FEBRUARY 17, 2017

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It appears that Fitchett & Vega are going to stay together, which is disappointing. I thought after their title loss at Windy City Classic, they would go their separate ways, meaning Fitchett would move to the top of the card and Vega would not. Instead their together, as the Besties in the World, now battling the Best Friends. There was a lot of stuff in this match, and it highlighted how talented Taylor and Trent are. This is probably the only time the two will ever be compared, but generations from now when nerds are going back and doing 2017 deep dives, they’re going to wonder why two guys weren’t bigger stars than they were, and those two guys are Jay Briscoe and Chuck Taylor.

Taylor is such a pro. Everything he does in the ring looks good, and at the same time, more often than not he makes his opponents look even better. He and Trent picked up the win after a Double Chokeslam, which hopefully means we’ll be seeing them much more often in AAW. ***1/4


Chalk this up as the best match in Connor Braxton’s career. Braxton is typically harmless, but has never left a positive impression on me. He looks like Johnny Ace’s dream, but his in-ring ability isn’t up to snuff for his current settings. He and DJ Z put together a beautiful match. Braxton was bigger, and had the added advantage of having Scarlett Bordeaux in his corner. Her work here was impressive. While the “distract the opponent by shaking my voluptuous features” spot seems outdated, it worked here as it set up a DJ Z dive to the outside. DJ Z hit a springboard DDT from the outside into the middle of the ring for an impressive victory. Not a match of the year, or anything close, but this match was fun professional wrestling. ***1/2


This was Kincaid’s AAW debut and a first time match. It symbolized what I love about the modern wrestling world. Everyone is so different. Kincaid has some of the most innovative and interesting offense I’ve seen in all my years of watching wrestling, and Riddle, despite my dissatisfaction for his AAW appearances up to this point, has a unique ability to mesh his style with any of his opponent’s. This was a good match, but a far cry from great. It was nice to see Riddle look interested, because I had yet to get that vibe from him in AAW in his prior appearances. The two clearly didn’t mesh as well as they do with other opponents, but with its place on the card, this was a perfectly fine match. Riddle submitted Kincaid with a nasty Bromission. ***1/4


Trevor Lee’s obnoxious, dancing, Taylor Swift-singing AAW persona is the pits. I hate it so much. It’s a good thing his in-ring work keeps me entertained. This was a slower match than what I expected it to be, but it ended up working quite well. Sydal has shaken off the ring rust that was apparent last month, and Lee continued to be a slimey, no-good heel (to a point that it teeters on go-away heat). Sydal’s flashy offense looks so impactful. I think he’s one of the most under appreciated junior heavyweights historically. I hope this next generation of wrestlers study his work. Lee cut off his vicious flurry of offense by getting his knees up to block a Shooting Sydal Press and then nailing a Small Package Driver. Very fun stuff. ***1/2


El Hijo del Fantasma, also known as Lucha Underground’s King Cuerno, made his AAW debut here against Low Ki, who hasn’t wrestled in AAW since October. This ruled, as expected. Ki set the world on fire 15 years ago in ROH, and in 2017 he’s still more than capable of delivering bangers. I thought he outclassed Fantasma, who still worked extremely hard. Every strike Ki throws, every bump he takes, and every move he commits to is done with maximum effort. Very few individuals have ever worked harder in between the ropes than he does.

Fantasma was really great, even if he was overshadowed by Ki. He looked fearless against Ki’s offense. His offense didn’t look too shabby, either. His suicide dive is a thing of beauty. It was all for not, however, as Ki put him away with his signature Double Foot Stomp.

This felt like a greatest hits match. It never kicked into fifth gear, but with the talent these two men have, this match was still terrific. Low Ki continues to be an absolute delight in AAW, and I’m not opposed to seeing more Fantasma in the promotion. ***3/4


This is what AAW is about. Two established talents on the indie scene battled two homegrown AAW talents, and despite coming up short in the long run, the homegrown talents are in a better spot than they were before the match. Xavier and Wentz are electric high-flyers. They’re rough around the edges, but they’re only going to get better with age. This was Wentz’s Chicagoland debut (he’s been a regular on the LaSalle shows), and after this performance, he’s a made man.

I liked seeing Cage & Elgin increase their aggression as the match went on. In the beginning, Elgin was having fun. He busted out the worm and he had a smile etched across his face, but after the persistence of Xavier and Wentz, he became increasingly agitated. It wasn’t until a barrage of high-impact maneuvers from both Cage and Elgin that they finally were able to put the two away. Incredible match, one that will probably end up being one of the best AAW matches of the year. ****1/4


I’m not saying I’m the best Catholic, but I don’t deserve punishment like this. I was dreading this going in, and the scary part is it was actually worse than I imagined. To Kingston’s credit, he wasn’t bad. Eddie Kingston has never done anything for me as a wrestler, but his performance, at the very least, was passable. It just so happens that he’s never been appealing to me. Abyss, on the other hand, was terrible. He was lazy, his performance felt uninspired, and even for his low standards, he was sloppy. He won with a chokeslam, which means he’s probably sticking around. I could go the rest of my life without watching Abyss wrestle. *


This was exactly what it should’ve been. Imagine the match you’d get with these six men in it, and that’s the match that was delivered. ACH has been a breath of fresh air in AAW since he returned in October. He fits right in with the current scene. His partners, Rey Fenix and AR Fox, to me, are the cornerstones of AAW now that Chris Hero is gone. Month after month, those two kill it, and this match was no different.

I don’t want to pick on the Crist brothers, especially after watching such a great match, but their offense looks so light that it is becoming an issue. They had their moments here, and the Dave Crist super springboard cutter is an absolute thing of beauty, but their strikes, even for my standards, continue to induce eyerolls.

The finish of this match setup AAW’s next outing in LaSalle, the March 4th show, perfectly, as Fenix and Callihan closed the match out with a heated exchange. In the end, Fenix caught him with a Destroyer, which gave him momentum heading into their big title match. A fantastic display of wrestling, and a great booking decision to boot. Great way to close things out for AAW. ****

Final Thoughts:

Big thumbs up for this show. The prior Chicagoland show featured 10 matches, while this only featured 8. The two matches being cut from this helped the show flow a lot smoother. It certainly doesn’t hurt that DJ Z vs. Connor Braxton massively over delivered, and the dreadful Abyss vs. Eddie Kingston match was short. Any show with Low Ki and two 4+ star matches, to me, is worth the purchase.