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Sermon on the Mat (Sept. 1, 2016): Freelance Big Trouble in Wicker Park recap, big tournament weekend coming up, Shine 37 card, and more!

Welcome back to the Sermon on the Mat, your weekly one-stop shop for news from the wider world of wrestling beyond the big cable TV monoliths that get all the coverage.

In the news

Chikara King of Trios 2016 (September 2-4)

Team #CWC (Cedric Alexander, Drew Gulak, & Johnny Gargano) vs. The Warriors Three (Oleg the Usurper, Princess KimberLee, & ThunderFrog)

Team Original Divas Revolution (Jazz, Mickie James, & Victoria) vs. Team Shimmer (Candice LeRae, “Crazy” Mary Dobson, & Solo Darling)

Team Big Deal (The Big Deal, Rick Roland, & Sloan Caprice) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant, Silver Ant, & Soldier Ant)

Heidi Lovelace & N_R_G (Hype Rockwell & Race Jaxon) vs. Team Sendai Girls (Cassandra Miyagi, Dash Chisako, & Meiko Satomura)

Team Police Squad (Bill Carr, Officer Warren Barksdale, & Supercop Dick Justice) vs. United Nations (Juan Francisco de Coronado, Prakash Sabar, & the Proletariat Boar of Moldova)

Team JWP (Command Bolshoi, Hanako Nakamori, & Manami Katsu) vs. The Snake Pit (Amasis, Argus, & Ophidian)

Major League Moustache (Dasher Hatfield, Trent Seven, & Tyler Bate) vs. The Batiri (Kobald, Kodama, & Obariyon)

Arctic Rescue Ant, Missile Assault Man, & Worker Ant vs. Hallowicked, ???, & ???

I’ll leave it to my main Chikara man BryanDanielson’sBeard to run down the card in more detail, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a brief overview of the biggest trios tournament of the year right here. In addition to the main attraction listed out above, both Rey de Voladores (featuring Aerostar, Space Monkey, Tony Nese, Frightmare, Wani, and more) and the traditional night three tag team gauntlet (featuring Los Ice Creams, Devastation Corporation, Rock Lobster & Hermit Crab, Dez Peloton, Team Sea Stars, and assuredly several teams that get knocked out of trios competition) will be returning this year.

It’s plain to see these three nights will be overflowing with talent, folks. If you’re in the Easton, Pennsylvania area and you’d like to catch the show, general admission tickets are still available here, or you can watch on VOD after it goes up on Chikaratopia.

PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2016 (September 2-4)

—Night One—

Fénix vs. Will Ospreay

Chris Hero vs. Jushin Liger

John Hennigan vs. Matt Sydal

Jeff Cobb vs. Ricochet

Marty Scurll vs. Pentagón, Jr.

Tommy End vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

Adam Cole & the Young Bucks vs. Dalton Castle & the Boys

—Night Two—

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Riddle

Dalton Castle vs. Jack Gallagher

Mark Andrews vs. Pete Dunne

Kamaitachi vs. Trevor Lee

Cedric Alexander vs. Mark Haskins

Cody Rhodes vs. Sami Callihan

Adam Cole & the Young Bucks vs. Matt Sydal, Ricochet, & Will Ospreay

Fénix & Pentagón, Jr. vs. Heroes.Eventually.Die (Chris Hero & Tommy End)

It’s here, it’s here! The biggest tournament in indie wrestling has arrived, and it’s as jam packed as ever. Most of these matchups are tantalizing, but I’d like to single out Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Riddle as potentially one of the best grappling contests of the year. Matt Riddle simply doesn’t have bad matches, and Kyle O’Reilly is probably the best North American technical wrestler not in the Evolve system at this point in time.

Of course, tickets sold out about three minutes before they went on sale and Super Dragon’s business model precludes any sort of iPPV broadcast, but it’ll be on DVD soon enough.

Shine 37 (September 2)

Dominique Fabiano vs. Priscilla Kelly (Sparkle Showcase Match)

Amber Gallows vs. Kennadi Brink vs. Leva vs. Tracy Taylor

Raquel vs. Santana

Su Yung vs. Vanessa Kraven

Andrea vs. Mercedes Martinez

Malia Hosaka vs. Thunderkitty (I Quit Match)

Allysin Kay vs. Ivelisse (c) (Shine Championship)

The World Wrestling Network’s flagship women’s promotion is holding their next iPPV on Friday, and though the whole card isn’t set yet, what we have looks quite nice. Mercedes Martinez makes her return to Shine for the first time in two years against the imposing Andrea, lady wrestler throwback Thunderkitty faces down 29-year veteran Malia Hosaka in an I Quit Match, and former TNA Knockouts Champion Allysin “Sienna” Kay takes a shot at Ivelisse’s championship in a very 2016 matchup.

All this plus more featuring the likes of LuFisto, Rachael Ellering, a debuting Thea “Rosita” Trinidad, and many more! If any of this piques your interest, you can pick up tickets here if you’re in the Ybor City area, or you can buy the iPPV on Remember to order tonight if you want to save $5!

Anthony Henry vs. Steve Corino

Courtesy of the fine folks over at PWF Crystal Coast we have one fresh off the stove for you this week. Henry and Corino met in the squared circle last Friday, and it is a hoot. Largely built around the age-old story of youth vs. experience, there’s some real cool stuff going on under the hood here, including an awesome escalation built around a trip on the apron. Plus the small child cheering for Corino the entire way is adorable. Check it out!

Freelance Wrestling Big Trouble in Wicker Park (August 26)

Jake Something over Alex Ohlson, El Chivas Blancas, “Pretty” Peter Avalon, Russian Beast, & Suge D by pinfall.

Fun opener in the Freelance tradition, everybody got to do stuff. Dance-off action early on gave way to Jake Something not wanting to play along. Was impressed with him here, he had a lot of good hoss value. El Chivas Blancas has a goat-themed exotico gimmick, so that’s, uh, interesting. Lot of stuff to like here, including a big ol’ headscissors and crab human submissionpede, a bunch of big dives from all the flying types, Ohlson dying repeatedly, and Suge D going full kung fu in the home stretch, even busting out the one-inch palm strike.

Both Suge and Something got pins at the same time, but the ref only counted for Something, so he went over and that’s an obvious feud starter, should be fun.

JJ Garrett over Andras Vidal by pinfall.

My first time seeing either of these dudes. Lot of feeling out early on, Vidal pulls ahead only to get cut off hard with an uppercut counter to a suicide dive. It doesn’t turn the tide on its own, but eventually a big German into the turnbuckles gets the job done and Garrett takes charge. Vidal busted out the craziest flipping gutwrench slam, really neat, almost kind of like a ranhei variant. Both men reduced to trading strikes after that before Garrett picks up the win with a splash.

Nice little match, would certainly not mind seeing more of both men in the future.

Robert “Ego” Anthony & Space Monkey over Ethan Page & Kobe Durst by pinfall.

Page and Durst out first and then some... Ghostbusters? Ah, Ego and Monkey out with proton packs and Anthony says that they’re here to have fun and “dickless” Ethan Page doesn’t want that. Yes, this man has no dick. Page protests, going so far as to ask Durst to confirm that he has a dick.

Ego and Durst to start, banana peel action and then fighting on the outside. Ego taking Durst pillar to post. Finally a tag and Monkey takes Durst to ground, pounding him and... grooming him? Yes, grooming him. Because he’s a monkey. Durst slips out, Page finally in and... I think Monkey made him eat his banana? Double teams turn it around, though, and they... spank the Monkey? Not literally, of course, but after a while the puns have a life of their own.

Anyway, they beat the holy hell out of Space Monkey for a while before he finally slips out with a headbutt, a roundhouse, and a tail whip to Ethan Page and makes the tag. RKEgo sets up a diving splash from Durst before they go looking for a double team suplex but Ego slips out and Space Monkey comes in with the double cannonball! Ego DVDs Monkey over the ropes onto Page and Durst! California Roll on Durst but Page gets the blind tag. All four men down and out and striking for a bit, then the crowd thins and Ego drops Durst with a brutal powerbomb. Page goes to hit Ego but accidentally brains himself with a chair and Ego rolls him up, it’s over!

Really fun match, like all the matches in this feud. Space Monkey is way too much fun. Post-match Page lays down a challenge for one more singles match and Ego accepts on the condition that it’s in a cage! Looking forward to that one, for sure.

Isaias Velazquez over Chase Owens by submission.

Grappling early, Velazquez looking for a handshake but Owens slaps him away. Some tight, well-executed sequences around denying Velazquez a suicide dive. Chase goes full Jackson with the suck-its and Velazquez makes him eat a Manhattan Drop in return!

Fired up, Velazquez throws a string of dropkicks at Owens in the corner and follows it with a riff on the tree of woe stomp! Slingshot backbreaker and a superkick from Owens! Ridiculously loud strikes here, even with the rough quality audio they’re cutting through. And there are a lot of them at this point in the match. Chase Owens with a nearfall on an awesome elevated snapmare type maneuver out of the corner!

Reversal after reversal in the last act here, but Velazquez finally comes through with a double underhook piledriver for the win. Quite a good match.

Chris Castro over Matt Knicks (Last Man Standing).

Both men armed for bear here but they choose to do it the old fashioned way, raining down punches on each other. Soon enough, fighting on the outside, which is always the downside of consuming Freelance by these streams. Back at ringside eventually and although it’s still hard to tell what’s going on, there’s a series of sick thuds and flashes of chairs glinting in the light.

Hey, back in the ring! Castro’s out of it and Knicks is taking it to him hard, so clearly those were his chairshots. Castro throws a trash can into Knicks’ face from across the ring! Knicks introduces a barbed wire board into the proceedings and for a few minutes the drama is all about who’s going in it, but this is pro wrestling, c’mon. He who smelt it, dealt it, and Knicks eats a beautiful Big C spinebuster into the board.

Knicks goes Coast to Coast! Back to the outside after and Knicks starts dismantling the ring! Mat is removed, pads are torn out, he drags Castro back in the ring but Big C ain’t dead yet! Up to the second, looking for a butterfly suplex but Knicks fights out and looks for a double underhook maneuver of his own but they abandon ship. Slugging it out on the boards now, Knicks is out of it. Pat on the cheek, underhooks... VERTEBREAKER ON THE EXPOSED BOARDS! Both men are down, Castro gets to his feet at eight, it’s over!

That was an epic war and I could only see about 2/3rds of it. This’ll come off even better with full production on VOD, folks. Definitely worth your time.

Mr. 450 over Joey Lynch by pinfall.

Feeling out early on gets a well-deserved “Both these guys!” chant and a handshake but Lynch takes the cheap shot! Lynch with that cannon-shot suicide dive and he’s in charge for a while. Apron kick goes bad and 450 trips him before launching dives of his own. The hard camera makes it hard to see the follow-up but it gives a unique perspective on the dive, and man, Mr. 450 absolutely fires himself out the ropes. Like he speeds up on the outside somehow, it’s nuts.

Huge springboard tornado DDT and 450 levels the field but Lynch comes back with that enzuigiri/German suplex combo and leaves 450 reeling. Superkick for bicycle kick, Lynch nails him with a tight Michinoku Driver. Rolling Germans from 450 but Lynch fights out with a stomp to the foot and back elbows. Runs up the turnbuckles only to get caught by a snap German off the second for a close nearfall!

Lynch looking for a springboard moonsault but he slips and his knee gives out. A second try lands but 450 kicks out! Forearms for forearms as they get to their feet but Lynch ends it with a rolling solebutt. Counters a DDT by tossing 450 away and down to the mat. Canadian Destroyer from 450, he’s up to the top... the 450 splash! It’s over.

Lotta fun, good match to come back from intermission on, and if you’re not on the Joey Lynch train, get on now, because it’s just about departure time and you want to be able to say you watched him before he was a big deal nationwide, right?

Mustafa Ali (c) over GPA by submission to retain the Freelance Championship.

Ali is billed as being from the WWE Network, because it’s 2016 and the wrestling has blessed us.

Wristlock early, the crowd is heavily in favor of Ali. GPA gets some chants of his own but it seems to get into his head. Ali putting on a submission clinic, La Campana and an Indian deathlock and GPA seems flustered. Hammerlock, GPA reverses and sends Ali flying halfway across the ring and he seems to get his head back in the game.

A long sequence of tight exchanges and GPA has a triangle! Ali slips out and into the ropes but now the shoe’s on the other foot. GPA wags a finger in Ali’s face and they start shoving each other, then forearms, then Ali fires off a hard knee and they go corner to corner before Ali slips to the outside.

GPA looking for a fireman’s carry maneuver on the apron but Ali shoots him off and catches him with a neckbreaker! Spinning neckbreaker into a bridging pin and GPA’s neck is hurting. Looking for another neckbreaker GPA with the backslide but Ali slides in with a snap reverse STO, snapping GPA’s neck again! Snapmare into a kick and big slap and GPA tries to rally, but Ali picks him up back suplex style and drops him into a kick to the back!

Dropkicks GPA to the outside, tope con giro over the referee! Back in the ring and Ali throws a chair at his neck! GPA set up in the chair, head under the backrest, Ali goes to the top but GPA gets up and trips him neck-first into the turnbuckle! Turnabout! Backbreaker/back suplex combo and the champ is feeling it. Back body drop, GPA is going after Ali’s back hard here. Running powerslam onto the knee gets two!

Feed has lost video at this point, but it’s not too long before it comes back. Ali drops GPA and stomps on his friggin’ neck! Roll-through neckbreaker and a reverse STO into the ropes, Ali follows with a kick and GPA rolls outside. HUGE diving knee from the champion! 450 comes up empty back in the ring and GPA lands a big lariat and a snapmare driver but it’s not enough!

Here we lose the plot a bit, as both guys start trading huge bombs for nearfalls. Like, it’s fun, there’s a lot of cool moves here (I popped hard for Ali doing a Thunder Fire Powerbomb), but a bit excessive. My feed going out a few more times here didn’t help, especially since it went out for the actual finish, which was Ali getting a Koji Clutch and GPA passing out.

Good match but it could have been great. First two-thirds were really amazing, though. Like three different layers of psychology as the match moved from Ali being in GPA’s head and having the better of him and GPA having to get his wits about him to Ali destroying GPA’s neck, to GPA destroying Ali’s back in return... and then they went to bombs and finisher kickouts. Not that that’s a bad way to finish the match, but a little less would have been more. Still, more impressed with Ali every time I see him and GPA really impressed me here as well.

The N-Words (Acid Jaz & Bryce Benjamin) over Beauty & the Beast (Rob Matter & Stevie Fierce) (c) by pinfall to win the Freelance Tag Team Championship.

N-Words in charge early, taking Stevie Fierce pillar to post. Rob Matter in, they invite him to have a seat and back suplex the chair, taking him with it! Fighting on the outside and I can barely see Matter and Fierce setting up a table, but it doesn’t come into play right away. Instead, they set the ladder up in a corner and slam Bryce Benjamin into it, setting him up in the tree of woe. Stevie grinds his crotch into Bryce’s face, because of course he does.

Looking for a powerbomb but Bryce kicks Stevie’s face in on the way up. Jaz sets up a chair and grabs Fierce in a backbreaker type position and Bryce stomps his head through the chair! Matter with the airplane ladder spot but the N-Words have it scouted, ducking, tripping, and then applying a ladder-assisted double-team camel clutch.

Bryce going to town with knees but Fierce ducks and headscissors him into a chair! Slam on the ladder, bridging rear chinlock, Jaz breaks it up! But with Bryce out, he takes a beating, getting slammed hard into a ladder in the corner. Full nelson into a DDT on a chair but it’s not enough to put Bryce away.

Fierce with a DVD to Jaz off the apron through Chekhov’s table! Splash-assisted Killswitch through a table! Ladder set up in the middle now, Bryce with a sunset flip bomb off it and through the other ladder in the corner!

Jaz with a fresh table, Rob Matter waffles him with a chair and sets him up on his table. Up to the second but Bryce cuts him off, knocks Jaz away from the table and after a stumble, lands a jumping tombstone off the second on BUT NOT THROUGH the table! That gets the pin and we have NEW Freelance Tag Team Champions!

Another really good stipulation match and a fine ending to another really strong show for Freelance. Total recommendation on VOD, especially for the two stipulation matches, Lynch/450, and about the first 2/3rds of Ali/GPA. Seriously, I’m a bit down on the final stretch, but those first 2/3rds were brilliant. Can’t praise that part of the match enough.

Video quality on the $5 stream was much better, although there were some audio issues that left the entire show sounding like it was underwater, plus a couple times when the video feed went dead, so it certainly wasn’t perfect, but for $5 I ain’t gonna complain, and I have the utmost faith that Freelance will continue to improve the quality, albeit keeping in mind that these streams aren’t meant to be the final product. Check ‘em out, folks!

As always...

Remember folks, no matter what type of wrestling you like, no matter how down you feel about the state of WWE, TNA, ROH, or any other "big-time" pro wrestling, there's something out there for you. There's a pro wrestling product that can hit you in the right spot and make you love wrestling like you thought you'd never be able to love it again. It's there, I promise. You just gotta reach out and find it, and that, my friends, is what the Sermon on the Mat is all about.

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