We’re in Concord, NC’s Cabarrus Arena… not quite the same venue that ROH’s most recent free stream was from for those who care about those things. It’s the final night of PWX’s X16 tournament, and we’ve got Kevin Kelly and Brutal Bob Evans are on commentary.
I’ve not seen the first half of this show, but you can check out Arnold Furious’ review of it here… within seconds I can see what he meant by not liking the lighting set-up. The ring is bleached white and the crowd… in darkness. But first we try and watch a music video on a video screen in the background, since they can’t edit it into the master feed?
X16 Quarter-Final: David Starr vs. Tracer X
Tracer X, who won one of those Style Battle shows last year, beat Billy Brash in the first round. No word on if he’s related to Lincoln’s Robbie or Germany’s Juvenile… or whether he was born in the Ultimate. Starr beat White Mike to make it here…
For some reason the sound volumes are varying wildly depending on the cameras they use. Four minutes into the VOD and this is already annoying the hell out of me. Of course, Tracer has his own nicknames, because that’s a gimmick now. Starr keeps Tracer on the mat early as he wrenches away on an armbar, before almost getting a win out of a Thesz Press. It’s all fluid stuff as the pair go move-for-move, but we’re quickly outside as the two men take a breather. Back inside, Starr lands the inverted slam to Tracer for a near-fall, before we went to the chops.
Tracer’s back with some strikes, before his pumphandle driver’s turned into a small package… a wacky move looked weird as a Dragon suplex was countered into a “who got who?” move… but Tracer’s slingshot flatliner’s more precise and gets him a near-fall. Starr tries to catch him up top, but Tracer shoves away… but Starr rolls to the outside to avoid being jumped on… and he manages to counter a dive into a Cherry Mint DDT!
After waiting to take the count, Starr heads outside to drop Tracer into the guard rails as he demanded the ref start the count again, but Tracer beats the count just in the nick of time, and into a path of an agitated Starr. Despite that, Tracer’s back with a roundhouse kick, but his attempt at a 450 splash is met with a superplex and a Han Stansen lariat… but Tracer kicks out! A discus forearm and a Product Placement looks to follow, but Tracer wheelbarrows out into a near-fall, before the shotgun dropkick left Starr down as the 450 splash put away the Product. Enjoyable stuff, with Tracer getting what has to be labelled an upset here… a nice sprint at the end too, although I’m not sure why we’d bother about “that was a long count on the floor” given how sporadic count-outs actually get applied! ****
X16 Quarter-Final: Elijah Evans IV vs. Harlem Bravado
Bravado, who’s now living in the UK permanently, was back in the States for these shows, and got here by beating Chip Day in the first round. Evans, meanwhile overcame Sugar Dunkerton to get to the second night of the tournament.
Harlem’s all over Evans early on, taking Elijah down with a ‘rana and a monkey flip, before Elijah accidentally gave himself a Bronco Buster in the corner. There’s distractions from Evans’ entourage that turn things around, with Bravado getting choked in the ropes as the screen went black for some reason to show us Harlem’s chyron. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
A bicycle kick suddenly turns things Harlem’s way again, but his comeback’s a little stilted, as he played to the crowd too often as he eventually lands a clothesline for a near-fall. Angel’s Wings are countered when Harlem’s backdropped onto the apron, but his return back in sees him run into a backbreaker as Evans gets in a top rope elbow for another near-fall. A charge into the corner misses, and Harlem’s back in with a kick on the apron, followed by a somersault stunner back inside and a bare-knee Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Bravado tries to go up top, but instead of going for Elijah he dives onto his entourage… then returns with a crossbody to Elijah for a near-fall.
Harlem boots Tommy Thomas off the apron as Elijah’s entourage tried to get involved, but the distraction worked as Evans returns with a spear for the win. This was fine, but this felt a little too stop-start for me – there’s a way to play to the crowd without derailing momentum, but that wasn’t on show here. ***¼
After the match, Bravado promised to come back and win the PWX title – but his loss here meant that he knew he had to go away for a little longer.
We’ve only got one more quarter-final left – a time limit draw between Myron Reed and Darius Lockhart on night one means they’re both out… giving Corey Hollis a bye to the semis.
Speaking of Hollis, we’ve got his former tag team partner John Skyler out “to address his future.” Skyler was eliminated yesterday by Juice Robinson, and the crowd were silent as he teased retirement. At first there were no screams, no astonished cries… just silence. He’s interrupted by Hollis, alongside Brady Pierce and Gunner Miller – the group calling themselves “Country Strong”. Hollis tears into Skyler, and offers a free shot from behind… and instead sparks a 3-on-1 beatdown until ineffective security and wrestlers come out to try and make the save.
Eventually, Skyler’s girlfriend comes out and gets shoved down by Hollis, who suddenly stops as he realises he’s gone too far. That beating’s suddenly gone too, as Skylar tends to his partner. Kevin Kelly tries to relay things to real life, and I’m… not caring.
X16 Quarter-Final: James Drake vs. Juice Robinson
Well the crowd suddenly didn’t care about the shocking angle they just saw as they were screaming for James Drake and his death metal version of Mama Said Knock You Out!
It’s a bit of a tense opening as Drake took down Juice from a tie-up, with the collar-and-elbow produced a pinning attempt before Juice broke free with forearms. Drake reminds Juice that they’re in the Carolinas as some shoulder tackles took Robinson down for a one-count, before Drake took Juice around the corners with chops.
Those chops earn some attempted replies, but instead it degenerates into a battle as the pair trade chops and clotheslines before Juice finally took down Drake. Robinson goes airborne with a crossbody for a near-fall, before we again get a black screen as Juice busts out the Standard Issue Submission, attempting to get a submission with a Boston crab. Drake’s bleeding from the mouth, presumably from those clotheslines, but he drags his way to the ropes to force a break. Robinson tried to capitalise with Pulp Friction, but Drake counters and jarred Juice’s knee, before taking him back into the corner for more chops… but Drake’s own knee is causing troubles, allowing Robinson to take him into the corner as well for a cannonball.
Dusty punches follow from Juice, but Drake lands a release Northern Lights suplex after ducking another punch. Despite the bad knee, Drake’s able to get a receipt with a cannonball of his own, then a spinebuster for a two-count, but Drake’s attempt to follow up with a moonsault gets countered into a powerbomb out of the corner for another two-count for Juice.
Juice tries to follow up with a moonsault too – something I had to stare to figure out as the ceiling lights bleached out Drake so much I could only see his boots – but Robinson also misses, allowing Drake to eventually come back with the Drill Bit – a swinging butterfly suplex – before landing that moonsault for the big win! Enjoyable fare once we got past the slow start. ***¾
They announce here that Corey Hollis has a bye into the semi-finals… the crowd didn’t like that one!
PWX World Heavyweight Championship: Joey Mercury vs. Anthony Henry (c)
Oh hey, Joey Mercury’s using Saliva! Is it 2002 again? Still, at least Anthony Henry’s not using his EVOLVE chiptune!
Henry’s the early aggressor as he and Mercury looked to keep things on the ground during a slow start. The pace quickens a little as Mercury rolled to the outside again after a dropkick, and this start is really taking me out of it… but Mercury fires in, dragging Henry outside as he suckered him into some shots around the ring, throwing the champion into the commentary table and some barriers too.
Back inside Joey keeps it up, but some interference from Amber Young at ringside turns it back around as Mercury’s sent outside and met with a stomp off the apron as we’re back to the guard rail spots. Mercury falls into the corner when he’s sent back inside, and it’s all one-way here, with even Joey’s hopeful punch being a swing-and-miss affair. A second desperation punch actually connects, but Joey’s attempt at a ‘rana’s turned into a powerbomb and a single-leg Boston crab as Henry took control once more.
Mercury clings on through a crossface, then a Rings of Saturn, before somehow countering into a crossface of his own that forced Henry to scurry into the ropes. On the outside again, Henry tries to clear the crowd… but his attempt to whip Mercury into the railings is reversed, forcing Henry to neatly baseball slide under the railings instead.
That had to have been practised before, right?
In response, Henry takes a big run up to leap onto Mercury, but he’s caught and sent into the railings again as the challenger unleashed with Snake Eyes and superkicks, before Henry snaps back with a death valley driver for a near-fall. Another comeback from Mercury ends with a double-arm DDT, but Amber’s distracting the referee to prevent a pin from being counted…
Joey threatens to knock her off the apron, but instead takes down Henry again before he heads outside to chase after her. The chase quickly goes into the ring where Amber trips like in a bad horror movie, and this almost leads to the finish when Henry rolls up Mercury as he went to hit Amber with the double-arm DDT. It’s only good for a near-fall, but Amber gets involved again, and this sorta leads to the finish, as Mercury shoves away her leg grab on the apron before pulling off a sunset flip… Henry sits on it and leans into the ropes, and that’s the pin. This didn’t feel at all crisp at the end, and there was way too much padding in the match for my liking. The finish protected Mercury, but Henry wasn’t exactly a dastardly heel before this point either so… eh? ***
Let’s fast-forward through the LONG intermission, since HighSpots didn’t cut it out…
X16 Semi-Final: Tracer X vs. Elijah Evans IV
Thank God, Elijah attacks Tracer in the aisle so we don’t have to hear his Godawful theme music again.
When they make it to the ring, Tracer valiantly vowed to carry on, and nearly snatches the win with a sunset flip at the bell, but Elijah’s right back with a pop-up gutbuster to Tracer’s injured midsection. Commentary makes this sound like it’s elementary, but Evans decides to wear down on Tracer rather than race to a finish, and it almost costs him as Tracer fought back, setting up for a pumphandle brainbuster… but he couldn’t even begin to lift up Evans.
Tracer is able to hit a slingshot flatliner through the ropes, but it’s only good for a two-count as this crowd didn’t seem to be at all interested. Evans catches Tracer up top for a superplex, but Tracer headbutts free and hits a 450… bouncing off of Elijah, meaning he couldn’t capitalise with a pin straightaway, as he only gets a near-fall. Evans tries to hit back with a Blue Thunder Bomb, but Tracer’s not done, as he tries to block a suplex… and counters into a small package.
Another 450 from Tracer misses though, but he tries to go airborne again… only for a springboard crossbody off the top to be met with a spear in mid-air, and Elijah books his place in the final from there. This was decent, but the crowd weren’t invested at all in this match. ***
Kevin Kelly announces to the crowd that Corey Hollis is still in the tournament… but as a matter of protest for what happened earlier, he refuses to call the match. Brutal Bob Evans walks off too, and the camera crew capture them going to the back. So our remaining semi-final is going to be commentary-free as the ring announcer exclaimed “they just left!”
X16 Semi-Final: James Drake vs. Corey Hollis
Hollis’ music has the lyric, “I’m a dead man walking here”. It’s very apt, as he apologises during his entrance, calling this “real life”. Yeah, blur those lines! His apology segues into Hollis saying that things wouldn’t have happened had John Skyler not said what he was going to…
It’s a very mealy-mouthed apology and one that barely passes for heel heat. At least until he begged the crowd “don’t boo me”. Drake has enough of Hollis running his mouth and eventually slaps him to start the match… a hiptoss into the corner is followed up with more chops, but Hollis powders outside. His goons try to attack Drake, but they’re quickly dispatched… then ejected by the referee as I’m wondering what on Earth I’m watching.
Back in the ring, the ref misses a low blow from Hollis, who then chop blocks Drake’s knee repeatedly as he wore down on the big guy’s wheels. The only heat this is getting is the odd heckle from the crowd who’s mad about him hitting a woman… but this feels like the angle needed to simmer into another show rather than have Hollis back straight away.
Eventually Drake tries to fight back, but a low dropkick stops that as the crowd’s so silent you can actually hear individual conversations. Another Drake fightback saw him pull off a couple of bodyslams, stopping between each one to feel the knee, before a sit-out slam gets a near-fall. Hollis tries to go back to the knee with a calf slicer, almost making Drake pass out, but the arm drop gimmick fires up another comeback as Drake rolled into the ropes.
Hollis pulls at the knee pad to target the injury some more, forcing the ref to shove him away for… reasons. Drake refuses to allow the ref to stop the match, but instantly take a superkick and a… swandive headbutt to the knee. How in God’s name does that work? You ever taken a knee to the head?
After Hollis stopped the ref from a DQ for, reason, Drake’s back in with a backfist and a lariat that Hollis takes clumsily, before the Drill Bit (swinging butterfly DDT) gets the win. This was a chore to watch, I’m afraid. Save for one or two people, the crowd didn’t give a stuff about the Hollis angle at this time, and it really dragged the match down. Perhaps commentary would have helped it, but I think a crowd that gave a damn would have been more useful. **
So for the final, we’ve got Elijah Evans IV against James Drake… another match where Elijah’s got a body part to tackle… and Drake knows his goose is cooked here.
Kevin Kelly and Bob Evans are back out on commentary. Thank God. PWX announces a Rumble for their February show… they’re just a month late on almost every other indy on that one. Chip Day’s introduced next for… reasons to do with him being the PWX television champion. PWX has TV? The video skips a lot as things go wonky, and Chip starts talking about a lot of things with the letter X in them. He announces his entry into the Battlefield X rumble, before bragging about how he won the TV title the night before.
Chip tears into the crowd for abandoning him for another “flavour of the week”… but he’s interrupted by Kevin Kelly, who’s tells him that “PWX Management” is making him defend the “ITV” title against “these competitors”.
PWX Innovative Television Championship: Chip Day (c) vs. White Mike vs. Billy Brash vs. Drew Adler vs. Joe Black vs. Myron Reed vs. Sugar Dunkerton vs. Darius Lockhart
It’s a scramble match, involving basically everyone who lost in the first round of the tournament. Everyone’s entrances are really short, like those WrestleMania battle royals…
Lockhart is the last man out, and he goes straight for Chip before everyone separates them. WHY?!
Chip powders to the outside as we start with the usual multi-man formula, and hey, accidental spots already? I’m already hating this match. Sugar Dunkerton tries to get penance for that “accidental stunner” with some dancing and a lucha armdrag, but we’re back to the revolving door formula. At least the pace is quick at parts, but it feels so cookie cutter… hit a move, guy rolls out, new guy comes in, wash, rinse, repeat, and perhaps dive. Myron Reed nails a dive, as does Drew Adler, who lands a Sasuke special, before White Mike whiffs with an axehandle off the apron. COMEDY! More comedy follows as we have a dance-off… which I swear was a thing six months earlier. Is there that much of a time lag to the Carolinas?
We’re back into the revolving door spots, with Reed hitting a springboard cutter for a near-fall on Lockhart, before Darius replies with an Awful Waffle… Chip Day throws Lockhart out and steals the pin to retain the title. Entertaining enough as a popcorn match, but this just screamed “filler”. **½
X16 Final: Elijah Evans IV vs. James Drake
So Drake’s going into this with a bad knee, which gives Evans a clear target. We’ve no countouts or disqualifications here, nor any time limit, so I expect SHENANIGANS!
Evans instantly goes for the bad knee, sending Drake outside for respite… but the big guy’s fighting back as the two brawl around the ringside area. A simple poke to the eye stops Elijah briefly, with Drake taking Evans into the guard railings then into the ring. They’re straight back out though, with Drake getting thrown into the ringpost as we’ve got more brawling!
Drake fires back with chops to the chest and back, before dumping Evans with a back body drop back inside. A short DDT keeps Evans down for a near-fall, but the momentum keeps shifting… and for some reason Elijah’s not going for that knee as much as he should.
The no-DQ part of the match comes into play when Montana Black comes out to help his Syndicate buddy Evans, blasting Drake with a chokebomb, but it’s only good for a two-count. A superkick from Drake takes Evans down, as does a roundhouse to the head, but he can’t follow up quickly enough. Evans capitalises with almost a Muscle Buster, nearly dropping Drake as he pulled him off the top rope, before heading up top himself for an elbow drop that gets yet another near-fall.
Drake’s able to hit back with the Drill Bit, but that knee becomes a sore point as he’s forced to delay making the cover again, and Evans kicks out. More assistance comes in the form of Tommy Thomas, and he’s out with a sledgehammer for… reasons. Drake misses a moonsault and eats a spear as Evans gets a near-fall while commentary wondered out loud as to why Elijah didn’t even tease using the sledgehammer.
After the kickout, Evans picks it up though, but misses a shot as Drake comes in with a diving boot, before Thomas tries to stop Drake from using the sledgehammer himself. That led to a farcical low blow to Thomas with the sledgehammer, as Drake gets rid of Black with another diving boot, before finally using the sledgehammer on Evans. One more Drill Bit follows, and Drake wins the tournament. That was very underwhelming – after spending his semi-final working over the ribs, Evans didn’t do any limb work here, as they opted to overthink things with run ins and sledgehammers. Somehow James Drake cut his back in all this, but this path was less effective than him gutting out an onslaught to the knee and pulling out the win. **¾
The show ends with the trophy presentation, “you deserve it” chants, and a speech on a broken mic from Drake, describing the final as a culmination of 18 months of being attacked from behind with sledgehammers. So THAT’S why they brought it in… shame commentary didn’t bother to fill us in during the match. Anthony Henry comes out to stare down Drake, and the tag team partners hugged it out ahead of their future title match.
I didn’t see night one, but I get the feeling from Arn’s review that it was a better overall show than this. It’s almost like the mid-card angle with Hollis and Skyler killed the crowd, as the reactions were nowhere near the same levels in the second half of the show – hurting the business end of the tournament in the process.