MARCH 26, 2023
House of Independents
Asbury Park, NJ
Prestige Wrestling has been my indie of choice lately—the proverbial home base of my IWTV account. As a huge Dragongate fan, they got their claws into me with their bookings of YAMATO and SBKENTo late last year, and have held on with a mix of captivating in-house stories and very cool outsider bookings. They’re based out of the Pacific Northwest, so when they came close to my neck of the woods for a show in Asbury Park, NJ, I had to take them up on it. It didn’t hurt that they were bringing Minoru Suzuki with them.
Three notes before we dive in:
- This is a live review of a show I haven’t watched back on stream. If some detail that was very prominent on the broadcast doesn’t get mentioned, that’s why.
- While this show was very strong in its own right, you can almost view this as a partner piece to Andrew Sinclair’s excellent preview of Prestige’s WrestleMania Weekend show this Friday. Nervous Breakdown is gonna be a cool show, and it might help to be caught up. I also discussed Prestige Wrestling’s Nervous Breakdown on VOW’s WrestleMania Weekend Preview Audio.
- I arrived late and missed the opener between Alec Price and Jordan Oliver. I’m a fan of both guys, and the match got 17 minutes, so that’s a huge bummer. If you want some Price and Oliver talk, I wrote at length about both guys in my preview for this weekend’s GCW Jimmy Lloyd’s D-Generation F show.
The Brick City Boyz (Julio Cruz & Victor Chase) def. Shot Through The Heart (Love Doug & TJ Crawford) (10:46)
This was the New England showcase, featuring guys that normally appear in the Limitless and Beyond spheres. The Brick City Boyz’ charisma is undeniable, and it was much more infectious in person than it is when I’m watching them on my cracked laptop screen. TJ Crawford’s been doing excellent work in and out of the ring over at Wrestling Open, and it translated to a ton of crowd support in Asbury. The undersized Shot Through The Heart team had the upper-hand until Cruz, from the outside, snagged and held Crawford’s leg, allowing Chase to secure an underhanded pinfall. Keeping things tight at 10 minutes and leaning into the size and heel/face dynamics made this one a blast.
AKIRA def. 1 Called Manders (10:52)
Close your eyes and imagine a match between these two, and you’ve probably got it. If you’re like me, that’s a good thing! I’ve been a big fan of AKIRA’s ever since he jumped off that roof onto Reed Bentley at ICW-NHB Vol. 2. AKIRA’s work in Prestige has included tremendous deathmatch fair against the likes of Atticus Cogar and Drexl, but these days, I’m more excited to see him deliver in the non-deathmatch sphere. AKIRA’s gotten really great at engaging a crowd, and Manders, as always, is a great dance partner for doing tough guy shit. AKIRA closed Manders out with his Death Penalty finish.
Masha Slamovich def. Killer Kelly (10:54)
By this point, everyone’s got to know what a special entity Masha Slamovich is. It’s not that she’s one of the best women’s wrestlers on the independents — she’s just one of the best wrestlers period. Knowing that, I was still surprised at the sheer volume of the “MASHA!” chants when she stepped out from the curtain.
There aren’t that many matchups left for Masha that are both enticing and relatively fresh, so I was excited to see her tangle with an opponent as capable as Killer Kelly. In the end, the match left me a little disappointed with some sections that felt clunky and mistimed. I should note, though, that I might be alone in that opinion. The match performed well with both Cagematch and my friend Dennis who, at Wawa after the show, said, “That Masha Slamovich match kicked ass.”
Masha will ride her current wave of momentum into a match this Friday with *checks notes* AJA KONG at Nervous Breakdown.
Prestige Title / PWR Remix Title Submission Match
Alex Shelley (c) def. Alan Angels (16:16)
Ever since leaving AEW, Alan Angels has accounted for himself tremendously on the independents. In Prestige, in particular, he’s aced the role of the mouthy villain, and he’s been on a collision course with this title for a few months.
As for Alex Shelley? I tweeted this recently.
I’ve been to a lot of small shows that have Alex Shelley on them. Some good, some bad. Almost every time, as soon as the opening bell rings on Shelley’s match I immediately think, “Oh, this is completely different.”
— V. StiviYano Toru (@PrivateRadio87) March 27, 2023
Shelley just has an aura and professionalism to him that feels bigger than most of the rooms he wrestles in these days. To his credit, Angels managed to keep up in every aspect.
For some context to this match, circle back to Prestige’s February show, Reality Unfolds. There, Alex Shelley defended his Prestige title against the (masked) face of Prestige Wrestling, Sonico. Before the match, he showered Sonico with praise, which brought an incensed Alan Angels to the ring. He would get involved in the match’s finish, a successful but tainted Alex Shelley defense.
Shelley didn’t offer Angels that same respect. Angels asked for the Pro Wrestling Revolver title to be on the line as well. The PWR title allows the holder to choose the stipulation for each defense, so Shelley chose a strong suit of his: a submission match.
I was actually kinda bummed about that. I really believed Angels was going to win here until the Revolver title got involved. I thought the stipulation gave away the ending.
Either way, the match was fantastic. It should come as no surprise that Shelley was a dream to watch on the mat, but Angels appeared just as adept. Sonico tried to get involved to help Shelley but failed. I think, at some point, we’re headed towards a three-way. Great action, great storytelling, a hot crowd, this match delivered on all fronts.
At Nervous Breakdown, Shelley will team with his Motor City Machine Guns partner Chris Sabin and Ultimo Dragon to take on the Tom Lawlor-led Team Filthy. Curiously, Alan Angels is currently not listed on the card.
If the show wasn’t already delivering enough, House of Independents allowed re-entry, so I was able to go outside and bum a cigarette during intermission. “You know what would make this show even better?” I thought. “A dull, nagging headache.”
Sonico def. Tre Lamar (13:07)
“Oh no, cigarettes give me headaches now,” I thought, returning to my spot in the crowd. Sonico certainly had his fans in the room, but Portland’s complete adoration for him didn’t quite make the journey to New Jersey. Still, a match between Sonico and the always-game Tre Lamar made a match to settle back in with before the heavy hitters of the card began.
Chris Sabin def. Mike Bailey (18:35)
Maybe you’re a little fatigued by “Speedball” Mike Bailey’s tour of independent super matches since returning to the United States last year? Maybe you’re resigned to Chris Sabin’s days of putting on fireworks shows in the ring being over. Let this match be your cure for both.
Like his longtime partner Shelley, there’s a sense of “pro” to Chris Sabin’s work that’s tough to articulate. He made an excellent anchor for Bailey’s pace and athleticism, and this match had the room on fire from the opening bell. I’m talking “this is awesome” chants, I’m talking dueling “SPEED-BALL” and “HAIL SABIN” chants, the works.
— BBBøris 大きくて悪い (@BBBoris) March 27, 2023
Sabin even tried to up the ante with some heel antics later in the match, but it was too late. The audience was already too enamored with both guys. He eventually scored a Cradle Shock to put Speedball away. Match of the night, easy. If it the vibe in the room is even partially captured by the stream, this is a wrestling match you should watch.
Minoru Suzuki def. Robert Martyr (15:41)
— Jonathan Hernandez (@OldJonHernandez) March 27, 2023
I’m that doof in blue behind Suzuki. Pardon me for sucking all the atmosphere out of “Kaze Ni Nare.”
I’ve talked in some spaces about Jordan Oliver’s push around 2021 and how having him beat everyone under the sun before he was ready really soured me on him. And that sucks because Oliver is so young, and he really has improved! Robert Martyr has only benefitted from being booked in the exact opposite manner.
Martyr first grew on me in 2021 in Limitless. In his most prominent storyline, he began approaching locker room veteran JD Drake for a singles match. Drake told him he wasn’t ready. When the two finally met in a Limitless ring, Martyr put in a valiant effort, but in the end, Drake was right. Martyr wasn’t ready, and he lost.
In the best scenarios, Martyr’s been positioned as an eager student of a hard-hitting, puro-esque style that fans love — with an emphasis on student. Prestige has put him in there with killers who have overwhelmed and battered him like Vinnie Massaro, Anthony Henry, and now, Minoru Suzuki.
— Jack Solomon 🤙🏻 (@JackSolomonETU) March 27, 2023
This match was laid out perfectly. It was never competitive, but it was always compelling. Suzuki put his legendary charisma on display, circling and taunting his prey. Martyr delivered in a big spot, having to convey fifteen minutes worth of heart and desperation while an icon beat the brakes off of him. Credit to Martyr; performances like this are going to get a lot of people behind him.
After the match, he took the mic and gave a strong promo where he asked for more tests like this one. He called out Timothy Thatcher, and he’ll get Thatcher at Friday’s Nervous Breakdown.
Minoru Suzuki, on the other hand, will kick off his WrestleMania Weekend by singing karaoke.
🚨 #c6live show announcement 🚨
You’ve seen him wrestle but now it’s time to rock with @suzuki_D_minoru
Minoru Suzuki’s Karaoke Jam
Thursday 3/30 at 11pm
Knucklehead – $6 a the door pic.twitter.com/EwAWUs4ub3
— Circle 6 (@Circle6_co) March 14, 2023