Beyond Wrestling Spirit of ‘76
January 27 2018
We’re in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Wrestle Factory. Normal home of Chikara. Host in the ring is Rich Palladino.
Powerbomb TV Independent Wrestling Championship
Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Mike Quackenbush
Quack was unannounced and Gresham does a sensational job of selling his arrival. First stumbling over and then bailing out of the ring. “Nope”.
Quack is one of those guys who’s literally in the top ten percent of talents on the planet but hardly wrestles anymore due to injuries. However every time I see him wrestle he still looks sharp as heck. The match with Johnny Kidd at King of Trios was magic. This is much the same, with Quack bringing his unique style, cobbled together from a global knowledge of wrestling. Lots of lucha mat work and British stuff. Gresham has fun trying to figure some of the holds out.
— Arn~! (@ArnoldFurious) February 8, 2018
Quack getting out of a full nelson is beautiful. Then Gresham stops the match, asks Quack to explain the escape to him and then attempts it himself can’t reach his hands together. The general theme is Gresham can’t match Quack for mat technique so resorts to cheating. I’d love to see Quack against an array of current talent, just for the sheer contrast that he provides. He’s a lot like Zack Sabre Jr in that respect but his approach is more varied. Zack is very much about British style and a modern evolution of it. Quack has a global style, with bits pinched from everywhere. Of course it’d be dull if Gresham never got anywhere and he is a talented lad. “You ain’t got it no more Quack” might be a foolish thing to say to a man who can chop as hard as Mike though. Quack gets his arm injured and makes a point of doing a whole bunch of moves without the use of his left arm. Including, but not limited to, backdrops just using his body and being unable to perform Irish whips. Gresham has support on the floor from Big Stoke and MJF and that’s how he picks up the win; aided by an MJF thumb to Quackenbush’s eye. Frankly sensational match, which felt very short but ran over 15 minutes. Left me wanting more. A rarity in wrestling nowadays.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Tournament For Tomorrow
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Mike Verna vs. Damien Smith vs. Jay Freddie vs. Brandon Watts vs. Josh Briggs
Briggs stands 6’8” tall and is an immediate stand-out. MJF has a tonne of charisma so starts out by shooting on everyone, including Verna (“you only got booked because you’re on steroids”). Everyone here is relatively new to the business but a few are already making names for themselves. None of them are on MJF’s level. He knows how to….
— Arn~! (@ArnoldFurious) February 8, 2018
This dive literally destroyed my concentration, stopped me in mid-sentence and took my breath away. Holy shit, that’s a fucking dive and a half. Clearly everyone wants to get noticed here. Not everything works but Watts, MJF and Briggs all manage to stand out. Which is a decent percentage on a six-way. They play it cute with multi-man spots and it’s a fun little match, which could have been a car crash. The inexperience shows in some of them but I’m sure they were all happy with this in the locker room after the match because it got over and nobody looked bad. Verna gets a “you fucked up” chant at one point but I’m sure he won’t lose any sleep over it. Verna is a five-year pro, so he should have ironed out those wrinkles by now. Briggs chokeslams Smith, and should have it, but MJF throws him out of the ring and steals the pin. MJF is the furthest along of all these guys so it’s natural he progresses. Helluva dive from Briggs though. That’s what I’ll recall when asked about this.
Final Rating: ***
LuFisto vs. John Silver
Silver is a jacked up little prick. I’ve seen him wrestle quite a lot and I have mixed feelings. When he’s got someone fast to go against his pacing is incredible. However here it’s a sluggish outing with him yelling at the crowd a lot. Which is actually good for chuckles. When he starts chanting “this crowd sucks” it makes me laugh. Silver goes from joking to super aggressive and ends up winning via choke. His over the top celebration shows what an absolute jerk he is. Pointing to the heavens, doing a lap of honour, posing on the turnbuckles. What an absolute dickhead.
Final Rating: **1/2
The Amityville Project (Dan Barry, Rex Lawless & Ryan Galeone) vs. Bill Carr, Brian Cage & Kyle the Beast
The “Swolverine” gets a good reaction. There are some big boys in this match. Dan Barry is the only regular sized wrestler. Everyone else is Vince in the 80s signings. Only Cage has the kind of muscles he’d go for but they all have that size. Lawless is 6’3”, Carr is 6’4” and Galeone is 6’7”. It’s a big old beef factory. Galeone is impressive. Not just because he’s the tallest but also because of how he uses that size. Lawless is a clear-cut rulebreaker but Galeone is just intimidating. Without even trying. Barry’s irritating little ticks start getting to me again, like an obvious thigh slap where it just doesn’t belong. Despite these issues he’s probably the best wrestler in the match, bar Cage. Galeone, for all his scary size, is unpredictable. At times he’s a machine and his corner assaults freak me out. But when he’s trying to sell I’m never convinced. That road goes both ways. It was a massive flaw in Brock Lesnar until he learned to work around it. I also don’t buy into his ‘misses’. Like when he goes for a clothesline and it’s ducked. It’s so high. There’s no way he’s intending for that clothesline to ever hit, it’s always missing, thus telegraphing the spot. They go to a break down sequence with a bunch of big spots, although Carr hitting the Canadian Destroyer is a bit much. Especially as the finish is a fucking roll up. That makes me laugh. This was solid and I dig a lot of the Big Man wrestling on display. Galeone is one to watch. If he can find a way to bring that intensity into everything he does he’ll be huge.
Final Rating: ***
Post Match: Bill Carr is taking a beating so Chris Dickinson comes out to save. Then he has to kill some time because they’re not ready. Which leads to Bryan Cage and Bill Carr doing muscle poses. Bill Carr, because he carries himself like a hunchback, actually has an incredible thick torso. I want to see him vs. WALTER as soon as possible, just to hear the sound of the chops.
Chris Dickinson vs. Joey Janela
The stalling may have been to accommodate a late arrival of Janela, as he’s wrestling in a t-shirt and jeans. He has to be reminded to pass his phone to Penelope Ford before we start. It doesn’t effect his performance, apart from angering Dickinson for wearing a shirt during his chops. Dickinson tries to boss the match but both of them have intermittent success with landing strikes. Sometimes they look, or sound, great, sometimes not so good. Dickinson probably has the greater hit rate and they both get their personalities across. The building is small and they each stop off to engage in banter every once in a while. The match is just a little too sloppy for my liking, with inconsistent quality. When it’s good, it’s very good, but it has dodgy moments. Janela, in all fairness, has show improvement since his ‘Mania show last year. The performances are starting to catch up with the hype. Sometimes it’s good to have big hype but sooner or later you do have to live up to it and do so consistently. This match is definitely effected by Powerbomb’s player, which feels the need to buffer everyone 20 seconds or so. It’s a frustrating experience. I know internet in my area is basically shit but I have fibre, no video should buffer like this.
Penelope doesn’t want Joey to take a nut shot so Dickinson picks her up and throws her head first into his groin. Penelope full on interjects herself in the match, which is surely a DQ. At one point they hit the Doomsday Device together on Dickinson! The weird past is that Penelope gets the biggest pops in the match for her attacks. That Kevin Quinn is a populist. As the match continues it gets increasingly silly and Penelope Ford powerbombs Dickinson to set up a double stomp win for Janela. I didn’t get into the cheating here, as it was all done in front of the referee and he didn’t seem to give a shit. The wrestling was fine but the match structure was irritating. I just didn’t get into it.
Final Rating: **1/4
Martin Stone vs. Flip Gordon
Not pictured: a flat earth.
Flat-Earther Flip is the heel, sporting a Tom Brady shirt, which makes him look like double the dip-shit seeing as the Patriots lost. “Flip, have you beaten anyone in Ring of Honor yet?” – Fan. Stone does a lot of joint manipulation, fingers and ankles. It’s something Flip is relatively unaccustomed to. Gordon is in the unenviable position of playing heel but being the far showier worker. So he flips around like a dick, yelling “can’t get me” and that does the trick. Flip is a legitimately talented wrestler so it’s pretty annoying to discover the whole ‘flat earth’ take. How can you look up at all the celestial bodies in the sky and see they’re all round and think…I bet we’re different. It’s the whole “I haven’t seen it, so it doesn’t exist” mentality. You’re like a child playing peekaboo. Oh, where has the entire world gone? Oh, there it is! Anyway, Flip gets so irritating that the crowd are booing flips. He’s revolutionised the industry! They end up constructing a nice little match with Stone using his strikes and Flip his…flips. The crowd are fine with the showier guy being the heel and even boo everything approaching a rope move. The world has changed, man. Stone picks up the win with a crossface and this was really good. Flip is definitely talented and if I knew less about his personal opinions regarding the shape of our planet I’d like him more than I do.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Orange Cassidy vs. Swoggle
Orange Cassidy is a weird gimmick, if you’ve never seen it. He’s extremely laid back. He also has a t-shirt of him wearing a t-shirt of him. He also has a Swamp Monster. Also he’s wrestling a midget so this is not going to be, in any way, serious. “I don’t lose on the Indies anymore” says Swoggle. Orange goes to the run the International, very, very slowly, and Swoggle goes along with it. I love some comedy. I would GIF this but Orange’s spots take far too long to get under the 15mb limit of Twitter. Orange failing to understand the mechanics of actually hitting a clothesline on someone shorter is joyous stuff though. As is Swoggle coming up with counters for all his shtick but not being able to use them because Cassidy misses anyway. The Swamp Monster gets upset with the officiating and it’s Chuck Taylor! He lays out Swoggle and Cassidy gets the pin. This was legitimately hilarious. I chuckled throughout.
Final Rating: Rating? Rating? No.
Not Hot Wheels, honest (Tracy Williams & Wheeler YUTA) vs. EYFBO
I started to encounter some horrible buffering at this point and got a wicked slick tip from Ian Hamilton; smash that F5 guys. Scroll back to where you were and it’s all good. Picture quality falls apart otherwise and you’re stuck watching something that’s broken. Hence this low-res picture of Eat Your Fucking Balls Off.
Back in the match Tracy Williams is wrestling. I have no idea why but Hot Sauce doesn’t do a lot for me. The wrestler, not the condiment. Maybe it’s the 619. Anyone that does the 619 irritates me. Bar Rey Mysterio. He gets a pass. Thankfully most of his work is gritty and determined and I can live with it, even if I’m not into it. Whereas EYFBO are fucking great and I don’t care what moves they’re performing because they’re both so enigmatic. But it does help that all their moves come thick and fast and it’s always an exciting contest when they’re in there. Hot Sauce tries to show some fire but he trundles across the ring on a clothesline. Just because you’re yelling doesn’t make it any more intense pal. EYFBO take it with double teams, which is good because they looked like the far, far better team here.
Final Rating: ***
AR Fox vs. Tessa Blanchard
Fox doesn’t take this seriously, instead choosing to showcase some of his flashier springboards. Tessa is a decent wrestler, although she’s probably not the shoo-in for WWE that some think of her (hi, Dave!) Working the intergender is clearly an attempt to improve as a worker. Generally the standard of men’s wrestling is higher and the bulk of the top line women’s talent on the Indies, or in NXT, has worked intergender in order to improve. AR Fox is one these dudes that makes wrestling look effortless and I’m never sure how I feel about that. If he makes it look that easy then why should I be impressed? It’s a weird take but bear with me. If it looks like the process of coming off the top rope looks like a Herculean effort than it’s all the more impressive right? They overcame something. Fox makes things look too easy.
He’s not alone in this respect. There are a bunch of Indie guys that makes stuff look so easy. AJ Styles is a good example of how it should be. He is effortlessly good but look at his facial reactions. Everything matters. Everything is a strain on him, even though the fluidity of his movement is so precise. Other guys are learning too. Look at Ospreay. He’s improved his facials so I believe he’s struggling in matches when he has incredible cardio and can flip out of my pantry window if he wanted to. But the actual moves from AR Fox look smooth as fuck. He just needs to work a little harder on making me believe it’s not just a gymnastics display. Tessa does a good job of showing a lot of fire in her comebacks, even though she’s not hitting anything even remotely as tough. Fox puts her away and I was very impressed with both here, for different reasons. Fox’s mechanics are excellent and he looks the part but he’s a few steps away from being convincing. Tessa convinces me all day long, being second generation that’s not a shock, but she can be a wee bit sloppy. Working guys who are so technically sound should see her improve in no time though. I’d be interested to see how different these two are a year from now. They’re both bubbling under at the moment.
Final Rating: ***
David Starr vs. Matt Riddle
These are two guys who have grown as wrestlers by competing in Europe. Starr has gained a huge amount of traction from wXw in Germany whereas Riddle has wrestled fucking everywhere. Riddle has done his homework, he’s got a David Starr List. It replaces all of Starr’s stuff with “bro”. Starr has started leaning heel almost everywhere now, even when he’s not full-blown heel. I hope the trend doesn’t progress to Europe where he’s such a loveable babyface. It’s pretty tough to be a face when you’re in the ring with Riddle though. He’s one of the most beloved wrestlers on the planet right now. They do a nice job here of combining hard-hitting action, light-hearted comedy and the usual intensity you expect from Riddle. It’s very different from the last time I saw them wrestle; on a wXw show in front of about 70 people. I was there. It was cool! Starr may not appear to enjoy this but he seems to get a kick out of the intense, violent matches. I’ve seen him in so many recently. Riddle always works that way so this match is basically Matt beating the crap out of David, Starr pulling faces and then a slightly more even contest. The structuring, with Riddle largely bossing the action, is different to the usual 50-50 wars with no selling galore that Riddle has been having with everyone. Starr has to be sneakier before he can unleash hard-hitting stuff. I’m less into the match when they go to the standards of Riddle (the no-selling Germans etc) bur they have to increase the intensity in the stretch or all the build has been for nought. The chopping duel is fantastic. Riddle has snuck a few new tricks into his routine and some of his strikes have gotten sharper. Plus he’s looking bigger than ever with increased muscle mass. Starr looks great here too. The way he transitions into a Destroyer is outright beautiful. The intensity increases and Starr picks up the win with Product Placement. He’s never lost to Matt Riddle.
Final Rating: ****
This is my second Beyond show and they seem like solid cards, although I’m constantly confused as to why they don’t have any titles. Merely an uncrowned “ace”. How can a promotion run 9 years without a championship? Instead you basically have these really strong cards with nothing at stake. Starr and Riddle were doing storytelling beyond Beyond and I appreciate that but everything else was just ‘good’ for the sake of it. Having the Powerbomb.tv title guest in the opening slot gave me more of a reason to care and that match, with the investment of Quack coming out to challenge in his own building, made it an easy pick for match of the night. The show starts and ends very strong. If you’re cherry picking, first and last is all you need from this three hours.