Let’s Skip To The Good Stuff: WM Weekend Part 2

Added by Travis McNeill

Hi guys, I’m back wil the second installment of my choice of top matches from the array of indy shows on Wrestle Mania weekend, as always, hit me up on twitter @hashtagtravisty with any comments/feedback.

USA vs. Europe Series Match #4: Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay (04/02 – EVOLVE) (****)

EVOLVE 59 – Dallas, Texas

You know if this match is going to be your cup of tea right from looking at who the two participants in it are. This could have been an absolutely mental 15 minute match with a million dives but instead we got a bit longer of a match with the big moves more spaced out. It maybe wasn’t the match I completely wanted because of that but I appreciated the effort to give it a bit more of a story. The story itself was relatively simple: The former nutty high flyer battles the new crazy high flyer that is able to one up him at every turn. Ricochet hits a standing moonsault, Ospreay hits a standing corkscrew moonsault. Ricochet hits a 450 Splash, Ospreay hits a second rope Phoenix Splash. It worked well and paid off in the end with Ricochet catching Ospreay off a flippy do and killing him with the Benadryller, the move he won the Freedom Gate Title with 2 years prior. Seeing Ricochet as the veteran, old-timer high flyer is so weird as it doesn’t seem *that* long ago that he was the frizzy hair double moonsault kid. This is a match we’re going to end up seeing in New Japan someday and I can’t wait for it. As it stands here, this didn’t feel as special as Ospreay/Sabre but the crowd loved it and they had delivered in the main event spot of the early-afternoon show.

ROH Tag Team Title #1 Contenders, Four Corner Survival: The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) (04/02 – ROH) (****)

ROH Supercard Of Honor X – Night 2 – Dallas, Texas

This was complete chaos. It’s a hard match to review without play-by-play because it was literally spot after spot after spot. There was no compelling story or anything to set the match apart, but it was a lot of fun. This was pretty much on par with the 3-way in Philly without the Briscoes. It was the same crash course style match with bodies flying everywhere and a million super kicks. The Briscoes being in this actually made it seem a little fresher, which is a little odd given that I’ve found the Briscoes to be a little stale for quite some time now. This didn’t have and insane finish like the Philly match (though that same one was teased) but it still had its fair share of big-time spots, capped off by Mark Briscoe superplexing Kazarian onto everyone on the floor. Sadly, that spot has felt really overused in the past 2 years or so. One spot I really liked was Kazarian countering the Doomsday Device into essentially the Flux Capacitor. That was something the Briscoes did a lot a decade ago that I haven’t seen in a long time. This was for the #1 Contendership to the ROH Tag Titles and the right team went over in that regard. I raved about Night 1 of Supercard Of Honor above (and there was a few matches I didn’t write about from that show that were still pretty damn good) and up until this point, this show was really rough. Thank goodness for the last two matches saving this show from being a huge dud. This match was a big turning point leading into the main event insanity that was to come.

No Holds Barred: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly (04/02 – ROH) (**** ½)

ROH Supercard Of Honor X – Night 2 – Dallas, Texas

These two men are lunatics. As I said in my review of the last match, this show needed something big to make it worthwhile and these two guys delivered and then some. ROH has went to the well a lot recently with the No DQ-type match with War Machine/ANX, Castle/Young and now this. This is head and shoulders above those matches and anything else ROH has done in recent memory. Cole and O’Reilly excel at this type of match and they don’t get to do it often. Here they were able to construct a war that served as a perfect conclusion to their feud. Cole got a similar big match on this stage two years ago in a Ladder War with Jay Briscoe that I thought greatly under delivered. He was amazing here, getting lots of “big pop” hardcore spots while managing to continuously be an unlikable heel. On the flip side, O’Reilly was a great fiery babyface. They got to all of their big spots in clever ways, my personal highlight being the Necro Butcher-style sit down bar fight that did not feel contrived and also called back to their star-making NYC match years prior. Steve Corino was great on commentary here referencing Cole’s CZW background (although not naming CZW by name) which ROH tends to avoid. It added another great little note to this match. This ends up having an awesome, satisfying finish and leaves O’Reilly poised as the man to carry the company. Whether that happens or not we’ll have to see.

The Heart Of SHIMMER Title Tournament First Round: LuFisto vs. Nicole Savoy (04/02 – SHIMMER) (*** ½)

SHIMMER Volume 80 – Dallas, Texas

For the past few years, the SHIMMER show has been one of my personal highlights of WrestleMania Weekend. I don’t watch nearly as much of the product as I would like, which primarily has to do with the huge delay it takes in the shows getting released. SHIMMER tapes 4 shows in a weekend with those shows generally not seeing a DVD release for anywhere between 9 months – one year. By the time the shows are released, I’ve completely forgotten about them and no longer care. With this yearly show, we get the chance to watch it live and it reminds me what I’m missing. The SHIMMER show always winds up being a well-booked show with all of the women working hard and delivering a few standout matches. Last year SHIMMER decided to run a tournament for a #1 Contenders shot at their title to save on the amount of talent booked. It worked very well so we got it again this year, only to crown the promotion’s first secondary champion instead. Thus, we had a 12-woman tournament for the awkwardly named Heart Of SHIMMER Championship. On paper, this match looked to be the barn burner of the tournament and it delivered. Nicole Savoy really made an impact in last year’s tournament as it was a lot of people’s first exposure to her. She had worked the previous set of SHIMMER tapings but footage had yet to see the light of day. She was eliminated in that tournament in the second round but she was back with a vengeance. LuFisto has seemingly been around forever at this point and has went from death match wrestler, 10 years ago, to someone that a promoter can depend on for a great match that can elevate a talent. Here she gives Savoy a lot but fires right back and while not the total war it would have been as a stand-alone match, we get a heck of a first round contest. They told a sound story with Savoy being a little disrespectful and arrogant and LuFisto trying to beat her senseless for it. Nicole would use LuFisto’s aggression to capitalize on a mistake and grab a submission before eventually putting her down with the great Savo Lock. This was as good as a first round match in a one night tournament that you’ll see. SHIMMER would be wise to have a rematch at the next tapings where neither woman has to hold back. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see it in a year and a half.

The Heart Of SHIMMER Title Tournament Semi-Finals: Nicole Matthews vs. Heidi Lovelace (04/02 – SHIMMER) (*** ¾)

SHIMMER Volume 80 – Dallas, Texas

Colour me surprised by this match. I like Heidi Lovelace. I think she works really hard and has a good crowd following. I think Nicole Matthews is alright. I loved the Canadian NINJAS with her and Portia Perez and thought they were a great heel act. I thought it was an act that belonged in the tag team division though and when Matthews won the SHIMMER title I had my reservations as to how her style would translate as champion. SHIMMER has had some really big time title matches through the years and Matthews’ old-school, very vocal, heel style doesn’t quite suit that. I’ve only seen one match from her title reign (last year’s iPPV against Tomako Nakagawa) and I wasn’t impressed. This match made me want to seek out her title reign. This was so, so good and completely surprised me. This is the closest thing you’ll see to a Bayley NXT TakeOver title match on an indie show (ironic because Bayley was in SHIMMER pre-WWE). The crowd lives and dies with Heidi and Matthews is perfect with her cut-offs and heel tactics. At one point the crowd even borrows from the NXT TakeOver: London fans by coming up with a song to sing, chanting Heidi Lovelace’s name to the tune of “We Will Rock You” by Queen. This is a really satisfying match with the crowd fully engaged and the right person going over. When the entrances were happening, I was ready to tune out but this ended up being, quite possibly, the best match of the show and a treat to watch. Hats off to both woman.

The Heart Of SHIMMER Title Tournament Finals, Elimination: Candice LeRae vs. Nicole Savoy vs. Heidi Lovelace (04/02 – SHIMMER) (*** ¾)

SHIMMER Volume 80 – Dallas, Texas

The finals of a one night tournament is always a little dicey. Expecting any wrestler to not only wrestle three times in the span of a 3 hour show but to turn in 3 quality performances is a lot to ask. What ends up happening a lot of times is either the first round matches are cut for time one lieu of a lengthy finals or the first round matches get time with the rest of the show moving quickly. This show did a fine job and creating a balance throughout in that nothing felt necessarily rushed and the finals still got an appropriate amount of time to develop and be, perhaps, the best match on the show. All 3 women should be commended for putting together a match of this quality after already having wrestled twice. The 3 wrestlers that put on the best performances leading into the finals getting the main event slot was smart, fitting booking. This match was well laid out, had some great sequences and lots of drama down the stretch. A smart plot device was Heidi Lovelace finishing both of her previous matches with a top rope back senton and Savoy winning both of hers via submission. When each woman gets these moves near the end if creates some great nearfalls and drama. While Candice did a great job, this was really about the super babyface Lovelace and the arrogant but skilled Savoy battling for the title. In the end, the right woman won for my liking and this was a very satisfying cap to a very satisfying show. I can’t wait to see what SHIMMER puts together next year for us.

PROGRESS World Title Match: Marty Scurll © vs. Will Ospreay (04/02 – WrestleCon) (*** ¾)

WrestleCon Supershow 2016 – Dallas, Texas

This match just makes the cut for my recommendations, which given its quality, really says a lot about how good the whole weekend was for wrestling. This is a world class match-up, arguably the best one-on-one feud we’ve seen in ages. Ospreay and Scurll are meant to be rivals. They are two perfectly matched up opponents. I will write novels about their matches as time goes by with these reviews. This is a big match for 2 reasons. It is he first time this match has taken place on US soil. It is also the first time the PROGRESS Title has been defended outside of the U.K., making it officially a World Championship. I am so thankful for these WrestleCon shows as they get large, hot crowds and are just so wacky and random that they’re must watch. There’s most definitely a ceiling as to how good a match on these shows can end up being and this match hits that ceiling. In short, it’s good, very good, in fact. If you haven’t seen Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll before, it might blow your mind. If you have, you know this is essentially a “greatest hits” match of theirs and that it barely scratches the surface of what these two men can accomplish. Opponents like this eventually find their groove and can create a touring match that can be performed in their sleep that, to someone that watches a lot of tape, is repetitive but to a 1st time live viewer is a great impression. Can Punk and Colt Cabanada, Jimmy Jacobs and Alex Shelley and Matt Sydal and Delirious are all great examples of this. This match takes what has made their previous encounters great but strips away the intangibles that have made them truly epic. As mentioned in the SHIMMER reviews, one reason behind this is the fact that both men have 3 matches in one day to deliver on. There is no shame in this not being the 30-minute blowout we’ve come to expect. As it is, it’s a very good little “big moves” match with some historical significance and a testament to the quality of both Scurll and Ospreay in that they can produce a match of this quality under the schedule they had that weekend.

Best In The World Challenge Series Match #5 – The Rival: Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Chris Hero (04/02 – WWN) (**** ½)

WWN Mercury Rising 2016 – Dallas, Texas

This was a complete war. For 25 minutes, Hero and Sabre brutalized each other for personal pride, the pride of their countries and the entertainment of the fans. At times it was borderline uncomfortable. They stretched and hit each other senseless with a very apparent hatred. This match is an interesting contrast to the one they had at Limitless Wrestling in January (review some day!). Both are absolute quality but that one was almost more of a friendly exhibition with one man trying to catch the other in a mistake. This match was a grudge match with both men trying to kill the other. Billed as “The Rival” in Zack Sabre’s great Best In The World Challenge Series, EVOLVE did a great job at stressing why each man had to win, by also making this he rubber match of the USA vs. Europe Series that took place earlier in the day. The card placement of this match was a mistake but with Hero and Sabre having to wrestle (and team!) on the WrestleCon show, there’s not much that could have been done. What we get is a long but engagingly brutal opener that is among the best matches all year this far. I could watch these two wrestle a million more times as it’s always good and you’ll always get to see something a little by different. It’ll be interesting to see where Zack Sabre, Jr. goes from here in EVOLVR having lost the last 2 matches of his series. A rematch has already been booked and I couldn’t be happier.

Matthew Riddle vs. Tracy Williams (04/02 – WWN) (****)

WWN Mercury Rising 2016 – Dallas, Texas

The idea behind he Catch Point stable is so fresh and so great. They’re not in the same biker gang or a bunch of freaks. They are a group of wrestlers that have the same wrestling philosophy and push themselves to improve through competition, not being afraid to mix it up with each other. This proves that point as Hot Sauce and Riddle tear into each other, much as they did back in January, and have just as good a match as they did them. Like that one, both guys rely on their strengths (technical expertise and strikes) but are forced to go out of their comfort zones with high flying and big moves to try and out the other down for three. I’ve raved about Riddle being the future of professional wrestling but Tracy Williams is right there proving his worth too. Here we get a hard-fought match with the right winner and the need for a rubber match, which I am completely on board for. This had to follow a similarly styled, super-long Hero/Sabre match and held its own in every way. 2016 will continue to be great for these two young men.

Days Of Future Past 6 Man Tag: Team EVOLVE (Johnny Gargano, TJP & Kota Ibushi) vs. Team Europe (Will Ospreay, Tommy End & Marty Scurll) (04/02 – WWN) (**** ¾)

WWN Mercury Rising 2016 – Dallas, Texas

This match had so much going for it and so much going against it simultaneously. The 6 Man Tag tradition during WrestleMania Weekend is well-storied and with this being the 10th anniversary of it, Gabe Sapolsky put together a special match. We had a cool concept with the wrestlers from EVOLVE 1 taking on the Europeans that are the talk of the wrestling world right now, a cool tagline for the match (I loved that X-Men movie!) and the buzz worthy US return of Kota Ibushi, fresh off of quitting NJPW in a shocker. Needless to say, a lot of hype was generated for this match. Unfortunately, this match had its work cut out for it as it was in the main event spot on a hellaciously long show, capping off a long and draining weekend of independent wrestling shows out the wazoo. Somehow, this still worked. The crowd got up for it and the visual of the audience coming to their feet the first time Ospreay and Ibushi step into the ring together is pretty amazing. This match was well-designed as everyone seems to have a dance partner they match up with. Gargano and Scurll, Perkins and End (who had a very solid match earlier in the day) and the one everyone wants to see in Ibushi and Ospreay. The early portion of the match sticks to those pairings until we get to a heat sequence and then all hell broke loose. It’s during that stage that the match really shines. In typical Dragon Gate 6 Man tradition, the moves hit a mile a minute and everyone gets their spots to shine. Everyone ends up in the crowd for Ospreay (who is fortune he didn’t slip and die) and Ibushi hitting stereo moonsaults off a balcony before returning to the ring, alone, to have the square-off everyone wants to see. This match might have the flaws of the style of match lends itself to, but I had no issue getting caught up in the action and atmosphere and not paying any mind to legal men or the length of moves being sold. It was such a cool novelty to see Ibushi in there. He looked a little frail and didn’t get a ton of action as one might have hoped but he still held up his part of things tremendous. His NJPW exit is puzzling to me but hopefully he finds success and happiness wherever he ends up. This match screamed “WrestleMania Weekend” to me and reminded me of why this is the most wonderful time of year to be a wrestling fan.

Thanks for reading!

Travis McNeill

 

Leave a Reply