So, it's weird when you watch a random show from a company and containing largely guys you've never heard of. Not knowing the characters, feuds, etc. you can just hope you can connect in some small way to what's happening in the simple stories in the ring. Now, with Japan, that's not so much a problem, there's so many nomad journeyman that, even with some of the more auspicious and obscure shows that pop up, I'll recognize a handful of the guys and have sort of an idea of the overall pecking order of that scene. Hopefully I can find something to like about ACW as I just acquired their entire '08-'09 library.
When you start scraping the bottom of the barrel on the US indy scene one big drop-off is usually production quality. This is dark. It looks like it was filmed in some sort of nightclub/pirate bar/warehouse. It's lit terribly. It looks like it was shot on an old VHS camcorder. The wide-shot is on an off-kilter tripod. This is some genuine gritty San Antonio independent wrestling.
1. Skylar Skelly vs. Tony Morales - 2
Tony is of no relation to Pedro I can assure you. Skelly looks like he's coming from an all-night rave bender running on no sleep and a breakfast of ecstasy and gravy. There's a DDT on the floor in the opener. This should be the end of the match. No questions. Instead they get back inside the ring and start doing one of those preposterous rolling cradle spots where neither guy can hold the pin. You think Jake would have done that stupid shit after splattering Steamboat's head on the concrete? Commentator says "shades of Papa Shango" after a lousy shoulderbreaker. Skelly sells like he just saw his check at Steak & Shake: "I payed $9 for this shit!" Skylar tries to do that Shelton spot of hopping to the top buckle but doesn't even get enough air to make it halfway. A bad finish where while in a cross armbreaker Skelly shifted his weight to pin Morales' shoulders to the mat which in theory is fine but I didn't buy Tony at all. Post-match Morales refuses a handshake and kicks Skylar in the balls. Damn my inane wrestling addiction, ugh, I can't help it, but, I really want to see the continuation of this feud now.
2. Alektra Blue vs. Shark Girl - 1
Next match was undeniably bad. Both girls were greener than the mossy beard of Man-Thing. Shark Boy went on to some notoriety but actually got his start right down the road from us for the HWA so seeing someone aping his shtick across the country was interesting. There were some miscues but the biggest letdown was Blue's selling which had about as much life to it as Pete Postlethwaite's corpse.
3. The Garza Brothers vs. Troubled Youth (Drew Lucid & Problems) - 2
The Garza boys are of no relation to Hector and his enduring corkscrew plancha. I can't tell for certain and the lousy lighting and camerawork aren't helping but it appears one of the Garza bros. is inexplicably wearing blackface or has a ghastly tribal facial tattoo. Five minutes in and there's been no tags and Julio and Drew can't work their way out of an expired condom package. Problems is having all sorts of problems being a wrestler. The ref does a lousy job keeping this together like his last marriage.
4. Pierre Abernathy vs. Gary The Barn Owl - 2
With a name like Pierre and wearing the British flag Abernathy gives mixed messages as he looks like a guy that should be working a food cart downtown. Gary looks like a Twiztid groupie which is about as low on the social totem pole as sheep rapist. An apron bump minutes in, sure, why not? I'd rather see an actual barn owl in the ring -- probably sell Pierre's pedestrian shit better. Abernathy has a spot where he puts you in the "Tree of Woe", charges in, then hits the breaks only to flick you in the dick. I wonder how many bong hits and bags of Funyuns he had to get through to imagine that one up?
5. Berry Breeze vs. “The Centerfold” Matthew Palmer - 3
Berry is wearing a t-shirt he had airbrushed at the mall. Palmer's a student of Lance Hoyt? Yikes. Opening stretch is actually quite fine with Breeze busting out a smooth spinning heel kick. Palmer looks like a young Rick Martel but works like a present day Elix Skipper. Speaking of late-WCW, Berry busts out the "Roll of the Dice", but with no snap so it looks like two guys rolling over in bed fighting for the blanket. Thought this may end up higher but some guy interfered. If I'm sneaking into a match to take out a dude I doubt I'd do something as preposterous as Road Dogg's pumphandle slam.
6. Michael Payne vs. Chad Thomas - 1
Thomas' all over print American flag pants are a huge eyesore. Payne looks like a guy with a couple warrants out. There's been a general malaise and halfheartedness about the show thus far. The dark venue coupled with the stark black canvas makes me feel like I'm watching two chunky dudes fighting above that gaping pit from The Gate. Michael gets the win, strangely enough since I just obscurely referenced the guy, using Elix Skipper's old "Play of the Day" finisher. This was as depressing as crying into a bowl of ice cream and leaving your ex-girlfriend a voicemail.
7. Spiro vs. “One Man” Mike Dell - 2
Spiro looks like Thomas Hayden Church in a royal blue sleeveless mesh shirt and Dell a former male stripper that did those cop routines at bachelorette parties. Started innocuously but then Spiro did the worst tilt-a-whirl slam I've ever seen. His DDT was also weak sauce. Spiro's execution just continues to shock and disappoint: he throws an obvious punch at half-speed Dell was supposed to catch, this awkwardly leads into a bungled armdrag attempt that's embarrassing for all involved. There's no heat for any of the nearfalls and this is a #1 contender's match. I liked the slower pace here but for supposed Texas veterans this was real bad.
8. Staple Gun Lumberjack Match: Shawn Vexx vs. Jacob Ladder - 2
Next match sees the fans at ringside armed with staplers. I, for one, wouldn't want any errant blood from either of these guys getting on my threads. Jacob Ladder looks even grosser than you'd expect a guy with that handle to appear. Vexx took a nasty backdrop to the floor then the footage of the fans attacking him with staple guns looked like some seedy cell phone video of a mugging caught in the subway. ACW should have brought in that old war vet that kicked that dude's ass on that bus awhile ago -- sure he'd have kicked Ladder's ass for $100 or so. Something about this stipulation and these fans' bloodlust and desire to chase men with staple guns is stomach-churning. The finish is so abrupt and unremarkable (looked like someone dunking their kid sister in a pool) that you could tell they were just done having the local Office Depot's stock of staples punctured into their flesh.
9. Sara Del Rey vs. “Sara Del Rachel” Rachel Summerlyn - 4
This was their Halloween show which has been very loosely alluded to and Summerlyn's doing a lazy Del Rey impersonation rocking her t-shirt and doing her pose but it doesn't really go beyond that. I loved the opening as Sara just launched herself across the ring with a dropkick. Summerlyn's a large lass -- looks like one of those chicks weird fetishists pay to smother them and sit on them and shit. I like what Del Rey brings to the table, while physically smaller, she appears so larger in stature by how she takes the fight to Rachel. Summerlyn kicks out of a pin attempt and Sara just slaps her upside the head like you'd do your little brother when he stepped on your LEGO boat. The finish was a letdown involving a crooked ref and half-hearted interference but overall this was the first thing that had moments I actively enjoyed.
10. JT Lamotta vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers - 4
The DVD says there's over a half-hour left and I shudder like I do at the prospect of a live-action Thundercats film. I know Jimmy's a wrestling nomad but how/why did he end up here of all places? Maybe he's a fan of Tex-Mex. The gigantic pirate flag on the balcony above the ring is about as distracting as standing behind a MILF in a tank top in the checkout lane. Lamotta should be on the next season of Tough Enough -- not because I think he'd do well but I'd just love to see Austin chew his ass out. Summers is supposed to be the company's big ace but with his generic tattoos and cue ball head the only place his face belongs is the side of a milk carton. Some guy in a mildewy black hoodie comes out distracting Summers leading to Lamotta throwing a savate kick that embarrassingly hits Scot in the side of the arm leading to his elimination shortly after. Has Jacobs ever gotten around to writing a manifesto? The finish was kind of crafty but not pulled off very smoothly. JT went for a reverse hurricanrana (which he used to put Summers away with earlier) but Jacobs grabbed the ropes leaving Lamotta suspended upside down. Jimmy then sort of fell backwards and used the ropes to keep JT down -- looked clunkier than a screenplay submitted by a dyslexic seventh grader.
The closing promos are all shot behind the building with no light save for a nearby streetlight that illuminates the local alley crack sales. ACW has at least some fans (saw a sign of theirs on a recent WWE broadcast) but anything that makes them feel unique or edgy live doesn't translate well to DVD. It seems like a bunch of guys that grew up in the same barrio playing wrestlers every third weekend when they can get a shift off of their boring day jobs.