Style Battle, the WWN off-shoot that was created for FloSlam, had their last regular season tournament today. The winner of today’s tournament will join Dave Crist, Tracer X, Jon Davis, Jason Kincaid, Anthony Henry, Fred Yehi and Darby Allin in New Orleans on April 7th to decide the overall Style Battle winner. This show was much more loaded than previous Style Battles as former WWN champion Matt Riddle, indie superstars Joey Janela and WALTER, along with the current “most interesting person in wrestling” Nick Gage helped fill out the bracket.
STYLE BATTLE S1: E8
JANUARY 14, 2018
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
MATT RIDDLE DEF. RAYO
Well that was super quick. Rayo tried to play up Riddle’s birthday with a cheeky rollup. A couple of quick pin attempts and Riddle knocked out Rayo with a knee to the head. Not much to this. Maybe was a minute. Not worth rating. This review was longer than the match.
BRODY KING DEF. KTB
Brody King was a day of the show replacement for Shane Mercer after a pretty decent performance on EVOLVE 98. I am a little disappointed in this change as Mercer was KTB’s partner on recent EVOLVE shows and was intrigued by the matchup. King and KTB ended up having a pretty intriguing, if a touch sloppy, big boy season match with Brody King doing more flying and KTB throwing suplexes and bombs. The most remarkable moments in the match came towards the end when King did a double jump moonsault into either a standing senton bomb or a corkscrew blockbuster. It was kind of sloppy, like how I said earlier, but it was really neat. Soon after, KTB got the advantage and got the win with a top rope face first slam transferred into a single leg crab, and he faces Riddle in the next round. ***
JOEY JANELA DEF. BRANDON WATTS
Brandon Watts was replacing Joey Lynch, which was announced earlier this week. Watts has done a bunch of preshow matches and jobbing in EVOLVE, but is more known as an Beyond mainstay. A bit of Joey Janela’s mystique was lost without using ‘Technovision’ as a theme, but it’s WWN and they do these sort of things. The early going of this match was slow, with Janela goofing on Watts and taking Watts down with ringwork. Watts was pretty impressive in working from the bottom, but really thrived in his dive to the outside and a top rope splash. Janela, soon after, put away Watts with a top rope falcon arrow and brutal looking double stomp. Ron Neimi was interviewing everyone post match, and Joey Janela grabbed the microphone. He was frustrated about how he’s such a big star but ignored by WWN, and invoked Gabe and Sal’s names. A good touch to give him more motivation rather than being the Bad Boy in this tournament. **1/2
WALTER AND NICK GAGE WENT TO A NO CONTEST
It was remarkable how over Nick Gage was, and I want to take a moment to talk about the aura and character of him. I’ve watched a bunch of the Style Battles, and nearly all of the last two years’ WWN programming. No one gave off the air of unpredictability, of fear, of that you are about to watch something very special like Nick Gage did.
There has been some ridiculous backlash to the promos and tweets Gage has done. The point of promos (and really Twitter, if you think about it) is to convince people to buy tickets or the videos to the show, enhance your character, or put yourself and your match over to the audience. Gage accomplished all three. That is the purpose of promotion in wrestling.
On top of that, people have harped on Gage’s 2010 bank robbery being used as a part of his character. At the time, Gage was both homeless and a drug addict, both as a result of his wrestling lifestyle. He later turned himself in for this crime, was sentenced and served five years in prison. He used this time to get clean. After his release (first in 2015; he would violate his parole and serve the remainder of his sentence until late 2016), Gage elected to use his prison time as a part of his gimmick. It’s a part of who he is and it lends authenticity to his character. It’s somewhat unique that he choses to stay in this character on Twitter, where most other wrestlers retweet “hey great match” or talk about travelling, but it actually lends more to the authenticity of his character. Like many who have spent time in the prison system, Nick Gage’s past is part of who he is. The prison system is profoundly broken, but Gage found a way to rehabilitate himself and get clean, which is nearly impossible to do given the status of American prison especially considering the state of parole in America. The hypocrisy of some parts of wrestling fandom to cast dispersions towards someone who has rehabilitated themselves while openly lionizing and following WWE with their connections to the Trump Adminstration, wrestlers whom are notable homophobes, others that have committed domestic violence and are still viewed as legends going against their policy, and gaslit the partners whom they cheated on their spouses with, is astounding.
The match itself delivered on the anticipation of what would happen if you put Nick Gage in a normal match with WALTER. WALTER was comfortable to play heel towards a crowd that was 75% for Gage. It began with a strike fight that WALTER got the better of Gage which led to a very rude looking liontamer. Gage recognized that he was being dominated, and decided to make it an outside brawl. They’d get back into the ring for brief moments, but the match would quickly get thrown out as they went into the crowd and started to hit each other with chairs. WALTER and Gage tore apart a bunch of the empty seating. The wrestlers backstage came out to separate the two to no avail. It took Keith Lee hitting the ring, being the representative of WWN as champion, knocking Gage off the apron with an elbow smash for order to be restored and Gage leaving the building. However, Gage and Walter fought AGAIN until they were finally separated and headed to back. This led to both a handshake between WALTER and Lee, and Joey Janela receiving a bye to the tournament finals. This was a lot of fun, both as a match spectacle, and the post match. It’s what it should have, and a smart way for WWN to draw interest to their tournament program that only exists as a part of a fallen streaming deal. *** 1/4 for the match, **** 1/4 for the spectacle and post match.
MATT RIDDLE DEF. KTB
Like most of the tournament, this was another quick match. There was a lot of heavy striking to start with KTB getting advantage as he was bigger wrestler. Riddle got the advantage back as soon it got past those first strikes and mocked KTB’s name. He got the win after a series of sentons (one was blocked) and hitting another running knee. Wasn’t much to it, but good. ** 3/4
JIMMY LLOYD DEF. JACK GALLOW
Both of these guys had WWN experience: Jack Gallow worked a couple of FIP shows and a squash for EVOLVE, Jimmy Lloyd is more known from his work in GCW. He also appeared on Style Battle Episode 5 and was on Joey Janela’s Spring Break. This was pretty much a nothing filler match that they use to break up the tournament. Quick brawl, Gallow hit an impressive clothesline and frog splash given his size (he’s not huge, just pretty muscular). Lloyd came back and got the win with the Omori Driver. This was ok. **
WWA4 CHAMPIONSHIP 4 WAY MATCH
JAXON VILE DEF. LIAM GRAY, ADRIAN ALANIS & JAMES BANDY ©
These were all students of AR Fox out of WWA4 in Atlanta. Gray and Alanis are a part of Fox’s entourage on EVOLVE shows. Vile did a couple of preshows. Bandy came into the match as the champion, and has defended his title in gauntlet matches on WWN shows before. This was fun for what it was: a good filler match to kill time, get people onto the show, and give Riddle a break before the finals. The sprint was quickly worked, but pretty sloppy. It’s obvious how new these guys were to the industry and their lack of polish. There was a real fun dive section that was highlighted by Gray doing a dive that was combination of a spaceman drop and tope con hilo. This led to a real brutal tower of doom spot where Vile gave a top rope powerbomb to Alanis, who was supposed to be giving a superplex to Gray, but it was more like a brainbuster given the sloppiness of the match. The finish was an attempted crucifix bomb by Grey onto Vile that Vile turned into a samoan driver he called the Vile Driver, making him the new WWA4 champion. Liam Gray came off like the star of the match. Getting beyond how spotty and rough this was, it was fun. ** 3/4
STYLE BATTLE FINAL
MATT RIDDLE DEF. JOEY JANELA TO WIN STYLE BATTLE S1:E8
This was easily the match of the night, and the only one given more than fifteen minutes. Janela was content to dick around and troll Riddle about his birthday early in the match, as Riddle had all the decisive advantages and Joey Janela needed to something to stay in the match. From there, Janela wanted to show he could he could actually stack up in the ring. Probably the grossest part of the show was during this, when Janela capitalized on the fact that Riddle always is barefoot and did the “finger breaking” spot but doing it to his toes. First off, Gross. Second off, that’s what you get for being a deviant and never wearing boots wrestling. Who knows how clean mats or the floor are. Janela lost the advantage after they went to the outside, and Riddle delivered a series of furious sentons when they got back into the ring. From there, the two went to the finishing stretch, which had a big kick out from Janela on a sheer drop Brostone, rather than making into a slam with how Riddle usually does it. Riddle got a big kick out as well on Janela’s double stomp, which introduced more Janela harping on Riddle’s birthday. Riddle went for the Bro to Sleep, which Janela flipped out of into a super kick nearfall, Riddle sinking in an rear naked choke and transitioning that into the Bromission for the finish and the tournament win. This was legitimately great, a good mix of Joey’s comedy, smart ring work, well worked high spots and got both over as the best people of this tournament. There was a post-match promo where Riddle sort of lost it. I don’t know if it was supposed to be a positive promo or a negative one, but he declared WWN his company and that he’d dominate Wrestlemania weekend. **** 1/4
Style Battle S1:E8 easily felt like the most consequential episode of the season. It had the biggest names of any of the tournament and probably the best match of the season in Janela and Riddle. The spectacle of Nick Gage and WALTER is worth going out of your way to watch. This show was barely two hours and thirty minutes, only a few matches were longer than ten minutes and a very easy watch. For those who have WWNClub, this will definitely be a show worth checking out when it goes up in their archive in a few weeks.