Glory Pro Wrestling
February 19, 2017
- Watch: SmartMarkVideo.com
When Michael Elgin posted in the Classic Japanese Pro Wrestling Facebook group asking for branding and naming ideas for a promotion he was looking to start in the St. Louis area, people jumped at the opportunity to help. Another new independent promotion to further bolster the already impressive Midwest scene was something to get excited about. I had no idea if Big Mike had any experience running a promotion and the myriad of tasks that come with that, but Elgin has trained loads of young wrestlers and has spoken openly about his love of old-school wrestling and “working for it.” The idea of that guy attempting to open a promotion in the middle of his career peak was something that I knew I could be into.
And, after one show, I’m happy to say I am!
I had my doubts. Looking at the card for the event, I was familiar with only 8 of the 18 wrestlers–luckily, almost all of them impressed.
As I write this review, we are almost a full two months removed from the event, but it is nearly impossible to stay on top of all the wrestling available in 2017. This show was an exciting opportunity to write about a promotion’s debut. As an aside, I don’t tend to rate matches unless they hit the 3 1/2-star mark or higher for me, which some of these do!
Crown of Glory Title Tournament Match
Paco Gonzalez def. Kobe Durst
To be completely honest, neither Paco Gonzalez nor Kobe Durst is coming even remotely close from passing any conventional “eye test” we sometimes talk about in pro wrestling. Both are undersized, but Paco looks downright small and almost childish. Whatever appearance issues these two have goes out the window as the match picks up steam, however. The pace and impact of this match are pretty high quality. Elgin, on commentary, states that he favors Paco because he trained him, but he’s faced Durst – and the dude “can hit.” The offense and pace of this match are very indie-riffic, but in a way that I enjoy. Paco hits Durst with elbows galore; Durst comes back with a lungblower; Paco hits an enzuguiri, suicide dive and death valley driver. The pace is pretty quick throughout. Durst hits a top-rope codebreaker and, after an extended strike exchange, Paco gets the surprise jackknife cradle pin. Overall, this was a quick match, but all action and an ideal opener. I didn’t move on from this match thinking that either Paco or Durst are future breakout independent stars, but they both worked their asses off. If this is what an opening match in a brand new Midwest indie looks like, then the promotions where I live really need to up their game.
Crown of Glory Title Tournament Match
Ethan Page def. Danny Adams
“All Ego” is rocking his super dope newish Mr. Freeze tights and battling “The Millennial” Danny Adams. Adams is a dude with a look that doesn’t grab me, but his arm-focused work that does. One thing that sticks out whenever I see Page in these smaller indies is just how big he is. He isn’t ripped like a Brian Cage or broad like a Big Mike, but he’s still a super-convincing hoss when he chooses to work that way (and does so here). The match focuses on Adams going after Page’s left-arm in a bunch of unique ways from arm-bars to dropkicks. Page fires back from time to time with a big move or two, but Adams eventually counters a big boot attempt into a leg-capture powerbomb, giving the first glimpse at a potential upset here. Not long after, though, Adams loses focus and Page hit the Spinning Dwayne for the win. This match was decent, but it lacked some of the fire and excitement of the opener.
Crown of Glory Title Tournament Match
Shigehiro Irie def. Curt Stallion
Now, this was a hell of a match and about as perfect as you can get in 8 minutes. Shigehiro Irie is one of my favorite wrestlers in the world, from his ridiculous outfits and pouting faces to his insane forearms and cannonballs. I love the dude. Coming into this, I had heard about Curt Stallion as a relatively hot up-and-comer (and have now seen him in ROH), but when you see him standing face to face against Irie – you wouldn’t think he has a chance. And just like clockwork, Irie opens the match with a knockout elbow to Stallion that gets a HUGE pop from the crowd. The two go at it, Stallion gets Irie in a German suplex for 2, but Irie comes right back with a release German, prompting new announcer Ethan Page to state “I don’t want either of these guys in the finals!” This is the most “PWG” feeling match of the show, with each dude getting their shit in for eight crazy, stiff minutes.
My favorite part of the match features Irie awkwardly rolling through a spinebuster setup and delivering a huge jumping piledriver while Stallion shouts “DUDE NO! PLEASE!” Irie hits a gnarly snap suplex into the turnbuckle and then gets Stallion with his bizarro vertical suplex into a Tazmission and the instant tap. This was the match that people were really talking about after this event, and there’s a reason. Irie and Stallion both came out looking like stars, and they worked it as a wonderful, huge, quick sprint. Highly recommended match. ****
Crown of Glory Title Tournament Match
Jason Kincaid def. Everett Connors
At this point in the VOD we are three matches down and only 25 minutes into the show–hell yeah. This match pits Jason Kincaid, a dude with a lot of hype who looks like the front man of the Spin Doctors, against Everett Conners, a dude with the gimmick of being a big time Justin Bieber fan and wearing the Forever 21 men’s line from like three years ago. This match didn’t grab me, but it wasn’t bad. Both guys are relatively solid in the ring, though I would say up to this point that Everett Connors seems the least experienced on the show. The match was oddly paced, especially considering the three sprints that came before it and Kincaid’s unusual offense. All of those Kincaid-esque moves don’t come off as natural or as convincing as they do in ROH or the WWN shows he’s on.
The two take it to the outside at some point, which features a cool Kincaid dive out of a stairwell. Both dudes are trading big moves, but they don’t seem to sell the story or competition that well, even when Connors delivers this wacky seesaw piledriver type move off the ropes. The match did pick up at the end with some big moves, but I wasn’t sold on either guy at the end.
Myron Reed def. Davey Vega, Gary Jay, Jason Roberts, Mat Fitchett, and Space Monkey
This is the match that features a bunch of dudes I have never seen but who are trying their damnedest to impress. The announcers for the match seem surprised to see that it’s a tag-in style match, considering there are six dudes, but it doesn’t take long for the match to evolve/devolve into a chaotic lucha-rules style high flying, spot-heavy match. The thing that is clear above all is that Space Monkey is the most over participant in the match, which shouldn’t be surprising. The coolest spot early on is Myron Reed going over the top rope to the outside doing a flying headscissors to Gary Jay who flips into Davy Vega’s arms, butt exposed, while Vega runs with him ringside and powerbombs him onto everyone else. While everyone is recovering from this, Myron Reed then comes out of nowhere with the huge flip over the corner from the ring ala Angelico or Ricochet. The whole sequence gets the crowd super hot.
The match eventually makes its way back to the ring. We get some funny Space Monkey offense, a forearm circle and action that’s getting too wild to follow. Myron Reed eventually establishes himself as the star of the match and hits a Spanish Fly out of nowhere for the win and rights to No. 1 contender at the next Glory Pro show. This match wasn’t as good as some huge Young Bucks spot fest, the recent flyer matches from Wrestlemania weekend or that once-a-quarter insane cibernetico in CMLL, but it still held my attention and had me laughing at a few spots. It was far from the best multi-man match I’ve seen this year, but I respect what these guys did here, and look forward to seeing more from most of them. ***3/4
Brandon Espinosa def. Sean Orleans
Man, when this match started, I knew nothing of these guys other than Sean Orleans had about the worst gear I had ever seen. And I still don’t. Luckily, this match is a super squash, probably less than a minute, and features just three moves–a blue thunder bomb, a superkick and a brainbuster. Espinosa killed this guy.
Jake Something def. Shane Sabre
The slightly-out-of-shape “indie” look that many guys had in this show went out the damn window for these two Bram-looking bros. This was a hoss battle from the get go, complete with some clunky exchanges to start us off. Eventually, Jake Something hits Sabre with a back suplex onto the apron, and that is something I can always get into. As the match continues, this is definitely worked at a slower pace than every match before it, but it was a welcome change. Sabre gets a minor comeback and hits a solid DDT, which is when I notice that Jake Something has a tattoo of Goku eating a huge meal on his thigh. Something stalks around the ring and uses his size well.
The match is essentially Jake hitting Sabre with all kinds of big moves, and Sabre not selling it or kicking out at two. Something eventually puts Sabre away with a fucking crazy lariat to the back of the head of a kneeling Sabre. It was a move I don’t anticipate ever being willing to take. Decent match, a nice change of pace.
PROGRESS Atlas Title
Matt Riddle def. Michael Elgin
This was my favorite match of the show and described in my notebook as “A GREAT FUCKING MATCH!” The two start off with some early matwork that seems like an actual test of strength rather than a time filler. While the show has been pretty good up to now, the atmosphere around this odd-shaped building as these two lock up is a million times higher than anything that came before. People have said it everywhere on the internet, but when Matt Riddle is in the ring, every match has a “big fight” feel to it in a way that very few people in wrestling can convey. Riddle establishes his technical abilities early as he shows that he can turn just about anything Big Mike throws his way into a counter-hold or submission. The two have an extended chop sequence that is pretty brutal and a little while down the line Elgin hits Riddle with that powerslam of his that I just love so much. It is clear throughout this match that these are two wrestlers who just fucking. get. it.
Riddle – so much has been said about him and how quickly he has gotten amazing. I posed a question to the rest of the VOW staff recently where I asked if any other wrestlers were as good as Riddle as quick and the only two names that people came up with were Jun Akiyama and Kurt Angle. Those are insane comparisons for Riddle, but there is a chance for this guy to wind up as an all-time great. Elgin? Well, Elgin has been nothing but spectacularly solid since he rebuilt himself in New Japan. He has one of my favorite offenses in all of wrestling and currently has my favorite match of 2017. One thing that separates both Riddle and Elgin from a lot of their contemporaries is that they are both power guys, though Riddle usually leans more shoot/submission, neither of them display this unbelievable strength that so many power wrestlers work. Their moves are reasonable and believable, their selling usually makes sense (or is dramatic in a good sense), and they just utilize so many little things that add to the match psychology. Anyway, Elgin hits multiple Germans to Riddle and nearly knocks him out.
There is this sick exchange where Riddle throws a nasty elbow, Elgin comes back with a rolling elbow, Riddle with the knee, Elgin with the back fist and Riddle with the big time kick to the hell. Lots of no-selling Germans and eventually Riddle hits the springboard knee to retain his title. I loved this match. ****1/4
Crown of Glory Title Tournament Final
Jason Kincaid def. Paco Gonzalez, Ethan Page, and Shigehiro Irie
Here we go, the main event and the match to crown the first Glory Pro champion! Like the other multi-man match, this one is also operating in tags. Irie and Page start off, and I’m shocked and saddened to see how much bigger Page is than the big Japanese teddy bear. The two exchange shoulder blocks until Kincaid and Paco come in and feel each other out before Page destroys Paco with a big boot. Later on, Ethan Page executes a gorilla-press powerslam ala Goldberg, and at this point, the story is that Paco is out of his league or that he has that “never say die” attitude. This is another match where Kincaid’s offense only worked in spurts because there seems to be a lot of misfires here–potentially due to miscommunication. His “Zen” character also has this side to him that I can’t really get into on this show where he doesn’t seem to sell pain or emotion like everyone else, like he’s just dead inside or so hyper-focused, that you can’t really buy into him beyond the moves. I like the guy, but he didn’t sell me on the show the way others did.
There is a sunset flip powerbomb to the outside that completely fails because of how low the ring is on the floor, and I feel bad for the dudes – the crowd even went silent for it. Page hits a sick Oklahoma Stampede from the middle rope on Paco, but apparently, Paco isn’t the legal man. At this point, someone in the crowd yells out, over and over, “HE SAID THE MEXICAN WASN’T LEGAL!” Someone eventually tells him to shut up. Kincaid hits a flipping stunner on Page for the elimination and Paco reverses Irie’s Tazmission into a sneaky pin, and we are down to two. From here the match picks up quite a bit since it is only the two smaller guys with pretty great offense. They throw WAY too many superkicks, but somewhere down the line, Kincaid locks on this wacky behind the back dragon sleeper and Paco passes out. Our first Glory Pro Crown of Glory champion is Jason Kincaid!
Overall, this was a really enjoyable show at a great length–under 2 hours. It’s well worth the money to watch and leaves me super excited for the upcoming Glory Pro shows on May 7 and May 20. People like Keith Lee, Pentagon, Kyle O’Reilly and Sami Callahan will be mixing it up with the young talent on display here. Congratulations to Big Mike on his successful first show. The MUST SEE matches are Elgin/Riddle and Irie/Stallion, though the 6-man No. 1 contender match was a ton of fun, too.