AAW NEVER SAY DIE
NOVEMBER 4, 2016
115 Bourbon Street
Merrionette Park, Illinois

Watch: Smart Mark Video

DEZMOND XAVIER DEF. JOEY JANELA

Xavier was originally slated to wrestle Rey Fenix, but after being forced to miss the show due to injury, Fenix was replaced by one of the indie’s hottest prospects, Joey Janela. 

While this is Janela’s AAW debut, this is not my first time seeing his work. I’ve kept my eye on him, whether it be in CZW, Beyond Wrestling, or more recently, IWA-MS. I’m not entirely sure that I love him, but I really like him. He has buzz, and he’s something different. He reminds me of a beautiful, bald woman. Not really my thing, but I’m terribly intrigued by them. Janela and Xavier worked a smart opener. They kept things short, but in that little time, Janela was able to make an impact.

I hope he keeps coming back to AAW, because I feel like we’ll see the best of him in Chicago’s biggest indie, because I think sometimes the wild world of Beyond, CZW, and other indies get the best of him and he gets far too creative. This was short, compact, and fun. Xavier won with a Spinal Tap. **3/4

The Killer Cult, which is an embarrassingly bad stable name for Sami Callihan and his goon-friends from Ohio, cut an obnoxiously long promo before getting cut off by Homicide and Eddie Kingston. The five set up the main event tonight, a six-man tag between Callihan, OI4K, Homicide, Kingston, and a mystery partner.

KIMBER LEE DEF. HAVOK, HEIDI LOVELACE

I have been brutally harsh on Kimber Lee in the past, but I am a fair man and will note that not only did she work her ass off in this match, but she made it (somewhat) enjoyable. This was as good as this match could possibly be. Was it really that good? No. But nothing here annoyed me, and I can’t point to one spot and say that it was actively bad. This was shockingly short, which is probably what saved it from being a trainwreck. Lee won after hitting a Swanton Bomb that barely connected with Havok. Inoffensive, but there’s no need to watch it. *

AAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
BESTIES IN THE WORLD (DAVEY VEGA & MAT FITCHETT) (c) DEF. CHUCK TAYLOR & DAN BARRY

Barry is wearing tights now. Hopefully, this means he and Bill Carr’s cops & robbers pretend act is coming to an end soon. Barry is someone that has never done a thing for me, but like most guys, Chuck Taylor brings out the best in him. Yes, there was “comedy” in this match, but Barry worked hard and his style works well with the quick-paced Fitchett & Vega. I actually really liked the Sole Food/Superkick combination that Taylor & Barry pulled out. Vega and especially Fitchett are capable of much more, and while I continue to chomp at the bit for a big Fitchett singles push, it’s important to note that these two are now really over with the AAW audience. Enjoyable contest. ***

AAW HERITAGE CHAMPIONSHIP
AR FOX (c) DEF. JACK EVANS

These two wrestled back at Showdown in August. I know these two didn’t wrestle the same match, as I picked up on slight differences like Jack Evans jumping Fox before the bell with a springboard karate kick this time around, but all in all, this was exactly what you’d expect from a Jack Evans vs. AR Fox match. Short, quick, compacted flips rolled into a barrel of fun. Fox picked up the win, marking his seventh defense of the AAW Heritage Championship. Very fun reign thus far. ***1/4

KONGO KONG DEF. JEFF COBB

Remember when companies were boasting about their “hoss division” a few years back? This, my friends, this is a proper hoss bout. I’ve been pleading for some company to get behind Kongo Kong and push him to the moon, and after a valiant loss to Chris Hero last month at the Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament, it appears that Kong is heading somewhere in this promotion. Cobb hit Kong hard, but Kong hit harder. Cobb threw Kong around like he was a cruiserweight, but Kong was smarter. Cobb fell to a giant splash from Kong.

Really liked this. Kong was in a different role here than normal, even against bigger guys like Hero. No one has ever thrown around Kongo Kong like this. Even better, they kept it short. If Kong continues to work these sprints, things are going to go very well for him. Recommended. ***1/2





MATT HARDY & CHRIS HERO DEF. TREVOR LEE & ANDREW EVERETT

This was not for me.

Matt Hardy’s creation, this “Broken” gimmick, has never been my thing. I completely respect him for sculpting something new that is considered interesting by some, but I’ve never found any enjoyment in it. I might have been the only person on the planet that groaned when he was announced for this show, but so be it. I get that this was supposed to be a fun, exhibition of sorts, but that’s hard to accept when there are three athletes with world class talent in the ring. I’ve been a Hardy fan since I got into wrestling, but this new persona is the shits. I have no use for it here, in TNA, or in any other indie that wants to bring him in. I get that I’m nearly alone in that boat. People in the crowd seemed genuinely excited for Hardy and “Brother Hero”. This was a dreadful bore to me. Hero, just from a novelty perspective, was fun to watch, but Lee and Everett waltzed their way through this. An obnoxious, skippable match. *

ZACK SABRE JR. DEF. PRINCE MUSTAFA ALI

Well well well, this was the polar opposite of the prior match. There was a struggle here. This was a fight. There’s a common criticism among Zack detractors that his matches don’t feel like a fight – not this one. Zack and Ali went out there and tore it up. Ali was an interesting foil to the technician, flipping in and out of the clutches of ZSJ. By now it’s public knowledge that Ali is packing his bags and heading down South, and while that’s amazing for him and I’m so happy that he’s getting to live his dream, it’s a damn shame for the independent world because 2017 could’ve been a breakout year for Ali.

This is the second best AAW match of the year, only falling behind Zack vs. Tommaso Ciampa from AAW Epic in April. These two had instant chemistry with each other. The pacing here is really what sucked me in. Zack played up his angry side, which is objectively the best persona he plays, and with that, Ali seemingly never had control of the match. He’d hit a burst of moves here and there, but Zack would ground him, wrench the arm, and put him in a position to end the match. Ali would escape, run wild, and then get caught over and over. In the end, Zack outlasted the high-flyer, locking him in a wicked arm submission and forcing him to submit. Fantastic stuff. ****1/4

LOW KI, HOMICIDE, & EDDIE KINGSTON DEF. SAMI CALLIHAN, JAKE CRIST, & DAVE CRIST

Few are better out chaotic, unpredictable brawls than Low Ki, who was the surprise partner for Eddie Kingston and Homicide. I will never not welcome Low Ki with open arms. I’m thrilled that he’s in AAW. He’s a headache behind the scenes, but I don’t care about that. I’m a paying customer and I want action. I want excitement. I want quality professional wrestling matches. That’s what Low Ki brings to the table, night in and night out. I get sick to my stomach thinking about how this match would’ve turned out without him in it. He made all the difference in the world.

Ki’s dynamic offense is a treat. His wicked, possibly concussion-inducing kicks, his disturbing arm work, and his sicking double stomp – I can’t get enough of it. Give me Ki vs. Callihan, give Ki the belt, and then give me Low Ki vs. The World.

I can’t stress enough how this would’ve fallen apart with Ki. OI4K is fine, but they aren’t main event talent. They get lapped by Kongo Kong, Prince Ali, Zack, and even someone like Mat Fitchett any day of the week. Callihan, as returning readers know, is not my cup of tea, and Outlaw Inc, while good in their prime, are far from it. Low Ki put in a four and three-quarter star effort for what was an average match. ***1/2

Final Thoughts:

Morally, I can’t give a show a thumbs down with Zack Sabre Jr vs. Prince Mustafa Ali and Low Ki on it. That’s just not how I was raised. This is an average outing from AAW, with the first part of the card being skippable, sans Kongo Kong vs. Jeff Cobb. The VOD is worth it for the final two matches. Praise Zack, Ali, and Low Ki. Thumbs up for AAW Never Say Die.