THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIAL
MAY 25, 2017
BERWYN EAGLES CLUB
PACO DEF. CONNOR BRAXTON
Connor Braxton had an inexplicably good match with DJ Z in February. The big vs. small dynamic seems to do wonders for him, as this opener with PACO felt like a lesser, albeit still entertaining version of the match vs. DJ Z. Braxton threw PACO around with ease for almost the entire match. They didn’t make this something it shouldn’t’t be. This was a smart match. PACO, at no point, was portrayed as someone that matched Braxton’s strength or power. He was, however, smarter than Braxton, as he rolled up the big man from an Electric Chair position and pinned him for the three. Perfect opener. ***
JAKE CRIST DEF. LAREDO KID, JOEY JANELA, & MYRON REED
This wavered back and forth between a wild undercard spotfest and an annoying, play-wrestling parody match. I loved the action brought to the table by all four men, but especially Laredo Kid, who was making his AAW debut. The more Laredo Kid and Joey Janela in AAW, the happier I will be. The action was there. I can’t question the effort of any of these men, because they all worked extremely hard.
That being said, there was an obnoxious dive spot in the middle of the match. All four men took turns diving in a mess of a dive train. Even JT Davidson, the hype man for OI4K, got his chance to dive. This was an obnoxious reference to the “…dive” controversy, and quite frankly, I think it’s childish. That’s the sort of stuff that I very much dislike in indie wrestling. I love a good comedy spot, but that spot came across as childish and turned me off from what was otherwise a fine match. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Laredo Kid. He managed to avoid the fall. That privilege went to Myron Reed, who ate a Destroyer from Crist. **3/4
Marty DeRosa was backstage with Davey Vega & Alex Daniels, who was filling in for Mat Fitchett as an honorary bestie. Tensions continue to mount between Vega and Fitchett.
TREVOR LEE DEF. COLT CABANA
Both men have had better matches, to say the least.
There wasn’t anything structurally wrong or agitating about this, it was just a boring match. Cabana’s main source of attack was picking at Trevor Lee’s chest hair. After toying with it for what felt like an eternity, Lee slowly climbed his way back into control, and eventually rolled Cabana up using the ropes. Lee has won four out of his last five matches in AAW, which will hopefully put him in title contention sooner rather than later. **1/4
Marty DeRosa caught up with The Artist FKA Jack Swagger. He proclaimed his match with Michael Elgin as “Big Mike vs. Big Hoss” before busting out his signature “We the People” catchphrase. Swagger seemed excited to be there.
Juventud Guerrera threatened to take Sami Callihan’s soul. In all seriousness, Juice hyping up his match with Callihan was one of the best promos I’ve heard all year. All in on Juvy.
ALEX DANIELS & DAVEY VEGA DEF. TEAM TREMENDOUS, TREY MIGUEL & STEPHEN WOLF
I thought AAW had ditched Team Tremendous. Maybe (hopefully) this will be the last time we see them. I’m sure they’re nice dudes, but they have never done anything that has jumped out or impressed me. If this was a straight 2 vs. 2 tag with the youngsters, Daniels, and Vega, I’m sure this would’ve been much better.
Miguel and Wolf continue to shine on AAW shows. The future of AAW looks bright with those two, Alex Daniels, Dezmond Xavier, and Zachary Wentz chomping at the bit for opportunities. Sadly, it was Trey Miguel who was pinned. After taking a super powerslam from Dan Barry, Vega & Daniels tossed Barry out of the ring and pinned Miguel. This was harmless, but still nothing memorable. **3/4
Sami Callihan cut one of the best promos of his life on Juventud Guerrera. He talked about how Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix have come into AAW and tried to take his spot, and yet his remained on top. Now he has the chance to unmask a lucha libre legend, and he’s going to do his damndest to make sure that happens. I have never been one to marvel over Callihan’s promo ability, but this ruled.
KEITH LEE DEF. DONOVAN DIJAK
There was something beautiful about this. Five days prior at EVOLVE 84, these two giants collided in a beautiful disaster of sorts. The match was exciting, but it was ugly. The two were so ambitious that some of what they had planned didn’t go accordingly. Here at the Eagles Club, however, they had the match they’ve been gunning for. This was utter madness.
Between the bombs being thrown by both men was one constant, that being Keith Lee’s overhand chops that lit up the chest of the New England native. He beat down Dijak with these chops that echoed throughout the tiny venue. Seemingly each time Dijak was able to mount a series of moves, he was soon cut off by a thud against his chest. I loved this little aspect of the match. Dijak was slowly weakened throughout the contest.
Looking at the bigger picture, the moves in this match were insane. Whether it was the Canadian Destroyer on the apron, the moonsault into the crowd, or the powerbomb in the midst of the sea of rabid wrestling fans, there was a “holy shit” moment for everyone.
Both men are made men in AAW from here on out. This has become 2017’s touring match in the same vein as Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll, Alex Shelley vs. Jimmy Jacobs, or CM Punk vs. Colt Cabana. At this point, purchasing a show with this match on it is purchasing a small slice of independent wrestling history. ****1/4
— Jocay ?? (@Jocay19) June 4, 2017
— Jocay ?? (@Jocay19) June 4, 2017
Trey Miguel & Stephen Wolf said that they still have a lot to learn, but they will continue to be back in AAW and do their best to succeed. These are two incredibly likable youngsters.
Joey Janela claimed that if people wanted to see him in AAW again, he was going to have to be treated like the star he is. As of now, his AAW career had been filled with issues. He was sick of it. Who could blame him? Joey seems like such a nice boy.
MICHAEL ELGIN DEF. THE ARTIST FKA JACK SWAGGER
The Artist FKA Jack Swagger put forth a solid effort in his first US indie date. Comparing him to the likes of Trent or Drew Galloway, arguably the two biggest post-WWE successes, Swagger looked well on his way to becoming a reborn star on the independent scene. He looked a step or two slower than Elgin throughout the contest, but I have no doubt that in time, with more matches on the indies, Swagger will be able to keep up with the quicker pace.
Elgin is on pace to have the best in-ring year of his now decade-plus career. Even if he’s not delivering MOTYCs like he did vs. Zack Sabre Jr at AAW’s previous outing, he’s putting in efforts like this one that show just how good he’s become. He looked like a true professional in this match, guiding Swagger to a more than serviceable performance. I loved his displays of power in this match. Swagger towers over Elgin, but that didn’t take away from Elgin’s greatest weapon, his power. He tossed around Swagger with ease throughout this match, and in the end, it was the dreaded Elgin Bomb that led him to a victory. ***1/2
Trevor Lee took Marty DeRosa and the AAW officials to task for announcing an open contract for Sami Callihan’s title after already booking Trevor Lee vs. Colt Cabana. He moves his attention away from Sami Callihan to focus on Penta El Zero M. When Trevor Lee came into the company, he was the guy. Everyone cheered him. Penta has been stealing his thunder, and Lee has a problem with that. He’s coming for Penta’s Heritage Championship.
AAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
AR FOX & REY FENIX DEF. SHANE STRICKLAND & LIO RUSH
This match had some ups and downs. The pure lunacy of some of the spots in this match were delightful. There’s no doubt that these four men are some of the most advanced and talented flyers in wrestling today. For awhile, this was well on its way to being my match of the night, even eclipsing Dijak vs. Lee.
The high-impact, high-intensity, frantic offense died down, however, and a dreadfully long heat portion on Fenix began. I was once very critical of Shane Strickland, but he’s become a wrestler that I quite enjoy, and Lio Rush, for all of his possible faults, is an amazing wrestler, especially for his age, but this beatdown on Rey Fenix was terrible. It went on so long and it brought the match to a screeching halt. I wanted this to be a go-go-go type of match, and instead I saw Fenix taking repeated kicks to the gut for what seemed like forever.
The match picked up once more towards the end, but my emotional investment was long gone. By no means was this a bad match, but I couldn’t get past the hump of boredom to mark this match as “great”. ***3/4
AAW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
SAMI CALLIHAN DEF. JUVENTUD GUERRERA
AAW hit a homerun by booking Juvy. It was so unexpected, and it felt so random, but it was a perfect choice for a Sami Callihan defense in the Berwyn Eagles Club. That venue played host to Callihan’s defense vs. Low Ki earlier in the year, and now, there is a unique atmosphere when Callihan steps foot in that building. The crowd is split, half in favor of The Death Machine, half despising him. It’s become one of my favorite things in wrestling.
This wasn’t a MOTY, but the novelty of seeing Juvy in AAW and delivering to some extent is pretty spectacular. Things became a little disjointed towards the end, but I can’t complain. This was exactly what it should’ve been. Juvy was great, he did his thing and he did it with energy, but he was no match for Sami Callihan, who locked in the Stretch Muffler and forced the linear WCW Cruiserweight Champion to tap. ***1/2
— Jocay ?? (@Jocay19) June 4, 2017
— Jocay ?? (@Jocay19) June 4, 2017
A post-match beatdown of Juvy ensued, leading to Rey Fenix making the save. However, the brute force of Callihan, Jake Crist, and JT Davidson was too much for one-half of the AAW Tag Team Champions. Just before Callihan ripped off his mask in front of the Berwyn audience, #BigMike made the save, setting up their title match on 6/17.
This was not a show of the year contender, but there’s enough good on this card for me to give it a thumbs up. From Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak on, everything delivered in one way or another. Elgin vs. Swagger and Juvy vs. Callihan arguably over delivered. Another fine outing from the best promotion currently in the United States.