I follow the US indy scene rather closely but I always seem to fall behind on AAW. I’ll catch a show every now and again, but after watching this show and being reminded just how fantastic they are, I’m going to start following them as closely as humanly possible. This was an important show for a number of reasons. This was their biggest show of the year both in kayfabe and not in kayfabe. Ethan Page defended his AAW Championship in a 3-way against one of the most promising stars on the indies in Trevor Lee, and one of the most underrated wrestlers on the American indie scene in Eddie Kingston. Not only that, this show also featured two of the top guys in Lucha Underground and AAA, two of the best Mexican wrestlers in the world in general, Pentagon Jr. and Fenix. All that and more on the 11th installment of the Windy City Classic.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Fenix
You wouldn’t really expect these two to click the way they did. These two had real good chemistry. Fenix is more of a high-fly lucha guy while Ciampa is more of a striker. They did some comedy early on but once they kicked things into high gear and Ciampa got busted up and started licking blood off of his hands, this became one of the better openers I’ve seen in some time. I’ve never really been huge on Ciampa but lately he’s been seriously fantastic. Having great matches everywhere, wrestling an incredible amount of great talent, one being Marty Scurll at PROGRESS the day after this show. That’s right, Ciampa actually managed to wrestle in Chicago, get on a plane that same night, and then wrestle in London the next afternoon. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is. This match laid the foundation for what would end up being a great show, and for that, I tip my hat to both of these gentlemen. ***½
Markus Crane & Shane Hollister vs. Matt Cage & Tyson Dux
Every single time I watch Matt Cage, I think to myself, “Why isn’t this guy a top star in a big time promotion?” He’s such a great talent that would excel anywhere he goes. He’s easily one of the best guys AAW has in my opinion. These other guys are no slouches, but for me at least, Cage was the shining star here. Don’t have very strong thoughts aside from that.I wasn’t super fond of the bump Scarlett (Cage/Dux’s female manager) took, but that’s really my only gripe. The female manager bumps are just becoming so overdone. Good match otherwise. ***
Kongo Kong vs. Brett Gakiya vs. Buck Nasty vs. CJ Esparza vs. Connor Braxton vs. Marion Fontaine
Fun six-man match here that was mostly centered around Kongo Kong and his ginormous stature. This was no psychological masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but this was everything you could have asked for from these six guys, who all played their roles to perfection and made for an enjoyable match. I haven’t seen very much of Kong but judging from what I have seen, he does a real good, for the lack of a better term, fat guy gimmick. He actually comes off as a monster, some of that relying on the way he’s booked, and some relying on him as a performer. By and large, this was a real gimmicky, ‘fun’ match. If that’s not your cup of tea, I can understand that, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. A nice change of pace. ***
Davey Vega vs. ACH
ACH has grown on me as of late, much like Ciampa, he’s been getting booked all over the place and having great matches everywhere he wrestles. I’ve never disliked him, he’s just always been there for me. I’ve never had strong thoughts on him aside from the fact that he can put on a good match on occasion, a lot of that depending on who is opponent is. I think it’s safe to say that he’s improved these past few months, he’s found his groove, knows what he’s good at and does exactly that. As for this match here, a lot of spotty, flippy, back and forth action that made this another enjoyable match on the card. Vega played a very good heel throughout while ACH played a great babyface, as always. Good stuff. ***
AAW Tag Team Championship: The Hooligans (c) vs. OI4K
This was Jake Crist’s last appearance in AAW as he’ll be retiring here soon. He and Dave have been in AAW since 2009 so as you could probably guess, OI4K was super over. I’ve never been a fan of them but you can’t help but respect a guy giving up his dream to support his family and be closer to home. Good for him for being able to make that decision, because a lot of wrestlers wouldn’t do that. He’s 31 years old and has been wrestling since 2003. He had a good run, there’s no shame in retiring at an early age. This was as good a send off as you could possibly ask for. The Hooligans have been climbing the ranks as one of the better tag teams in North America this past year and deserve every ounce of the success they’re having. As you’ve come to expect from them, they were quick to bust out the tables and chairs and the like here. It’s exactly what you expected out of these two teams, a good time, no more, no less. ***¼
AAW Heritage Championship: Louis Lyndon (c) vs. Alex Shelley
The prevailing theme of this review seems to be me not exactly being a fan of certain guys but being impressed by them on this show. Alex Shelley is one of those guys. I loved Shelley in ROH and in TNA but his New Japan run, especially this year, has been extremely lackluster. Almost seems like he doesn’t give a crap about anything, like he’s not even trying anymore. If him coming back to the indies full time means he’ll be having matches like this one, I’d much rather have him do that, because he was genuinely great throughout this entire thing. Lyndon is no slouch himself, the guy’s nuts. I haven’t seen much of him but something tells me I should seek out some more of his work. Not much else to say. Both guys worked hard, and I hope Shelley starts taking some more U.S. indie bookings. ***¼
Gregory Iron vs. Christian Faith
Easily the least enjoyable match on the show. The wrestling was much below average the overbooked wackiness was way too much for my liking. Constant run-ins in the beginning, a heel turn, etc. Iron plays a decent heel, I like his character but dislike his matches for the most part. Don’t have anything good to say about this. *1/2
Chris Hero vs. Pentagon Jr.
Exactly what you’d expect from these two. A back and forth stiff ass match, both guys kicking out of each other’s finishers throughout, lots of reversals and so on and so forth. Though this was what you’d expect, they never peaked to the point where you’d consider this a MOTYC. It had a ceiling, and that’s not me complaining, because this was the best match on the show, and that’s saying something. The crowd certainly helped a lot as well. Pentagon through a few stiff forearms and kicks and things of that nature while Hero threw a few nasty elbows that’d knock any other wrestler on their ass, but Pentagon is not your average wrestler, which may actually be an understatement. Hero did eventually get the win and went to shake Pentagon’s hand to show respect afterwards but was attacked by him. Pentagon then went to break Hero’s arm when all of sudden Fenix came out and threw him out. A match between Fenix and Pentagon was set up. Funnily enough, for those that are unaware, Fenix and Pentagon are real life brothers, so that’s cool. Great stuff here. ***¾
AAW Heavyweight Championship: Ethan Page (c) vs. Eddie Kingston vs. Trevor Lee
Eddie Kingston, in my opinion, is one of the best talkers in professional wrestling and has been for a very long time. He’s also one of the most underrated psychologists, one of the most underrated storytellers and in-ring workers in America. Trevor Lee on the other hand, has been on the rise these past two years as one of the more promising indie wrestlers in the world while Ethan Page has proven to be one of the better heels in the world, especially in EVOLVE. I like all three of these guys as you could probably tell, but for some reason this match didn’t click for me. The first few minutes were good, then Page started getting into all the ass stuff where he pulls down his tights and shows off his ass. It’s funny I guess, but that only goes so far. The match quickly became centered around him and his ass, and that’s not exactly something I’m fond of. Page and Kingston had a real long, dragged out and dare I say boring exchange after Lee was eliminated. Kingston got the win and thus regains his AAW Championship.
The best part of the segment didn’t take place in the actual match but instead took place afterwards when Sami f’n Callihan, who was only a few days into his return to the indies, slid into the ring and kicked Kingston in the face. We’re getting Callihan vs. Kingston soon, people. If that doesn’t get you fired up, I just don’t know what to tell you. ***
This was one of the best indy shows I’ve seen all year from top to bottom. Some matches were better than others, but by and large this was a great show that you should totally check out as soon as possible.