I’ll be honest, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) didn’t really appeal to me all that much for a long time. The over the top violence, death matches, and extreme rules, were just ridiculous to me. Don’t get me wrong, I knew they had a good roster, and had some good, straight up, wrestling matches, but over all, it just wasn’t my thing. So when I began to check them out again not too long ago (the last Cage of Death card) I was pretty skeptical. While a “Cage of death” still isn’t my thing, that card in whole, looked very good to me, so I bought it on iPPV. It was impressive, and I was ready to give them another shot. Drew Gulak is my kind of no frills wrestler, and I’ve always like Shane Strickland. AR Fox has really evolved as a “complete” wrestler, and David Starr is incredible. All set to purchase “High Stakes iPPV, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to attend it live with him. He’s the booker of another indy fed, and he needed to talk to AR Fox. Excited to see a live event, and tag along with an indy booker, I gladly agreed. I absolutely loved the experience, and the card, and was officially a CZW fan. After getting a second row seat to “Best of the Best XIII,” I am here to tell you why you need to be too! If you already are, then just sit back and enjoy the hype about something you already know about.
As soon as I heard that the next CZW card was a tournament, I was sold. I love the idea of tournaments. They give the audience something meaningful. Every match is important. No one squares off “just because,” and even if your favorite is eliminated, you can pick a new person to root for along the way. When I saw the participants of this year’s Best of the Best, I knew I had to be there. Caleb Konley, Azrieal, Biff Busick, Buxx Belmar, Lucky tHURTeen, Chuck Taylor, AR Fox, Andrew Everett, Mike Bailey, Drake Younger, Tim Thatcher, and Papadon. Wow, I was absolutely sold. Not only that, but Oi4K was scheduled to take on The Juicy Product, with the winners being named number one contenders to CZW’s tag titles, and Shane Strickland, defending his newly won Wired Championship, in a ladder match, against former champ, Devon Moore! If you love indy wrestling, and can’t see the crazy potential in a card like that, I don’t even know what to say. I snagged my tickets immediately.
And let me tell you, I was right! Best of the best XIII is a top contender for card of the year. Nonstop action from the second the card began. The show opened with a ten bell salute to The Ultimate Warrior that was very touching and stilled the very rowdy CZW audience in respect. CZW owner, DJ Hyde made his way to the ring after that, to tell us how frustrated he was at “certain talents” out there running his company down. Before he could say anything else, Kevin Steen made his way through the crowd and attacked Hyde, delivering his devastating package piledriver. Steen then grabbed the house mic to let us know that’s what people like Hyde deserve, and that he was here to watch Drake Younger win the trophy, and sell some shirts. The rabid crowd began chanting “one more time” to which Steen replied “I am not that kind of person! Man I forgot how crazy the CZW audience is…..but I do aim to please!” then delivered yet another package piledriver to Hyde, who had to be dragged out of the ring, and practically carried to the back.
The first round of the tournament would see Caleb Konley vs. Azrieal vs. Biff Busick
It was a very good match. If you’ve not seen Biff Busick, he is so freakin stiff it’s painful to watch. I honestly thought Konely would win this, and he indeed put on a great showing, but with some sick moves and bumps in this match Biff Busick wins it, pinning Azriel. Busick is getting more and more prominent in CZW. I’m certain it helps that every member of his faction, The Front, is ringside for all of his matches.
The second match of the first round saw Buxx Belmar vs. Lucky tHURTeen vs. Chuck Taylor
I absolutely loved this match. At one point Lucky tHURTeen snorted coke (or so it appeared) in order to get psyched up and go into a bevy of offense. If you’ve not see Buxx, while he is a sicko, he has a unique character. At the start of the match he stuck one hand down the front of his pants, and one hand down the back, and then wanted to lock up. Chuck wanted no part of it, but Lucky went right in, and as they locked up, Buxx proceeded to bite Lucky on the neck, as if he were a vampire! Chuck came prepared, with a bottle of hand sanitizer, and squirted it on Buxx’s hands before he engaged him. All three performed great, but Chuck Taylor won, pinning Buxx, then squirting the hand sanitizer all over him.
The third match of the first round saw AR Fox vs. Andrew Everett vs. Mike Bailey
This was my favorite match of the night, even though it was an insane spot fest. It was a crazy fun battle, that saw the Karate Kid lookalike, Mike Bailey, get over with the hostile CZW crowd. The audience wanted to hate this pale, small, gee wearing wrestler, but he won them all over with his skill and performance. There is no doubt that Bailey is the real deal, and that once hostile crowd chanted “please come back” to him after Fox won it when he pinned the hard fighting Bailey, after nailing a one man Spanish fly. I spoke with Everett after the match who told me “this wrestling stuff is hard man, I am hurting all over!” If you see the bumps all three of these men took in this match, you’ll see why that it. Crazy, but really fin stuff!
The Fourth match, of the first round saw Drake Younger vs. Tim Thatcher vs. Papadon, and this was easily the most “scientific” wrestling match of the night. As such, it was a great match. Papadon is very under rated, and I believe needs to be taken much more seriously, and to be more appreciated by the CZW faithful. Thatcher is pretty new to me, this being only the second time I’ve seen him compete, but he held his own, which is saying something against two talents like Drake, and Papadon.Younger won, but told the crowd that Thatcher is one of the best wrestlers in the world today, so I expect big things from him in CZW. Maybe a feud between Thatcher and Papadon would be money?
Next up was the CZW Wired TV Championship Ladder Match between Champion Shane, The Swerve Strickland, and Devon Moore, from Nation of Intoxication. Another very good match that saw a few botches, including Moore falling off the ladder he climbed to enter the ring at the start of the match. The crowd turned on Strickland when he refused to go anywhere near a barbed-wire table, that Moore pulled from under the ring. After Moore laid a ladder across two metal chairs, Strickland was almost put through the ladder, when Moore powerbombed him onto it, from the second turnbuckle! Strickland refused to quit though suplexing Moore onto that barbed wire table! Moore took most of the bump, and had to have the wire literally pulled out of his back before continuing. That seemed to put the finishing touches on Moore, as Strickland then climbed a 20 foot ladder to grab the Wired TV Title belt, and remain the champion. The crowd continued to boo Strickland, for his earlier kicking away of the barbed wire table, but MJoore grabbed the house mic, and told everyone they were pathetic for ever booing a talent like Strickland. It worked, as the audience reversed course, and Shane was back in their good graces. Very entertaining ladder match, for sure.
In the first semi-final bout of the tournament, Chuck Taylor took on Biff Busick. This was a very solid, back and forth, hard hitting, fun, match. The crowd was pretty heavily behind Chuck. “The Front” being at ringside, just pissed the crowd off. It does seem kind of ridiculous to have three people supporting a guy from ringside. They knew better than to get involved though, as Chuck was in a fighting mood, and worked over Busick pretty good, even nailing a huge, over the top rope, back flip dive, to the outside! Busick’s stiff clotheslines, and chops though seemed to wear the Kentucky Gentleman down, leading him to eventually submit to Busick’s rear naked choke hold. As Chuck passed me, he shrugged, and said “I’m really surprised I made it this far!”
In the second semi-final round of the tournament, AR Fox battled Drake Younger. This match was surreal. Fox, usually a heavy fan favorite could do nothing to get any support. The crowd loved any and everything Drake did, and I think it may have threw off Fox’s game a little. Drake even managed to kick out of Lo Mein Pain, which I believe also contributed to Fox’s off night in this match. Both guys traded crazy spots that would have killed, or seriously maimed most wrestlers, but not these two. While it was never certain that Drake would win, the crowd may have rioted if he had not. After missing another attempt at Lo Mein Pain, Drake got Fox in The Cop Killer, and got the 1-2-3. Fox was clearly dejected, as he believed this was his year to win the tournament. Drake seemed to notice that, and called him into the ring, and held his arm up, acknowledging that Fox is indeed one of the “best of the best!”
Next up was the #1 Contender’s Match for the CZW World Tag Team Titles
OI4K v. The Juicy Product
I absolutely loved this too, it was my second favorite bout of the night, as it was pretty much on fire from the start until the end. I went into this match thinking no tag team could impress me as much as “The Young Bucks” but all four of these guys did, and I’m not kidding. This match was supposed to matter, and all of these guys performed as if it did. The match really made it seem like being the number one contenders, to the CZW tag titles, was a big deal. The crowd was pretty evenly split for each team, and from what I saw, deservedly so. From mat wrestling, to grappling, to sick high spots, all four men did it all, and there was several times I wondered if one of the wrestlers may have been seriously injured. I was amazed when Juicy Product wasn’t put away after Oi4K’s insane drop kick stomp assisted tomb stone piledriver! Not only that, they came back and won the match. Excellent stuff in this match, I was very impressed.
Apparently Tommy Dreamer was a no show, as it was announced that there would be no match involving him. The crowd booed pretty heavily, and chanted for Steen. Steen did hang around, but only sold merchandise, he didn’t wrestle, outside of attacking Hyde. We were supposed to see Tommy and BLK Jeeze take on Hyde and a mystery partner. It may have been a better decision to let Hyde stay out, and sell two package piledrivers, though I would have loved to have seen Steen wrestle.
In the finals of the tournament, Drake Younger and Biff Busick nearly killed each other. Very little Hyperbole in that statement either. Busick started by attacking Drake during his entrance, instantly making the crowd hot! They took turns tossing each other into the surrounding barricades. At one point, Younger even dropped Busick into the crowd and then dove from onto him while he was in there, standing then, amongst the crowd in celebration. Busick hit Drake with everything he had, including a top rope half nelson suplex,that Drake kicked out of, causing the members of The Front, at ringside, to look totally perplexed. After that, Drake was on Fire, and hit a flurry of offense on Busick, nailing him with “the cop killer” and getting the pin, and winning the best of the best tournament XIII. Younger then gave an amazing farewell speech thanking everyone that ever did anything for him, and praising CZW and its fans, saying he will always be a “CZW Guy.” Crowd as insane hot for this. I really can’t do it justice here, buy the iPPV, or the DVD when it’s released and hear this heart felt classic for yourself. After the show, Drake stayed and met every, and any fan that wanted to meet him, posing with them, and the trophy. What a great guy!
Best of the Best XIII was a great show! It made me an even bigger CZW fan. Kevin Steen’s surprise appearance started the show off HOT! It was a great spot for sure. I also often don’t care for three way matches, but in all honesty, all of these matches were entertaining. Buxx Belmar and Mile Bailey are future stars, and the crowd wanted to hate Bailey so bad, but just couldn’t. The tag match was very good, as both teams wrestled their best, and made the match feel important, as it was supposed to be! It was seriously one of the best back and forth tag matches I’ve seen in a while, as it was never clear who would get the win, until right at the end. The ladder match had a few botched spots, but overall, was very entertaining. Devin Moore, telling the crowd off, for turning of Strickland was pretty cool, and it worked, as they came around, and cheered him again afterwards. The only weakness is that it seemed certain, most of the night, that Drake Younger was winning the tournament, but the matches we’re good enough to make you either forget, or get over that. Drakes speech was the best farewell speech I’ve ever heard, and his meeting fans, after the show, was incredible. The guy just seems amazing, and truly appreciative! I hope he’s a huge success in WWE.
If you’re a CZW fan, you know what I mean in this review/recap of a great show, if you’re not, you really need to be. CZW is on fire, and putting on must see shows. Already announced for their next show, on April 27th at 4pm, is CZW World Champ, Drew Gulak vs. hard hitting Biff Busick! I spoke with Gulak after Best of the Best, and he told me he knows it’s going to be a tough match, but he’s been preparing, and is ready. The next show will also see the tag team champions, The Beaver Boys take on the new number one contenders The Juicy Product. David Starr insisted I buy a shirt after the show because I’d surely want to represent the next CZW tag team champions. While those are the only two announced matches at this point, they are two matches that make it worth it! CZW, like nothing else.
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