APRIL 24, 2021
ARENA GALLI – VILLA PARK, ILLINOIS
Watch: HIGHSPOTS WRESTLING NETWORK
ACE PERRY DEF. JAKE LANDER
These are two guys that represent the current heart & soul of AAW. Neither are superstars on the indie scene, but both absolutely deserve to have a bigger profile than what they currently have. Perry has been stuck in IWA-MS purgatory for a half-decade now, bizarre considering that he has a better all-around act than most wrestlers at his level. Now that he’s paired with big man Xavier Walker, they’re developing Aldi Diesel/HBK charisma. It’s beautifully sleazy.
Lander reminds me of an Animal Hamaguchi student, but he’s from Illinois and not Osaka. He tossed Perry around with some super impressive power spots early before Perry evened the odds through nefarious ways. The two went through a hot finishing stretch, ending with Perry rolling up Lander and getting his feet on the ropes for the victory. After the match, Walker chokeslammed Lander to add insult to injury.
I will always take a high-energy, smartly-worked opener like this. Well done from both men.
If you go back in time to 2016, I was raving about how AAW needed to push Mat Fitchett to the moon. He’s back in singles competition now and he wants the Heritage title. He cut a great promo promising to win the belt. So great, actually, that it made his tag team partner and former Heritage Champion Davey Vega a little uncomfortable.
Hyan claimed she has a doctor’s note preventing her from competing in a 2/3 falls match against Skye Blue.
SKYE BLUE DEF. KATIE ARQUETTE
Joe Dombrowski noted on commentary that Katie Arquette is a theater major. Wild that Arquette would advertise this, coming as someone that is also a theater major. Very brave thing to note.
Blue and Arquette played off of each other’s strengths. Blue, at her best, is someone that should be ragdolled around. At this stage in her career, I still have a hard time buying a lot of her offense (there was a spin kick in this match that looked particularly egregious), but Blue can sell her ass off and she has no issues bouncing off of a bigger opponent. Arquette isn’t a giant by any means, but she is noticeably bigger than Blue and they rightfully played into that. That led to a successful formula, with Blue eventually squeaking out the win with a standing Sliced Bread. **3/4
After the match, Hyan ran in and decimated Blue. Tremendous angle. Hyan looked vicious, Blue withered in agony. These two have been really strong additions to the full-time roster since AAW began running shows in the pandemic. Both have noticeably improved since last fall.
Hakim Zane said he’s the most underrated and disliked wrestler in the world today. He might be onto something there.
Brayden Lee was interrupted by Ace Perry and Xavier Walker in the midst of hyping up his upcoming AAW Heritage Championship match. The two appeared to have set up a rematch for a future AAW show. I loved what I saw from them the last time they wrestled.
MAT FITCHETT DEF. THOMAS SHIRE
I love Mat Fitchett. I think he’s a really, really good pro wrestler and this match against the debuting Thomas Shire was a proper showcase of his abilities. Shire is a beefy, burley man who dwarfed Fitchett in size. He controlled things early on, keeping things grounded and not letting Fitchett gain momentum. It’s the type of formula you would expect when looking at these two guys and it’s the type of formula that works time after time.
Fitchett’s initial comeback was thwarted after a frog splash attempt that saw Shire get the knees up (and then sell the knees, which I loved). The big man sent one-half of The Besties flying with a UFO, solidifying Shire as someone with Dumb Jock potential.
After a number of nearfalls, Fitchett battled back, landed a running knee to the head of Shire, and finally put him away. I loved the dynamic on display here, with the burgeoning Dumb Jock energy from Shire and Fitchett, who has a little bit of Redneck T2P flare to him.
This will all eventually lead to a program between Fitchett and Vega, which has been brewing for years and feels like something that could be a big deal within the AAW Universe. For as good as The Besties are as a team, a prolonged Fitchett singles run is something I’ve wanted for years now. I’m a huge fan of this direction. ***1/4
Fitchett announced he’ll be getting a Heritage Championship match at Take No Prisoners on May 7.
SCHAFF DEF. DAVEY VEGA
Vega interrupted Fitchett’s celebration, but didn’t share in the same success as his tag partner. Schaff destroyed Vega and dumped him on his head for the win. Somewhere, sick children are very satisfied with this mauling.
AAW HERITAGE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
MYRON REED (c) DEF. BRAYDEN LEE
This victory marks Reed’s first successful defense with the Heritage Championship.
Brayden Lee is my favorite new talent that AAW has started using in a few years. I’m stunned at the raw potential of someone who has only been wrestling for a few years. He didn’t jump off the screen at any of the GCW shows I watched over Wrestlemania Weekend, but GCW has become an environment where young wrestlers develop bad habits. Here, in AAW, Lee has been given direction from his debut and he’s riding that wave of momentum into a title match. I wish he would fall into the arms of CIMA, because he has freaky athleticism that isn’t totally reigned in yet.
Reed, who is amazingly a veteran on the indie scene now, has a similar issue, which led to some awkward and poorly timed moments in this match. I don’t anticipate a rematch happening, but if it did, I would assume those issues would be smoothed over. I liked the ambition from both of these guys. They were able to give this midcard title match a sense of importance whereas others have failed to do so in the past.
Reed won, as he should’ve. Lee held his own with an elder statesman in AAW. I think he has a world of potential. This was a lot of fun. ***1/4
HYAN DEF. SKYE BLUE
The show-long Hyan/Skye Blue saga is not only an indicator of how good AAW is at utilizing people to the best of their abilities, but it is also an indictment on how lazy indie wrestling has gotten in the post-Gabe era. On paper, do I really care about a 2/3 falls match between Hyan and Skye Blue? Not necessarily. But I’ve seen both women rise through the ranks in AAW, I saw Skye Blue get decimated by Hyan earlier on this show, and I watched Hyan sucker Blue into a match that never teetered on greatness, but it was easily the best performance I’ve seen from both women. This whole segment should be celebrated as a giant win for everyone involved.
Hyan is such a physically imposing wrestler and Blue is the perfect type of opponent for her. I mentioned earlier, in Blue’s first match of the night, how he is very capable of bouncing off of bigger opponents. She doesn’t need to bounce off of Hyan because Hyan brings an incredible amount of force with everything she does. She’s someone that always looks good, but tonight was the best work she’s ever done. The character work, the in-ring, and everything in between. Hyan’s stock continues to rise.
Blue is so close to being a very strong talent. She gets a little too ambitious at times. I hate the way she sets up her Code Blue finisher by running at her opponent and trying to do a 90-degree turn in the air to hit a Code Red. She attempted it here and it fell apart, which was the only major blemish on a match that was otherwise worked so intently.
Blue was working with one arm throughout the entire match and she did that tremendously. The fall she scored, a schoolboy pin on Hyan as she was reentering the ring, was not only perfectly executed, but perfectly timed in the match. The same can be said about Hyan’s two falls.
I really enjoyed this for what it was. To this point in both Skye Blue and Hyan’s career, this is the undoubted highpoint. ***1/2
FRED YEHI DEF. MATTHEW JUSTICE
Fred Yehi’s evolution, going from a stronghold of the grapplefuck era of EVOLVE to a charisma machine that can brawl with a clinically insane person like Matthew Justice, is simply incredible. Yehi’s run in AAW has not only given life to a main event scene that was struggling to find capable talent due to mass signing sprees, but it has revamped Yehi’s career in a way that I never expected. For a while, he was one of my favorite wrestlers on the scene. He seemed like someone that was destined for an incredibly bright future. Then, like many other things, he became a casualty of the FloSlam era of EVOLVE. Something changed in his game and he quickly fell off of my radar.
He’s now doing the best work of his career in AAW. I’ve never seen him work a match like this. Justice has consistently pulled greatness out of out-of-control brawls, a style that rarely lights my world on fire, and this was no different. Yehi had an animalistic approach that truly reminded me of Bryan Danielson in this environment – not to say that Yehi was as good as one of the best to ever do it, but his improvisational brawling style gave this match a sense of authenticity that walk-n-brawls can often lack.
The highpoint of this match was Yehi delivering a snap German Suplex that sent the back of Justice’s head crashing into an open chair. Disgusting.
Yehi submitted Justice en route to challenging Mance Warner for the AAW title. This was a tremendous last step before the title match. ***3/4
No one on the indie landscape is running shows as sensible or compact as AAW right now. In one show, we saw Brayden Lee get elevated, Hyan and Skye Blue put on a show-long saga, and Fred Yehi reestablish himself as the most deadly threat to Mance Warner’s AAW title. This doesn’t even mention the solid work that Ace Perry is doing on the undercard or the brewing feud between Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett. There were no nonsense scramble, no bloated matches, and no aimless booking. Everything had a purpose and a reason, and for that, this edition of AAW Alive is a surefire thumbs up from me.