GLORY PRO WRESTLING
LONG MAY WE REIGN
MAY 7, 2017
Michael Elgin’s Glory Pro Wrestling debut show “Crowning Achievement” was exactly as the title states — an achievement. Ostensibly formed from a desire to re-establish a strong independent promotion in the greater St. Louis area, the promotion’s featured talent is what truly makes it interesting. What Big Mike has done here, whether intentional or not is give us a “local indie” experience, with some “super indie” talent. By mixing his cards with local Midwest talent, many of which he has had a hand in training with big names like Ethan Page, Penta El 0 M and Matt Riddle, Mike has created a new independent promotion that feels fresh, and sets a strong template for how to give “small time” wrestlers an opportunity to get some buzz — by working hard and putting on great matches.
“Long May We Reign” occurred almost three months after the debut show, but the VOD of the night was available almost instantly (a rare feat for such a new promotion). Where the debut was a breezy, enjoyable watch and featured one pretty incredible match between Elgin and Riddle, the sophomore follow-up manages to extend the show, keep the enjoyment and begins to show people watching at home just what this promotion is capable of.
There is a feeling of early ROH in this show, from the blending of talent, the random multi-person matches and the hot crowd, but while storylines are present throughout the show: Glory Pro is first and foremost about really fun wrestling. While not everything hits it out of the park, I’ll announce here at the top: this is a show worth watching from beginning to end, and as I write this review – people who attended the third Glory Pro show a couple days ago have stated we can expect the quality to continue.
Once again, I don’t rate matches that don’t hit the threshold in my own head of ***1/2 stars or better, for whatever that is worth. Nothing on this night is bad, but some reached and exceeded that mark, so check it out.
EVERETT CONNORS DEF. DAVID STARR
The story of this match is the evolution and underdog status of Everett Connors. At the previous Glory Pro show, Connors’ gimmick was that he was a big time Justin Bieber fan and dressed in dated Forever 21 clothes – it wasn’t a gimmick that spoke to me. He’s a pretty decent, undersized wrestler, but that gimmick wasn’t going to take him anywhere. Here, he is repackaged as “Pretty Reckless” with a fresh haircut, and a pretty basic red singlet. I love the fact that the Bieber gimmick is gone (my feelings towards Biebs irrelevant), but I’m not sure about this one either. It seems really early 2000’s, and don’t know how it can develop beyond Connors being “the underdog” in every match. David Starr – well, if you have followed independent wrestling at all in the last few years, you know how awesome this man is.
No matter what promotion he is in, he carries himself like king shit of that promotion, and it’s entirely believable. His strikes are super stiff, and in this match he busts open Connors’ chest with a series of chops. The whole match is worked around the fact that Starr is cocky and overwhelming Connors, beating him up throughout the match, and even Connors is able to get some big moves in, it takes one lariat from Starr to seemingly knock him out. Connors continues to kick out of pin attempts and while Starr is attempting to put him away, Connors sneaks in a surprise pin. This was a really solid 10-minute match, that told a good story and ended with Starr giving Connors his respect for working “smarter” than him. Starr came out looking better, but it will be interesting to see if this Everett Connors story continues into future shows. I’m not sold on the dude yet, but I’ll keep my mind open and hope he gets “there”. Good opener on the whole.
SAMI CALLAHAN DEF. CURT STALLION
Coming out of “Crowning Achievement”, one of the major talking points on wrestling Twitter was “is Curt Stallion the next indie star to blow up?” After Stallion’s legit “star-making” performance in a loss against Shigehiro Irie, he went from “most unknown” for me to someone who I just needed more of.
The “Lone Star” doesn’t have the best look, doesn’t look the toughest, but his tall, slim figure works for him – if you added some scuzzy facial hair, you could have a classic Texas heel. Ol’ Sam Callahan is someone we all know, one of the hardest working wrestlers in the world and someone I have not been kind about in the past. For his part, Callahan has had a pretty great 2017, and while I have my own bizarre biases against him and the endless barrage of pump kicks, this was another notch in the “quality” column for both men – but barely.
Sami jumps Stallion during his pose, clotheslining him to the floor, hitting a pump kick in the face, and then a sitout powerbomb in the ring for two. From here, one would think this was going to be another major sprint of MOVES like Irie/Stallion, but it does slow down some. Callahan works Stallion on the outside, doing his run around the ring and building gimmick, which I could do without, and apparently so could the cameramen. The match is chaotic and Stallion gets some brief comeback spots, but Callahan always strikes him back down. Bombs are thrown, necks are left limp with lariats, pump kicks and too obvious thigh slaps are prevalent, and then the match slows down for a comedy “Duel” spot, which I’m totally ok with in premise, but after the requisite 5 steps, the dudes just slam into each other a couple of times. There are more strikes, more pump kicks, and Sami hits a gnarly powerbomb, followed by the Stretch Muffler for the win. It wasn’t a bad match by any means, but compared to the rest of the card, the match had a really weird pace, a lot of stop and start, and not the crispness that I’m learning to love Glory Pro for. It’s definitely a good idea to have different types of matches in your promotion, and live this match was probably a ton of fun – but it did not translate very well to VOD.
Still, Sami has produced a lot of solid work in 2017 and I still think Lone Star is going to be something, just maybe not as soon as I expected.
9-MAN BATTLE ROYAL/RUMBLE
ALEX DANIELS DEF. HAKIM ZANE, SPACE MONKEY, ETHAN PAGE, JAKE PARNELL, TYLER MATRIX, BRANDON ESPINOSA, GARY JAY AND JAKE SOMETHING
The six-way super spotfest match from the first Glory Pro show was one of my favorite matches on the card, and something I said you all should go out of your way to watch. It gave us No. 1 contender Myron Reed and a good glimpse into some of the mid-card indie talent we could expect on these shows. This one is a little different, starting with two-men, someone new will enter every 30 seconds. I’ll say here at the top that the staggered entrant format wasn’t needed, because 30 seconds is a very short time, and no one was eliminated before everyone had even entered. Otherwise, much like the big multi-man from the previous card, this is one to watch.
The match starts with “The Real Life Ben Affleck” Alex Daniels who is a dude obsessed with Ben Affleck and shouts out his movie titles before performing moves. That’s one of the weirdest and most cringe gimmicks I’ve ever heard of, but as this match showed, Daniels is a hell of a wrestler. Parnell starts with Daniels and that is the only note I have about him until his eventual elimination. Gary Jay is 3rd, and gets some big slaps in on both wrestlers, followed by Space Monkey who is super over. Shit goes nuts when Ethan Page enters and starts working over Space Monkey and Jay. Jake Something, a big bruiser (reminiscent of Jurn Simmons) scares Ethan out of the ring, but the size difference that Jake and Ethan have over everyone is laughable. A ton of big spots happen and people take turn in and out of the ring, but the highlight is the eventual entrance of Hakim Zane, who has some of the best strikes I have seen in recent times and is the true highlight of this match for me. There are big dives to the outside, Gary Jay and Jake Something brawl for awhile and get surprised with schoolboys, Espinosa yells at Sean Orleans ringside, the guy he beat in 30 seconds on the first show and then chases him around the building before eventually being eliminated by Zane.
There are lots of dives and moves and it is hard as hell to keep up with all the big spots, but Ethan Page slips on a banana and gets eliminated by Daniels, but takes his frustration out on Space Monkey, allowing Daniels to pin him too and leave Ben Affleck guy and SUPER STRIKER!~ Hakim Zane to wrestle at the end. This part of the match rules and both dudes hit moves I’ve never seen before. I was rooting for Zane and loving him, but in the end Daniels hits a reverse DVD facebuster and then a front/drop suplex into the corner that looks like it could kill someone to pick up the win. The last move in particular was disturbing, and I don’t know if that is Daniels’ normal finisher or not, but it looks gross and I’m all about it if it’s done safely. My notes for this match hardly make sense, but if you like matches where everyone is competent and gets their shit in, this is your heaven. Zane and Daniels were the clear stars and I hope we see more of them in the future. ***1/2
PACO GONZALEZ DEF. JASON CADE
Prior to the start of this match, Paco Gonzalez and his tag team partner “The Millennial” Danny Adams are presented with a plaque that declares them the best tag team in the area. I didn’t catch who the governing and presenting body of the award was, but good for them! Danny then proceeds to cut a promo showing a little bit of jealousy towards Paco – stating that Paco ALMOST won the Crown of Glory championship at the debut show, but Danny doesn’t want people to think that Paco is actually better than him, so they will both have singles matches to prove they are equal! No doubt, Paco looked great on the first show, despite being the smallest guy in the ring no matter who he is facing, he makes his offense look believable and his strikes are crisp – he DID come off as a star, so Adams should be jealous.
Paco is facing a pretty big name on the scene in Jason Cade. It’s an exciting match-up on paper, and made way better by putting the usually hilarious Ethan Page on commentary. Seriously, putting Ethan on commentary here in Glory Pro or PWG or wherever really ups my level of enjoyment for whatever is happening on screen. I love Chuck Taylor and guys of that ilk that are total smarmy dudes full of quips, but Ethan’s commentary always seems so in character and fluctuates between ALL EGO and genuine fan, that it just somehow comes off so natural. Love that dude on the microphone.
Anyway, this match is hot hot fire. If Irie/Stallion was the standout “sprint” of first show and one of the best short matches of the year, this one is right up there with it. I haven’t seen a ton of Cade, but he’s really developed recently into that upper echelon of elite high flyers and strikers ala Shane Strickland, Lio Rush and Matt Sydal. While Paco’s diminutive size makes it hard to believe he could really hold his own against most competition, it helps make him such a believable underdog babyface. He bumps hard, he strikes hard and he somehow overcomes the initial optics to make his matches super competitive. This match features all your favorite indie moves, from release germans to Code Reds to fisherman busters, but when Cade hits Paco with this side suplex after a series of elbows, I was really hooked. The match never lets up, and never allows one person to be in control – it is just two young dudes giving it their all, trying to kill each other with moves for just over 8 minutes. Paco eventually wins with the Dorada Screwdriver. This was easily the most fun match of the show, and the way that BIG MOVES matches should be booked. The time for this match was perfect, the story was there (we knew Paco had to win), and the two dudes looked legit exhausted after this sprint. Really really liked this one. ***3/4
DANNY ADAMS DEF. LOUIS LYNDON
I don’t want to bury either of these guys, but as good as the last match was, this one just went south from the get go. This was definitely my least favorite match of the night, but managed to feature a handful of cool spots – most noticeably when Danny Adams does this draped DDT onto his knee followed by a “sling-blade” type of slam that really rules. Lyndon tries to get the dragon sleeper on Danny over and over, but the impact of strikes, dives and big moves is just not here. Multiple times, Allen struggles to get Lyndon up for a slam or some sort, and blame could be pointed at both men.
It’s not an outright terrible match, but it is about 12 minutes that feel like 22. I think Allen actually has some solid character work he is developing (and later displays solid mic work in the commentary booth), and I am into the storyline around the team of he and Paco (Paco tells him to shutup after this match, but they then hug it out and say they will win the tag titles at the next show). Most telling, however, is that the highlight of this match was Ethan Page in the commentary booth just laying into his commentary partner.
BESTIES IN THE WORLD (MAT FITCHETT & DAVEY VEGA) DEF. ZERO GRAVITY (BRETT GAKIYA & CJ ESPARZA), BOYS FROM JOLLYVILLE (RUSS MYERS & T-MONEY) & THE PRIDE (AARON DZINIC & MATT KENWAY)
The hits strike back with this insane tag team match. Coming into this contest, the only familiar team is the Besties, but as soon as the Boys from Jollyville come out with hubcaps around their necks and I get a look at T-Money, I know this is going to be my shit. For what it’s worth – The Besties come out to “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and it WORKS. Not knowing who The Pride are, they impress early, with their look and character work, before T-Money destroys one of them (who knows which??) with a version of an Oklahoma Stampede that is all Spinebuster instead of Powerslam. That rules and I want it in every video game. As hard as it was for me to take notes during the big nine-person match, this one is even harder as people tag in and out, shit is happening on the outside, Zero Gravity do all kinds of flips and leaps, T-Money does a tope suicida and Mat Fitchett establishes himself as a future superstar. There is no story here, no slowing down or psychology, just a big spot fest from 4 very different teams – and because of that, you get a huge breadth of moves.
At one point, Davey Vega nails one of the guys from The Pride with a sick kick to the head and then tries for a running cutter but T-Money comes out of nowhere and just checks Vega out of mid-air into the ropes. It’s an insane looking bump and the crowd erupts into an appropriate “Holy Shit” chant. All four teams work hard, work to their strengths and come out looking super strong. The big stars of the match are Fitchett and T-Money, but I walked away from this match thinking any of these teams could win a tag tournament. Good work men, you impressed hugely on first viewing. ***3/4
PENTA EL 0M DEF. MICHAEL ELGIN
Look at these two fuckin’ monsters – you just know this is gonna be something far out, and shit does it start hot. While attempting to do his (overdone) CERO MIEDO taunt, Elgin just CLOCKS Pentagon in the head, and we are off. Big strikes back and forth early on, but eventually Mike gets the upper hand with a disgusting elbow and mocks Pentagon with a BIG MIKE taunt. I don’t watch every Pentagon match like some people, so I don’t know how he usually acts in the US Indies, but it’s a trip to see him less dark and having a bit more fun here. I love the scary, charisma machine that was in Lucha Underground and AAA, so to see him as just a badass with the coolest gear is still rad, but something is lost in his viciousness throughout this match. They take it outside and the two are just laying into each other, up against the crowd and Pentagon is sent into like the 3rd row of chairs. Much like the Elgin/Riddle match from the first show – this is the first match on this card that FEELS like a big deal.
I love that it isn’t the main event, but it is clear who the stars of the show are – everything about this just feels major. Pentagon eventually shows signs of his old self and starts threatening the ref, though it isn’t clear if it is in a playful way or a “I’m gonna break your goddamn arm” way. Elgin hits three consecutive german suplexes on Pentagon and we get a little bit of a lull. The atmosphere is electric, the action is intense, but there is a stop and start and a clunk factor to it that was absent in Elgin/Riddle. Pentagon hits a Canadian Destroyer out of nowhere (of course) and Elgin no sells it (of course) for a nasty lariat (of course). It’s spots like this that make me love and hate indie wrestling. I love the impact, I love the fun, I love the toughness displayed but you know – there’s a limit!
Whatever that limit is, the fact that two of my favorite dudes are goin’ at it here throws that to the side and here we are with a headspace of “Glory Pro is the GREATEST!” Elgin hits a variety of powerbombs in the match for near-falls and Ethan Page does a great job on commentary selling the fact that while those moves are NASTY, they aren’t his signatures, he needs the Buckle Bomb and the Elgin Bomb to put away a dude like Pentagon. More Canadian Destroyers, a package piledriver and Petagon is the winner around the 15-minute mark.
This was a really fun match, my highest rated match of the night, but it was far from perfect. As far as I know, this is the first time these two have wrestled each other, and that showed a bit – but I’m hoping as they continue to tour the major super indies around the world, they continue to work more against each other, because I wouldn’t be surprised to see something close to a 5-star classic at some point. Elgin is SO GOOD with people who ooze charisma and big moves, because he carries himself as truly “Unbreakable”, as someone who doesn’t need to be nasty or cool, but just be tough and strong as fuck. Mike and Pentagon put each other over big time on the microphone after the match – and Big Mike is now 0-2 in his own promotion. I wonder if that goes somewhere, hm? ****
CROWN OF GLORY TITLE
MYRON REED DEF. JASON KINCAID (c)
This match was a disappointment, sad to say.
I like Jason Kincaid and how different he is from…everyone, but there is a real struggle for me to actually GET INTO his matches. The unique offense and persona of this master martial artist/yogi is cool and wacky, it just rarely connects for me. Myron Reed really impressed me on the debut show and comes out to Lil Wayne’s “Fireman” so like…this is my Glory Pro guy. The story with Jason Saint (the big dude in the suit) from the first show comes up here, as he stalks around the ring and gets involved a few times and it really blows the flow of the match, which is a bit janky to begin with. There is crowd brawling, some back and forth, but mostly controlled by Kincaid, including an out of character moment when he yells “I HATE YOUR UGLY FACE” which causes an audible gasp from the crowd and chants of “MYRON’S HANDSOME!” In a near-death spot, Kincaid vertical suplexes Myron over the top rope to the outside, but Myron holds on, snapping Kincaid’s neck into a quick, weird spot up and over the rope himself. From here, Myron finally gets some control of the match, but doesn’t do much noteworthy.
While I love that the title match is the main event, this match really seems to lack the heat and intensity that it’s predecessor featured. In the best spot of the match, Myron escapes a hold from Kincaid by running to the ropes, not knowing Kincaid is on his tail and pounces on him as Myron tries to springboard back. The timing of this move alone is where Kincaid really works. The dude clearly knows his way around the ring, has impeccable timing and is super creative, but sometimes he just needs to keep it a little more simple like this – because it looked like it killed Myron. There’s a ref bump that knocks both wrestlers out, allowing ribbon-haired Jason Saint to grab the title and stalk into the ring. He looks like he’s going to strike Reed, but Kincaid stops him, Saint gets taken out and then Myron gets taken out. Kincaid tries to cover, but the ref is still out and here comes Big Ol’ Barakkus, a dude I have no idea about. He takes out everyone with Baldo Bombs and helps Jason Saint to the back. After some long selling, Myron eventually gets the best of Kincaid and hits an insane dive to the outside and attempts a standing Spanish Fly for the win. It looks like maybe Kincaid is injured, but my show has lost sound by now and it looks like the referee counts 2 and ends the match, awarding Myron Reed the title. Myron is confused, the crowd is confused, I’m confused about my sound.
The interference and finish is unfortunate, and while I don’t like seeing Kincaid getting injured, I know he’s been back at recent EVOLVE shows, so I’m glad that it wasn’t too serious. The run-ins and Jason Saint angle I could definitely do without. I understand they want to build story and intrigue into the promotion and I respect and value that, but the execution this time around felt very much like my own local indie and some of the major faults I have with it. You have tremendous wrestlers on this roster who have proven themselves for 2 consecutive shows – we should try and build them up as the run-ins, not Saint and Barakkus. It soured me on the match, but the match itself never really kicked it into high gear. I’m excited for Myron Reed to be champion, as I really like the dude, so I’m hoping for the best.
Overall, this show really only had two matches that I didn’t REALLY like. It’s an improvement on the whole of the already excellent first show. While nothing here is MOTY-level and the show isn’t going to go down as an all-time indie classic or anything, there is something happening here that Michael Elgin and his team have created that really does succeed in blending the world of local and super indie. I’m excited to be on the ground floor of this promotion and can’t wait for the third show. Really good job, y’all – this show gets a recommendation from me, easy.