Action Wrestling & Southern Underground Pro’s Have Fun Be Sad
Friday, April 9
12:00 PM
81Bay Brewing
4465 Gandy Blvd #600

Watch: IndependentWrestling.TV

NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wrestlers may be removed from shows due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure, so cards may be different than what is previewed below.

On the recently released audio preview of WrestleMania weekend, myself (along with almost every guest) announced that VxS’s “Lucid Dream” was the sleeper show of the weekend, one that had enough interesting matchups that no one was talking about. I didn’t claim it to be my single most anticipated show of the weekend, but had hopes of it being a surprising one.

My single most anticipated show of the weekend? SUP and ACTION giving Violence is Forever the book and putting on “Have Fun, Be Sad”, a true showcase of two promotions I’m all in on.

So often, with Mania weekend shows, promotions book supercards, bring in outside talent and are working to just get new eyes on their product. This is admirable and makes sense in a sense, and it obviously worked for promotions like Game Changer Wrestling in the past, but one thing I love about this show, is that it really is working in continuity of the two tightest booked independent promotions in the US. 

For those unfamiliar, you can really link these two promotions together. They are their own and have their own talent, but ACTION (out of Tyrone, Georgia) and SUP (out of Nashville, TN) share some personnel, have shared champions and really are best viewed when you are keeping up with both products at the same time. When I describe them to people who aren’t familiar, I often consider ACTION to be the more family-friendly promotion. It is slightly more traditional in approach, it’s brighter, you see kids in the crowd. It feels like a true throwback to Southern Indies. SUP is the grown-up version, taking place in the Basement East, a dark venue where beer taps are often in the frame. SUP is a little edgier, features a ring announcer who barks at you without a microphone and just feels like being a part of something cool. Both are tremendous and with SUP just recently returning, both are must-watch every time they put a show out.

This combined card for the weekend features matches of some of the top talent on offer, some outsider (JUICE AND FINLAY), some continued storylines and showcase matches and matches that have been delayed for years. If I had to choose ONE SINGLE show to watch this weekend, even if it doesn’t wind up being the best when all is said and done—this would be the one.

Adrian Alanis vs. Rob Killjoy vs. Graham Bell vs. Jaden Newman vs. Damyan Tangra vs. Liam Gray vs. Bobby Flaco

Just added under the wire, this 7 person scramble features talent that is regularly featured in these promotions that didn’t have a strong option for the main show here. Alanis and Gray are part of The Skulk and are truly one of my favorite tag teams going right now. Obviously, they aren’t quite AR Fox and Leon Ruff, but they are consistently solid, athletic guys who do bust out some really unique combination moves and get a lot of heat in ACTION. Killjoy is a member of the Ugly Ducklings and is one of the best, most insane bumpers in the world. That guy will put his body through anything. Graham Bell has a look I despise (comes out with googles, a bazooka and wears military fatigues), but is always surprising in the ring. He has decent size, throws stiff kicks and can work against just about any sized or skilled opponent. Newman, I’ve talked about before as someone who is steadily improving both his in-ring skills and character work. He has been working very heelish lately (he was banned from ACTION but just returned), but most recently in SUP put in a bit of a babyface performance against Brett Ison. He’ll be working heel here and is my pick to get a sneaky win. Damyan Tangra is my ONE TO WATCH. This guy jumped up on my radar in the last few months, having consistently some of my favorite matches in both promotions. He works a technical style, pulling submissions out of anywhere and is incredibly smooth for someone so young in the career. Flaco feels like he’s been around forever and is a true throwback babyface in the South. He can pick up a win over anyone and is always up for one HUGE spot in a match. This should be a really fun, high-energy scramble that won’t go more than a handful of minutes.

O’Shay Edwards vs. Jon Davis

Originally scheduled for last year’s Mania festivities, O’Shay and Jon Davis are finally going at it this year. O’Shay is a guy I wasn’t sold on for years, despite his obvious size. I felt he was overpushed for a long time in the indies, or just needed some fine-tuning, and while I don’t think he’s best in the world caliber yet, he’s certainly become one of the best, most convincing big men in all of wrestling—to the point where I go out of my way to watch just about everything he is in. One of those big men who actually works like one, which is such a breath of fresh air. Jon Davis having a recent comeback is fun, but I don’t know how well these two will work. Ideally, this is just like 5 minutes of two dudes shoulder checking each other, hitting spears and really impressive suplexes. Definitely going to be a fun big man battle, and if O’Shay can pull off the victory, that would be a really good move for him story-wise.

Logan Reed vs. Alex Kane vs. Manders vs. Derek Neal

Sticking with the HOSS battles, 4 more behemoths face off here, with a bit of a story involved. Manders and Derek Neal have been going at it on the most recent 3 SUP shows, costing each other wins. Neal, the New South champ is having a bit of a late-career resurgence and has really impressed me as like this throwback, standard big dude who has all the fundamentals down pat, from character work to transitions and really carries himself well. Manders, who had an incredible run as one of the de facto best newcomers over the last 2-3 years hasn’t exactly slowed down recently, but has had his momentum thwarted just a little bit. He’s still one of the more exciting young wrestlers on the indies and almost always delivers. Expect these two to really go at it, furthering their angle and canceling themselves out of the match. This leaves Logan Creed, who MAY OR MAY NOT be a certain scary masked wrestler in MLW and is truly one of the biggest guys in wrestling and Alex Kane, who for my money is perhaps THE prospect right now and is being booked like it. Kane can suplex basically anyone, has a great look and has the biggest upward trajectory—expect him to take the win here.

The Good Hand (Suge D & Kevin Ryan) vs. SUP OGs (Brett Ison & Cabana Man Dan)

I smell shenanigans here. Suge D has been putting in tremendous heel character work here early in 2021—dismantling opponents, interrupting matches, cutting promos, and developing a near cult-leader persona, and it’s been really really good. Kevin Ryan is a young guy who he destroyed in a match, but then took under his wing. Ryan is a really good brawler, who could be great in a few years. On a recent ACTION show, they tied Brett Ison up in the ropes with duct tape and tortured him in the ring. It was the type of angle that drew tons of heat and is rarely seen these days. Suge is a truly detestable heel in ACTION right now, and he’s playing it perfectly. With my tinfoil hat, however, I’m looking at Cabana Man Dan—who has been slowly developing a slightly heelish, “chip on the shoulder” personality, where he is wrestling a bit more vicious and taking a handful of shortcuts to secure wins. Don’t be surprised to see him turn on Ison here, and whether or not he joins up with Suge, this could be the start of a really exciting and renewed feud in SUP in the coming months.

Adam Priest vs. Matt Makowski

Two ripped technically minded wrestlers who have improved tremendously over the last year going at it one-on-one? This match has a high floor, especially for those of you who don’t require HIGH SPOTS in your wrestling. Expect lots of stiff strikes, sick submission and a real fight feel. Makowski is a bit bigger than Priest, but Priest can go toe to toe with just about anyone. If this match was taking place in any other promotion, I’d go with Makowski, as he’s truly becoming one of the most positively booked guys on the indies, but Priest is a big deal in both SUP and ACTION and a win over this impressive guy could really propel him into the main event scene. I’m going with Priest here, but this match should be excellent.

Myron Reed vs. AC Mack

This is a fun little exhibition match here. AC Mack has semi-recently become a face after terrorizing both promotions for years. He’s still one of the absolute best talkers in all of wrestling, has a great look and is able to have compelling matches with anyone, whether working from on top or just using his smarts to find openings. Myron Reed is one of the most talented wrestlers working, but is someone who I’ve fallen out of favor with in the past year or so. I prefer Myron as the plucky, athletic babyface, doing insane shit rather than the current incarnation, even if it works to get him booked more places. No idea on the winner here, but would go with Mack since Myron isn’t afraid to drop falls, but should be a pretty fun one.

Unsanctioned Match
Nolan Edward Vs. Angelus Layne

Nolan Edward, perhaps the single brightest prospect on the indies right now, was gifted the chance to name his opponent for this show and chose to reignite his feud with Angelus Layne, whom he worked a match against last year. Being unsanctioned and both wrestlers being a little bit insane, expect this to potentially be a match with a bit of blood. If not, expect weapons, brawling on the outside, tables or doors and more. Layne is a fun women’s competitor, who for my money is better than a lot of others who get booked around the country and Edward, over the last year, has shown that he can work with anyone and really excels in hardcore and deathmatch settings. I don’t expect this to go full balls-to-the-walls violence, but it should be the biggest, nastiest brawl of the show.

Arik Royal vs. Daniel Makabe

A match “three years in the making”—having to go through promotions closing, injuries, and the pandemic, FINALLY we get to see the PNW’s own Daniel Makabe go one on one with the newly crowned ACTION champion, Arik Royal. These are two dudes who deeply respect each other and wrestle a completely different style. Royal is a good technical wrestler, but because of his size, really excels at the big-man, bruiser style. He’s not exactly basic, but he gets a lot more out of basic holds and throws than other wrestlers. Makabe is obviously known as a technical wizard and makes it his goal to tie up all of his opponents. Royal is going to be one of the bigger wrestlers he’s faced, so he might struggle a bit here, but I have zero doubt this will be a banger. The thing to take into account is that Makabe is actually a lot bigger than most people think, well over 6 feet tall, he just works a style that many smaller guys work. Lots of people have been anticipating this match for years, so the guys are going to go out to impress.

SUP Bonestorm Title
AJ Gray vs. JD Drake

Anytime JD Drake is involved in a match, you have a potentially “match of the night” or “match of the weekend” possibility. Coming in, as someone who isn’t really a SUP regular to challenge AJ Gray for the title, and having found a groove as a newfound “star” in the smaller AEW shows, there is potential for Drake to deliver a truly vintage Evolve-style masterpiece. Gray is no slouch, obviously and is one of the biggest stars on the indies. He has his own show this weekend, is a safe pick to win GCW’s Acid Cup, holds the title here and is featured basically everywhere. AJ doesn’t always deliver for me, but when he’s up against really good opponents, he typically busts his ass, which I expect here. Two big dudes who can throw lariats as well as anyone, but aren’t afraid to come off the top—this should be a blast. I expect AJ to get the big win here as he’s the regular.

Violence Is Forever (Kevin Ku & Dominic Garrini) vs. FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson)

Man, what the hell! This is such a dope match. Two of the best tag teams in the world (I truly put Violence is Forever in that conversation), just going out there and hopefully beating each other senseless. I have no idea what to expect from FinJuice in an indie setting, but I’m truly hoping that they don’t hold back and instead go the opposite route—showing us big time geeks that they are elite workers, as we know they can be and just putting on a showcase. This is another one of those matches that could have Match of the Weekend talk at the end of the weekend, as long as everyone is working to their abilities. The interactions between Juice and Ku in particular have me incredibly hyped. A super fun way to end what should be a great show and a match which could go either way with the winner. No holding back, boys, go hard. 

If you can’t tell by now, Have Fun, Be Sad has the potential to be one of, if not the single best show during Mania weekend. Even when SUP and ACTION aren’t delivering true MOTY type shows or matches, they have smart booking, matches that don’t overstay their welcome and wrestlers that work harder within those promotions than they do outside of them. This show should be an absolute blast and is one you should have circled.