AAW DEFINING MOMENT
AUGUST 31, 2017
BERWYN EAGLES CLUB – BERWYN, ILLINOIS

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PACO DEF. CONNOR BRAXTON

Connor Braxton is becoming sneaky good. He’s unlike anything going on the indies. He doesn’t really feel like he should be here and certainly doesn’t come across like a typical super indie wrestler, but that’s a good thing. I loved the popup headbutt he did in this match, especially the way he sold it afterwards. PACO looked great being thrown around until his eventual rollup for the win. Short, but a thumbs up opener to start. **3/4

PACO’s victory only lasted for a brief moment as he was attacked by Jeff Cobb on his way to the back. Cobb obliterated the smaller PACO with his ungodly strength.

JEFF COBB DEF. JOEY JANELA

What’s weird about this match is that I thought both guys as individuals were great, but I didn’t love the match. Cobb has been very hit and miss in AAW, but I thought he was on his A game here. He always works well when he has a small guy like Janela to throw around. Janela is at his best when he’s either bumping like a maniac or brawling, and he was able to do both of those things.

In the middle of the match, AR Fox came out to distract Cobb, playing off of their issue at last month’s show. I’m looking forward to seeing how that feud continues.

Cobb put Janela away with the Tour of the Islands. This match wasn’t bad at all, but for some reason I think it should have been better. They never sucked me in, despite both putting on good performances. Regardless, I hope both men continue to be booked by AAW. ***

Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett were arguing backstage when ACH interrupted and told them that “the Besties in the World aren’t dead yet.” I’ve really enjoyed the slow decay of Vega and Fitchett.

MAT FITCHETT, DAVEY VEGA, & ACH DEF. TEAM TREMENDOUS & COLT CABANA

I can’t do Team Tremendous anymore. What a bunch of dorks. I’m amazed that their act hasn’t gotten any better since 2014. If anything, it’s gotten worse. It’s a shame, as ACH was “on”, which surprised me given the context of this match. Vega was good, and Fitchett always tears it up. I don’t expect much out of Cabana anymore, but he more than fulfilled his role.

This was a lot of moves, some exciting, some not. Again, I am waiting for Fitchett to break out. He’s one big match away from breaking out in a big way. This, however, was not that match. This had too much Team Tremendous. **1/2

MATT RIDDLE DEF. SHANE STRICKLAND

This was very good. I wasn’t sure how Riddle’s ground-based style would work with a high-flyer like Strickland, but I was thoroughly impressed by both men in this match.

Strickland has been a delightful addition to the AAW roster. For years, I was critical of him I felt he was nothing more than Diet Rich Swann. Out of the blue, he found a look, style, and persona that fit him like a glove, and I’ve enjoyed him everywhere he’s gone for over a year now. There were points in this match when he was just a little quicker than Riddle in this match, and I really liked that. It really felt like he was using his speed to his advantage.

I’ve felt like Riddle has phoned in a few AAW outings, but not here. He got really fired up at one point and shouted at Strickland. That’s the kind of fire I like seeing out of Riddle. The Bromission he locked on for the victory was brutal. It was refreshing to see. Great match. ****

DJ Z called out Cody R and wrestling news outlets for claiming that Cody leaving WWE for the indies was an example of him “gambling on himself.” Cody has money, Cody comes from a wrestling family, and if he really wanted to, he could probably get his job back at WWE. DJ Z said he was full of shit. Every match for DJ Z is “literally life or death” This was a great promo. It’s a shame this couldn’t have happened when Cody was still new to the indie scene.

KEITH LEE DEF. TREVOR LEE, AR FOX

This was a mixed bag. I certainly can’t fault their effort. All three worked super hard and clearly put forth their best effort to have a creative, engaging match. AR Fox, especially, is having one hell of a time in AAW. He is constantly putting on some of the best matches on this card. The problem was that at times, I feel like they were a little too creative. They weren’t sloppy, there were just times in which the match felt more “creative” than competitive.

Trevor Lee continues to look very good. Making him a serious heel has been one of the best AAW booking decisions of the year. He ate the Spirit Bomb, as AR Fox was incapacitated by Jeff Cobb as the match rolled towards the finish. I expect those two to meet at this year’s Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament. ***1/2  

Sami Callihan & the Killer Cult cut a boring, overdramatic promo. The only important note was that Callihan told OI4K to stay in the back during his title match with Rey Fenix tonight. He wanted to prove once and for all that he was the best wrestler in the world.

AAW HERITAGE CHAMPIONSHIP
PENTA EL ZERO M (C) DEF. BRIAN CAGE

This was largely forgettable and rather quick. Cage didn’t get a lot of offense in. It seemed like a nice showcase for Penta, if anything. He got his kicks in, he yanked on Cage’s arm, and then eventually dropped him on his head with a few Destroyers for the win. This match happened, and that’s the best thing I can say about it. **3/4

AAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
DEZMOND XAVIER & ZACHARY WENTZ (c) DEF. JAKE & DAVE CRIST

These two don’t have very good matches together, and yet Xavier & Wentz deliver against every other team they wrestle. Weird. I wish this was the final story in what has been a weak feud, even if this wouldn’t have been a satisfying ending. I’m impatiently waiting for Wentz & Xavier moving on to better, more interesting opponents.

The Crist Brothers have run their course in AAW. They were on top for a very long time, wrestled a lot of different teams, and to be fair, they delivered at times. But they are not on the level of a team like Xavier & Wentz. Fitchett & Vega, Wolf & Miguel, and any combination of Fenix & his random partners all outperform OI4K. Jake & Dave feel just as indieriffic, to be blunt, as a team like Team Tremendous, they just happen to get away with it because they aren’t a comedy team. They aren’t a major league act. I wasn’t entertained by this match, and I put that on them. I think it’s time they move onto something else. ***

Jeff Cobb hinted at teaming with Brian Cage in the future. I think some of Cage’s best work is in his team with Michael Elgin in PWG, so I’m all for Cage teaming with another big guy.

CODY DEF. DJ Z

I understand why Cody is the bigger star, but my god did DJ Z work circles around him in this match. Z is a perfect vote for “Most Underrated” in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards. No one is pushing him to the moon, yet he has all the talent in the world. This was an outstanding performance by him. He bumped around for Cody, flew onto Cody, and helped create one of the most interesting Cody matches I’ve ever seen.

Sadly, that’s a low bar. There were still Cody traits to this match that drove me nuts. The pre-match promo in which he talked about ketchup and teased a Brandi Rhodes appearance was a sad attempt at getting Chicago to boo him. It’s something I’ve seen from him at too many indies. I get that he’s a “heel”, but I want to turn off the stream when he does that. I don’t love that Z picked up a visual pinfall on him while the referee was down (another Cody spot that happens all too often). That seems like a sad way of making it abundantly clear that he can’t lose. Just have Z eat the pin.

For all those complaints, this was a good match. Z worked his ass off and Cody put forth an acceptable effort. It’s one of the better Cody matches I’ve seen on the indies. ***3/4

AAW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
REY FENIX DEF. SAMI CALLIHAN (c)

This epic feud has finally come to an end. These two have battled for over a year, sometimes with their trusty partners by their side (Penta El Zero M in the case of Fenix, OI4K for Callihan), and this was finally an end to their epic wars.

Callihan’s reign has been full of ups and downs, but I don’t think he’s hit higher peaks than he has with Fenix. These two have ridiculous chemistry, which is not surprising considering that Fenix has a similar style to AR Fox, who is widely considered to be Callihan’s most bitter rival.

These two beat the ever living tar out of each other. Whereas the tag title match felt rushed and unorganized, this felt like a fitting end to a brutal feud. They used weapons, they used submissions, and they used some of the most impressive counters I’ve seen in recent memory to try to get the upperhand on one another.

The final few minutes of this match felt like a beautiful closing to a long journey.

Fenix gave Callihan a Destroyer, then JT Davidson suffered the same fate. He attempted to give Callihan one more, but he countered and locked Fenix in the Stretch Muffler. That looked like it was going to be it for Fenix. Instead, he rolled through. Fenix eventually was able to get Callihan to tap with a wicked arm submission. He made Callihan quit. Fenix is now atop the AAW mountain. ****1/4

OI4K challenged Wentz & Xavier to a TLC match.

Fenix made it official that his first defense would be against his brother, Penta El Zero M

Final Thoughts:

This felt like the end of a very important chapter in AAW’s history.

When I started reviewing AAW into May 2016, Sami Callihan was just beginning his reign atop the promotion, OI4K was climbing up the ranks, and AAW was transitioning into a fully fledged super indie. Over a year later, Callihan has finally been knocked off his pedestal, OI4K has met their match, and AAW has become more than just a super indie; they’re a product making machine, churning out shows, quality matches, and new, exciting stars at a rapid pace. No other indie stateside is doing what AAW is doing. Fenix seems like the perfect person to lead AAW into the next chapter of their existence.

As for Defining Moment, this was a very fun show. It runs right at three hours. Riddle vs. Strickland and the main event deliver big, if you like Cody, you’re going to love his match with DJ Z, and the undercard was mostly painless. Thumbs up for AAW’s Defining Moment.