NOVEMBER 30, 2019
LOGAN SQUARE AUDITORIUM – CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
RORY STORM DEF. REILLY MCGWIRE
Storm wears a get-up similar to what Super Crazy wears which immediately makes him the favorite. Storm, as a whole, actually, has a great look. He looks like someone who can develop into a strong prospect one day. Storm won with a springboard ace crusher, similar to what Jay Lethal does for a finish, in 4:09. Neither man did anything spectacular, but I like the potential both men (but especially Storm) showed.
ACE AUSTIN & CLAYTON GAINZ DEF. TRAVIS TITAN & JAKE LANDERS
Clayton Gainz is “too swole to control”, which is the best tagline I’ve heard in ages. He strikes me as someone would get good very quickly if he worked with wrestlers way out of his league, but most of those wrestlers are under contract in places elsewhere. He really understands his gimmick. Bringing a blender bottle into the ring and then spitting his drink at an opponent is a nice wrinkle on something that’s been done a million times.
Austin and Gainz cut the ring in half and did most of their damage on Landers. It looked like the latter of the two was going to stop the bleeding when he did a nasty forward roll with Austin into the turnbuckle (essentially, both men ran into flipping onto their necks), but Gainz knocked Titan off the apron before a tag could be made. Titan amazingly followed that up by picking both of his opponents up and then dropping them with a Samoan Drop, and the Auditorium went crazy, as they should’ve.
His heroic effort was all for not, however, as he ate a Blockbuster/Hart Attack combo from the heels to ensure a victory. Really hot opener. Titan and Landers got an applause afterwards. I hope they’re brought back soon. ***1/4
HAKIM ZANE DEF. MYRON REED
Zane jumped Reed from behind to start this match. His lackey Karam joins him in the attack but their calculated attack soon backfires as Reed ducks out of the way of a chop, then lands a series of dives on the two. Reed is scary over in this building.
I don’t know how long this Zane act is going to work, simply because I don’t know if he can hang in the ring with the top guys in AAW, but it’s refreshing having this big of a heel in a company of this size. Even Sami Callihan splits the audience 50/50. Zane and his crew are hated by everyone in attendance in a way that, at least for now, is good heat. It’s the perfect foil against someone like Reed, who is relatively directionless, but still beloved.
Reed missed a springboard 450 and Zane was smart enough to roll him up immediately and steal the win. I want to see this guy get his ass kicked next month, so AAW and Zane have done their job tonight. Zane is the perfect foil to Reed and this match was the perfect way to officially kick off their run in the company. A really smart, well-worked bout between the two. ***1/2
KILLER KROSS DEF. JOSH BRIGGS
Kross is selling a tee with his name in the style of the Pancrase logo, so naturally, he wanted to out-grapple Briggs from the start. Both guys are so big that you’d want them to just go out there and hit each other as hard as they can, but instead, they go the grappling route and try to grind each other down to the canvas. Of course, then the two do decide to go blow-for-blow, the Logan Square crowd is into it because they’re one of the best crowds on Earth, but the fun is short-lived. Kross eventually submits him with a backdrop driver and a rear-naked choke. **1/2
CURT STALLION DEF. EDDIE KINGSTON
Stallion and Jake Something jump Kingston from backstage and brawl with him in the entryway. Stallion grabs a mic and demands that he wrestle someone who can actually go. Kingston, in the most Eddie Kingston way possible, crawls back in the ring and is attacked by Stallion again, this time as a part of the actual match. Stallion is so small compared to Kingston, but his offense, which consists of a lot of biting and stomping, works against the former AAW Heavyweight Champion.
I say that, and of course, he follows that by dropping Eddie Kingston as hard as he could off the apron. I’ve never seen someone take an apron bump like Kingston, I don’t really want to see anyone else take an apron bump like Kingston, but when he does it, it looks so awful and so painful and I kind of love it.
Kingston falls by way of a Curt Stallion headbutt, however, and trash fills the ring to follow. Between Zane, Stallion, Jimmy Jacobs, and Sami Callihan, AAW has a number of really good heels and I feel like that is worth noting. ***
JIMMY JACOBS $10,000 BOUNTY ON THE MASK OF GOOD BROTHER #3
GOOD BROTHER #3 DEF. NICK GAGE
Within seconds, Gage has taken a chair directly to the top of the head. His pop was one of the loudest I’ve heard in my many AAW shows and it’s the only time I’ve seen people run towards the entrance when he came out. Chicago is confirmed MDK all day. Gage Vader Bombing Good Brother #3 through a door is also a new personal highlight for me. Gage can do very little, but he’s so good at what he does.
The door wasn’t enough to do the trick, nor were the copious amount of chairs or the staple gun. It’s only fitting that at this point in the match, Nick Gage brings out a second door and a barbed wire baseball bat. Confirmed insane. Gage was met with another chair to the head as he swung for the fences, then was speared through door #2. Good Brother #3 uses that as fuel to survive, and an underhook DDT onto some chairs puts Gage away for good. Gage was the perfect guy to insert into this storyline with Good Brother, and this match lived up to the hype. ***3/4
AAW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
JOSH ALEXANDER DEF. ACE ROMERO
Alexander continues the theme of jumping people before the bell by superplexing Romero off the top for a quick two count. Romero quickly bounces back and lands a Pounce on Alexander. For a second I thought we were going to have a sub-five minute title match, but Romero is a big man with an even bigger heart. The Pouncing continues as Romero nails Alexander on the outside and sends him spiraling into the first row. I said this at the last AAW show, but AAW has successfully cultivated its own territory and Ace Romero seeming like a giant superstar in the Logan Square Auditorium is the centerpiece of that universe.
Alexander’s attempt to throw his headgear at Romero backfires and he’s quickly drilled by a lariat that I bought as a legitimate nearfall. Alexander recovers, though, and traps Romero in an ankle lock for his first submission attempt of the match. Romero escapes, but he’s weakened.
The shining moment of this match is when the champion and the challenger start hitting each other as hard as humanly possible. This is what I thought I was going to get in Korss vs. Briggs, it just happened to come a little later on the card. Alexander has established the fact that he’s dangerous over many years in AAW and various indies, and Romero’s size establishes him as a threat for obvious reasons. A threat he is, but he is no match for Alexander’s ankle lock, which secures a successful title defense for the Walking Weapon.
Romero falls short, as he should’ve, but this was the perfect title defense to start off Alexander’s reign. This was like a house show ROH Title defense in the Gabe days. Romero played the sacrificial lamb, as well as anyone, could’ve. ***3/4
AAW HERITAGE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
PACO DEF. JAKE SOMETHING
I feel like I’ve seen Jake Something beat up PACO a thousand times and amazingly, it never gets old. PACO falls into that rare category of wrestlers that should almost never win a match, because they’re better off for it, and this ass-kicking by the hands of Something falls right in line with how the rest of his career has gone.
For someone as small as PACO, his offense always looks great and tonight was no different. He’s an underrated chopper. He would’ve thrived in Dragon Gate’s King of Chop tournaments (PACO, in general, would thrive in Dragon Gate). A late kick out at two after a Something piledriver brought Logan Square to their feet, because yet again they figured he was down for the count. That makes sense. That’s PACO. Yet, somehow, someway, he manages to survive.
PACO survived long enough to hit a flurry of moves, capped off by a frog splash, for a 2.999 that once again had me buying it was the finish. This match hit a gear that I didn’t think it had. This went from a fun David vs. Goliath match to something legitimately great, and after a brief distraction from Eddie Kingston, PACO landed a Code Red and scored the biggest victory of his career.
This was incredible. This is what sets AAW apart from the rest of the indie scene. PACO is their guy and for him to have a moment like this is what a majority of the scene is lacking. Something put in the best performance of his life. I was fully locked into the idea of him winning this match. Instead, this was PACO’s night. This ruled. This is worth the price of the VOD alone. ****1/4
AAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
TREY MIGUEL & ZACHARY WENTZ VS. BESTIES IN THE WORLD
Before the match can start, Sami Callihan came out and attacked The Besties in the World. Callihan says he and The Rascalz represent the best wrestling company in the world: Impact Wrestling. He insists the crowd stand up and show praise for three signed talents. This leads to ACH coming out. He says “the upper echelon” isn’t as good as AAW and that Danny Daniels is the best promoter in the business. He challenges Sami and The Rascalz to a six-man.
ACH & BESTIES IN THE WORLD DEF. SAMI CALLIHAN, ZACHARY WENTZ, & TREY MIGUEL
This felt like one of those great Dragon Gate multi-mans in KoraKuen Hall. Lots of brawling on the floor to start, then loads of great tandem offense and dives throughout the rest of the match. This is a style of match that I desperately wish US indies would do more of. There was no irony to be found. Six-mans should not be used as a vehicle for comedy. This was a heated affair in every aspect, as it should’ve been. What separates this from bad walk-and-brawls is the fact that all of these guys know who they are as wrestlers. I can’t believe The Besties are still relegated to midwest shows and midwest shows only. They have the potential to be a major league act.
Of course, their interactions with The Rascalz were merely an appetizer to the full course meal that was ACH and Sami Callihan. The former didn’t miss a beat, which is impressive given that he’s only wrestled once since September, and the latter continues to be a vulgar beast who is the antithesis of everything ACH represents. AAW has nailed the foils this evening. Lots of great booking up and down the card.
This is one of the best matches to take place on the indie scene this year. It’s up there with the lucha six-man from PWG’s anniversary show and anything from Wrestlemania Weekend. ACH’s presence on the indie scene, for however long he’s going to be here, is going to be a valuable resource for companies like this. He brings the same star power that he brought before, but now he’s added a layer of legitimacy and motivation that that independent scene desperately needs. If he puts forth this type of effort in every booking, he’s going to easily revive what has been a struggling scene.
ACH and Friends win after an ACH Brainbuster in 16:11. This is what the scene has been missing. ****3/4
ACH says a lot of people don’t understand what “for the culture” means. He says that people have to understand that this (meaning the AAW crowd) is the culture. He says that billionaire companies can take all the talent they want, but indie wrestling is still going to survive and thrive. ACH says you can take your contracts and shred them and that he won’t sign another one. ACH says it’s Us vs. The Machine and Indie Wrestling vs. The Machine.
AAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
HAVOK (c) DEF. KRIS STATLANDER
Statlander headlining this show after making her first appearance on AEW Dynamite this past week is very cool. She’s fit right in on the AAW roster since debuting earlier this year and although she did challenge Callihan for the AAW Heavyweight Championship earlier this year, that was an open challenge, so I feel safe in calling this Statlander’s biggest match of her AAW career.
She was able to get more out of Havok than almost anyone I’ve ever seen before, but that’s not to say Statlander was working with a broom. Havok does her best work when she’s able to throw around her opponent and use her weight to her advantage. Really, Havok needs someone that is incredibly athletic, and Statlander fits the bill nicely.
Unfortunately, even fresh off of her Dynamite appearance, Statlander was no match for the AAW Women’s Champion. Statlander was rolled up at the ten minute mark and even after a post-match brawl between the two, Statlander leaves Chicago empty-handed. ***
The latter half of this show is the best few hours of independent wrestling that I’ve seen in the US this year. The ACH match felt particularly special and delivered not only as a “moment”, but as a great match. AAW’s booking, even as stars continue to leave the company, continues to be top notch. The elevation of Ace Romero, Hakim Zane, and PACO might not jump off the page to someone who’s never attended a show before, but in the world of AAW, these acts work to a tremendous agree. AAW’s Unstoppable was a terrific outing from top to bottom. Highly recommended.