IT’S TIME TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT WRESTLING!
On the heels of the biggest and best main event they’ve had, NOVA Pro was gearing up for its next major milestone: a December 28 livestream on Powerbomb.tv. But to get there, they had to plow through two other events. One was their Black Friday show, featuring some Survivor Series elements; the other was this show, Pumpkin Spice Lariats, held Friday at Annandale’s Fox Hall connected to the VFD.
This show had a more regional feel than its predecessor. Gone was the "who’s higher on the pecking order" match structure of Donst vs. Kermon and Royal vs. LaRoux. In its place were two title fights (one an open challenge) and a TNA-style main event. Also, fans were encouraged to show up in costume as various wrestlers. As I was doing my first night as ring-crew and unpaid extra, I chose instead to put on the ref shirt to blend in backstage. Eventually, I found myself assigned bell-ringing duties, plus one other thing.
But enough about me (for now). Let’s get to the action!
MATCH 0: Donovan Danhausen vs. Breaux Keller vs. "Diamond Cut" Ace Perry
Keller was a very last minute addition to the card – so late that we didn’t even have music ready for him. He offered his phone, so we tried to hook it up to the computer to get the music going, but it didn’t quite work out. (I know, I know, we should’ve had "Greenlight" on standby to pay off the gag from June. Some people in the crowd suggested it.) As Keller waited for his music, the fans chimed in with an "AWKWARD SILENCE" chant. Thanks, guys, that’s really helping our morale!
Anyway, this was a standard "try to impress" Match 0. There were some really good three-way spots, like a spider suplex/superplex combo, plus a huge three-way strikefest. But as its often the case with matches like this, there just wasn’t enough time to get going. Danhausen and Perry were known quantities, but we didn’t seem to see enough of what Keller could do. In the end, it seems he was the third wheel, not even factoring into the decision.
Ace Perry d. Donovan Danhausen and Breaux Keller by pinning Danhausen after a Diamond Cutter at (match not timed). (Rating: *½)
After that, it was time to bring out regular ring announcer Bryan Hughes… who came dressed for the occasion as Jim Smallman. He even nailed Smallman’s entrance (tapping the apron, kissing the mat, posing arms wide open, leaning on the ropes, and saying "Hiya" instead of "Hello"). Too bad Progress isn’t as well watched in the US; it was a really good impression.
He went over the usual business and said he’d be naming a Top Costume when the night was over, but first, remember the one rule of wrestling: DON’T BE A (the crowd had to finish this one – we’re officially PG). Those who did? Bryan called them Legend.
MATCH 1: Ken Dixon vs. "Spitfire" Sage Phillips
The story here is that Phillips has been getting pre-show wins as of late, and now he wants to find out how much better he’s gotten by taking on the man who was his first opponent in the company, Dixon. Of course, that match was 14 months ago; it’s not like Dixon would take this personally. He’s moved on, right?
Uh, no. Dixon attacked before the ref had checked everyone (so don’t go blaming me for a late bell there). He pounded on Sage on the floor and wanted a countout, but Phillips fought back. He wasn’t going to be taken lightly in this match, and this match showed he wanted to get a win… but so did Dixon. The basic "bully heel takes face lightly and gives up hope spots because of it" formula followed, with Dixon looking for a quick win with his fireman’s carry flapjack. But the endgame didn’t go as planned.
Sage Phillips d. Ken Dixon with a sunset flip at 4:14. (Rating: *¼)
An angry Dixon chased Phillips to the back and was later seen leaving the show in a huff.
MATCH 2: Ethan Alexander Sharpe vs. "The Progressive Liberal" Daniel Richards
This was a last-minute announced match. Sharpe is a lower-card wrestler in NOVA Pro and a disciple (actually, nephew, if kayfabe is to be believed) of Brandon "Money" Green. He’s recently come into his own in CWF Mid-Atlantic, so if you want to see more of him, I’d suggest going there.
Richards, meanwhile, is the Hillary Clinton superfan who has gotten insanely over here. He brought three signs to the ring with him: "My Opponent Knows What He Signed Up For", "My Merch Sales Funded the Trump Dossier", and "My Signs Have the Best Words". The crowd was excited to see him… and then the match started.
As a general rule, Daniel Richards is more sizzle than steak at this point in his career. Sharpe has gotten very little offense in NOVA Pro and was the enhancement talent on this date. The match had its usual trash talking beforehand, but once the meat began it was all Richards. Just a quick win to keep the crowd fired up – basic Sports Entertainment 101.
Daniel Richards d. Ethan Alexander Sharpe with the Liberal Agenda (straitjacket neckbreaker) at 4:12. (Rating: *)
Up next, we had a special bonus four-way match featuring some returning outsiders and some regulars new and old.
MATCH 3: "Atlanta’s Arrow" Chip Day vs. "The Beau Show" Beau Crockett vs. "The Gifted" Isaiah Frazier vs. "Special Dark" Sugar Dunkerton
Most Southern wrestling fans have heard of Chip Day; he’s a great striker and wrestler out of Georgia. Isaiah Frazier is a recent addition to the roster, and is a student (both in and out of kayfabe) of Money Green. Beau Crockett is the 4th Carny and is one of only a handful of people to make every NOVA Pro show. And then there’s Sugar Dunkerton, who looks and acts like the lost member of Parliament Funkadelic and opened the match by elbow dropping his jacket. No points for guessing who the fans’ choice is.
The match in theory was two guys in, two guys on the apron, but that quickly fell apart. Crockett and Dunkerton had an amazing argument in which Sugar promised to cancel the Beau Show. ("It’s on Netflix, you idiot!" "Wait, they pulled King of the Hill for YOUR show?") Crockett and Dunkerton continued the fight, which drew in an impatient Day and Frazier and led to a standoff. Dunkerton thought quickly to dispel "a potential interracial incident" (his words, not mine) and asked us to "play that track".
This being a Halloween show, of course it was Thriller. And of course, everyone got hooked into doing the dance eventually. Yes, even the ref.
After Crockett and Frazier (the heels) snapped out of it and attacked, a four-way breakdown ensued. Everyone had a chance to win, but Frazier took Day out of the equation late. This cleared the way for the two men jawing with each other all match to settle it in the ring. This being NOVA Pro, home-ring advantage wound up being the difference.
Beau Crockett d. Chip Day, Isaiah Frazier, and Sugar Dunkerton by pinning Dunkerton after a spear at 9:55. (Rating: **¼)
After the match, we were reminded that our next show is 11th Dimension, to occur on Black Friday, November 24, 2017. There would be two Survivor Series style matches – one for the men, and one for the women. And along those lines, our next match would feature the captain of one of the women’s teams!
MATCH 4: "The Snapchat Queen" Laynie Luck vs. "Milkshake" Faye Jackson
Jackson, the aforementioned captain, stopped on her way to the ring to dance for the Gated Community fans in the front row, who responded by "making it rain" around her. (Upon close examination, they were paper printouts of hundreds; they may be rich, but they aren’t foolish.) Jackson has quickly won the crowd over to her side, mostly through her unabashed embracing of her body and her power moveset. She’s essentially a female Rikishi in the ring relative to the other women (when taking size and speed into account). That’s a very good thing.
This match appeared to be another showcase for Jackson, who is just biding time until she gets another shot at Veda Scott next month. However, Luck wasn’t on her side this month, and I don’t just refer to her opponent. (Although the pun WAS too easy to pass up.) Jackson looked like she was about to finish Laynie off with her Rikishi Driver when Laynie slipped out the back. The two were close to the ropes, which meant any pinfall attempts would be broken up. Well, in theory.
Laynie Luck d. Faye Jackson with a kneeling DDT in 5:32; Jackson’s foot was on the ropes, but the referee missed it. (Rating: *½)
After that match, Bryan Hughes informed us that he had "just" received a text from Veda Scott, who enthusiastically recruited Laynie to her side in the elimination match. (For the record, Veda was in England at the time of the show, but kayfabe and all that.)
Fortunately, the first of two title matches was up next, and with the Hales family in attendance, we had been hearing a lot about the champ. Could he unseat the challenger and begin his Weekend of Dominance on the right foot?
MATCH 5: Anarchy Wrestling Triple Crown Championship match: Gunner Miller (champion) vs. "Safety First" Tim Donst (challenger)
You’d be forgiven at first glance for thinking Donst wasn’t taking his title match seriously. Instead of "Heartjacker", he came out to "Safety Dance". As with last month, he was decked out in construction gear. He checked the ropes on the way into the ring. On top of all this, he and Miller had the following pantomime early in the match (NOTE: dialogue has been added by the author to approximate their actions)…
MILLER: "I’m gonna dive onto you!"
DONST: "Wait, wait, wait, not yet!"
DONST: "Gimme a minute."
MILLER: "Okay, fine, I’ll wait."
DONST: "Okay… got my helmet… got my glasses… got my vest…"
MILLER: "You ready yet?"
DONST: "Almost, almost! Excuse me, kind people, could you create a landing area by vacating your seats? We need to make sure there’s no collateral damage. Thank you so much."
And with that, Miller dove over the top rope, clearing it on the run! Bear in mind he’s 6’1, 240, so that’s a very impressive feat. Donst followed a minute or so later with a dive through the ropes, but appeared to bump his knee on the landing. Miller focused his attack on it with laser precision, making sure every hold he did featured Donst’s bad knee in it. The crowd (Hales family excluded) was furious at how Miller attacked their hero, but their energy fueled Donst to try a one-legged comeback.
It looked like it had a chance to succeed, too, but Miller was prepared, grabbing the belt from his corner and threatening to use it to garner an instant DQ (and thus remain champion). The referee was on the plot and yanked the belt away, putting it back in a neutral corner. It was then that Donst’s safety gimmick backfired; Miller found Donst’s ring wrench and kneecapped him with it. The ending was academic.
Gunner Miller d. Tim Donst with a Jackhammer in 12:57 to retain the Anarchy Wrestling Triple Crown Championship. (Rating: ***¼)
After the first of three potential title bouts was completed, Miller looked like he was going to shake his foe’s hand. Instead, he gave Donst a low blow kick. That was the last straw for Donst; he hulked up, delivered a low kick of his own, and Rolled the Dice on Miller to let him know that no one comes into NOVA Pro and acts like they run the place. Donst refused help to the back and left under his own power.
Immediately after this, the other title match was scheduled. This time, Logan Easton LaRoux – who had just come off a crushing defeat in the main event of the last show – was out to answer an open challenge. "Hey, look at everyone who came dressed as white trash!" After reminding the crowd that he felt his money made him better than everyone, he waited for anyone in the back to step up and face him one-on-one. The crowd began a You Tapped Out chant, but Logan talked over it… until his opponent emerged.
MATCH 6: PWI Ultra J Championship Match: "The Champion of the 1%" Logan Easton LaRoux (champion) vs. "Spitfire" Sage Phillips (challenger)
With no Dixon in sight to stop him, Phillips slowly walked to the ring, determined beyond reason to prove he belonged in NOVA Pro. LaRoux took advantage of his foe’s weakened condition and controlled the opening portions of the match, but the occasional flurry from Phillips wasn’t to be put away easily, firing back with shots of his own. Any rally he had, though, was short-lived, as LaRoux dominated. But he couldn’t put Phillips away, as the referee (dubbed Emo Ref by the crowd) never got past two.
LaRoux became frustrated, choking away on Phillips with both the ropes and his wrist tape. He began to take his frustrations out on the referee, insisting he had until 5 (technically true) and demanding the ref recognize who he is. He even shoved the ref, who to his credit did not call for a DQ. To his discredit, though, the first chance he had, he did something even worse… not that the fans minded much.
Sage Phillips d. Logan Easton LaRoux with a Northern Lights suplex (and very fast count) at 8:38 to become the PWI Ultra J Champion! (Rating: **½)
Phillips soaked in the crowd’s cheers as Logan was furious. He stormed to the back, certain he would fix this injustice. And he had all of intermission to do it.
Logan LaRoux was the first out, seemingly cutting intermission short to decry the decision in his title match. He even pulled the Gated Community founder out of the crowd and said, "This is my lawyer; he will sue PWI if this decision stands!" (So for those wondering, I’m not the only one being baptized as a character today.) Stablemate Bobby Shields emerged, dragging Emo Ref in tow and throwing him into the ring.
Even under intimidation, the ref refused to overturn the decision. But Logan had another card in his hand: Mike E King, the promoter. He called out King and asked for his opinion. King was forced to admit it was an unfair fast count and that, because of this, he and PWI could not sanction the final decision. Dusty Rhodes’ legacy lives on.
Logan Easton LaRoux vs. Sage Phillips is reclassified as a No Contest; by rule, Logan Easton LaRoux retains the PWI Ultra J Championship.
After forcing the referee to admit the match officially never happened, LaRoux demanded Sage Phillips return the belt. Phillips reluctantly did so, then walked to the back. Shields and Logan forced Emo Ref to put the belt back around Logan’s waist… but as a receipt for his bad officiating, Emo Ref was given a superkick from the champ!
Out comes Sage Phillips holding a music stand as an impromptu weapon to chase LaRoux and Shields off, followed by the other referees (Kevin Burr and Todd Meyers) and ME as another ref to check on our fallen comrade. I stayed outside the ring, meaning I passed by Logan as he rolled out. After the dust settled, Burr and I helped walk the ref to the back, right past the Gated Community (who made sure to tell us to go back to Foot Locker where we belonged).
MATCH 7: "The Bone Collector" Dominic Garrini and "The Bride of Frankenstein" Angelus Layne vs. "The Kermonator" John Kermon and Brittany Blake
Oh, right, the bell. Hang on. (runs over, rings bell about 5 seconds late) Sorry, everyone.
Anyway, Kermon and Garrini are involved in a fight over whose MMA-fu is stronger, while Layne is mad at Blake for costing her a match against Mia Yim last month. In addition, Garrini and Layne are… well, present themselves as a couple, so their teaming made sense. This match was first announced as Layne and Blake picking partners, and when Blake picked Kermon, Layne’s choice was obvious.
This match was really two matches in one: Kermon and Garrini grappled with each other, attempting to score quick submissions, while Layne and Blake were a big/little dynamic, with the larger Layne bullying around the tiny Blake. Garrini even got in on attacking Brittany a few times, just to establish which side was made up of bad people.
They couldn’t keep it up forever, though, and Kermon made his way in. He landed hard strikes on both opponents, and even enabled Blake to make a comeback of her own, delivering a missile dropkick to both opponents. Garrini, however, got the better of Kermon on the mat and locked in a hold before illegally grabbing the ropes. The referee, preoccupied with Kermon, didn’t see him do it, and Kermon couldn’t fight out.
Dominic Garrini and Angelus Layne d. John Kermon and Brittany Blake when Garrini scored a KO on Kermon with a rope-assisted leg guillotine choke at 10:39. (Rating: **)
They weren’t done after the match, as Layne grabbed Blake and fed her to Garrini, hoping he would piledrive her into oblivion. Members of the ring crew (in reality, fellow trainees with CRAB Wrestling) stormed the ring to stop him, so Garrini instead grabbed one of them and gave him a piledriver! Eventually, cooler heads won out and Garrini and Layne were sent to the back, allowing Kermon and Blake to check on each other.
MATCH 8: "Beautiful" Bobby Shields vs. "The Blue Eyed Devil" Tripp Cassidy
This match is the culmination of an angle from July, where Cassidy walked out on Shields and ended the tenuous Carnies/1% alliance. Cassidy came to the ring with Pennywise facepaint and the eerie song "Gods and Monsters" by Lana Del Rey (his normal music, but worth noting it fit the ambiance). Though both the Carnies and the 1% are heels, Cassidy was the de facto face in this match.
Which, actually, was a bit of a detraction. It’s not just that Shields is the smaller man of the two – the little guy ticking the big guy off is a thing in wrestling, after all. Cassidy is the big guy backup of the Carnies stable and – no disrespect when comparing him to Nick Iggy, Kerry Awful, and Beau Crockett – the one who relies the most on size and least on crowd interaction to get heat. He seemed a little uncomfortable in the role this month without his comrades to ease him into it. Shields, a long-time veteran, was able to control the match, but something felt off about this matchup. Fortunately, at the end of the day, it was always Shields’ match to win.
Bobby Shields d. Tripp Cassidy with a flying elbow in 7:43. (Rating: *¾)
We were reminded that 11th Dimension would have not just a women’s Survivor Series match, but a men’s one too. We were told to stay tuned to Twitter for further information as to the teams involved. But first, we had a rematch of one of August’s favorite matchups.
The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) vs. "The Ace of the Mid-Atlantic" Arik Royal & Chet "I’m Different" Sterling
To quote Booker T: "AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW HERE WE GO!"
The Ugly Ducklings, if you haven’t seen them yet, are amazing little man crowd favorites. Royal is a power wrestler who has incredible stamina, and Sterling held the PWI Ultra J title for 300 days, so his cruiserweight bonafides need no repeating. In August, Royal and Sterling beat the Ducklings, and they tried early on to use the same finish to do it here (a Blockbuster and Powerbomb combo). But the Ducklings figured out soon enough they couldn’t use the standard tag match and stay in it, and indeed, two minutes in they’d turned the match into a total clusterflock.
I’m not sorry for that joke. (Editor's note: You shouldn't be.) (Editor's note reducks: Well, maybe a little.)
The rest of the match saw the Ducklings jumping in and out and trying to keep Royal off-balance while Sterling could match them move for move and Royal threw them around the ring.
Highlights included a Ruff Ryder Hart Attack by the aces and three straight Launchpad McQuacks to Royal by the Ducklings. The Ducklings attempted the Ducksday Device on Sterling, but Royal gave Sterling an assist to a Victory Roll on Killjoy before catching Lude in an exploder suplex. It got two. Royal was sent from the ring, with Killjoy following as he does, while in the ring Lude sprung a flash on Sterling to score the upset.
The Ugly Ducklings d. Arik Royal and Chet Sterling when Lude pinned Sterling with a small package in 9:23. (Rating: ***½)
The crowd was thrilled with another fast-paced duel between the two teams, but Sterling was less amused. Furious he’d lost for his team, it looked for all the world like he wanted to keep the fight going afterwards. But Royal calmed him down by noting something: both teams were 1-1 against each other. Royal promised Killjoy the two sides would meet again someday, and the Ducklings seemed to be looking forward to it.
MATCH 10: "Big Trouble" Fred Yehi vs. "Big Mama Pump" Jordynne Grace
Officially, Grace was granted a match against anyone for qualifying for the Making Towns Classic last month, and she chose Yehi to test herself. However, the subtext was on everyone’s mind since Yehi had already signed to face Jonathan Gresham in November at 11th Dimension. (For the record, Gresham’s Powerbomb.tv Independent Wrestling Title is recognized by NOVA Pro, but the match with Yehi was made before Gresham became champ; at last check, we were in negotiations with Stokely Hathaway to see if we can make this a title match.)
Yehi was very angry at being forced into this match and determined to take it out on Grace, slamming her around and almost stomping through her head on multiple occasions (Grace’s escapes prevented it). He did, however, throw Grace hard into the buckles and follow with a big shot that actually drew Gresham out to check on Grace. The ref ordered him out of the ring, and Gresham spent the rest of the match in Jordynne’s corner.
Grace, to her credit, was able to make a comeback, even suplexing Yehi at one point (this was treated as a big deal, even though Yehi is 190 and Grace’s weightlifting stats indicate she can bench that). But Yehi was too athletic for his foe. He even took it a step further, pausing a gutwrench suplex to sway Grace to and fro like Hulk abusing Loki. Eventually, he tied up Grace’s arms and began kicking her repeatedly, the same way he got a TKO over Gresham back in May. Gresham, out of fear for his gal’s mental health, quickly reacted.
Fred Yehi d. Jordynne Grace when Grace’s corner threw in the towel at 11:58 during the machine gun bicycle kicks. (Rating: ***)
Gresham quickly tended to Grace, but one wrong thing said by Yehi and Gresham was up and going nose-to-nose (well, in theory; Yehi’s about 5 inches taller) with his November foe. It took the usual cast of idiots to keep them apart. I, for my part, stayed where I was and rang the bell furiously; why doesn’t that ever work?
At this point, we found out the winner of the costume contest: Andy Williams (who, it turns out, is the brother of Timmy Williams from The Whitest Kids U Know comedy troupe). Williams came dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage, complete with his male friend as Miss Elizabeth and his female friend as a Slim Jim. Nobody was topping that. Not even the guy who dressed as Jesus.
After this announcement, Mike King the elder (owner of the promotion) went to ringside and told Bryan Hughes the first match for their livestream Such Great Heights (December 28 on Powerbomb TV) was official. It will be Brandon "Money" Green taking on… (Hughes mutters ‘you sure’) …Santa Claus. Yes, Santa Claus. No, not Xanta Klaus, we checked the spelling (also, we’re very old for making that joke). Sign up now. Use the code NOVAPRO to get 20 days free. (Editor's note: The most exciting! If you're not down with Santa in your wrestling, well, I've got two words for you... Merry Christmas!)
MAIN EVENT: "DJ Z" Zema Ion vs. "The Original Playa from the Himalayas" Sonjay Dutt
DJ Z’s gear is a spectacle to see live. He looks like a refugee from Daft Punk got loose on the set of Tron and led an invasion of a Christmas tree lot. (Ponder that if you can.) Needless to say, everyone was excited about this one, because when Sonjay gets a chance to just let loose in a spotfest, he is a sight to behold. And let loose they did.
There were at least 5 variations on the rana that should not be possible through normal human physics. At one point, they used a chair from the front row to deliver a running kick and another rana off the chair. When DJ went to the top rope, Sonjay met him there, climbed on his shoulders – at this point he’s almost into the rafters – and did a spinning headscissors to take him down to the mat! Both men went as fast as possible in this one to send us out with lots of adrenaline, and the finish was so crazy I’m not even sure what to call it.
Sonjay Dutt d. DJ Z with a sliding sunset flip cradle pinfall reversal… uh… he won in 10:19. (Rating: ***½)
After the match, Sonjay took the microphone and said it took him until literally the day before the show to realize why it was called Pumpkin Spice Lariats. "So whoever thought of that, good pun!" He then said he was so proud of the fans for coming out to keep wrestling in his hometown alive and thanked DJ Z for making the trip here, as he was another Fairfax County native (sure, he’s billed from the Philippines, but he spent time growing up in Reston). The two shook hands and headed to the back as Bryan "Smallman" Hughes thanked us for coming and promised to see us on Black Friday.
Which is the next show! NOVA Pro will present 11th Dimension, Friday November 24 from the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax! Here’s the card so far:
- Fred Yehi vs. Jonathan Gresham
- Women’s Survivor Series Match: The Milkshakes (Faye Jackson, Mia Yim, Brittany Blake, Jordynne Grace, and LuFisto) vs. Team 12 Eyes (Veda Scott, Deonna Purrazzo, Laynie Luck, Sahara Seven, and Allie Kat)
- Men’s Survivor Series Match: The Carnies (Nick Iggy, Kerry Awful, Tripp Cassidy, and Beau Crockett) vs. TBD
One person who won’t be in attendance in Dominic Garrini; due to the actions in the mixed tag match, he and Angelus Layne have both been suspended for 45 days, ruling them out of 11th Dimension and with very little time to accept any match at Such Great Heights.
If you’re coming to 11th Dimension – and should you be in the area, why the heck not – please bring a toy with you. The JCC of Northern Virginia is doing a toy drive for the holidays, and NOVA Pro has promised to match toy-for-toy all contributions. Plus, you may see yourself on Powerbomb TV in the future. You know, like I will.
That’s all from the DMV! Remember: there’s something out there for you, and the little guy is the lifeblood of the big guys. Whether you love WWE or wish there was an alternative, wrestling needs its grassroots, low-level feds to survive. Check them out wherever you can, and find something for you. As Brother George would say: Peace and love, and don’t work yourself into a shoot.