AAW KILLERS AMONG US
JUNE 17, 2017
115 BOURBON STREET
MERRIONETTE PARK, ILLINOIS

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ACH DEF. GARZA JR

With 10 matches on this show, it’s nice to see a sprint right out of the gates. ACH and one of lucha’s newest outlaws, Garza Jr., delivered the high-octane opener that was expected. Both men, while being expert flyers, also have exquisite personalities that they let shine through in this opener. I’ll be interested to see where ACH goes from here, as he looked dominant in this match, but fell to Callihan for the title a month prior. Thumbs up opener. ***1/2

A slim, trim, and devilishly handsome Marty DeRosa was backstage with Mat Fitchett. The other half of The Besties in the World, Davey Vega quickly interrupted. He handed Fitchett his besties jacket and told him that he’d need it tonight. Vega told Fitchett that he’s good enough to be his partner, but not good enough to beat Zack Sabre Jr.  

EDDIE KINGSTON DEF. JEFF COBB

“I’m going to call it like it is – Eddie Kingston picks up the upset over Jeff Cobb!”

Couldn’t agree more with AAW commentary, which might be the first time I’ve ever said that. Eddie Kingston’s recent outings in AAW have been bizarre, albeit captivating. No matter what way you look at it, however, the former two-time AAW Heavyweight Champion has been on a downward slope. His generation of talent has moved to new ventures, leaving only a handful of wrestlers like Kingston behind. Jeff Cobb is fresh blood, and going in, I thought he’d surely defeat the grizzled veteran from Yonkers.

Instead, it was Kingston who knocked the former amateur wrestler out with a series of strong style-inspired strikes. Cobb had his way with Kingston early on, throwing the big man around with ease. Cobb’s matches have never struck a major chord with me, but I am always impressed by his feats of strength. This was no different. The match was perfectly average, but both men actually put forth a very nice effort. For its spot on the card, this was quite acceptable wrestling. ***

JAKE CRIST DEF. CHUCK TAYLOR, PACO & DAVEY VEGA

This was a much better four-way than the parody bout that took place a month prior. All four men worked at a lightning-quick pace, which is their specialty. I hope PACO sticks around in AAW. I feel like he’s earned a spot on the roster. Every time I’ve seen him, he’s taken huge bumps and he’s managed to hold his own, no matter what the situation.

I find it disappointing that a Crist is being kept stronger than Chuck Taylor, but AAW has shown that they back the Crists to a high degree. That’s fine, as I actually think OI4K has been a decent tag team this year, but it’s ultimately a shame that Chuck Taylor is hanging around on the undercard. I liked when he teamed with the younger guys back at Take No Prisoners. Trevor Lee has stopped dancing, ACH found motivation, now let’s get Chuck Taylor going in some sort of direction. Jake Crist won with a double underhook destroyer. ***1/4

Trevor Lee was nothing but confident as he talked about his upcoming title match vs. Penta El Zero M. He promises that by September 30th, which is his 24th birthday, he’ll have gold around his waist.

ZACK SABRE JR DEF. MAT FITCHETT

A large portion of this match felt like an extended squash for ZSJ. I was content with that, which might surprise some considering my constant clamoring for Mat Fitchett to be separated from Davey Vega and subsequently elevated up the card. This was his first big singles match since his breakout performance vs. Drew Gulak, however, and I would’ve been taken out of the match had he been on the same level as one of the best wrestlers in the world.

Fitchett found his fire. In many ways, he reminded me of Genki Horiguchi in this match. He took a beating, sold like a champ, but never took enough damage that winning felt impossible. I really liked the timing of a particular backslide he used towards the end of the match. It had me biting, hoping that Fitchett would’ve outwitted the technical wizard. Instead, the Brit kicked out, and moments later, had Fitchett in a triangle choke while bridging. Disgusting. ***1/2

Jeff Cobb said that he’s been a little too nice. He’s not an average wrestler, he’s an Olympian. He promised that in future AAW, things would change, and he would come out victorious.

LOW KI DEF. ABYSS

This match was entertaining because of Low Ki and Low Ki only. I hate that so many of his rare indie dates are getting used on Abyss, but it’s not all bad because we’re seeing Low Ki put 110% into short little matches like this.

This was not my style of match. I didn’t like the constant interference by JT Davidson or the thumbtacks brought out by Abyss, but the intensity of Low Ki had me invested in nearly every spot in this sprint. Ki was eventually able to throw thumbtacks into the face of Abyss, causing his own weapon to backfire on him (shocker), and with tacks in his eyes, Abyss ended up chokeslamming JT Davidson into the rest of the thumbtacks. I thought this spot was a little too goofy, and it was made even worse by Ki rolling up Abyss. I really wish they would’ve had a definitive end to the feud here. For what this match was, however, it was really entertaining. Ki has yet to flop in AAW. ***1/4

Trey Miguel, Stephen Wolf, & Myron Reed talked about how they’ve shined in LaSalle and Berwyn, but this was the big stage, and they needed to deliver in this building the way that AAW greats like Michael Elgin and Zack Sabre Jr have. This was an awesome promo, and I am still all in on this new crop of AAW talent.

AAW HERITAGE CHAMPIONSHIP
PENTA EL ZERO M def. TREVOR LEE

Trevor Lee’s streak of hot matches was ended here. Penta has been hit-and-miss with me this year, and sadly, this was way more of a miss. There was nothing mechanically wrong with the match. Both guys put forth a solid effort, I just couldn’t invest myself in the match, even after watching it a second time. I never believed Lee had a shot at winning this, which is disappointing because the build to this match and Lee getting a title shot was really terrific. Chalk this up as a disappointment, and I hope both men can rebound from it. **3/4

ZACHARY WENTZ, DEZMOND XAVIER, & DJ Z DEF. MYRON REED, STEPHEN WOLF, & TREY MIGUEL

This took a hot minute to get going, but once these six high-flyers found their groove, this became a great spectacle. Wentz and Xavier have improved leaps and bounds over the past year since they came into the AAW fold, and they stole the show here. This is the kind of match that I want to see more of from AAW. Five youngsters and a veteran hand like DJ Z flying around, unsurprisingly, was super entertaining. Wentz and Xavier got the win with a unique standing moonsault. ***1/2

JOHN MORRISON DEF. BRIAN CAGE

Another disappointing outing from John Morrison. The prior match on the card featured youngsters busting their ass and trying to make an impression, and this felt like two veterans doing the bare minimum to get a reaction from the audience. It’s a shame, as I had high hopes for Cage, who impressed me on his recent NOAH tour. I am sick of Morrison in AAW and I hope he never comes back. He won with his signature Starship Pain. **1/2

WAR MACHINE DEF. REDRAGON

I wanted to like this way more than I actually did. All four men worked hard. I can’t deny them of their effort. That being said, I found myself teetering on boredom throughout this match. It went too long. If they would’ve cut five minutes out of the match, I’m sure I would’ve been much higher on it.

I appreciated the keen leg work by reDRagon. They spent the entire match chopping down the big men, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough. It was a good attempt at sucking me in, because O’Reilly and Fish tossing around kicks normally entertains me wildly, but this fell flat. Hanson & Rowe pinned Fish with an assisted powerslam. That’s probably the last we’ll see of Fish in AAW. ***

Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier put over their upcoming match with AR Fox & Rey Fenix, the AAW Tag Team Champions. Wentz & Xavier were screwed out of a title shot but OI4K a few months ago, but they’re taking “desperate measures” against the current champs to make sure they win the titles.

AAW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
SAMI CALLIHAN DEF. MICHAEL ELGIN

I loved the “big fight feel” that this title defense had. Callihan has been on top for so long that any defense feels like it could be his last, and with the year Elgin has had, racking up MOTYC after MOTYC and arguably being hotter than ever, it looked like this could’ve been it for Callihan. The champion came into this match solo, just like he said he would in his pre-match promo. No OI4K, no JT Davidson, just Callihan and Elgin squaring off.

Elgin seemingly had a counter for all of Callihan’s signature offense. Early on, especially, he was dominant, ragdolling the face of AAW around with ease. I can’t remember a time during his time on top of AAW that Callihan has looked this vulnerable. As the match raged on, Callihan struggled to get back in control. Elgin was simply more dominant.

JT Davidson and Jake Crist eventually walked out onto the ramp, distracting Elgin from finishing off Callihan. Callihan insisted that his two goons went to the back, and moments later, was able to counter out of Elgin’s grasps and roll him up for the three.

I didn’t hate the finish. I think it would’ve been more effective had Callihan not kicked out of a Razor’s Edge-like Elgin Bomb moments prior, but Elgin is on such a level right now that I don’t think Callihan should’ve beat him clean. This was really well done. The match was far and away the best thing on the show and this was yet another great defense for Callihan. Keith Lee will be his next challenger. ****1/4

Final Thoughts:

This might be AAW’s weakest Chicagoland show of the year, but with a main event like that, I still recommend checking this show out. It’s a long show. I was nervous going in when I saw that AAW had booked 10 matches, and with all the (excellent) production work that AAW puts into their finished product, this ran past three hours, which, to me, is a little too long for AAW. Almost nothing was actively bad, although Lee vs. Penta and reDRagon vs. War Machine were disappointing.

That being said, Garza Jr vs. ACH, ZSJ vs. Fitchett, and the main event all make this worthy of a purchase. Thumbs in the middle for this AAW outing.