AAW, based out of Chicago, has a reputation for being the premiere independent promotion in the American Midwest and I can see why that reputation exists — the roster is filled with some of the finest grapplers going.
Davey Vega, Justice Jones & Tony Kozina vs. Marion Fontaine & Zero Gravity (Brett Gakiya & CJ Esparza): To my surprise Davey Vega worked the match as a heel and I was even more surprised when the normally happy go lucky Vega worked effectively as a bad guy. The stars of the match were Zero Gravity. Gakiya and Esparza specialize in double team moves and do not overdue the aerial stunts like many of their smaller indie brethren. When one of them was in the ring the quality of the match increased. In the end the duo’s Flippy Cup 2.0 earned their team the victory.
A fun opener due to the work of Zero Gravity. ***
Post-match Justice Jones attempted to jump the victorious trio. Paco (a local jobber who’s feuded with Justice Jones) made the save much to the crowd’s delight.
Before the second contest, Shane Hollister, on crutches, addressed the crowd on his injury and recent changes to his life. Hollister dropped a bombshell and rescinded his retirement from earlier in the month. After giving the good news Hollister invited Louis Lyndon to the ring. “The New Modern Man” put over Lyndon and said he hoped that once he returned from injury they could finish their rivalry.
The voluptuous Scarlett interrupted the preceding and prompted to verbally dress down Hollister and said he would always be second best to Tyler Black. An enraged Hollister started in on his former manager. Scarlett was able to scurry away before Hollister got his hands on her.
Louis Lyndon vs. Matt Cage: Matt Cage had a critically acclaimed 2014 and is reaping the benefits with several high profile bookings in 2015. As good as Cage is Louis Lyndon is just as talented in the ring and has underrated charisma to boot.
The fans in Berwyn, IL were treated to a high energy contest centered on the similar striking style of both combatants. Neither man was able to gain an edge and the match ended in a fifteen minute draw.
Time limit draws are a rare thing in modern professional wrestling and need to be done more often. Mid-carders with” creative has nothing for you” syndrome would benefit from having a short rivalry of trying to prove who is the better man or woman. An extremely enjoyable draw. ***½
Colt Cabana & Dick Justice vs. the Iron Curtain (Benjamin Boone & Gregory Iron): The card’s third match had a fish out of water feel to it. Cabana and his heroic partner are known as premiere comedy wrestlers. One would think that they would play to their strengths and perform an absurd match. Instead, the contest was worked as a straight fight with a few glimpses of humor. Without the hijinks the limitations of all four men were badly exposed and when Cabana & Justice won the victory felt hollow.
A match that would have worked better if the wrestlers stuck to what they are good at. *¾
After the bell, the Iron Curtain laid out the victorious duo and pepper sprayed Dick Justice thus ensuring that the feud will continue.
Davey Richards vs. Uhaa Nation: Mr. Richards’s time in TNA has served him well. Past criticisms of pacing and a lack of selling where not apparent in this match. The result is the best singles match I’ve seen Richards work in over a year and a half.
Davey and Uhaa did not over extend themselves and kept to what makes them special performers. Nation’s freakish athleticism was well exhibited and Davey did what he does best, kick the hell out of people.
A sequence I really liked was an ode to the classic Benoit/Angle match from the 2003 Royal Rumple. The competitors traded German Suplexes for ages. By the time they got back to their feet the two were so exhausted they simultaneously waived off a lock up in favor of resting a few moments.
Richards picked up the win with a spinning kick to the head in an excellent sprint. ***¾
Fans Brings the Weapons Match – Ryan Boz vs. The Wet Bandits (Markus Crane & Dan Lawrence): Garbage brawls such as this have no business running almost twenty minutes. During that time each man in the match took turns brow beating the other with the various goodies the AAW faithful brought for them to play with. Boz got the win with a Boz Driver to mercifully end the contest. DUD
AAW veteran Keith Walker cut an emotional promo announcing his retirement. The speech is worth a watch purely due to the raw emotion Walker showed throughout it.
AAW Heritage Championship – ACH vs. Christian Faith ©: ACH faced a tough task against the masked mauler. Much of the title bout found the Texas native taking a stern beating from the much larger Faith. The crowd and the match had much more energy when ACH finally took to the air. To be fair, Faith worked like a monster should, slow and methodical. I just think the crowd needed some pep after a long brawl and an emotional retirement speech. Faith retained the belt with an elbow smash to the face of a leaping ACH.
A really solid match that was hurt by its place on the card. ***¼
Heidi Lovelace vs. Chris Sabin: I loathed the story going into this match. Chris Sabin scoffed at Lovelace’s challenge purely based on her sex. Promoters make a gargantuan mistake when they book intergender matches as the misogynistic heel vs. the valiant female face. That story is antiquated and does not belong in 21st Century wrestling. Either present this match as a straight up contest or do not book intergender matches at all. Treating them as eternal battle of the sexes makes the matchups reek of unnecessary gimmick.
Once I got past the storyline this match was tremendous. Chris Sabin just works as a smarmy heel. His facial expressions during the match had me howling with laughter. On a more serious note he focused his offense on caving in Lovelace’s skull. A spot where Sabin reversed a Lovelace Hurricanrana into reverse Alabama Slam onto the turnbuckle was sickening. Sabin got the win with a 2K1 Bomb.
The combination of Lovelace’s babyface charisma and Sabin’s hilarious heel work made for a solid match. *** ¼
Monster Mafia (Josh Alexander & Ethan Page) vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Eddie Kingston: I was ready to write the opening of the match off as ridiculous. Ethan Page choked out Jimmy Jacobs and decided to use Jacob’s ring jacket as a blanket. The whole affair came across as creepy and out of place in the main event. But, Jacobs popped up, got in Page’s face and yelled “I am trying to sleep, bro”. Nice move Jimmy, nice move.
Then after Jacobs one shining moment the match did not pick up in the middle. Monster Mafia spent entirely too much time working over Jacobs while Kingston waited for the hot tag. I am going to go on record and agree with VOW sage Joe Lanza that the babyface in peril spot needs to go the way of the dinosaur.
To make matters worse, Eddie Kingston blew up thirty seconds into the hot tag. Yeah, thirty freaking seconds.
When Josh Alexander hit a Spinning Tombstone for the win I made the “Sign of the Cross”. I am an atheist if that puts my reaction into context. **
This show is a real roll of the dice. Three matches, including the main event, are not worth wasting your time on. Two contests in particular make are worth seeking out: Matt Cage vs. Louis Lyndon and Davey Richards vs. Uhaa Nation. The undercard has several solid matches as well. So, with that mind check my thoughts below and let me know your opinion on the show by tweeting me @TeddyNoir.