There’s a lot to love about WrestleMania Weekend. Whether it’s getting to have wall-to-wall shows all weekend or seeing dream matches between wrestlers from all over the world, it’s a wrestling fan’s dream. Sadly though, between the ongoing pandemic and seemingly every wrestler getting signed, the dream matches are a bit lacking this time around. For me, one of my favorite things about Mania Weekend is discovering new wrestlers and finding the next big thing. These IWTV Family Reunion shows look like they’re going to be perfect for that. While I’m familiar with a decent amount of people on these shows, there are just as many that are going to be all new to me. Hopefully, between these two shows, we’ll find a new favorite. 

IWTV Family Reunion Part 1
Thursday, April 8
Tampa, FL

Watch: IWTV

Camp Leapfrog Presents
Boomer Hatfield, Boar & Erica Leigh def. A Very Good Professional Wrestler, Travis Huckabee & Matt Makowski

This was a match built around the generational conflict of AVGPW and his son, Boomer Hatfield. Unfortunately on this day, those two didn’t have very good chemistry, leading to several sloppy-looking moments in this mostly sleepy feeling opening trios match. It picked up down the stretch, but having a twenty-minute opener with a relatively slow start might not have been the way to kick off this weekend. Erica Leigh came out of this match looking the most impressive to me, showing good fire and selling very well. Solid match, but not an ideal opener. **½ 

Scenic City Invitational Presents
Daniel Makabe def. Jaden Newman

I think my favorite part of this match was how they worked Makabe’s ring rust into the story. It was clear he was a step behind where he would normally be, but even so, Makabe is still a tremendous wrestler. I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen Newman prior to this and he impressed me. He was very much influenced by ROH era Bryan Danielson, which made for a good matchup with Makabe. Ultimately, the match was decided by Makabe’s experience, allowing him to submit Newman. This was a really good match with simple storytelling that all made sense. ***1/4

Olde Wrestling Presents

Much like Judge Black, I would also enjoy sitting on a beach sipping some sweet tea, so he is my immediate favorite. This match was a ton of fun and there likely won’t be anything else this weekend like it. Olde Wrestling understands their gimmick well and totally leans into it. They do comedy wrestling right. Will Wrestle (fantastic name) spent the whole match trying to pick the Judge’s pocket and eventually took the man’s shoe. Judge Hugo was robbed here and I don’t know how this injustice was allowed to stand. It’s cool when comedy wrestling is actually funny. ***½ 

IWTV Title Contendership
Wheeler Yuta def. Adam Priest

And now for something completely different, this was a brutal ass-kicker of a match. It was the perfect follow-up to the wacky hijinks of Olde Wrestling. Yuta, who continues to get better and better, and Priest beat the hell out of each other. I thought this ran the perfect length, feeling like a struggle the whole way through. These two were incredibly smart with how they incorporated Yuta’s attacks on Priest’s shoulder into the finish. These two are some of the best wrestlers on this show and they had a hell of a match. ***¾ 

Paradigm Pro Wrestling Presents
Dominic Garrini def. Robert Martyr

Dom slapped the hell of out Martyr and choked him out. Okay there was other stuff too, but that was the basic story of the match and it was exactly what it should have been. Martyr had a good showing, but this was Garrini’s match. While I wouldn’t call this an amazing match, it was the perfect example of what kind of wrestling PPW offers. It was exactly what I want to see out of a show like Family Reunion. ***½ 

Hoodslam Presents
Funnybone, Nurse Ratchet & Super Beast def. Willow Nightingale, D-Rogue & James C

This wasn’t very good, but it’s Hoodslam, so quality wrestling isn’t really the point. If nothing else, Super Beast looks awesome.  

IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship
John Wayne Murdoch def. Jake Crist (c) 

In a very shocking result, we’ve got a new champion, but sadly the match didn’t deliver. For Crist having such a long reign as a champion, it’s disappointing to see it end in a rather boring match. This needed juice in both the literal and metaphorical sense. The final nail in the coffin was them totally overshooting the destroyer to finish the match, completely missing the door that was set up. I was looking forward to this one and it was by far my biggest disappointment of the show. ** 

Independent Wrestling Championship
Lee Moriarty © def. Edith Surreal 

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this match. It was cool how much of it was built around Moriarty attacking the abdomen of Surreal. That’s something you don’t normally see and I give them a ton of credit for being rather inventive. On the other side of things though, it never really felt like the match ever kicked into another gear. The pace was rather consistent throughout so there wasn’t really a beginning, middle, and end to the story. The finish of the match was sudden and it felt like the referee possibly botched the count, but it’s unclear. Both Moriarty and Surreal are good wrestlers, but they have a lot of room to grow and I’d argue that their relative inexperience led to the odd layout of this main event. These two have a much better match in them. **½ 

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IWTV Family Reunion Part 2
Thursday, April 8
Tampa, FL

Watch: IWTV

Started off this show hot by getting my time zones mixed up, which resulted in me missing the first two matches. Sounds like a missed a hell of a match with the New Texas Pro match, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that on VOD. 

MV Young & AC Mack def. Erica Leigh & The Boar, Jordan Blade & Eel O’Neal, and Jared Evans & Ashton Starr

New Texas Pro Championship
Mysterious Q © def. Ryan Davidson 

Action Wrestling Championship
Arik Royal © def. Marcus Mathers

Mathers gave it a good effort, but he got wrecked by Royal, exactly as it should have been. Good showing from both men in this short, but sweet match. ***

Big Starkz Brand Presents
Alex Kane def. Bryan Keith 

Both of these dudes have fantastic looks. Just seeing these guys enter the ring, I knew I was going to be into this match. If you’re like me, you love it when two big boys throw bombs and that’s exactly what this was. I’d never seen either Kane or Keith before today, but they have both made me a fan. THIS IS WHY I LOVE WRESTLEMANIA WEEKEND!!!! **** 

St Louis Anarchy Presents
Gary Jay def. Billie Starkz

There are few match setups I love more than a young blowhard taking on the grizzled veteran. Starkz looked really impressive here, holding her own against a heavy hitter like Jay. I was worried Jay would hold back, but boy howdy he sure didn’t. Starkz looked like she could have pulled out the win a couple times, but for the most part, Jay was in control of this. Jay’s dive into Starkz, knocking her into the chairs, was absolutely nuts, as was the DVD on the concrete that Starkz followed it up with. Gary Jay flies under the radar a lot, but he showed just how good he was here and Billie Starkz looked like a fantastic young prospect. ***½ 

New South Heavyweight Championship
Derek Neal © def. Cabana Man Dan

Now this was a FIGHT. These two went to war over that absolutely enormous title belt. Everything felt nasty, like they laid it all in with a little something extra. Derek Neal is another guy I’m going to have to keep my eye on from now on, especially after the post-match angle with Adam Priest. That’s a match I need to see. CMD and Neal were two other guys on this card with fantastic looks. You look at them and instantly know “oh yeah, that’s a wrestler.” Great match, well worth seeking out. ***¾ 

C*4 and Limitless Championships
Daniel Garcia © def. Kevin Ku 

This was quite possibly my most anticipated match of the whole weekend going in and it lived up to my high expectations. I love the technical, strike-heavy styles of both Garcia and Ku. This clash led to a very back and forth battle. Picture this match in your head and that’s what it was. They beat the hell out of each other. They tried to rip each other’s limbs off. They fought to their absolute breaking points. It felt different from everything else on this card. Just two of the best in the indie wrestling game going out there and showing what they do best. Garcia and Ku put on an early match of the weekend contender that you have to check out. ****½ 

A Very Good Professional Team (Daniel Makabe, Wheeler Yuta, A Very Good Professional Wrestler, Tre Lamar) def. Downey’s Irish Drinking Team (Dan Champion, Lucky 13, Jigsaw, Arik Cannon) 

This was a pretty fun main event, but if I’m being totally honest, I think I would have liked this more if its card placement was swapped with Garcia and Ku. No one really stood out here, it was just a bunch of (very) good professional wrestlers having a good professional wrestling match. *** 

Final Thoughts 

These were two incredibly enjoyable shows that succeeded in doing exactly what they set out to do. I love that to kick off the weekend we got what’s essentially a demo tape of the promotions on IWTV. Coming out of these reviews there are a bunch of new people on my radar. Jaden Newman, Alex Kane, Bryan Keith, and Derek Neal all stood out with great performances. If you’ve only got time for one match on these two shows, make it Daniel Garcia vs. Kevin Ku. If you have the time to watch both shows, definitely do it. They were both brisk, super easy watches. This was a great way to start Mania Weekend!