April 7 2018
We’re in New Orleans at the WWN venue. This was the show that ran head to head with NXT. All tickets were ten bucks but apparently nobody gave a fuck because the building is empty. There’s about 50 people there. My speakers decide to crap out, again, before this show and I run all kinds of tests and switch them out for the spares and it turns out the sound is fucked on the Style Battle tape.
Tracer X vs. AR Fox
I feel bad for these boys having to wrestle while NXT is on in front of a tiny crowd. I can’t even tell what the reactions are like because there’s no sound. This was originally Darby Allin vs. Tracer X but Darby was injured on the Progress show. They keep a strong pace here but it’s clearly designed for a small crowd. There are no big bumps and I don’t blame them at all for that. They manage to have an entertaining bout based around roll up near falls. It’s all very smooth and well executed. Tracer X is a huge prospect and I’m a little sad his exposure this weekend has been so limited. I’m sure Sapolsky will use him for Evolve at some point. Fox puts him away here with the 450 Splash and advances to the next round in a very good match. Shame there’s no sound and no one saw it.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Anthony Henry vs. Jason Kincaid
Kincaid is going to wrestle with that black goth toilet seat around his neck. Interesting fashion choice. I think I approve.
Big Chris suggested it was a chop blocker. I’ll say this, if I got booked against WALTER I’d be out there in full body armour. This is why Roman Reigns is the Big Dawg. Protect yourself out there lads. This is a completely different match to the opener. Mainly because Kincaid, brave appearance change aside, doesn’t have the timing of the guys in the opening match. They do more big spots, including one on the apron. Again there’s no lack of effort and I appreciate that considering how many people are in the building but unlike the opener it drags a bit. Henry is a little bland, albeit athletic and Kincaid, who brings the wacky personality, isn’t as clean in the ring. They do throw in some intense near falls before they start shooting for epic. It ends up getting really good, making us 2/2. Henry’s TKO across the ropes is a nice spot. Kincaid gets trapped in a half crab and Henry pounds on the back of his head (is that legal?) until the ref stops it. This was really good too. Henry vs. AR Fox is the first semi-final.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Snoop Strikes vs. Matt Riddle
I love how Matt Riddle looks happy as shit to be on this horribly attended show and goes out of his way to fist bump everyone who is even remotely interested in doing so. What a fucking guy. Snoop is replacing Dave Crist. Snoop starts with a bunch of high octane offence, realising everyone expects him to lose here and lose quickly.
Matt Riddle has had just about enough of Snoop Strikes! pic.twitter.com/F5GwOz1bKf
— Absolute Arnie (@ArnoldFurious) April 8, 2018
Riddle shuts that down in a hurry! How many matches has Riddle had this weekend? He’s been on everything! He has this tireless work ethic and he’s such a happy go lucky guy that’s it’s damn near impossible to dislike him. Plus he’s so giving in the ring, allowing Snoop to look like a star at his expense. I really can’t say enough good things about the man. True he ends him with a sequence of big moves, culminating in the knee, when he’s had enough but Snoop got enough offence in there to get himself over. Tidy little match.
Final Rating: ***
Keith Lee vs. Nick Gage
The winner of this gets Riddle in the other semi-final. Keith has lost most of his big matches this weekend, suggesting that he might be on his way out. But he’s not sat ringside at NXT, he’s here wrestling at Style Battle. This is the kind of clash of styles you might expect Keith to run into if he does make the move to WWE in the future. Gage is very kick/punch 80s/90s wrestling kinda guy when he’s not working hardcore matches. He tends to get by on personality and the more promos I see from Gage, the more I like him. It doesn’t take much here for Keith to look like the better wrestler.
This image is what the match is about. Gage provoking the big monster and getting his ass kicked for it. The crowd get very into this although some of the bumps are glaringly bad. Keith finishes with the Spiritbomb and we have Keith vs. Riddle in the semi. Gage isn’t pleased, because he kicked out, and smashes Lee with a chair. Then he Pillmanises the ankle. That’s pretty intense for Style Battle in front of 50 people.
Final Rating: ***
AR Fox vs. Anthony Henry
They run angle pre-match, which I don’t get because it’s all talking. And then Fox leaves and we get…
WWA4 Wrestling School vs. itself
This is a 6-man scramble. Having audio would be really helpful here. I don’t know who anyone is. They throw together a bunch of spots. The little guy with no hair and tattoos plays a good underdog character as everyone else is a hoss. They have some decent spots in here but it feels like a bunch of spots one after another and when you’ve seen better wrestlers do this kind of match (hello Takeover opener) it pales in comparison. It stinks of ‘we want to show off but we don’t know how’. Some of it is really good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s too messy and there are too many guys out there. The one dude does a kip up and lands on another’s head. There’s a lack of spatial awareness and it goes too long. There are definitely some talented boys in this but putting them all on display makes it hard for the better ones to stand out. The underdog guy eats the pin. This was a hot mess.
Final Rating: **
AR Fox vs. Anthony Henry
This is the first semi. It exists somewhere between the smooth but safe Tracer X match and the reckless yet exciting Kincaid bout. They do a wacky apron spot and go almost directly into big near falls. I like the idea that both guys are already worn down from the first match of their night so the chance is there to get a quick win. 90% of the match is the stretch! Fox gets sick of that and kicks out of a brainbuster before one. Before one is the new one! They both look tired and a few spots don’t quite click because of that. Fox gets the 450 but Henry kicks out! Fox figures he has this won and goes in for the kill but Henry rolls him up and advances to the final.
I like AR Fox selling the loss as a big deal, like coming to Style Battle was the peak of his WrestleMania experience and he feels he’s let himself down by losing.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Matt Riddle vs. Keith Lee
Keith limps out here, badly injured from Nick Gage’s post match assault.
The zebras try to stop him performing but he’s like “fuck that, this is Style Battle!” Keith tries for the pounce but collapses under the leg injury and Riddles knees him in the face to advance to the final. This was one of the smartest booked matches all weekend. All the tournament stuff on this show has been good.
Final Rating: NR
Matt Knicks & Stevie Fierce vs. Chance Champion & Omar Amir vs. Purple Haze & Blake Wilder vs. Crazy Boy & Aero Boy vs. Jimmy Lloyd & Tony Deppen vs. Curt Matthews & Jared Wayne
Knicks has the long purple gear, Fierce the short white trunks if you’re watching with no commentary and you don’t know who’s who. Skinny Vinny, a really thin dude with a 20s mobster gimmick, gets in the ring to introduce his team (Champion & Amir). You should be able to figure out who’s who on that team as Amir has “Amir” helpfully written on his crotch. The teams just keep coming. The Boys are from DTU. I wasn’t keen on seeing a six-man scramble earlier but now we have a six-team match up. You really don’t need to book this many guys. They start mistiming stuff early and it’s more about trying to get some characters over. I would be more invested in your characters if you were better wrestlers. Just saying. The actual card match was Knicks & Fierce vs. Matthews & Wayne, which might have been fine but it got Clusterfucked. Those two teams have the most charisma. Both do dance/aerobics style double teams and such. A lot of it is sloppy but hey, it’s a total throwaway match. After a while most of the teams get cleared out and Matthews & Wayne double team Knicks for the pin. They should have just stuck to a regular tag match here. The entrances alone were a total waste of time.
Final Rating: *
Logan Creed vs. Joey Ozbourne vs. Francisco Ciatso vs. Andrew Jackson vs. Blanco Loco
Logan’s valet is called Brooklyn. Creed himself has an interesting look.
Ciatso looks like an FBI member (the Full Blooded Italians not the government intelligence branch). I half expected to get another six-man match here. A six-man, a six-way tag and then a five-way. Logan Creed stands out here because he’s huge. I have no earthly idea why he has a valet, who is barely interested in what’s happening nor why he feels the need to do a dive when he’s so much bigger than everyone else. Just stay on your feet and throw all the flippy guys around. Aside from Creed nobody really stands out and it’s another match that just screams filler. I could have done with Style Battle just focusing on the tournament and having one filler match, which could have been this one as it’s the best of the three filler matches. How can they even justify hiring 23 non-tournament guys? From a business POV alone it’s madness. Brooklyn distracts Ciatso for the finish and Creed wins. I don’t know what to call his finish but it was ugly.
Final Rating: **1/4
Style Battle Final
Anthony Henry vs. Matt Riddle
There’s been a lot of filler here but I’m hyped for this match, as Matt Riddle has been delivering this weekend. They only have ten minutes left on the show but I like when tournament finals are fast and furious. It reflects the wearing down process of the previous matches, although Riddle creamed Keith Lee in about a minute flat. There’s no doubt Henry has had the harder route to the final. Like Snoop Strikes he really takes it to Riddle. The trouble is, Riddle is pretty tough. So the Dan Bryan strikes don’t do shit. Riddle has learned so much over the last year. Everything has been fine honed, tweaked and all his trademark stuff has been improved on. There are still critics of some of his moves (Brostone) but he does stuff differently and has been building everything he does from the ground up. Henry gets overwhelmed and has to fight from underneath, relying on desperation kick-outs. Riddle just bombarding the poor bastard with abuse.
Henry pulls the same half crab that won him the earlier match but Riddle gets out of that right into the Bromission and Henry is done.
I loved this match. Riddle’s work here was great. At first barely taking Henry seriously, then dominating him and finally, when in trouble, putting him away with a sublime counter. Riddle was different class. Henry had a good showing and if he carries on working guys at Riddle’s level he can only improve.
Final Rating: ****
The tournament was great. I really enjoyed it. The filler, consisting of a shocking 23 non-tournament wrestlers (plus one manager and one valet), was incredibly wasteful stuff. I could easily have skipped it all and lost nothing. Exposure is one thing but if you’re being exposed in the midst of 20 other guys it’s not exposure. Anyway, tournament stuff rocked. All of it. Watch the final at the very least.