We made it. Here we are on the final day of our crazy stretch of watching live wrestling. Jason, Mary, Lee, and myself woke up early to not only leave the house early for the show, but to also eat some homemade pancakes. You’re probably thinking “Kelly, why did you eat pancakes before you went to a show that would have pancakes?” Because the show was happening on April Fool’s Day and on that day I follow the advice of the great Stone Cold Steve Austin. DTA, my friends. DTA.

The Wrestling Revolver: Pancakes and Piledrivers
4/1/17
12pm

Thankfully, the worst holiday in human history didn’t sully the show and we were treated to free pancakes. Let it never be forgotten: pancakes are a proven draw.

We got a strong opener from Jeff Cobb and David Starr, with Starr once again impressing me. The early going featured a lot of grappling, which then turned to feats of strength. This sounds like it would be complete domination from Cobb, but Starr was more than capable of keeping up with him. Cobb eventually won the match and both men came out of it looking great. The next match was a five way match that was super fun, but had a very weird ending. I have no idea who Palmer is and he was a bit of a non-factor in this, but he somehow won. Regardless of that, ACH, Moose, Big Mike, and Dezmond Xavier were all awesome. When the fight moved over to the pancake tables, Xavier jumped off of the top of the bleachers in one of the most impressive dives of the day. This weekend made me realize that ACH is one of my favorite wrestlers to watch live. He projects himself so well and he’s so damn funny. If you haven’t seen a show that ACH is on, do your best to fix that because he’s really worth seeing.

Our third match was an oddly satisfying thing to watch. As I had to explain to my friends, Kruger is a shitty wrestler and, more importantly, is a shitty person. You don’t put your mugshot on a t-shirt and monetize alleged domestic violence without being a terrible human being. This is why I greatly enjoyed watching Eddie Kingston beat the piss out of him. Eddie worked super stiff the whole match. He threw a chair into Kruger’s head twice, busting him open hard way. The match reached its peak levels of violence when Eddie slammed him into the chairs in the front row twice. The chair bumps were nasty and if they were happening to someone else, I would have felt bad about it. Kingston took home the victory and I was so happy.

Prior to intermission we got a superb match from Ricochet and Shane Strickland. Can we talk for a second about how great Strickland’s entrance music is? Seriously, it’s fantastic. He makes it work in the best way. The match itself was as great as his music. This was everything you could want out of it. The action was fast paced, hard hitting, and flippy as hell. These two men are so smooth in the ring, this was as crisp a match as you’ll ever see. Ricochet picked up another win in his incredible weekend and this was just the start of a great day for Strickland (more on that later).

When we came back from intermission we got an intergender match between Su Yung and “The Man Scout” Jake Manning. This could have been bad, but Manning’s character is so dumb that it actually worked really well. I popped huge when Manning was going through his scout manual, trying to find a way out of the figure four. Su Yung lost the match, but she spit blood in Manning’s face and got her comeuppance. This was dumb, but it was fun.

The semi-main event was a super crazy match between the Lucha Brothers, Pentagon and Fenix, and Twins, Sami Callihan and Brian Cage. I feel like this is the closest I’ll ever come to seeing a PWG main event without going to California. The action was non-stop. This match stands out as one of the best of the weekend for the incredible sprint that it was. It seemed like all four men really enjoyed being a part of this and celebrated together afterwards. This was the first of two must-see, insane matches from the show.

In what may have been the craziest spectacle of a match that I’ve ever seen in-person, Jason Cade won the AR Fox open invite ladder match. These guys took unbelievable bumps all over the place with zero regard for their bodies. Early on, what looked like it was supposed to be the main ladder of the match was broken, forcing a lot of improvisation as things went on. Joey Janela took two very painful looking bumps in the match, as did his girlfriend, Penelope Ford. The Bad Girl flew from the top of a ladder in the ring all the way down to the outside onto a group of wrestlers and she was later slammed through a big chunk of plywood by Trevor Lee while Joey was preoccupied building a structure of chairs and a ladder. In the scariest bump of the match, Jason Cade was pushed off of a tall ladder and fell through plywood (and maybe another ladder) set up on the barricades by the entrance aisle. I thought that fall would take him out of the match, but it turned out that he would go on to win the whole thing. Go out of your way to watch this!

Pancakes and Piledrivers results and ratings

  • Jeff Cobb def. David Starr ***¼
  • Palmer def. Michael Elgin, ACH, Dezmond Xavier, and Moose ***¾
  • Eddie Kingston def. Kruger ***
  • Jack Evans & Angelico def. Dave & Jake Crist **¼
  • Ricochet def. Shane Strickland ****¼
  • Jake Manning def. Su Yung **½
  • Rey Fenix & Pentagon OM def. Brian Cage & Sami Callihan ****½

AR Fox Open Invite Ladder Match: Jason Cade def. Lio Rush, Matt Cross, Trevor Lee, Serpentico, AR Fox, Joey Janela, Davey Vega, Arik Cannon, Caleb Konley, Zachary Wentz, and Tre McGill ****½

###

After the Revolver show finished we had some time to kill before our next show so I was introduced to the wonderful world of Wawa. You have no idea how jealous I am of people that have these in their towns. No gas station should be able to make sandwiches that were as great as the panini I had. We were running on (maybe) five hours of sleep this day and Wawa’s fancy soda machine was a godsend. 44 ounces of vanilla/cherry Coke fueled me through the next chunk of the day.

WrestleCon Women’s Supershow
4/1/17
4pm

With us seeing the first and last shows of the day at the Wyndham, it made sense to see the middle show of the day as well. The Women’s Supershow was a real mixed bag in terms of quality, but it was the perfect show to watch at the time. We were able to get a bit of rest in to make it through the next show, but were still able to get another show packed into the day. I don’t want to judge, but I think I will anyways. If you ever want to see the thirstiest group of dudes that you’ll ever see, go to a women’s wrestling show on Mania weekend.

That all being said, I enjoyed a majority of what I saw on this show. The opening match was essentially a squash match, but Thunder Rosa made it into a pretty good match. I’ve never seen Rosa wrestle before, but I was super impressed by her. In the next match I was also really impressed by Angel Rose. She beat Samantha Heights and Renee Michelle in a well put together triple threat match. Had it been a little longer, I probably would have gone higher than three stars.

Those two strong matches were followed by a stretch of average to outright bad bits of wrestling. I felt bad for Jade being stuck in the shitshow of a match that she was in. She did was she could, but when you’re stuck with seven other subpar workers, you’re not going to be able to do much. Things got even worse when Kennadi Brink beat Jazz in what was the worst match I saw all weekend. Fans were chanting “Thank you Jazz” for what I’m going to assume was the fact that the match ended.

The show started to pick up again when Shayna Baszler took on Joey Ryan. I know some of the people reading this will groan when they see that Joey Ryan is on the Women’s Supershow, but I actually enjoyed this match quite a bit. Ryan’s schtick doesn’t always work, but when paired with the serious shooter that is Baszler, it makes for a fun clash of personalities. I found myself laughing way more than I would have expected. When Shayna won the match and the DDT Ironman Championship, I realized that this was the first time I saw a Japanese wrestling title belt change hands in person. Kind of a cool moment, to be completely honest.

Our main event was a one-on-one clash between Su Yung and Taya Valkyrie. Of the three matches I saw her in this weekend, this was the best Su Yung match. She reminds me a bit of Pentagon Jr. in that anything she lacks in technical ability is made up for in her presence. I’m a big fan of her demon bride gimmick. She really exudes a scary aura when she makes her entrance. And Taya’s no slouch either, she plays a great heel. These two put on a great main event and really laid their shit in. This was an enjoyable end to a solid enough show.

Women’s Supershow results and ratings

  • Thunder Rosa def. Indi Hartwell **¾
  • Angel Rose def. Samantha Heights and Renee Michelle ***
  • Kellyanne def. Hudson Envy **
  • Jade and Leva Bates def. Savannah Evans/Devyn Nicole, Jamie Senegal and Eddy McQueen, and Neveah and Jessicka Havok *
  • Kennadi Brink def. Jazz DUD
  • Allie and Alexxis def. Tessa Blanchard and Kiera Hogan **
  • DDT Ironman Championship: Shayna Baszler def. Joey Ryan ***¼
  • Gabi & Santana Garrett def. Chelsea Green & Taeler Hendrix **½
  • Su Yung def. Taya Valkyrie ***½

###

Following the Supershow, we said goodbye to Mary, who had decided to head home. She’s not a fan of blood and, well, the CZW name carries a certain connotation. I tried to convince her that nothing too crazy would happen and that most of the show would be full of high flying action. Now that I know what was going to eventually happen at the show, it was probably for the best that she went home.

CZW Best of the Best 2017
4/1/17
8:30pm

The show opened with an address from DJ Hyde and a group photo with all sixteen men in the Best of the Best tournament. Everyone on this show seemed excited to be here and really wanted to put on a good show. They knew that we had a ton of alternatives to this show. We could have been at NXT or ROH or the WWN Supershow, but we all chose to go to CZW and it felt like the crew wanted to reward us for this.

The show opened with a first round match that might have been one of the greatest openers that I’ve ever seen. Shane Strickland (and his amazing music) beat Lio Rush, Joey Janela, and Dezmond Xavier a match that featured ridiculous action. There were spots in this match that I’ve never seen before. One important aspect of the match was the past feud between Rush and Janela, which essentially made them cancel each other out. I had predicted to my friends that Strickland was going to win the whole tournament and after this match, I was feeling pretty good about my pick.

The awesome action didn’t stop there. In fact, it was immediately followed by another great match when AR Fox defeated Jason Cade, Ricochet, and David Starr. While I can’t say that this was crazier than the previous match, this was pretty nuts in its own right. This one had a different dynamic though with the more strong style oriented Starr in the mix. The true stars (no pun intended) of the match were Fox and Cade and that’s saying something when Ricochet is in the same match. Fox redeemed himself for his earlier loss to Cade by picking up the win here.

The third match of the show was everything I wanted it to be. You had three flippy boys and you had one Big Mike Elgin to toss them around. And you better believe that he tossed them around! I enjoyed this one a lot, especially the extended striking sequence between the four men. Elgin won and moved onto the next round. His opponent was decided in the final first round match where Dave Crist beat Sami Callihan, Jake Crist, and Fenix. If this hadn’t been followed by the three previous matches, I probably would have liked it more, but it had quite a bit to live up to. My only real concrete memory of the match is the absurd amount of ace crushers it contained. Speaking of unmemorable matches, before intermission we saw Joe Gacy defend the CZW Championship against Brian Cage in a perfectly fine hoss style match. By this point, the fans were burnt out already so this didn’t get us going again.

During the much needed intermission, I saw the grossest thing I’ve ever seen at a wrestling show. Lee went to go buy a shirt from Ricochet and when he came back to our seats, he had a story for the ages. He was wearing a pretty rad Power Rangers related shirt and had two people stop him and tell him they liked his shirt. The third person to say “hey, nice shirt” wasn’t talking to him, but was talking instead to the person behind him. Lee turns around to see the shirt in question and is shocked at what he sees. It’s a small picture, maybe the size of an envelope, of a woman’s face coated in semen. Um…. what?

I completely believed Lee, but I had to see this for myself. When I get out into the hallway, I start scanning the chests of every dude in the crowd. I was thinking I should have asked what color the shirt was to save myself some time, but it turns out that I didn’t need it. There was the shirt and it was as gross as I thought it would be. Seriously, I can’t imagine wearing something like that and thinking that it was a good idea. Even grosser is the fact that someone *cough*JimmyLloyd*cough* complimented it. Given the reputation that CZW tends to carry, this isn’t entirely surprising. Don’t be this guy.

In good intermission news, I talked to Ricochet for a bit and he was a lovely man. ***** would chat with again.

When the show came back from intermission, we were given an scramble match where the winner would receive something along the lines of a Money in the Bank where they could make any match for themselves whenever they want. The match wasn’t super remarkable outside of a surprise appearance from Mascarita Dorada. The scramble was followed by the first semi-final match from Best of the Best. Dave Crist beat Mike Elgin in a match that I enjoyed most of, but there was too much crowd brawling for my tastes. I like Crist, but sometimes he relies too much on this brawling style.

The second semi-final match is the match I was thinking would be the finals of the whole tournament; AR Fox vs. Shane Strickland. This was just as good, if not better, than their great Lucha Underground match in 2016. These men put their bodies through hell to make an awesome match. This was a war with more flips and reckless bumps that you’ll know what to do with. Strickland got a hard fought win and moved onto the finals.

The semi-main event brought us the hardcore action that CZW fans have come to expect over the years. The announcer said that the match would be contested under ultraviolent rules and we were immediately shown what kind of match this was going to be when Pentagon entered the ring with a huge bundle of light tubes and Matt Tremont carried a box of them in with him. This match is not going to be for everyone, but I enjoy a good deathmatch, so I was all in on this. Prior to right then, I had never seen light tubes used in-person, so I was shocked by just how loud they were when they exploded. When Tremont and Pentagon began trading light tube shots to the head back and forth, Jason was taken aback by what he was seeing. As glass showered the front rows of fans, Jason covered his mouth as he gasped in horror. Lee took a picture of his reaction and I will treasure that look for shock forever.

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but Kevin Sullivan was the special guest referee and was the fucking dirt worst. I had seen him ruin the Steve Corino/BJ Whitmer match from 2016 and I was really worried that it would happen here too. I’ve seen faster pin counts from old lucha referee’s that already have one foot in the grave. I got to scream “DO YOUR GODDAMN JOB!” at Kevin Sullivan, so it wasn’t all bad, I guess. At some point, Sullivan magically had a broom appear in his hands and was sweeping the glass out of the ring. Thankfully, Tremont’s helper guy started brawling with Sullivan and fought him to the back so he was replaced by an actual referee.

Tremont and Pentagon had the bloodbath of a match that I was hoping for. I can’t say that I was expecting there to be light tubes involved, but I was damn excited when they were. Tremont picked up the win, which then led into an amazing promo video announcing that Atsushi Onita is coming to face Tremont in an Explosion Deathmatch on August 5th. When the lights came back on in the arena, Tremont was on his knees, staring into the hard camera. He screamed out “ONITA!” and blood shot out of his forehead at least a foot onto the mat. It was one of those moments that could never have been planned, but it was so perfect. That’s how you get me excited for a match!

After the deathmatch, there was a brief intermission while the ring crew cleaned up all the glass. Even with all the sweeping they did, it didn’t take long in the main event before Crist and Strickland had little glass sparklies all over their backs. Not to be shown up by the previous match, the finals of Best of the Best were held under relaxed rules. This meant that Crist and Strickland would bring all sorts of plunder into play. Initially I wasn’t a huge fan of that, but it helped make this match feel like a war. They told a great story here. Had this been a normal match, Strickland would have won. The relaxed rules allowed Crist to do whatever it took to win, including utilizing the help of his manager. Strickland may have lost the match, but he still came out of this tournament looking great. They left it all out there and capped off a fantastic final show for us.

Best of the Best results and ratings

  • BOTB First Round: Shane Strickland def. Lio Rush, Joey Janela, and Dezmond Xavier ****½
  • BOTB First Round: AR Fox def. Jason Cade, Ricochet, and David Starr ****¼
  • BOTB First Round: Mike Elgin def. Scorpio Sky, Zachary Wentz, and Anthony Henry ****
  • BOTB First Round: Dave Crist def. Sami Callihan, Rey Fenix, and Jake Crist ***½
  • CZW champion Joe Gacy def. Brian Cage ***¼
  • Rickey Shane Page def. Ethan Case, Alexander James, Caleb Konley, Ace Austin, Tony Deppen, and Mascarita Dorada ***
  • BOTB Semi-Final: Dave Crist def. Michael Elgin ***¼
  • BOTB Semi-Final: Shane Strickland def. AR Fox ****¼
  • Matt Tremont def. Penta OM ****
  • BOTB Final: Dave Crist def. Shane Strickland ****½

###

And thus ends my Mania weekend road of insanity. I’m so happy that I was able to do this and I was even happier to do it alongside some of my best friends. With the amount of fun we had, I think we might have to do it again next year. I’ll never forget seeing things like Kaiju or Spring Break. Matches like Ricochet vs. Scurll and Pentagon vs. Tremont will stay with me for a while. If you get the opportunity, make it out to Mania weekend some year. I highly recommend going to the craziest shows possible, you’ll have a lot of fun.

The end… Until next year!