating: ***3/4
As with Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport show this was an intriguing experiment. Unlike Bloodsport it was far too long, finishing at nearly 3am. The crowd were burned out a few matches in and if they’d focused on the matches that delivered it would have been fine. There are a few sneaky recommendations here. Toni vs. Tim was MOTN and deserved the main event slot. Elsewhere Orange Cassidy won me over with his comedy, although your mileage may vary depending on how much you dig his character. There was a fair amount of variety too, even if there was an underlying theme of working soft through unfamiliarity and fear. Meanwhile Tim and Toni had the best match because that fear wasn’t there.