Tonight I'm watching/writing from auspicious surroundings. I'm staying overnight in the hospital looking over my mom post-surgery. I figured if I'm staying up late I may as well embark on writing some criticism. Feast your viewing devices on this.
Show opens with Joey Ryan working the microphone. This is mostly banal save for a quick verbal joust with an elderly man in the crowd that looks like Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild and some blatant thievery of The Rock's material.
1. "Pretty" Peter Avalon vs. Johnny Yuma - 5
Yuma looks like Jack Evans with hippy hair and a blue bandana. Avalon's also due for a haircut and neither guy can weigh more than 125lbs. If Peter trimmed his seedy mustache he could pull off a pretty convincing Texas Tornado Jr. I wonder how long into this show I'll wish the card subjected to change would have done just that? Yuma does a move where he stands over his opponent, grabs their arms, and continually yanks them face-first into his anus. Johnny's got a move called the "Black Swan" so I'll forgive him some of his lesser traits. These guys straddle that athleticism/humor hybrid that PWG thrives on. I didn't know a lot about Yuma before this but he strikes me as what Brian Kendrick would be like today if he hadn't stopped caring. The finishing stretch perhaps had a few too many kickouts for an opener with Yuma eventually scoring a victory with the "Sex Factor". PWG usually doesn't disappoint for fast-paced openers and I rather enjoyed this one.
2. Candice LeRae vs. Portia Perez - 3
3. Willie Mack vs. Roderick Strong - 7
The women's match started with a cornucopia of armdrags. I think someone once said, "Don't be a drag, just be an armdrag". The commentators were too busy discussing The Walking Dead and superheroes. A pretty unflattering match as nothing of note really transpired and LeRae won plainly with a crucifix. I dig Mack and this was a real big test for him squaring off with Strong. The crowd didn't seem clued in early but before long they were rollicking and cheering raucously. Willie started as a PWG fan and transitioned into a competitor and here he stood his ground, even baiting Roderick into a striking battle out on the floor that had all the fans on their feet grimacing. A great little self-contained story showing Mack's resilience even surviving a backbacker on the top turnbuckle that was horrifying. My one complaint is Strong's match-ending "Sick Kick" landed squarely in the sternum when after what it followed it really felt like it should have been in the face/head.
4. Low Ki vs. Akira Tozawa - 5
5. Johnny Goodtime vs. Ryan Taylor - 4
Ki, free from the shackles of corporate entertainment, was back to his old ways, kicking the hell out of people. Your mileage on this match may vary, my big critique and one that hurts its return value for me, is as much as it troubles me saying it, this felt at times both like a stock Ki and stock Tozawa match. The two never meshed into a real cohesive flow, it was mostly Akira eating shots, then eventually going down for good. Next match was kind of dry, these guys spent plenty enough time opening shows, but sadly this didn't rise above that stature even though it was higher up the card. It was built to be a more personal battle but I never connected to the animosity. Goodtime did get pancaked on the apron in a truly gnarly bump so keep an eye peeled for that.
6. Claudio Castagnoli vs. "Hollywood Submission Machine" Joey Ryan - 5
Now, to finish the review, I've changed locations just a little bit, writing from the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort in Orlando. Ryan had swore he'd put away his trademark cheap tactics and out-wrestle Claudio. That charade went on for awhile until a poke to the eye signaled its demise. Anyone else think Castagnoli would have been a natural fit in AWA? Ryan cut his hair (scalp not chest) which robs him of much of the little personality he had. Ryan's generic "Hollywood" trunks complete with cartoony clipart look like something you'd see as a picture frame or on a shot glass in a cheesy souvenir tourist trap store. When I was in Hollywood years ago a lot of those stores sold 8x10 black and white glossy prints of the celebrities. I think someone should slip one in of Quicksilver for the hell of it. "Mom, they've got Arnold, Brad, Tom, and wait, who's this skinny git?" Ryan using the "Pedigree" only makes me wish I was watching Claudio versus Triple H. Ref bump, title belt used as illegal object, second ref, wait, is this a TNA main event circa '05? If so I want Don West not these self-important pop culture obsessed fiends. Ryan's targeting of the arm starts warming the match up more to me as its aggressive and gets across his desire to win. Claudio's fallaway slam off of the top made Scott Hall have another stroke -- tell Razor not to die on us quite yet as he should know NHO staffer Geo thinks his singles with Flair from June '97 is one of the best matches in Nitro history (yuck). Castagnoli gets the victory very suddenly with the "Neutralizer" (or "Brock Lock") which felt false.
7. Peligro Abejas! (El Generico & Ricochet) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) - 4
Bucks start off in TNA t-shirts just to piss of the PWG faithful which is splendid. When did Ricochet get the Taxi Driver haircut? And, would he please return my copy Arsenic and Old Lace? DVDs don't grow on trees, you know? If they did I'd have a tree of '40's farcical political satires in my backyard and not tomato plants. Anyone else ever think Generico's shtick will never allow him to break into the upper-echelon? The guy does a lot of things well but with the silly name/gimmick it'd be hard to buy him as the top dog anywhere. Man, that hair, can't get over the fact Ricochet now looks like an emaciated miniature of Luther Reigns. Nick Jackson looks like he could be a boyish janitor in Eureka's Castle but we'll try to buy into his newfound mean streak. Ricochet got great air on a somersault over the ringpost out to the floor but made about as much contact as WKO Mike has with a set of perky breasts (that didn't belong to his flat-mate with male pattern baldness that gets pissed when Mike neglects dish duty to spend more time on the Internet trying to convince people his tastes in wrestling is superior). Finishing stretch has a lot of those exaggerated "I can't believe that didn't finish him!" facials. The ending was so bloated with outrageous gymnastics it felt like a game of TNM that made your PC freeze in some sort of cruel programming joke.