For those unfamiliar SMASH Wrestling’s annual Gold show features a one night only 10-man (and woman) tournament like the original incarnation of the Survival of the Fittest tournament. First round is five singles matches with the winners qualifying for the elimination 5 Way Main Event at the end of the show. This tournament has happened twice previously with some pretty strong matches and participants.
The first iteration of the tournament was in 2014 and to crown the SMASH Wrestling Champion, hence the name of the tournament Gold. This was won by Lucha Underground star Matt Cross defeating an indie all star list of opponents of Kevin Steen, Chris Hero, Josh Alexander and Takaaki Watanabe in the final. Matt Cross winning the Gold tournament and the title allowed him to keep his undefeated within the promotion and set up one of the major moments within SMASH.
Last year’s iteration of the tournament saw the winner receive a title shot at the SMASH Wrestling Championship at their largest show of the year Super Showdown. This was won by, then girlfriend of the SMASH Champion Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae besting Biff Busick, Tyson Dux, Trevor Lee and Matt Cross in the final. She unfortunately was unable to overcome her boyfriend’s stable, Fourth Gunn, and lost her title shot at Super Showdown 3. I will get more into Fourth Gunn later down the line.
Same as last year, this year’s tournament would go on to face the SMASH Champion at Super Showdown 4. So let’s jump into it.
May 29, 2016
Franklin Horner Community Centre – Toronto, Ontario
Gold Tournament Round One
Kevin Bennett def. Facade
Kevin Bennett has the gimmick of being a delusional white rapper. Most shows tend to involve him trying to give a concert which ends in some sort of shenanigans. He is accompanied by his two bodyguards (the large man Turk and the guy who hasn’t been given a name and inexplicably doesn’t like wearing shirts). Honestly his gimmick sounds worse then it is because surprisingly he legitimately does get some reaction from the crowd. It’s mostly just out of annoyance but as least he is a heel getting a heel reaction which is an A in my book. Facade is a gimmick I completely don’t understand. He calls himself the Neon Ninja and comes to the ring in bright neon green spray painting signs in the audience. What does being a ninja have to do with spray painting and why does this ninja think he’ll completely go undetected while wearing bright in your face colors? Beats me, but he does come out to Go Ninja by Vanilla Ice. Take that as you will. Also he has a blonde manager who is there for some reason? She doesn’t add or subtract to the act she’s just sort of there.
Both of them debuted for SMASH in June of last year within a Brent Banks invitational Fatal 4 way match featuring Jason Kincaid and, you guessed it, Brent Banks. Neither has gotten the victory over the other. Both are solid indie workers but neither really stands out from a work standpoint.
This was perfectly acceptable opener with Facade utilizing his aerial offence to try and combat Bennett and his bodyguards. Facade and Bennett’s strikes come across pretty weak especially compared to everything else we see in the show. They make Candice look like Ishii. Despite this though they do some cool FLIPZ and tell a good story. The match was built around Bennett isolating Facade to this side of the ring utilizing his bodyguards when the ref is pre-occupied. Eventually Facade fights to the other side of the ring allowing Danny, Facade’s valet’s name apparently, to get involved. Match finishes after some more body guard shenanigans with Facade promptly getting a swift kick to the junk by Kevin Bennett. For as green as they are, I do say this match was fun. I only recommend though if you are watching the show already. Kevin Bennett cuts a promo at the end of the math finally dropping the delusional part of his act thinking everyone loves to hear him and fully heels on the fans. They chant Justin Bieber at him. SMASH fans sometimes aren’t the most lively bunch so the fact he’s able to get any sort of reaction out of them is a huge win. Come to think about it I don’t know why being called Justin Bieber would be a bad thing. You’d be lying if you said you wouldn’t want the amount of bank that dude has. Anyways, I’d give the match *** just for FLIPZ and being solid indie opener.
Gold Tournament Round One
Tarik def. Candice LeRae
Next up we have everyone’s favorite intergender wrestler Candice against SMASH original Tarik. Tarik is one of the main stays and is one of the main reasons Johnny Wrestling won the SMASH championship in the first place. After being fired, in attempt to kill SMASH screwed Matt Cross in a match against Alex Shelley for the belt. Shelley left the promotion without defending and awarded the belt to Johnny Gargano. Gargano, Tarik, Biff Busick & Drew Gulak were known as Fourth Gunn and dominated SMASH for 2015. Recently they have fallen apart with Biff joining NXT, Drew barely being booked in SMASH and Tarik dumping Johnny wanting the title for himself.. One would think this would lead to a face turn to either but they’re both still cocky rule breaking heels. It’s very strange. Anyways, Tarik is a pretty solid worker but is only as good as his opponent. He doesn’t hurt or help a match in any particular way. I personally think he has a lot of potential, despite his weird grunts during his matches.
Let me preface this by saying I’m not a huge intergender fan. Intergender matches either work or don’t for me. I can suspend my disbelief in Lucha Underground (cause Dragons! Monsters! Aliens! OH MY!) but it’s hard for me to have a match that is believable and not feel uncomfortable by it in other promotions. Call me old fashioned but I like my men fighting my men and my women fighting women. There are few exceptions though and that’s if the match usually involves a less threatening misogynistic male who deserves a good kick in the junk. This match, and Candice matches in general, seems to fall under this rule. So I quite enjoyed it. Candice has quality enough strikes to make it believable and Tarik is enough a despicable human being that I want to see him get got. This story was effectively told with some good offense by both ultimately Candice being cut off at the end by Tarik with a flying knee. I thought this match was fun and enjoyed it more than I thought. ***½
Gargano then cuts a really good swarmy promo in attempt to get Tarik back on his side to assist him in his title match. It wasn’t successful as Tarik shuts him down and leaves the ring. The cocky Gargano calls himself the ‘King of Canada’ causing Scott D’Amore and Eric Young to come out. It was a nice little exchange and just reaffirms how great of a pro wrestler Johnny Gargano is. Heel. Face. On The Mic. In The Ring. This guy can do it all.
Gold Tournament Round One
Franky the Mobster def. AJPW’s SUSHI
You read that right SUSHI. Why? I have no bloody clue but it was a thing that happened. I’ll be honest I don’t watch much All Japan so I’m not too familiar with the guy. Franky the Mobster is a good canadian indie worker who has been around forever. His matches tend to be in the more comedic route in SMASH as he’s worked the likes of Dalton Castle and Candice LeRae taking note of how mismatched his size is to his opponent.
This match was an acceptable with Sushi trying to trade shots with Franky and not doing particularly well. As fun as it was though, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have Franky matches in the past. I’ll be honest I was expecting a little more. It didn’t really go anywhere. It was just sort of there. I’d recommend looking up the Dalton Castle match from Something Different or the Candice match from This is Smash! Third Anniversary instead of watching this. Those two were more fun than this. **3/4
Gold Tournament Round One
Tyson Dux def. Mike Bailey
Now these are two names everyone should know. This was a really high quality typical indie match as both men traded offence on each other with Dux the more cerebral fighter focusing his attack on Bailey’s biggest strength, his legs. I thought they told the story well without completely beating you over the head with it. Bailey could have sold it a little more in the early stages of the matches but I felt by the end he was doing a great job showcasing the fact he couldn’t capitalize on his offence. Both worked really well and had easily the match of the night. I mildly recommend watching this one. ****
Gold Tournament Round One
Courtney Rush aka Rosemary def. Mike Rollins Pepper Parks
This whole match is building off of the Courtney Rush and Cherry Bomb feud. Long story short; Kimber-bombs cut Courtney’s hair causing her to go insane and she had to wait to fight her until she was all healed from her injury. They finally fought at Any Given Sunday 4 but stable mates Mike Rollins and Pepper Parks got involved. The feud has actually been really well built and been a real highlight in the promotion although hasn’t really delivered in the ring yet. Originally scheduled as Courtney Rush Vs. Mike Rollins, Pepper jumped Courtney before the bell and replaced her original opponent ‘Mike Rollins’.
This match didn’t work for me. It was clunky and completely lacked intensity. For a feud that has been so well built it was worked just like a match. Pepper Parks should have been Cherry Bomb’s mercenary trying to beat her down so his girlfriend doesn’t have to deal with her. Cherry Bomb should be attempting to kill Pepper Parks to send a message. It wouldn’t have been my cup of tea but it wouldn’t have left me so meh as this match this. Honestly skip this. I love Courtney Rush and I think Pepper Parks is solid work but this didn’t work for me. Courtney winning with a roll up really doesn’t make me any more excited about this feud. I’m really starting to get over it. *1/4
Brent Banks & Scotty O’Shae def. Overdogs (John Greed & Sebastian Suave)
Overdogs, Brent Banks & Scotty O’Shae have been staples of SMASH since the beginning of the promotion. Overdogs are pretty much THE tag team in SMASH and are booked consistently on every show. Their gimmick is they are essentially two fun loving drunks. Scotty O’Shae and Brent Banks are two former rivals that went WAR with each other. Scotty O’Shae is the fun loving babyface with the gimmick of being a computer hacker. Despite the lame gimmick, he has been in some of the most tense and violent matches in the promotion. Brent Banks is a narcissist who hates everyone and doesn’t have time for anyone’s shenanigans. Oddly enough, he’s one of the most beloved wrestlers of the roster. Currently Scotty is trying to unite with Brent instead of continually waging war on each other. Brent Banks doesn’t care as long as Brent Banks wins.
The whole story of the match was built around cohesiveness of the Overdogs and the lack of cohesiveness of Brent & Scotty. I really enjoyed the dynamic of Scotty just wanting to work together and win cleanly, while Brent just wanting to be the star of the match and not being afraid to bend the rules. This was well worked into the finish with Brent low blowing both Overdogs, without Scott being aware, and getting the pinfall. Scotty & Brent are two of the stronger workers in the company and have loads of potential. They still need a bit more flavoring but I think they just need to work outside of the Ontario circuit more. I’m not a huge fan of the Overdogs, they are solid workers but Suave comes across as a JAG. Greed has great personality and is surprisingly agile but their is nothing that set’s Suave apart from a million other indie workers. Regardless though I still think they all worked really hard and told a good story in this match. ***¼
SMASH Wrestling Championship
Johnny Gargano © def. Eric Young
No surprise to anyone but this match was very well worked and professionally done. They pretty much showed just how much they are above the rest on the show in terms of quality. My only problem with the match was the lack of interest from the fans which really took me out of it. One would first blame it on Eric Young, but I find the SMASH fans really weird in terms to what the react to and don’t. I can’t help but feel that if you put this match in front of Full Sail it would have gotten a much better reaction. I know some people may say it’s the fault of the wrestlers but they tried literally EVERYTHING to get a reaction. Between Gargano wearing a Cavs t-shirt and calling himself LeBron James, to Eric Young wearing a Blue Jay’s t-shirt but other than a few people the crowd was mostly silent. Now as for the match itself, I really enjoyed what they presented. I love classic heel Gargano. It’s such a slap in the face to fans since we know how talented he is that he resorts to winning by cheap tactics. I really loved the story that Young and D’Amore tried to use Gargano’s tactics against him. In the past Gargano has utilized, the now defunct, Fourth Gunn interference to help him gain victory but now with no friends willing to help he had to deal with D’Amore and Young. Gargano ultimately gets the victory after hitting a flash bridging pin after hitting D’Amore with the SMASH belt. This match is hard for me to rate, it honestly depends on how much the crowd will take you out of it. It’s between ***½ and ****…so let’s say ***¾. I do highly recommend this.
Tarik def. Courtney Rush, Kevin Bennett, Franky the Mobster & Tyson Dux
This match was…strange. It has a very wrestlecrap moment to start with the Bodyguards getting involved and everyone, including the commentators, assuming it’s NO DQ, but then Courtney Rush spits mist in the face of Kevin Bennett and gets DQ’d. What?! Up until this point no one has been eliminated by DQ from the Gold tournament final. Beyond that I don’t understand how Kevin Bennett’s bodyguards can beat up Courtney Rush and everything is kosher but the minute she levels the playing field with mist she’s DQ’d. At this point I’m already losing interest in the match so if that wasn’t enough Franky then gets eliminated 2 minutes later by a bad roll up from Kevin Bennett. Kevin Bennett was then eliminated by a burriage of DDT’s by Tyson Dux. Not even kidding it was DDT after DDT after DDT. And if that wasn’t ridiculous enough the exact same sequence happened as Tarik delivered a series of DDTs to Dux so that he was beat by the same thing that beat Bennett. It’d be one thing if it was he established as a finisher or the Shinsuke Nakamura Bome-Ya. But it’s just a regular old DDT. It was just strange. I like the idea of Tarik winning but I just wished the match was a little better. Tarik and Dux had a fine finishing sequence but the quickness, and weirdness, of the earlier eliminations took me completely out of it. I am very interested to see where they take Tarik and Gargano considering the results of Chapter 32 and the fact Gargano looks to be done with the company soon. *1/2
It was a very strange show that started strong and went with a Russo-esque whimper. It’s hard for me to recommend a show built around a tournament when the final really doesn’t deliver but their were some really fun matches on the undercard. Unless you’re super interested in the company or storylines, cherry pick to watch Mike Bailey/Tyson Dux and Johnny Gargano/Eric Young. Their been much stronger offerings this year in SMASH vs. CZW and F8ful Eight.