AUGUST 7, 2021



Shane Mercer has been floating around the Ian Rotten universe for years now. I’m amazed that he’s just now landing in AAW, but he was worth the wait. He’s yet another jacked-up, muscle-freak that has found their way into Chicago’s top indie. Isaiah Moore was able to shine with a big dive to the floor, but Mercer was the clear star of this match. His big moves look devastating and his aura is threatening. He’s someone who I could see progressing up the card very, very quickly. He certainly has the talent to do so. **3/4

Eddie Kingston is backstage. He reminds people that he doesn’t forget where he came from and that AAW wanted him when no one else did. He put over Fred Yehi as one of the few wrestlers he respects.


This had no right being as good as it was. It’s not that these women aren’t capable of reaching greatness, but I would not describe any of these three people as ring generals. That would normally make a three-way dance tricky as there would be no one there to lead. What we saw here, however, was a cohesive encounter that flowed from move to move in an engaging and entertaining way. All three women put their best foot forward in this #1 contender’s match.

Jaynes was the star of this match, taking big bumps off the Bourbon Street bar, nailing a moonsault from the top rope to the floor, and consistently being in the right spot at the right time. Threat and Blue played their parts well, both putting forth some of their best outings in AAW to date. This was a massive win for all involved and a match that all three women should be proud of going forward. Threat pinned Jaynes to secure a title match next month at Logan Square Auditorium. ***1/2


The same energy that propelled the women’s three-way into being a fun and worthwhile contest was present in this four-way to determine the new #1 contender for the AAW Heritage Championship. With his manager John E. Bravo on commentary, Davey Vega did most of the heavy-lifting in this match. I expected him to get the win and to then secure the Heritage Championship, but Ace Austin squeaked out a victory despite having far less of a spotlight than Vega or even Hakim Zane. ***

John E. Bravo refused to leave the ring, which brought out Chuck E. Smooth and Russ Jones.


Russ Jones is the best. He squashed Hartenbower like a bug. He and Smooth are a winning combination. This rocked.


This win marks Kay’s first successful defense with AAW’s women’s belt.

You can’t win them all. I think Kay has come across well on every AAW show this year but she was helpless against the black hole of charisma that was Melanie Cruise. The challenger brought nothing to the table. No presence, no in-ring ability, and no urgency. This was a mess from start to finish and it wasn’t Kay’s fault. *3/4


I’m always in favor of a vintage G1-sprint breaking out in the middle of Bourbon Street. Schaff, much like Russ Jones and to some extent Hartenbower, represent the new era of AAW. Long gone are the Rey Fenix’s and the AR Fox’s of the world. This promotion is slowly transitioning to America’s first-class destination for hosses and no match can better demonstrate the changing of the guard. Schaff and Something beat the tar out of each other for 11 minutes.

This specifically reminded me of a long-forgotten gem from New Japan’s peak era, a Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto match from Power Struggle 2014. It is a match that I went five stars on (as did reviewer Bryan Rose), and while this match was nowhere near those unparalleled heights, the things that made Ishii vs. Goto great are the same things that made Schaff vs. Something great. This was not just two big, burly men clobbering each other as hard as they could, these were two big, burly men leaning into strikes that would decapitate a lesser man. At no point did this match feel like it was full of masturbatory strike exchanges. It was two men showcasing their toughness and pulling out the very best in one another in an exhilarating display of athleticism.

Schaff scored the win, another subtle change of the guard moment for AAW. Something has been a steadily pushed commodity since 2018, a former Heritage Champion, and someone who has pinned the likes of MJF, Jimmy Jacobs, and Hakim Zane, among others in this promotion.

This is well worth everyone’s time. Schaff has been elevated from a fun undercard act to someone worth paying attention to in AAW. ****


This victory marks inFAMy’s second successful defense of the AAW Tag Team Championships.

This is the best work that inFAMy has done in AAW up to this point. After months of being bogged down by plunder-filled Bourbon Street brawls, they were finally able to flex their muscles and toss around the smaller challengers in Brayden Lee and Jake Lander.

Both challengers are two guys I’ve praised since they came into AAW. Lander is a bizarre creature, a clear junior heavyweight with defiant heavyweight strength. There’s no one in wrestling doing quite what he does and because of that, every Lander match feels fresh and innovative. Watching him deadlight inFAMy was a thing of beauty. He could become a very interesting foil for AAW’s monsters that are continuing to gain traction.

Brayden Lee will eventually be the hottest thing on the indie scene. Training with Alex Shelley like he has been will only expedite that process. Lee once again showcased his undoubted, albeit raw ability. He took this match up a level and as a result, this became one of the most entertaining AAW tag team matches in recent memory.

inFAMy scored the fall, which is the right move. Lander and Lee will have plenty of time down the road, both as a tag team and as singles wrestlers, to claim gold. ***3/4


This served its purpose. Cabana was super over, as expected, and he put forth a paint-by-numbers babyface comeback against the bigger, meaner Larry D. Cabana scored the fall in his return to Chicago. **1/4


Mat Fitchett is a star.

In a match with the returning Eddie Kingston, the reborn Stallion Rogers (fka Curt Stallion), and the champion Fred Yehi, Fitchett was a level head and shoulders above everyone else. This was his match.

Fitchett killed it in between the ropes with both Rogers and Yehi. He scored the fall over Rogers, seemingly putting the returning star in his rearview. His sights should now be set on Fred Yehi in the battle of “why aren’t these guys booked everywhere?” Fitchett is no longer raw parts molded together to show some resemblance of potential. He’s the real deal. He’s a complete act. He bounces off the screen in a can’t-miss sort of way. His interactions with Fred Yehi in this match were top-notch. Every hold they exchanged felt like it belonged in the major leagues. It is baffling that these guys aren’t tearing houses down across the country, but promoter’s indifference to two of the top talents in the game today works as nothing but a positive for AAW.

Eddie Kingston, God bless him, worked hard as he walked and brawled throughout Bourbon Street. He will always come across better in front of 5,000 people instead of 500 people. The reaction he got, streamers and all, was heartwarming. I have been a vocal detractor of Kingston for many years but I have loved every minute of his AEW run and it was genuinely nice to see him be embraced by the AAW audience one more time.

On the backs of Fitchett and Yehi, this is a must-see match. Hopefully, this is merely the beginning of a storied rivalry between Fitchett and Yehi. They have the talent to carry this company. Now all they need is the opportunity. ****


Final Thoughts

Savages and Kings was an undeniable home run for Chicago’s premier indie. Not only was this show full of great matches, but it represented a shifting landscape from one of the country’s most stable and reliable independent promotions. AAW has done a remarkable job of fostering and elevating new talent since they began running a full-time schedule once more in the spring of 2021. Savages and Kings is the payoff of their hard work. On the same show where Eddie Kingston, Colt Cabana, and Stallion Rogers return home, men like Schaff, Shane Mercer, and Mat Fitchett put the fans on notice that they could be the future of this promotion. Savages and Kings is a must-watch for indie wrestling fans.