JUNE 11, 2021

Watch: FITE


This opening six-man showcased the best of what each of these individuals had to offer. The babyface side of Leon, Reed, and Titan are all guys who do their best work in short, quick bursts of motion, whereas the opposing trio are all men capable of basing for big, high-flying moves and acting as glue guys when things get messy. With that in mind, despite the fact that these teams looked like Fire Pro Randomizer teams on paper, the match had an undeniable flow to it. 

Outside of your usual trio dives, fast-paced sequences, and strikes, there was a notable moment of creativity where it looked like both Zane and Titan were going to go for dives at the same time, only for both of them to put on the brakes and start swinging at one another. That looked great. 

Ace Austin was the star of this match, duking it out with Myron Reed for an extended period of time before eventually closing out the match with Travis Titan, who was no match for a double team combination between Austin and Fulton. ***1/4 

Titan, who is chiseled out of granite and looks like an All-American, lost his patience with mall-punk Dante Leon after the match. Titan gave him a brutal German Suplex before heading to the back. 


Davey Vega joining forces with John E. Bravo and Mike Hartenbower is the worst thing he’s ever done, which is saying something because Davey Vega is not a good man. 

This act is tremendous. I’ve been a personal advocate of booing Davey Vega for years and his partnership with Bravo gives me the perfect opportunity to do so. He destroyed Grayson in three minutes. Very entertaining squash. 


Allie Katch is also represented by Bravo and Hartenbower. Unfortunately, this match wasn’t as entertaining as the Vega squash despite being five times as long. 

I think these two worked hard, but I never found myself engrossed in the struggle of this match. They seemed to go from one spot to the next with no real sense of aggression, intensity, or fluidity to string the match along. It was merely a collection of spots, some of which were executed well (others not so much) that lasted for just over 15 minutes. 

I vastly prefer Allie Katch over Allie Cat. The unit that she now finds herself in with Vega and the aforementioned Bravo and Hartenbower is a naturally hateable unit that adds a lot of life to these shows. This match was a misstep for her, though. She crashed into a chair that was jimmied into the turnbuckles, giving Kay the win. **


This battle of men who are better known for their tag team work was easily the match of the night. 

I’ve screamed about Mat Fitchett for years. Dating back to his hidden gem singles encounter with Drew Gulak five years ago, I’ve touted Fitchett as one of the most under-appreciated acts in wrestling. He can talk, he can emote, and he can work. His in-ring outings as a tag worker alongside Davey Vega were terrific, but he has always shined brightest as a singles competitor. 

The intensity that he and Alexander brought to the table is not only something that has been lacking on the US indie scene for far too long, but all of wrestling could take note of the way that these two approached this bout. Every second of this 20-minute encounter felt like a fight. 

Early on, the match was driven by brutal strike exchanges. Alexander’s rock-like hands pelted the body of Fitchett and the smaller, slimmer Fitchett gleefully battled right back. A lot of this match seemed to be Alexander trying to out-alpha the scraggly Fitchett, but the two remained in lockstep the entire time. 

Past the halfway point, both guys began throwing bombs. Fitchett’s patented Liger Bomb wasn’t enough to put away the Canadian import. Alexander’s absurd crossbody to the back of a seated Fitchett on the apron also wasn’t enough to get the job done. 

The final minute of this match, which was keenly signaled by the timekeeper over the house mic, was electric. Fitchett had transitioned from looking to win to merely looking to survive. Alexander locked in an ankle lock, which Fitchett looked to have escaped with an Enziguri, but Alexander held on and deepened the hold. Fitchet clubbed away at the body of Alexander, doing anything he could to break the hold, but Alexander sat back and tried to snap Fitchett’s limb.

Fitchett survived. The bell rang. Both men came out of this match better than how they entered it. 

Go out of your way to watch this. ****1/4 

Ace Perry and Xavier Walker quickly interrupted the post-match celebration, claiming they could’ve easily beaten either man before the time limit expired. They laid out an open challenge to anyone on the roster. Russ Jones answered and quickly speared Walker, cueing Perry’s mad dash for the exit. 

AAW has a lot of yolked big guys on the roster right now. I fear they’ll all get lost in the shuffle because not a ton differentiates, say, Russ Jones from Schaff, but I should note that the pairing of Russ Jones and Chuck Smooth is terrific. They are almost a more charming version of Cyrus & Rhino. 


Manders & Justice fall in their first defense of the tag belts. Their reign lasted only 20 days. 

I can’t fault their effort, but this type of match does absolutely nothing for me. This was a paint-by-numbers walk-n-brawl that is seemingly a requirement for every Bourbon Street show. As is tradition, the camera lost track of the action as they brawled by the bar. I’ve seen both Manders and Justice be far more entertaining in plunder situations. That isn’t to knock the inFAMy duo, but my experience with them is far more limited. 

The third man of inFAMy, Robin Steele, attacked Matthew Justice, leaving him vulnerable to a piledriver through a chair that netted inFAMy the tag belts. They worked hard. **1/2 

Hakim Zane cut a promo backstage calling out Myron Reed for another shot at the Heritage Championship. He wants his match on July 11. 


Schaff is one of AAW’s many burly, mean-looking men. AJZ is a handsome, muscular man. This was, in many ways, a bizarre matchup. 

Clocking in at just under 10 minutes, this encounter was largely inoffensive with the high point being AJZ getting busted open at some point early on. It’s always a plus when a pretty boy bleeds. He tried to use the blood to inspire his comeback, but Schaff was simply far too big and powerful. He put AJZ out of capacity with his swinging reverse neckbreaker, a move that has not been kicked out of, per the commentators. **3/4 


God, this was so good. 

Yehi’s AAW run has been a home run on all fronts. AAW got themselves a credible, heavyweight contender to not only bring in a level of star power to their shows, but also a tremendous in-ring competitor who has consistently produced AAW’s best matches since he entered the fold. Garcia was the perfect combatant for Yehi. This is what a lot of people pretended that a lot of the hyped Grapplefuck era of EVOLVE was. Instead of sitting in a coma-inducing headlock for 15 minutes, though, these two actually had a match on the mat that resembled a fight. What a novel concept, right? 

Garcia continues to do no wrong on the indie scene. If I was a promoter that needed a hot match, I would simply be lifting what AAW featured here. Yehi scored a submission win in 11 minutes to conclude the war. Highly recommended. ****


This was Statlander’s second successful defense of the AAW Women’s Championship and her first since February 2020. 

Statlander cut a promo earlier in the night mentioning that while AAW was not her first home, she grew exponentially in this promotion. I concur with that statement. Statlander’s career progression can easily be tracked through her work in AAW. She came across like a huge star in her first AAW match since the early stages of 2020. 

Hyan looked strong in the biggest match of her career, notably gaining a close nearfall with a great spear, but Statlander was able to capture the victory soon after with The Big Bang Theory. This was a respectable outing from both women. ***1/4 


This victory marks Warner’s ninth defense of AAW’s big, gold belt. 

No match is more befitting of headlining a show called Crush & Destroy than this one. Warner, just as he’s done during his entire title run, sent the folks home happy with a satisfyingly violent brawl. If you picture a match between Mance Warner and Jake Something, this is likely what you pictured. Both men leaned into their strengths of taking punishment and showing off their ungodly strength. I particularly liked the spot where Warner set up two chairs in the ring to trade punches, otherwise known as The Necro Butcher Spot, but before Warner could wind up and club Something, the challenger ran right through the champion. Delightful twist. 

Towards the finish, Fred Yehi ran in and distracted Warner, giving Something the opportunity to spear the champion through a door. It looked like that could’ve been the finish, but Warner threw his shoulder off the mat just before the count of three. Warner fired back, eventually landing a bizarre, leaping DDT off of a chair in some quasi-Sabu-looking move, then DDT’d Something through a chair once more to pick up the win and retain his belt. Had this match been more compact, it would’ve found its way onto my spreadsheet. Instead, at 20 minutes, these two still put forth a very engaging main event. ***1/2 

Final Thoughts

The technical ability on display in both Mat Fitchett vs. Josh Alexander and Fred Yehi vs. Daniel Garcia makes AAW’s Crush & Destroy well worth your time. AAW has successfully navigated every roadblock the indie scene has presented to them over the five years. They became a super indie, transitioned to securing regional stars that truly matter to their own territory, found a way to run successful shows during COVID, and now, with Chicago fully opened up, AAW has hit the ground running as they return to normalcy. This is still the best booked, best produced, most intriguing promotion on the indie scene.