Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
AAW Epic 2017: The 13th Anniversary Show
Date: April 8, 2017
Location: Joe’s Live, Rosemont, Illinois
Commentators: Phil Colvin, Tyler Volz
As the name might suggest, this is AAW, a pretty nice independent promotion from around Chicago. There are a lot of names you are going to recognize on here and that should make for a pretty nice card. Making it to thirteen years is impressive enough and in theory the show should work out as a result. Let’s get to it.
The commentators are in the ring to welcome us to the show and hype things up a bit.
Besties In The World vs. Stephen Wolf/Trey Miguel
The Besties (Davey Vega/Kyle Fitchett) come out to Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply and yes they have a dance routine to it, because they’re that awesome. They start fast with Fitchett hitting a double Pele but the Besties are sent outside. Wolf dives onto Fitchett and Miguel hits Vega as the Besties are in early trouble.
We settle down to Wolf hitting a very springboardy hurricanrana to Vega and it’s off to Miguel for some dropkicks in the corner. Vega is back up with a kick to the face and it’s back to Fitchett for a suplex on Miguel. A wind up poke to the eye rocks Miguel again, even though Vega isn’t happy with Fitchett’s cheating.
The neck crank goes on for a bit, followed by Fitchett hitting a Ho Train of all things for two. Miguel manages something like a cutter and the hot tag brings in Wolf….who slips off the ropes in a springboard attempt but spears Fitchett anyway. Everything breaks down and Miguel elbows Vega in the face, setting up a top rope Meteora which needs a save from Fitchett.
Vega and Miguel wind up holding Fitchett up, allowing Wolf to come in with a springboard double stomp to the ribs. Miguel Rolls the Dice into a standing shooting star press for two on Vega, who is back up without much trouble. A powerbomb drops Wolf onto Miguel, setting up a brainbuster onto the knee/running boot from Fitchett combination for the pin at 9:28.
Rating: B-. They went with the fast paced tag match to start here and that is how a show should get going. Sometimes you need to do something fun to get the show going and that is what they did here. The Besties In The World have been a fun team every time I have seen them and this was no exception, though that might be due to the Savage Garden influence.
Trevor Lee says he isn’t dancing anymore because all it got him was a lame Tag Team Titles. Then his partner got hurt and he was stripped of the titles even though he never lost. He is the biggest star around and Chuck Taylor is still on the indies for a reason. Lee wants to be the first star in the arena because after him, there is no show. Tonight, he’s taking Taylor out.
ACH vs. Shane Strickland
If nothing else we get Ain’t Nobody for Swerve’s entrance and sweet goodness that is an awesome setup. ACH goes outside and lays on a section labeled KEEP OFF, giving us a HOLY S*** chant before the bell. To even things out, Strickland loads up ACH’s shirt but then drops it instead. ACH isn’t happy with that and sends him to the apron, where a dropkick to the leg takes him down.
The REALLY hard running kick from the apron has Strickland in a lot of trouble but he gets a boot up to stop a charge. Back in and Strickland misses a legsweep and enziguri but manages a dropkick to rock ACH again. Strickland takes him into the corner for a VERY loud chop, with ACH cringing even harder. Back up and ACH hits his own loud chop, earning him a glare from Strickland.
We get the very long wind up before ACH’s next chop….and then he points over there and hits Strickland low. Some neckbreakers give ACH two and we’re off to the Figure Four necklock. With that broken up, ACH ties up the leg, points to the crowd a bit, and then turns it into a Muta Lock. A Ted DiBiase fist drop has Swerve in more trouble, setting up an Aleister Black dragon sleeper.
Strickland fights up and hits the House Call for a breather, which has the fans waking up a bit. That sweet rolling cutter gives Swerve two (with commentary being STUNNED by the kickout). The Swerve Stomp misses though and a fireman’s carry backbreaker gives ACH two of his own. Back up and Strickland charges into a boot in the corner, setting up a middle rope Codebreaker for two.
The brainbuster is blocked so ACH chops him into the corner instead. Strickland isn’t having that and hits a running boot in the corner, setting up the Swerve Stomp for the big near fall. The JML Driver is blocked so they trade kicks to the face until another House Call sets up….something that ACH reverses into the brainbuster for the pin at 12:41.
Rating: B. This was the kind of fast paced and hard hitting match that had me wondering who was going to win by the end. The finish was a very nice curve too as I wouldn’t have bet on that kind of a fast switch from ACH. Strickland continues to be someone who should be ready to become a top star somewhere, but for some reason that hasn’t quite happened outside of the old MLW. Good stuff here though and I could go for more from them, even if ACH is a bit wacky.
Post match ACH wants a handshake but then drops the mic and walks off instead, like a true villain.
Chuck Taylor isn’t sure how this singles match thing is going to work but if Trevor Lee doesn’t want to dance, maybe he will. Or maybe not. Either way, he wraps it up with a “f*** you buddy” to Lee.
Trevor Lee vs. Chuck Taylor
We get a F*** THAT OWL chant as Lee is an Impact Wrestling star and that is not a good idea a lot of the time. They stare at each other to start…and some dance music starts. Actually hang on again though as Lee grabs a headlock instead. That stays on for a bit until Taylor rolls him into the corner and stomps away, leaving Lee looking a bit stunned.
With Lee down, Taylor goes all the way to the entrance and gets a running start before landing on apron and waving at Lee. The slow motion hilo hits Lee, who is right back up with a whip into the barricade. A belly to back drop onto the apron has Taylor in more trouble, allowing Lee to pose a bit. Back in and Lee hits a running tackle to a downed Taylor, sending him back to the floor. Some choking on the barricade sets up a rolling, uh, cover, for two back inside.
A release German suplex drops Lee though and it’s Taylor striking away at the face. Lee charges into an overhead belly to belly, sending him hard into the corner for two more. Taylor gets caught in a bridging German suplex for two more and Lee hits a Superman Punch. Lee’s suplex is countered into the Falcon Arrow for another near fall but Taylor misses a moonsault (of all things). The miss lets Lee hit the Cave In but Taylor counters the fireman’s buster into a small package for two. That’s fine with Lee, who rolls him up with tights for the pin at 9:43.
Rating: C+. Another pretty good one here, with both guys fitting in rather well. It didn’t feel quite as intense, but Lee and Taylor aren’t exactly known for being the most serious guys. They got things going near the end though and I was thinking Taylor might have pulled off the upset. It was a bit of a step down from the first two matches, but if this is the bad stuff, we’re in for a pretty awesome show.
Angelico and Jack Evans (later known as the Hybrid 2 in AEW) are ready for the Crist Brothers.
Tag Team Titles: OI4K vs. Angelico/Jack Evans
OI4K (that would be Ohio Is 4 Killers, meaning Jake and Dave Crist, with JT Davidson) are defending. Angelico and Evans seem to be debuting here, with Angelico in a Lucha Underground shirt. Jake and Angelico start things off, with Angelico taking him down for an early leg crank. Back up and Jake goes with a headlock on the much taller Angelico, making for a bit of a strange visual.
That’s reversed into something like an Indian Deathlock for some cranking/screaming (I’ll let you figure out which is which) until Jake rakes the eyes to escape. Evans, smoking a cigarette, comes in for some clapping but his dancing results in Jake jumping him from behind. Just to show off, Evans fights back and sends the champs to the floor, all while smoking.
The big dive is cut off by a kick to the head though and we hit the chinlock. Dave is right there to cut Angelico off the apron though and a fist drop gets two on Evans. Back up and Evans hits a springboard moonsault onto both Crists (albeit not at the same time), setting up a Pele so the hot tag can bring Angelico back in. Everything breaks down and Angelico kicks Dave down for two.
Evans’ assisted 450 knees gets two, with Jake making another save. A belly to back suplex/springboard double stomp gets the same, with Dave having to flip Evans onto Angelico to break up a Koji Clutch. There’s a tiger suplex for the same on Evans but Angelico makes the save this time. The Fall From The Heavens drops Jake but Davidson pushes Evans off the top. A twisting DDT and a Tombstone retains the titles at 12:25.
Rating: B-. This was a rather indy style tag match, as they started off with the usual stuff and then broke down into all four of them in there at once for a bunch of saves. That being said, it’s still a completely entertaining match and both teams are quite good. Evans is still more than a bit out there, but his flipping is always worth a look.
Post match Low Ki runs in and takes out OI4K without much trouble. Low Ki says he’s coming for Sami Callihan and tonight he’s coming for Callihan in a tag match. His usual partner, Eddie Kingston, isn’t here tonight but he has a mystery partner. Sounds fun.
Matt Riddle is ready to take out Michael Elgin tonight. He is pretty much exactly the same Riddle he would be in WWE as well.
Michael Elgin vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle tries to go with the grappling to start but Elgin spins him around. That doesn’t work either so Riddle grabs a front facelock, which is reversed into a pretty weird looking Sharpshooter. Elgin switches that over to an STF but Riddle powers out and grabs a headscissors. With that broken up, Riddle wins a slugout and snaps off a good looking German suplex. They head outside, with Elgin dropping him hard onto the apron.
Back in and Elgin BLASTS him with a chop, followed by the very delayed (32 seconds) vertical suplex for two. Riddle gets up and strikes away with shots to the face and ribs, setting up an overhead suplex. The backsplash gets two but some YES Kicks just wake Elgin up and he growls a lot. A Bro To Sleep and another German suplex gives Riddle two more.
Elgin is fine enough to cut him off with a kick to the head though and a German suplex into the corner has Riddle in trouble for a change. Riddle catches him on top so Elgin grabs a middle rope sunset flip of all things, followed by a discus lariat (that’s more like it). One heck of a top rope splash gives Elgin two but the Elgin Bomb (a bomb from Elgin) is countered.
They trade strikes to the head until Elgin hits a HARD clothesline for a double knockdown. A top rope superplex hits Riddle, who pops up to his feet, because FIGHTING SPIRIT is a really stupid concept. Elgin clothesline him down again and then does it again for two. A buckle bomb into a GTS into a tiger bomb gets two more on Riddle, setting up the buckle bomb into an Elgin Bomb for the pin at 14:50.
Rating: B. This was the hard hitting fight that you probably expected, though the FIGHTING SPIRIT stuff can get a little annoying when it happens more than once in a match. Riddle’s kickout got a little annoying but at least he lost in the end. Elgin was a heck of a power guy, though I’m not sure how often you re going to be seeing him after various issues took him out of a good chunk of the industry (as they should have).
Post match, Elgin talks about how he hasn’t been here for all of the thirteen years of AAW, but thanks the fans anyway.
Shane Strickland has lost his first two matches in AAE and doesn’t feel bad about losing to AR Fox and ACH. He’ll be back, better, stronger and faster.
JT Davidson is very happy with OI4K retaining and promises they will take on all comers. They’re ready for whoever is up next on April 22. Dave Crist talks about being a fighter and a killer, even with a pinched nerve in his back.
John Morrison vs Rey Fenix
Bit of a slip up as Morrison’s chyron says Hennigan. The fans don’t think much of Morrison, but that might be due to him not throwing his shirt to the crowd. Morrison grabs a headlock to start but Fenix flips up and they run the ropes. Said running doesn’t include much in the way of contact until Morrison is sent outside. Fenix’s dive is cut off with a kick to the head but he’s fine enough to grab a rolling cutter for two back inside.
A Crossface doesn’t last long for Fenix so Morrison takes him outside and drapes him between the ring and the apron. An ax kick brings Fenix down but hold on as Morrison dives over the barricade and steals a fan’s hat. The hat is put in Morrison’s pants and rubbed in various places before being returned to the fan….who puts it back on. That’s certainly a new one.
Back in and Morrison grabs a chinlock with a bodyscissors, which lasts as long as a chinlock would be expected to last. They head to the apron, where Fenix kicks him down and hits a top rope double stomp to the back of the head. Well it wasn’t the Destroyer I was expecting so I’ll take that as an upgrade. That’s good for two back inside but Morrison grabs a powerslam of all things. A standing shooting star press gets two on Fenix, who comes back with a great looking superkick.
The 450 misses though and Morrison grabs a Spanish Fly for two of his own, leaving them both down. They slug it out until Morrison leg lariats him down again. Back up and Morrison spits in his face and fires off a middle finger, which means he needs to hide behind the referee. That sets up the low blow and Flying Chuck, but Starship Pain doesn’t work. Fenix is back up with a Canadian Destroyer for the pin at 13:32.
Rating: B. If you’ve seen one Fenix match then you’ve seen them all, and as usual it was as exciting of a match as you are going to see on the show. This was another very entertaining match and Fenix continues to somehow be even better on his own than his great work as a tag wrestler. Good stuff here, and the kind of fast paced match you knew you were getting from Fenix. Morrison was his usual self as well, and the heel work continues ot be his strong suit.
Post match the fans throw in money, which Morrison grabs before running off, as expected. Fenix flips him off to even the score a bit.
Riddle, in a different hat than earlier, seems disappointed by his loss but he knows he can beat anyone. I think at least, as he’s kind of hard to understand.
Chuck Taylor wants Alex Daniels on April 22, which happens to be his birthday.
Sami Callihan/Abyss vs. Low Ki/???
JT Davidson handles Callihan and Abyss’ introduction. Low Ki’s partner is….Kongo Kong, a rather large jungle savage monster. It’s a brawl to start with Ki (in his Hitman (game, not Hart) gear) hitting a dropkick to send Callihan outside. Abyss cuts him off but Kong hits a big dive to take everyone down. Callihan is back up with a spitting chop to Ki as Abyss and Kong brawl next to the barricade.
Ki and Callihan fight on the stage, with Kong cutting Callihan off before he can send Ki flying. Back on the floor, Ki hits some running forearms to Callihan but does stop for a quick drink. Kong posts Abyss and takes Callihan inside as they trade off for the first time. Callihan’s shots to the face don’t work as Kong catches him with a spinning slam.
Abyss is back in with a chokeslam to Kong but Ki knocks him down as well. That leaves Ki and Callihan to slug it out until Ki misses a charge into the corner. A running kick in the corner rocks Ki but he’s right back with a shotgun dropkick. With the two of them down, Kong and Abyss slug it out, with Abyss hitting the Black Hole Slam for the pin at 9:32.
Rating: C. This was the weakest match of the night for me as it was a big brawl with no one exactly standing out. I’m not a fan of the Hitman Low Ki phase and it felt like it kept going for far longer than it should have. Abyss is still a good choice for a monster/enforcer, while Callihan does feel like a top heel. Kong as a replacement for Eddie Kingston…didn’t exactly work. Not a bad match, but it didn’t exactly make me want to see more.
Post match, Abyss and Callihan give us a display of middle finger extensions.
Michael Elgin is proud of his win and wants the World Title.
AAW Heritage Title: Penta El Zero M vs. AR Fox
Penta is defending the midcard title. This means nothing though, as Fox comes out to the Space Jam theme, making him the coolest guy named Fox in this match. They start very fast with a double knockdown and the fans are rather appreciative. Or maybe that’s over Penta’s CERO MIEDO thing. Penta knocks him to the floor but the dive is cut off by a kick to the head (popular spot tonight).
Fox gets superkicked out of the air but knocks Penta outside as well. That means the second cut off dive in a row, though Fox is fine enough to hit a hanging Codebreaker. A moonsault off the post hits Penta on the floor and it’s time for the big chop off. Fox puts him on the apron for a top rope legdrop and they head back inside. Penta pops up with a pair of Sling Blades but Fox kicks him down again.
There’s a Swanton for two on Penta, leaving Fox to do the clapping to start getting the fans more into things. A handspring is cut off with a dropkick (cool counter) from Penta for a breather. It’s time to start on the arm but Fox saves himself from a snapping. Penta gets caught on top but comes right back with a Canadian Destroyer for two.
Fox puts him on top for his springboard Spanish Fly, followed straight by the 450 for two more, giving us the stunned kickout face. They head to the apron to strike it out until Fox hits a package piledriver to knock Penta silly. Naturally that is shrugged off and Penta hits a Canadian Destroyer on the apron. The top rope double stomp retains the title at 10:13.
Rating: B. Fox is someone who is almost revered and I do get a bit more out of him when I see him in the ring. That was the case here, as Fox looked good in defeated. Granted it helps when you actually sell big moves for more than a few seconds, as Penta popping up after being dropped on his head on the apron didn’t exactly work. Solid main event, but it didn’t quite feel like the main event of a major show.
Respect is shown post match and Penta poses. A lot. As money is thrown in. Then he leaves.
The Besties In The World want their Tag Team Titles back, but apparently they have a singles match to deal with first. Davey Vega isn’t pleased and leaves.
ACH calls AAW his new wife and wants the World Title.
The Lucha Bros are very happy with their wins but Rey Fenix wants the World Title. Threats to Sami Callihan are made to end the show.
Overall Rating: A-. I had a really good time with this one and it felt like a big time independent show. Granted, that’s assuming you consider a promotion that has been around for thirteen years to be independent but that’s a different story. The action was good, it was a basic all star show of wrestlers you probably came to know from their work after this, and nothing was close to bad. It didn’t have that one match that felt bigger than the rest, but what we got here was very good. Check this place out if you get the chance as I’ve seen two shows from them now and had a good time with each.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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