Jeff Martin here, wrestling cartoonist extraordinaire (heat.rentathugcomics.com), back to guide you on another journey through Canadian indie wrestling. This time we’re going to talk about a promotion most of you probably haven’t heard of (that’s kind of what we do around here), but is the largest in Canada in terms of territory. When most people think of Canadian indie wrestling, their minds are probably going to go to SMASH, out of Toronto. They’re the most visible, certainly, but despite coming across as major league in a lot of ways, they only run shows in one metropolitan area. Canada’s Wrestling Elite, operating out of Winnipeg, run as far East as Thunder Bay, Ontario, and as far West as Alberta. Their current New Heights Tour features 12 dates across 4 provinces over the month of January, capped off with the annual 50 man Rumble to Remember in Winnipeg.
The subject of this article will be a mid-tour stop in St. Albert, Alberta, which is a suburb of Edmonton. Interestingly, the roster present in St. Albert for Canada’s Wrestling Elite was mostly American in origin. It was an odd development, but I enjoyed being able to see a lot of wrestlers I probably would never hear about otherwise.
CWE New Heights Tour
January 14, 2017
St. Albert Community Centre
St. Albert, Alberta
Estimated Attendance: 100
When I arrived at the St. Albert Community Centre, about 20 minutes before bell time, ACH was sitting at the audio booth doing karaoke to whichever songs caught his fancy. It was very surreal, as my only familiarity with ACH has been from ROH and his recent Super ACH stuff in NJPW. I had heard that he comes off as far more charismatic live, but I did not see that coming.
Shane Sabre def. “Tornado” Tony Kozina
My only familiarity with Tony Kozina prior to this show was his role in that scandal several years ago where Davey Richards was accused of holding up a promoter for money and then speeding off. As a result, I had very little interest in seeing him, but he was actually pretty good. He’s small and getting older, but he projected danger. Shane Sabre was charismatic and very good at keeping the crowd engaged and on his side, which set up a nice dynamic. Sabre was clearly more athletic and fiery, but Kozina was able to use his experience to capitalize on mistakes and control the match.
The best part of this match was the absurd crowd work at the beginning, as Shane Sabre started shaming a fan in the front row who yelled a swear word (I didn’t hear what he actually said). Sabre hopped out of the ring, put his hand over the guy’s mouth, and said “No swearing guys, it’s a family show!” When the guy doubled down on cursing at him, Sabre tore a piece off of his wrist tape and put it over the guy’s mouth. Problem solved.
The finish saw Kozina springboard off of the middle rope, manage to land on his feet after Sabre ducked out of the way, and get crushed with a Sabre spear for a three count.
I hope Sabre’s spear has a sword pun for a name, but also that he comes up with a better finisher. The only guys who should be using a spear are ex-football players who are big enough that it looks like they’re destroying people when they hit them. Sabre’s spear was far more Edge than Rhyno, and that’s not a believable finisher. In this specific instance, Kozina was small enough that it was a little more palatable. ***
“All American”Alex Anthony & “The Mercenary” Garrison Creed def. “Hitman For Hire” Mr. Grim & “The Only One Without A Nickname” Kody Lane
Kody Lane’s gear looked really low-rent, but once the bell rang he was quite good, even if he didn’t summon the kraken-looking thing he had tattooed on his back to fight in his place like I had hoped he would.
Now that I think about it, my ideal pro wrestling would feature wizards preeeeetty heavily.
Anyway, a wrestling match happened, sans wizards. Anthony and Lane started, but Creed and Lane worked the bulk of the match. Grim and Lane worked well as a team, and used a really cool double team move where Grim did a splash in the corner which resulted in him lying across the middle rope, pinning Creed in place. Lane then followed up with a jumping forearm smash over top of Grim.
Anthony made a hilariously ineffective hot tag, as he landed one strike and then got manhandled into the corner by Grim. The finish came shortly afterward. Creed lifted Grim onto his shoulders, but Grim countered by grabbing the top rope. Anthony kicked his hand away, then Creed planted Grim with Cradle Shock. Anthony went up top and hit a big splash, and that was the end of Mr. Grim and the match.
Speaking of the big splash, it was the funniest instance of a wrestler being thwarted by the low ceiling in the venue. If Anthony had jumped while he was on the top rope, he absolutely would have smashed his head through the ceiling tile that was about 6 inches above him, so he just sort of flopped forward onto Grim. **3/4
“Crown Jewel of the Bullet Club” Chase Owens def. “Hotshot” Danny Duggan
Chase Owens entered first, and the girl operating the music managed to play the wrong song twice, prompting the camera operator to intervene and get the correct theme started. It was the Bullet Club theme, which I personally think is terrible entrance music. Entrance music is supposed to inform the audience about the character, and all the BC theme accomplishes is telling me “this guy is probably boring.” It’s got no energy.
As a Voices of Wrestling reader, you’re probably already aware of Chase Owens, but his opponent is probably new to you. Danny Duggan is the promoter of CWE, and works all over the Canadian prairies and the northern United States. He’s also made his way onto WWE TV as an extra a few times. In this match he was playing a pretty standard white meat babyface, which is one of his strengths. His character can be summed up as “guy who misses ’90s wrestling aesthetics.” His entrance gear is comprised of Zubaz shorts, a fanny pack, and a parody “Hot Rod” t-shirt that reads “Hot Shot.” His ring gear is the old yellow and black Mr. Perfect singlet, which looks really good aesthetically, but wearing the gear of a past star looks really minor-league.
The match started off with Owens doing some over the top Memphis heel antics, including blowing his nose on a Duggan t-shirt from the merch table and then pretending he was going to superkick a child. That spot was AWESOME, as he came close enough to the kid that it scared everybody, but still nowhere close to actually making contact with him. Duggan dominated early with shoulder tackles, as he’s got like 20 or 30 pounds of muscle on Owens. The Crown Jewel attempted to escape Duggan’s wrath by sliding backwards out of the ring, but he only succeeded in slamming his Crown Jewels into the ring post.
Some brawling on the floor happened before Owens targeted Duggan’s knee and focused his heat period around attacking it. Duggan made a comeback which did a good job of incorporating the knee work, including hitting a spinning fisherman’s neckbreaker because he couldn’t do the Perfect Plex lift on his bum knee. A second Perfect Plex attempt later in the match(the crowd was practically demanding he keep trying them, given his gear) was also hampered by the bad knee, and began the finishing sequence. Owens blasted Duggan with a superkick, then backed off to attempt another. Duggan ducked and went for a Rock Bottom, but Owens grabbed the referee’s shirt to interrupt the move and prevent the referee from seeing the kick he delivered straight to Duggan’s jewels (crown status unverified). Package Piledriver, 1-2-3. ***1/2
After the match, Owens shit-talked Duggan to the ringside camera. Duggan overheard this and, naturally, wasn’t psyched about it. He kicked Owens in the balls and delivered the Rock Bottom that he had attempted earlier, then high-fived fans and walked off. Owens dragged himself over to the ring announcer, then cut an incredibly funny high-voiced promo demanding that Danny Duggan be fined for his actions.
Steven Stylez & Red Thunder def. “Tasty” Travis Cole & “Wisconsin Strong Style” TW3, Superiority Complex (Roy “Flash” Gordon & Tony Nas), The Cannon Clan (“The Rebel” Bobby Collins & “Crazed Cowboy” Jacob Creed)
This was billed as a four corners survival match where the first team to score a fall would be the winners… so somebody didn’t know what “survival” means. Cole did the stereotype gay gimmick (he wasn’t nearly as offensive with it as I’ve seen in that past, but fuck that gimmick) and the Cannon Clan were Confederate flag-waving Southerners (fuck that gimmick too).
Steven Stylez and Red Thunder were babyfaces by virtue of being local, and everyone else was… I dunno, I assume they also had alignments? It was really unclear in such a chaotic match. Steven Stylez is the promoter of Real Canadian Wrestling, and is a big fat guy who is a truly terrible worker. He only did two moves in this match, which is a pretty ideal usage of him.
I wish this had been Cole and TW3 vs Superiority Complex, as the only decent guy of the remaining four wrestlers was Red Thunder, who’s like 45. Superiority Complex had matching gear, and were excellent for the brief time they had to show off. Everyone tagged in to do a spot or two, then things devolved into chaos and people started brawling over the ring and ringside area. TW3 took the opportunity to hide under a merch table, which was GREAT. A dive train started, which was capped off when TW3 emerged from under the table to wipe everyone out with a tope con hilo.
The dive train turned into guys running into the ring, demolishing each other with moves, then bailing to the floor. Tony Nas hit somebody with a Michinoku Driver that looked KILLER. Red Thunder ate a strong-style striking combo from TW3, but managed to duck under a kick and hit a Bret Hart-style falling clothesline… for the pin? Weak finish, but this was a really entertaining multi-man clusterfuck. **1/2
Travis Cole attempted to console TW3 by grabbing his butt. This only succeeded in getting TW3 to leave the ringside area much faster.
ACH def. Shigehiro Irie
ACH spent a lot of the early part of the match doing comedy schtick, including turning the referee pat down into a several minute sequence where ACH riffed on police violence and the referee’s decorative shirt pocket. Once the match actually started, Irie grabbed ACH’s ear during a lockup. The referee scolded him, prompting a confused look and “No English” from Irie, which got a big laugh. ACH retaliated in kind during the next lockup, including the “No English” line, which again got a good laugh. The referee admonished both men, who then each grabbed one of his ears. This was the kind of thing that’s entertaining live but would probably drag really badly on video. To ACH’s credit, he sold his ear for the rest of the match.
This wasn’t a bad match, but it didn’t meet my expectations, given the names involved. They did a lot of schtick, which I enjoy in a live setting, but it took them forever to actually get going, and when they did the pacing was really off. When they picked up the pace and started throwing down, this was awesome. In between those sequences were a lot of standing around and talking to the crowd. ACH didn’t do any of his big stuff due to the low ceiling, and relied mostly on his charisma. Irie was great when he was trying to behead ACH with elbow strikes, but seemed to spend a lot of time waiting for ACH to initiate the next sequence.
The finishing sequence was very hot, with both guys blasting each other with strikes. ACH pinned Irie with a GORGEOUS Everest German Suplex. It didn’t even look like holding Irie at the apex of the move was taking effort. Unbelievable. ***1/4
After the show, ACH thanked the crowd for supporting professional wrestling, then started dancing and singing along to “Baby” by Justin Bieber (his entrance music for the night) to end the show.
- Spot of the Night: ACH’s Everest German Suplex Hold. HOLY SHIT. Runner-up is Tony Nas’ Michinoku Driver.
- Match of the Night: Chase Owens vs. Danny Duggan. I think an argument could be made that ACH/Irie was better, but I felt like it under-delivered.
- MVP: Chase Owens. He has a ton of charisma, and is very good at jawing with fans in a way that’s both funny and gets him booed. This match made me like the Crown Jewel of the Bullet Club far more than any of the New Japan appearances I’ve seen.