Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament
October 7, 2016
Berwyn, IL

Watch: Smart Mark Video

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament – Quarterfinals
Chris Hero def. Mat Fitchett

This was it, this was everything I’ve asked for from AAW this year. Mat Fitchett has had a tremendous year as one-half of the AAW Tag Team Champions and has delivered in seemingly every opportunity he’s been put in, no matter how lackluster his opponent may be. Now, he had a chance to shine against the best wrestler in the world and Fitchett delivered. Every indie that needs a new workhorse should check this out and book Fitchett.

Fitchett’s comeback was hot. The Merrionette Park crowd bought into Fitchett. They felt like maybe, just possibly, he was the prospect that could knock off the Knockout Artist and begin his ascension to bigger and brighter things in AAW. That wasn’t the case, as Hero, the veteran, overpowered him and was able to pick up the victory. This was beautiful. Hero is a master when it comes to being a bully, and this was another prime example of that. Hot stuff from two of the most entertaining wrestlers in the world. ****

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament – Quarterfinals
Prince Mustafa Ali def. Rey Fenix

Ali has burst out on a national level this year after years of fiddling around on lower tier midwest indies. When he’s not in Full Sail, his primary home has been Chicago’s other notable indie, Freelance Wrestling, but he appears to have found a secondary home in AAW. This was an exciting, first time match with Fenix, who proudly proclaims AAW to be his home promotion. With that in mind, it was fun to see Fenix take control of this match and exude a more veteran presence in this match. Ali and Fenix worked an aerial sprint. The body control these two men have is quite amazing. The only flaw with this match was that Sami Callihan and his OI4K cronies came out to distract Fenix, leading to a victory for Ali. This was on its way to being the best match AAW has produced all year, but the murky finish really hurt it in my eyes. It didn’t fit with the match. I see why they did, but it took all the thunder away from Ali and Fenix, who were putting on a spectacle. ****

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament – Quarterfinals
Zack Sabre Jr def. Jeff Cobb

Jeff Cobb continues to have really weird matches in AAW. His battle with Matt Riddle at Defining Moment felt way too short, and this was the same story. The little action that took place was awesome, with Sabre literally clinging onto Cobb and trying to work over his hand, instead of trying to chop him down. Cobb’s strength is incredible, and seeing him ragdoll Sabre was quite something. Rarely is the Brit ever positioned to be that much weaker than his opponent. Cobb was caught in a surprise backslide from Sabre, leading to the pin. This was awesome while it lasted, but Cobb struggles building to a satisfying conclusion. This was too short to be considered anything special. ***1/4

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament – Quarterfinals
ACH def. Chuck Taylor

Hey, how about this! Chuck Taylor had his working boots on! In fact, he outworked ACH to a massive degree in this match, further proving my theory that any company not booking Taylor is foolish. He can do it all. He steps to the plate and delivers when he needs to. ACH had his fun, some of it teetered on being too much, but the fact remains that I loved the chemistry these two had. Taylor positioned himself early on as the obvious heel and ACH played up to that. Props to Chuck Taylor. ACH had his fun, but this reminded me of how good Taylor can be. Hopefully we see more of this Chuck Taylor. ACH put Taylor away with a devastating 450 Splash. Enjoyable undercard match to close out the Quarterfinals. ***1/2

AAW Heritage Championship AR Fox (c) def. Drew Gulak, Brian Cage

This was way better than it had any right to be. I like all three wrestlers involved. They have all traveled the world and have come a long way since they first came onto the scene, but I didn’t expect a random three-way dance between these guys to be anything great. Luckily, I was wrong. Yes, this was a collection of moves. There’s not a story that’s going to suck you in, but these three had a beautiful chemistry that was completely unexpected. Gulak ate a few nasty bumps, but I heard nothing in regards to him being badly banged up. The nice thing here was that they incorporated as many three-person spots as they could. Highly recommended. AR Fox’s Heritage reign has produced a handful of hoots. Add this to the list. ****

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament – Semifinals
Chris Hero def. Prince Mustafa Ali

Another exciting, first time match for Ali against one of the best wrestlers on the planet. Ali jumped Hero before the bell and attempted to use his speed to defeat the best wrestler on the planet. Hero playing the defensive role to the much smaller Ali was awesome, as we don’t normally see Hero in that role. It worked, however. Ali has a great sense of timing and his offense contrasted well with Hero’s. In the end, the sheer power and accuracy of Hero’s strikes were too much, and he knocked Ali out with an elbow to move to the finals. This was a great sprint between to people that get it. Ali’s stock rose in a big way with me because of this tournament. ***1/2

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament – Semifinals
Zack Sabre Jr def. ACH

This tournament is full of unique matches that have never happened before. I don’t know how these two hadn’t crossed paths before this, but props to AAW for being a super indie and still finding unique matches.

I love Sabre Jr. When he’s on, there might not be a better wrestler in the world, and at bare minimum, is one of the ten best wrestlers in the world. That being said, I thought this match exposed him just a little. He and ACH started off with a bang, with ACH taking things seriously and actively trying to defeat Sabre. I thought this would be like Hero vs. Ali in the sense that it was a clean, exciting sprint, but this match just kept going. Sabre eventually took control and grounded things to a halt. I love Zack’s work on the mat, but it didn’t fit with the context of this match. He should’ve been fired up. He should’ve taken ACH’s jaw off with an uppercut. Why, after being attacked at such a rapid pace so early in the match, did he slow things down? Get in, get out, get ready for the finals, Zack! The middle portion of this match was dreadfully dry, but the beginning and end was exquisite. Disappointed in the way this was worked, because there was potential for this to be stellar. Sabre submitted ACH with a Triangle Choke to meet Chris Hero in the finals. ***1/4

AAW Tag Team Championship Match
Davey Vega & Silas Young (c) def. Kongo Kong & Marcus Crane

Vega normally teams with Mat Fitchett, but AAW decided to be cute and put Silas Young in Fitchett’s gear and then have him team with Vega.

To keep things short and sweet, this match sucked. Not only was there no reason for it, but this was just a terrible match from every point of view. The execution was sloppy, it went far too long, and I didn’t care about the outcome. Marcus Crane looks like a long lost member of Days n Daze, but that didn’t help him in this match. God, this was so bad. Don’t watch this. DUD

Sami Callihan & Jake Crist def. Rey Fenix & Pentagon Jr

Listen to these Russo-riffic stipulations:

  1. If Jake Crist is pinned, he leaves AAW forever
  2. If Sami Callihan is pinned, he loses his hair
  3. If Fenix is pinned, he loses his mask
  4. If Pentagon Jr is pinned, he loses his AAW Heavyweight Championship

Well, Callihan pinned Pentagon. I guess, in a weird way, that’s better than Crist pinning Pentagon and becoming the AAW Champion. This was a messy collection of moves, with the luchadores painfully outclassing the Ohio boys. This felt so messy. If you’ve read my prior reviews, you know I haven’t been a fan of Sami Callihan, his cronies, and his title reign. I was overjoyed when Pentagon beat him for the title a few months ago, and now that Callihan has the gold back around his waist, I will go back to dreading AAW main events. This was forgettable, overly confusing, and an obnoxious way to end a title reign. **1/2

2016 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament Final
Chris Hero def. Zack Sabre Jr

This is the fifth singles match between the two this year and their first ever encounter in AAW. These two put on a weekend long clinic of solid professional wrestling. Hero slayed the giant, Kongo Kong, on Night One, and then went through two young and hungry upstarts on Night Two with Fitchett and Ali. Sabre took down Colt Cabana on Night One, before slicing up Jeff Cobb and ACH earlier in the night.

These two have a chemistry that is hard to beat. They play to each other’s strengths more often than not, and they seemingly always hit it out of the park. This was a fine exhibition, but the weakest of their bouts that I have seen. Zack was far too methodical, and at times teetering on obnoxious when working over Hero’s joints.

The satisfying part of this match was Hero’s work. He’s still busting out new tricks, still trying to standout from the crowd, and somehow, while wrestling four times in front of the same audience, he made all four matches stick out in a unique way. There was an extra sprinkle of viciousness to Hero in this match. He toyed with the submission specialist, dropping sentons on his prone body when he was expecting armwork similar to what Jim Breaks would bring to the table. In the end, Hero dropped Sabre on his head with a piledriver from the middle rope. This was fine, but I felt underwhelmed by this. These two are capable of so much more. ***

Final Thoughts:

The first half of this show rules. Hero vs. Fitchett and Ali vs. Fenix are two of the best matches AAW has produced all year. The second half of this show comes to a screeching halt with the two tag matches and a disappointing finals, but this still gets a thumbs up for me. Both nights produced a handful of fun, first time matches. Thumbs up to AAW as a whole. It has its flaws, but this is a very fun promotion to follow. The Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament was a blast. Thumbs up.