AAW
WINDY CITY CLASSIC XII
NOVEMBER 26, 2016
LOGAN SQUARE AUDITORIUM – CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

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ACH DEF. PRINCE MUSTAFA ALI

This, folks, is what we like to call a “mixed bag”. These two men in a professional wrestling ring, at worst, are going to create something slightly above average. ACH has too much talent and Ali is far too hot. That being said, there were times in this match where both men would play up their biggest weakness, which is the fact that neither is a standup comedian. I don’t mind comedy wrestling, at times I really like it, but these two drift into zones of goofiness that I can’t stand. Here it was mainly Ali, who at one point in the match said to ACH:

“I know you haven’t been here in awhile, but after the flippy spot, we’re supposed to shake hands.”

Get lost with that noise, Ali. It’s made even worse by the fact that after “the flippy spot”, ACH was so upset that Ali matched his athleticism that ACH showed aggression and shoved the unexpecting Ali into the corner. After Ali’s little comment, the two shook hands (Ali would go onto hit some sort of arm drag), but the aggression that ACH showed 15 seconds earlier was rendered useless. That’s frustrating no matter the context, but especially here. ACH has been stepped on, mistreated, and devalued by Ring of Honor for so long, and now he’s back in AAW with something to prove. Don’t let someone who is heading to 205 Live upstage you, ACH. Get mean.

That spot lingered in the back of my head as the match continued, which is disappointing, because these two went out there and killed it. Don’t sleep on ACH. He wasted away for so long, but he’s still as good as it gets. He and Ali threw bombs, they went all out, and in the end, ACH picked up the victory. I really, really liked this. Don’t let my comment about one little spot take away from what ended up being an excellent match. The little stuff like that, however, drives me insane. Take your craft seriously or get out. With all of that being said, I still give this a thumbs up. ***3/4

COLT CABANA, KONGO KONG, MARKUS CRANE, & DAN LAWRENCE DEF. THE HOOLIGANS, BUCK NASTY, & CONNOR BRAXTON  

This match was atrocious. Cabana and Kong are the only two passable wrestlers in this cluster, but even here I couldn’t stand them. Bad comedy, worse wrestling, and on the biggest AAW show of the year, this went sixteen minutes! I couldn’t wait for this to be over. This is why AAW has transformed into a super indie. Just two years ago at Windy City Classic X, Lawrence & Crane (The Wet Bandits…puke) were tag team champions. I’m not paying money to watch Markus Crane and Dan Lawrence wrestle prominent matches. I’ll gladly take literally anyone else instead. Skip this garbage. DUD

SHIMMER CHAMPIONSHIP
MERCEDES MARTINEZ (C) DEF. KIMBER LEE

I haven’t seen Mercedes Martinez since I watched the early EVOLVE shows from the dark gym in Rahway. I think I’m good with not seeing Martinez for a year or two after this. I’m sure her and Kimber Lee are nice people, but this just wasn’t any good. Sloppy, slow, awkward looking wrestling is not for me and it will never be. Forgettable, and skippable. *3/4

CHUCK TAYLOR DEF. ALEX DANIELS, JAKE CRIST

This was a fine example of AAW throwing guys on the card and having it work, unlike the abysmal multi-man match earlier on the card. I hope Alex Daniels continues to get work in AAW. The Johnny Gargano trainee is still rough around the edges, but he’s only 21 years old. Being in there with two veterans, Crist and Taylor, especially, will help him clean things up. I really enjoyed him here. Chuck Taylor continues to be a pro’s pro, and I wish someone would push him to the moon. The man is a great, versatile grappler, who picked up the win here with an Awful Waffle. Inoffensive, fun stuff. ***1/4

I QUIT MATCH
HEIDI LOVELACE DEF. HAVOK

Imagine a Sami Callihan brawl, but replacing him with Havok. That’s what this match was. I don’t like Callihan, and more often than not in 2016, I think he’s been actively bad, but nothing compares to the “effort” that Havok puts in. Every time I watch her, I can’t help but feel like she’s the laziest person in the ring. She’s big…and that’s about it! After a nice, eye-rolling scream, because she’s “misunderstood”, she lazily uses her body and continues to detract from her opponents. I’m not looking for Kongo Kong vs. Danny Cannon, but I’ve never seen someone get so little out of their big size. Heidi was fine, and at times, almost very good. I think she’s very talented and I’m thrilled she’s moving onto better things. She picked up the win here with a chair-assisted camel clutch. Havok dragged this down far too much for me to recommend this. **3/4

LOW KI, HOMICIDE, & EDDIE KINGSTON DEF. PENTAGON JR, DRAGO, & BRIAN CAGE

Well hot damn, Low Ki is still a tremendous professional wrestler. I don’t care how big of a headache he is backstage, if we continue to get output like this from Ki in AAW, I will be more than happy to see him on cards. He was the star of this match. Not Pentagon, not Drago (who I was happy to see back in AAW), and not Brian Cage, who was a last minute substitute for Rey Horus, and certainly not Outlaw Inc. This was the Low Ki Show and I was more than happy to tune in.

Ki took a bump early on from Cage and after that, he was MIA for a short time. I don’t know how severe the injury was, but who cares, because it sucked me in! By the time Ki came back in the ring, I was glued to him and his explosive nature. No one has the aura Low Ki does. I would love for things to workout for him in AAW, because a man with talent like this deserves a swan song. He won’t be around forever, but while he’s around, I would love for him to deliver, and AAW is the perfect environment for that.

Ki finished things off with a shotgun dropkick and a disgusting double stomp to Drago, which is perhaps the best combination in wrestling. God bless Low Ki. His partners, Homicide, especially, are a step slower, but this match is worth watching just to see what Ki is still capable of. Not as great as one might expect, but still, a super fun match that everyone will enjoy. ***1/2

ZACK SABRE JR DEF. TRENT

This was Trent’s debut in AAW and hopefully the first of many more dates for the company. This doubles as a first-time meeting between the two world-traveled grapplers. In short, this was another very good ZSJ match, but not one of his elite bouts this year. This was an example of the early portions of this match being a little too methodical, and as a result, utterly forgettable. That being said, once this match picked up, it became another textbook example of why when he’s on, few are better than Zack.

I can’t go any further without mentioning the outstanding performance of Trent, who is a total pro. This guy can fit in anywhere and succeed. I think Trent’s best work is done with smaller high-flyers (see: Rich Swann, the Young Bucks), but I really liked what he did here with a technician like ZSJ.

The finish was hot. These two kicked out of a ton, but I feel like the match peaked at the right time and the finish came shortly thereafter as Trent was forced to submit after being tied up in a nasty knot by the Brit. For most men, this is their peak. Great match. ***3/4

#BigMike Michael Elgin came out and challenged Zack Sabre Jr to a match, which sounds exquisite. Go AAW! Keep booking fun matches!

AAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
TREVOR LEE & ANDREW EVERETT DEF. MAT FITCHETT & DAVEY VEGA

Fitchett & Vega’s outstanding seven month reign as tag team champions came to a close here. The two were dealt a bad hand, being lumped in with OI4K and The Hooligans for a majority of their reign, but these two made the best of it.

There’s both good and bad to come out of this. The good being that this gives AAW a golden opportunity to push Mat Fitchett to the top of the card. Fitchett killed it during this reign and during the Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament, where he valiantly fell to Chris Hero in the second round. The problem here is that Lee & Everett are now the tag team champions, and while they are both immensely talented, I don’t trust them to deliver consistently. The two like to dance, and I am not looking for dancing in my wrestling.

That being said, this match ruled. Trevor Lee has gotten a ton of praise, and rightfully so, for his work in CWF Mid-Atlantic, but let’s not forget about Andrew Everett. He’s so explosive and it worked wonders with Fitchett’s unique offense. What hurt this match from hitting “great” is the finish, which saw Fitchett squirm all around the ring to get in the right spot for a Shooting Star Press from Everett. It just looked bad. I am by no means saying that they should’ve risked a major injury, I’m just saying take a moment so things don’t look that phony. That aside, this match ruled, and hopefully this is the start of bigger and better things for Fitchett. ***3/4

AAW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
SAMI CALLIHAN DEF. CHRIS HERO

Color me shocked that Sami Callihan has his best matches of the year with the best wrestler on the planet, Chris Hero. The two were involved in an instant classic to start the year at EVOLVE 53 in an epic tag match, and now they close the year in a one-on-one encounter for AAW’s top prize at their biggest show of the year.

I’ve loathed Callihan this year. Hated him. He’s easily been the worst part of a stellar AAW product. His main events have dragged, he’s been lazy, and the main event scene drastically suffered as a result. While he did start off the match with another stupid fake injury spot, he was great here. This is the Callihan that I like, the one that I have hardly seen in the past 12 months. He was explosive, he had energy, and more often than not, he was in the ring and not brawling in the crowd!

Hero is just the best. Callihan worked over his leg, and right as he was building momentum towards the finish, it gave out on him in the midst of a cyclone kick. Perfect timing as the two hit the finishing stretch. Callihan beautifully executed a Stretch Muffler to get Hero to tap after being hit with a vicious piledriver only moments before. This was a homerun for AAW. I don’t like Callihan being in the top spot, but I’ll live with it for at least the next month because this was outstanding. This felt like the biggest match on the biggest show of the year for the top prize, which it was. Bravo. ****1/2

Final Thoughts:

For their biggest show of the year, I have to give AAW a thumbs up. The top three matches delivered and a positive outing for Low Ki is a win for us all. The undercard stinks, and if you plan on watching the entire show, I recommend doing it in at least two sittings, but once the smoke clears, this show is worth watching. Give it a look and support one of the best promotions on Earth.

Great work from AAW.