Smash Wrestling Gold 2K17
June 11 2017
Gold is a yearly tournament from Smash Wrestling in Canada. This is the fourth Gold tournament. In 2014 the field featured Kevin Steen, Chris Hero, Michael Elgin, Johnny Gargano and EVIL but the tournament was won by Matt Cross. In 2015 Candice LaRae bested four opponents in the final. In 2016 they followed that up with a less star-studded line-up. That was won by TARIK, after he beat Candice in the first round. This years tournament features Lio Rush, Dalton Castle and Mark Haskins, along with local talent. This is available on Progress’ On Demand service as part of their relationship with Smash.
We’re in Toronto, Ontario. Hosts are Brad Myers and Scott Hunter. The tournament is a series of one on one contests resulting in a five-way main event.
Gold First Round
TARIK vs. Lio Rush
TARIK is the only former winner to take part this year but he’s got a major first round obstacle in little Lio. Rush is one of the hottest prospects on the Indies and everyone wants him. TARIK is a decent regional wrestler who combines strikes with old school heat. In the early going he badly misreads the crowd and tries a bunch of Memphis stalling. However he soon finds a different gear and starts to innovate, using the ropes and unusual angles to keep Lio guessing. They don’t have great chemistry but every now and again they nail a spot so sweetly that you can’t help but love it. It’s mostly due to Lio’s silly bumps. The one where he takes an Irish whip sideways and goes through the ropes out of the corner is downright dangerous. Lio has become so adept at taking bumps but his offence is so fast and explosive too. TARIK just has to keep up and they’re guaranteed to have a good match. It’s not overly spotty though as TARIK has that old school psychology and at one point he rolls out of the ring to save himself after a huge frogsplash. TARIK steals the win by grabbing the ropes on a sunset flip block. It might be a cheap spot but it was well executed, as was most of this match. Check it out.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Post Match: Kevin Blackwood jumps TARIK with a chair, as a receipt for an assault at the previous show. Seems a bit cheap to do so after TARIK has already wrestled. He looks a bit like Kim Ray and is covered in tattoos, if you want a frame of reference.
Gold First Round
Kevin Bennett vs. Brent Banks
Bennett heads up a group of heels, which are present at ringside for this. He’s a rapper. The crowd do not like him.
Brent Banks is popular locally. This is definitely regional wrestling. The flaws are there as they’ve not wrestled a wide range of opponents. Banks was recently invited to the WCPW World Cup qualifiers and jobbed to Mike Bailey in round one. He’s talented and his movement around the ring are fairly unique. He’s slightly clunky but better off than Bennett. Kev has great heat and can occasionally bust something impressive out. I like that Bennett is so hated it takes little encouragement to get the fans to chop him. Surely that’s a DQ Jimmy Korderas? Outside interference? The match loses its way when Brent botches the springboard for a cutter and they re-do the spot, which is really awkward but the actual spot looks great. It’s one of three springboard cutters in the match. If the timing is slightly off at times it isn’t during the best spot; Bennett coming off the top and eating a knee strike in mid-air. That’s glorious. It’s a pity the match then revolves around interference and how bad that is. Tank flat out rolls into the ring to hit a low blow and Bennett gets the win with the Remix. “This is embarrassing for the tournament” says the commentator. No shit, pal. This had real potential but Bennett’s bumbling cohorts didn’t help and the odd mistake dragged down what could have been a genuinely great match. Bennett’s seconds don’t help him at all. Apart from keeping him so resolutely heel, although his jerkish persona is fine without support.
Final Rating: ***
Video Control takes us outside where the promoter is looking to replace a missing participant opposite Scotty O’Shea.
Gold First Round
Greed vs. Sebastian Suave
John Greed has lost his “John”. Suave is Anthony Kingdom James’ charge. I’ve seen both these guys before and wasn’t particularly impressed.
Suave has an incredible t-shirt though, based on his ‘endorsement’ gimmick. It’s the Simpsons Krusty line of “I heartily endorse this event or product”. James cuts a very long promo, which doesn’t make me feel any differently about him. The t-shirt was better. James tries too hard to be Paul Heyman. Greed has an awful look. He has long hair but it’s tied up, he’s got a big beard, which is fine but then he’s wearing a vest and it’s ticked into his jeans. He’s overweight and looks rough. His in-ring is passable but I can’t get past his look. He looks like he’s wrestling for a sandwich and a place to kip tonight. Suave is ok and he at least has gear but the match feels disjointed. AKJ is out there to turn the tide but this doesn’t match up to Suave’s insistence that Greed and he are friends. The selling is totally inconsistent and the execution of key moments is off. The match has far too many instances of ‘look I can do this spot’ rather than ‘why am I doing this’? At times its downright ugly and it’s played up as a big important match so they shoot for epic and that just makes it worse. The DVD on the apron is ugly as sin. It’s a typical Indie spot with two guys who aren’t good at wrestling trying to have a match that’s beyond them. I admire the effort but not the results. The best spot in the match is Greed suplexing Suave into AKJ to knock him off the apron but that means James has to stand there and take it. The finish follows almost immediately though with James no-selling the spot that should have eliminated him from the match and Suave winning with a roll up. This was overly ambitious.
Final Rating: *1/2
Video Control gives us clips of Mark Haskins winning the Smash title in Camden and his video message where he gave up the belt. He promises to take back everything he didn’t lose.
Gold First Round
Mark Haskins vs. Dalton Castle
This is Haskins first match back in Smash since giving up the belt due to injury.
He has a tough first round opponent in Dalton Castle, the ROH regular. He’s arguably the most famous guy involved. The crowd attempt the “Will Griggs” song, having seen it for Haskins during his victory over Gargano but don’t know how to finish it so it just fades away.
This match is Dalton’s outlandish behaviour versus Haskins’ direct approach. Dalton has a long control period where he just pisses about endlessly and Haskins fiery comeback outshines the nonsense in a hurry. Castle can hang on the mat, although Haskins is portrayed as superior technically through their story. Dalton finds himself outdone so consistently that he has to resort to cheap tactics like a low blow. Haskins picks Castle off with a wrenching Sharpshooter though and proceeds to the final, continuing his campaign to win back the title he never lost. This was ok but they didn’t click quite as I hoped. Some of the big moments were a little loose, including the finish.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Gold First Round
Scotty O’Shea vs. Evil Uno
Franky the Mobster tore a tricep so Scotty thinks he’s getting a bye to the finals. Luckily for the fans Evil Uno was available on short notice to fill in. O’Shea has a truly awful look. It’s a full body suit, that looks like it came out of Black Widow’s wardrobe but his body is positively average. For a human being, not a wrestler. He looks like Captain Kirk from the era where he started wearing a girdle. Uno is a fat mess but his gear largely conceals that. Combined with the mask and size, it makes him look like a wrestler. Scotty looks like he’s on his way to a cosplay convention. Or maybe he’s Scarlet Johannsen’s stunt double…for really long shots. If he was a stunning worker this would be easy to ignore but he’s a middling talent and the match is completely forgettable and badly executed. Scotty tries some things that are beyond him, like a standing moonsault after a missed moonsault and the match is at its best when Uno is just hammering him. Scotty’s handspring is embarrassing. Uno catches him during one of those and hits a piledriver for the win. The more I see of Scotty O’Shea the more I hate him.
Final Rating: *1/2
Video Control gives us some matches for Super Showdown V: Mike Bailey vs. Bobby Lashley has me paying attention lads! This takes place on August 13 2017.
Le Tabarnak de Team cut a promo in French about how they hate everything. Especially “anglos”. While drinking Budweiser. OHHH CANADAAAAA. Where are the Molsons, ya hosers?
Le Tabarnak de Team vs. Halal Beefcake
Halal Beefcake are Joe Coleman, who used to be in Ohio Valley and Idris Abraham, who’s just started with TNA (or whatever TNA is called now). Abraham has crazy hair, like an afro that’s gone completely out of control. TBT work a Canadian lumberjacks gimmick and hate all these mincing Southern types. TDT are a very solid team and Vince McMahon would love their regional sass, although it’s a dated gimmick. They wrestle an old school match too with heat on Coleman until a hot tag to the super speedy Idris. Coleman is a big muscular guy but TDT insist on working him over because Idris is the better hot tag. TDT go completely nuts down the stretch, including an insane moonsault to the floor and a barrage of double team moves. Idris eats a few big moves for the pin, including a sick release powerbomb. TDT are very enjoyable. They know what they’re doing and tag teams like this are rare on the Indies. I can totally see them getting signed at some point.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Smash Wrestling Championship
Tyson Dux (c) vs. Mike Rollins vs. Braxton Sutter
Mike and Braxton are the Well Oiled Machines so they’re having slight issues due to them both getting a title shot. Rollins is a nutcase. Sutter is also known as Pepper Parks. They have a little backstage skit where Rollins offers Braxton a present, which is rejected. “What’s that, I should hit him with the box?” Oh, Mike. Dux has been a fighting champion for Smash, replacing the injured Haskins to fill the main event void. This is his ninth title defence but they’ve all been against low-key local talent. This is a typical three-way match with one guy spending ages overselling because they can’t plan ten minutes of three-way stuff. The crux of the storyline is whether Mike Rollins will turn on Braxton Sutter and they certainly spend a long time teasing it.
Which provokes a “Seven” moment where the crowd want to know what’s in the box. Oh god, I hope it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow’s severed head. Instead Mike stomps on the present. Hey, it’s an empty box. He gave him nothing. It was a symbolic gift? The Well Oiled Machines work together briefly before Rollins, incapable of logical thought, turns on Braxton. “Now I’m mad” he screams at the world in general. Tyson overcomes the odds because of the Well Oiled Machines bickering and gets the pin on Mike to retain. This was fine but the minimal planning meant the match was driven by storyline.
Final Rating: ***
Gold Tournament Final 2017
Kevin Bennett vs. Mark Haskins vs. Evil Uno vs. Sebastian Suave vs. TARIK
This is under elimination rules. Last man standing wins the match and is number one contender for the Smash title. The bulk of the participants are local guys; Bennett, Suave and TARIK. There’s certainly some talent in there, although Uno bosses the match with his size and Haskins with his speed and technical ability. There’s a cracking spot where Haskins takes out Bennett’s mates at ringside by diving past Uno. Evil Uno never saw him coming. Another sensational dive is Kevin Bennett coming off the stage with a flip. The locals are all heels, to varying degrees, so they logically work together.
TARIK does some tidy selling in nursing a bad back all match, sustained in the chair assault after the opener. Haskins puts TARIK out first, thanks to his selling, with a series of attacks culminating in a short superkick. TARIK has two outs; he had the toughest first round match and he got injured after it. Bennett thankfully boots Suave next with the Remix after his boys interfere. I keep thinking of Evil Uno as an import, although he’s wrestled regularly for Smash for years. It’s mainly because I still think of him as a Chikara guy. Bennett is the local boy, who everyone hates, and his timing is notably not as good as Uno or Haskins. Same with the seconds who mistime interference on Evil Uno. Bennett nut shots Uno though and the Remix puts him out.
It comes down to Bennett vs. Haskins. Bennett tries to keep up with Haskins although it looks like he’s struggling to remember his spots while Haskins is telegraphing shit so he doesn’t get lost. The seconds continue to interfere so Haskins wipes them out with outta control topes. Sharpshooter puts Bennett away and Haskins gets the win. Haskins looked a class above everyone here.
Final Rating: ***1/2
This was a consistently solid card with only a few exceptions. Obviously the likes of John Greed, Sebastian Suave and Scotty O’Shea wouldn’t get on to bigger cards and Smash is limited for who they can use, for financial reasons. For the money that’s available to them this is a solid outing from Smash Wrestling. I thought TARIK-Lio Rush was really strong and the majority of the card operated at a level just below that. It used to be a show with six ***+ matches on it was an easy recommendation. How wrestling has changed! Nothing over four stars here but nevertheless a solid card with only a couple of matches you should skip. Check it out on Progress On Demand if you don’t have the Smash VOD.