Each of the last four years, members of the VOW staff have participated in our very own version of Secret Santa. VOW Secret Santa sees our writers, reviews, podcasters and contributors giving a gift to one another… the gift of a wrestling match. Learn more about the history and purpose behind this project in this introduction piece.

VOW Secret Santa 2019 Archive


America’s Most Wanted (James Storm & Chris Harris) vs. Triple X (Elix Skipper & Christopher Daniels) Losing Team Must Disband Six Sides of Steel Match
TNA
December 5, 2004

Reviewed by Gerard Di Trolio (@gerardditrolio)
Gifted by Lee Malone (@Malone_713)

The early years of TNA are something that I have never really watched. However, I was an Elix Skipper fan from his days in WCW and his run in All Japan in 2002-2003 as Dark Guerrera/Extreme Blade.

The first thing I noticed in this match was that despite being in a cage, this was not initially a Tornado tag match, but that fact was basically thrown out the window in the first couple of minutes. 

Match started at a quick pace and never let up. Daniels even bladed in like the first two minutes.

Not being a TNA watcher, I assume that Triple X is the heel team? The handcuffed Chris Harris to the ring post and used the key to the handcuffs to work over James Storm. I did like how with the traditional tag format abandoned early in the match, that handcuffing Harris acted as a de facto hot tag scenario when he finally got free. 

Yes, the Huricanrana from Skipper on Harris from the top of the cage was an incredible spot. The Tower of Doom Suplex was less so because Daniels rotated over so it looked like he did not land right on his back. 

Handcuffing Daniels and AMW pinning Skipper with Triple X’s finisher the Power-Plex (Powerbomb & Neckbreaker combo) was also a nice touch that brought the match full circle.

This was a tremendous match that was 100% action that never let up. You got crazy spots, blood, and a story arc with the handcuffs. While I’m sure loyal TNA watchers who saw this whole feud thought this was amazing, I did too despite not understanding the whole background of it. I have absolutely no problem going the full ***** on this match, and I am a person reluctant to hand that rating out.

As for the guess as to who my Secret Santa is? While someone is maybe trying to swerve me, I am not smart enough to figure out who that might be so I will go with the safe choice of Garrett Kidney.


Power Uti Vs Super Festus
April 22, 2011
Continental Wrestling Alliance (CWA) International

Reviewed by Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling)
Gifted by Griffin Peltier (@Hollywd12)

My Secret Santa really wants me to get in trouble this year so let’s just get it out of the way now: Power Uti/Great Power Uti may have murdered his wife in 2017

In late 2017, John Eke Uti, was arrested and charged with murdering his wife and abandoning her body in his apartment. We have never found out what happened next. In December 2018, an account presumed to be Uti himself tweeted “innocent.”

The veracity of this Twitter account has been put into question but the timeline does match up. The once active @PowerUti stopped tweeting in October 2017, presumably when he was to be arrested. Who knows? I’m just glad whoever runs the account finally started tweeting again as his last pre-murder tweet was a reply to one of our tweets: 

 

Power Uti’s rise to semi-relevant prominence began with the match I’m going to review for Secret Santa, but his history goes back much further than that. Uti’s wrestling career spans decades and he even made appearances in America during the 1980s.

Uti gained more fame in Mick Foley’s autobiography Have a Nice Day where Foley tells the story of riding in a car with Uti and being stopped in Nigeria by military cops. Uti, who Foley describes as having no in-ring talent, shouted to the cops “I am Power Uti, the Nigerian Heavy Heavyweight Champion!”, the cops let the car pass. At a Nigerian hotel, Uti shouted to the staff “Give me butter, give me bread!” 

There’s a press conference leading to this once-in-a-lifetime encounter between Uti and Festus, should you want to watch it: 

Super Festus, is, of course, the current Luke Gallows. This match is from April 2011, so several months after Gallows was released from WWE. Gallows had quite a run with WWE from 2006-2010 including playing a fake Kane, Festus, a mentally challenged and unresponsive wrestler who could snap and become an unbeatable monster, then, a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society. When he was released Gallows was in the midst of a semi-face turn against Punk. 

Now, somehow, someway (god only knows), he’s here in Lagos, Nigeria to face the country’s Hulk Hogan. 

Gallows is billed as being not Festus, now Drew Hankinson (real name) or Keith Hanson (which he wrestled as in Inoki Genome Federation) but rather SUPER FESTUS. What made this Festus Super? I don’t know… and I don’t care. 

Uti plays himself to the ring with a saxophone which is some powerful energy that puts him at an early advantage. There are two belts on the line in this match, one is Uti’s CWA Heavyweight Championship which is very clearly not the same belt they showed at the press conference. The other appears to be a replica of the WWE Championship. While Festus was never a WWE Champion there’s certainly no rule that says you can’t defend a replica of said championships so, I’m cool with it. The referee is a very white man, like quite literally he’s caucasian wearing white basketball shorts, a white t-shirt and bright white ASICS running shoes. I came to find out in my research that this referee is actually a past guest of the Voices of Wrestling Flagship podcast: Micah Taylor. Small world. At first glance, Taylor looked a lot like Rob Feinstein so I was going to say Feinstein was only the second-biggest criminal in the ring but now I can’t make that joke. 

The match is clipped which is a real tragedy since we likely missed bouts of riveting action between Festus gauging Uti’s eyes, Festus stomping on Uti and Uti not moving. The stunned silence of the seven Nigerian men in attendance is the soundtrack to this epic encounter. Uti bounces Festus off the ropes and hits him on the top of the head with his fist. This is enough to put down the current WWE Replica Champion as Uti wins the hard-fought torridly-paced match. The seven men in attendance pop huge at the finish. Uti then goes to the outside to bring some type of card into the ring. He headbutts Festus as the sound of a police car blaring in the background.

Who says pro wrestling isn’t art? 





Akira Hokuto vs Shinobu Kandori
AJW
April 2, 1993

Reviewed by Griffin Peltier (@Hollywd12)
Gifted by Kevin Hare (@stan__hansen)

I try to watch as many different wrestling styles as possible, be it classics or modern stuff, but classic joshi is something I’ve always wanted to watch but never end up having the time to do so, so I am excited to watch this one.

This was hot from the start! The crowd was electric and the physicality was on display from the opening bell. I really enjoyed Kandori always going back to work on Hokuto’s arm. A lot of the spots in this were brutal and Hokuto’s crimson mask was tremendous. One thing I always love about blood in wrestling is how it enhances a story through visuals alone. In this one, Hokuto’s hair was stained red by the end of the match. That, along with the ring mat being covered by blood by the end, adds so much to the idea that a wrestling match is an all-out war between two competitors.

I really enjoyed the two different wrestling styles at play here. Shinobu Kandori seems to have a direct strategy to win the match, whereas Akira Hokuto is just fighting back with everything she has. Hokuto has the crowd behind her and is not willing to give up despite the absolute beating she takes. Her willingness to power through the pain is inspirational. Kandori gives it her all too, and this is a fight for survival by the final few minutes of the match!

The last few minutes were my favorite part of the bout. Both women are trading big moves and hard hits back and forth in an attempt to break the spirit of the other. HEAD DROPS! REVERSAL HEAD DROPS! I love how the end of the match mirrors the start: a simple punch from Akira Hokuto that drops Kandori! The visual of Hokuto desperately crawling into the cover is tremendous, putting an exclamation mark on just much this match took out of her!

This was fantastic! Between the crowd engagement, the moves in-ring, and the story-telling, this match was pretty well perfect. I would give it FIVE GOLDEN STARS. I want to thank my Secret Santa for gifting me this match this year, as for who that may be, I want to say it was Kevin Wilson but my heart is telling me to choose Taylor Maimbourg instead! Happy Holidays to everyone!


The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman, The British Bulldog) vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk)
WWE
July 6, 1997

Reviewed by Tyler Forness (@CCSTheRealForno)
Gifted by Andrew Rich (@AndrewTRich)

In the early part of my childhood, I wasn’t allowed to watch wrestling. In the ’60s, my uncle used to pester my mom with holds and piledrivers so my brother and I were not allowed to watch it. However, when I was 13, I discovered my love for professional wrestling when I saw my first SmackDown match in 2003: John Cena vs Eddie Guerrero in their infamous parking lot brawl. Because of this, I missed the entire Attitude Era.

Once I became a fan, I spent quite awhile watching a lot of the classics from the era. From Hogan/Andre to Austin/Michaels, there was a lot that I really enjoyed. Having missed the entire era though, some classic matches were bound to fall through the cracks, including the 10 man tag team match from 1997.

One of my favorite matches of all time is Bret Hart/Steve Austin from Wrestlemania 13. The intensity, grit and the perfectly executed double turn encapsulates everything that is great in pro wrestling. When the captain Rich Kraetsch told me this was the match I was gifted, he was shocked that I had not seen it, so I took his advice: I made myself a nice dinner, cracked a beer and watched the match.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how over the Hart Foundation was. Is there anyone more over than a Hart in Calgary? This match was an all-out war and it absolutely ruled. The exchanges between Bret and Austin were excellent early on. It feels really weird to see Stone Cold booed, but nobody was going to get cheered over the Hart’s on this night.

In the middle part of the match, Stone Cold took out Owen Hart by continuously wrapping his knee around the ring post, seemingly knocking him out. Shortly thereafter, Bret did the same to Stone Cold, which felt like it would lead somewhere. All ten of these guys got time in the ring and nothing felt forced. 

The finish was really well done. Austin and Owen came back to the match and in classic Austin fashion, he doesn’t care who you are and attacks the Hart’s sitting ringside. They refuse to take his crap and jump the rail to go after him. After getting thrown back into the ring, Owen rolls up Austin for the 3 count. Austin threw a fit attacking multiple members of the Hart family before getting handcuffed and taken out of the ring. The show goes off the air with upwards of 50 members of the Hart family celebrating in the ring. Easy ****½ from me.

Being the new guy on the site, I am not sure who would have given me this match. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say Sean Sedor, but I really have no clue. Whoever sent it did a good job sending me something I would enjoy.