AAW
EPIC: THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW
APRIL 8, 2017
JOE’S LIVE – ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS

Watch: Smartmarkvideo.com

MAT FITCHETT & DAVEY VEGA DEF. TREY MIGUEL & STEPHEN WOLF

This would’ve been better had a few minutes been shaved off of it, but it served as a solid Chicagoland debut for Wolf and Miguel. Wolf has made his presence felt on AAW’s LaSalle shows, while Miguel has made a name for himself in Ohio’s Rockstar Pro promotion. This followed a (somewhat) old-school tag match structure until the very end, when things finally broke down. Fitchett and Vega ended up picking up the win, but this helped Miguel & Wolf get their footing in the big time. Perfectly fine opener. **3/4

Trevor Lee, in a backstage promo with Marty DeRosa, not only claimed that he’s no longer dancing in AAW, but also refered to the AAW roster as “goobers”. This is what I want from my wrestling promos.

ACH DEF. SHANE STRICKLAND

I’ve determined I much prefer ACH when he’s overly aggressive. He has such a beautiful smile, but he’s at his best when he’s a grump. Really, he should be a grump. He’s been a mainstay on the indie scene for five years now and he’s still looked at as an up-and-comer.

The start of the match featured ACH playing up that anger that I’ve come to enjoy. He jumped Strickland and delivered an excessive onslaught of offense on him in the opening portions of the match. After that, however, this match delved into a 50/50 contest based on strikes, and although both men are immensely talented, that is not the match I want to see them work. This had loads of potential, but I find myself getting bored towards the end. ACH put Strickland away with a Brainbuster. ***1/4

TREVOR LEE DEF. CHUCK TAYLOR

Lee held his vow of no longer dancing, which warms my heart. He and Taylor put on a perfectly solid display of wrestling. This felt like a really strong TV match, which is by no means an insult. Both men are very crisp and are able to tell a clear story, which they did here. I certainly wouldn’t mind a serious Trevor Lee being elevated into the main event scene. The only time he’s wrestled Penta El Zero M was in a six-way ladder match, so that needs to change soon. Lee rolled up Taylor while holding the tights. There was nothing wrong with this. ***

Jack Evans & Angelico, who is making his AAW debut, broke into an “ill” freestyle during their time with Marty DeRosa. I don’t know what planet Evans lives on, but I’d love to join him. Not only did Evans call out OI4K, referring to them as “fake champions”, he also took a shot at Trevor Lee & Andrew Everett. I hope that Everett heals up, as I’d love to see those two take on Evans & Angelico.

AAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
OI4K DEF. JACK EVANS & ANGELICO

Jack Evans wrestled half of this match with a cigarette in his mouth, and although that is super cool, it did not lend itself to great wrestling.

Dave Crist, in particular, had a rough night. I’m not picking on him, because I’ve really enjoyed most of OI4K’s work this year, but he looked very lost in the ring with Angelico. Maybe this is more of a reflection of Angelico’s peculiar offense more so than Crist’s abilities, but I’m putting the blame on Crist for this one. His offense didn’t look much better. This was simply a bad night for him.

Evans & Angelico are very hit and miss, and this was a clear miss. Evans was Somewhere Else on this night; he certainly wasn’t on Earth, let alone Rosemont, Illinois. He was obliterated, and soon after, Angelico ate a series of moves ending with a Jake Crist Tombstone. This is the first match of the night that is skippable. **1/4

Low Ki attacked OI4K after the match. He announced that he still had his sights set on Callihan and the rest of The Killer Cult, and that he has a mystery partner for his tag match vs. Sami Callihan and Abyss later on in the night, as Eddie Kingston could not appear.

MICHAEL ELGIN DEF. MATT RIDDLE

While I think I enjoyed their match at Glory Pro’s debut show more, I must say that this was a rather lovely display of professional wrestling. Riddle has been marvelous against big men this year like WALTER, Drew Galloway, and of course, Michael Elgin.

This felt very different from Riddle’s prior encounters with giants, however. He’s fought from behind in other bouts. He had to use his speed and technique to gain the advantage. Against Elgin this time, though, he took control early and grounded the big man. I was much more impressed with the brutal ground-and-pound that Riddle brought to the table than any big bomb delivered in the later stages of the match.

Of course, with it being a Michael Elgin match, there were big bombs thrown, and they were glorious. He and Riddle traded German suplexes akin to Katsuyori Shibata and Tomohiro Ishii, and the red-hot Rosemont crowd appreciated their ridiculous effort and passion. These two worked their asses off, and in the end delivered a high-energy, high-impact match worthy of going out of your way to see. ****1/4

REY FENIX DEF. JOHN MORRISON

This was the best of Morrison’s three AAW appearances to date, but this still left me unsatisfied. He never seems to want to give it his all, and that bothers me, especially when he’s in there with someone like Fenix.

This started way too slow, and I knew from there that this would be a bumpy ride. I’m sure if Morrison and Fenix threw their biggest spots at each other for 10 minutes, this would have been delightful. They did not do that. Morrison slowed things down, jawed with the crowd, and tried to cheat at various stages in the match, including a spot towards the finishing stretch where Morrison distracted the referee so he could deliver a low blow to Fenix. The spot was actually executed quite well, but AAW, supposedly, is all about “No countouts, no disqualifications, just professional wrestling”.

The greater point here is that Morrison does not fit in with AAW. His schtick simply does not work in a company that’s pumping out great matches with great effort at an absurd rate. He was pinned with Fenix’s Canadian Destroyer, which will hopefully signal the end of his AAW run. ***

“I’m not just a great wrestler, I’m the baddest man in the locker room” remarked Matt Riddle during his interview with Marty DeRosa. Riddle talked about how he’s been having great matches all over the world, and although the cheers are great, it’s getting old. He said that he needed to focus more. Afterall, he was in the UFC and they fired him on a four fight win-streak. Next time AAW sees Matt Riddle, he’ll be going for the win.

SAMI CALLIHAN & ABYSS DEF. LOW KI & KONGO KONG

Low Ki continues to impress in AAW, although this was a step below his low key MOTYC vs. Sami Callihan last month. The Kong/Low Ki pairing, while it is probably a one-time thing, was a very fun pairing. It looked like Ki was encouraging the big man to be more aggressive. He looked like he really wanted Kong to take it to “The Monster” Abyss, who continues to be a bore in AAW. I really wish his spot went to a younger big guy. It’s Abyss, there’s a stigma to him, I want to avoid him like a plague, yet I watch him every month in AAW. He pinned Kongo Kong, which sucks. One step forward, two steps back for Kong. ***1/4

Michael Elgin, while backstage with Marty DeRosa, noted that he has his sights set on the AAW Championship, letting Sami Callihan know that, “your belt, and your ass, belong to me.” It’s Michael Elgin vs. Zack Sabre Jr on May 6th, with the winner presumably getting a title shot against Sami Callihan.





AAW HERITAGE CHAMPIONSHIP
PENTA EL ZERO M DEF. AR FOX

I am all for more main events only going 10 minutes. This match was absolute bonkers from the start, and with it only going 10 minutes, they were able to sustain that pace throughout.

AR Fox has developed into one of my favorite wrestlers, and it’s because of the work he’s done in the Heritage Championship scene. He was marvelous as a champion last year, picking up wins over the likes of Jack Evans, Aero Star, and Drew Gulak, among others. His fast-paced, go-go-go style has become a permanent fixture in his work, and it’s matches like this that have helped him stand out from the rest of the AAW roster. On top of that, Fox continues to be fearless. No wrestler, to me, takes more risks than Fox. It’s a miracle that he hasn’t been seriously injured, but I surely hope that day never comes.

This balls-to-the-wall sprint concluded with a Canadian Destroyed on the apron, which was quickly followed with a double stomp for the victory. This played to the strengths of both men, as Fox was able to bump hectically, while Penta was able to use his unique charisma to bring the fans to his side. Overall, an exciting way to close out the 13th Anniversary Show. ***3/4

Mat Fitchett and Davey Vega bickered backstage with Marty DeRosa. Vega claimed he has “a thing” on April 22nd, leaving Fitchett to fend for himself in singles action. Although they got back to their winning ways in the opening bout of this show, things aren’t looking too hot for the Besties in the World.

ACH is looking past his Heritage Championship title loss, as he’s now focused on the AAW Heavyweight Championship. Low Ki, Michael Elgin, and now ACH all want their hands on Sami Callihan, which should create an exciting main event scene this summer in AAW. I should note that ACH cut the best promo I’ve ever seen from him here. He was serious, he said that he deserved respect, and that he was ready for the top of the card. This goes back to what I said earlier in the night. ACH with an edge is far more entertaining than happy-go-lucky ACH. You’ve been “A Guy” on the scene for five years now, ACH. It’s time to step up to the plate, get mean, and get focused.

Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix closed us out, reminding the world that they are the best tag team in the world, and that they still aren’t finished with Sami Callihan. Rey Fenix called him out, so add him to the list of potential challengers.

Final Thoughts:

A very consistent show for AAW’s 13th Anniversary Celebration. Elgin vs. Riddle was the real standout match with Fox vs. Penta being close behind, but other than the disappointing OI4K tag, everything on this show is worth watching.

I should note that I’ve neglected to review AAW’s backstage promos in the past, and that’s a major flaw in my reviews. No other indie has the production value that AAW does. The crew does a great job with them, and I am a huge fan of Marty DeRosa leading the charge.

EPIC featured a variety of fun and engaging matches with a handful of highly entertaining backstage segments. Because of that, this show gets a thumbs up. AAW continues to deliver big in 2017.