GLORY PRO WRESTLING
MAY 26, 2017
Photos: Sarah Souders Photography https://www.facebook.com/
Not only is it really exciting to be on the ground floor of an upstart indie run by one of the best North American wrestlers, but the product has established itself as something wholly unique in the very robust independent scene. Glory Pro’s second show was a masterclass in getting the top guys from a specific region (the midwest) on the card with names that have had national and international success.
When you have people like Penta El Zero M and Sami Callahan on your card, you are bound to get fans that are there for those big names, but what makes Glory Pro truly special is that up and coming local talent like Paco Gonzalez, Curt Stallion, and Everett Connors may be the guys that are the most over among the crowd. It FEELS like a small indie that the big names are attracted to because of the owner and a love for the business. It feels homegrown, without being carny. If nothing else, it has established that Big Mike Elgin has an eye for talent, a love and respect for the business, and a passion to get these shows out fast.
I’ll come out now and say it: this was the best Glory Pro show yet, and the fact that the fourth show is set to drop in a matter of days makes me excited to devour that one as well.
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. There really isn’t anything AWFUL on this show, though some matches missed the mark – but within the 9 matches on this show, we do have a few matches here that were fucking great
GLORY TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL
BESTIES IN THE WORLD (DAVEY VEGA & MAT FITCHETT) DEF. THE FRATERNITY (CHANNING DECKER & TRENT GIBSON)
Starting a show with The Besties In The World is definitely a pathway to my young, impressionable indie wrestling heart. Mat Fitchett has been a highlight of the first two shows, and this duo Truly, Madly, Deeply won me over in the big 4-way tag team bout from the last show. The Fraternity are new to my eyes and have a gimmick you would fully expect, with red solo cups, decent white boy looks, and an over-sized paddle. The gimmick is on point – the wrestling was decent. This match was definitely carried by the Besties, but I don’t want to say the Fraternity were totally outclassed in the ring, though they attract a good amount of heat from the crowd. Highlights included a spinning do-si-do into a flatliner from the Besties and the finish, a front suplex, with a dropkick to the face and eventually a neck-breaker onto the knee. The match was fast-paced, fun, and perfectly fine for an opener. I don’t hate the Fraternity and wouldn’t mind seeing them back in Glory Pro – but I couldn’t help but think how badass this match would have been with an excellent young team like The Pride in their place. The “power” vs “athletic” match-up that could have happened with those two involved would have likely been excellent. This was just pretty good. At least the correct team won.
GLORY TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL
ALPHA CLASS (PACO GONZALEZ & DANNY ADAMS) DEF. ZERO GRAVITY (BRETT GAKIYA & CJ ESPARZA)
Paco has absolutely killed it in his first two appearances with Glory Pro: A dude incredibly undersized and without a super distinguishable look who is just fantastic in the ring and the type of babyface that just about anyone can get behind.
His tag team partner Danny Adams showed a bit of ego on the last card, where both guys won solo matches to prove who was better. I’ll say that while Danny Adams isn’t a chump in the ring, he’s pretty great on the mic and if he wants to get heat, having the fucking SHRUG emoticon stitched into his tights is a good way to get it from me. Zero Gravity is a veteran Midwest team that look straight out of 2009, but I can definitely get behind them. All four dudes are mostly known from other local St. Louis-ish indie promotions, and the fact that they get put into pretty big spots on these shows is what really makes Glory Pro interesting.
At the start of the match, Paco gives Gakiya a nasty knife-edge chop in the corner, which induces “one more time” chants to which Gakiya quickly yells, “NO MORE TIMES”, cutting the tension of the tournament and cracking me up. Paco is the highlight early, though. For being a smaller guy, his strikes (especially his elbows) just appear to land so damn crisp – I can’t help but think that extensive work with Elgin has helped him in this regard. Adams has this sick spot later in the match, where he drops Esparza onto his knee with a hangman ddt and follows up with a nasty spinebuster – definitely the coolest thing in-ring that I’ve seen from Adams. After Zero Gravity gets control, Paco comes in on a hot tag and just lays waste to them with germans, elbows, and I can’t help but think this guy is going to be something major on the independent scene. He’s truly one of my favorite finds of 2017. Zero Gravity hits a great vertical suplex/450 splash combo, but Paco comes away with the win in the end with a Dorada driver, showing again that he is the star of just about any match featuring him in Glory Pro. The match was totally solid, better than the opener, but the lack of built up drama and quick finish holds it back a little for me. Still very enjoyable and gets me excited that the two best teams in the Besties and Alpha Class will be facing each other for the title later in the show.
PHOENIX OF RISE TITLE
SHOTZI BLACKHEART DEF. ALEXIA NICOLE
I’m not familiar with either of these women, but I’m all for letting some women wrestlers get a shot on this show.
Shotzi Blackheart is the reigning champion of RISE, and has a pretty cool punk-rock/tank-girl look. Alexia Nicole is a bit more generic, but looks pretty tough. She shows the toughness early by almost starting the match with a flatliner into the turnbuckles and later giving Blackheart a lot of decent strikes. The two are solid when they are striking, but transitioning into holds results in lots of stalling and mis-timed spots, where one of the competitors just stands in front of the other before hitting a move. It’s not terrible, but it really breaks the solidity of the show, where Glory Pro is basically always in GO GO GO mode. The match continues to stay pretty unimpressive, better than any women’s match I’ve seen live in the Northwest, but we aren’t messing with the best of Shimmer or anything. At one point Nicole tries for a curb stomp, but apparently slips off Blackheart, who just falls to the mat without any impact. The match held my attention over its short duration, and the finish in particular was dope when Blackheart countered a top-rope splash with a fierce powerslam and followed up with a top rope senton. This match was ok.
KYLE O’REILLY DEF. CURT STALLION
Friends, let me put it out there right now. This is neck and neck with the Elgin/Riddle match from the debut show as the best match to take place in a Glory Pro ring. Curt Stallion has shown a lot of promise in 2017, and got a lot of hype after his great sprint with Shigehiro Irie, but this right here is among my favorite matches to take place in an American ring this year. I would lay this match out for you, but you don’t need it. The strikes rule, back and forth, lots of elbows, lots of kicks, and honestly for the first half of the match, Stallion is in control and acting like a total dick. When O’Reilly gets back in control and starts working over Stallion’s left arm, Stallion has a way of selling holds by screaming in a way that is just the right amount of believable. Honestly, it takes a lot of guts to put out a believable scream, and Stallion is awesome at it. At one point, Kyle hits a sitout powerbomb on Stallion and transitions into a heel hook, but Stallion is able to flip over and a truly nasty strike exchange proceeds.
Honestly, this is the type of drama I love – two dudes who are just beating the fuck out of each other. Later, O’Reilly locks on a front guillotine and Stallion’s lanky self is able to wrench free into an octopus that looks really great with his long limbs. After a failed brainbuster, both dudes are totally exhausted. This is a New Japan-calibre match, something you would see in the non-existent NEVER division, full of counters and heavy heavy strikes. Curt dodges an elbow and hits a huge headbutt from underneath. Kyle gets a flurry of strikes and wins with the arm-bar in a really great match.
The story throughout was that Stallion needed to win this match to be considered for a Crown of Glory title shot down the road, but the dude is 0-3, so I have to believe this is a long-form story and that is the eventual end-game: one I look forward to. Stallion has a unique look, like a lanky Jack Evans or slim-daddy Chris Hero and can wrestle his ass off. This is a match you should all seek out and probably worth the SmartMark price. If nothing else, this would be an excellent pick as a free YouTube match to use for promoting the shows. Love O’Reilly, love Stallion, would love to watch these dudes beat each other up more. ****1/4
TWELVE MAN GAUNTLET MATCH
EVERETT CONNORS DEF. AARON DZINIC, AARON ANDERS, BRANDON ESPINOSA, GARY JAY, JAKE PARNELL, LOGAN JAMES, JASON ROBERTS, MATT KENWAY, MICKEY MUSCLES, TYLER MATRIX & SEAN ORLEANS
I’ve become a really big fan of these big-time multi-man gauntlet matches on these Glory Pro shows.
On the first show, Myron Reed came up with the big win to become No. 1 contender to the title (which he won), on the second show, “The Real Ben Affleck” Alex Daniels won, to challenge Reed in August. The winner of this big 12-man gets to choose a mystery partner to challenge for the Tag Team titles in August as well. Up to now, I’ve scored both gauntlets pretty highly, and this one is not much different. I still believe that it doesn’t need to be a gauntlet, because guys entering every 15 seconds or whatever it is seems trivial, but the pinfalls being more spread out here and the storylines throughout separate this one from previous a bit. If you like more psychology-based matches, this isn’t going to be for you, because it’s basically just these indie dudes getting in tons of spots, but it is done at such a pace that it’s entertaining for the 20ish minutes that it runs. Big dives throughout, unique moves throughout, and an eventual win from “Pretty Reckless” Everett Connors with a torture rack/diamond cutter.
The feud between Espinosa and Orleans continued, with Espinosa knocking out Orleans by hitting him with a gnarly brainbuster on the floor, Gary Jay continues to have solid performances, but can’t quite get over the hump (he’s been in all 3 of these matches), “Wild Horse” Jake Parnell is new to me but was super exciting in the ring, Mickey Muscles moves like AR Fox and showcases some crazy moves, but The Pride (Dzinic and Kenway) are the highlights for me, suplexing dudes all over in a match that focused on strikes and dives. Totally enjoyable long-form spotfest – and I really hope these continue. ***1/2
BARACKUS DEF. ACE HAWKINS
If you remember back to the last show, Jason Saint, the man who randomly sits at ringside, used big boy Barackus to interfere and cause havoc in the Crown of Glory match with Myron Reed and Jason Kincaid. I hated it. Here, Saint and Barackus are back and ready to squash jobbers.
Barackus moves better than I expected, but is built like a huge, lumbering giant – slow, heavy strikes that are easy to dodge, stumbling around the ring, etc. But he basically hits five moves and the match is over with a choke-bomb. Nothing match, more of an angle. I would rather Glory Pro continues to play up the awesome, super fast young indie talent they have, but it’ll be a bit interesting to see how this Barackus cat fits into the scheme of things in future shows.
KEITH LEE DEF. MICHAEL ELGIN
Keith Lee is insane looking. I can’t recall a single person in my life or years as a wrestling fan that is built the way this dude is built. At this point, Lee is one of the hottest prospects on the indies, showing up everywhere, but every time he takes off his “Bask in my Glory” shirt before a match, it dawns on you that this dude is something different.
Big Mike is having a hell of a year, between Glory Pro, New Japan, and every other indie he works, he’s on my shortlist for Wrestler of the Year. The fact that this match is happening here in Glory Pro, where Mike makes sure to put on a show for the people paying him, is just awesome – and it really delivers.
Match starts off with some big-time shoulder blocks and tests of strength before Lee runs off the ropes and delivers a surprising spinning head scissors that gets a huge pop from the crowd. Lee charged Elgin in the corner, but Mike is able to catch the giant and suplex him into the turnbuckle for another huge pop. This is going to be a match of counters, and of elbows. Back and forth Lee and Elgin exchange forearm shots, knocking each other silly, but neither man willing to go down. A little further in, Lee yells for a brainbuster, but Mike reverses that into his own delayed vertical suplex for a count of 20, and my quads hurt just from thinking about it. Suplex after suplex, elbow after roaring elbow and Lee hits a nasty drop spine buster, Elgin with a Canadian Destroyer, and these two aren’t selling exhaustion, they’re exhausted. It’s awesome to see two big power guys who can move like this, who are among the literal best in the world in 2017, and just go out and combine their power with drama. This is a match that anyone could enjoy, that anyone should enjoy, and while it doesn’t reach a level of “epic”, it is super brutal throughout its duration. Lee eventually puts Elgin away with two of his “Ground Zero’s”. Totally enjoyable match, an awesome change of pace in a way, and proof that I just love big, beefy dudes wailing on each other.
What’s most interesting is that Big Mike is now 0-3 here in Glory Pro, which is something I love. Each show, he’s had the “showcase” match against some of the biggest indie names there are: Riddle, Penta, Lee (and Cody), and he’s booked himself to lose in 4-star matches each time. Class act move, really boosts the show and allows for these young guys to be in the title picture. Another success for Mike and his Glory Pro vision. ****
GLORY TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT FINAL
BESTIES IN THE WORLD (DAVEY VEGA & MAT FITCHETT) DEF. ALPHA CLASS (PACO GONZALEZ & DANNY ADAMS)
The gravity of this match is clear as it starts slower than the previous two tag matches, with the Besties working over Alpha Class methodically on the mat, primarily with Davey breaking down Paco little by little. It feels different for the first half-dozen minutes, more like a classic NWA tag bout. The teams are tagging in an out, working limbs, really grinding and it gets me fuckin’ excited for how it’s all going to blow apart.
And it does, or rather, Danny Adams does. The teased dissension and psychosis of Adams comes out in full force here, where the dude begins to go all Brock Lesnar on the Besties, kicking them extra hard, backing them into the corner with clubbing blows, not listening to the ref, which elicits a “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?” from Paco. Adams forces Paco to tag in, which solidifies a break-up angle coming up and I love it. The match continues to revolve around Adams acting real mean, breaking up pinfalls, being in the right place at the right time and having a sense of viciousness he has been lacking on the first two shows. For the first time, Danny Adams feels like a major player here and just not an attempt at an angle. Paco being the ultimate babyface works well, and forces Adams to be a real shithead, which he shows here.
This isn’t to take away from the ring work, which is solid throughout. The Besties really are a pretty excellent tag team and should probably be getting bigger and bigger gigs as the year goes on. Fitchett hits mule kicks and pele kicks aplenty, rolls over the back of Vega and hits a headscissors into the corner and we are in the stretch of insane double team moves, ending with Adams hitting a death valley driver onto Paco’s knees. While the match started slow, the added character work and urgency on the back half makes for a really enjoyable watch. Besties win the match and the title, but after the match Danny shoves Paco, who goes nuts and has to be held back by Vega. Adams cuts a classic jealousy promo and challenges Paco at the next show. Hell yeah. And new tag champs. Enjoyable match and the best angle Glory Pro has run thus far. ***1/2
CROWN OF GLORY CHAMPIONSHIP
MYRON REED (C) DEF. REY FENIX
In an effort to blow my damn mind at the beginning of this match, it is announced that Myron Reed is only 19-years old. What a stud. Looking at these names with any familiarity and you know what you are going to get: a bunch of sick high-flying moves, and that’s exactly what this match delivers.
The match starts off with each guy getting their rope spots in and flips and countering each other ala Ricochet/Ospreay, and the crowd erupts. Reed knocks Fenix to the outside with a huge dropkick and when following up for a dive, Fenix hits a perfectly timed uppercut from the floor to knock out Reed. We get some other big spots in the ring, Fenix back outside and Reed with a rope-flip dive to the outside and this already has the best “title match” feel so far in Glory Pro. While battling on the top rope, Reed manages to get in a super high angle sunset flip powerbomb off the top on Fenix, causing both guys to bounce off the mat and writhe in pain. Spot after spot, cutters, dives, spin kicks – this match is great. Fenix hits a double springboard double stomp for 2, goes to the top for more, and Reed follows him for a top-rope Spanish Fly for the win.
As is custom in great Lucha matches, money is thrown in and both guys show each other respect in an awesome moment. This match was a total sprint, no dead time, no serious grinding – just both guys trying to destroy each other with big-time moves. It felt fresh, it felt exciting, and Myron Reed came off as a totally believable champion here. Great way to close out the show. ****
Really great show and one of my favorite American shows of the year, period. I haven’t watched most of the major American indies this year, but I’d be hard pressed to find something that was this solid top to bottom. Glory Pro doesn’t have the BIGGEST names on their shows, but the lesser names more than pull their weight. They are putting in performances on these shows that should lead to stardom on a bigger scale. O’Reilly/Stallion was really great, something I am going to go back to soon, Elgin/Lee and Reed/Fenix were both awesome as well. I may have overrated some of the matches, but Glory Pro really hits a sweet spot for me. It’s an indie to get behind. I cannot wait to watch the 4th show (featuring) Marufuji Vs. Dijak. Easy recommendation over here, you should be keeping up.