MARCH 31, 2023
LOS ANGELES, CA
I was talking to a VOW colleague about the nature of much of the criticism levied at the independent shows this WrestleMania Weekend. GCW and C6 have established the heaviest presences in LA this weekend, and it doesn’t seem productive to suddenly expect those two promotions to turn into something they’re not. GCW, in particular, whose formula has certainly found them an audience.
That said, when folks clamor for a more straightforward wrasslin’ product, I often wonder why they don’t simply watch the independents that deliver that. I think, as of late, Prestige Wrestling has delivered that sort of product. That’s why it’s so frustrating that most fans who would have enjoyed this show were probably watching Supercard of Honor in the same time slot.
Still, while putting this review together, that was the sentiment I kept returning to: If you’re bummed about what’s going on behind Knucklehead’s, you should probably be watching this.
C420 (Cody Chhun, Guillermo Rosas & Sonico) defeat LA Dojo (Clark Connors, Kevin Knight & Yuya Uemura) (10:54)
On an out-of-town Prestige show that relied heavily on outside talent, the C420 squad was a great use of the “aces” of Prestige. At Prestige’s big “Roseland 5” show next month, C4 is headed into a tag title match with Midnight Heat, while Sonico seems pegged to meet Alan Angels to blow off a longstanding feud. The typically excellent commentary team of Jordan Castle and Brian Zane (in Veda Scott’s usual seat) was thorough in establishing all of that context and providing little nuggets like Kevin Knight’s training history with Cody Chhun.
(It seems like a good time to say that if you’ve been critical of the lack of professionalism in independent wrestling commentary, you should probably be watching this show.)
That LA Dojo lineup can make anyone look great, and this was no exception. The style clash with the short and very stout Rosas made for a fun dynamic. In a cool spot, the finish saw Sonico catch Uemura coming off the top rope with the green mist before C420 performed their respective signature maneuvers. A perfectly pleasant table setter.
Right after this match, Yuya Uemura posted this tweet. Apparently, he’ll be moving out of the dojo, but remaining in America for the time being.
— YUYA UEMURA (@Im_YuyaUemura) April 1, 2023
Calvin Tankman defeats Vinnie Massaro (8:16)
I have very little to say about this match, but I mean no disrespect. It’s just that, if you’re here, you can probably imagine what a match between big and brutish dudes like Calvin Tankman and Vinnie Massaro looks like. And you’re right. And that’s a good thing!
Everything was mean, both men offered a tiny taste of their deceptive agility, and the only move that wasn’t executed crisply resulted in a head drop — net positive, I say. Best of all? They wrapped it up in eight minutes.
(Maybe this is a good time to say that if you’ve repeatedly noted that some matches this weekend have needlessly dragged beyond 20 minutes, you should probably be watching this show.)
West Coast Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Title Match
Titus Alexander (c) defeats Michael Oku (w/Amira) (17:14)
Titus has been bouncing around this weekend, but we didn’t see his fully realized form until his West Coast Pro title was on the line. Michael Oku has proven he excels when he plays the sympathetic underdog, but I don’t always love him in an even-footed matchup. This rocked, though — two very competent wrestlers pushing the pace.
— 🤘💞 (@slayerizedcarol) April 1, 2023
Titus played the heel, escaping Oku’s single crab by involving Amira at ringside, then hitting a low blow. Another strong finish tease followed when Amira broke up the pin on Alexander’s Sweet Time Driver. They wrapped an excellent closing stretch with Titus securing a slick backslide after Oku leaned too far back in a half-crab hold.
This was one of the better matches of the weekend that didn’t feature a huge name. It really drove home how frustrating it was to have this show running against ROH.
Alan Angels came out, shoved the ring announcer, and cut a good heel promo. Angels is the promotion’s top heel (until the end of this show, at least) and is coming off of a great Prestige title challenge against Alex Shelley. I’m not sure why he didn’t wrestle here (his only in-ring appearance this weekend was at CCW’s Crimson Kingdom on Thursday) but it was smart to have him show face on this show.
A less informed audience will recognize him from AEW, and he talked about his tenuous relationship with the fans since leaving. Angels has done great work since forging out on his own, and I especially look forward to what’s next for him in this promotion. He assaulted a stagehand before leaving, naturally.
Midnight Heat (Eddie Pearl & Ricky Gibson) defeat Adam Brooks & Warhorse (11:55)
Midnight Heat are the tag team villains of Prestige, headed toward a tag title match with C4 at Roseland 5. Brooks’ sparky babyface offense and Warhorse’s fan connection fed perfectly into Midnight Heat’s old-school-influenced style. The match wasn’t a stunner, but it was charmingly by the book. Midnight Heat sold their asses off for the good guys and narrowly escaped defeat by utilizing their experience as an established tag team.
Taya Valkyrie defeats Miyu Yamashita (7:34)
This match started inordinately hot with (who I’m guessing was) the TJPW introducing Yamashita to a fired-up crowd. On paper, Taya might not seem like the best match for Yamashita’s abilities, but the match was laid out in a smart way.
The two traded power shots and control periods at a controlled pace that leaned into Taya’s strengths — her presence and charisma — rather than having her try to keep up with Yamashita. As things ramped up, I was surprised at how invested I’d become. An unfortunate slip by Miyu in the corner snapped me out of it, but it wasn’t much longer before Taya wrapped up the win. I was surprised by the result, but then I remembered that Taya Valkyrie is now AEW’s Taya Valkyrie.
Solid match for sure. It was worked in a way that fed the crowd’s enthusiasm for Yamashita, and that’ll carry into the next time she turns up in Prestige.
Timothy Thatcher defeats Robert Martyr (15:37)
I wrote about Martyr in my review for Prestige’s last show:
“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.”
Martyr’s recent Prestige run has been tremendous. He’s been in the ring with veteran monsters, shown tremendous heart, and been completely overwhelmed. And he should be! He’s 22 years old. He doesn’t need to beat lumbering icons twice his age, he needs to grow his base and develop. From where I sit, he’s doing both.
A glimpse of what’s going down right now at the Globe!
Timothy Thatcher is currently putting Robert Martyr through the ringer! Who will prevail? Tune on https://t.co/US11ENOcP3 to find out! #NervousBreakdown is LIVE on @HighspotsWN ! pic.twitter.com/2QLqzFOdE4
— Prestige Wrestling (@WrestlePrestige) April 1, 2023
Martyr got more offense in on Thatcher than he did on Minoru Suzuki last week, but he was still swimming with the sharks. The match probably went longer than it had to, but Martyr was compelling and Thatcher made a good bully. Again, I love what they’re doing with Martyr, and I look forward to what’s next.
Kevin Blackwood defeats Shigehiro Irie (12:03)
This was a very cool booking, especially if you’re lamenting the stream outage during Irie vs. Speedball on Thursday. I wrote this in the VOW Discord: “Blackwood and Irie are having the match you hope Blackwood would have with a talented Japanese wrestler.”
— I Gif All The Wrestling (@Aregularindyfan) April 1, 2023
Or maybe this quote, from the commentary desk, is more helpful: “If you like slaps and strikes, this is your jam.”
Down the stretch, an open-hand slap duel ended in Blackwood hitting a tombstone — the first time he lifted Irie off the ground. One more high-speed exchange led to Blackwood hitting his Double Tap footstomp for the win. This was a corker, and it belongs on people’s end-of-weekend rec lists. ***3/4
(You know, with the influx of Japanese talent in town this weekend, I’ve seen a few instances where people have, in some form, said, “what a waste of that foreign booking.” Well, if you’ve felt that way, you probably should be watching this show.)
Prestige founder William Quintana announced that the Globe Theater is new Southern California home of Prestige. They’ll be back June 18th.
Aja Kong defeats Masha Slamovich (8:55)
Earlier in the night I was watching Homicide wrestle Jun Akiyama, squinting at the screen and pretending it was 17 years ago. When the bell rang on Aja Kong’s bout, you could multiply that sentiment by 100.
And, at first, that was fine. Kong’s a legend. Masha Slamovich has been on an insane run, she deserved this match, and she was certainly working her ass off in it. In the opening minutes, Masha was practically having a wrestling match in spite of Aja Kong. But after some outside brawling, something clicked, and Kong sprang to life.
She didn’t exactly turn back the clock, but she took a mean German suplex bump out of the corner and had some real energy to her offense. It was enough to get me leaning forward in my seat before she closed Masha out with the spinning backfist. After the bell, the two had a nice little moment in the ring.
Hey, what do you want? It was a legend match.
Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) & Ultimo Dragon defeat Team Filthy (Jorel Nelson, Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor) (19:43)
As a Dragongate fan, it’s been strange not fast-forwarding the Ultimo Dragon matches this weekend. In this context, he’s been charming if nothing else. I described his match with Negro Casas at the Mark Hitchcock show as “a comfy sweater of a wrestling match.”
Here, he existed on a different planet from the rest of the match. He was often paired with Royce Isaacs, who was super enthusiastic in selling all of Ultimo’s bits. When Ultimo wasn’t in the ring, the match would shift into a high-gear, action-packed display between Time Splitters and Team Filthy. I loved watching Time Splitters in action again, and the chemistry between KUSHIDA and Lawlor was especially great. I don’t watch a lot of the US NJPW stuff, so it was a treat to watch both guys.
The match was a lot snappier than the 20-minute runtime would lead you to believe. A lot of that was just Ultimo doing funny poses.
— 'The Influencer' Brian Zane (@zmanbrianzane) April 1, 2023
After the match, the show ended with Sami Callihan leading a small army of Wrestling Revolver talent (Trey Miguel, Rich Swann, and Ace Austin) to invade the ring and declare war on Prestige Wrestling. He focused his barbs on Alex Shelley — the holder of both the Prestige and Wrestling Revolver titles. Can’t wait to see where this leads.
Good show. Oku/Alexander and especially Blackwood/Irie were the highlights, but really, this show delivered professionalism, continuity, and good wrestling from front to back. If you haven’t watched this yet, delete your tweet about how you don’t like BUSSY. No one cares.