No Holds Barred Vol.11: Then & Now
Thursday, April 8
8:00 PM
81Bay Brewing

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.

I have a really mixed relationship with ICW: No Holds Barred, or ICW in general. On one hand, their drive to provide totally gruesome deathmatch wrestling in seemingly any location and their trials at a new gimmick (Pit Fighter) are something to be proud of. On the other hand, the inconsistent quality of their shows, the seeming disregard of COVID-19 in their venues and more really throws me off. I had a handful of “notebook” matches from the promotion in 2020, but I also voted it Worst Promotion of the Year in the Wrestling Omakase awards. Maybe this is just me being inconsistent, that could be true—but what they have booked for this WrestleMania weekend is pretty fun amongst their 4 shows, and perhaps the one that looks the most fun takes the idea of taking wrestlers from the not so distant (but unfortunately, often forgotten) past and pairing them up with some of the major names on the indies today.

Oh, and they have booked New Jack and The Carnage Crew in the main event. And Scott Andrews for something! Don’t know if it’s wrestling, but anytime Scoot is on a show, you’re going to get my eyes.

This show could be a complete trainwreck, but it could also just be a hell of a lot of fun. I’m hoping for the latter.

Jon Davis vs. Dom Garrini

Jon Davis has been booked quite a bit over the past year, often missing shows or disappointing when there, but there is always this hope that he is going to really deliver whenever he’s booked, because for my money, he’s someone I really loved in those early 2010’s indies. Garrini as his opponent is a really great choice. Davis will be larger and work stiffer, but Garrini excels when he’s working in a more “Deathmatch Dom” way. Garrini is known as a technical wrestler, but really excels when he’s allowed to have plunder matches—and this is ICW, so hopefully, these two just go out there and beat each other up.

Brandon Kirk vs. Danny Demanto

I’m not in love with Brandon Kirk as far as current American Deathmatch guys go, but he definitely has the charisma and skill there at any moment, it seems like he could be THE NEXT big name in the style. He works primarily around the Northeast and is totally solid for the style, plus he is better looking and more athletic than a lot of his contemporaries, but for whatever reason, the dozen times I’ve seen him, I always leave thinking he’s good. I want him to be great. Danny Demanto is someone I only know through recent research and showcases on IWTV, as I wasn’t watching American Indies in the mid-aughts and especially not JAPW. He is a classic 2000s indie worker, rocking the singlet, big but not ripped and willing to just about do anything. He has a tremendous moveset for a guy his size, although I don’t know how much he’s pulling off in 2021, and throughout his career was able to take insane, ECW-like bumps and beatings. This should be a match with a lot of personality and a lot of blood.

Steve Madison vs. Lee Moriarty

Madison is a name I’m familiar with, but not someone that has really been active in my time paying attention to the NA indies. According to Cagematch, he’s only had about 25 matches in the last 10 years, a number that some people will approach during this weekend alone. I know he’s worked the West Coast (including against Stephan Bonnar), and some shots in IPW Hardcore, but other than some apt Youtubing, he is a guy that I haven’t seen much of from the past. Moriarty, what more needs to be said about him? He’s one of the best wrestlers in the world at this point, able to work with seemingly anyone, whether as the technical ace, quick underdog or slick babyface in peril. This will be a match of strength vs. quickness, where Moriarty will try and use his holds and speed to maneuver around Madison, but Madison, the aged vet will use his strength and experience to overpower Lee. Moriarty has a LOT of matches this weekend, against some amazing opponents, but this one has gone under the radar. Don’t be surprised if this really delivers by the time the show ends.

Dan Maff vs. Calvin Tankman

This is low-key one of the matches I’m most excited about in the entire weekend. Am I setting myself up for disappointment? Probably, but this could also be everything I hope it to be. I’ve soured on Tankman in the last few months. He came out HOT in 2019 and continued that into early 2020, but for my eyes, hasn’t progressed a ton (and has even slightly regressed in many ways). I’m glad he’s getting pushed in MLW, because he has a tremendous look and I do genuinely believe the guy could be a star, but I’m often left wanting. Dan Maff on the other hand, has had a really surprising last couple of years. He’s been working frequently, in various promotions and he’s still the same ol’ big as fuck Dan Maff that he’s always been. I was impressed with his time in ROH, I have really liked him in ICW, I don’t know—he’s just a throwback in a style that is hard to screw up. This is just gonna be a lot of punching, some crazy slams and two huge dudes crashing around. Notebook match? Probably not, but should be fun as hell.

Justin Kyle vs. Bruce Santee

Admittedly, I haven’t been keeping up with the ICW Pitfighter series, so I haven’t seen the first two matches these two had against one another, but they are entering this match 1-1. They are also basically clones of one another. Bruce Santee has been around forever at this point, seriously, it’s gotta be like 20 years and still looks huge and ripped and like he will kill anyone in the audience. He’s truly “Florida Man” personified. Kyle is a relative newcomer that is also huge and bald and scary and works probably more stiff than his opponents prefer and has only started to get some bookings in various places (despite not having a Cagemath profile). Kyle is one of my favorite indie wrestlers going right now. Not good in the traditional sense, he’s the type of guy that would’ve been scooped up by TNA or WWECW immediately 15 years prior. He’s strong as fuck and looks essentially like the little brother of Nathan Jones. Being the third match in a series between two ANGRY dudes, expect this to be sloppy and hate-filled and to not go very long. Also, expect at least one completely nasty bump here. If you’re a real sicko like me, this one should be on your radar.

Jake Crist vs. Nolan Edward

Nolan Edward is on seemingly every single show this weekend. It’s probably deserved, because there might not be a single more exciting or versatile talent on the indies right now than Edward. I don’t use the term lightly, but the kid is approaching near “prodigy” territory. He’s great at deathmathces, he’s great at Bloodsport matches, he’s great at brawls, at epics, he’s great in gimmicks and on the mic and he has a cool look. This is a kid who clearly loves wrestling, loves independent wrestling and has set his mind to be the best in the world. He’s not there yet, but talk to me in 3-5 years and it would not be surprising if this is THE GUY. Crist, for his part, though not my cup of tea, has been putting in really solid work in IWA-MS as their champion. He defends the belt on virtually every show and can often get something out of all of his opponents, whether they are good wrestlers or not. I expect this match to get bloody, but not really be worked as a deathmatch. It should be good, solid, stuff.

Tony Deppen vs. Daniel Garcia

The last time these guys fought was when Deppen defeated the dominant Garcia during the Beyond Wrestling Discovery Gauntlet. During his run as the holder there, Garcia became a name that people outside of the NE finally got to see and fall in love with—a truly tremendous run. The match with Deppen, a wrestler that can have good matches with just about anyone, was the worst of the run, however. Here’s hoping these two can remedy that. Both have been on a bit of a hot streak, both have done work in bigger promotions (Deppen is now in the biggest angle in ROH, Garcia has worked AEW and NXT), and both are two of the best all-around wrestlers in North America. I think both guys will probably have better matches throughout the weekend (I really expect Garcia to be the de facto MVP), but the floor for this one is like three and a half stars, which says a lot.

The Rejects (Akira, John Wayne Murdoch & Reed Bentley) vs. New Jack & Carnage Crew

New Jack, HC Loc & Devito in 2021. This is insane. There is very little chance that this is great in the traditional sense and a very high chance that this is great in the way myself and others want it to be. John Wayne Murdoch is the face of ICW:NHB, having won something like 17 matches in a row, since the very first NHB show. He also happens to be probably my favorite or second favorite worker in American Deathmatches. Bentley and Akira are no slouches either. Akira has been working more traditional matches here and there, but he really excels in the deathmatch realm, willing to put his body on the line. Bentley is just a traditional badass, ready to die at any moment. This is going to be a crazy main event one way or another.

This is one of my most anticipated shows of the weekend just because I have no idea what to expect. 

On a weekend where a lot of similar wrestlers are being paired in new combinations, ICW has done a great service in pulling some somewhat obscure names from the past and showcasing them here. Workrate-wise, it won’t likely end up the show of the weekend—but it might wind up the single most fun.