Pizza Party Wrestling
Wednesday, April 3
Phil Sheridan Building
Ridgefield Park, NJ
WrestleMania weekend kicks off with Pizza Party Wrestling, a collection of East Coast and West Coast indie favorites (and unknowns) working a slightly more adult joint on Wednesday evening. Pizza Party Wrestling is catering a bit more to the people who got those cheap Wednesday flights and the local NY/NJ crowd. The card has a mixture of things that sound really great to someone like me (see: the top three matches) and people I’ve legitimately never heard of. All said if I was coming to ‘Mania weekend, especially if I was coming early, this would be a show I would hit up, it seems like it will be a good time.
Russel K. Best vs. Matt Vertigo vs. Zacky Strutts vs. Champagne Douglas vs. Everett Cross vs. Van Valley
The weekend kicks off with the classic indie wrestling “six-way scramble” match—something that has existed in large quantities (for better and for worse) since the very first ROH show. Coming into this preview, I was unaware of any of these individuals, having never seen a match—though once seeing a YouTube video get recommended to me of Everett Cross taking on Jonathan Gresham a few years ago. A couple of Google searches and some cursory YouTube watching hasn’t really given me a huge clue on what to expect here (in fact, I can’t even find ANYTHING on Zacky Strutts or Champagne Douglas), but based on what I’ve seen, this seems like an opportunity for some of NY and PA’s current wrestling students to get seen by some new eyes. I don’t expect a work rate classic and suppose there will be a fair amount of comedy, but I’d love to see some huge spots. None of these dudes look like world-beating athletic freaks, but it could definitely still be fun if you’re into indie scrambles. I’d expect Cross or Valley to win, based on nothing other than the two having the most matches available online.
Faye Jackson vs. Brad Rush
I…don’t know how this is going to work and somehow that is super intriguing to me. Faye Jackson is a character and a half, most notably (recently) working with Stokely Hathaway around the country, but also is coming off an overseas tour. She’s wonderful in the character department rather than the super-work rate department, but I always enjoy seeing her. Brad Rush is a guy I’m not too familiar with, came up with the “Yarder” scene in the early 2010s with some other folks on this card, but doesn’t seem to have worked too regularly for the last few years. With Faye being in intergender, I would expect a comedy-heavy match, probably something short – and I’m ok with that.
“T-Flex” Ezekiel James vs. Tony Deppen
This match should actually rock if you like hard-hitting, indie style shit. James has worked both the East & West Coast with some regularity, and his gimmick of “Tyrannosaurus Flex” means he gets to work extra stiff. He’s pretty ripped, though not Brian Cage or anything and can throw around people of many sizes. Deppen is a dude who I’ve enjoyed a lot over the last few years, is constantly improving and really works MY ideal modern indie style – big, hard-hitting moves and acts like an asshole. He’s one of those guys that likely WILL break out in a big way in the next year or so, especially with the rapid removal of indie “stars”, but he’s a helluva character, he’s a helluva striker and personally, I hope we can get him into some bigger promotions in short order. I’m gonna with Deppen on this one but expect either insane chops, kicks or one (or both) of these dudes to land on their head a few times.
Street Fight: Sam Jude vs. Rory Gulak vs. KTB
This is an interesting match for a few reasons. Rory and KTB are two dudes who are just on the periphery of “indie darling”—Rory working a lot of the major indie promotions (and smaller ones) in just about any style. KTB kicks everyone’s ass, is in with GCW, will likely wind up in AEW someday and is legit GOOD (and from the Woods). Sam Jude, on the other hand, is another one of these backyard dudes, who I don’t believe has been super active in the last while, and when he was mostly seemed to work a brawling style. I expect him to get some shit in, probably use some weapons, for Gulak to stretch him and for KTB to wreck house. Who knows if this will be any good, or how these guys will work together – I’m going for the KTB win though.
Elimination Tag Team Match: Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) vs. Sass and Fury (Jeremy Leary & Skylar) vs. The Stepdads (Radley Belmont & Wade Krueger) vs. The Atlantic City Scoundrels (Duke & Vinny)
Gimmicks galore in this one. Similar to the opening match, this one is mostly a showcase for some local, lesser-known talents and recent wrestling school participants. Sass & Fury are a pretty fun, intergender babyface team, who I’ve only watched while writing this preview and quite enjoyed. Skylar takes it to huge dudes, gets beat up and keeps on ticking. The Stepdads are “The Rad Dad” and “Poppa Bear” and seem to mostly wrestle each other, the Atlantic City Scoundrels are a semi-comedy heel team that offer magic tricks and cheating tactics. The Ugly Ducklings, despite the look, are pretty fantastic in the ring every time I’ve seen them (including some great matches this year). They work a lot of the Southern & Atlantic indies and with a few tweaks could probably be a semi-large touring act. They will definitely carry the working load here and I would expect them to win – but hopefully get some of the smaller acts over in the process.
60 Second Iron Man Match: Dick Justice vs. Johnny Cockstrong
I like comedy matches, but I don’t like either of these comedy wrestlers. Since it’s a full-on gimmick match rather than a regular match, I’m happy.
Ophidian vs. Pizza Cat
Pizza Cat is (spoilers) – Shotzi Blackheart. Ophidian is Ophidian and I like both of these wrestlers a lot. Shotzi always shows off when she is in intergender matches and Ophidian is the king of “solid” on the East Coast indies. I don’t know if “Pizza Cat” requires Shotzi to work differently, nor have I actually watched too much Ophidian SUPER recently, but I expect innovative offense, forearms, big boots etc. This won’t win match of the weekend or anything, but it’s a perfectly acceptable (and even desirable) match for a card like this – somewhere between WRESTLING and comedy, it is what makes shows like this worthwhile. I’ll go with Pizza Cat for the win, because of the gimmick.
Robbie Eagles vs. Alex Zayne
If the rest of the card was a combination of some hard-hitting strikes, basic indie action, and brawling – this is the one to show off insane high-flying and daredevilry. Eagles are one of the busiest people of the weekend, getting at least 6 matches over the handful of days and building off his last year of working all around the world. I’m personally not the biggest fan of his style, but he’s clearly poised to big one of the next big things and a busy weekend like this should help matters. Alex Zayne is lesser known, but has been getting more bookings around the country and has the talent to become a major name in the indies soon. For you folks that like spotfests, wrestling like Ospreay and what not – this is the one to keep an eye on and could be a sleeper pick for an outsider, under-the-radar match of the weekend. I’d expect Robbie to get the big win here and in many of his matches this weekend but would love to see a dude like Zayne pull one out.
Daniel Makabe vs. Fred Yehi
Hell yeah – one of my most anticipated matches of the entire weekend, two of my very favorite people on the independent scene and a match that fans have been trying to book for about two years. Makabe is making his name recently in our wrestling circles, facing people like Tim Thatcher twice, Shotzi Blackheart and Negro fuckin’ Navarro. Yehi, maybe only behind Jonathan Gresham to me, is everything I want in a North American indie wrestler. He’s had opportunities in the bigger named indies, he works the smaller indies and he delivers most of the time. A strong man with insane scientific prowess. Imagine this to be worked on the mat primarily, for the two guys to grind each other down and bust out submission attempts you’ve rarely seen, before delivering huge strikes and head-drop suplexes. Makabe wants to prove that he’s one of the best technical wrestlers in the around and has a bigger stage (and main event) to do it against a guy many consider to legitimately be the best technical wrestler in the US. I might be hyping myself up too much, but the floor for a match like this is ***½, the ceiling quite a bit higher. For the folks who love both of these guys independently like me – we are salivating. Knock it out of the park, boys.