? Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore…

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow ?

The brainchild of JR Goldberg (@wrestlingbubble), VOW Secret Santa sees all participating website contributors giving the greatest gift of all to their fellow VOW friends: a pro wrestling match!

VOW Secret Santa Archives: voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/columns/vow-secret-santa/

Four Way Lucha De Apuesta: LA Park vs. Penta El Zero M vs. Psycho Clown vs. El Hijo del Fantasma
August 25, 2018

Reviewed by Suit Williams (@SuitWilliams)

Gifted by Griffin Peltier (@HiImGriffinP)

I remember that I watched this show live on the night, but I don’t watch any lucha outside of Triplemania every year. I feel that I’m doing myself a slight disservice by having blind spots in wrestling. Now I know that no one can watch everything. Guys like Kraetsch, Lanza, and Meltzer watch way more wrestling than I do, and even they can’t get to everything. But I have that fear of missing out on something that I would greatly enjoy. Getting out of my comfort zone helped me get into BritWres, which led me to start reviewing shows. And while that whole BritWres thing didn’t work out in the end, it was pretty fun at the time. That’s why projects like Secret Santa are so cool, because there is the possibility of opening someone’s eyes to a completely foreign product that they really enjoy.

This match was the mayhem one can expect from a TripleMania main event with masks on the line. It had everything. Dives off the top of the cage, fireballs, mask tearing, and the cameramen missing Pentagon hitting a piledriver through chairs because two other guys were setting up a superplex. I’ll say this much. No matter how much plunder and nonsense gets added in, when the masks are on the line, you get into it. Park pins Fantasma to send him off to NXT in a hell of a fun time. Fantasma’s kid rules, that kid has a future in the biz if he wants it. There are a couple people into the lucha on this site, plus it doesn’t matter in the slightest if I’m right, so I’ll say Jack Beckmann gave me this one.

No Rope Barbed Wire Match – BJ Whitmer vs. Jimmy Jacobs
IWA Mid-South
April 12, 2008

Reviewed by Sean Sedor (@SASedor2994)

Gifted by S. Dakota Jones (@DakotaIbushi)

If I’m being completely honest, I was fully expecting to get another 90’s puro match for this year’s Secret Santa exchange. Now to be clear, I have zero issues with that (Japan saw SO MANY classic matches in the ’90s), but it became a pattern, and I was fully expecting that pattern to continue. To my surprise, I was instead gifted a Barbed Wire Match circa 2008, from one of the most notorious independent promotions of that era (and a promotion that’s still around today).

Of course, everyone knows about the history that BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs had in ROH during the promotion’s glory years. This included their run as a tag team (with Lacey as their manager), winning the (then) ROH Tag Team Titles (they weren’t World Tag Team Titles yet, if I recall correctly), and their subsequent blood feud that saw a number of wild brawls and insane stunts. The feud came to an end at Supercard Of Honor II in a Steel Cage Match, but I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that their feud carried over to independent promotions. What did shock me a little bit was the fact that this particular match in IWA Mid-South took place in April of 2008. BJ Whitmer had just left ROH a month earlier (and at this point was only a few months away from taking a long hiatus away from wrestling altogether), while Jimmy Jacobs was being pushed as one of the top heel acts in ROH as the leader of The Age Of The Fall. In a neat little trivia note, this IWA Mid-South event actually took place on the same night as ROH Injustice, which was in Edison, New Jersey.

With regards to the match itself, it was a violent spectacle, which is exactly what you would expect from a match involving these two. While the barbed wire looked thoroughly and totally unimpressive when I first started watching the match (the hard camera angle in particular made the barbed wire ropes look incredibly fake), my tone changed quickly as it got stuck into the bodies of Jacobs and Whitmer on a number of occasions. There was one really gruesome point where the referee was trying to get some barbed wire out of the back of Jacobs, and it was stuck in so well that it was pulling and tugging the skin on his back. It was the only moment in the whole bout that I found truly disgusting. Of course, with this being IWA Mid-South, there were some unintentionally funny moments, like the barbed wire board that appeared to only have wire on a third of the board (though maybe it was the camera angle), and the table failing to break twice on the finish. Don’t let those moments from the match as a whole though. These two put their bodies through a lot of punishment, especially for a show in an Illinois Rec Center in front of 200 people….and maybe that number is a bit of an overestimation on my part (should also mention that the show was so long that this match didn’t go on until 12:50 AM, per the commentators). Chairs, Tables, a Ladder, railroad spikes, and barbed wire in various forms (including barbed wire crowns) were all used at various points to inflict damage.

Jacobs getting hung upside down in the barbed wire and Whitmer giving Jacobs a piledriver off the apron, through a barbed wire table on the floor were definite highlights. What I also enjoyed about this match was that it gave us an entirely different dynamic in the Jacobs/Whitmer feud, as Jacobs was a face (while simultaneously being in the middle of his big heel run in ROH), while Whitmer was the heel (he also had some manager interfere on his behalf, but Jacobs quickly disposed of him). ****1/4 

Now as for who gifted me this match, I feel like I can narrow it down based on a few different clues. It’s an IWA Mid-South show that took place in Illinois, in the mid-2000’s (during or towards the end of the promotion’s peak), and the match itself is a hardcore brawl featuring two guys who were ROH stalwarts during that mid-2000’s period. I feel like it has to be someone who’s been watched wrestling longer than me, and someone who enjoys hardcore wrestling, IWA Mid-South, or both. My top two guesses are Kelly Harrass and Kevin Hare, and since this took place in the midwest, I’m going to go with Kelly.

The Briscoes vs. Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura
Ring of Honor
December 5, 2015

Reviewed by Jeff Martin (@HEATcomic)

Gifted by Sean Sedor (@SASedor2994)

I’m always excited for VOW’s Secret Santa, and even more so when I get a match I’ve never seen before!

This match was a shocking reminder of how much a hot crowd elevates the action. After nearly a year of no/limited crowds, hearing the fans packed into the ECW Arena going berserk for the Code of Honor was surreal. Nakamura got a louder reaction for not understanding that he was supposed to shake hands than he’s gotten since leaving NXT! Nakamura also worked about as hard as he has since leaving NXT, as has been his custom in tags throughout New Japan’s renaissance.

The bulk of the match is carried by Okada working hard and the Briscoes delivering the effort and intensity they always do. I haven’t seen a Briscoes tag in years, and had forgotten just how good they are. Jay Briscoe in particular brings a rare aura of legitimate dangerousness that amplifies the drama in his matches. As the action speeds up, the Briscoes show why they’re the best tag team in Ring of Honor’s storied history – their offence is quick, crisp, creative, and violent, with a real sense of urgency and escalation toward trying to put their opponents away. While often overshadowed by Jay’s intensity and his own goofiness, Mark Briscoe provided the highlight of the Briscoe brothers onslaught by absolutely crushing Okada with the absurdly named Froggybow. Unsurprisingly, Okada’s own flying elbow drop on Mark Briscoe later in the match landed a lot more heavily than usual.

Okada and Mark Briscoe were also the two men involved in the finish, with the Rainmaker sending Briscoe back to his chickens with a few less teeth.

This is a match that thrived on the live crowd’s energy, and that’s something I’ve really missed over the last year. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a match that was elevated by the crowd’s fire to this degree, and it was an incredibly welcome change of pace from 2020 wrestling. As far as my guess for who my Secret Santa was, I’m going to guess Sean Sedor.

Koji Kanemoto vs. BxB Hulk
June 1, 2007

Reviewed by Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling)

Gifted by Sarah Flannery (@SarahFlann)

My Secret Santa clearly knows me well as this match featured many things I love: Koji Kanemoto (the wrestler, not the human being), Best of the Super Juniors (currently doing a retro series on BOSJ over at patreon.com/voicesofwrestling) and BxB Hulk getting his ass kicked. 

Yes, despite being a long-time Dragongate fan, the one star of Dragongate that just never did it for me is BxB Hulk. From the first time I saw him in DGUSA to past shows I’ve watched right down to his most recent run as a member of R.E.D, Hulk just never did it for me. 

So when I saw that the prick of all pricks Koji Kanemoto was going to be in the ring with BxB Hulk, my excitement level was through the roof. I had never seen this match before but it went about exactly as I had hoped and desired. 

Kanemoto beat the living shit out of this punk. From the moment he walked into the ring until the moment he peered on the carcass of his prey, Koji Kanemoto beat the fuck out of Hulk. 

My Secret Santa also was wise to find me not only a match with a bell attack but a match with a PRE-BELL attack as Hulk jumped Kanemoto to get the early advantage. That would be the first of, oh I don’t know, two minutes of Hulk’s offense in this match. The rest of the 15 minutes was Kanemoto systematically removing the life out of Hulk’s body with stiff kicks, chops, punches and glares. 

Hulk, who was able to hit a few of his signature moves despite the attack, finally crumbled in a heap attempting to run the ropes. Kanemoto tossed Hulk with a belly-to-belly which Hulk no-sold resulting in a series of stiff slaps to the face, an ankle lock and the victory for Kanemoto. 

The best gifts aren’t always the “best” in a vacuum but the ones that have meaning and purpose behind them. That’s what this match and this gift was. It featured so many of the things I love and enjoy even if the match itself isn’t any kind of blow-away MOTY-level type match. 

I loved it. Thank you Santa.