1. ECWA & TWA OPEN INVITATIONAL Over the Top Rope BATTLE ROYAL!!! feat. "Hitman" Tony Stetson, Kid America, "Heavyweights" Dan Eckos & Sean Royal, Black Panther, AHTO, JJ Crew Guy, "Pitbull" Timothy Richards, Mozart Fontaine, CUJO the Hellhound, Mr. Ooh La La, Russian Assassin, "Living Legend" Larry Winters - 4
I've always had a soft spot for a battle royal and while typically not a place to spotlight in-ring talent (usually it's a lot of punching and not much else) they're usually fun. The average independent wrestler in 2011 looks a lot different than one, from say, 1993 and a lot of the guys in this looked like they'd be right at home on a grainy VHS bootleg of a '95 show in a school gym. Wait, is that Stetson from the original Eastern Championship Wrestling? Wow. Even with the older, less athletic guys being in the majority, I was still surprisingly entertained by this, if you can't bring compelling drama, at least let us, in some way, know that you (the performers) are having fun and I sensed it here. Mr. Ooh La La was ludicrous and I thank him for it.
Tammy Sytch comes out looking like one of those "teachers" from the porno where a student screws the professor for a grade (don't act like you haven't downloaded one of those before). Sunny crowns each sociopath entrant into the Super 8 with an Olympic-looking red, white, and blue lanyard with a crummy coin dangling off of it as they shake her hand and admire her sex hair. I wouldn't mind seeing her oil SHOCKWAVE the Robot's joints. I love this venue -- looks like that hangar level from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (but with better lighting). So, who's going to win this year? It's really hard to say offhand but I'm guessing not Bobby Shields.
2. "New Horror" Sami Callihan vs. Adam Cole - 7
I loved this. Great way to start with two of the upcoming stars of the scene. Guys who have both got seasoning in CZW, ROH, EVOLVE, etc. Just outstanding selling by both men throughout. I really bought into Cole after suffering a manhandling rallying with everything he had to try to put away his insane opponent. One bad botch I'd be remiss not to mention was Cole cutting off a suicide dive with a jumping kick that whiffed more than Sunny when she found that turd Scott Hall left in her travel bag. Still, overall, this was a damn fine way to start off the tournament and I'll be interested as I go back through all of these Super 8's to see if one ever kicked off so juicy.
3. Bobby Shields vs Austin Aries - 5
Sheilds looks like Ryan Howe from Tough Enough. Commentary spends large chunk of time whining about how Aries can't break through the "glass ceiling" and get into the WWE. Maybe if he was six years younger and 18 inches taller. And not an asshole. Bobby slips hopping up on the ropes, looked like he was attempting a Sliced Bread #2, bigger mistake than Jessie incorrectly calling a Genghis Frog action figure in my bathroom "Mondo Gecko". I don't think Eaton would take too kindly to this Bobby using the "Beautiful" moniker. They did a good job of playing up arguably the #1 vs. #8 seed dynamic with Austin being the assumed favorite -- gave some added drama whenever Sheilds would get a near-fall.
4. Rich Swann vs. Tommaso Ciampa - 5
I got to hang out with Swann a months ago in my hometown and he was really cool. I'm a full-on fan now. Ciampa needs a better look (looks like a tiny Horshu now) but definitely has some skills. Rich takes a nasty front-layout suplex bump on the wooden ringsteps. Swann's moonsault off of the apron ended up looking more like the Pelé Kick as he drilled Tommaso in the face. Tommaso's Project Ciampa II finisher looked ill. Another good match.
5. SHOCKWAVE the Robot vs. Shiima Xion - 4
SHOCKWAVE comes out looking like a VR Trooper. If Robot can allegedly download the style of any wrestler into his mainframe I wish he'd get more Buddy Rose or Butch Reed and less Mike Sydal. Kind of a flat match, mostly due to Xion, who didn't really bust out a lot of his top-shelf flying stuff. Shiima won with a 450° splash but I would have preferred he busted out one of his more high-impact finishers like Bible Black or From Lust to Dust.
6. 8-MAN TAG TEAM MATCH: ECWA vs. TWA: ECWA Champion "Greek God" Papadon, ECWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Chris Wylde and "Team MackTion" TJ & Kirby Mack vs. TWA Tag Team Champions Damian Dragon & Matt Saigon and "True Professional" Josh Daniels - Handicap Match - 4
TWA Champion Breaker Morant was supposed to be in this but he's not here. The hair, the outfits, etc. are all so indy. You wouldn't want it any other way. Sort of weird ECWA has an advantage which in essence would render their win questionable. No overarching storyline, just snippets of action, some decent selling, Kirby Mack face-planted coming off the top looking like one of those teen idiots in skateboarding gone wrong video clips. Finish was an anti-climatic roll-up.
7. Adam Cole vs. Austin Aries - 4
8. Shiima Xion vs. Tommaso Ciampa - 4
Aries seemed less driven here and thus this felt more lukewarm. Cole never really had a fiery comeback or anything to propel this either. Match crept along with Aries mostly on offense, he did allow Cole to survive some of his prized stuff, so a nice little rub there for Adam, but as a standalone match pretty basic. Xion looks like Ari Tenenbaum all grown up. Ciampa dished out some nasty elbows. Xion got to kick out of Project Ciampa II but fell prey to a modified Texas Cloverleaf. Given that Tommasso was going to go on to work a third time they kept this short and as a result it felt a little flat as the match never developed any ebb and flow although what we got certainly wasn't bad.
9. BATTLE of the ECWA GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS:
1997 Super 8 Champion ACE DARLING vs. 2008 Super 8 Champion ADEN CHAMBERS - 4
I've never seen Aden before but after getting a look at him he looks like your bi-sexual cousin that works at Pacific Sun at the mall. Ace Darling comes out looking like Ron Livingston's character Marty Sachs from the movie Two Ninas (unsure to this day while my punk rock friend Eddie bought that and suggested we watch it on a "movie night") but not in the film itself instead how he'd look in the 12 years that have passed since it was released in '99. Darling does a have a pretty decent resume as I recall a handful of really good performances of his from a decade ago that still hold up. Some basic chain wrestling early which I was into. Aden takes a pretty big bump over the ropes to the floor -- I popped for that like Gene Siskal for Chicago Mix popcorn. Chambers throws some weak shots to the lower-back. Darling looks sore -- saw better athleticism on display the last time I went to play laser tag. So, Ace Darling created the Super 8? Guess I owe him a beer (or an appetizer). I'd be curious to see the Super 8 that Chambers won as he looked like maybe 1/10th a pro wrestler here.
10. ECWA Super 8 Finals: Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa - 7
Forearm exchange early that fails to resurrect Misawa. The back of Cole's trunks look like a beach scene as depicted by a fourth grader's crayon drawing. Ciampa targets the lower-back and would probably return to that strategy later in the night in a crummy motel room with Tammy Sytch. "Hey! What the hell? There's a Post-It note here that reads 'Bret Was Here!'". SHOCKWAVE should march back to ringside and shoot missiles from his shoulders and blow the ring up. Adam dumps Tommaso hard on the apron outside the ring in moment of transcendence. You get a sense Cole's watching some Graham Bros. footage. What the hell just happened!? Man, that was weird. Both men fighting it out on the apron, Cole hooks in a German suplex, launches it, we have no idea where Ciampa is going to land, he grazes a table but takes most of the impact on the floor. Cole hits a Canadian Destroyer to wake the crowd up. Maybe they were up all-night watching Kelly Reichardt films like me. I just now noticed that facially Ciampa resembles Gray Maynard a bit. The crowd just erupts as Ciampa hits repeated hard running knees into Cole's face in the corner. The finish? Holy shit. It was tits y'all. Ciampa hooked Cole up, climbed to the top, and did a Kryptonite Crunch off the top for the win, Super 8 trophy, and hot wings and anal with Sytch. What a night.