HWA Aftermath 5/6/11
Great Miami Event Center
327 S. Second St. - Hamilton, OH
So, another road report, as once I heard talent from wXw, CZW, DGUSA, EVOLVE, ROH, etc. was all going to be at a show mere blocks from my house I'd feel foolish not attending. Geo was supposed to accompany me but had a cotillion or something. I'd spent the day out with my family including dinner at Red Lobster (best coleslaw there is) but was pretty amped driving through Lindenwald listening to the album Dog Problems by The Format and enjoying the sunny weather on the way to the venue which sat nestled right outside the projects.
Usually parking at indy shows is a cautionary "fend for yourself" arrangement but I was glad that even though I arrived around 7:40PM I still got a VIP spot right up-front. I used my student ID for a little discount action getting a ticket at the door for $7, walked up a ramshackle stairway, and into the auditorium. There were seats on three sides of the ring and I walked to the emptiest section getting a seat right in the middle of the front row.
I've got to give it up to Rich Swann as he was bouncing around the fairly quiet and desolate building with boundless energy. I yelled "CZW!" at him and he threw his arms into the shape of a large "C". He was running around mouthing the words to the terrible iTunes soundtrack that was blaring, at one point I saw him flat on his back on the hard tile floor, he appeared to be doing a kip-up but instead miraculously backflipped to his feet and gave some passerby the cheesy Buddy Christ pose.
1. Sami Callihan vs. Gerome Phillips - 6
2. Ron Mathis vs. Chris Hall - 3
I was really surprised to see them open with Callihan (one of the hottest names on the indy circuit) and Gerome (one of their heaviest pushed heels). It was a good call, though, as they started it off good with a hard-hitting match. Both guys are so vocal, and so physical, that I was cringing throughout. One of my favorite sequences was out on the floor which saw Phillips toss Sami up in the air having him land back-first on the hard apron. Sami's good enough that he could comfortably work in the "8-9" range given the proper context but for an opener you couldn't ask for much more (except possibly having it go a few min. longer). Next, Mathis isn't a big guy but has a giant chip on his shoulder, we got into a shouting match during his entrance which was fun as security had to intervene. Left alone I fell back on old school so I was rallying for the good guys, unfortunately for me, in this bout that meant I was backing "Maddness" Chris Hall, a guy I've failed to see much talent in. Hall's a stocky musclehead-looking guy so you'd think he'd break Ron in-half but Mathis targeted the leg and that strategy worked well. He sprayed Chris in the face with an aerosol can which helped him get the victory.
3. Brutally Handsome vs. Jon Murray & Clark Konnor - 3
4. Dustin Rayz vs. Rich Swann - 4
The tag match wasn't bad but undeniably indy in every way. All four guys don't strike me as gym regulars but they did have personality. Brutally Handsome are in fact grotesque with giant, mangy beards and bad hair. Murray and Konnor from what I could gather are playing lovable losers. Clark (I believe it was) had a lot of tattoo work, especially on his legs, and I noticed a Boba Fett helmet and an Autobots emblem amongst other stuff. The only thing I can say that really stuck out here was Murray, a hefty man (looked similar to Typhoon), got crotched on the top rope, then later shoved off where he took a scary bump to the floor. Rayz and Swann was pretty good. Dustin looks like a cruiserweight Eddie Gilbert. The opening stages weren't invigorating any of the miniscule audience in attendance but once the pace picked up Swann got to show off his agility and things got a lot better. Rayz won with a double-underhook piledriver of sorts which Swann took a nasty bump for. At this point I was rather surprised the heels had went over in every match on the first-half of the show.
5. HWA Heavyweight Title Match: BJ Whitmer vs. Jake Crist - 8
I liked this match a lot, as evidenced by the score, but doubt it'd have the same effect on most, especially on DVD. It got plenty of time, built up slowly and methodically, but the later stages saw lots of great big spots and nearfall moments. I won't come out and say it's better than Triple H vs. Undertaker from 'Mania (although I'd agree with that sentiment) but will argue that here the guys worked harder. Whitmer hasn't aged well, or at least not facially, he looked liked Booger Red-era Undertaker with a splash of Freddy Krueger. Jake's the better of the Crist brothers and seemed game here to make a legit run at the belt. As the match progressed I felt the crowd fading out but I was really lapping it up. Due to TV time constraints, etc. matches typically aren't given the time to properly simmer and flourish organically but this was quite the opposite. Influenced by my Japanese brethren from across the sea I typically clap politely (or in this night's case enthusiastically) for nice mat-work, etc. but I could tell it was appreciated from some of the talent throughout the night and definitely here: at one point Jake pointed me out and said, "That was for you, blue shirt!" or something similar, and later, while on the mat applying a hold Whitmer actually emphatically swatted the referee away from his line of vision toward me to chat with me, saying, "I bet you know what this is -- triangle choke!" which was true and maybe he sensed the aura of an MMA fan in me similarly to pregnant women having a glow. The ending saw Gerome sneak back out to ringside and trip Jake leading to BJ getting a win and also building toward the main event on their return date.
- Intermission -
I saw Sami Callihan alone so walked over to chat which was a really cool experience. The guy was super friendly and we enjoyed some laughs together. I asked him about his match with Trent Acid (which I'm reviewing later this month for Every Day May) which he didn't look upon too favorably but I did ask him to tell me legit how high he dropped the match-ending leg drop from (he literally flew out of the rafters). We talked about his work in the death match scene, I won't reveal some of the personal details of our conversation out of respect (don't want to mistakenly throw anyone under a bus) but he did show me the scar from his unreal match at Cage of Death XI which is still one of the damnedest things I've ever seen. It was a really cool discussion, getting to talk to someone I truly admire and consider one of the best pound-for-pound in the world, and I wished him the best of luck in the future.
In the bathroom a guy approached me, "Do you post on any message boards?" was his query. Turns out he was a member over at DVDVR. The paper towel dispenser didn't work, Lord Matthew Taylor chuckled at my misfortune leaving me to dryly ask, "Is this a rib?".
6. HWA American Luchacore Title Match: Sid Fabulous vs. Jeremy Madrox - 4
7. Lord Matthew Taylor vs. Alex Colon - 5
Sid's a real skinny, small guy, doing a sort of Rhett Titus gimmick, where he thinks he's sexy but everyone else sees him as a moron. Madrox looks like he stepped out of the '30's with a handlebar mustache and an old boxer stance. I was kind of enjoying their match, Jeremy was really laying stuff in (the reason I bumped the score up a point), but the finish wasn't much. Fabulous had been being mauled but suddenly hit a discus elbow or something to end it. Colon is a perpetual bottom of the card guy in CZW and elsewhere but showed up with more personality than a lot of guys which was welcomed. Taylor is one-half of the Noble Bloods, an aristocracy team, who I guess became good guys at some point since my last HWA show, and while a good hand in the ring his gimmick doesn't really suit him especially the style he works. This was good, though, featured some of the better strike exchanges of the show, and Taylor won with the "Warrior's Way" which I can dig.
8. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Dave Crist - 6
Main event time and it was getting late. Rich Swann actually came over and sat next to me and we chatted for awhile which was a cool surprise. We talked a bit about a lot of indy, his home turf CZW, as well as briefly EVOLVE, JAPW, IPW, IWA-MS, etc. He said he'd signed with Dragon Gate and did three tours of Japan already. I was telling him of the glory days of HWA when Vince bought WCW and stuck a lot of their guys over here (Kaz Hayashi, Dave Taylor, Meng, Shannon Moore, Jimmy Yang, etc.). We also talked of the upcoming New Japan shows in America and he was explaining how/why he couldn't work them. All in all, a super nice dude, asked me for my name before he left to go, and treated me like an old friend which is rare in an industry full of egoists. Back to the action, this felt vaguely exhibitiony, I almost graded it a touch higher just for seeing a touted German wrestler in my own backyard but as is it's just a little north of the recommended cut-off. It was really a showcase of Sabre's ground work, be it fancy, intricate British stylings or more MMA-based stretches and locks. At one point Sabre turned himself into a human ball which perplexed Crist. I was cracking up and standing and Dave called me out, saying, "Hey! You know what's going to happen next, don't you? Tell me!" wanting advice on how to proceed but I just yelled "Grab an arm, dog!" which led to Sabre quickly rolling him up into a pinning predicament. I was urging Zack to use his devastating leg kicks and eventually they did come into play and they sounded as stiff as I'd hoped. They didn't seem to be trying to win over the hapless local yokels who were too busy playing on their phones or chasing children but doing their own match which I kind of dug as they focused on telling a simple story of struggle on the mat and I appreciated it.
All in all, from the action, which was largely good, and at times ranging on borderline great, to the interactions with respected and rising indy talent, this was a very fulfilling and enjoyable night of wrestling for me to take in live. There was an after-party at a nearby Applebee's but I headed home as I had plenty of Silent Library on my DVR and some iced tea/lemonade to get back to.