Freelance vs. The World 4
Friday June 15, 2018
Streaming on Powerbomb.TV
Last month, WWE brought the focus of the wrestling world to Chicago over two nights for NXT Takeover: Chicago and Money in the Bank. But even before the ‘big show’ came to town, wrestling enthusiasts in the Windy City had a chance to take in another big event. Freelance Wrestling celebrated its fourth anniversary with a show packed with non-regulars, important moments and great action. In the end, as it relates to the company putting on the show, it may have been the most significant show of the weekend.
STEVIE FIERCE def. “PROFESSIONAL” PETER AVALON
Background: Originally scheduled for April, Avalon had to cancel due to health issues and Fierce ended up facing then WWN Champion Austin Theory instead. Fierce has yet to be beaten in singles competition in Freelance since losing the Freelance title in December.
Why This Match Mattered: Watching Stevie Fierce in Freelance and watching him in other promotions is like watching two different wrestlers. In his matches in Evolve, he barely registers as someone worth watching even when his matches are technically good. But, in Freelance, Stevie is the man. Throughout 2018, he has had consistently solid to very good performances and is amongst the most popular guys on the roster. Here, he and Avalon put on a good opener that Fierce won to continue his undefeated singles streak. Avalon, known mostly for his work on the west coast, was the perfect opponent to give Fierce a solid victory. ***1/4
What Comes Next: Fierce will likely be due a rematch for the Freelance title at some point during 2018. Avalon isn’t currently a regular, but he was solid enough that we may see him again this year.
Anthony Henry comes out and trashes Stevie for not getting the job done in Evolve which brings Stevie back out. But before the two can reignite their rivalry, James Drake comes to the ring. The referees force Stevie to the back as James Drake takes the microphone. After bashing some of the louder fans, Drake accepts the open challenge for the Freelance Tag Team Titles.
FREELANCE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
WORK HORSEMEN (JAMES DRAKE & ANTHONY HENRY) def. FOUR STAR HEROES (CHRIS CASTRO & MATT KNICKS)(C)
Background: Castro and Knicks made the open challenge and Drake and Henry accepted. This is the fifth title defense for the Four Star Heroes and the first time Henry and Drake have teamed in Freelance.
Why This Match Mattered: Nearly a year ago, Drake and Henry shocked many by becoming the Evolve Tag Team Champions in their first match teaming together in the promotion. Here, history repeated itself as Drake and Henry dominated most of the match on their way to becoming the new tag team champions. Knicks and Castro had a solid run with the titles and did a great job here between Knicks’ selling and Castro’s comeback. But, this was about the Work Horsemen, possibly the most underrated tag team in the business today. ***1/4
What Comes Next: Freelance has a very solid tag division and having Drake and Henry on top opens up plenty of fresh matchups. Castro and Knicks will no doubt be seeking a rematch in the near future as well.
EIGHT MAN SCRAMBLE MATCH
ROBERT ANTHONY def. ALEX OHLSON, ELLIOT PAUL, KOBE DURST, KEVIN KU, KIKUTARO, KENNY SUTRA & SWOGGLE
Background: Freelance’s traditional clusterfuck style match featured some regular participants and Kikutaro making his first Freelance appearance in several years. Swoggle was added as a last minute surprise replacement.
Why This Match Mattered: With Kikutaro and Swoggle’s respective antics dominating large parts of the match, it was hard for the remaining six men to stand out. While everyone looked good to an extent, Kobe Durst remains someone who should be pushed further up the card based on his continued improvement. Robert Anthony picked up the win which made sense given his positioning as one of the more hated wrestlers in Freelance. It would have been nice to have the comedy antics separated from the rest of this match, but you get what you get. **¼
What Comes Next: Anthony’s feud with Gringo Loco remains unresolved, so I expect to see him return to that. While it was fun seeing Kikutaro, I’d be quite happy if Freelance stopped using Swoggle. He really takes away from matches like this.
FREELANCE UNDERGROUND TITLE MATCH
CRAIG MITCHELL (C) def. PCO
Background: Freelance Underground runs smaller shows with many of the same talents as Freelance including its current champion Craig Mitchell. PCO, in his quest to wrestle in every US independent promotion in 2018, is making his Freelance debut here.
Why This Match Mattered: PCO’s 2018 independent tour has seen him square off against many top names including WALTER, Joey Janela and Nick Gage. Freelance chose to go a different way and faced him off with one of their unsung stars in Craig Mitchell. Mitchell stepped up and (after briefly trying to escape the match) went toe-to-toe and move for move with PCO. This match included some sick bumps on the stage of Logan Square Auditorium, but my main takeaway from this is that Craig Mitchell is someone that deserves to get more opportunities outside his Midwestern base. As for PCO, his current run reminds me of early Sabu and early Low Ki in my desire to seek out everything he does. It’s that kind of run. ***1/2
What Comes Next: PCO is booked (or is seemingly booked) for every big independent promotion in the US this summer, most notably against Matt Riddle for GCW and in the SCI and BOLA tournaments. Mitchell continues on as Freelance Underground champion and could contend for the Freelance title as well.
GPA def. KYLIE RAE
Background: GPA and Kylie’s tag team blew up earlier in the year and Kylie has been seeking revenge ever since. GPA officially “quit” Freelance on the April show, but his quitting was less him leaving the come and more him denouncing the entire locker room and audience.
Why This Match Mattered: Freelance has done a tremendous job of building grudge matches this year and this feud/match may be the best example of that yet. You have the chicken shit, slimy GPA, having turned on his partner, cowering from her every attack until he can find an opening and then throwing everything at her including belt and chair shots. You have the beloved babyface Kylie Rae who goes right after her former partner and comes close on multiple occasions to putting him away, but falling just short. And in the end, you have Kylie having the opportunity to finish GPA off with a chair, but GPA begging off in hopes of saving his skin. Smashing the person who betrayed her with a chair does not fit the Kylie Rae character and so she relents only to have GPA use the same chair on her to pick up the win. The ending of the match was reminiscent of the end of the Kevin Steen/El Generico match at Final Battle 2010, but with the face refusing to give in to hate…and losing because of it. One of the best matches in Freelance this year. ***3/4
What Comes Next: Kylie still needs to get her redemption against GPA, so this is not likely the end of this feud. Kylie has recently picked up big wins outside of Freelance so it may come sooner rather than later.
We get a recap of the end of the Arik Cannon/Ethan Page team following a loss to the Four Star Heroes. Page attacks Cannon and says his biggest fear is having his career turning out like Cannon’s.
Back from intermission, Page takes issue with Cannon’s name being announced before his and a brawl into the crowd ensues.
ETHAN PAGE VS. ARIK CANNON – Double DQ
Background: Page and Cannon had a short-lived team that failed in their first shot against the Freelance Tag Team Champions. Cannon thought they could rebound, but Page chose to attack Cannon instead and laid out Cannon, mocking him as a never-was and washed up.
Why This Match Mattered: After two straight matches with intense brawling, this felt somewhat repetitive even if the story being told is a good one. Page and Cannon brawled throughout the arena and finally ended up in the ring, but neither man was able to put their opponent down. Frustration led to the referee being tossed around by both men, leaving him with no choice but to call the match off. Several wrestlers had to pull Cannon from Page, but the two continued to brawl despite the separation. **1/2
What Comes Next: Like the previous match, this feud is certain to continue. Post match, Cannon says that he’s proud of his career and if he has anything to do with it, he’ll make sure Page ends up with a better career than him.
SHOTZI BLACKHEART def. HAWLEE LAYNE VS. KOHARU HINATA
Background: Shotzi and Hawlee both participated in May’s Freelance Rumble for a shot at the Freelance Title. Hinata, a trainee of Tajiri, is making her Freelance and US debut here.
Why This Match Mattered: This was the first all women’s match in Freelance in 2018. Unfortunately, the three women didn’t mesh as well as I would have hoped and outside of Shotzi, the action was a step below the quality level of women’s wrestling in 2018. Shotzi did provide enough to allow the match to be decent, but it was disappointing overall. **1/4
What Comes Next: Shotzi will be debuting for Impact Wrestling in the coming weeks and I expect Freelance will continue to bring her in. A match with Kylie Rae would be good showcase of Freelance’s female talent.
THE N WORDS def. THE CARNIES
Background: This is a rematch of a 2017 title match between the N Words and the the Carnies which saw the N Words successfully defend their titles. This is the Carnies first Freelance match since then.
Why This Match Mattered: With new tag team champions crowned earlier in the night, this match took on more importance. The Carnies have established enough of a name for themselves where a victory over them should elevate any team and the N Words, who have come up short in their quest for a third reign as champions, will likely be in a position to stake a claim for another shot at the Freelance titles. These two teams had solid chemistry and both were given a chance to showcase their skills. ***
What Comes Next: The N Words will likely have to wait behind the Four Star Heroes for a title shot against Henry and Drake. Perhaps the two teams will square off or a three way is in the offing.
FREELANCE TITLE MATCH
ISAIAS VELAZQUEZ def. DARIN CORBIN (C)
Background: Corbin won the title in March and is making his third defense of the Freelance title. Velazquez was the first and longest reigning Freelance Champion and a victory would make him the first two-time champion. He won the Freelance Rumble in May to earn his title shot.
Why This Match Mattered: Last August, Velazquez suffered a neck injury and wasn’t sure if he would return to the ring. In January, he main evented the first Freelance show of 2018 and came into this match fresh off of a big win in the Freelance Rumble. The man he last faced in Freelance before his injury was the same man he would have to beat to become the only two-time Freelance Champion. Velazquez got the early advantage, but Corbin focused his attacks on Velazquez’s neck. Velazquez made a comeback and both men took turns trying to put the other away first with their own finishers and then with their opponent’s finishers. Only after Velazquez threw literally everything he had at Corbin could he get him down for the three count and the title. The story of the match and the in ring work were both great and this stands as my favorite match this year in Freelance. ****1/4
What’s Next: During the match, Robert Anthony joined commentary made it known he wanted the winner. Corbin will no doubt want a rematch. And Stevie Fierce may be the fan’s choice for the first challenger to Velazquez. He will have plenty of challenges if he wishes to finish the year as champion.
This show started hot, had a pair of very good matches in the middle and was capped with a great main event. With both Freelance titles changing hands and quality wrestling up and down the card, this is a very easy recommendation.