"When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail."" - Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
1) Peter Avalon, Caleb Konley, Jake Manning, & O.D.B vs. Brandon Gatson, Willie Mack, Cedric Alexander, & Candice LaRae – 4
2) Mr. Aguila vs. Rey Bucanero – 5
3) Joey Ryan vs. Shane Helms – 4
I’m not too familiar with the work of the six guys in this match so, if anything, hopefully a few of them will be good. I do know the work of the girls in the match though. I remember seeing Manning on a 2007 UWF/TNA co-show and not thinking much of him. Granted, he gets some good heel heat doing a scout gimmick but I couldn’t get behind his offense. Avalon was pretty good at selling some early Willie Mack offense. Mack was probably the most impressive as he moved really, really good for a guy his size as evidenced by the big frogsplash he busted out. I’m not a big fan of lucha. Most everyone knows this. However, that being said I did enjoy this match. It had this really awesome dive by Aguila over the ringpost where he barely caught Bucanero and went right into the crowd. The rest of this felt like an exhibition of lucha moves and dives that didn’t really have much story. I liked Bucanero’s backstabber move. Looked a lot better than Carlito’s. Aguila, who might be familiar to Attitude era WWF fans as Essa Rios or Papi Chulo, won with a pretty nice moonsault. Lots of pre-match yacking on the stick from Helms and Ryan. Helms looked quite awful, probably a good 10 pounds heavier than he was last on WWE TV and just really went through the motions. He tried some of the old Hurricane schtick that felt really out of place. Kind of a strang heel vs. heel match here but the crowd ended up siding with Ryan. Helms sold the match ending submission by slightly grimacing. Liked Ryan continually going for submission holds and the armbar he applied mid-match was pretty nice.
4) Low Ki vs. Davey Richards – 6
5) Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Sinn “Kizarny” Bodhi – 1
6) Legends Battle Royal – 3
Low Ki’s kicks and strikes are as crisp as ever and he was just working over Davey. OMG!! Davey hit a soccer kick that damn near caved in Ki’s chest. Aside from that, some of Davey’s kicks and strikes didn’t seem like they had the same stiffness that they usually did. He did some basic selling during Low Ki’s comeback and I noticed him just bouncing up numerous times readying himself for the next spot. Really great selling of the knee by Low Ki. Climax was pretty good as well, especially the giant double foot stomp off the top. Davey still bugs me for not doing any residual selling on offense. Jake looked like hell wrestling in baggy pants with a t-shirt and sporting a receding hair line and a beer gut. Kizarny stalled forever just delaying the inevitable. Match was shit but Jake did the usual jabs and short-arm clothesline leading up to the DDT. Quite the eclectic roster of entrants in the Battle Royal with names such as Danny Davis, Shane Douglas, Roddy Piper, and Terry Funk among others. Barry O looked like a cross between Tiny Tim and Weird Al (try to digest that one) and I had no clue who he was. There were supposed to be 30-second intervals between entrants but they just came out as they pleased. Vampiro came in from out of nowhere and bore a really, really close resemblance to Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures. Majority of the match was just guys meandering around throwing punches. The end with Funk and Piper was the best part of the match. A novelty act for the most part but still fun.
7) Chris Hero vs. Kevin Steen – 5
8) RockNES Monsters vs. The Cutler Brothers vs. The Fightin’ Taylor Boys vs. The Young Bucks – 4
9) Claudio Castagnoli vs. El Generico – 6
Crowd was chanting “this is awesome” 30 seconds into Hero vs. Steen and that really annoyed the fuck out of me. A brawl culminated in Steen diving off a lighting rig for an unknown reason. Steen also powerbombed Hero into the apron. Really dug Hero’s selling, both physically and facially, of Steen’s methodical offense. Steen did the Orton DDT better than Orton himself. Couple nice nearfalls off two straight roaring elbows. Hero looked really good here and his offense was spot on. I was sort of expecting the ROH style climax where each guy would hit an ungodly amount of huge moves and the other would kick out but I was pleasantly surprised when that didn’t happen. Finishing combination by Hero was very nice. If your looking for a match with random spots, no cohesion, lots of legality issues, and not a single ounce of storytelling then the four way tag match is for you. From the outset, it was a mess with these guys just jumping all around the ring and doing spots. If this was lucha rules they never specified it because every time a guy went to the floor another random person jumped in. Every time the Young Bucks are in these style matches, they do the same routine of choreographed spots that it’s really started to wear on me. Cutlers were non-existent for the most part but had the best double team move of the match, that of a spike tombstone piledriver. RockNES Monsters were there bumping around for everything and the Taylor boys didn’t show much to impress me. Main event was pretty good. I liked the nearfall sequences here, especially toward the climax of the bout. Here was another match were I thought it might suffer from the “ROH climax” but it didn’t. I thought maybe it did peak a little too early but with Generico selling the knee throughout, Claudio’s stretch muffler submission was the way to go. Enjoyed the really big spot of Generico reversing an attempted Ricola Bomb off the turnbuckles into a rana. Claudio’s standard offense was in play here with big, powerful uppercuts and an assortment of powerbombs. Thought this was kind of clunkly at the beginning but ended up being a rather enjoyable match. Overall, a pretty fun offering from PWG to start the year 2011.