GLORY PRO WRESTLING
WAR OF THE NEW AGE
BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS
JULY 9, 2017

Watch: SmartMarkVideo.com

It’s no secret, if you’ve read any reviews from me surrounding Michael Elgin’s fledgling Glory Pro Wrestling, then you know this promotion is doing something that is truly special. They aren’t bringing anything brand new to the table, aren’t innovating the game, but through three shows, Glory Pro has proven to be everything I want in American independent wrestling.

Everything that has been presented thus far has shown itself to be intimate, without feeling hokey or minor league. The venues are minuscule, the video production and announcing is average, but the wrestling—whether virtual unknowns like The Pride or legit “Wrestler of the Year” candidates like Elgin himself—has proven to be top notch. The focus has been on the action between the ropes, without entirely neglecting the need for story and angle. The dissolving of the partnership between Paco Gonzalez and Danny Adams, the losing streak of Michael Elgin and Curt Stallion, the underdog story and growth of Everett Connors, whatever Jason Saint and Barackus are doing—Glory Pro succeeds because it feels like an old territory, and, as has been stated in the past, combining story and in-ring glitz as well as any indie on the scene right now. It’s not perfect, it’s not the promotion of the year, but it gets me as excited about pro wrestling as anything else I’ve seen this year.

This was another good show, and had the most matches yet that broke my ***1/2 star threshold of ratings, but it also didn’t seem to flow as a whole quite the same as past shows. I still enjoyed it immensely and there was one match in particular that rivals Riddle/Elgin and O’Reilly/Stallion for best match in the promotion’s history. Regardless, you should watch this show.

CURT STALLION DEF. MARTIN STONE

Curt Stallion has been one of the major standouts on the first three Glory Pro shows. His match with Shigehiro Irie on the debut show was one of the best sprints in all of wrestling this year and his brutal battle with Kyle O’Reilly on the third show is perhaps the single best match the promotion has had – but he’s coming into this battle against recent NXT standout Martin Stone with a 0-3 record. Stallion plays an excellent asshole heel, but is one of the most over guys in the promotion, getting tons of “LONE STAR” chants anytime he is in the ring. He’s put up valiant efforts, and it’s clear that his record isn’t an accident.

Martin Stone has one of the coolest looks in all of wrestling – someone who looks like a legit 1980s action movie badass, ripped in a way that makes sense, basic black trunks and boots, bald head. I would legitimately love to see Martin somewhere like NOAH or All Japan because I think he could really kill it there better than most of his BritWres folks (and he’s unlikely to reach the top of the heap in NXT, American indies or BritWres).

Both dudes excel at chops, and that’s primarily what this match is about. They run the ropes, exchange European uppercuts and struggle with a few holds, but there is almost no throws through the entirety of this match – even going into an excessive chop exchange with locked hands. After getting his face mashed in the corner, Stone has a sudden comeback with huge knee, pop-up powerbomb, big boot and another knee for a two-count. Headbutts are thrown and from out of nowhere, Stallion ultimately gets the win with a diving headbutt ala Ilja Dragunov for his first win in the promotion! It’s clear to me that this story is going to manifest down the road with Stallion going on a bit of a winning streak, challenging champion Myron Reed and being the one that eventually dethrones him, which is exactly the right call. I had mixed feelings about this match at first, but upon re-watch, it was super entertaining, and while it’s not as spot-heavy as the first three Stallion matches in Glory Pro – it is a nice change of pace and killer hard-hitting opener for the show. ***1/2

SEAN ORLEANS DEF. BRANDON ESPINOSA

The feud between “Dad Bod” Sean Orleans and “Scary Mother Fucker” (my nickname) Brandon Espinosa continued here in pretty awesome fashion.

As a recap: On the debut show, Espinosa killed Orleans in 30 seconds with three moves. On the second show, Orleans, in the crowd, distracted Espinosa during a big multi-man match and helped cause his elimination. On the third show, both guys were in the huge multi-man, but their feud took precedence and Espinosa hit Orleans with a disgusting brainbuster on the concrete floor, knocking him completely out. Here? Well, Orleans dodged a charging Espinosa, rolled him up for the 3-count and got the fuck out of dodge! This has been a really fun, minor feud in Glory Pro – interested to see where it goes from here.

EVERETT CONNORS DEF. STEPHEN WOLF

This match was originally scheduled to be Connors vs. DJ Z, which would have been sick as hell but Zema was injured and chose Stephen Wolf as his replacement, someone I was unfamiliar with, but definitely want to see more of following this bout.

I’ve let my feelings on Everett out in the first few reviews about GPW—he’s pretty fantastic in the ring, pulling out unique moves and combinations, but his gimmick just does nothing for me. While his Justin Bieber-influenced character was odd, that look caught my interest a lot more than the red body-suited “Pretty Reckless” thing he’s going with now. I let it go, because it’s clear this dude is evolving into a major player in the Midwest scene, as he absolutely SHOULD, I just haven’t been able to fully buy into what he’s selling yet.

Match starts off super-fast with Wolf going super-saiyan Ricochet level of super-slippery, flippity reversals and bouncing around the ring. Connors keeps up, just a step behind, but gets some shots in here and there and attempts a crucifix driver pin early. The match is hard to keep up with, but has tons of big spots, strikes and finishers as transitions. It’s not a match that builds, but is one that is explosion after explosion. I like spotfests, but I want a little more brutality, so when Connors eventually wins with the Essex Driver and Flapjack-Cutter, it just feels a little empty. This was an exhibition and would undoubtedly be something very fun to witness in person, but moves don’t equal greatness (and I’m a moves guys!). Regardless, this match was just a temporary thing for Connors, as his prize for winning the previous show’s gauntlet match was a chance to choose his partner to challenge for the United Glory titles. He chooses BIG MIKE to partner with him at the next Glory Pro show. Hell yeah.

KEVIN LEE DAVIDSON DEF. ALEX DANIELS, GRINGO LOCO, HAKIM ZANE, JAKE PARNELL & LOUIS LYNDON

Every single one of these big multi-man matches/gauntlets that Glory Pro has run has been incredibly entertaining. They are silly, big spotfests, usually with mini-stories embedded in. They prominently feature lots of successive dives and continually have surprising winners. This one has previous winner Alex Daniels (challenging for the Crown of Glory at the next show), and second show standout Hakim Zane, but the man that dominated and looked like a hundred million bucks here was new-to-me, “KLD” Kevin Lee Davidson. This dude looks like Walter and Keith Lee got mashed together and wrestles like fuckin’ Scott Norton or something. He’s a beast dwarfing everyone in this match and really maintaining a huge aura around himself throughout its entirety.

This match did start a little bit slower than some of the big multi-mans they have had before, but once KLD gets involved a few minutes in, everything is about taking him out, while he is taking everyone else out. Alex Daniels wants no part of it towards the end and after he gets destroyed by KLD and DDT’ed on the apron by Hakim Zane, he takes off to the back. One of the highlight spots of the match (besides the big dives to the outside) was Louis Lyndon breaking up a German suplex pin with a swanton off the top rope that looked particularly nasty for all three dudes involved. On the whole, this one didn’t get as crazy as past gauntlet matches, but was still a ton of fun and the introduction of the big man gave it enough of a different feel. I enjoyed the hell out of it just like all the past multi-man matches Glory Pro has put on, something about these just taking place in the middle of these cards and being tons of fun really works for me.

I’m dying to see more KLD and Zane in the future. ***3/4

JAKE SOMETHING DEF. GARY JAY

This was a really fun match, as would be expected.

Jake Something projects his big, scary, powerful hoss self as well as anyone currently on the indies. I compare him most favorably to current day Jurn Simmons, or if Bram knew how to have a good match. Something has been getting some shine on AAW and around the indies, and he totally should – dude carries himself like a big-time star and delivers quick, brutal matches really well. Gary Jay has quietly been one of the more consistent workers in GPW, usually found in the gauntlet matches and he plays the role of lifelong indie underdog to a T. The result of this match was never in question, as Jake should and hopefully will be built as a major player in the promotion and Gary is awesome as someone who goes out there and puts on a good show. This match is pretty quick and centered around a lot of strikes. Something throws killer elbows, like he is truly cleaning his opponent’s clock each time he smacks them. Jay throws a lot of mean-sounding chops. After a strike exchange on the apron with the crowd split between the guys, Jay reverses an apron powerbomb spot into a hurricanrana that Something takes right onto the face – truly nasty. Something’s power is just too overwhelming and it isn’t long before he nails Jay with that frightening lariat to the back of his head, a move that is quickly rising among my favorite finishers. Wasn’t much of a match, but was fun, quick, and helped establish Jake Something as someone we oughta keep our eyes on.

ROH WORLD TITLE
CODY (C) DEF. MICHAEL ELGIN

Cody is a huge name on the indie scene right now, and while I am not a Cody hater and generally give him the benefit of the doubt, this match was a pretty big disappointment for me. This was the first match Elgin has taken part in on his shows that didn’t blow me away, and while part of that can be ascribed to the fact that it was for the ROH title (and thus Elgin had no shot at winning), the truth is – this match just felt a little too paint by numbers compared to the three epics Big Mike has had up to this.

Honestly, it starts off on a sour note for me, with Cody cutting promos on the crowd, on Big Mike, and the two taunting each other for what feels like ten minutes. I want these two to beat the tar out of each other—Cody, the visitor, can leave that ROH/Bullet Club schtick at home. Don’t get me wrong, Cody has been a fantastic heel recently, but he’s also had a few really stellar matches (Shane Strickland, Jay Lethal & Kazuchika Okada), and I was hoping for the dude to just come out and add another one of those here, with Big Mike – who can basically have a good to great match with anyone. When they finally get started, Elgin dominates early, using his size, strength and the hometown charisma. Cody gets a few shots in here and there, but Mike is able to quickly chop him back down. There are a lot of classic spots for both guys here: the disaster kick from Cody, the top-rope falcon arrow from Mike and a surprisingly sick Alabama slam from Cody. But just as the match is really picking up, with both dudes taking pretty insane bumps, Cody gets a sudden win by reversing the presumed Elgin Bomb by sitting down on Mike and getting the pin.

The match was good, but Mike has set the bar almost impossibly high with the big names he had brought in before this, and this just never quite reached the level that bar is set at. I’m excited to see what Big Mike brings to the tag match with Connors at the next show, it’ll be an interesting change of pace and a new role for him in GPW, something I think could really benefit him AND the company.

PACO GONZALEZ DEF. DANNY ADAMS

Alpha Class explodes!

Looking back, I think part of my issue (and I don’t really have one) with this show is that I have gotten so excited about Glory Pro’s product that I neglected to temper my expectations like the hundred million other matches I watch a day. When I saw that the best angle Glory Pro has run with, the breakup of Alpha Class and the psychotic jealousy of Danny Adams was going straight to a grudge match on this show, I expected big things. Paco is one of my favorite new wrestlers of the year, and Danny has improved across the past three shows and really excels at his new shit-dick heel character. What I got here was something that didn’t feel like a grudge match — in fact, it felt like Paco was working more comfortable and less insanely quick as he normally does. This hurt the match, because what makes Paco work is his attitude and work ethic in the ring. He shows tremendous fire in the ring, like a high-spot Ricky Morton, and much of this match was just worked like two dudes who knew each other well going for moves and trying to outshine the other. It will probably make sense in the long run, but the strikes seemed to be pulled compared to how hard they usually connect. This isn’t a bad match at all, in fact, it’s quite a good match, but it’s one of the lesser performances for either guy so far in Glory Pro. There’s big spots, there are sweet moves (Adams’ hangman DDT onto his knee is going to be replicated everywhere next year), but it just doesn’t get to that NEXT LEVEL…

…until Paco wins. They hug and out comes KLD from behind to beat the life out of Paco! I love when smaller heels have huge dudes as their backup. Al Snow/Unabomb, Steve Corino/Rhyno, Daisuke Sasaski/Shuji Ishikawa and now Danny Adams & Kevin Lee Davidson. While the match left some things on the table, it’s clear the angle is going to continue, and we are going to get some HATE. Paco is the ultimate babyface, it only makes sense that Danny Adams has evolved into the perfect heel. Overall, a huge success and great storyline.

UNITED GLORY TAG TEAM TITLE
THE BESTIES IN THE WORLD (DAVEY VEGA & MAT FITCHET) (C) DEF. THE BOYS FROM JOLLYVILLE (RUSS MYERS & T-MONEY)

My excitement level for this event peaked when I was surprised and graced with the fact that The Boys from Fuckin’ Jollyville were challenging the Besties for the United Glory title here. In case you missed it, on the second show “Long May We Reign”, the man beast known as T-Money blew my damn socks off with how dope he was in a big 4-way tag team match, proving himself (and his teammate Dirty Russ) to be people I want appearing at every show. The third show missed them, and here they are, back – taking on the Besties, a team quickly becoming one of my favorite tag teams in the world in 2017. Hell YES.

For those who don’t know: Mat Fitchett has been on a bit of a minor tear here in Glory Pro and elsewhere, showcasing that he is a dude who deserves mention with all of the other big American indie talent and he shows his skills here too. I would be totally unsurprised to see him show up in PWG soon or continue his ascendance in AAW and other super-indies. The dude is a great all-around worker and shines every time I’ve seen him. That’s not to take away from Vega, though as the Besties have a load of really great tandem moves and combos they display here, like their tandem spinning flatliner/moonsault combo and their various cannonball and dives into the corner.

The Besties control early on but then T-Money tags in. At one point, T-Money is in the corner and Fitchett attempts to rush him into the turnbuckle, but T-Money grabs Fitchett in midarm, flips him up into powerbomb position and throws Mat like 2/3 of the way across the ring. Later, Vega is running the ropes for a dive to the outside, but T-Money sneaks in and just checks him hard, dives out of the ring himself, and later reverses a suplex into a roll-through jackhammer. T-Money is my favorite wrestler, everyone else has to catch up. The spot of the match however belongs to Russ Myers, as once Mat Fitchett attempts a Pele Kick, Myers recovers and dropkicks Fitchett right in the head while he’s upside down in the air. The Besties wind up retaining, but the Boys from Jollyville looks like fuckin’ made men after this. I would love to see these two teams become long-term rivals and take this show on the road. Super fun tag match, the best match on the show to this point. ****

NAOMICHI MARUFUJI DEF. DONOVAN DIJAK

Let us no longer continue to fuck around: this is what you are here for. It seems like only yesterday that the general consensus on Naomichi Marufuji was that the dude hadn’t been good in a decade, but he’s had quite the rebound in the last couple of years (a stellar G1 will help anyone!), but the fact that Maru worked this small American indie in between (what I assume) are some GFW tapings was genius planning and something that got Puro Twitter talking about Glory Pro a lot more than usual. First Irie, then Marufuji, Big Mike: keep the hits coming.

This match ruled. I’m not going to pretend that Maru doesn’t still occasionally go into autopilot mode still, and there were times here where that was apparent, but the WWE-bound Dijak used his size and ego to great effect here, tossing the junior legend around like he was nothing. I said in the first Glory Pro review that Michael Elgin vs. Matt Riddle seemed like a big time “anywhere in the world” main event. The feeling in the building while these two dudes stare at each other matches that every step of the way. After a slow start, with Dijak heeling it up and using his size, Maru finally gets space to deliver his first big chop of the night, but Dijak just winces. Elgin is great on commentary here, because more than almost any pro wrestler who sits in the booth – he just comes across as a huge fan and student of the sport. After sending Maru into the ropes, Dijak lifts him into the air with a HUGE back bodydrop, one that would’ve knocked down some ceiling tiles in their usual Spaulding Hall home. Dijak maintains control, carries Maru like he’s nothing, delivers a nasty backbreaker, lifts him for a second one and instead just ragdoll tosses him across the ring. It is here that I have finally become a believer of Donovan Dijak. I have heard he’s improved a ton since his initial ROH run, but I haven’t seen much of his Indie or overseas work and here, I believe him. I hope they give the dude the world in NXT, because he has a chance to be the dominant athletic heel they have lacked for quite some time. Maru comes back with flurries of strikes, and a nasty hook kick, but Dijak has a sick sequence of superkicking Maru on the tunrbuckle, giving him a chokeslam backbreaker from the turnbuckle and before long it’s time for Feast Your Eyes – which mother fuckin’ Naomichi Marufuji kicks out of to the shock of everyone. It is now that Maru is going to unleash the knees. First, in the corner, next in the middle of the ring, kicking and kicking, knocking him out with a knee before delivering the Shiranui for the win.

This match was the obvious highlight of the night and fits alongside the very best Glory Pro and American Indie wrestling have produced this year. It felt big, it delivered bigger. If you disagree, you are joyless. ****1/4

CROWN OF GLORY CHAMPIONSHIP
MYRON REED (C) DEF. AR FOX

I’m ignoring the Barackus/Jason Saint angle before this match, because it didn’t really amount to anything here. I’m sure it will, but was just a kind of weird way to get Myron and AR Fox fighting.

I’m not much of an AR Fox fan as far as the nutso high-flyers go. I respect the dude, I respect his hustle and his willingness to work anywhere and everywhere, and I respect that he has apparently been the standout on this season of Lucha Underground, but he just moves in slow motion to me. He’s insane, that’s for sure, and I like some of his matches a ton, but I still roll my eyes most times I see him. I also don’t know how he became #1 Contender.

This match was essentially a flip and counter special. It was a battle of “anything you can do, I can do better”, a slightly more reckless and dangerous Ricochet/Ospreay, which actually thrilled me in a way. It was excessive, it was silly, it had every move we say is overused in Indie wrestling and yet it was definitely entertaining. Fox and Reed are two dudes who I can watch and think “how in the fuck are you able to do this to your body?” – but I’m sort of in this place where I appreciate and respect the athleticism more than I actually enjoy the match. It was still good, for sure, but lacked some of the fire and finesse in the Rey Fenix defense. My favorite spot in the match was when Fox delivered a repeated (triple) Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Gredunza, including a slingshot version for a two count. I love that move, I love slingshot suplexes and I’ll take it a hundred times over a Canadian Destroyer or Spanish Fly. Fox dominates most of the match, but Myron Reed is being booked as this “never say die”, unpinnable madman, kicking out of the biggest of moves imaginable. It’s fun, I don’t need to analyze it more. If you like insane shit, you would get a kick out of this. ***1/2

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This show had ups and downs, though once again, nothing came across as awful and everything served a purpose. As stated before, it had more GOOD matches than past shows, including two really great matches. We had the debut of KLD – someone who will hopefully be a big-time player in the future, the return of The Boys from Jollyville, who will hopefully be around more often. Dad Bod snuck out a win, Curt Stallion finally got his FIRST win, the continuation of saga of Paco & Danny and fuck, guys, we had Marufuji and Dijak put on one of the most entertaining fights that’s happened on American soil this year. Glory Pro delivers, it’s that simple. Stop wasting your time and start watching.