HWA "Cold War"
February 20, 2010 - Peoria, IL
1. Jesse Emerson vs. Tony Kozina - B: 2 A: 2
Brian: Kozina enters to seminal 69 Boyz toe-tapper "Tootsee Roll" although seems aghast. Emerson must have the most white bread looks of anybody on the scene. He's sort of like a more vanilla Ted DiBiase Jr. First problem I have is the "hard" or stationary camera is off-kilter. The handheld camera is no relief -- it feels uncomfortably close to the in-ring action giving an Open Water vibe sure to inspire vertigo in some if anybody actually bought this release. Kozina and his act of stooge bumps and uncreative cheating (wrist tape chokes, etc.) doesn't add much panache to the HWA roster. Finish comes from Tony "slipping" during an attempted moonsault a lousy buffoonery trope he's prostituted throughout the Northeast.
Adam: Production has never really been the HWA’s strong suit and it’s rather evident here. Not only was the hard camera off-kilter, as Brian mentioned, it’s also at head level of the ringside fans and gives this feel as if your watching the show from the fourth row. Also, is it just me or is the ring really that small? It looks as if it’s the size of the old plastic rings you would buy for old WWF “Bend-Ems” figures back in the mid-90s. I’ve seen Emerson in some good matches, this was not one of them. Kozina was doing goofy bumps and both guys executed really mundane and stale offense. By the way, that finish was completely ridiculous. Not a great way to start off this show.
2. The A List vs. xOMGx & Ninja Bill - A: 1 B: 2
Adam: I could tell this was going to be bad from the get-go. Ninja Bill is some schmuck dressed up in a cheap ninja costume that was found on clearance days after Halloween had passed. The A List do some heel schtick were they don’t want to come out since the fans are booing them. Honestly, I didn’t even hear a reaction. I guess the story they were going for here was nerds vs. cool kids but I wasn’t buying it. There were some bad comedy spots and what looked to be a flipping backcracker from one of the A List guys got botched all to hell.
Brian: Ninja Bill is so tragic that breast cancer walks to end him. I think my brother's ninja Halloween costume in '88 was more authentic. Jason Hades looks like T.J. Dillashaw but without any of the athletic talent. I've seen better chinlocks administered in nursing homes. The A List's valet looked like Dakota Fanning in The Runaways minus the magnetism. Something I never thought I'd say: xOMGx deserves better.
3. Drake Younger vs. King Vu - B: 4 A: 4
Brian: Vu (Gerome Phillips) looks ridiculous in that royal garb although I suppose thats partly by design for heat. I saw this exact match-up in Cincinnati and it was solid with the highlight being Drake taking an unforgiving bump on the floor. For such a big guy Vu takes a nice big bump early off of a dropkick falling through the ropes and crashing off the apron. Drake (and Tommy Dreamer) need to retire that weak apron somersault that rarely looks good. There's a theater stage near the ring but unfortunately we're not even getting community theater-level dramaturgy tonight. Story-wise it's the bucolic country boy gone hardcore combatant versus the corpulent dastardly aristocracy. Younger does a good job emphasizing the back pain he's enduring. The finish was sudden but real choice with Vu murdering Younger with the "Off With His Head" clothesline seeing Drake take a gnarly bump right on his head/neck.
Adam: Since Vu broke off as a heel singles from his former partner (and now sexual deviant) Andre Heart, I’ve really enjoyed his work. He moves really well for a guy his size and I’m honestly surprised that he hasn’t caught on in the indy scene aside from just the mid-west area. Drake struck me here as just coming in to do this match and then get the hell out. I’ll agree with you Brian, that somersault off the apron looked like hell. I liked the spot soon after though with Vu catching the ringpost. My favorite spot of the match was the big sunset powerbomb from the second rope. Holy shit, that clothesline was stiff to end the bout. I enjoyed this but I think I liked the match they did in Cincinnati back in 2010 better.
4. Jon Moxley vs. Davey Richards - A: 5 B: 4
Adam: My first thought when Richards came out was that he seems really out of place in HWA. I was pretty excited about this when I first heard about it announced but it was worked in a different style than what I imagined it would be. There was some great action and the mat work was very solid but I guess I was expecting more hard striking and brawling. Moxley’s theatrics were great as a contrast to the rather mechanical looking Richards and his sell of the DDT was excellent. I also really enjoyed the arm work from Moxley and the spot where he dropped Richards’ arm across his knees was particularly enjoyable. The time limit draw finish seemed like a lazy way to end this and handicapped the score.
Brian: WWE signed the right guy. I've seen Davey on a lot of these tinier independent shows and I like that he changes up his routine (albeit just slightly), i.e. fist-pumping to chants, etc. engaging the small-town folk. The grappling early lead by Richards seemed more like a demonstration than a guy trying to tear someone's limb off (I should know the difference after watching a bunch of the DVDVR All Japan '80's set last week). I liked that whenever it'd get hairy Davey had a quick kick in his arsenal and Jon would retreat. The best segment was when Moxley finally got the advantage and targeted Richards' arm. Not quite 50/50 booking and glad they didn't put this on last given that copout finish.
5. Zero Gravity vs. The Hybrids - B: 2 A: 3
Brian: Tag wrestling in-front of an enervated crowd can often be a recipe for ordure. Gravity gets higher marks in showmanship. Hybrids could use more road experience. What are they exactly hybrids of? One-half underachieving high school athlete coupled with one-half Subway sandwich artist? A few nifty spots but too short and one-note to be meaningful.
Adam: It didn’t take long for the miniscule crowd to really get into Zero Gravity’s assortment of acrobatics. The Hybrids just seemed more like they were contemplating where to stop and eat on the five hour drive back to Cincinnati instead of focusing on the match. I still say that Zero Gravity would do really good on “America’s Got Talent”.
6. American Kickboxer 2 vs. Tarek - A: 4 B: 3
Adam: I was at the show where this feud started with the original American Kickboxer showing up, looking like he just came from metal concert, and annoiting this scrawny kid as the new American Kickboxer. This feud spanned the summer months of 2010 in HWA and culminated with a ridiculous pole match on the same show that Brian and I saw Drake vs. King Vu on in Cincinnati. Kickboxer is so scrawny and should probably scarf down a few Wendy’s triples to get some weight on. Tarek was the most enjoyable aspect to this match for me as I enjoyed seeing him work over AKB 2. Liked the mushroom stomp spot as well. Kickboxer’s selling wasn’t bad either but his offense was pretty light and struck me as someone ripping off the original Kickboxer. Not sure why one would want to do such a thing. Damn, the slingshot powerbomb from Tarek was pretty stiff. AKB 2 overused the hurracanrana’s a bit towards the end and the submission hold he used to win was pretty nifty.
Brian: All I remember from their Cincinnati encounter was Tarek really putting a brutal pounding on the scrawny AK2. Back around '98 during my earliest foray into tape trading I knew a guy locally who'd swap stuff with Tarek. The shaved head fits Tarek better as his old skullit looked like a roadkill possum affixed to his skull. Like picking up a prostitute on East Ave. in Hamilton sloppiness ensued. AK2 had more welts on him than a Guantanamo detainee. I'd like to see Tarek and B-Boy hook it up and shorten each other's career. That submission would have been niftier if he would have given the impression who knew how to properly apply it. He was struggling with that thing like former NHO writer young Geo when he tried undoing his first bra.
7. Ryan Phoenix vs. Prince Mustafa Ali - B: 5 A: 4
Brian: Phoenix is an underrated hand popping up on all manner of tiny midwestern shows. Never mind the fact he looks like he just left a speaking gig at a symposium on the effects of methadone to sneak a crack cocaine sandwich on multigrain. If he's clean and sober now his only remaining addiction is bumps. Phoenix entered to "My Own Worst Enemy" by Lit which now forever reminds me of the first episode of WCG Ultimate Gamer (Swoozie for the win). Crowd seems about as excited for this as in a waiting room before a colonoscopy. Ali takes a nice concrete bump -- like fellatio those are always welcomed. Mustafa has some natural talent but seems to think being Middle Eastern is enough itself and doesn't really play up his act or work the audience. Prince took a sick backflip bump onto his head off of a Phoenix missile dropkick. Lung blower from the top was a vicious finish. This wasn't bad, just needed some polish, some clunky transitions, etc. but the guys worked hard. I'd like to see the other chapters of this feud.
Adam: Middle Eastern heels are like Irish guys, every fed has to have one for a heel. Ali threatening to raise gas prices if people didn’t cheer him was a hoot. I’ve seen people sleeping in the public library exert more emotion than Ali did most of the match. Phoenix looked pretty rough and the fact he came out to one of the most overplayed songs on Cincinnati radio did him no favors. We got another production snafu here as the audio was a good 2-3 seconds behind the video. Not sure who did the audio editing on this match but they need to find another line of work. I liked Ali’s bumping, especially the wild one off the Phoenix dropkick. Ali did a nice version of a senton splash on Phoenix while he was laying across the top rope. Why is it that every guy working a Middle Eastern character has to have the Camel Clutch in their repertoire? How about some originality please? I liked the top rope lung blower but it took forever to set up. Not a bad match and putting the hometown guy over is always a good way to send a crowd home happy.