Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. 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?
Mercury Rising 2018
Date: April 6, 2018
Location: Pontchartrain Convention & Civic Center, Kenner, Louisiana
Commentators: Lenny Leonard, Ron Niemi
This is the WWN (World Wrestling Network) Supershow, which is a bunch of smaller promotions (Evolve, Shine, Full Impact Pro and more). The thing is, I’ve never actually seen anything from the majority of them. I’ve always wanted to check them out but the schedule never worked or I was just too busy to get there. This year though I’ve done a little bit of everything from almost every big promotion over Wrestlemania weekend so I might as well try it now. Let’s get to it.
I’m coming into this virtually blind as I only somewhat follow this promotion, meaning I’m likely not going to know a lot of people and stories.
Ad for Club WWN, their version of the Network.
Host Trevin Adams is in the ring to welcome us to the show and run down the card. There’s a pretty good sized crowd if nothing else.
DJZ/AR Fox/Trey Miguel vs. Austin Theory/Travis Banks/Zachary Wentz
Lucha rules so I hope I can tell who everyone is. If I’m right, Theory is the current FIP (Full Impact Pro, a promotion under the WWN banner) and WWN (as in the whole thing, kind of like the NWA World Champion, which he won earlier in the night) Champion while Banks is the Progress World Champion. Commentary just jumps in and starts talking about the history of six man tags on this show without even saying hello or saying who is who.
Theory tells DJZ to play his horn to start and forearms him in his distracted face. Fox and Wentz come in with Wentz snapping off a hurricanrana, meaning it’s Miguel replacing Fox as the fast start continue. With the announcer saying they haven’t seen either guy before, it’s off to Banks for a running knee but DJZ comes back in for an Indian deathlock, including the horn from the floor. DJZ sends Theory to the floor for a big springboard dive but Wentz dives onto everyone else.
Miguel hits another dive of his own so Fox follows him with a springboard imploding 450. Now maybe it’s just the audio, but you would expect a much stronger reaction (or at least a louder one) than any of those dives received. Fox brings Theory back in and it’s a human centipede of dragon sleepers. Miguel comes in and kicks everyone down and it’s a bit of a breather.
Banks is up first with kicks to Miguel and Fox, followed by a Cannonball to both. Miguel 619s Banks in the ribs but misses a top rope double stomp, only to hit a….springboard crotch to the face? It was either supposed to be a seated senton, a hurricanrana or reversed into a powerbomb but it didn’t really resemble any.
Theory is back with a powerbomb to Fox but DJZ gives him one of his own. Banks gets in a spinning fisherman’s driver as the pace has gone through the roof. Wentz drops Miguel on his head and a Roll of the Dice sets up a Swanton to give Fox two. DJZ hits a 450 on Wentz as Fox and Miguel nail suicide dives for the pin at 8:24.
Rating: B-. Some insanely fast paced offense but they’re not doing a great job of laying things out for a new fan. I was trying to keep track of who was who and why they were fighting each other but that’s the case with most shows at this level. Still though, very fun opener and the kind of match you want on a show like this. I’d assume this sets up some sort of a title shot down the line, or else why have a double champion’s team lose?
Indeed, Fox motions that he wants the title.
Jason Kincaid comes out for a match but Jarek 1:20 jumps him from behind and beats him down. That’s not it as Jarek handcuffs him to the barricade, meaning it’s time to mention the Louisiana State Athletic Commission. Jarek kicks him in the face and chokes a lot as Kincaid screams a lot. Apparently this is part of a heel turn as Jarek wants to be a bigger deal around here. Makes enough sense and the announcers explained it to us so well done, though telling us a bit more about Jarek and/or Kincaid would have helped.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Munenori Sawa
Sawa is a striker/shoot submission guy who is back after a fairly lengthy retirement. Sabre on the other hand is a submission master who does things that I can’t even describe most of the time. He also lost the Evolve Championship the night before so he’s on a bit of a downswing. Sawa slaps him in the face to start and we’re ready to go in the technical style match of the night.
The announcers explain Sawa’s Japanese pedigree (good) as Sabre takes him down into a double armbar which is quickly escaped. They grapple on the mat and Sawa has to bail to the ropes again. Both guys head outside for a slap off, which isn’t exactly Sabre’s strong point. Sawa knocks him into and out of a chair before they fight over abdominal stretches back inside. Very technical so far and it’s mostly even in the early going. Sawa starts in on the leg but Sabre slaps his way out of an early leglock.
A power drive elbow (ala Great Muta) has Sabre in more trouble and it’s time for the rapid fire strikes in the corner. They head to the apron with Sawa grabbing an ankle lock but getting reversed into a nasty armbar. That’s broken due to the ropes so Sawa is right back on the leg. Sabre isn’t about to be out technicaled so he pulls Sawa into an STF and then a headscissors with an armbar.
Another rope break saves Sawa so it’s off to an Octopus Hold with Sabre having to fall into the ropes for the break. Sabre counters a punch into a cross armbreaker (with a middle finger to the fans, as is his custom) but Sawa reverses into a choke of his own. That earns Sawa a Pele and a leglock/Brock Lock on the mat (Orienting With Napalm Death. Seriously, though not the same move with the same name from Strong Style Evolved) for the tap at 13:22.
Rating: B. Sabre fascinates me more every time I watch him as some of those holds defy the laws of physics. I can see why he’s such a star on shows like this as he’s just a treat to watch. Sawa isn’t someone I’m overly familiar with but he was fine here, albeit not someone who really stood out.
Post match Sawa gets the big ovation. It wasn’t that great of a match.
The End vs. James Drake/Anthony Henry vs. Tracy Williams/Dominic Garrini
Street fight and the End is Odinson/Parrow. I have no idea who any of these people are so I’m going to be in some trouble here. Williams and Garrini, part of the Catch Point stable (albeit with Garrini as hired muscle and not a full member), seem to be faces and have former ROH manager Stokely Hathaway with them. Stokely says he accepted this match to show how great Catch Point is a national treasure and takes a seat at ringside. Actually hang on as Drake and Henry come out, sending Stokely running to the back.
The End, with their unnamed manager, comes in and starts the brawl with Catch Point (seemingly the feud the match is built around) but Garrini hits a big flip dive off the top to take everyone down. The announcers recap the backstory (Drake/Henry challenged the End and Catch Point jumped in to get their hands on the End) as the End’s theme song goes on for a long time. Garrini gets beaten down inside and Williams sets up a table on the floor. Williams and Garrini get back up and double team Henry in the corner but the End come in and take over.
A ladder is brought in to cut Odinson off and another shot drops Parrow but the manager (Drenin) gets inside. That earns him a kick to the head and some running chops in the corner to get us back to the regular six. Williams and Henry slug away on the End but Williams makes the save with a chair. The huge Parrow takes the chair away from Williams but gets powerbombed onto (not through) the table at ringside. There’s another table in the ring and a double suplex puts Odinson through for another near fall.
Garrini’s armbar on Williams is quickly broken up and Henry and Anthony put his bare feet in the ladder for a series of chair shots. Williams saves Garrini from a double superplex but the End comes back in for stereo Towers of Doom. They’re not done though as it’s a Super Collider for two each on Henry and Drake. Another table is loaded up in the corner and a Pounce puts Garrini through it in short order.
The End takes Williams down with Henry making the save before taking Drenin out again. The good sized Drake hits a nice moonsault but Drake wants more violence instead of the pin. That means a bunch of chair shots and yet another table being brought in because we haven’t had one of those in a while. Henry hits a Coup de Grace onto Odinson through the table (well kind of as the legs broke but the middle held) for the pin at 13:24.
Rating: D+. Well that happened. This was far from good with only some energy throughout the whole thing. I still have very little idea of who these people are or why they’re fighting in the first place. Again, I know the regular fans know who they are but could we get a little more for the new fans? On top of that, the action wasn’t very good with no real story and very few near falls. It just felt like people hitting each other with weapons for the sake of hitting each other with weapons, which has been done far better before.
We take a quick break for the sake of clearing the ring. This includes the ring crew sweeping, earning a SWEEP FOREVER chant. So they’d rather watch sweeping than the wrestling they paid for? Indy fans are weird.
Shine Championship: LuFisto vs. Holidead
Shine is an offshoot of Shimmer and LuFisto is defending. Holidead is something like a zombie and has appeared in ROH and Impact. LuFisto heads into the corner to start but misses a charge and gets rolled up for two. A missed big boot allows LuFisto to tie her into the Tree of Woe for a Cannonball (looks better with the upside down part). It’s time to work on the knee with Holidead’s leg being wrapped around the post, followed by a rather long chinlock.
Holidead fights up and slugs away with a neckbreaker getting two. To mix things up a bit, she licks LuFisto’s face and gets two more off a side slam. A spinebuster plants LuFisto again but she takes her into the corner for a quick Facewash. Holidead is right back with a Samoan drop but LuFisto is back on the knee with a spinning toehold and an inverted Figure Four. That means a rope break and Holidead is right back with something like White Noise for two more. A guillotine legdrop misses (would have missed no matter what happened) and LuFisto grabs a Burning Hammer to retain at 8:13.
Rating: D. This was two women doing moves to each other for eight minutes until one person hit a big move for the win. It’s not a good match with neither of them really standing out and both of them just kind of being there instead of doing something special. I don’t know if this is a big draw for the show, but this did nothing for me whatsoever.
Post match LuFisto says she’s tired of Barbie dolls and is going to hold this title until she retires. She wants to fight someone special at Shine 50 so cue Kimber Lee (formerly Kimberly Frankele/Abbey Laith in NXT) and the match seems to be made.
Keith Lee vs. Daisuke Sekimoto
I’ve heard of Sekimoto (a big guy named the Muscle Monster) before but, again, have never actually seen him. Lee is a big deal around here (losing the WWN Championship earlier in the day) so this is probably one of the biggest matches on the show. They trade big shoulders to start with Sekimoto going back a few steps.
Lee, who makes Big E. look small, snaps off a passable hurricanrana because he can. An exchange of forearms has Sekimoto down and we hit a neck crank. Back up and a hard right hand rocks Sekimoto so it’s time for the big, heavy slugout. Sekimoto muscles him up for a slam and we hit an abdominal stretch as the video and audio are out of sync.
A big suplex sets up a missile dropkick to rock Lee for two but he’s back up with a crossbody for two. Lee grabs a sitout Sky High for the same and hits middle rope moonsault….hits? It grazed Sekimoto but apparently he moved in time. A bridging German suplex puts Lee away at 13:38.
Rating: B. Now that was fun in the hoss battle sense with both guys beating the heck out of each other. Sekimoto has a great look and is far more muscular than most guys you would see on a show like this, making him all the more entertaining to watch. I could have gone for more of this and that’s a good thing. Well done and I’m not surprised that Lee signed with WWE.
Post match hardcore “wrestler” Nick Gage comes in to clean house. He’ll be in the parking lot if anyone wants a fight. Gage leaves and Lee gets up as the fans….kind of cheer? Lee is ready to face Gage at an upcoming show.
Evolve Tag Team Titles: Chris Dickinson/Jaka vs. Ringkampf
Dickinson and Jaka (part of Catch Point with Hathaway at ringside) are defending and Ringkampf is Walter (not doing the all caps thing) and Timothy Thatcher (the longest reigning Evolve Champion ever. Walter is another guy I’ve never actually seen wrestle before and is a monster by comparison at 6’4 and probably 300lbs. Thatcher and Jaka start things off and it’s already time to go after Jaka’s arm.
That’s broken up so Thatcher goes after the leg and draws Dickinson in, allowing the tag to Walter. The challengers take turns on Jaka’s arm with Walter kicking Dickinson off the apron. Hathaway is arguing with the fans as Jaka gets chopped into the wrong corner. A missed charge allows the hot tag off to Dickinson so the pace can pick up a bit. Dickinson hits a running corner clothesline for two and the champs start taking turns on Thatcher in the corner.
A rather twisty leglock keeps Thatcher in trouble so Walter comes in for the save like a good partner should be doing. Thatcher gets away with a belly to belly and the tag brings the monster back in. That means big old chops and a big boot to Dickinson. Walter and Dickinson slug it out with Dickinson even gyrating the hips a bit. Thatcher and Jaka come back in with Jaka missing a very fast spinning kick to the head. A double knockdown leaves us with Walter kicking Dickinson in the face but taking a Falcon Arrow for two.
Dickinson gets in a tornado DDT to keep Walter down but he’s right back up with a butterfly suplex. Walter sleepers Dickinson until Jaka dives in with a top rope splash for the save in a good looking crash. The hot tag brings in Thatcher but it’s the Death Trap (Doomsday Device with a chokeslam instead of a clothesline, which didn’t look nearly as cool as it sounded) to retain the titles at 15:27.
Rating: B. This felt like a team getting the win because they were a better team, which you don’t see happen very often. It’s nice to see some good tag action like this and you can almost pencil in Walter for NXT in the next few years. Good match and something that was easy to follow on its own, even in another case where I didn’t know most of the people.
Post match Catch Point is here with Williams saying the team is doing great but there’s a problem. Hathaway has caused issues as the businessman so he’s out. That’s not how things work though, as it turns out Hathaway’s contract puts him in control of the entire team, so Williams is the one who has been fired. This brings out Garrini to lay Williams out and the team takes his Catch Point shirt.
Evolve Title: Matt Riddle vs. Will Ospreay
Riddle is defending (having won the title yesterday and again, I’ve never seen a match of his) and this is under Riddle Rules, meaning no rope breaks. Ospreay is VERY banged up coming in, with a bad neck and shoulder thanks to injuries suffered in Japan. So Riddle is known as the King of Bros and really, it’s kind of the perfect name for him. You would get the same vibe if you looked at him so well done.
Riddle takes his time going around shaking hands with fans and is wrestling barefoot, as is his custom. They do the Big Match Intros and Riddle misses a jumping knee to the face so it’s a Helluva Kick and release German suplex from Ospreay but Riddle pops to his feet. A dropkick puts Riddle on the floor for a suicide dive as Ospreay is throwing everything he has at him early on due to the injuries taking his stamina.
They head to the apron and you can see the crazy look in Ospreay’s eyes. Riddle German suplexes him on the apron though and Ospreay is already near death. Back in and an exploder has Ospreay down again and some rolling gutwrench suplexes get two. Riddle slowly kicks at him as the fans are begging him to hit Ospreay in the bad shoulder. That just ticks Ospreay off and he sends Riddle into the corner for the hesitation dropkick.
Riddle powerbombs the heck out of him though and flips Ospreay over for a hard knee to the face. A kick to the shoulder cuts Ospreay off and it’s a sleeper suplex (cool) for two. The Bro-Mission (an abdominal stretch on the mat with a leg trap) goes on and Ospreay’s already in trouble.
Somehow he gets up and climbs to the top for a sleeper superplex, which is enough to need the medics. Well more referees in this case and Riddle is told to stand in the corner. Ospreay tells the referees to let it go so it’s a running knee to the back of the head and a Tombstone (how illegal) for a very close two, meaning Riddle is ticked. He takes the tape off of Ospreay’s neck and drops a backsplash to the upper back.
A running knee to the face gets one and Riddle isn’t having something like this. He loads up a cradle piledriver but Ospreay reverses into a triangle choke of all things and a hard lariat puts Riddle down. Riddle’s next knee strike is countered into a sitout powerbomb (with Ospreay nearly dropping him) for two. The Oscutter (springboard cutter) is pulled into the Bro-Mission though and Ospreay taps at 13:53.
Rating: B+. I completely get it with Riddle as he has a great look and made the MMA stuff look as natural as you could have hoped. The idea of a killer like that beating on an already injured Ospreay made for a very emotional match and if Ospreay had just a few more close calls, this would have been a classic. As it is though, it’s a very good story and a heck of a match worthy of being a big show’s main event.
Post match Riddle says that was an awesome performance from Ospreay and praises the fans. A little posing and a catchphrase end the show.
Overall Rating: A-. I know I say this a lot but this is a great example of a show where the good is really good and the bad is either short or not terrible. The action itself was strong and there were people I’d want to see again. As mentioned though, the biggest problem was trying to figure out who these people were or what they were doing. Maybe a supershow was a bad place to come in for something like that, but they need to do a better job of welcoming in new viewers. What we got was good though and the string of rather good matches is more than enough to make this worth a look. Surprisingly awesome show.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the History Of In Your House.
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