FIP Establish Dominance/Broken Tailgate Party
April 2 2017
We’re in Orlando, Florida and FIP ran a show right before ‘Mania because there were 75,000 people wandering around with nothing better to do. Why wouldn’t you run a show? Oddly enough it’s hosted by the Hardy Boyz who would get considerably busier as the day progressed.
The last time I saw FIP, CM Punk was wrestling in a battle royal. That was a long, long time ago. Back then it was ROH’s bastard brother, the old timey Florida territory. Not having seen it since I don’t know if it’s changed at all. One thing is for sure, there’s no way of telling from this crowd, which is a bunch of people waiting for WrestleMania to start. Hosts in the ring are Timothy Baaa and Kaci Lennox. I’m told Baaa swears quite a lot. The first words out of his mouth are “holy shit”. Swear tally – 1. “Fuckin’ A this is awesome”. Swear tally – 2. He calls the crowd assholes. Swear tally – 3. “Who wants to get fucked up?” Swear tally – 4. Commentary comes from Trevin Adams and MSL.
Uncle John’s Friends (Sami Callihan, AR Fox, Dave & Jake Crist) vs. Michael Elgin, Keith Lee, ACH & Sammy Guevara
Sami has been on every show this weekend. I bet he worked Kaiju too. Sami’s little gang includes Darby Allin and Priscilla Kelly. The faces bring Aria Blake with her to offset this. Keith Lee has been a stand-out this weekend, popping the shit out of all and sundry. “We’re starting with the main event” according to commentary. I guess in case people need to leave early to get to their ‘Mania seats. The match is naturally fast paced with a bunch of spots, one after another. We bask in Keith Lee’s glory among the mess. The high spots continue with Big Mike powerbombing Priscilla Kelly over the top rope.
It’s a massively spotty match and there’s no escaping the feeling that it’s taking place down an alleyway, which gives it a certain low-rent charm. Some guys stand out. Guevara is outstanding and could slip into any promotion in the world with his flying. Elgin and Callihan have a pedigree and Lee oozes stardom. ACH might be the best of the lot, incorporating a host of ideals. Guevara takes the pin from a spike piledriver and the established heel unit pick up the win.
Final Rating: ***1/2
FIP Heavyweight Championship
Fred Yehi (c) vs. Dezmond Xavier
Catchpoint’s Yehi is one of the gems in the WWN Network’s jewellery collection. It’s not just his wrestling ability, as the top end of the Indies is stacked with pure talent, but it’s his combination of unique style and personality on top of that. He’s doing wrestling right. Xavier is technically sound but he’s not operating on Yehi’s level. He’s organised, fluid and generally capable. Every time I dip my toes into a new Indie it shocks me at the depth of talent that’s how there. I’ve seen both these guys before but, like a load of people, they’ve improved in the last 6-12 months. There are guys out there making huge steps forward every day. It’s so fucking great. Xavier makes a few poor decisions, like a 619 around the ring post, which is often a bad idea. Commentary tells us it’s 90 degrees out there and the ring has no canopy so there’s out there sweating in the sun. The heat and show length is a factor in cutting this one short and Yehi takes the win with a submission. I’ve been really impressed with Yehi and this was no exception. The match was somewhat rushed though.
Final Rating: ***
FIP Florida Heritage Championship
Martin Stone (c) vs. Jon Davis
I get confused by Jon Davis because I think he’s the lead singer of Korn. He’s not. He’s a bald wrestler with a beard and tattoos.
Stone is put off by the lack of steps leading down from the stage. It’s perhaps not the most professional thing about the show. A show, which is taking place in a rough piece of land behind someone’s house. The Guvnor might be put off his stride by this and struggles to get going. He’s held this strap for just under a year. While it’s not one of the more prestigious belts in professional wrestling but lengthy reigns do solidify reputations. Whether it’s the title or the wrestler who carries the title. A quick brawl through the hundred or so fans draws appreciation. If you’ve got a small crowd you might as well go into them. Although you could argue that small crowds need interaction the least because they’re all already right up against the ring. Stone slipping out the way of an RKO here is quite delightful as he just lets Davis drop onto his back grasping thin air. It’s a terrific visual. One of the weirdest things about FIP is there are no rope breaks. So Jon gets pinned in the ropes and the ref forgets to count, leading to Davis surviving what could have been a finish. Jon Davis comes firing back and hits his Special Combo to win the title. This was solid but I think I’d have gotten more out of it if I’d seen their previous matches.
Final Rating: **3/4
Post Match: Martin gets interview time and barks abuse at anyone within earshot before handing the strap over to the new champion. 309 days is a pretty solid reign and by all accounts Stone has been on a good run stateside.
Austin Theory vs. Caleb Konley
We’re now into the ‘if you want to get along to WrestleMania you can’ section of the show. Theory is yet another new name on the Indies, debuting within the previous 12 months. Konley is a seasoned veteran and has just broken in to TNA. If you watch Impact Wrestling he should be a familiar name already. Before that he was probably best known for either ROH or EVOLVE undercard runs. He’s solid and reliable. There is always room in wrestling for guys like him but he’s never going to be a star. He allows Theory to get over here by being a sounding board for his experimentation. Austin is clearly green but he shows signs of becoming a really great professional wrestling. Catching Caleb doing a backflip right into a Helicopter Bomb is pretty sensational if you ask me. Which you are, in a way, by reading this review. Caleb gets a double jump moonsault to win but it’s Austin Theory who I’ll remember. Definitely one to watch. He’s still in his teens, if reports are accurate. @Scanelee told me he looks like “baby Baron Corbin” and now I can’t unsee that.
Final Rating: **1/4
Priscilla Kelly vs. Aria Blake
Priscilla has recovered from taking that powerbomb to the floor earlier. I’ve seen both these women in SHINE. I wasn’t impressed with either if I’m brutally honest. Priscilla Kelly has another layer to her gimmick here with an inverted cross painted on her forehead and a star on her chest. The crowd has definitely dissipated since the show started with people heading over to ‘Mania itself. Kelly seems determined to have a good match here. This is in evidence when she hits a diving knees off the apron the floor, which is goddamn solid concrete. It’s perhaps not the brightest move for someone with their career ahead of them but wrestlers aren’t always the smartest when it comes to making decisions. Kelly takes it with an Impact Buster, with a double underhook piledriver. Kelly, who’s a bit weird, promptly cradles Aria and bites her neck. This was a much better showing for Kelly and Blake from the SHINE 41 bouts I saw. Kelly, with her gimmick, has a lot of potential. She’s in the same boat as Theory, being young and underexposed.
Final Rating: **1/4
Anthony Henry vs. Jason Cade
Cade has been getting strong reviews for his performances over ‘Mania weekend. This steps up into the ‘main event’ slot and goes full tilt. They’re helped out by a load of cloud passing overhead. The whole ‘no rules’ approach of FIP is very underutilised. They have a hardcore promotion with no garbage wrestlers in it. Isn’t that a bit strange? Cade straight up kicks Henry in the nuts here and it’s within the lack of rules. Why not cheat throughout then? It’s weird. Cade becomes the latest in a string of guys to hit a Canadian Destroyer for a near fall this weekend. It’s getting insane how often you see that move. It used to be a killer. I blame Petey Williams for not being active anymore. Henry keeps going to an anklelock and eventually gets the tap out with that. Rock solid wrestling from these two.
Final Rating: ***
The show is about 80 minutes long and designed entirely to kill people’s time until WrestleMania starts. For that it was mission accomplished. The wrestling was solid throughout and the opening eight-man spotfest was genuinely good. Would I have watched this show if it didn’t fall on ‘Mania weekend? Absolutely not. So this was a bonus. It’s nice to get outside of my normal sphere of influence and have a look around.